Friday, December 14, 2012

shut down

A week and a half ago, I ran 18 miles. The farthest I have ever run and only six weeks, just two long training runs short of the marathon.

My foot started hurting but a short one without much pain. It was sore and a little stabby but three and a half hours of running would do that to a foot.

But then it kept getting worse to the point I was having trouble falling asleep because the pain was so intense.  - before the Vicodin that is. A visit to the doctor got me an order for an MRI to detect either soft tissue injury or a stress fracture. But, turns out the MRI would cost us at least $700, which most likely the same result - me not running. A stress fracture means no running and soft tissue means only run if it doesn't hurt. And people, it hurts.

I decided to forgo the expensive test and face the facts there will be no Jan. 20 marathon. The doctor has given me four days to soak my foot in a ice bucket five times a day. If no improvement, this foot is in a cast come Monday.

It is way more defeating than I expected. Once the decision was made, the tears flowed. The thought of starting this journey all over again makes me feel angry. The cold early mornings, the weekend afternoons sacrificed to shoes and pavement, all to be done over again.

I'm positive there is a marathon finish line in my future. Just not this one.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

halfway through and a half

This weekend I ran the North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon in Kansas City. The North Face race series features mostly trail races but added the road challenge in KC last year. They tried it out in August last year and probably discovered that asking people to be outside, let alone run outside, in August was a huge mistake.

So this year, the November date meant temperatures of 39 degrees at the start, which is a completely ambiguous temperature for running clothes. I started my morning with a slice of peanut butter toast and half a banana. And of course, coffee.

We stood in line for the potty as our wave wasn't supposed to start til 7:16 a.m. Race organizers decided to start everyone at once though and by the time we got to the starting line, the half marathon was gone. Sigh.

The course was SUPER hilly. Kansas City races are notorious hilly but this was a combo of the worst. My stomach felt great and it wasn't til the last mile that my hips were burning. The IT band held up just fine.

Seriously fun though. The last half I ran, I did alone. This one I got to talk to my friend Wendy the entire way. Much more tolerable. Also didn't hurt to have my parents, the hubs and of course the cutest fan ever to cheer me on.

I have no idea fast  slow I finished because the chip time shows everyone starting at the same time. Which we know isn't true. Everyone also complained the course was a half mile too long. Luckily this was for race experience and not the end goal.

The half also marks the second half of my full marathon training. To be honest, I am tired. And slightly bored. The mid-week runs are up to 4-8-4 and my next long run is a 17-miler on Sunday. It takes so much time and energy that it's making me cranky. But the thought of starting all over again, is a much less appealing option.

So I'll keep on plugging away. Eight miles tomorrow, 17 on Sunday. Bring it on.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

a new path

When Henry was a wee little baby, my full-time job was like a mini-vacation from a world of spit-up, diaper laundry, offensive smells and exhaustion with no distraction.

But as he's gotten older, the daycare drop off is less like the beginning of relief and more like a knot in my stomach. His personality, sense of humor and development is unfolding right before my eyes in the too few waking hours I get with him.

I admire the moms who can work, keep their houses clean, dinner on the table, bills paid, husbands happy and maintain inner sanity. For me, it just isn't possible, especially when you throw in marathon training and finishing up my master's degree. The days are exhausting and unfulfilling.

So last week I turned in my resignation letter, and accepted a 18-hour/week job. Still in my same general field which will allow me to continue growing career-wise with a great company but scale it back to spend more time with Henry and work on that whole balance thing. I am definitely blessed that financially we can take the hit after years of intense saving and debt eliminating.

I've struggled through the whole process of what it means for who I am. Now being a part-time worker, part-time stay at home is a mental shift I haven't fully grasped yet. For a Type Aer like me, diving into this world of ambiguity is scary.

But I'm excited to take the leap.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

premature aging

Holy what?! I went to confirm my registration in the North Face Endurance Half Marathon and saw this.

And suddenly realized that I, in fact, will be 30 on race day.

And then I had a little freak out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

the value of rest (and stretching)

I took 10 days off running.

My hip hurt. When my hip hurt, my knee hurt. And sometimes when my knee hurt, my ankle and toes hurt too. And most of my highly qualified internet diagnoses included the warning, "do not try to run through the pain."

So I finally listed and stopped. For 10 whole days, I thought about what was going wrong.

1. I suck at mid-week runs. I am busy in the evenings, the mornings are hard not that it's dark and when the hubs is out of town, I have to stick with Henry. When I don't do the mid-week runs I need to do and only do long runs, it's forcing my body to do way more than it's really strong enough for yet. Even though I can run nine miles just fine.

2. I don't like stretching. I do the obligatory ones at the end of my run, but I don't really stretch the way I should. So now, I have a trusty foam roller to help with my IT band and have spent more time doing the long, slow stretches my body needs to recover.

3. I don't cross-train regularly. It's starting to sound like I am a marathon training disaster. But, rewind to the busyness, it's really hard to get my runs in AND cross-train other than a long walk with the fam. I have a free gym membership with my grad student status, so I think it's high time I get acquainted with a gym.

