Tuesday, December 18, 2012

do something

Friday mid-morning, the news out of Newtown started to trickle across my orbit. Admittedly, at first I just blocked it out. The news outlets are so reactionary, I just hoped they were making a mountain out of a molehill. (I knew better.) Honestly, after the mall shooting last week, it just seemed like too much for my brain to deal with in that moment. I pushed the news monster out of my brain, shut the door, and sat down in front of it.

I went to a lunch meeting, and came back to my facebook feed flooding with post after post of shock, confusion, and condolences for Newtown. I had missed so much in those 3 hours. I quickly was brought up to speed, and my first reaction was drive the 40 minutes to my babies and scoop them up.

One of my favorite quotes about parenthood says "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." (Elizabeth Stone)

Truer words have never been spoken. I was aching for my boys, yet my brain new there was no reason for me to react in this manner. They were right where they needed to be, and so was I.

---


I've never been so affected by a tragedy as I have been by this one. It's likely because I'm a mom now, and my kids are so little. I couldn't help but wake up misty-eyed on Saturday, just to have my kids in my house, all twenty toes wiggling and accounted for. There were (and are) 20 families who will never know that peace again. 

---

I didn't watch the news at all Friday night or this weekend. I couldn't handle it. They had a news conference on Saturday morning that was blaring on the tv when we first turned it on. We couldn't find the remote. I was searching like a madwoman for the remote so I could change the channel to Jake and the Neverland Pirates or something equally mindless. I said "Joey, we have to find the remote, I can't take listening to this any more!" Finally I just shut the thing off.

---


Finally Monday morning, I was ready to know their names. The littles who lost their sweet, innocent lives. I didn't want to know his name, and I still don't know his last name. I have this displacement theory in my brain, that if I can fill it with sweetness about these peanuts, there's no room for evil. I only want to know as much as their families are willing to share. I'm praying the information and photos I see of them are given with permission. I think I read once, in a different situation, that it helped a grieving family to say their child's name. I want to give these names a face in my brain, to send silent thoughts to their parents that they did matter. Also, their teachers and administrators. Heros.

---

I'm angry about this. I don't understand all of the whys and hows. I don't know what specifically needs to be done to stop this from happening again. I think it's a combination of a lot of things. Better control on weapons (yes, I know a moving car can be turned into a weapon, but there's no reason citizens need assault rifles); better support for mental health (MUCH BETTER SUPPORT FOR MENTAL HEALTH), including support for the families of those who are ill; more compassion from society (let's stop hating on each other, we're all in this together). 


---

This isn't about politics. I grew up with guns in my home. Nearly all of my family and many, many of my friends are hunters. This isn't about animals. This is about the safety of my kids, and my friends' kids, and the kids who lost their lives last Friday. Again, I'm not a weapons expert, I'm not a psychologist, I'm just a mom. A mom who is sick to death of seeing this happen again and again. We can disagree on the minutia of what needs to be done - I'm ok with that. All I want is for the conversation to continue. I don't want this to fade into the darkness like it has so many other times. This is the tipping point, the status quo isn't working, and it's time to do something.

---

Many are circulating an idea of 26 acts of goodness. I love this idea, and truthfully have been a major slacker about sharing my time, talent, and treasure this year. Twenty six though? Is kind of overwhelming. There's no time limit, though, and you can make them as big or as small as you want to. Here's a few ideas to get you thinking, but I want to hear your ideas. Especially simple ideas - we can all come up with big ideas, but what are some small things?
  • Donate blood
  • Make a contribution to your favorite charity in the name of one of the innocents
  • Write your congresspeople - demand change, whatever that means to you
  • Smile at someone who really needs one
  • Pay for the order of the car behind you at the drive thru
  • Fill a backpack with necessities for a homeless person (blanket, socks, flashlight, etc.) and give it away
  • Donate a meal to the food bank
  • Volunteer - anywhere
  • Read - especially if you're not a reader. Research. Find solutions.
  • Tell someone you love them
---

Wherever you fall on this situation, please, do something. I have to believe that we're all in this for some common good. Our futures - and those of the kids looking up to us - are riding on this.

Friday, December 7, 2012

friday five

  1. I can tell I'm going to have a bit of a trouble with the white lies of parenthood as the boys get older. We have an Elf on the Shelf named Oliver. He appeared about a week ago; sometimes we remember to move him, sometimes we're lazy. He's fun and B loves him. Before the Elf, there was Santa Claus. And I'm sure at some point there will be the Tooth Fairy. (But not the Easter Bunny. A giant person in a bunny suit just creeps me out.) My issue isn't so much the lying to my kids that these people are real. Or the fact that the elf story can be kind of creepy if you go there with the storyline. (He's sent from Santa to monitor the household leading up to Christmas, making sure the kids are good, and reports back to Santa before Christmas Eve. If the kids touch him, he loses his magic and has to fly back to the North Pole for Santa to restore it.) My issue is that I'm such a literal person. Like I want to know that it's 5:37, not "20 'til 6:00" or 5:35. So the whole idea that there's this plastic doll that flys back and forth to Santa to get magic, just makes me a bit twitchy. Joey and I both grew up believing in Santa, and while we absolutely believe that Jesus is the real reason for our season, we adore the fun and awe that Santa brings as well. I'm just not sure how to wrap my mind around all of this fakery for the kids' sake.

  2. I ran a half marathon in May. It was lovely (really), and I was proud of myself, and vowed to continue running forever. In fact, I signed up for another half in October near my hometown. Then it was really hot in the summer, and we put our house on the market, and we moved, and training didn't happen, and neither did the race. We've now settled in the house a bit, and I need to find some time to hit the road again. It's almost time to sign up for the Lincoln half marathon (who wants to join me?! Sign up is the 21st, and it will sell out fast! Unless you want to do the full, then you can sign up tomorrow.). Tra-la-la... yay running.

  3. Remember when I quit sugar last spring? My eating has gone the way of my running, and I'm back on the IQS bandwagon. It's so much easier when I'm running though because when you feel better (from running), you want to eat better.

  4. In that vein (because most kettle chips are sugar free), I just opened a little bag of "Krunchers! Kettle Cooked Potato Chips". You know what they taste like? (I can't even believe I'm admitting this.) They taste like the uncooked potato "chips" that come out of the box of scalloped potatoes. Please tell me I'm not the only one who has tasted these... I think I pin this on my mom, we sampled them when I was growing up. Anyway. Point being: they're fine, but thick and taste like an actual potato. You are welcome.
     
  5. (This is quickly turning into a post about food) I like to cook. I'm not exactly a chef (my husband chuckles to himself as he reads this, I AM SURE), but I can wing it well enough to make most things turn out. However, Joey is really kind of picky. He's also very honest - if he likes it, he'll say "it's good!" if he doesn't like it, he'll say "it's ok!". Add to that a 3 1/2 year old who is getting skinner by the day because he won't eat anything unless it starts with chick- and ends with -uggets. And Jude eats everything, but then sometimes he just refuses. So basically, dinnertime is like Russian roulette around our humble abode, and I never really know if something will work for my gentlemen or not. I tried two new recipes this week and they were MAJOR wins for Joey and I. Brecken refused them both (claiming they were both too salty - he means spicy), and Jude was crabby this week from switching daycare, so he went to bed right after dinner time - lo, he didn't eat but I don't think he was a fair judge.

    Anyway - they are delicious, and I think, customizable enough to your own family's likes in terms of spice as well as toppings for the tacos. Also: EASY. Seriously we were done with dinner by 6pm both nights and that never happens around here.

