Friday, May 29, 2015

why I love running

Sometimes it's hard to explain why we do the things we do. Running is one of those things. It's something that's been a part of my life for over 15 years now, and yet this past six months I've found myself loving it more than I ever have before. I ran xc in high school (very slowly, especially those first couple of years) and then kept running on and off throughout college, entering in a road race here and there over the years. I did a 12k race without even training at all a year before I got pregnant with Riggs. After Riggs was born, I used running as a way to get back in shape, along with beachbody's insanity workout program (read more about that journey, here). 

Once again, I began running this year as part of my post-baby weight loss 'regime'. I originally just wanted to get back to where I was when I found out I was pregnant with Raina. I started eating clean again, working out and running. I signed up for a few road races as motivation to run pretty regularly. And somewhere along the way, I realized that I was really loving to run, in a way that was completely new to me.

I started to push myself harder and run longer distances, and I found myself enjoying it. I'd set out for a three mile run, and would end up running four-plus miles, feeling great the entire time. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I've been fueling my body with whole foods and not indulging in any added sugars (other than the very occasional treat here and there).

But then there's also the mental-health part of it, which has been the most addicting for me.

Being a mom is hard. Being a mom of two is harder. It's so so so hard. Even on really easy days, it's hard. You find yourself having moments so low that you feel like you'll break and just completely lose what little semblance of sanity you have left. You miss sleep. You miss having the ability to run into the store really quick. You miss your spouse, even when you're technically seeing them for hours each day. 

But most importantly of all, you miss yourself. You wonder what's really even left of the person you used to be. You second guess your parenting decisions and feel guilty so much of the time for things you can't even put into words. And you've undergone so many physical and mental changes since becoming a mom that sometimes you don't even recognize yourself.

This is where self-care comes in. Having the discipline to make self-care a priority is hard. And sometimes when you're dealing with so many other hard things, it feels impossible to add one more thing. But it's one of those hard things that is so incredibly worth it in the end, because it will totally transform your experience as a mother and wife. Read this if you need more convincing (or even if you don't, because it's a great article). 

Since I've been taking better care of myself, I have felt so empowered in all the other areas of my life as well. Because I'm more disciplined about my self-care, I'm more disciplined about house-work, parenting, and nearly every other aspect of my life as a result. Because I'm feeling better about myself and am taking steps to maintain my own personal identity, I'm much more pleasant to be around and less needy to Steve and to close friends and family (not needing them to provide the feeling of value I wasn't finding within myself prior to practicing good self-care).

Now, you might be wondering what this has to do with running. For me, it has everything to do with running. Running has become the biggest part of my self-care, simply because it is my 'me-time'. It's when I'm able to zone out and think, without having to inconvenience somebody to watch my kids. I'm able to have alone time while the kids are with me, thanks to a high quality jogging stroller and two kids who (luckily) are very happy to be strapped in the stroller for 40 to 80 minutes four or five times a week. 

That's not to say it always ends up being the peaceful experience I've been describing. Of course there are those days where the kids go completely crazy in the stroller. Sometimes Raina doesn't stop fussing, even when her needs have been met or Riggs won't stop asking me questions, even when I've told him it's quiet time. There are always going to be those days. But for the most part, I get a solid hour of time to myself, five days a week, and it even counts as exercise too.

Running is hard work. It makes me feel strong. I can push myself to be better and better. Every time I finish a run, I'm reminding myself of how capable I truly am. 

And then, to top it all off, I get to be outside while doing it. I get to explore the back roads and trails around my house. I get to listen to the birds sing, and feel the wind whipping my hair around my face.

And sometimes, I get to slip away in the evening after the kids have gone to bed, completely and truly alone. I listen to my perfectly manicured Brandi Carlisle station on Pandora and find a new trail I hadn't known was there. I stop when the trees break to reveal a vast expanse of field perfectly lit by the golden evening sun. I pause the music and just listen to the perfect silence. No traffic. No other people. Just the sound of my heart pumping blood and oxygen through my veins. And I bask in the breathtaking beauty that is my life in that moment.

