Training Doesn’t Always Have To Be Perfect + Riding The Wave

This summer has already been a whirlwind for us.  The first half of June was spent preparing for our 2 year old’s first dance recital.  That was a crazy foretaste of what our lives will like be in a few years as our kids grow, and sports and other activities take over.  Rock was in NYC until the end of June and that meant the majority of my runs were on the treadmill while children took naps.

Every summer for the past few years Rock and I have participated in Traverse City’s National Cherry Festival of Races.  I realized this year that of all the races we have done, this is the only one we make a point to sign up for.  The Cherry Festival is a really fun event for all ages and their races are beautiful and well organized.  Despite the fact that Rock had been logging 30,000-40,000 steps each day in NYC but not always having a chance to get in a run and my lack of hitting the pavement, we decided we would do the half marathon again.

We also convinced my brother-in-law to come join us.  He had done his first half marathon in May and finished just under 2 hours.  Shortly after, we discussed his goal of aiming for a 1:50 half and decided that with some smart training, it could be a potential A goal for this particular race.  I created a plan for him and we worked out some game plans to get him through race day.

The week before the race, Rock and I decided that regardless of how little actual training we had done, we needed to get at least 10 miles in before race day.  I had been logging daily 7 mile runs, but hadn’t set foot in the hot summer conditions yet.  Obviously, we picked a day when the temps were to hit the mid 90’s.  By the time we dropped the girls off at daycare and started, the air was already soupy.  I knew it was only a matter of time before things fell apart.

Fell apart they did.  At mile 5 we stopped for a water break and by mile 6, I was down to taking a break every half mile.  I was dehydrated and felt ill.  I made it home, but was left feeling pretty defeated.

Then we left for our annual week in Northern Wisconsin where just about everything I ate was fried and every run was done pushing our double stroller up and down hills in the hot summer heat.  Things were not looking good!

Friday night we arrived home with our bellies full of the only fast food we could find along the interstate, leaving me up at 3:30am with heartburn.  Not exactly the ideal pre-race dinner!

An hour later we were up and fueling again, ready to hit the high school where buses were waiting to ship us out to the Old Mission Peninsula where the race would start at a winery.

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I would be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous.  I was beyond nervous.  I knew that my body could handle 13 miles.  I love double digit runs.  However, that 10 miler the week before was really playing hard in the back of my mind and race day was going to be relatively warm.  While it was 50 degrees when we started, I knew it was going to climb by 20 degrees over the next two hours.

The first two and a half miles wove up and down through dirt paths of local cherry orchards, before spitting us out on the road that runs along West Grand Traverse Bay.  From here we followed the bay for the next several miles.  The view is beautiful and the homes along the water are quite spectacular.

I felt good, but noticed that the heat was getting to me and I was waiting to see when my body would fall apart like before.  I had a mile where I started to feel like I was fading and feared the end was near.  Then I began to feel a renewed strength in my legs and my pace slowly increased.

I kept assessing how I was feeling, but at times I was reading into it too much.  I was trying to find the negativity.  Once I realized this, I worked to clear my head.  I turned my music up and just let my body settle in.  I had done this distance many times.  In the past, I was in better shape or more prepared, but my body and mind knew how to do this.

I forgot that every mile can be so different.  Some miles will feel great.  Other miles, your body will struggle.  There will be miles where your mind tries to fool you into giving up.  And there will be miles where you are ready to tackle just about anything.  The key is, you can’t let any particular mile take over your race.  You have to remember that things will change.  The good will come with bad.  The bad will eventually wash away.

When I remembered this, my mind gave my body renewed strength.  I had no idea where I was in the pack of runners, but I knew I would be okay and I decided to stop worrying about everyone else around me, and just run the rest of that race.

I crossed the finish line surprisingly better than I had expected.  When the results were posted I was walking to the car and happened to look on my phone.  I was shocked to see that I had finished 26th for the women and 3rd in my age group.  What a pleasant surprise!

You never know what might come of your training.  There might be injuries or other setbacks.  Life can get in the way.  The key is to do the best with what you have.  Make it work and then go forward on race day and trust your body.  Let your mind trust you.  Training will rarely be ideal.  That doesn’t mean that your race can’t have great results.  Roll with the wave and you never know where you will come out at the end.

 

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I also have to give a huge congrats to my brother-in-law who finished with a 12 minute PR in his second half marathon ever.  He’s seriously a rockstar!