    Crock Pot Beef Carnitas Tacos
    Spicy Sausage Skillet - we used andouille sausage but mild Rotel and it did have a teensy bit of a kick. BUT I am a giant wiener when it comes to spice and I thought it was perfect.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

perseverance

Brecken got this Fisher Price baseball set for his 3rd birthday this past March. (It's been a big hit (pun intended) if anyone is still Christmas shopping...) For the longest time, he's played with it as a tee-ball set (there's a tube that sits on top of the base) - he'll prop the ball up on the tee, and let it play the baseball music and then swing away. Obviously he was on his way to the tee-ball hall of fame.

It was so nice out this weekend (68 in December!) and we ventured outside to run off some energy. He dragged his baseball set out for the hundredth time in 9 months, and this time he wanted me to set it up so the ball would pop up out of the base. I sighed, because usually this involves him never-hitting-the-ball and me running around collecting the loose balls from the yard.

I was wrong.

My boy has a little bit of perseverance now. Where I would normally get discouraged after all of the swings and misses, he kept going, and going.

{obviously the snow boots were giving him major fashion points}

He kept up with this forever. At one point we had to abandon the game so we could take Jude inside to nap. He begged to come back outside. 

Then finally, after about a half an hour of swings and misses, he randomly connected - we all screamed like he'd just won the World Series. 

Then he hit it again, and again, and again. He figured out his timing, and he was awesome. At one point, he hit it on our roof, and several times he hit it to the neighbor's yard next door. He never once got frustrated by the misses, but oh how PROUD of himself he was when he finally started connecting with the ball!

Of course I broke out my camera again too late - and we got a lot more swinging...


But finally - chance was on my side, and I got my budding Babe Ruth on camera:

{yes, he totally said touchdown!... potato potahto}

All in all, he probably swung the bat for an hour on Sunday afternoon. Momma's learning a thing or two about patience from this little dude. I'm sure it won't be the last thing he teaches me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

diy laundry detergent

So 6 months ago (June 3rd, to be specific), I made my own powered laundry detergent. I took photos and I intended to post about how I did it, but hello, life, you got in the way. I'm writing this now because I'm down to my last few scoops and holy moly, I love this laundry detergent. I'm going to be making another batch soon, and I wanted to share, in case you want to make it too!

{Note: I didn't make this because I hate Tide or Gain, I just hate buying them, they're so freaking expensive. I didn't make this because I'm feeling earthy and like to make everything. Laundry detergent is an anomaly, I buy everything, just not this. Also, I was a liquid laundry detergent GIRL forever and ever amen, but I seriously love this stuff. Lastly, we have a high efficiency washing machine, and this works perfectly, no need to buy the special HE stuff anymore.}

I used this recipe, and Imma just have you read it, so I don't waste my finger typing energy on retyping everything she did: Homemade Laundry Soap.

Here's my modifications: I read everything she did, and all of the comments, and I came to the conclusion (before even purchasing the ingredients) that this detergent doesn't leave that fragrance that I was used to. So I decided to add a bottle of the yellow Purex crystals to the mix. BUT - do not do that. It "watered down" the Purex so much that there was no scent on the laundry. I will explain how to get the laundry fresh smell in a bit. (If you have to use the free and clear laundry detergent now due to fragrance issues, this detergent should, in theory, be perfect for you because on its own, it really has no lingering scent on the clean laundry.)

I believe I spent $18 on all of the ingredients. I think. I'll update this if I find out it's more when I buy the ingredients this weekend.

{GRRR. I just realized my Picasa web account is out of storage space... and it apparently houses my blogger photos too, so pretend there are photos here, but know that mine looked exactly like the blog's I linked to. ;o) }

She says to use 1 Tablespoon per load, and while that probably is fine, I always felt weird using so little. However, I also used too much on a load of darks once and had to rewash them because it left detergent on them, whoops! So I used the small scoop that came with the OxyClean, it's probably more like 1.5-2 T and works fine. I use the OxyClean stain spray (instead of Shout, etc.) and between that and this detergent, our clothes have always been sparkly clean.

My major modification, or addition really, to this recipe, was adding in some scent. The first few times I used this, our laundry was coming out clean and fresh, it really had no noticeable scent, and I really missed that. As I mentioned earlier, don't add the Purex directly to the recipe, it has no effect. What works for us is to add a bit of the blue Purex crystals to each load of laundry (it's stronger than the yellow or purple) (the Downy unstoppables are fine too, I just like the Purex crystals better, and they're cheaper). I also got a Bounce Dryer Bar, and zomg, could that thing be ANY more awesome?! It's completely mindless, it just... works! And you don't have to chase dryer sheets all over your house!

Anyway... I love this laundry detergent, and for $3ish a month?! I will be making it again!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

rock the boat

Filed under the "things I never want to forget" label:

{I had just picked Brecken up from school, had him loaded in the car, and we were driving off.}

Me: Bubba, it's election day and we're going to go vote!

Him: Where's the boat?

Me: Not a boat, we're going to v-v-v-v-vote! With a V!

Him: B! Just like me! Boat starts with B like Brecken!

Me: {deep breaths} Boat does start with a B, but there's no boat today, we're going to pick the people we want to lead our country. We have to pick the President, do you know what the President does?

Him: What's a prevalent?

Me: The President is in charge of all of the states! {He knows what a state is, I figured country was too big to wrap his mind around.}

Him: Whoaaaaaaaa.

Me: His name is Barack Obama. We can either vote for him or Mitt Romney.

Him: Is that a boy or a gril? {he really still says gril, and I never correct him because it's so stinking cute}

Me: {scrapping this entire conversation} Let's go pick our people!

Him (getting out of the car): Momma, this boat is going to be so much fun!

{I vote, he charms the adorable old ladies manning the polling place. He even tells them his name (this has never happened before). One of them calls him Becky. Whatever.}

Me: Ok, bubs, let's go!

Him: But we didn't get the boat!

Me: We did VVVVVVVVVVVVote, no boats today, it's too cold outside.

Him: But we didn't pick up our people on our boat!!

Me: {thankful that the next time we vote he'll be 7 and understand consonants}

Thursday, October 11, 2012

a good run of bad luck

"what is worth it is not always easy, what is easy is not always worth it."
-- Unknown, or I may have made it up

 
So, about this house thing. We've been in our current house for 5 1/2 years. We love it, but it's smallish - 2 bedrooms and just under 1200sq ft on the main floor (plus a finished basement). We have the best neighbors and we love our neighborhood. But, Brecken and Jude have shared a room since j was born, and it's not the most awesome thing ever - they wake each other up (not on purpose). We came to the realization this past spring that we could and should probably think about moving.

I grew up in a teensy town in Nebraska. A map dot, really. And? I loved it. I graduated with 17 people in my senior class, and small classes were something that I expected. I also grew up really close to Colorado, and I've spent the past five years trying to convince Joey that maybe we should explore moving to the foothills of Colorado - it's truly one of my favorite places on Earth. My soul is in Colorado.

But my heart is in Lincoln. I love this place. I love that it's 300,000 people, but it's really just an overgrown small town. Everybody knows somebody that you know. I thought maybe we should explore moving to a smaller town - somewhere that our kids could grow up and have the same experience I did. So we researched every small town within a 20 mile radius of Lincoln. We thought about acreages, and country living. We talked about developments out in the country - so you still have close neighbors!

We spent May, June, and July looking online at what felt like every house/lot/option in Lancaster County.

One Sunday, at the end of July, we drove out to the development where our new house is. It's on the far edge of town - something we were sure would be much too far away for our taste. But. We fell in love almost immediately. It quite literally had everything we wanted - wide open spaces, peace and quiet, smaller neighborhood, but still in city limits and close to everything. The house was shockingly in our price range, I thought for sure it would be over. It was only studs and concrete the first time we saw it, but I saw so much potential. It has the layout we want - split bedrooms so we all have a little privacy. Plenty of room to make a giant mess of toys in the basement. A beautiful kitchen, a covered deck. And my one must have - a big dreamy porch.