"Running is a road to self awareness and self reliance. You can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the Earth spin at your feet. But, when you are through, exhilarated and exhausted, at least for the moment everything seems right in the world." Doris Brown Heritage

Thursday, May 28, 2015

a day in the life: may 2015

I took more pictures than normal the other day and thought I'd do a day in the life post! I don't know why but I just love reading other people's DITL posts (not sure if it's a thing to abbreviate that but I was too lazy to type it out so bam, it's a thing now! haha). So if you have recently posted a DITL post or plan to soon, please leave a link in the comments!

The last time I posted one of these was just about one year ago, about two weeks before Raina Gracie girl was born, crazy. You can check it out, here.

Oh and before I begin, I wanted to share this link about Slow Parenting. Touched on something I've thought about quite a few times, especially since Riggs has been an older toddler.


Okay, so. Raina usually wakes about anywhere from 6:30am to 7:20 and Riggs often wakes at 6:30 because now that he's potty trained (at night and naps too, hurray) he's waking up to go pee. Sometimes I have him get back in bed if Raina is still sleeping. Today, we were all up early. Raina woke nearly every hour in the night, barely wanting to nurse and digging at her ears, so once we were up I emailed our family doctor (who is a naturopath and our favorite family care provider we've ever had. Dr. Megan Danz for locals who are interested) to see if we could come in to get her ears checked for infection.

We went about our morning while waiting to hear back, and had Bob's Red Mill Muesli for breakfast, with apples and pecans on top, which is a pretty common choice for us. Dr. Danz emailed me back nearly right away to let me know she would be able to squeeze Raina in right away, so we loaded up in the truck and headed into town. 

Luckily it was determined that Raina did not have an ear infection, although they were a little red and inflamed from her cold. I was glad we went anyway, and Riggs was too. He just loves Dr. Danz, as he told her about 10 times during our visit, little sweetie.

Steve had thrown the stroller in the bed of the truck before we left the house and we walked over to Vagabond Blues for some coffee and a berry bran muffin for the kids to share. Vagabond is pretty much our go to spot in Palmer for coffee and treats, we're there at least once or twice a week.

Once the kids finished eating we headed outside and I walked with the stroller down to the tire place to meet Steve, who dropped the truck off to get a tire patch repaired. While we were waiting for them to be done, we walked all around Palmer, which is another one of our favorite things to do on the weekends. Steve's in between calls for work right now so he's been off for a week, which is a whole new experience for us in the middle of the summer. Needless to even say, we've been absolutely loving having him home with us to enjoy the gorgeous spring/early summer we've been having.

Riggs had a blast checking out the lady bugs and looking for caterpillars on all of the beautiful trees in downtown Palmer. He was so so cute talking to them, saying, "It's okay little bug, you can crawl right onto my hand. I'm your friend!" He tired out pretty quickly and climbed in the stroller, where both he and Raina quickly passed out. They both slept about an hour which was perfect timing for walking some more at an adult pace with uninterrupted conversation before heading back to grab the truck and driving home.

When we got home Steve went to work outside with Riggs and I fed Raina her lunch while enjoying a green smoothie for myself (I had packed a lunch for Steve, Riggs and I before we headed into town in the morning, which we ate while walking around).

I'm pretty sure she is the cutest thing ever (other than my other child, of course, haha).

While she crawled around a bit on the floor I went out to collect eggs. When I came back in, I played with Raina for a bit before she got fussy and fell asleep right in my lap. I wasn't complaining, she only sleeps in her crib now so I savored every minute of our cuddle time.

Once she woke up, I needed to do my cross training work out so I changed into workout clothes and got started. The program I use is three days a week of 28 minute circuits and I've really been having great results with it. Before I started I couldn't do a single real pushup (correct form all the way to my chest and back up). I'm on week 7 and can now do three full pushups, which is a huge accomplishment for me and I can't wait to see how much stronger I get as time goes on. It's a 12 week program and then there's another 12 week program to follow up with.