The Best Gift

Happy Monday and happy day after Mother’s Day!  I hope you all had a great weekend.

It was a little chilly and rainy in NYC this weekend.  In fact, we took the girls for a run on Saturday and got stuck in a downpour.  They managed to nap through it while we hid under the RFK Bridge on Randall’s Island.  Rock and I were soaked, but the girls were perfectly content in their stroller.

On Sunday Rock rearranged his work schedule to gift me an hour to run by myself.  I saw on the Today Show that most moms would like the day off from parenting, but I wanted to spend the day with my girls.  However, after pushing the girls in the BOB Dualie for the past two weeks, it felt awesome to run on my own.  It feels so effortless when you ditch pushing 60 pounds up and down the hills around here.  I was cruising!

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It was also a really great time for me to reflect.  I use my running in a variety of ways.  Sometimes it is about testing the limits of my body, or my mind.  Other times, running is a way for me to clear my head or work through different situations.  Running is my therapy.  I almost always come back with a clearer head and ready to be a better person, regardless of whether a run goes well or not.

On yesterdays run, I was reflecting on being a mom.  It certainly hasn’t gone the way I had prepared for most days, and it certainly didn’t start out the way I had planned.

Like many women, I had hoped to get married and start our family.  But as life often does, things took a little longer than planned.  At the time, it was very difficult for me emotionally.  I spent a lot of time dealing with those emotions on my runs.  It was cathartic.

Once I was pregnant, the miracle of what was to come was appreciated in a completely new way, perhaps more than I would have realized had things happened faster.

I ran through both my pregnancies and felt like it was a special time that I got to spend with that little peanut growing with me.  I hoped that perhaps my being healthy and active might be passed along to our little ones.

These days, I run with the girls in the stroller and I enjoy my times with them, even when I repeatedly hear, “Can we go back home now?”  I like our adventures to new places or playing “I Spy” as we go along.  I love having the girls see me enjoy running and exercising.  It is something we get to do together as a family.

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Things have definitely changed.  I don’t get to sleep in on weekends anymore because some people think 6am is a perfect time to jump up and get going.  I don’t have the luxury of sitting around and drinking coffee until I feel ready to go on a run.  We have nap schedules and bottle times.  You either get your run in during the allotted time, or you are out of luck for the day.

There isn’t always as much time for workouts or for prepping the best meals.  I haven’t done a workout besides running in several weeks now, because it just hasn’t fit into my day.  And you know what?  That’s okay.

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The night before Lucy was born!

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These girls….they’ve made me stronger in ways I never could have imagined.  My two year old knows how to test the limits in ways that drive me nuts and also secretly crack me up.  The way she can ask the same question repeatedly for 15 minutes makes me think she has a future with the CIA.

The love they have showed me and the things they are teaching me makes my heart want to burst full of joy.  Just thinking about them and what they have brought into my life brings tears to my eyes.  They have made us a family!

Being a mother runner isn’t easy.  Running itself will never be easy.  But I certainly believe that being a mother runner can actually make you stronger than you could ever possibly imagine.

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Somehow I have less time to run and less time to work out.  But in the months after having Mary, I PR’ed in my return marathon.  A few weeks ago I won a race as Lucy ran along with her dad.  Being a mom, and the act of becoming a mom, gives you the strength to do endless things.

The greatest gift I’ve ever received has been these two little girls.  I’m forever grateful for the strength they have given me and for their patience as I continually learn to be their mom.

I also want to send love to any woman who has hopes to be a mom.  There was a time when reading Mother’s Day posts was difficult for me.  A friend perfectly said yesterday, “Be patient.  God may not be done writing your story just yet.”

Happy Mother’s Day.  How was your weekend?  Anyone else love running with their kids or fur kids?

Favorite Websites

Over the past few months, I’ve discovered a few new places to shop online.  Some you may have heard of, others might be new to you as well.  I thought it would be a fun Friday topic to share some of my favorite shopping sites and hear what yours are too.

Adelaqueen.com  was a site I came across this past winter while looking for a new coat.  I have a friend who has the cutest furry coat that looks to me just like a warm teddy bear.  When I saw Rory Gilmore wearing something similar during my pregnancy bedrest, I took the extra down time to start searching.

