Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: LOOKING BACK (through the eyes of K)

This morning as I made a video of K singing happy birthday to her god father, I realized that we made a similar movie last year. It was so much fun looking back on the exact same activity one year ago. K has grown so much. Not only is she taller, but she her vocabulary and enunciation has expanded by leaps and bounds. I am so looking forward to making the happy birthday video again next year and looking back on this year's and last's videos. Having this little time capsule got me thinking... And I decided that I want to track a list of K's (and some year C's) favorites on an annual basis. I look forward to seeing how she changes, grows, and learns throughout the years.

At the end of 2011, here is a list of K's favorite things (in her own words):

Book: Share and Be Kind

Game: cards (specifically the CareBear card game at my mom's house)

Song: Hark the Herald Angel Sing (video performance forthcoming - love hearing a three year old sing "God and sinners reconciled")

Animal: Elephant

Food: "pasta. Actually pizza."

Color: green and orange

Outdoor activity: "go park"

Indoor activity: decorate trees and playing

iPhone app: doodle buddy

Favorite Christmas gift: crown (from my mom bought at the dollar store - pictures forthcoming)

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: Looking Back

I just spent more than an hour trying to get my three year old to sleep. And by getting her to sleep, I am not including time spent brushing teeth, going to the bathroom, or reading books. I'm talking about her lying in bed and me begging her to be still/stay in bed/fall asleep. After what seemed like an endless motherly task, I am craving some me time. And so I am sitting here with my computer - in the room I am sharing with my infant son - reflecting on the past year. My friend, Jill, assembled/created the following list of questions to reflect on the past year.

What was one goal you accomplished in 2011?
I completed my PhD. And got a job where I get to put my degree to good use.

What is your favorite memory of 2011?
Hearing C cry and holding him for the first time.

What is your least favorite memory of 2011?
Saying good-bye to the family we shared a nanny with for two and a half years. Our nanny-share began in January 2009, when K was just three months old. Her buddy, A, was only five months old. Our families met through a web site for parents and we quickly became good friends. I came to love spending time with A's mom in the evenings. It was nice to have someone to talk with about parenting, work, and family. Our share ended when both the kids started preschool in the fall and our families' needs changed. I have so missed having the other family in our lives on a near-daily basis. I also know that K misses her buddy. And that makes me sad, too. I cried when the share ended in August.

What was the best trip you took in 2011?
Our long weekend trip to Colorado. We had a wonderful time there with friends - enjoying good food, good wine (I only had a sip), and warm weather. D was able to snowboard and I enjoyed a truly restful weekend.

What was your favorite purchase in 2011?
My iPhone. Hands.down.

What was the best book you read in 2011?
The best book I completed was Run Like a Mother. However, The Seven Habits of a Highly Effective Family is the best book I'm reading during 2011. I will not finish it before the year is over. So technically the running book wins for best book *read* during the year.

What was the best movie you saw in 2011?
I did not watch a single movie this year. I did, however, watch all of Mad Men and enjoyed every single minute. Looking forward to the new season...

What changed about you in 2011?
From a practical stand-point, my title changed. I'm still getting used to introducing myself as Dr. Physically, my hair got greyer and my stomach muscles got weaker. Nearly three months after having C, I'm just about back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but nothing is as it was. My core is shot and my incision is still sore and puffy (they say I'm healing well). Socially, I made some new friends and reconnected with some old ones. Emotionally, I was all over the place - I blame the hormones - but I realize that I tend to react (read: OVER-react) to most situations where there is tension or big decisions to be made. This behavior is not helpful or productive. (Recognizing this behavior is the change - I've done it all of my life :)

What made you cry in 2011?
*What didn't make me cry?*
-28 hours of labor.
-D and I had a huge fight before he left for a guys weekend over Labor Day. I cried most of the weekend.
-K's behavior and unwillingness to listen (especially at naptime) caused me to cry on more than one occasion.