I ran 8 miles Sunday on the most gorgeous fall day in Kansas City ever so I'm back on track, hopefully.

I'm getting excited for the North Face half marathon in just 32 days! KC Friends, if you haven't registered, the price goes up Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

oh my hip!

It came on slowly and ended with a big painful ache.

My left hip hurts. And when it was at its worst, my knee hurt.

I self-diagnosed IT band syndrome and stockpiled my foam roller, ice packs and ibuprofen. Still, when I got up from a long session of sitting at my desk, I cringed in pain.

The only thing that fixed it was a long hot bath and a glass of Pinot Gris.

All this means no running. Luckily(?) it happened on a step-back week when I was only supposed to run six miles. This next weekend though is a looming 11 miles. Tomorrow I'll be back at it with a slow three mile run to see how the ol' hip does. Then, hopefully, ramp back up to full training.

I have a sports medicine appointment for Oct. 25, which is the soonest appointment time AFTER my begging.

If a bubble bath and glass of wine are the only things that keep me on track for my training, so be it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

pushing new limits

I ran nine miles Saturday. When I trained for my first half two years ago, I was talking about stomach cramps, calf pain and adding more long runs to my training so I wouldn't lose confidence.

This time around, I ran nine miles, had breakfast with friends and took care of a hyper toddler for seven hours by myself. No stomach cramps, but some pretty annoying hip pain and sore feet.

This time, I am following the Higdon Novice 2 program. For a full marathon, which we aren't talking about yet. So by the time I run the half marathon, I will have already run 14 miles, and the half marathon will actually be a step down week where I am letting my body recover a bit.

The theme of the North Face Endurance Challenge is just to challenge yourself. Probably meant for the 50K folks who really push themselves to the limit, physically.

For me, the challenge is finding energy and time to run with our crazy life. So far it's working on weekends, not as well during the week. Yet I feel stronger and more confident than I did last time around.

The race has anything from a 5k to 50k. Ready to challenge yourself?

Click Here to Register for The North Face Endurance Challenge

Friday, September 21, 2012

bye-bye summer

Tomorrow fall begins, and as much as we love pumpkin patches, pumpkin lattes and apple cider, we're still sad to see summer go.

We had lots of fun outside, traveling and enjoying KC. We celebrated a first birthday, endured horrific heat and moved into a new house. We signed up for Google Fiber, found a new cupcake place and began a new season of K-State football.

Life is good.

Monday, September 17, 2012

running for real + a cute tailgater

It feels good to be back.

I ran more than seven miles Saturday, which feels like I'm really training now. Running has become a family affair as the hubs took Henry in the jogging stroller for a run at the park while I set out for my long run. 

My running partner was out of town this weekend so I slogged through it solo. I am out of practice though and forgot to bring any sort of fuel or water. Luckily a local running group sets up water stations along my route, and I borrowed a cup. It still took me the rest of the weekend to refuel and hydrate.

I have 61 Days until the North Face Endurance Challenge half marathon here in KC. I feel stronger than I did two years ago. Last time around, I ran fast but had to walk routinely to catch my breath. This time, I've started at a slower pace and don't have to walk. Speed can come gradually, though I don't really care.

We jumped in the car after my run to head to a K-State tailgate where Henry hammed it up with the basketball team.

Another good weekend in the books!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

on not having it all

I was offered a job that used my master's degree before I even had it in a tough to crack job market. It was more money, more freedom and a very cool title.

And I turned it down.

There was nothing wrong with the job, in fact I loved it, except its nearly an hour commute. It'd be earlier mornings and later nights. It'd be Henry at babysitters from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. if the hubs was on a work trip on some nights. It would be giving up the flexibility to attend Henry's doctor's appointments, our dates to music class and running his diaper bag to daycare because we forgot it at home.

It'd be figuring out how to do work, a commute, evening grad classes and you know, dinner, laundry and life. It'd mean Shea having to slow down his grad degree progress so he could do more at home.

I agonized about it. Cried a lot about it. Because deep down, I knew I couldn't have it.

My wise friend's first words after reading my long e-mail about the dilemma were: "You are right. You can't do it."

I flashed back to the recent Atlantic piece everyone and their sister wrote about on their blogs on Why Women Still Can't Have it All.

In all honesty, I could do it. I could make it work. But I wouldn't be a good mom, wife or employee. I have realized that sometimes the insanity of our life leads to a lot of stress and occasional resentment that I can't have it all. And sometimes I feel like watching Michelle Obama speak, not read about the Little Blue Truck (fantastic books by the way).

But that's not really the mom I want to be. I don't want to be unavailable because I am too far away. I know some women make it work, and I sing their praises.

For me, right now, this won't work. And I will mourn the freedom I once had to make decisions that didn't rattle all other areas of my life.

I'd rather experience the joy my life has to offer than always trying to find a way to make it work.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mac the celebrity

This morning we were taking Mac the dog out for his morning potty break when he slipped out of his collar and bolted down the street.