I didn’t want real fur.  I have my grandmother’s old furs but when I tried them on in high school, it just felt kind of gross to me to have a dead animal wrapped around me.  Plus, faux fur can be much cheaper.  I searched all over the web and found Adelaqueen to be highly rated, super cute, and perfectly priced.  I loved having this new coat all winter and didn’t worry about wearing it anywhere I felt like because at the price I paid, I won’t be devastated if something happens to it.

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This is the one I opted for.

Thriftbooks.com was my favorite find this Christmas.  I came across a list of great books to teach empathy and kindness to young children.  I did a search and came across this website that sells good quality used books at a great price.  For around $3.79 each book, I ended up buying several dozen to wrap up for the girls.

We love reading books in our house, but they get manhandled by the kids.  It is fun to fill their bookcases and not have to worry if something gets damaged.  I also purchased a few cookbooks and gifts for family and friends.

One of our favorites is “Tough Guys Have Feelings Too.”

Nordstromrack.com isn’t exactly new to me, but it never crossed my mind that I could actually do outlet shopping from the comfort of my own home.

Before we left for Mexico this past winter, I got on this website and scored some awesome summer sandals for less than $20.  As you may have noticed, I love a good bargain!

Albionfit.com  came on my radar from visiting the sixsistersstuff website.  This is a family owned business based out of Utah that makes women’s clothing for swimming, sport, and life.  Their clothes are fashionable and practical and the business focuses on being green.

I love their swimsuits and when a winter sale hit, I grabbed a cute one piece.  I was a little irritated when something happened with my order, but when I reached out to express my dissatisfaction, they promptly rectified the problem and gave me a little something extra.  Excellent customer service is a big one in my book.

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What are your recent favorite sites to shop?  Do you like to find good bargains?

My Favorite NYC Running Spots

Greetings from NYC!  We are here again for our spring sports classes and every time I run in this city, I remember all over again, what a great place this is to run.  I wanted to share a few of my favorite spots.  Please forgive me, as I am going to just focus on the borough of Manhattan.  There are so many great places outside of Manhattan, but seeing as I typically run here, I will let the other experts share their faves beyond this little island.

Favorite Must Try It At Least Once:  If you are going to be in the city, you have to run a loop or sections of Central Park.  It isn’t my absolute favorite place to run, but it has some great appeal.  First, one loop of the park is exactly 6 miles, which is a great distance for me.  Typically, any place I stay at is at least a mile from the park, so that is an awesome 7-8 route.

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The park is super hilly, and that presents some fun and challenging moments.  You also get a great view of both the Upper East and Upper West sides as well as some great sites within the park.  You will find yourself running amongst thousands of other runners, bikes, and horse drawn carriages.

Please do be cautious as parts of the loop are open to traffic.  Cabs can drive a little crazy, and cyclists can be quite dangerous as well.  There are many bike rental areas for tourists and they tend to roam outside of the designated bike path.  I tend to only run this during quieter hours to avoid busy traffic.

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Pictures don’t do bobcat hill justice.

Favorite Long Flat Path:  If you are looking for a picturesque and flat route, take a cab up to the George Washington Bridge and run straight down to Battery Park.  This route is about 10 miles, and you get beautiful views of the Hudson River, numerous fun piers, and skyline views.  If 10 miles is too long for you, pop in along the Upper West Side.  Start with a jog through flower lined Riverside Park and it spits you out right on the pathway.

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Favorite Escape From The City, Within The City:  I love running on Randall’s Island.  I mentioned to my husband the other day that this is where I fell in love with distance running.  A few years ago, I would only see a handful of runners on the island, but now it is busy morning, noon, and night.

The Parks Department has devoted itself to creating an athlete’s paradise on this little island with numerous ball fields, a tennis center, golf center, horse stables, and path’s galore.

A footbridge from the East River brings you over to this perfect place that allows you to be just far enough away that you feel like you left the city.  Plus, there is a FDNY training center and you might just get the chance to run alongside the recruits during their training runs!

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Get Your Tour’s Worth:  If you really want to experience NYC on a long run, I highly recommend starting on the Upper East side along the East River Path.  Take this all the way to the bottom of Manhattan and hop on the Hudson River Path.  Follow it all the way up to Harlem and take a jog along 125th Street.

You will get to see Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and New Jersey.  This route will take you by the Williamsburg Bridge (a favorite one to run over) and the Brooklyn Bridge.  You will see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island along the way too.  Running this loop will give you a serious workout and also a sneak peek into much of the city.