We put an offer on the house, it was accepted, and we quickly got ours on the market. There were lots of little things about the house, that I won't get into, that made things seem really "meant to be" - (not to get all kumbaya on you). Our house sold in 3.5 weeks, and we began the process of packing, and getting everything ready to go for the move.

And then our bad luck streak began. One day back in August, Jude was running a fever... normal viral something, and I stayed home with him. A few hours later, Brecken was found to have pinkeye (he's never had this before) and I picked him up from school, and later that day, Jude dropped a table on his hand, requiring an emergency trip to urgent care, and an x-ray (thankfully all was well). Things around the house started to break (things you don't want to have to fix before you move). My car needed a new muffler. Then our neighborhood lost water for an afternoon (our bad luck was spreading). 

The week our house sold, I realized I was having a miscarriage. It was a very, very early loss, and the peanut was gone before we ever realized it was there. It was a day of complete shock and confusion, and sadness. We were not, are not, looking to expand our family, we believe it is complete with our two beautiful cherubs. I lived with the "what if's" for a day, and then we moved forward, we had to.

Jude hurt his leg somehow in early September, we believe it was a high ankle sprain, but it required another x-ray and bloodwork to rule out anything more serious. If I thought I was sidelined with bad luck before, now I was doing it with a 30lb lovebug attached to my hip - we were his legs as his weren't able to walk. 

My car woes got worse, it was unexpectedly dead the day I flew out to Colorado to visit family (new battery, whee!). Then I needed a new sensor of some sort, then a new tire (also a new headlight and trunk light - what the heck?), and now we have a perpetual oil leak that cannot be fixed without hours of labor, and the transmission is really not awesome. 

One of the contractors working on repairs on our old house lost his brother to cancer the day he was supposed to work on our house. Seriously. Our luck is viral.

Last weekend, Jude spent 3 days with a 103.5° fever, on top of teething, he was a pathetic, sad, kiddo.

Tuesday I got rear-ended while driving home from work, and then we got really annoying/bad news about our house and our builder's unwillingness to finish part of the house they said they were going to (there will be more on this, when I am able to speak about it).

:::

I don't write all of this out for pity, or to be dramatic. At this point, it's kind of hilarious in a I-laugh-to-keep-from-crying way. This is the stuff of life. I know I'm predisposed at this point to look at all the crappy things that are happening to us and find a pattern and call it bad luck. I know that they're more pronounced than normal. I have friends fighting cancer, we've lost a friend to cancer this week - that stuff is the real bad luck here. Our stuff is just a blip on the radar, and I'm sure, someday, we'll look back and laugh. (Right?! Please tell me we will.)

We've also had a really good last few months. 

Photo by the always-amazing Tracy Wood Photography
We've laughed, a lot (again, sometimes to keep from crying). We've loved on each other, because it feels like we need to be closer to keep from being pulled apart. Some days it feels like we're just trying to make it until November 1st and all of this stuff will settle down.

We are so completely blessed to be moving into this house next week. I keep pinching myself wondering if this is for real - is this my real life?!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

well, hello there

You guys, I swear I didn't intend to take a 3 month blogging break. But I did, and GOODNESS I've been busy these past 3 months. I'm finally coming up for air though and hopefully we can return to your regularly scheduled droning on about my life, but first I better catch you up on what we've been up to!

  • Jude: This giant lovebug clocked in at 29lb 6oz a month ago, and was 34.75" tall. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he's well over 30lbs/35" by now. He's actually thinned out quite a bit the last 2-3 weeks it seems - shorts that used to be held up by his rotund belly are now sliding down to his diapered bum. This kid fills my soul with something I never knew I was missing - he's hilarious, often doing this eyelash batting thing just to make you smile. He's fiercely stubborn. I use to wax poetic about how stubborn and independent Brecken was when he was a toddler. HA. HAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA. Brecken is like the most easy going kid ever (to a point, more on that in a minute), and Jude is very sweet and mellow... but takes determination to an entirely new level. He is tough as nails and really doesn't let anything get in the way. Including mom and dad when we refuse to let him take a broom to bed, or take 4 clothes hangers in the car with him. Melt.down.city. He's a leetle accident prone. *knocks on wood* *throws salt over shoulder* Since I've last posted, he's had 2 x-rays (thankfully both negative) from completely separate injuries, which is 1 more than I've had in my whole 30 years (other than teeth). He's talking up a storm, using a ton of inflection in his sentences... but we really have no idea what he's saying. It sounds like "dhek ZEE badermeali GOGO!!", but we do get a few little snippets of words, he knows momma, DAD, ball, THAT, i did it!, ahh-duh (all done). We're loving watching him learn and explore, he does it all at warp speed and doesn't stop moving until he falls asleep at night.

  • They are best friends... I don't think I've seen them play independently in weeks. (They're obviously separated every day at school.) They love each other and only occasionally fight. For now. 
  • Brecken: is equal parts awesome/silly/cute/funny and THREENAGER right now. Sometimes we feel at the end of our ropes and not quite sure what other tricks to try on him to get him to behave. (Where is that instruction manual for parenting anyway??) He's still very easy easy-going, and then the stubbornness kicks in (over seemingly inane things) and we go from 0-HOLYTANTRUMBATMAN in about 2 seconds. I know that this will pass, I love him so much it hurts, always. He's smart and clever - he loves puzzles and can put them together in no time flat. He's still a complete cuddlebug, even at the ripe old age of 3.5. He loves when it's "Nebraska Day" and there's a Husker football game to watch. It's fun to have him to interact with now - having entire conversations with a pint-sized person is quite the trip.
  • We bought a house! (We also sold our sweet little house, in 3.5 weeks, but the new is always more exciting than the old.) This house, actually. It's still under construction, but will be done on Sunday (it has to be, it's in the Parade of Homes) (Final color is not that weird white, that's the primer). We love it so, so much. It feels perfect for us. Lots of great views, a pond and lake to fish from, and put a little boat on. A new elementary school in the next few years. All of the little features we really wanted (I *had* to have a covered porch). We're feeling very, very blessed. Next time, I'll tell you about all the weird coincidences that have happened with this house to make it seem very meant-to-be. We move 2 weeks (!!) from tomorrow and have a TON to do before then.
 A few views from the new house:

  •  Joey and I: are doing really great. Well great in all the ways that matter - we love each other, we love our kids, we have great jobs. We're just busy. This blog is called Life, Simply Lived, and nothing feels very simple about our lives right now. Sometimes it feels like we're just treading water to get everything done for that day. I think after we move and get settled, things will calm down immensely. We all need a refocus back to spending our time on the things that ultimately matter. 

More soon! Have a great week!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

my kid is the most hilarious

I know, I know, you're bombarded by stories of how everyone has the Most! Hilarious! Kid! Ever! I'm loving age three for this exact reason - Brecken cracks us up dozens of times a day, and he's completely oblivious to it. A lot of people warned me about how horrible age three is, and so far the awesome is by far outweighing the not-so-awesome.

A conversation from earlier today, that I wanted to remember:
[B and I, driving in the car, Katy Perry's T.G.I.F is on the radio.]
B: "who's dat singin'?"
Me: "On the radio? It's Katy Perry."
B: "Baby Harry?"
Me: "No, Katy Perry"
B: "Katy Sherri?!"
Me: "No, Katy Perry, with a p-p-p-P!"
B: "Katy Larry? Where is Grandpa Larry?"
Me: "Katy Perry. Grandpa Larry is in Oregon."
B: "Katy Perry?"
Me: "YES." [thinks: FOR THE LOVE OF CHRISTMAS]
B: "Where's she singin'?"
Me: "On the radio?"
B: "Is she singin' at church?"
Me: "No."
B: "Oh. She doesn't have church clothes on."
Me: "No, she definitely does not have church clothes on."