Despite our driving around for nearly an hour calling his name, we both went to work Mac-less. I frantically posted on websites, including Craigslist, that our little furbaby was missing. When telling my coworker of the morning, I burst into tears - worried we'd never see the devil dog again.

Within 30 minutes of posting, Shea messaged me that Fox 4 News had our dog and to check out their Facebook page. Confused, I looked and there he was in all his hyper glory. 
Photo via Fox 4 News.

It seems a news station employee found him in the middle of an intersection and called him into her car. While at the TV studio he was given toys, bacon and helped himself to a running tour of the studio. We were quickly reunited and Mac returned to his kennel after a stern lecture.

His adventure wasn't unnoticed, however, and he has become a local celebrity. In fact, he (and his mom) will be featured on the Fox 4 morning news show Wednesday.

In the end, the story got more than 130 shares and almost 50 comments. People like happy stories.

I'm grateful for Craigslist, Facebook and our new Kansas City friend Laura who took the time to save Mac from a sad fate and reunite him with his family who loves him. Most days.

Friday, August 31, 2012


Dear Henry,

You're one! A whole year. Technically a year and a few weeks since your mama is a bit behind on her blog posting.

We celebrated a whole year of you with a super fun farm party at Grandma and Grandpa's house with a room of our favorite people.

You have learned sign language this month which has changed everything. You're able to communicate when you want "more" and when you're "all done." You say "uh-ooooooooh" when you drop something on the floor, and you race around the house giggling as the pets chase you. You stand frequently and take one step but plop down on your butt.

At your one-year appointment, you weighed in at 18.5 pounds - still in the 3rd percentile for height and weight. You're wearing 6-9 month clothing but gradually adding a few 12 month outfits to your wardrobe.

Your favorite toys are cars and trucks as well as a mini grand piano. You're a dancing machine and bounce your legs at the first sound of a beat. You laugh with your whole body when we poke your belly or tickle your neck.

We've switched to 2% milk, and you pretty much love all food with your favorites being watermelon, chicken enchiladas, Life cereal and bananas.

I can't believe it's been a year since you made me a mother. We've had some really hard times, some super fun ones and everything in between. There is not a second that goes by that I am not overwhelmingly blessed to call you my son.

Love you much.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"blood. everywhere."

We had Henry's one-year appointment yesterday which meant the return of the shots.He weighed in at 18lbs., 6 oz, and 27 inches (and a fourth!) inches long - 3% across the board.

He took his shots like a champ and just cried out twice but didn't even need mama snuggles. Next was a trip to the lab for a blood test to test for anemia and lead. Now, I do not handle blood tests well myself but after pregnancy where my body was fair game for every needle around, I am much braver. 

Still, Shea had to sit in the seat with Henry while I sat in the waiting room with my head between my knees, fingers in my ears and sweating through my shirt.

This, folks, is the picture of supportive motherhood.

Henry, though, was so calm that his blood stopped flowing. He is clearly not my child. Next, they did the finger prick where he just watched with curiosity as the blood dripped into the vials. 

They told us to wait five minutes before putting him in his car seat so that he couldn't rip off the gauze from his finger.

Exhibit A

We waited a few more minutes before driving the five minutes to our house. I looked back at a stoplight to see blood on Henry's legs, hands and the tip of his nose. I texted Shea, who was in the car behind me: "blood.everywhere."

I raced home, swung open the back door to find Henry finger painting with his blood all over his cheeks, nose, lips, hands, legs, shirt and car seat.

From baby to all boy toddler in one day. I'm stocking up on barf bags and Xanax.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

the return, hopefully

that little voice also says "don't even start".
Photo via

I ran this week.

I could stop this blog post there, and it'd be significant enough. I am not here to make any public declarations like I did two years ago.

Maybe it's in the back of my mind, but I'm not setting myself up for that kind of public failure so late into the summer running months.

It's been hard the last two years. I ran until I was five months pregnant or so but it was winter and then my hips hurt a lot and Henry dropped really early so walking alone was a challenge. Then I had a baby who did not sleep through the night til...a week ago? And nursing was demanding. Plenty of excuses to pick from.

I hate the beginning. It hurts my calves, my hips, my lungs and my pride. It's almost worse starting from a beginner's place knowing what my body is actually capable of.

But hey, some cheesy philosopher person said a journey begins with a single step. According to the internets, I probably took 14,784 steps. A good start.

Monday, July 30, 2012


This past week we moved to a new house with more than double the square footage of our old house and just a few blocks from both of our works.

All I have to say is moving with a baby is tricky. And even more exhausting than moving in 105-degree weather would normally be.

He loved unpacking. Even the boxes that were already packed.

And watching the movers.

Luckily he went to play with his daycare friends while we cleaned the old house yesterday.

He is completely unaffected. His parents, meanwhile, are still trying to find their shoes.

Friday, July 20, 2012

a broken world

People will make today about gun control, violent video games, homegrown terrorism and even why parents would bring a little baby to a midnight showing.

For the record, I hate guns and wish we could ban them. The fact that CNN can publish a robust timeline of mass shootings makes me ill. I would love to have a passionate debate about the craziness that this country does not have a ban on assault weapons.


