My Baby Is One

My sweet baby boy turned one on Monday and obviously loved his birthday crown.

Birthday boy

I am honestly astonished at how fast his first year flew by. It seemed the anticipation of his birth far outlasted this past year. When I groggily woke up to his cries for me around 2 am, picking him up and pulling him into bed with me, I got choked up thinking how much he’s grown and changed.

At a more reasonable hour Josh and I did a little birthday decorating around the apartment (ugh, we’ve now spent three birthdays here). When Anderson woke up and I brought him into the living room to say good morning, he gawked at the decorations, pointing and trying to grab the streamers. He loved it.

He, Ella and I enjoyed blueberry pancakes and some Disney tunes as we waited for his birthday banana cake to finish baking before running a last minute errand to Target. It’s almost as if he realized he could get away with most anything on his first birthday. He ate up his favorite lunch (mac and cheese) before settling in on my lap for a little pre-nap nursing. The apartment was so quiet with Ella in bed and Lucky snoozing on his bed. It was just the two of us, looking at each other, studying each other’s faces, just as we had exactly a year prior.

A sly little smile crossed his face as he doozed off momentarily. Of course as soon as I put him in his bed, he woke up and protested any form of napping that did not include me. I gave in, taking everyone for a walk when the rainy weather cleared.

We had a little family celebration. There was another favorite meal of his (grilled cheese, carrots and blueberries), cake and gifts.

I took my time putting him to sleep that evening. Extra cuddles were necessary for me and for him. I just need a moment longer to hold onto my baby who is growing faster than I thought possible. It feels like he was just the slightly red and bruised baby who was awaiting a name, that I met on a cool summer morning in August.

Maybe it’s the difference between having two to focus on rather than one, or maybe the months are going faster – but time needs to slow the hell down.

Training With a Group vs. Solo

Last weekend I did my longest run since October 2012. It just so happened that it was also a solo 17 miles. Josh had the opportunity to participate in the Tour de Tonka cycling event on Saturday so I happily delayed my long run to Sunday. Unfortunately for me, this meant I missed the weekend group run. I tried to recruit a running buddy, but was unable to do so. Not letting that deter me, I was up at 4 am Sunday morning getting ready.

The sun was just cresting the horizon line when I got out of my car, turned on my Garmin and started down the trail. I decided to run at Elm Creek Reserve even though I was alone, mainly because of the bathrooms (I’ve been having some serious GI issues – but that’s for another time) and the fact that I felt safe running there alone, even when it was dark. During the run when I wasn’t startling wildlife, I started reflect on training alone vs. training with a group.

What I like best about training solo:

1. I can start and finish my run any time I want. This morning I was running before 6 am, so times it’s after 9 pm.

2. I dictate the pace. Sometimes I’m dragging ass and other days I feel like I’m flying. Without having someone else to consider, I can do whatever you want. This is both good and bad for the longer runs.

3. No one to witness embarrassing moments. Gel make you vomit, have to pee in the bushes, no shame, no witness.

4. I have to learn to depend on myself to get through. Other than my first marathon, I’ve never had a running buddy for an entire race. It meant  I had to be used to motivating myself to continue through your exhaustion. I found it really hard to get through my 2nd marathon myself after training with a partner. The last marathon I trained solo and wasn’t used to having someone to chat with which I think was actually beneficial.

What I enjoy about training with a group:

1. Company when running for hours on end. There is only so many times I can hear the same songs or listen to a book when I’m running before I start to get irritated. I’d much rather have someone to talk to. It really helps the miles fly by.

2. Accountability. It’s much easier to get out of bed at an ungodly early hour on the weekend when I know people are waiting for me. They won’t judge me when I have drool crusted to my cheek, or mismatched socks. They’re just happy that I showed and hopefully remembered deodorant in both armpits.

3. You might just learn something new. Running is thought of as a cheap, no frills sport, not so my friends. Well, at least not if you’re doing endurance runs. There’s a lot more to it than a good pair of shoes. From nutritional supplements to new recovery gears, there’s not better advertising or sales person than your fellow runners. I’ve learned so much from other runners.

4. They challenge you. Run faster, run longer, run a new event or try a new type of cross-training, they do it all.

There are days that I love training by myself. I trained for my last marathon by myself and successfully completed the race. This time around I’m so thankful for a group to train with. My 17 miles were great on Sunday. I felt strong and fast. It provided a bit of reassurance that my goal of running a sub-4 hour marathon isn’t a total fantasy. My average pace was 8:41, even if I slowed down to a 10 min/mile average for the last 9 miles, I’d still finished about 3:57:XX. Of course anything can happen on race day, but I’m feeling so much more confident. I really missed my fellow mother runners though.