Saturday, June 2, 2012

hey, jude

Juderbug,

I don't know the last time your brother called you anything but Juderbug or Juders. It's been ages since he called you Jude - and before that Baby Jude. Little love, you are anything but a baby now. You've nearly quadrupled your birth weight; you're now big and tall with chunky cheekers, ocean blue eyes to match your daddy and brother's, and soft little curls - but only at the back of your head, just enough to make your curly-haired momma smile.

It seems like you came screaming into our lives both a moment ago and a decade ago. It seems like ages since I was pregnant. But it feels like just last week that everyone was assembling to welcome you into the world. I had no idea there could be a puzzle piece as perfect as you to complete our little family.

I was scared at first. Everyone said I'd love you differently than I loved your brother. Maybe not as deeply right away. That was true. After all, I had 2 years and 3 months of getting to know your brother. You were new to the scene and I loved you fiercely, you were - and are - mine. Your sweet face melted me. But I was scared that the love-you-so-much-it-physically-hurts feeling I had for your brother wouldn't come. Silly me. Kiddo, you had me wrapped around your chunky fingers, and in no time you were wrapping those fingers around my heart. And now, without question or hesitation, I love you so much it physically hurts.

It's been amazing watching you grow this past year. You are feisty, and determined. You stop at nothing to get what you want. I think this is why you started walking at the ripe old age of ten-and-a-half months. There was a period of a few weeks where I didn't see your forehead without a cut or bruise - you're fearless and tough. You smack into everything because you won't quit until you master whatever you're trying to do. Yet, you're very kind-hearted and oh, so sweet, and you seem to know your limits. You've already started pushing your boundaries, and with one simple "Jude! No!", you check my face to see if I'm serious, and then you just stop, no questions asked. You're not a cuddler. You like one hug and then you want to be on your way. Lately, you're a daddy's boy (I'm not worried, you still give me plenty of smooches).

People have started to sing Hey, Jude to you eleventymillion times in the past year. I secretly love this. I hope you love it too as you get older. Truthfully though, you weren't named after that song. We aren't exactly music aficionados... and certainly don't claim to even be Beatles fans. We didn't really name you after Jude in the Bible. Certainly not after Martha Stewart's granddaughter, Jude. We heard the name the night before we found out your gender, and it was the first name in a thousand that we both liked. It's very, very old, yet seems contemporary too. You're so very much a Jude. I try to picture you as some of the other names I liked - Cullen, or Emmett, or Grayson, or Kieran - and none of them even come close to fitting you.

My friend Jess has two little guys too. She shares this little poem when talking about her littlest:
I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always.
As long as I'm breathing,
My baby you'll be.

I love those words so, so much. Jude, every day you try to defy what it means to be the "typical little brother". You stand on your own two feet (literally), and you have your own story to tell in this world.

No matter where you go, or what you do. I will love you then as I do now, on your first birthday. And you'll always, always be my baby.

Happy birthday, sugar boogers.

momma


Thursday, May 17, 2012

(the longest) lincoln half marathon recap (ever)

[If you're reading this today, Thursday, then hop over here and enter the TWO giveaways I have up that end today! Lots of cuteness up for grabs!]

I meant to do a race recap from the Leprechaun Chase 10k I ran back in, oh, MARCH, but that didn't happen. And now it's all a big green blur. I remember that it was windy, oh so windy. And hilly, but doable. And really freaking congested for the first 2 1/2 miles. But it was fun, and there was beer waiting for me at the end, so I can't complain too much. I finished that race in 59:19 (9:33 pace) - and I was hoping to beat 60 minutes, so I'm happy with it. It was a fun race. Joey and I matched. Whee. (Also: this is a really horrendous picture of me, but look at my skinny husband.)


Then I meant to do a race recap from the Bee Buzz Run in April. I super puffy heart Bee, Nebraska. Since my own hometown is 5 hours away, I've adopted Bee as my new hometown. It's cute and tiny and they have really good fish fry's (fish fries looks like french fries, and that's not what this is, grammar police) on Fridays. But they also have a 4 mile race in the spring to raise money for rehabbing the Bee Ballroom - it's a giant 12-sided building that needs a bit of TLC to be restored. Anyway, love Bee. The 4 mile race takes you out into the country, on gravel roads, around a "section" (linked for my non-farm friends). I finished the race in 37:06 (9:16 pace) - whoa, fast.

The Lincoln Half Marathon was 11 days ago - and it already feels like a blur. The night before, we left the boys with my inlaws, and then Joey and I went to church and to supper. I didn't sleep a ton - and knew my alarm was set for 4:45 and was dreading oversleeping. It was storming and windy all night. I woke up at 4am and was up for the day. A quick glance at the radar on my phone showed this:


And then I laughed and Joey woke up and was cranky with me for being up 45 minutes before the alarm was due to go off.

We left at 5:45 to get downtown. We parked across from the stadium, dropped our bags in the bag drop, and I began plotting where I was going to pee the requisite 421 times before the race began. Our sweet neighbor, Camille, rode with us to the race and was more than patient with my necessary pre-race pit stops.

Joey - still annoyed with me being up at 4am.
The clock ticked toward 7am and by then the rain had stopped. It was overcast, cool, and beautiful. I kissed Joey good luck, said farewell to Camille, and found my spot with the 2:05 pace group. The day before, at the expo, I stopped by the pacer's table and they had magical wrist bands with the pace that each group was going to hit for each mile. In my mind, I had a goal of hitting 2 hours, 10 minutes - that was a 9:54 average pace, which I was pretty sure I could hit. But the 2:05 pace group was a 9:33 average - and the first mile was a 10:02 mile - that I knew I could do. The pacer dude told me to start with the 2:05 group and fall back if I needed to.

I brought some Shot Blocks for my pre-race energy, and nervously started chomping on 3 of them (not all at once, those things are freaking huge) as we were herded toward the starting line. I finally crossed the starting line at 7:22.

Here is where I tell you that running a half marathon in a race setting is really not at all comparable to training for a half marathon. The training part was work, it was sweat, in some cases it was tears. It was the gritty means to an end, a necessary evil some days. It took time away from my kids, and there were days that I resented it. The actual race? Was kind of blissful. Maybe it was just my newness, and wide-eyed wonder at the whole situation, but it didn't feel like work. It was truly the best kind of reward for the previous six months of toil.

I knew the first water station wasn't until mile 3 - and those 3 miles were a blur. There were people cheering, I was navigating rain puddles, and trying to stay with the little group of people in my 2:05 group. Thank God for them, seriously, because if they hadn't kept me to a 10:02 pace that first mile, I would have been gone like a flash and paid for it in agony later. I paced with them well until miles 5-6. We hit a 9:13 mile pace and I was feeling it. Thankfully, there was a long downhill stretch, but I could tell that my adrenaline had subsided and I needed to rely on my endurance to carry me. I popped the last 3 of those gigantic, delicious, shot blocks, and prayed they'd kick in quickly so I could keep up with the group. The course wasn't super congested at this point, but there would still be times that I would get cut off from them a bit and have to catch up.

A little past mile 6 (I think), we turned off the road and onto the trail. THAT was congested, the entire time we were on it. People were passing two-wide on the grass. Everyone was courteous, and no one was really walking or being dumb, it was just zomg, so many people. It would be swell if this event could go beyond 10,000 runners, but unless they move off this trail, I don't know how that would happen. [End random soapbox from the beginner runner who has only run this race once.]