But for today, I wish we could just be sad at the brokenness of our world.

I wish we could be sad for the victims - the terror, the fear, the death that occurred in an innocent place.

I wish we could be sad that the shooter felt this was his best course of action. Sad for whatever was happening inside of him that went unresolved.

I am sad that the shooter was described as a loner by his neighbors, as so often they are. I wonder if someone would have taken the time to get to know him if he wouldn't have felt the need. Or if he was just too sick in heart and mind for anything to be done.

I don't know why it all happens except for the fact we live in a world at the intersection of good and evil. For me, it's evidence of a God that loves so much that he's given us the freedom to choose between the two and who weeps when we choose evil.

But I hope today is less about politics and judgment and more about simple grief.

"Tragedy is more important than love. Out of all human events, it is tragedy alone that brings people out of their own petty desires and into awareness of other humans' suffering. Tragedy occurs in human lives so that we will learn to reach out and comfort others"
--C. S. Lewis

Thursday, July 19, 2012

powell gardens

Henry won't remember any of them fun things we do in his first three years, which makes me kind of sad. Despite that, we're trying to explore Kansas City, often with a kid as an excuse to visit places we always intended to but never did.

A few weeks ago we went to the Powell Gardens Boom and Bloom party and finally saw their Fairies and Forts exhibit followed by fireworks. Alas it was 105 degrees so the lemonade stand was way more enticing than the beautiful grounds and neato forts. Based on his facial expressions though, I am pretty sure Henry felt like we were torturing him.

But like my mother always says, "what do you think babies did when there wasn't any air conditioning?"

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

(not) making friends

I was never one of those girls surrounded by a huge group of friends. I didn't need that though and strongly preferred a few really close friends. They changed every couple of years as my life changed and I have only a few hold overs.

When I read a recent New York Times article: "Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30?" it was like, "Hey, you too?!"

The article states three conditions that are crucial to making close friends: 
  • proximity
  • repeated, unplanned interaction
  • a setting that encourages people to let their guard down

One of my bestest friend lives 222 miles away. Add in busy lives, husbands, kids and gas prices and it's more like one million miles. I have some awesome friends I left behind in Minnesota, which is 438 miles away. I have a college friend less than 20 miles away and some newer friends in my city but...

Repeated, unplanned interaction.
The only unplanned interactions I have are at the grocery store every Sunday and these are not always desirable. I mean, I guess I could become close friends with the cashier at Trader Joes but generally everything in my life is planned. Actually, I can't even think of a time in recent memory that I just ran into someone I knew unexpectedly. 

Most of the moms I know from church and otherwise are staying at home with their babies. So they go on outings and play dates during the day. The working moms I know are catching up on everything they missed during the week on the weekends.

Guard-down setting.
This happened when we were in a small group with our church. After a year, the guard came down. But we don't meet anymore. The most my guard gets let down is the five page emails I send the to the 222-mile-away friend. I have friends I let my guard down about certain areas of life but the hubs is the only one I can walk into a room with tears streaming down my face for NO REASON (i.e. hormones) and be OK with myself.

Other than these external factors, the article cites a period of self-discovery: "After 30, people often experience internal shifts in how they approach friendship. Self-discovery gives way to self-knowledge, so you become pickier about whom you surround yourself with. The bar is higher than when we were younger and were willing to meet almost anyone for a margarita."

Perhaps this will be a glaring reason of why I don't have a ton of friends, but I do not like to hang out with people that annoy me. Especially when I am tired. 

It's harder to hang out with people that make a lot more money than us, live a completely different routine or have different goals. Not that I don't love to have those kinds of friends but they will rarely enjoy spending a Friday night with us or truly understand what it's like to be me. Other moms do. Well, other moms with the same philosophies on parenting and marriage. Who have some free time. 

And as the article also points out, it's even more challenging to meet couple friends since both wives and husbands have to click. Not that we're picky but it's not always that easy.

Bottom line.
I also know my priorities are different. All my energy goes to Henry first. If there is any left over, Shea gets it. Then there is school, work, church and family. So as good as a glass of wine on a patio sounds, getting Henry to bed at 7:30 so that our week starts off in a more sane manner is more appealing. And now I eat dinner at 5:30 and some nights I am asleep by 8 so when you ask me to meet you for dinner at 7 it's a bigger decision for me to make. 

We have good dinners with good people every few months. It's fun and we walk away promising to be more intentional. And then life happens.

Friday, July 13, 2012

cow appreciation day

Free chicken at Chick-fil-a for wearing a cow costume.

I see a new annual tradition in our family's future!

Jealous of Henry's cow diaper? Get your own.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

eleven months

Sweet Henry,

I feel like you've grown into a little boy this month. You are curious, always pointing your index finger at something new as if you are waiting for an explanation. You love to wave at everyone in such a delicate little fashion. You are walking along furniture guiding yourself with one hand. Any day now I will look and see you doing it all on your own.