What made you scream in 2011?
My dissertation. My adviser, my committee, the graduate school rules, requirements, and regulations - they nearly caused me to have a mental breakdown (or two).

What made you proud in 2011?
I was inducted into my high school athletic hall of fame.

What new skills did you learn in 2011?
Although I didn't learn it this year, I do believe I mastered the use of SAS (a statistical software package). While completing my dissertation, I put all my classroom knowledge to work and really SAS-ed the heck out of my data. I'm extremely proud of the pages and pages of code I wrote between January and September of this year.

Best meal of 2011?
For me, this is really about the best mealS of 2011... we have a family tradition of making pizza every Friday night. These were the best meals of the year. I love that we make dinner together as a family and eat together as a family (nearly) every Friday night. The food is fantastic (especially D's mushroom lovers pizza), but the time we spend together is precious. I love that K looks forward to and talks with anticipation about pizza night throughout the week.

Best drink of 2011?
This is a toss-up between the 4 oz of apple juice my night nurse slipped me in the middle of the night 10 hours before C was born and a burnt sugar old fashioned. I received the juice when I was starving, feverish, and desperate for anything to eat or drink hours before C was born. The little bit of fruit juice could not have tasted better. My old fashioned was actually D's... the burnt sugar old fashioned is actually his favorite drink at our favorite local wine bar; it is quickly becoming my favorite drink, too. I had sips of his on two occasions - once at his birthday dinner in January (didn't know I was pregnant) and again after C's birth when we went out on a date.

Favorite photo of 2011? (post it)

What was your source of comfort in 2011?
Talking to my mom on my drives home from Baltimore. She never failed to pick up the phone at 4:35pm Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

What was your verse of 2011 and why?
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." ~ I Thessalonians 5:16-18. Why? I needed the constant reminder (and still do) to rejoice, pray, and give thanks no matter what. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011



-- Two great days of running (a 5 miler with D on Monday and another solo yesterday evening).

-- Jokes... on our Monday run, I said to D, "Look deer" (as there were a family of deer just a few miles off our running path). His response, "I'm looking at you, dear." Sounds stupid, but it was SO funny at the time.

-- K made a necklace out of pipe-cleaners with my mom. She walked into the living room wearing said necklace and proclaimed, "Look! I'm a fancy girl." Where does she get this stuff?

-- Two full nights of uninterrupted sleep (10-6ish).


-- K wetting the bed last night and no clean sheets available. Nor were there clean pajamas. She ended up sleeping in a shirt on a stack of blankets in her bed (after much crying and protesting that sleeping without pants was wrong). Laundry is currently being washed.

-- A sore throat. I have been denying for days I may be sick, but I don't think I can blame my sore throat on dry air any longer. It hurts to swallow coffee. I'm going to tough it out one more day. Then I am going to hit up an urgent care clinic (since I don't have a PCP).

-- Our car. Many of your know I have owned my car since college graduation. She is nearly 12 years old and has 106,000 miles on her. Unfortunately, her remaining time here on earth is limited. In order to get her to pass inspection, we had to replace the rear right break and some major engine piece ($700). We are praying she will live through the winter and into the spring/early summer time. D and I are planning to begin new car shopping this morning. Any suggestions for a fuel-efficient family car?


Holiday week plans:

Today: car shopping. We're looking to test drive several cars we've been thinking about and learn more about prices, options, and financing. Also hoping to get another run in - three consecutive days - and a trip to Target and the Post Office.

Friday: family friends are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. We are all going to share in the celebration!

Saturday and Sunday: observing our family Christmas Eve and Christmas traditions (more on this to come as I want to create a list of things we do from year to year to preserve and document our family traditions - old and new).


Also of note: today is my birthday or Candy-cane Celebration as Jill likes to call it. My 33rd year of life was likely the most noteworthy, busy, exciting, and truly GREAT years of my life. I'm working on a highlights post. More to come...