Anyway, I kept up with the 2:05 group as much as possible, but we were finally cut off entirely between mile 7 and 8. It was 7.79 when I finally lost them and glanced at my RunKeeper app - and noticed I was running a 9:26 pace. I said HOLY CRAP, audibly, and laughed, and slowed down a bit. No wonder I was sucking wind so badly - and I still had 5 miles to go.

Since I was trying to hit at least a 2:10 finish, I knew that all I really had to do was stay in front of the 2:10 pace group. The previous day, the pacer guy at the expo had told me that each group would finish within 1 minute of that pace.

I continued to plod along - I never stopped to walk. I didn't ever feel like I needed to, and I knew it would sap my momentum.

And then I ran into The Hill. I really, really wanted to get a wagon ride up the hill from the kids on the sidelines. I told myself to lean into it. Ha, I have no idea what that even means, but it seemed to work. I just leaned forward a bit and kept going. Cresting the hill, this guy had a sign saying "It's all downhill from here". Phew.

I got to the aid station by the hospital and needed a final boost. I had lost track of miles, I think maybe mile 9? I don't know. I think 9 because I told myself that's when I'd have my GU Gel. Oh I hate those things. They make me gag and sputter. But they work. It's just. They're so freaking... gooey. Blech.

But I had eneeerrrrrgyyyyy!

I also hate warm water, so I got a cup of ice and very carefully poured my water into my cup of ice, while running. I am awesome at multitasking.

The crowd was awesome the entire time, but they were necessary those last 3 miles. I was done. I was dreaming of my couch, and food, and sleep. I never did see my boys - Joey did - but we missed each other entirely. :o\ I saw a lot of really random, awesome people - both those who I knew would be out cheering, and those I didn't. I would start to need a boost and say a quick "please God, just give me someone, I need a boost" - and it would be a former coworker, or a cute kid with high fives, or even just some random dude on the street saying "goooo Alison!".

I finally, finally neared the stadium. I passed a poor girl at the 12.9ish mark who was passed out and they had fluids going into her and had her feet propped up. I never felt so bad for someone in my life... to make it so far!

I rounded the bend into the stadium, and this guy was like "you're almost there, it's just a 50 yard dash!" so I dashed, I found some random pocket of sprint energy and sprinted to the finish.

Wheee!

I found some bananas and chocolate milk (which sound hideous together, now, but were divine in that moment).

RunKeeper was telling me 2:11:16 for a finish, and a distance of 13.3, so I knew it was a bit off.

A few hours later, my final time came in at 2:11:00 - 10:00 pace on the dot. Who does that?! Who hits a perfectly round number? This girl with the love for round numbers!

I don't know what happened to the 2:10 pace group - they never passed me. Maybe I was just a smidge ahead of them though, who knows.

Overall, I was thrilled with the entire experience and can't wait for the next one!

Camille and I - we did it!
And I present you with really horrible race photos...



That kid running in the red shirt? Is THIRTEEN. Incredible.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sweet Ainsley

Several years ago, when we were trying to grow our family, I met some amazing friends on the Internets who were playing that waiting game too. One of those friends is Jen. The other day, someone asked how long I'd known her, and I realized I don't remember ever not knowing her - we've been friends as long as I've been in that online community.

Jen is hilarious, you can't read a post of hers without wanting to drive to Ohio and have a drink with her. More than that though, she's an amazing mom to three beautiful girls, two in heaven, one on Earth; and another sweetpea is due to join their family in just a few weeks.

Jen's oldest daughter Olivia is just 2 weeks older than Brecken. It was fun to compare pregnancy notes, then later commiserate when they wouldn't sleep (ZOMG WHY WON'T THEY SLEEP), and then over the toddler tantrums, and, more recently, laugh over the preschooler shenanigans.

Almost 17 months ago, Jen had twins, Evelyn and Ainsley, two months early. Evelyn was born at rest. Ainsley was tiny but a fighter, and fought for so long that her sweet little body finally gave out last Saturday and she joined her sister in heaven.

Ainsley had the MOST nomable, chunky cheeks, and the hugest grin. Seriously, Jen would post a photo to facebook of Ainsley's latest smile and I would smile the rest of the day. She was pure joy in a pint-sized person. I miss her.

Today, from 5-8pm, they're having a memorial service for Ainsley and Evelyn. I'm remembering them with Internet silence and instead I'm going to love on my babies. We're going to blow bubbles for Ainsley and Evelyn to show them our love. We're going to giggle and cherish today, because tomorrow isn't promised.

If you want to read more about Jen and her cute family, here is her blog: www.jennepper.com.

You're welcome to join us tonight. If you want to do something more tangible to remember Ainsley, you can email knepperfamilydonations at gmail - it sounds like there's lots of options in the works.

Rest well, sweet girls.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Here Comes Summer Blog Hop Giveaway: Local Lustre & Spaghetti On The Wall

You guys, I have the coolest friends. When I expanded my Etsy shop in January to include artwork and typography, I realized a few of my friends had some pretty awesome Etsy shops too! I started using them for gifts (for others and myself) when I was outside my own crafty comfort zone.

I wanted to tell the world how awesome their stuff is, and it turns out I wasn't alone. The 5 of us - Suzy, Nicole, Laurie, Lindsay, and myself - all want you to know how great each others' stuff is, so we're hosting some pretty fantastic blog giveaways this week!

Ladies (and the rare gentleman), I present:


It's really very simple. Enter the TWO giveaways here, on my blog, and then hop on around to the other 3 blogs (there's 4 blogs and 5 giveaways, I have 2 going on here) to enter at each stop. Then check back Friday to see if you're a winner! There's TWO giveaways on my blog TWO, DOS, so keep reading to make sure you enter them both!

After you enter here, hop over to these other blogs to enter their giveaways, you'll see something from me there too!

Lindsay: http://www.withalittleloveandluck.com
Nicole: http://spaghettionmywall.blogspot.com
Suzy: http://www.notafertilemyrtle.com



Lindsay lives in New Orleans (I really wanted to type N'awlins, but I held back) (oops). And makes the most amazing door decor. I mean seriously, this crab?! Love.

I ordered one of these state ones ^, but Nebraska of course. I already know I'm going to love it. Also? I love that not everyone is going to have one of them. Like everyone and their mother (and me! and my mother!) have giant wooden flowers hanging on their front door, but I'm going to be one of a few to have a fancy Nebraska on my door.


Chomp, chomp. Seriously, The Cute. And perfect for a Gators fan, yes?

Lindsay started her little shop after being told for years that she should do so - clearly her friends and family know talent when they see it. :o) And the rest of us are so glad she did! She stuffs them with recycled grocery bags (my husband, aka Captain Planet, approves!), and gives them a finishing coat of Scotch Guard so they can stand up to the elements outdoors.

She loves custom orders and can make anything you wish, so long as there's a Google-able silhouette of it available. Check out Lindsay's shop here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/LocalLustre

So, the good part - the GIVEAWAY! Lindsay will make the winner a summer-themed or state door hanger of their choice! To enter, just leave a comment on the rafflecopter widget below! Contest ends at 12:01am on Friday, May 18th. Good luck! And keep reading, there's another giveaway below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway



I sort of insisted on having Nic's cute stuff on my blog because this is as close as I'll ever get to adorably girly hair things. And y'all (this Midwesterner just got Southern for a moment), her stuff is uh-door-uh-bull. Obviously, I'm not too versed in little girl hair fashion, but her stuff is so freaking awesome, it's stuff that I would wear, in the right setting. It's not overly poufy or loud, it's unique, simple, and perfect.