This might be a bit too much for one run.  Break it up into a few segments during your stay and you will experience the city in a whole different way!

You Can’t Go Wrong Here:  NYC is a great running city.  Even if you are staying in Midtown and just want to get a quick run in, all you need to do is lace up and hit the sidewalks.  Let the stop lights dictate your route and you are bound to see some fun sights along the way.

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Have you ever been to NYC?  Do you have a favorite running route in Manhattan?  Help me out with your favorite routes in the other boroughs!

Waiting For The Wall

Happy Monday!  Excuse my lack of presence. We were away for the past week on a family vacation in somewhat sunny Florida.  The weather was chilly most of the week.  However, yesterday when the time sprung forward one hour, all the kiddos who we were sharing a room with, decided to finally sleep in their own beds through the night.  It felt so good, I stayed in bed until the littlest one finally decided to get up.

Rock took Mary in the jogging stroller for an 8 mile ride to grab donuts (I love the way he thinks) and I met them there with the car to trade off.  As I started my run, it was almost 11:00am and the sun was beating pretty hard. It was only 73º, which would be a pleasant run in the summer.  But I haven’t been running in that heat for a long while and the last half of my run was straight into the sun on an unshaded path.  Curses for sleeping in!

Right from the start, I began preparing myself for this being a harder run compared to my others this past week. Despite some breezy days, the cool weather worked in my favor and I was running sub 8:00min/miles for eight miles a few days before.  However, I also know that you need to keep your pace on the slower side for most runs.  While my pace has been slowly getting faster and those sub 8:00’s felt relatively moderate, even those need to be slowed down from time to time.

I started Sunday’s run out and got it in my head that I would keep the pace at what felt “easy.”  I would ignore my GPS’s pace function and I would just do what I could.  I knew it was going to get hard at some point and I was going to aim for getting to six miles before I opted to walk for a bit.

I broke the run into half mile segments and checked each one off as I went and also checked in to see how I was feeling.  I used my music to push me through and I kept a calm conversation in my head.

Those last few miles were harder but as I approached each one, I was surprised that I was still feeling okay.  They weren’t quite as hard as I made them out to be and I used that as fuel to keep me going.

Isn’t it the worst when you head out for a run and haven’t mentally prepared yourself?  Have you ever started out feeling so great and having the best of intentions, only to get to the halfway point and you begin to struggle?  It is so hard to keep going when you are taken off guard.  It can mentally take the wind out of your sails.

I realized yesterday that I am still a bit traumatized from my last marathon.  There, I admit it.  I really want to run another marathon.  Nine months after I had Mary, I ran the Run For The Red Pocono’s Marathon.  I PR’ed by over 8 minutes and qualified for Boston with a 14 minute buffer.  I felt amazing!

A month later I ran Grandma’s Marathon.  It was supposed to be flat and fast; a welcome change from the final hills of the Poconos.  But the weather had other things in mind as the temps climbed into the 80ºs and black flags lined the course.  My body gave out.  But my mind gave out long before my legs did.

It was a very difficult experience.  It took all of those happy emotions from a month before and dug them in a deep, dark hole.  I knew and I still do know that I am capable of a great race.  But man, that was one painful experience on both a physical and mental level.  The marathon is a beast and when you have been beaten down, it can be hard to get back up.

I’m eyeing races and trying to find the one that is just right for me.  I will be back soon.  It is a great reminder that running is far more than just putting in the miles.  We have to train our brains to handle the highs and the lows.  Preparing for those difficult days is important.

Sure, you don’t want to be a Debby Downer before each run.  I am not recommending that you always prepare for the worst.  But it helps to know what obstacles might be in your way.  Think of how you might handle them.  When difficulties arise, use them as training tools for how you might approach them on race day.

It also never hurts to have donuts waiting for you when you arrive back home!

I didn’t hit the wall yesterday.  It was a pleasant surprise.  But it was also a great reminder that no two runs are alike and sometimes they can really throw you for a loop.

How do you prepare for these tough runs?

It’s Not Very Chilly-5 Minute Slow Cooker Chili

Apparently long weekends leave me a few days behind on catching up!  We had an awesome long weekend playing with family at Shanty Creek Resorts.  If you recall, we were there a few years ago when Mary just started crawling and we basically had the place to ourselves.  A year before that, we got married there in the summer.