Looking for a new group? Here’s a few resources I used to find my group.

Moms Run This Town – http://www.momsrunthistown.com
MeetUp – http://www.meetup.com
Road Runners Club of America – http://www.rrca.org/find-a-running-club/
Local Running Stores
Local Fitness Centers
Facebook

Do you prefer to training solo or with a partner/group?

Twin Cities Training Part I

In the midst of the craziness of moving, I decided that it was the perfect time to train for another marathon. I needed something to make me excited to be in Minnesota. I know I said I never wanted to do it again in the last few miles of my last marathon, but I haven’t met my sub-4 hour goal just yet. It’s like a carrot dangling just out of reach.

The runners I know told me how amazing the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon course and crowd support are, so I started to consider it. During my birthday weekend when I was talking to my friend Kirsten about it, she convinced me to stop talking about it and just register. So I did, right then.

That was a few months ago and here I am with 10 weeks until the race. Training is going well – for the most part. I am using the Less is More plan that I used for Nike Women’s. My body responds so much better to three runs a week. My plan includes a tempo, interval and long run every week. I’ve been killing my paces and getting in some hill workouts now that I live in a valley – there is no avoiding them though this chart makes me feel like a wimp. They don’t look so bad.

fav route

Week day runs are easy to tackle. I try to do my tempo runs outside unless it’s too dark or raining. Intervals I typically do on the treadmill so that I can keep my paces where they should be. Unfortunately for me, when I’ve tried intervals the past few weeks, my knee has started pulling. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s uncomfortable enough that it stops me immediately. I think it’s due to super tight IT bands and the fact that I always carry Anderson on my right hip, leaving my hips a bit uneven. I’m taking a few weeks off of intervals and then slowly adding them back in. Luckily I have time to work on speed before the race and the pulling only happens on the treadmill during intervals.

One of the biggest things that I’ve had to get used to is humidity. It is amazing to me how hard a run can feel when it’s humid. It’s like running with a blanket around me. I’m prone to overheating anyway, but the humidity makes it worse. I think it if I didn’t have a group of ladies waiting for me on the weekends, I’d be running inside a lot more.

Speaking of the ladies, I joined a great running group Moms Run This Town. They have runs or walks just about every day of the week. I only make it to the weekend runs right now, but am looking forward to doing some week day runs once we move into our new house in Maple Grove. I look forward to my long runs knowing that I will have some company. A few other women are also training for Twin Cities at similar paces so I’m in good company, even on muggy Saturday mornings.

Mother Runners

A lot of the women live in or near our new neighborhood so that is really exciting. We’ve even had a few playdates for the kids with happy hours planned soon. I need some new friends too.

Long runs are going really well. At conversation pace, we’re still averaging 8:45-9 min/miles, the 9 min pace typically includes a few walk breaks. To get a sub-4 marathon, I need to average a 9:09 or faster pace. Right now I really think it is a possibility. I just need to make sure to take care of my knee so that I’m healthy.

On non-running days I’m cross-training. I finally joined a gym since we have another month before we move again. I went to my first Spinning class which I really liked and am going to try out a few strength classes this week. If I don’t make it to the gym, I’m busy pushing the kids up and down the hills in the stroller and climbing stairs in the building. It counts right?

This week will be my longest run since the marathon over a year and a half ago – 17 miles. I’m thinking about starting at 5:30 am to avoid some of the humidity, as 6:15 was just not early enough last weekend. It will be interesting to do my 18 mile run in Denver when we go home in a few weeks. I have a feeling the altitude is going to kick my butt.

Who else is training? How’s it going?

All About Anderson – 11 months

Nearly two weeks ago now Anderson hit the final month of his first year. Tear. He’s full of funny faces and expressions of both happiness and displeasure at being denied his wants.

11 months 5

11 months 1

11 months 2

11 months 3

He weighs 23 lbs and is about 29.5 inches long. His growth has definitely started to level off but his development has not.

This month it seems like all the sudden he’s a little person. Not that he hasn’t always been a person, but he’s so aware of his surroundings and very interactive. He observes the world around it often pointing (still with his whole hand) and grunts until we tell him what it is or let him touch it.

He has clapping down and can even do it on cue.

He seeks out laughter and once he realizes something gets a laugh, he’ll continue to do it. He laughs all the time and squeals with delight.

Watermelon face

He babbles constantly. He has down mama, dada, Ella and ba. We’re not quite sure what ba is for but he says it a lot.

He’s on the move constantly whether it be crawling or cruising. He’s thisclose to walking. Any day now I suspect. It’s no wonder he’s finally sleeping well. He naps for 2-3 hours every afternoon and most nights if he wakes up, it’s just for a quick milk fix and then right back to sleep until 8 am or so. It’s been so nice!