This?!
Makes me happy. I would buy this just to stick it on my bulletin board at work. Maybe I will. Ok, this one is mine, no stealing.

And how perfect is this one?! Simple, cute, and the baby is still the main subject.

I'm totally getting this one to put on the lapel of my coat, how perfect:
 
Check out all of the cuteness at the Spaghetti on the Wall shop, here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/SpaghettiOnTheWall. I love that her stuff is affordable. You can buy a few things without breaking the bank, and your little one (or yourself!) can still be stylish!

And the good part, the giveaway! You're lucky, Nic made you a special package o' goodness just for this giveaway! The winner will receive these 4 amazing creations, on either alligator clips or snap clips:




To enter, just leave a comment on the rafflecopter widget below. Then hop on over to these other blogs to enter their giveaways too! Contest ends at 12:01am on Friday, May 18th. Good luck!

Lindsay: http://www.withalittleloveandluck.com
Nicole: http://spaghettionmywall.blogspot.com
Suzy: http://www.notafertilemyrtle.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The featured product for each giveaway or posting was not provided to me; this is simply for information or a giveaway only. I did not accept monetary compensation for the specific write up. Any and all additional information in each post are expressly my own opinion/additions and opinions expressed are my own.
 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

juggling

It dawned on me this morning that when the sun sets on May 7th, in the course of 10 days, I will have had my very first ever craft show for Ten Tiny Toes, completed a half marathon, and welcomed my new nephew into the world. All of those things have required a ton of preparation, and honestly? I don't know how I'm getting it all done, but here we are. Day 5 of this 10 day span and going strong.

When Joey and I decided to run the half marathon last December, it was sort of a pipe dream. I mean, we paid the $60 (each!) to register for the race, and since we're cheap I think the only thing keeping me going in those first weeks was the fact that I would be damned if anyone thought I'd leave $60 on the table so easily. But we kept going. Through March when we ran the 10k, I hadn't missed a single day of training. Since then, Spring has sprung, and getting out to put my feet to pavement has been harder than I imagined. It's gloriously sunny out until 8pm. The boys have spring fever, they just want to be outside. I want to be with them. Jude is walking. Brecken is telling hilarious tall tales, and honestly I don't want to take 60 minutes of their time to go run. But I made it work as much as I could, and I sit here, 4 days before I attempt to run farther than I have in my 29 years, and I feel ready. I'm not nervous about the distance. I'm excited for the race for exactly 2 reasons: a) I haven't run the course before; I get soooo bored running the same streets/paths all the time, so it will be awesome to see new cracks in the sidewalks and b) the people - I'm excited to see all those people clapping for me (and 9,999 others), because a year ago?! I was 8 months pregnant and running wasn't even on my horizon. I AM nervous about my health. Specifically my knee and foot still - if you have a spare prayer, I covet them. If you can just think happy pain-free thoughts, I'll take those too. All I want to do is finish.

My husband is a saint. Sometimes in a (rare) quiet moment, I catch myself wondering "is this really my life?!". I am so, so blessed by two adorable, amazing kids, and a husband that supports me no matter what. I knew Joey was made for me in that typical newlywed bliss way, but you guys? It just keeps getting better. Five and a half years into this marriage thing and I think we're hitting our stride a bit... by no means do we have it all figured out, and sometimes there's still a bit of OMG WHY DON'T YOU LOAD THE DISHWASHER CORRECTLY?! He spent hours and hours last week herding the boys (seriously, that's what it's like, just diverting them to one room and please LEAVE MOMMA ALONE FOR 7 MINUTES, I LOVE YOU) so that I could get things in line for the craft fair and work on getting things ready for my sweet nephew's arrival (it's a bit of prep to get myself and 2 kids ready for 5 days, 5 hours away from home). If I don't say it enough, Joseph, you amaze me and I'm the lucky one.

Anyway, sappiness aside. It's been a lot of preparation to get to this day, a lot of late nights, and long, quiet runs. But I'm ready (I think).

And if my 30th year of life has been this exciting, I can't wait to see what's in store.

Here goes nothing.

Monday, April 23, 2012

bullets

I've been wanting to write a post, so badly - I miss it when I don't stop by weekly. Life has been crazy busy this month, so the blog was the first thing to go. I'm stopping by with a bulleted list for now though - more coming soon.
  • Jude started walking over the course of the past week. This weekend was official though - 4-5 steps at a time. This is so earrrrly, he's only 10.5 months old. He's a little giant though, so my arms are thankful he can carry his own weight a bit now. I've really noticed him getting longer and leaner lately, his thighs are down to one sad roll. He looks like an 18 month old, but he's still my baby.
  • He'll be 1 in 5 1/2 weeks. I'm not ready to talk about this yet.
  • But I made a really cute invite for his party! I'll share it soon.
  • We're having a bug party for him, because he's our Juderbug.
  • Brecken is awesome. He's hilarious, 80% of the time. But then there's 10% of the time he's very THREE. Tears over food being "broken" or his brother playing with one of B's toys.
  • This past weekend, B told me he was going to run with me. He was very matter-of-fact about it, and has been asking to run with us for a while now. So I took him on a little loop around the neighborhood (total: .4 miles). He ran the first 1/4 mile without stopping, his little legs scissoring back and forth and arms flailing. I was so proud of him. Apparently his whole goal was to get sweaty because halfway home he asked "momma are we sweaty yet?". I said "no bubba, we're walking, we have to run to get sweaty". So he took off and started running some more. 
  • Speaking of running, we're still doing it! The half marathon is less than two weeks away. I feel completely prepared, mentally and physically. And I don't know if I will feel the same on race day, but I think we'll be ready. I've been battling a sore left knee (the one I tore my meniscus and MCL in during high school) as well as plantar fasciitis on the bottom of my right foot. I'm hoping my injuries don't keep me sidelined, I think I'll get by on a wing and prayer though.
  • We still aren't eating sugar (regularly). We cheat occasionally, but it's always very intentional and thought out. It's not me grabbing a pop in the afternoon because "I deserve it"; or Joey getting a candy bar because he's "earned it". When I had a piece of wedding cake this weekend, I thought "I'm going to eat this cake, and savor it. It's a treat. I haven't had anything sweet all week, and it'll be a long time until I have another bit of sweetness." And the cake wasn't that awesome, but I'm just glad that I feel like I'm in control of the sugar now.
  • My baby sister is having her second baby in the next month and I'm SO EXCITED for the impending birth of another nephew! When she had her first son, I was 6 months pregnant and miserable. I was so into planning MY kid's room, that I didn't get to fully spoil her or my nephew from day 1. So this time, I'm going all out. She said she wanted a Moses basket for the babe, so I found one used, and am making cutie bedding for it. (This isn't a surprise, I've been giving her the play-by-play.) Anyway. I had to order a new thin mattress pad for it, knowing that it would be a bit big. It ended up fitting awfully, so yesterday I took the mattress apart, shortened it by 5" and sewed it back together. And you can't even tell! :) Then I made a sheet for the pad. A fitted sheet with elastic, y'all. There is more to come, but I haven't wrapped my mind around exactly how I'm going to construct the side parts yet. Anyway, (crappy cell phone) photos:
  • My little design shop, Ten Tiny Toes, is keeping me crazy busy lately, WHICH IS AWESOME. Seriously. If you're a past customer, thank you from the bottom of my creative heart. If you're a future customer, I can't wait to work with you. This little shop was such a dream, a total "what if". I can't even believe what it's grown to. Come hang out with us over on Facebook: www.facebook.com/tentinytoes, and you can always grab a cuppa and stop by the Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/tentinytoesdesigns.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

no sugar, day 10

I fully intended to update this before now, but here we are. Today is day 10 without [much] sugar and we're going strong. I say much because I donated blood last Friday and had a cookie; my blood pressure is so chronically low (like 92/60) that if I didn't have a little pick-me-up, I probably would have passed out in the car.