This month has brought a new level of love for stuffed animals, which you hug passionately. Books are suddenly much more interesting and you are able to point to the sun and water in your Hello, Animals book. You have quite the sense of humor and love to play peekaboo games and have me chase you as you crawl rapidly across the room. You have been a help as we pack for moving to a new house this month, holding down the box flaps so mama can tape them. I can see that unpacking though will be your forte.

Your favorite foods this month are cheese, bananas, YoBaby yogurt, taco meat, black olives, Ritz crackers, carrots and sweet potatoes. You are in the process of mastering the sippy cup (with water) though if we're not careful you end up with a wet chest. Just this week you appear to have fully weaned despite my best efforts to keep you going. I will miss our time together more than I ever realized.

This month you celebrated Daddy's first Father's Day by taking a long nap together at his request. You attended your first wedding and wore the CUTEST sailor suit.

We celebrated Fourth of July with a trip to Powell Gardens where you played in the Fairies and Forts exhibit and then a party the next night where you touched your first snake.

You were unsure about fireworks, watching curiously but holding on tight.

One more month left in your first year. I can't believe it. You bring so much fun and laughter to our days!

Love you,

Monday, July 9, 2012

another one bites the dust

We don't buy on credit unless it's zero interest for many months. We used a Best Buy card to get our awesome camera, an even more awesome lens and then reluctantly, a new oven for the condo. There is nothing worse than buying a new appliance you don't actually get to use.

On second thought, it was more awful to pay for a cleaning lady that cleaned a space I do not get to live in.

But to the news of the day! We paid off our Best Buy account. Which is less awesome than the second mortgage, but still awesome.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

weaning hormones

Henry has started to wean.

The last three nights he has gone to bed with his daddy. He reads a book, cuddles in close and falls right asleep. He didn't need to nurse to calm down, he just did it all on his own.

I was so relieved to be done pumping and also still able to nurse a few times a day that I didn't have time to think about when the last time might be.  Lately he nurses for a few minutes, looks up and me giggling like "Hey mom, I'm just entertaining you a bit longer."

There have been signs. His love of food has directly correlated with my dipping supply. His ability to rip a privacy blanket off in public led to more private nursing. My tight shirts aren't feeling so tight anymore and I am suddenly a bit more aware that the habit of eating all the time like the calories will melt off is coming to an end.

It's been a good thing for both of us free of really any of the common complications. Sure, weaning will bring even more freedom - the final step in reclaiming my body after 20 months of donating it to someone else.

We're busy packing for a move and by the time I collapse into bed next to Henry, I realize we haven't nursed since the morning. I want to wake him up and snuggle him in, just one more time.

Because I had a rough couple of months initially with such deep sadness and then an anxiety that only has tempered itself, I have been worried about the hormones and emotions weaning can bring. I've tried to keep myself in check, taking an emotional timeout when I feel heavy.

All I can imagine is Henry as a little boy playing baseball, then a teenager looking a colleges and then a man getting married and him really no longer needing his mother anymore. I get teary thinking about him saying 'I do' and he's not even a year old. (I will not be that mom, I will not be that mom). He can't even walk and he's already stepping away from me.

{Deep breath}

I don't know when the last time will be. I just hope it wasn't this morning.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

pumping, el fin

Dear Medela Pump in Style,

We had a good run the last 10 months visiting each other three times a day. Me in an office chair and book, you whirring away filling up those tubes with magic milk.

But the time has come where you just aren't working anymore. At least for me. Your letdown feature has left my body unresponsive and 40 minutes of time with you leaves me with not even enough milk for a bottle. Which makes me mad.

Ultimately we worked together for Henry who has found that during the day he prefers solid food. Mornings, nights and weekends he wants the milk but thankfully we don't need you for that.

I'll be boiling all your little parts and packing you up in one final cleaning blitz. No more scrubbing pump parts every single night to prepare for the next day. No more lugging that black bag around like a second purse. I already feel lighter.

Til next time,

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

ten months

Dear Henry,

Double digits, man! You're just a joy in our life. You've mastered sitting down from standing and discovered the art of the rapid crawl. You'll even crawl into a different room to explore. You're stranger anxiety seems to be waning, and you just rarely ever cry.

You've started to wave a little and you've added more letters to your babbling and know that mama is me. You respond to your name and "look." Sleeping has become easier and you go to sleep without much fuss and sleep generally til 4 a.m. when you wake up for a quick snack before sleeping until 7 a.m.

You love playing with other kids and laugh when they are with you, walk by you or can be seen from a distance. Same with animals.You reach out when you want something and lift up your arms when you want to be picked up.You've learned what no means and give the most sad face ever when you're told to stop doing something. It makes my heart ache but seriously, you cannot eat cat hair.

Your favorite foods are still chunks of cheese, Cheerios, chicken and brown rice, anything Mexican (true story) and most vegetables. You're good with bananas and pears but other fruits you aren't so sure about the texture.

This month you've been taking Kindermusik classes where you've been dancing, shaking, singing and listening. When I play my violin for you, you sing along. You also went to Minnesota this month to hang out with the family and some of your little friends. For my first Mother's Day, you made me a stone with your clay hand prints, which will be fun to look back at.