Things have changed just a little bit!

This time, these non-skiers enjoyed a winter weekend playing in the snow.  Well Mary and Rock played in the snow and I sat at the Lakeview Restaurant and watched them tube down the runs.  They had a blast.  Lucy and I chowed down and had fun too.

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Just watching some Olympics.

We finished the weekend off by enjoying a delicious meal and flight of beers at Short’s Brewing Company.  I didn’t get any pics because I was fresh off of an 8 mile run and was both ravenous and seriously into my tasting of five delicious IPA’s.

Between our trip to humid Mexico, some dry and stuffy aired flights, and a chilly return to reality, my throat has been soar for a few days.  My tonsils are swollen and I am trying to remedy things with sweaty workouts, lots of hot and cold hydration, and some warm soothing meals.  While I have enjoyed a few meals that involved meat, I’ve stuck to my plant based eating most of the time.  It has been surprisingly easy.

I scoured a few websites to look at various planted based recipes and then decided to try my hand at making my own slow cooker meals.  Last night I made this Slow Cooker Lentil and Quinoa Chili.  I wasn’t certain how this would turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised.  This meal cost around $10 to make and as the lentils and quinoa cooked up, the slow cooker was filled to the brim.  This will last us for several meals.  There’s no browning of meat or veggies.  Just dump the ingredients in and turn your crockpot on.

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Enjoying some chili with her post ballet Happy Meal

I missed the last episode of “This Is Us” when it aired after the Super Bowl.  So I don’t know how things ended up, but I did see the episode when the fire started and I do cringe a bit each time I turn my slow cooker on.  But give this one a try.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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Slow Cooker Lentil and Quinoa Chili:

Ingredients:

1 onion (chopped)

1 green bell pepper (chopped)

1 red bell pepper (chopped)

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 can pinto beans (drained)

1 can black beans (drained)

1 can chili beans (drained)

1 can tomato sauce

4 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cups lentils

1/2 cup quinoa

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon paprika

3 cloves minced garlic

Salt to taste

Directions:

Pour all ingredients in slow cooker.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Top with your favorite fixings.  Enjoy!

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Check out my other chili recipes!

3 Cans And 6 Veggies Chili

Super Easy Turkey Chili

 

Staying Healthy On Vacation-Back From Mexican Adventures!

Happy Thursday!  It’s been a bit longer than I had planned on being away from posting, but we were on vacation.  Our internet was so spotty, I couldn’t get anything to load.  It was the perfect time to put down the computer and just enjoy being with my family.

We headed out two weeks ago for an 11 day vacation at the Sunscape Sabor in Cozumel, Mexico.  Staying at all inclusive resorts can be both awesome and terrible in many ways.  On the bright side, you can pay for your trip up front and then spend very little during the rest of your vacation besides tips and excursions.  This is nice because you can easily budget for your trip without too many surprises.

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On the other hand, these resorts can be really hard on your health and wellness because it can be very easy to fall into a trap of eating too much, too often, and consuming a ton of calories in alcoholic drinks.  Meanwhile, there are sunny beaches and pools to lounge at and avoid activity.

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From my experience, there is an interesting mentality that occurs when people head to a buffet.  Even in a cheap hotel where the food is of relatively poor quality, people flock to the buffet and start piling tons of food they typically wouldn’t consume.  Did you ever notice that the eggs that sit in those containers are usually some sort of liquid egg substitute that doesn’t always even taste like eggs?  Sit back the next time you are in this situation and watch what happens.

Being mindful of what we ate at the buffet was key to a healthy vacation.  I’ve been continuing to eat mostly plant based foods and this actually made eating easier on this trip.  The quality of food at the resort wasn’t that great but they always had a ton of vegetable options.  I was able to make salads each afternoon for lunch and each evening I stuck to mostly veggie based options.  With a buffet this is surprisingly easy.

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This view certainly doesn’t hurt!

We had a really great time at our resort but we were also very aware of how we approached this vacation.  First of all, Rock and I both really enjoy exercise and try to make a point to get some activity in each day and also spend time being active with our family.  The first day we were there we went for a 7 mile run together.  There is a nice one way road along the resorts that allows you to safely exercise outside.  However, we weren’t used to the heat and humidity and struggled pretty badly for the last mile.