Did you know quitting sugar is trendy? Apparently so.

This past Sunday, 60 Minutes had a segment called "Is Sugar Toxic?" (watch it here: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7403942n&tag=contentBody;storyMediaBox).

It turns out, not only is sugar highly addictive (hello, I am the poster child for that), it also is at the root of causing type 2 diabetes (case in point: my husband), obesity, heart disease, stroke, and it worsens some types of cancer. I know, what doesn't cause cancer, right? It's not that we shouldn't enjoy a piece of birthday cake as a special, rare treat, it's that we eat so much sugar, all the time.

According to that 60 Minutes segment, Americans consume 130 pounds of sugar per year, that's 1/3 of a pound of sugar PER DAY. 1/3 of a pound! 5.33 ounces of the sweet stuff swirling in your tummy; a little over 1/2 Cup, if you need to get your measuring cup out to see the visual.

While I'm linking things:
My point in linking all of this isn't to stand on a soapbox and tell you how to do life - take it or leave it, but after reading/watching these pieces this past week, personally I'm now even more convinced that this was the right move for me.

::

So, how are we doing without sugar? Great, for the most part. Except for my blood donation cookie, I haven't had any sugar or fake sugar in 10 days. A few bullets to organize my swirling thoughts:
  • Sugar is in everything. Pasta sauce. Ketchup. Bread. Tortilla Chips. Salsa.
  • As I suspected, the nights after the boys are in bed and I'm working on my computer have been the worst for cravings. I want ice cream or cookies, always.
  • Quitting Diet Pepsi has shockingly been the easiest part of this, I don't even miss it.
  • I need to plant a lemon tree in our yard for all the lemons I'm consuming lately. I'm using about 1 a day in my water and iced tea. 
  • If there's sugar in something, I try to "just" make my own. We had sourdough bread out of the bread machine (sugar free! delish!), and I made my own salsa last weekend (that's the best salsa recipe ever, I've made it dozens of times, this time I just left the sugar out). 
  • Having carrots for breakfast is kind of weird, and they taste like sugar sticks after a week of no sugar.
  • I've lost 5 pounds! And I haven't done anything differently, in fact I've run less the past 10 days than ever due to scheduling/sickness/soreness/traveling.
  • I got sick, and sore. The sick (sinus) was just a bug passed around, but the soreness was like someone steamrolled me. I'm on the back side of that though now and feeling like the clouds are finally parting.
  • I was sleepy the first few days, maybe even the whole first week, but that's passing too. 
  • I don't necessarily crave specific sugar during the day (just at night), but I find myself scanning my brain for something I can eat when I'm hungry at 2pm - and often everything that sounds good has sugar in it. Like I can't just go get chips from the vending machine. And I can't have some ranch dip with my veggies. And no zucchini bread my coworker brought. All the stuff that's "healthier" (is it, really?) still has sugar in it.
Honestly? It really hasn't been that bad. I love the approach that the I Quit Sugar book takes, it's so very slow and gentle. I'm realizing there's a lot I need to reframe when it comes to sugar. That whole nighttime reward for surviving the day thing? I needed to find something else to look forward to allllll day so that when the night gets here I'm not feeling like "well crap, what do I do now?" - so Joey suggested we do a yoga/pilates video (don't laugh, we're super unflexible). And when I get to work in the morning, I looked forward to cracking open a Diet Pepsi - now I love the extra steps to cut and squeeze my enormous lemon chunk into my the freshly brewed iced tea I brought from home. See? Reframing.

I want to know if you're doing this too! And if you don't think you can, you can, I swear. Just try it, you might like it. And you're not losing anything by trying, you can always go back.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

in which I admit I have a problem, and a solution

Hi, my name is Alison, and I'm a sugar addict. (Really.) I love donuts, and brownies, and cookie dough. Diet Pepsi, sweet cocktails, and a cold lemonade on a hot day. I have sugary cereal for breakfast, and always always need something sweet to cap off dinner after a long day.

It wasn't always this way. Growing up, we rarely had dessert or sweets just lying around. My mom wasn't - isn't - exactly a baker. She made our birthday cakes, and they were divine, but aside from that? I can count the number of times we made cookies on one hand. I didn't feel deprived, it was just all I knew. Sure we had ice cream bars, or popsicles, and Kool-Aid (OH THE KOOL-AID) (unrelated: Kool-Aid was invented in Nebraska. And now you know.), but they were just there if I wanted them, maybe once a week? No big deal.

Before I became a mom, I would scoff at people who talked about their chocolate cravings. I thought they were just wanting an excuse to indulge on some sweet stuff. But something happened after Brecken was born - call it hormones, or sleep deprivation, or maybe just me aging, but I started to want a little something sweet, every day. After Jude joined us, it intensified. Dessert was my reward at the end of a long day of parenting / wifery / working (two jobs!) / housekeeping. And chocolate? Oh I craved it. I still do.

I saw this on Pinterest last fall, it felt like a suckerpunch:



Around the same time, someone pinned this book:



It seemed a little... weird. I mean, QUIT?! SUGAR?! why would anyone want to do that? I kind of filed it away in the "to be dealt with later" place in my brain. I was still nursing Jude. He was still waking up 1-3 times a night. It was all I could do to make it through the day awake as it was. I wasn't about to take away my end-of-the-day reward.

Fast forward a few months and as I was in the thick of half marathon training in February, I met Nic - she blogs at For My Tummy. (Ok, really, I didn't "meet" her, but I happened onto her blog.) In a total kismet moment, Nic was within days of running her first half marathon, AND she'd successfully quit sugar last fall. Since then, I've been picking her brain and reading her posts about how, exactly, she did it! (Check out her old posts, her before and after pics are amazing!)

I've spent the past month on the fence about whether I should really do this no sugar thing. Ultimately, I've decided YES, yes I do want to stop having cravings. I want to stop thinking about getting a blizzard when I'm not even hungry. I want to be able to have two cookies and then stop thinking about all the other cookies that I didn't eat.

So last week, I bought the I Quit Sugar ebook. And yesterday, I quit sugar. It's an 8 week (gentle, slow) detox. But, it's about removing alllll the sugar from your diet. Did you know there's sugar in ketchup? What about table salt? And no fruit - that's the hardest one. (I will eat fruit again, just not right now. And it will be the recommended 2ish pieces a day (5-6 grams) - not the gobs of it I eat now to quench my fruit craving.) There's no fake sugar (no Splenda, no Stevia, no artificial sweeteners) in the beginning either. The goal is to stop all the sugar, stop all the cravings, then reintroduce the good stuff in appropriate amounts.

Yesterday was pretty easy, all things considered. Until 8pm. That's when B is asleep; Jude is meandering around the family room, playing; I'm working on the computer; random tv is playing in the background; Joey is running; and I really really just wanted a tiny bowl of ice cream. Or 5 M&Ms. Or a chocolate milk. But I didn't have anything, I just kept sipping my lemon water. (Yes, lemon is a fruit, but the fructose content is nearly negligible.) Yesterday, I won. Seven weeks and six days to go.

Does this mean I'll never have sugar again? Umm, no. I live in a world of kid's birthday parties where there will be cake. And bomb pops on a hot summer day. Hot chocolate when it's cold outside. In fact, I specifically started this detox this week, rather than after Easter (as was my initial plan) so that I can be done with the detox and hopefully be able to enjoy a small piece of cake on Jude's birthday in June. That's what I want - I want sweetness to be a treat. A once a week, or so, blissful escape. I don't want it to consume my every thought.