We love you little man!


Monday, June 11, 2012

cloth diaper remix

Two weeks old, rocking a prefold and cover.

We've done cloth for 10 months now, and I am to the point where people start asking me questions. Despite my present battle with detergents (maybe), I know what I'll do next time for the first six months and beyond.

Prefolds get my vote
We started with Lil Joey newborn diapers that leaked like a faucet no matter what and automatically equaled a clothing change. Regardless I think they are the cutest and I used them until I realized that cuteness < laundry efficiency. So 90 percent of the time we used prefolds with Thristies covers. I had 24 prefolds in newborn size, which fit until 8 months because we have a small-bottomed child. I could usually make the covers last for two or three diaper changes before the went into the laundry pile. Now we still use prefolds but use vintage Gerber prefolds from the 1980s. True story. I have no idea if the current version of these work as well as the old school ones, but my hunch is no.

One-size pocket diapers for speed and laziness
My current stash includes 1 FuzziBunz one-size, 4 FuzziBunz mediums, 2 Kawaii one-size, 6 Bum Genius all-in-one one-size with snaps, 1 Bum Genius with velcro and 1 Blueberry Deluxe. I am neutral on Bum Genius vs. FuzziBunz. They work equally well, and I think it's a matter of personal preference. Kawaii diapers have a bamboo insert and are half the price of the other two brands. I could use my other one-size diapers even when he was teeny tiny by adjusting the snaps but the Kawaiis leaked and I could never get as tight. They work fine but I see them wearing much faster than the more expensive brands.

We like the pockets for babysitters, daycare and anytime we're going to need to change diaper fast in public. The downside is I have to air dry them and of course I only use them once (versus the Thristies cover).

Nighttime battle
Henry is a nighttime nurser and until he switched to his now up once to nurse and only for comfort routine, we'd leak and have to wash our sheets weekly (yep, we slept on pee sheets some nights, judge away). Wool soakers worked but the cleaning/lanolizing routine was just too much for me to fathom in the beginning. I had Sugar Peas fleece cover that worked sometimes but mostly not. It's better now that he only nurses once during the night, usually closer til morning.

I was committed to cloth from the beginning but I always fear that when we do use disposable (travel with no access to a laundry room) I will experience the glory that is throwing a diaper in the trash and never seeing it again.

It doesn't happen though. And every time I do shell out $12 for 36 diapers, it confirms we made the right choice.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

diaper stripping

Ten months in, we're loving our cloth diapers.

I'm careful to use only cloth-diaper-safe detergent (Charlie's Soap) and diaper rash ointment that won't ruin the absorbing magic of my diapers (GroVia Magic Stick).

Recently, however, they have been stinking it up.

First, I thought Henry's pee just smelled that strong. Then he started getting little blisters in his nether regions. So naturally, I started googling and found that most likely he was getting ammonia burn. Holy mom guilt!

Last night I did my first attempt at stripping aka removing all the nasty.

Pocket inserts and prefolds
1. One teaspoon (for HE machines) of Dawn dish detergent* 
2. 1/4 cup bleach in the wash cycle.
3. Normal diaper cycle (I do "Whitest White" with extra rinse)
4. Hot rinse again
5. Hot rinse again
6. Dry as normal.

*They say to use the blue formula. I used green because I was lazy and didn't want to go to the store.

Same as above minus the bleach.

This morning they smelled neutral which I feel might be a good sign. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

favorite onesie

Henry's grandpa is a soil scientist and picked up this onesie at a soils conference. Though they don't have onesies online, you can view all the Association of Women Soil Scientists' dirt shirts here. Cute shirt, plus support women in science. Win!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

more budget

I've gotten a couple questions regarding our budgeting process since we've paid of some major debt. Here's what has worked for us.

1. Write it down.
We are not perfect with tracking this but we have our budget spelled out to the dollar using this document. Ideally I would be then adding everything to the sheet instead of keeping vague running totals in my head. Knowing the parameters though of what we have left after fixed payments works of us. I am not so strict though that I go through my Target receipts to separate out personal supplies and groceries.

2. Get friendly with the bank.
Twice a month money is automatically taken out of our checking account (where paychecks are deposited) and   distributed to our other three accounts. The most goes into our money market account which we use as our future house down payment savings and grad school tuition payments. We never pull money out of this account.

Next is our emergency fund. We use this for things like car repairs, medical expenses or other unexpected bills. It makes it easier to pay them knowing "that's what the emergency fund is for."

Last is our travel fund. If we had all our money together, we'd never spend it on travel because it'd take away from our house down payment or set us back in other savings. But travel is something we've determined is a priority for our family so we have our fund. It gets about $200/month which really does add up fast. Knowing it's designated for travel makes it easier to use. Dave Ramsey would tell me I shouldn't travel while we still have student loan debt. I would tell him to zip it.