Raina stayed pretty close and watched my every move while I did the circuits. Then when she tried to climb on my a few times I put her in her high chair for a snack (freeze dried fruit is her favorite easy fingerfood snack) while I finished up. As you can see Tutka was there ready to 'clean up' any thing that fell from the tray. Such a helpful pup, haha.

I made dinner next, fried egg sandwiches with roasted green peppers and green beans, which Steve and Riggs came in to eat too. Then I bathed my babies and had them both tucked into their beds by about 7.

I spent the evening enjoying the peace and quiet with a library book while the kids slept and Steve was back outside working in the garage.

It wasn't the most typical day for us since Steve was home on a weekday and we went in for a last minute doctors appointment, but we still had a lot of our normal routine in the mix as well. It was an rest day for running so that's missing too. Maybe I'll do another DITL post soon on a day where I'm home with the kids by myself and do a run with them in the stroller. 

Hope you enjoyed reading all about our boring lives and don't forget to leave a link to your recent DITL post if you have one!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mother's Day Recap

Mother's Day 2015 was a definitely one for the books. Riggs decided to let his three-year-old flag fly completely free, if you know what I mean. I guess he didn't want me to forget that being a momma is hard, hard work. 

Despite testing my will and patience at least once every thirty minutes from 6:30am to 7:30pm, the day was lovely and we made many great memories. We kept it low-key and stayed close to home, which was really really nice, but I did miss getting to spend time with my own mom.

We got up and spent an hour or two just waking up and getting dressed, etc. We decided breakfast out sounded nice, so we stopped at Vagabond Blues on the way to church for coffee, muffins, quiche and a breakfast burrito for me. I think Raina ate more of the berry muffin than Riggs did - she is so hungry all the time. Since she decided that she was ready to start eating solids she hasn't looked back. She usually only nurses mid-day (other than at wake up and before bed) and everything else is food, food, food! 

Riggs decided to announce to the entire cafe that he needed to go poop, and I shushed him with burning red cheeks as we rushed off to the bathroom. And of course, despite me coaching him on how he was going to tell daddy about his amazing bowel movement when we got back to the table ("whisper it in daddy's ear like a secret!"), he ran excitedly up to Steve and said (very VERY loudly) that he had a "big giant poop in the potty!!!!!!". Ahhh three year olds...

We still had a little time before we had to head to church so we walked around downtown Palmer for a bit. Raina was happy to just sit in the grass, trying to stuff as many rocks as possible in her mouth (secretly hoping, I think, that she could somehow manage to eat one before I noticed and made her spit them out). Riggs never tried to eat things like that and so Raina is throwing me for a loop; I have to keep an eagle eye on what that girl is putting in her mouth!

 this is her guilty face, just about to pop a rock in that open mouth.

had to snap a quick photo with Sarah and our babies before church started...
it may be blurry but I just love it!

We all changed into comfy clothes/pjs as soon as we got home and Raina decided to open her puffs (for the first time) and dump them all over the floor the second I turned my back on her. Good thing she's so darn cute.

After an amazing late lunch/early dinner that Steve made, we forced ourselves to throw on some shoes and head out for a family hike before bedtime. I kind of have an obsession with baseball/trucker hats and just picked up this Kittewake patch hat from Skinny Raven. It matched my outfit perfectly and I love that they're all unique with vintage Alaska patches on them.

We went up to the Matanuska Peak Trail and climbed up for about 30 minutes before turning around to head home. Riggs hiked the whole way and didn't really start complaining until right before we stopped, and since it was only about 15 minutes until bed time we figured it would be a great time to just go back down to the truck. Plus Steve's knee has been bothering him especially on steep downhills and the Matanuska Peak trail is pretty much straight up, so I didn't want him to over do it either. Eventually (and maybe without the kids) I'd like to do the whole 4+ mile hike to the peak, but it was a nice quick little pre-bed jaunt. And it wore Riggs out completely too, I think he was asleep in three minutes flat.