I am not doing this to lose weight. I cringe at the term "diet". Truthfully though, while I sometimes get compliments about how I "look like I've lost weight!" from all this running I've been doing - I haven't lost a single, solitary pound since I started running in December. I know things shift, and muscle weighs more than fat. I know. I'm hopeful that at the very least, cutting sugar will help with feeling bloated. And maybe, maybe it will help the scale slide a tiny bit.

Joey is on board, and quitting sugar too. He's doing it for himself, of course, but I think he's also doing it because a) he's always up for a challenge and b) he's so supportive of me. The thing is, he reversed type 2 diabetes. He knows how to handle sugar now. I obviously, do not. (The boys' diets aren't changing, they're still eating fruits daily, and B doesn't eat much sugary stuff anyway.)

My awesome friend and runner extraordinaire, Lindsay, is doing this too. It helps tremendously to have someone to bounce ideas off and cheer for.

So. I'm doing this. And I'm going to blog about it along the way (surely, you're not surprised).

Nic tells me I can eat Kettle Chips and beer, that may very well what gets me through the next 8 weeks. :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

five minute friday: loud



I remember the peace the night before Brecken was born. We had to be at the hospital for the induction at 7:30 pm; 6:00 pm found me sitting on my couch in silence. No tv, no dog pacing the floor or barking outside, no phones, no internet, just sweet peace. J was tidying up the house (working out nervous pre-dad energy I'm sure), and I was sitting there, with my eyes closed, sucking in as much silence as I could.

I said to J, "this is the quietest our house is going to be for a long time".

Three years later, the sound of toy cars running across our wood floors is the music of our days. Chuggington or Diego make up the constant background drone. B's tantrums and giggles; j's belly laughter and cries. It's the soundtrack to our lives right now. And it's loud.

And I can't imagine it any other way.

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I'm linking up with 5 minute Friday today. You write for 5 minutes flat. No over thinking, no editing, just write. Link up here: http://thegypsymama.com/2012/03/five-minute-friday-loud/

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

feet fail me not

We're two months away from the half marathon (as of yesterday!) and we're still going strong with training. Our furthest distance so far is 8 miles, which we ran about 10 days ago. This week is an easy week with 3, 4 mile runs before the 10k we're running on Saturday.

I say "we" a lot, because Joey and I are 100% in this together. We train the same distances, we talk about it incessantly, and we motivate each other to run on the days that we really don't want to run.

But running is an isolated sport. Ultimately the only person you have to answer to is yourself. It's you and the tunes on your headset, making your feet hit the pavement thousands of times in a row before you quit.

Joey and I have never gone for a run together. Both of us training these long-ish distances, and managing a household with two cuties is a bit like a choreographed ballet. Certain days I have to pick the kids up, other days Joey picks them up so I can start running right away after work and then get done in time to get supper ready and start our bedtime routine. I don't have any idea how we're doing it, but we are.

Before I started training for the half marathon, the furthest recorded distance I'd run is a 3k (1.86 miles), which I ran in 17:56 (9:37 pace). The fact that I can go run 8 miles today without much of a thought boggles. my. mind. It really requires no pep talk on my part, and I don't dread it, it's just something I need to do and I do it.

I've learned a few things along the way, from what to wear (and what not to wear!), to the fact that I MUST bring kleenexes with me, because my nose will run the entire time whether it's 20 degrees or 70 degrees, to the fact that I must have the smallest ear canals on the planet because even the teeny tinyest ear buds don't fit me. So far we've avoided injury (knock on wood, throw salt over shoulder), other than a few blisters on our feet.

When I started running in December, it hurt. The side stitches were intense, and I felt like I could never get enough air. My pace was 13ish minutes per mile. I was overjoyed the first time my pace was in the 12's. Then slowly but surely I got faster. I never really tried to run faster, I just was. My legs were stronger and I could run further without being winded. For the last 2 months I've consistently ran between 9:30 and 10:00 minute miles. This past week, it feels like I'm making another transition. Like my body wants to go faster, but my brain isn't really willing. When I ran my four miles on Monday night, I forced myself to sprint for the last two tenths of the second mile. I stopped at the turnaround spot, and caught my breath, I realized it wasn't really that bad to push myself. I watched as two girls ran past where I was standing on the trail. They were jogging quickly, probably around my normal pace. I decided I'd let them get a 50 yard or so head start, and then I'd catch up to them (hi, I need a goal). So I did, and I passed them, running hard. Except, it felt so good, I just kept going. I ran that hard all the way home. I finished that run with a 9:05/mi pace. Say what? It felt awesome. Ok, the last half mile BLEW. I was DONE. But I knew if I slowed down, that stupid Runkeeper lady would come on my headset and tell me my pace was getting slower.








I've always been my own worst enemy when it comes to working out. Halfway through the workout I always start to doubt my ability and endurance. Once that seed of doubt creeps in, I'm done. If my plan was to run 2 miles, I'd give up at 1. If my plan was to do 100 sit ups, I'd stop at 25. I was a quitter.

I feel like I've changed that pattern. I don't quit now, I keep going. People always smile and say something like "oh good for you" or "I could never run a half marathon" or "I can't even run a half mile". And I want to scream YES! YOU! CAN!. Seriously, I was a quitter with the best of them. And while all the sentiments about me being such a model of health are sweet, honestly the only thing that keeps me going is the fear of failure. I signed up to run THIRTEEN POINT ONE MILES. In two months. And today I'm not sure that I could do that. But two months ago I couldn't run eight miles, and now I can. And two months from today, Lord willing, I will be a half marathoner.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

operation organization: week one

Remember how I joined Katherine for Operation Organization? Week One had us organizing our kitchen, dining room, entry way, and hall closet. I cheated a bit and did our living room too, for two reasons - 1) we have a ranch-style house, and really don't have an entry way or foyer, the front door opens to the living room and 2) we don't really live in the living room, the boys just use it while we're making supper or in the kitchen - therefore it stays cleanish. We had B's 3rd (ack!) birthday here on Saturday, so I'm a little slow to post, but it also helped us give everything a deep clean before we had company.

It was easier for me to take progress videos, rather than photos, so here we go!

Living room... The cube storage thingie is from Target and is AMAZING. It holds a ton of books, and the fabric bins are so easy to take out with a set of toys, and then put back at the end of the night. We try to keep B and j's toys separate for now because B has a ton of toys (cars!) that j will put in his mouth and that freaks me out a bit. Anyway... living room:



Our hall (coat) closet... the bag thing I show you has helped manage the plethora of kids hats and gloves more than I could have imagined.



Umm, holy crap is my house loud?! That sounds about normal. Anyway, moving on...

Dining room... boring, but clean. My theory for the "stuff" (knick knacks, picture frames, etc.) sitting around on shelves is that I don't want it sitting out if it's not either beautiful, meaningful, or useful. I hate dusting. It was my most loathed chore growing up, and I still despise it. So I don't want more crap sitting around when it means I just have to dust around it.



Kitchen... I love certain things about the kitchen. Generally speaking, it's big enough for us, but I could always use more cabinet space. After we got the new microwave cabinet (in the video), now I think we'll move that yellow and white cabinet out of the kitchen, it's just too much in that area. The pantry needs more help, but I did get some wire shelves from Bed Bath and Beyond a while ago that's helped organize our canned goods and pastas. (BB&B rocks for kitchen organization if you need some assistance...).

I took a few "before" pics of the kitchen on Sunday, when we were up to our eyeballs in post-birthday party stuff, but I can't get the pics of the camera at the moment, so I'll have to post those next time. Promise though, it was a mess.



Link up with Katherine to share your progress! You can join in at any time. :)