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Baby C --

This month has been full of smiles - literally. You started smiling about two weeks ago and you haven't stopped. I love it! You are also making lots of noises - often quite loudly, which I attribute to the fact that your sister is constantly talking and you just want in on the action or some attention for yourself.

You remain a calm go-with-the-flow baby. You continue to eat like a champ and your sleep schedule (about 9pm to 5 or 6am) is truly a blessing from God. Most nights you sleep better than your sister - you go down easier and stay asleep longer. I cannot thank you enough for this. Between K's school schedule and my needing to be back to work, I need some sleep and you are giving me the greatest gift (a full night of sleep) imaginable. I know that your super-power of sleeping so well will probably cause some problems when you are a teenager and you don't want to get out of bed for school in the morning, but I don't care. I love, love, love that you are sleeping so soundly at such a young age (shoot... your sister didn't sleep through the night until she was two YEARS old).

Aside from sleeping you are enjoying your evening baths and your little playmat. You also seem to enjoy time outdoors - both in the stroller and Bjorn.

Today you had your two month well check. Your stats:

Weight: 13 lbs 15 oz (95th percentile)

Height: 22 7/8 inches (50th percentile).

You are healthy and growing. And just cute as a button.

I'm still adjusting to having a boy baby. You pee on my quite often - usually I am showered. And I have been pooped on several times in the past 48 hours. But I don't mind. I am grateful that you are eating and that all your systems are functioning. It just means I have more laundry to do.

You are still sleeping in your bassinet in our room, but are quickly outgrowing it. After the holidays, I promise we will get you your crib and give you some space for sleeping. Your father and I are still trying to decide if we should move you into your shared room with K right away. Our other option is to set up your crib in the office. We don't want you and K to wake each other up during the night and I don't want her bad sleeping habits/powers to rub off on you. But we do want you to share a room and K is so looking forward to your company. Decisions will be made, and I promise you will have a crib in early 2012.

This month I returned to work for several events. You stayed home with our nanny during most of these times and with your dad during the others. I head back to work in January, which makes me a sad. I have and continue to enjoy spending time with you. But I love my job and I'm a better mama if I can get out of the house for a little bit and have some adult conversations. Not to mention, I just spent 4+ years of my life working on my PhD and I'd like to put it to good use. The upcoming spring semester is 15 weeks long (plus one week of spring break). After that I have the summer "off" and I promise we'll spend plenty of time together at the pool, spray park, and outside. I cannot wait...

It has been a wonderful two months with you in our lives. Thanks for being so chill and for bringing us such joy. I look forward to celebrating your first Christmas together in the coming weeks.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Throughout my swimming career - which was 13 years long - I had several really great coaches. Each was great in his/her own way... my age group coach created some of the most unique and challenging workouts I have ever completed. He also knew a lot about stroke technique and really helped me improve my strokes, turns and starts. My two high school coaches were a complementary pair --- one was the greatest motivator and the other really challenged me with difficult sets each and every day. My college coach pushed me further than I thought possible and made me a stronger and faster swimmer.

Although each of my coaches were vastly different in terms of strengths, weaknesses, personality, and character, one commonality they shared was the belief that you cannot reach a goal time unless you know what it feels like to swim that fast. For instance, when I was trying to break the 1 minute mark in the 100 butterfly, I knew that I needed to swim the second 50 yards of the race in 30 seconds (give or take a tenth or two). So my coach would have me do 50 butterfly repeats (with tons of rest) where I had to hit 30 seconds on each one. Or he'd have me do 25s where I had to reach my goal time of 15 seconds on each.

I had to feel it.

I had to know what my goal pace felt like.

I had to be confident while swimming at that pace.

And, therefore, I had to swim at that pace again and again and again and AGAIN.

This belief/training technique is one of the many lessons from swimming I have applied to running. Although I do not need to run every long training run right at my goal pace, I do need to run intervals or shorter distances right at race pace to learn what it feels like and to be confident running at that speed.

My long-term, reach goal for the coming years is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. The qualifying time for my sex and age group is 3:40. 