3. Be ready to sacrifice.
Initially budgeting was hard. It was all this money we were putting off limits. But now that we've been doing it almost three years, I forget we even have that money. Because we made the sacrifice initially, it was easier to just take the money we used to pay off our second mortgage and put it toward the highest interest student loan. We didn't allow ourselves to experience a month with a couple thousand extra dollars.

We still go out to eat, but we budgeted for that. I still can buy a new dress, but it's budgeted. We no longer spend in excess on clothes we don't need or updates on our stuff that really could wait. We don't have extra luxuries like cable or gym memberships but I can honestly say our marriage has benefited.

4. Snowball effect
It works. You pay off one bill, transfer that money to another bill and so on. Because we are comfortable with the level we're living at, as we have made more money it goes toward debt. It also allowed us to start a college fund for Henry and set up two life insurance funds as soon as we became parents without any real extra sacrifice in our monthly budget.

5. Attitude
Sometimes I get really jealous when other people are buying huge houses at our age, buying new cars or going to concerts every weekend. (that's a lie, I hate concerts) But, if Dave Ramsey taught me anything it's "Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else." There will be a day in the not too distant future, where we will be living debt free. But we'll know how to live within our means and maintain a budget no matter what our bottom line.

Friday, May 18, 2012

nine months

My tiny little Henry,

Nine months! We just got back from your appointment, and despite the fact I was positive you were at least 20 pounds, you are just over 16 pounds (3rd percentile) and 26.75 inches long (10th percentile). It's all normal since you are very, very active. You still wear 6-month pants and shorts and 6-9 month shirts and onesies.

You are crawling all around the house, and pulling up on everything forcing us to watch you like a hawk.You prefer standing to anything even being held (tear!). Your favorite activities are pulling books of the shelves and pulling laundry out of the basket, one-by-one. You love being outdoors, crawling in the grass and reaching out to other kids.

You are very social and enjoy yelling at anyone walking by who doesn't admire you. You still high five but have added shaking your head and the symbol for touchdown to your repertoire. You have one top tooth and the others are coming in with a painful vengeance. Your separation anxiety is pretty intense some days and breaking your mama's heart.

You are starting to prefer solid food over nursing though we're still at it. You pretty much love all foods though your favorites are bananas, applesauce, cheese, muffins, macaroni and cheese, peas, apple cinnamon oatmeal, sweet potatoes and carrots. We've even started ordering a kids meal at restaurants occasionally.

This last month has been active! You went to Chicago with us and Grandma, enjoying both the Museum of Science and Industry and the Children's Museum at Navy Pier. You had a taste of your first deep dish Chicago pizza. A few weeks later you went to California to see your godmother Ashley graduate from college and you got to spend time with your cousin Adilyn. You loved the beach and digging in the sand. SeaWorld was also a big hit. It's fun to go places with you where you actually notice where we are. You handled your first plane rides like a champ - much better than your anxious, over packed parents.

You are a smart, active, happy boy. We're so proud to be your parents.

Much love,

Monday, May 14, 2012

a happy (belated) mother's day to you

It's really easy for me to get caught up in the difficulty of being a mother to a baby.

It's always repetitive. I follow the same schedule in the morning. Pack the same bags with the same stuff. I drive the same route to daycare. Change a diaper, fill the highchair tray with the same Cheerios so I can make dinner, wash the same dishes and pump parts, play with the same toys and follow the same routine for bedtime. I read the same book in the same silly voice and build the same tower with the same blocks.

But as I read this blog post, I was reminded of how that routine and consistency has a much greater purpose in Henry's life. It give him solid ground in a world he doesn't even know is chaotic. The small things are what make him feel secure, confident and happy.

There are mothers in my life who are dealing with children who fall short of their expectations. Mothers who worked so hard to instill values in their children and then to watch the painful rejection of those lessons.  Mothers who are taking care of sick or handicapped children. Mothers who are still parenting their adult children through tough situations. Mothers who lost their children before they ever got to meet them or who can measure the life of their children in hours.

I have a beautiful baby boy. He's active, healthy, social, smart and smiley. And I have more love than I thought my heart could ever hold. I am lucky.

It's really easy to get caught up in the "mommy wars." To spend so much time debating and agonizing over choices on breastfeeding or formula, co-sleeping or crib, cloth or disposable, crying it out or not, organic or that crap Gerber makes (which I buy), cow's milk or not, stroller or sling.

Some of those choices probably do matter, most don't. But the more mothers I meet, the more I realize we're all doing the best we can with the unique kid we were blessed to parent. I might cloth diaper, co-sleep and breastfeed, but making baby food or staying home all day with him I cannot. I have to make choices for Henry and the unique little man he is.

I love the ultimate selflessness that is motherhood. I understand now the need for a few selfish choices to maintain sanity and balance.

So is the complicated, exhausting and entirely awesome journey of motherhood in year one.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

cover controversy

Not sure what to think about this week's TIME cover.

The stories are about Dr. Sears' attachment parenting theories, which we are of very partial proponents. But attachment parenting is so much more than extended breastfeeding. Co-sleeping and not always sticking your kid in a seat - carrying or wearing instead - perhaps an image that might have been a bit less polarizing.