This month we went to Nebraska to celebrate the Fourth.

Anderson 4th of July

Anderson went on a boat for the first time.

Anderson boating

He was more interested in nursing and trying to figure out how he could get out of his life vest.

While we were back we also went up to the Van Kirk family farm. We had three generations of Van Kirk men together which was pretty special.

Four Generations

He also got to see his first fireworks show courtesy of his cousins and uncles. There was no way he was going to bed with all that noise going on.

He was pretty amazed and just sat staring at the sky with his mouth agape.

I’m sure that is how I look when I watch him lately. It seems like he was my little baby just yesterday and here we are just a few weeks from his birthday!

AJ's favorite spot

 

All About Ella – Three Years

Ella turned three back on the 3rd.

Ella birthday

How it is possible that she is three already is a mystery. I just brought her home from the hospital yesterday right? This girl.

Ella 3yo 5

Ella 3yo 4

Ella 3yo 3

Ella 3yo 1

She is a whopping 26 lbs and about 35 inches tall. She has a head full of untamed curls and finally all the teeth she should by now. Those two year molars were almost three year molars.

Over the past year Ella has turned into such a kid. She’s not a toddler, she is full on preschooler now, going on 16. Fiercely independent, the most common phrase at our house is “I’ll do it all by myself.” This includes everything from picking out her clothes and getting dressed to getting her own cereal and milk and putting herself to bed at nap time. The only time she wants help is when she gets frustrated (i.e. throws a tantrum) and finally asks for help once she calms down.

She offers to help all the time. She often helps me make meals in any way she can. She sets the table for dinner and is in charge of feeding Lucky (her request). I think it’s great that she is starting to want to take on chores and is enjoying them. I didn’t expect that for several more years.

Tantrums have hit and they’ve hit hard. 95% of them are due to frustration. We’ve been working hard on using words to express emotion rather than tantrums. When she’s overtired, there is no help for any of us. We have to just let her calm down on her own. These are my least favorite part of this age.

Outside of the tantrums, she is very sweet. She’s quick to say I love you, give hugs and asks for cuddles. When I recently fell and skinned my elbow on a run (side note, I’m sure I looked like a total idiot) she gave it a kiss and immediately went to the bathroom for a band-aid, which she applied and asked if I needed ice. She then gave it another kiss and said “I’m so sorry you fell down and got hurt mommy. It will feel better soon because you have a band-aid and kisses.”

She is all about being a mommy right now. She carries her doll everywhere. She tells me often that when she’s a big kid (i.e. adult) that she is going to get married (sometimes it’s to daddy and sometimes Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid), and have two babies. When she goes to work she will pump so that she can leave mommy milk for her babies while they’re at school.

ella nursing

Yep, she even nurses her baby. Mimicking behavior and language is going strong, which means we have to really make sure we’re not doing/saying anything we don’t want her to do.

She has developed strong emotional relationships with people other than us and isn’t shy about showing preferences. She is really loving Peter and Rachel who we see every weekend now that we live here. She adores her cousins and actually get excited to see family members. She loves making friends, but like me, feels shy initially and tends to quietly standby and watch kids play if she’s feeling excluded. It’s interesting seeing traits we’ve passed on in her.

Her communication skills are off the charts. I tried to get her on video telling you about herself but all I got was this:

We have clear, lengthy conversations with her – often that she’s started. People who aren’t around her often laugh at what comes out of her mouth. We were out and had to wait in line for a bathroom a few months ago, she calmly said “Mommy, the bathroom is occupied so we have to wait in line.” The woman in front of me turned around and said she’d never heard a toddler speak like that. She absorbs words and phrases like a sponge. It’s pretty amazing.

We’re now singing as well, especially songs from Frozen.

Of course she tells us that we are not allowed to sing the songs unless we’re wearing a skirt or dress. She likes to listen to the same songs over and over to learn the words. When we’re in the car she will tell us to turn up songs she likes (Katy Perry, Paramore, and Iggy Azalea are favorites at the moment) and off songs she doesn’t. Oh Ella.

We’ve been completely potty trained for about seven/eight months. After months with no accidents, we did see a spike when we moved. I think it was just a slight regression due to all the change. Outside of development some of her favorite things include: pink – still loving pink (so she’s really excited about her new room at our house), babies and princesses, skirts, dresses, tiaras – all princess, all the time.

Ella sunglasses

She also loves swimming, running, parks, playing with friends and her cousins, Anderson, and coloring. She will color for hours. She’s gotten pretty good and even stays in the lines for the most part. She is a character.

She’s grown and learned so much in the past six months since her last update I feel like I could write a book. I just cannot believe she is three years old!