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Fortunately the Sunscape Sabor had an excellent small gym that had really nice quality cardio machines and a really beautiful yoga studio.  I was able to get an 8 mile run in most days during the girls hour long nap time.  Getting a daily sweat in really helped keep me feeling energetic, which is important when traveling with an infant and toddler.  When you stick to a normal activity routine, your body and mind feel better.

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So grateful for the Simple Hydration bottle on these hot vacations!

Finally, when it comes to alcoholic drinks, I try to be aware of what I am consuming.  While I do enjoy beers, I avoid drinking them too often because they are loaded in carbs that go right to your belly.  I also avoid fruity or creamy based drinks because these are basically like consuming multiple alcoholic milkshakes or juices.  I personally enjoy wine and this is a lower carb, lower calorie choice.

Other great options if you choose to drink on a vacation are mixed alcoholic drinks with a club soda or diet cola base and a light amount of alcohol.  Moderation is always key and it is always important to hydrate plenty throughout the day.  Aim to drink a big glass of water when you wake up and then with each meal.  Sparkling water is also an excellent and refreshing option to mix things up.

Also keep in mind that sleep is vital to staying healthy.  Budget for good sleeping time whether it be a siesta or going to bed at a reasonable hour.  Waking up ready for the day not only is important for health and wellness, but also makes your vacation more enjoyable.

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How do you like to stay healthy on your vacations?

Simple Homemade Valentine Decoration (Great For Kids)

I love decorating for the holidays.  As soon as Thanksgiving dinner is over, I am ready to pull out my Christmas decorations.  The tree goes up and the balsam candles are lit.

When we came home from Christmas in Chicago, I was sad to see that our tree had shed entirely shed itself.  That night, we went to work at getting that thing out of our house before it left our living room covered in needles.  I was sad to see it go, but it was time.

Now that the New Year is over, I’m ready to get some other decorations out.  Last year, Mary was just getting old enough to color and I pulled out a few craft projects.  Doilies adorned our cabinets and we painted her first ever project.

This year she has a new love for crafting and I am taking advantage of it.  We made this adorable Valentine canvas in just a few minutes.  What I love about projects like these, is that regardless of your child’s age or ability, they turn out great.

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If you want to attempt the framed picture (last year’s project) it is a really nice and easy one as well.  Simply take a piece of white paper and allow your child to use appropriate colored finger paint.  Let dry and then cut into a heart shape.  Tape to a piece of pink construction paper and place in frame!

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Project Materials:

White canvas (I purchased ours in bulk at Michael’s)

1 sheet of computer paper

Washable Dot Paints (like what you use for bingo)

Tape

Make Your Project:

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Take your computer paper and fold in half.  Draw half of the heart.  This is easier than just drawing a free hand heart, as it stays more uniform.  You could also trace one if you have a stencil.  Cut out heart shape and set aside.  Tape the sheet of paper to your canvas.  Start by taping around the outside.  Then using very small pieces, secure the inside just slightly along the edge.  Once secure, use appropriate colored dotters and blot the inside.

The dot paints won’t bleed under the paper and will cover the area nicely.  They even look great when overlapped.

After you have finished with the dot paint.  Gently peel the paper off, as soon as you have finished painting.  You can carefully use the edge of the blotter to cover any areas that weren’t covered.

Craft Your Holiday Cards

This week I have a few easy craft projects to share with you.  Today I’m starting with a super simple way to reuse your holiday cards.

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Since we have moved to Michigan, we have been recycling more than ever.  When we lived in NYC it was mandatory that you place recycling outside of your building.  The Department of Sanitation would fine the building owner and this was incentive for all of us to separate our garbage.

However, when we moved to Chicago, they have a much more lax recycling program.  Unfortunately, this made recycling far less convenient for us and I am sorry to say that we got a bit out of the habit.

Interestingly enough, recycling isn’t mandatory up here in Michigan.  But our local recycling center makes it so incredibly easy, that we now recycle more than ever.  All you need to do is pull up to the building and bring everything in.  They have bins labeled to help you separate materials.  The employees will also come out to your car and help carry everything in and separate it for you.  We now have far less garbage to put out every week.

Now that we recycle more, I try to think of ways to reuse things we have around our house.  One fun thing we have discovered is making gift tags for next year out of the holiday cards we received from family and friends.  This is also a great project that you can involve your kids with on a cold winter day.