A 3:40 marathon basically boils down to running my qualifying race at an 8:23 per mile pace.

That is really stinking fast.

I don't know if my body can sustain that type of pace, but I want to give it a try. I want to give it my all. I want to run a marathon aiming for the stars and see how close I can come to grabbing one.

Photo taken while running at an 8:34 min/mile pace at 6:40am.

With that in mind, I have felt the need to feel my goal race pace. Therefore, I have been doing some interval training on Marta (my new treadmill). I have been running quarter and half miles at an 8:34 min/mile pace (yes, a little slower than an 8:23, but I'm just getting back into the swing of things). My plan is to build up to running a mile at this pace and then two and three, four, five, ... And then I can start doing multiple intervals at this pace and mid-distance runs at this pace. All the while building up to a full marathon at a hard-to-believe (for me) 8:23 pace.

I believe that training my body to feel, know, and be confident at this pace will take a lot of time and effort. But I do believe that I am capable of running at this speed and qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

Here's to many more morning runs with Marta where my pace per mile is under 8:30 per mile...

Monday, December 12, 2011



I love this time of year - Advent, celebrations, cookie making, time with friends and family, a new year. The past month has also been full of exciting times and events unrelated to the coming holiday. Here's a list of things (in no particular order) that have me excited...

1. Baby C's sleep schedule. I believe that God knew I could not handle another bad sleeper. Baby C is one heck of a sleeper. I put him down at night between 8:30-9 and don't hear from him until 4am. There have even been a few nights where he has slept until 5 or 6am. I am a fully functioning adult right now thanks to his sleeping powers (which he got from his father, whose super power is the ability to sleep any time any where as long as he is horizontal).

2. K's enjoyment of the holiday season. This evening my father asked her what she wanted for Christmas and she said, "a tree and twinkle lights." Done and done. She has so enjoyed coloring on the back of everyone's Christmas card and making and giving away cookies. She also enjoys sampling the goods! I am looking forward to seeing her face during the Christmas Eve candlelight service and on Christmas morning.

3. Going back to work. As hard as it is to balance mom duties and a full-time job, I am so grateful to have a job. Not to mention one that I love. I have been back to work for four days now. All is going well and I am quickly learning the ropes. I really like the people I work with and the university as a whole. I am really looking forward to the start of the spring semester.

4. A clean bill of health. I went for my post-partum check-up last week and was given a clean bill of health. Although I had started running prior to my doctor's visit, I can now go ahead with all activities.

5. Time with friends and family over the holidays.

6. Marta - my new-to-me treadmill. I made the decision months ago to not invest in a double jogging stroller (more on this to come). Instead I started researching gym memberships and/or buying a treadmill on Craigslist. Lucky for me my parents were willing to part with their old treadmill. So now I have my own little running machine in the basement. She's named after the second to youngest Von Trapp child (do you know what movie/soundtrack has been running non-stop in our house?). I'm still trying to determine if I'm a morning runner or nighttime runner, but I am enjoying having a treadmill in the house that I can use at any time.

7. Baby C's first smiles. The kid just melts my heart. I love seeing his double-chinned smiling face!

8. My iPhone. I can scarcely remember a time when I didn't have text messaging, face-time, a camera phone, email access, GPS, and access to the real-time temperature at my finger tips. Oh, iPhone, I you.

9. The Seven Habits of a Highly Effective Family. D has been encouraging me to read this book for years now. I finally started it and now I cannot put it down. I'm shocked by how much I am enjoying and learning from this book. It is revolutionizing my thinking and actions. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

10. What is to come in 2012... we have plans to run several half and one full marathon. We are also planning some fun family vacations - one very special one may include a day or two at the Magic Kingdom on the west coast! D has a two month work sabbatical beginning in March/April and I will be off during the months of July and August. I'm also looking forward to watching C learn to sit up, crawl and eventually walk (though if he is anything like K he may not be walking by the end of next year).

What are you all excited about at this time of year? What has you ready to fist pump?