Steve did such a great job of making me feel truly loved and appreciated all weekend long and that was just really special. For me feeling special and extra-loved isn't about fancy gifts or expensive dinner's, but about someone taking the time to pay attention to the little details all day and to have extra patience for our kids (and for their mama) when we're having a hard time. I'm so lucky to be on this parenting journey with my best friend and love special days like this that remind me of how blessed I really am even when things don't go as I pictured in my head. It's so nice when our imperfect reality turns out to be even better than far-flung expectations. ♥

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

family day trip to Matanuska Glacier

After our busy Saturday following a few weekends in a row of non-stop plans, we decided to have a lazy family-oriented Sunday, and I don't think we could have picked a better day for our little stay-cation. There wasn't a single cloud in the sky when we woke up, and we were able to truly relax for the first hour or two of our day, knowing we didn't have anything planned, that we didn't have anywhere we had to be at a certain time. 

Typically we go to sunday school and church every Sunday, which we love. But we live nearly forty minutes away from our church and sometimes the hour and a half-plus of driving can be pretty exhausting. We definitely missed seeing everyone and joining in the service and that was the only downside to having our 'family day' land on a Sunday. 

The kids and I had a light snack right after waking up, and I got dressed to go on a run while they played. I left right after I put Raina down for her nap, which was a little earlier than usual because she woke up at 6:30 instead of 7:15/7:30. I'm working on increasing my mileage every week since I'm doing the Her Tern Half Marathon in July, and I had a comfortable-paced five mile run planned. Weekend runs are some of my favorite, (if Steve is home) as I'm able to run without the kids/stroller and I really enjoy the time alone to just think about things that have been on my mind, or to just zone out and enjoy some music and the gorgeous scenery around me.  

Tutka is a great running buddy

When I got home I stretched out in the sun and came inside to find Steve laying on the floor in our bedroom with both kids playing/crawling all over him. They're both all about Dad when he's home and I love to see the three of them together. I made a big Sunday breakfast and as we all ate Steve and I thought a drive and a hike sounded perfect, so we packed up some healthy snacks and gear for the kids, piled in the truck and hit the road.

We drove north to the Matanuska Glacier Recreation Area, right past mile 101 on the Glenn highway. It was a perfect amount of driving for the kids to both get their nap and Steve and I got over an hour of uninterrupted talking time - a complete win-win. Riggs woke up right before we got to the parking area and we showed him the Glacier and talked to him about what a glacier is, ect.

The Recreation Site had a nice large parking lot with picnic tables and a mile long trail through the woods to even better Glacier viewing sites. The trail was wide enough for the double stroller which was really nice too. Riggs brought his bow and got in some target practice both in the parking lot (we were the only ones there) and along the trail.

There were about three or four lookouts from the trail with phenomenal views of the glacial valley:

 Raina rode in the stroller most of the time but got out at the mid-point of the trail to play a little bit. Why are the two of them so cute together? ♥
Riggs got in the stroller for part of the 'hike' and was very
excited to find a lady bug. He's petting it in this photo, "very carefully mama,"

Riggs learned how to use Steve's binoculars and didn't put them down the rest of the trip; I think he needs a little pair of his own for our next hike.

Before we left we also walked through the small campground that's included in the Matanuska Glacier Recreation Site. There are about 20 sites with tent pads and room for small motorhomes and camper trailers. We picked a favorite site and can't wait to come back and camp a little later in the summer when we have a longer weekend.

We kept going north to check out the Sheep Mountain Lodge area. Sheep Mountain got it's name from the iron and other mineral deposits that color the mountain side and draw mountain goats from all around for the nutritional value in the minerals. The lodge has individual cabins and a main building/restaurant that Steve and I want to try out this summer too, and explore the trails in the area.

It was a perfect day and we had so much fun spending the time together and enjoying the beautiful state we live in at the same time. If you're in Southcentral Alaska I highly recommend a visit to the area, as you can see from my pictures it's just breath taking. we can't wait to go back again when the leaves are out and everything is green and growing.