We have dozens of these cards each year.  I have a rack that we set out to display cards and this year Mary had a blast looking at the pictures and hanging the cards up.  However, once the holiday season is over, the cards often just get tossed into the garbage at some point.

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Most holiday cards are made of nice material and come in many fun colors and adornments.  Instead of tossing the cards out, try taking some of your favorites and cutting them into tags to use for next year’s gifts.  This creates less garbage and also saves you money when you purchase gift wrap next year.  You can even do this as a family and spend time looking at each card one more time.  Mary finds this to be a fun way to name each person she knows.

Take a look at your cards and find fun prints or pictures and then simply cut into shapes.  Mix up the sizes and styles of your cut.  You can even get creative and use different types of scissors with various borders.  Use a hole punch to make a space for string.  Or leave alone and tape onto packages next year!  Don’t forget to look on the back of the cards.   This is where you usually can find some really nice designs.

Do you day any family crafts when the weather gets really cold?

Year In Review

Happy New Year!  It’s been a bit over a week since I last posted.  I attribute that to a whole lot of fun activities going on over the holidays and to an early Christmas present from Mary in the form of the Norovirus.  The latter wiped me out for nearly a week.  What can I say?  We do encourage her to share as much as possible!

2017 was a really fun year for our family and also for my running.  It didn’t involve many races or racing goals, but there was plenty of mileage to be had anyway.  Here’s my quick recap and mileage.

January:  132 miles

I started this month out by jumping into training for the Boston Marathon.  We got hit almost daily with several inches of snow and I quickly realized that winter marathon training in Northern Michigan can be quite miserable.

February: 171 miles

I continued training for Boston, until we found out that we were expecting in October.  At this point, I decided that I would rather not train for a marathon while being pregnant and hope to qualify again another year.

March: 197 miles

Being pregnant certainly wasn’t going to stop me from running.  When we got to Florida, I spent 10 days running on the beach with Rock and enjoying some warm, snowless, weather.

April1.4

April: 159 miles

We headed out east to New York City for 2 months of work.  Mary got to skate at Wollman Rink in Central Park, where we used to work, and where Rock and I first met.  I got to enjoy running in the park, along the East River, and on Randall’s Island.  We also got some running together as a family up in Fishkill, NY.

May: 84 miles

May was a learning month for me.  When you are pregnant, your body requires far more electrolytes than it normally does.  I ran through what felt like a terrible calf cramp that ended up being a muscle tear.  This lead to some down time for healing.  When I finally got back out to run, I tripped over a brick and messed up my pelvis (thanks pregnancy hormones!).  It was June before I could even walk properly again.

June: 161 miles

This was a recovery month for me.  As I eased back in to running, I wasn’t certain if I would be able to do the only race I had planned for the year.  Fortunately, I played it smart and took my time.  Many days I broke my runs into two parts and this seemed to really help.

10miler1

July: 158 miles

I spent a week pushing Mary in the running stroller in Rhinelander, Wisconsin and the following week I was feeling well enough to do the Cherry Festival Half Marathon in Traverse City.  At 27 weeks pregnant, I was careful not to push myself too hard and was pleased by both the beautiful course, and my 1:53 finish.

August: 143 miles

I could tell my outdoor running was coming to an end as we enjoyed a week of family vacation up in Glen Arbor, MI.  However, as I took my runs inside and was feeling great, I was surprised when some early labor lead to modified bed rest.  Our fabulous doctors and nurses kept me and the baby healthy enough to just hang out at home.

September: 27 miles

Lucy Carroll Dudek arrived 4 1/2 weeks early and stole our hearts.  I was so scared about sharing my time between Mary and another sibling and couldn’t imagine how I would possibly love another child as much as my first.  The truth is though, that I love being a mom more than ever before.  These two girls bring so much love into our lives.

October: 160 miles

I took 18 days off after Lucy was born and then eased back in on the treadmill.  This was both easier on my body and also for a mom who now has a toddler and a newborn to take care of.

November: 192 miles

This month marked my first outdoor and double digit runs.  We tried the Winnetka Turkey Trot in Winnetka, IL and had a blast.  This was also Mary’s first time riding with me during a race and also her first kids race.  It was all a success!

December:  193 miles

Despite ending the year with a GI bug, the whole month marked some really great mileage and runs.  We had a fabulous Christmas and start to our New Year.  We are so blessed as a family and I thank you for following my adventures.

Total mileage: 1777 miles

What was a highlight of your running this year?