More power to the women who can breastfeed their kids to the WHO's recommended two years or more. No judgement from me. But I wonder if this image turns people off even more to breastfeeding in an age when it's tough to get a mother to nurse (who can nurse) exclusively the first six months. Although, it would certainly be much more convenient if Henry could pull up a chair and nurse while I did dishes. Kidding...kind of.

It's a cover that makes you do a double take and probably buy a magazine. The journalist in me applauds the boldness. The breastfeeding mother in me cringes at the message it sends.

What do you think? Here's my favorite response.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

how long are you planning to nurse?

I didn't pack any bottles for our trip to California last week. Even better, I didn't have to pack my dang pump. It was a fabulous thing to just feed Henry when he needed it - at the Shamu show, during dinner, before bed. No making bottles, worrying about warm water or stopping what we were doing.

I nursed him on takeoff and landing in a discreet, under a blanket way. The woman sitting in our row began to question me.

Woman: How long are you planning on nursing?
Me: My goal is a year but if he wants to go longer, that's fine. Whatever he needs.

Five minutes later...

Woman: Kids have to learn to drink from a cup eventually, you know.
Me: Sure.
Woman: I just hate when I see those three-year-olds breastfeeding.
Me: Well, I'm just doing what's best for my kid.

On the way home, the TSA agent asked if we had baby bottles with liquid to go through the x-ray.

Agent: No bottles? 
Me: Nope.
Agent: No water even?
Me: Um, nope.
Agent: Poor kid!
Me: I'm his food. He's OK.

I did have some super positive experiences like the SeaWorld's baby and nursing friendly park. But it's interesting how the older he gets, the more judgment that comes. Just wait til he walks over to me when it's time to nurse. Gasp! 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

the time my kid made me vain

For the record, I think this is vain.

But kids make you crazy and abandon all your previously held standards.

So that being said, VOTE for Henry daily until Monday so he can be on the cover of a magazine so that when he is a sullen teenager we can remind him that at one point, he couldn't stop smiling.

Friday, April 27, 2012

the big one

We've had some strict financial goals the last two years. Ones that at times have made me cry. Other times made me happy for how far we've come.

Shea bought a condo before we were married, which was a great decision when the market was awesome, and he thought he'd live there for a long time. Then he got married, the market tanked, we moved to Kansas City and had the choice between selling and losing $40,000 or becoming landlords. We chose the latter.

If you want to be bored with the details: The mortgage is 80/20 with the 20 percent borrowed from a private group and the 80 percent from a major  bank. For the last two years, we've been paying more than five to seven times the minimum on the 20 percent loan. It's a significant chunk of change each month (actually, it's almost my entire paycheck. I find this moderately demoralizing.), and the rent we charge covers the 80 percent part of the loan plus condo association fees only.

So we sacrificed. A lot.

But today...

...we made the last payment.

Yay, budgeting!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

chicago play

Mom and dad both had to be in Chicago for work last week so Grandma came to show Henry the windy city. Thursday night we went to the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier. Free on Thursday nights, it was packed but we found many safe places for baby play.

Henry, who has just learned to stand, got a kick out of ringing bells, turning locks, mixing felt balls, yelling into mirrors and most of all, watching the other babies. Though most of the museum was crazy town with children who seem to know no limits (or manners), the babies were safe in their own shoe-less room staffed by a juggling volunteer.

If you're traveling to Chicago, I highly recommend it. Warning: Parking is a completely unreasonable $21. But you'll pay it because you love your baby.

Monday, April 16, 2012

eight months

Dear baby Henry,

You are fantastic! You pulled lots of tricks out of the bag this month. You started crawling (though still prefer the army crawl), can stand up on your own if you're holding on and the best one, learned to kiss.

You are a squirmy worm and never, ever sit still. You still prefer to be awake and even more so now that you're learning so many new things. You're up twice a night to snuggle and nurse, though you are doing much better with your naps. Your top teeth aren't coming in yet but they seem to be bothering you lately. You're talking a lot and shortening down to yells that someday soon will be words. You definitely understand Mac, Mama, Daddy, Pica and kiss.

You LOVE food. All of it. Your favorite baby foods are any fruit, carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes and yogurt. Big boy foods (non pureed) you've tried are cheese, crackers, banana, steamed carrots, apple, strawberries, refried beans, tortilla, turkey, shredded chicken, french fries, beef ravioli and canned peas. You still love nursing and are not ready for a sippy cup.

Your biggest change, though, has definitely been clingyness. You aren't scared of strangers and even sit with your friend Terri all during church. But you always prefer your mama and cry if I am in the room and not holding you. I am enjoying this sweetness while it lasts.

This month you attended your first fantasy baseball draft (silly right?), experience March Madness and had your first Easter.

We love you baby boy,

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

easter cuteness

We picked up empty eggs. Learned to put them in the basket. Had winter squash on Easter. Played with bubbles. Had a first Easter basket from Grandma. Tasted ham for the first time.

And just had a day of overwhelming cute