Last Firsts

Knowing you are done having babies is a weird life transition. At least, it has been for me. Sometimes I feel all 35.75 of my years, but most of the time I just feel like I’m perpetually 26. It was at 26 where I thought “Eh, I could have kids.”, so it’s strange and bittersweet to think that 10 years later my family is complete and that part of my life is behind me.

It doesn’t help that this past year has flown. At times I actually feel like I am just free falling. Didn’t I JUST have a baby? How is he almost 1?

Just out for a drive.

I also  feel like all of these feelings are amplified because with him I am also experiencing my last firsts.

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Can you believe he was once this little?

The first time I held him — also the last time I will hold MY OWN newborn.

The first time I nursed him.

The first time he spit up all over me (ok, I won’t miss that).

The first time he smiled at me (which, to be honest, I don’t actually remember – #newbornhaze).

The first time he peed all over himself (now that, I remember).

The first time he heard his voice.

The first time he laughed.

The first time he sat up on his own.

The first time he slept thru the night (oh wait, that hasn’t happened yet).

And so many more…

He’s now working on some pretty major milestones – pulling up, standing, and possibly crawling and eventually walking — and this whole “last firsts” thing is really hitting home. At times, I feel pretty overwhelmed with over  it. I cried when I realized he had teeth (especially those top teeth!). I tear up when he’s playing with a baby toy that belonged to Braeden. I mean, didn’t Braeden just play with that toy and now he’s almost 8?? And I rush to record him scooting, yet again, because at ANY MOMENT he could just decide to start crawling instead.

Have you seen him scoot? It’s pretty freaking adorable.

I’m a ridiculously nostalgic person to begin with, but this whole “last firsts” thing? It might be taking me a bit over the edge. In fact, I already feel bad for Evan. He will be the last kid in our family to start Kindergarten, graduate from high school,  and move out of the house. Oh, who am I kidding, he’s not moving out of the house. Right?

I admit that I am more patient with him because I know he’s my last. I savor the small things. I don’t rush the big events or hope he hits his milestones sooner. I relish his babyness and soak in the open mouth kisses and sleepy snuggles. I get why the baby is, in fact, always “the baby.” The irony is that most of the time, they grow up the fastest.

Kissing him, without protest, while I can.

I know that there are so many “firsts” that I still have to look forward to, but as we approach the “last first birthday” I can’t help but get wrapped up in the small things. Last night, as I rocked my last baby to sleep I thought about how thankful I was to have any of these firsts… so grateful. It’s so easy to get caught up in the sleep deprivation, the stress, the anxiety, and well, the work. At times, it can really get the best of you. However, in the same breath that I will tell you it’s HARD, harder than you ever expect or imagine, I will tell you that these little people — and all of their firsts– are worth it. Every second.

Maybe if I knew how fast it would go, I might have tried to live in the moment more. Or maybe I did it just right? That’s the thing with parenthood. You never really know how you’re doing… which is what makes those firsts so much sweeter.

Why I’m Running for RMHC

I have a post written about stuff going on lately, but after a less than stellar night of sleep (three guesses on why) and having all kinds of internal rage this morning about stupid, meaningless things –  I didn’t feel like posting something that sounded so chipper and upbeat. I then considered raging on here – because, who doesn’t love a good rage?

Instead, I decided to get sucked into watching videos from the charity I am running for in October. It started with this one… and it made me SO excited to run for Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) in Chicago.

Then,YouTube sucked me in. I started watching videos about the families. I also started reading about them.

I pulled out the tissues.

I had a good cry.

And I gave myself a reality check and stopped feeling sorry for myself.

The reason I picked this charity is because what it does for families. 7 millions children and families. Yes, 7 MILLION.

In a time of crisis, this charity is there, ready and willing to help in any way they can. They provide shelter, food, and comfort to families when they need it most – without charge. Can we all agree that the last thing you ever need to worry about when you are dealing with a severe illness or prolonged hospital stay is where you’re going to sleep and what you’re going to eat?

The Ronald McDonald houses become homes. The strangers who work there and other who are living there  become family. They help people – kids and adults together – realize that they are NEVER alone and there is always a shoulder to cry on and person to vent to (and with).

I can only pray that we will never have to be a RMHC family, but I will do all that I can to  raise money for this amazing organization.

So, if you too are having a first world problems kind of Monday – check out these families. Considering their circumstances, they are so full of hope and determination – and gratefulness and love.

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It’s organizations like this that assure me there really are GOOD people out there. This is really such a fantastic charity. If you look up the  stats, you can see that 90% of the money donated goes towards intended programs and it is highly ranked for both accountability and transparency. That was also VERY important to me. I didn’t want to raise money for an organization if it was going to end up in someone else’s pockets.

And if you feel so inspired, considering donating to RMHC. Whether it’s through my campaign, somebody else’s campaign, or direct, I don’t really care. It’s all about the kids, man. OR you too could run Chicago!! 26.2 miles is NOTHING compared to what these families have, are, and will continue to go through.

Are you with me on the Crappy Monday Train? Have you ever considered running for charity??

PS – If you wanted to feel good about buying McDonald’s Happy Meals - restaurants donate a penny from every Happy Meal and Mighty Kids Meal purchase to support RMHC programs and services. Yes, it’ just a penny, and yes it’s McDonald’s, but it can still help you rationalize it.

Storm The Campus 10-Miler {Race Recap}

On Sunday morning I had my last race of the season. I feel like I JUST started racing again and poof — it’s over. I’m jealous of the rest of the country who is now beginning their race season. I felt like it was fitting that my race season started AND ended at UCF.

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In any case, I didn’t even know that this race existed until a few weeks ago when Paula demanded that I sign up for it. I checked the dates (I was very excited to see that it was on a Sunday so my family could cheer me on!) and immediately forked over $40. A 10-miler is something I had never raced before and we all know I am ALL about the instant PRs.

The race started at 7:30, but we decided to try to leave by 6:30 so we had time to pick up our bibs and find parking. Paula picked me up – so I got to sleep in (aka sleeping until 5:45 on race day). We arrived all of 10 minutes later and got all confused about where the parking garage was located. We ended up asking the race packet people — and killed two birds with one stone by picking UP our bibs and shirts. It’s the little things. We finally found the garage and as we parked the car we found our new racing BFF, Tyler. Paula and I had convinced him to sign up, so we actually KNEW he has going to be there this time but didn’t expect to find him right away.

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No idea why I’m posing like this, but obviously it was so I could post it in the middle of this amazing blog post.

We all thought that there would be a bigger race crowd. Instead there were less than 250.

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After fighting the crowds at the Winter Park Road Race, I am definitely not complaining about running in a small race. I actually thought it was pretty awesome!

We started a few minutes past 7:30 and I just went with it. I actually RAN last week (10 miles on Sunday, 5 miles on Tuesday, and 4 miles on Thursday), so my legs were feeling happy, but not over trained. The weather had changed overnight – it was horrible, humid, and rainy on Saturday – and crisp, cool (low 50s), and windy on Sunday. It was perfect racing weather (maybe minus the wind) so those first two miles were FAST (for me).

And then at Mile 3 I had a moment of clarity and thought “What the hell am I doing??” and slowed it down a little. Actually, I saw Kat (who is fast, passed her, and then thought – OMG, I am really going to fast). I also realized that I hadn’t eaten breakfast (DERP) and took a Clif Shot because I figured I would need it (I was right).

Somewhere between Mile 3-4, I saw a familiar shadow behind me. Yep, it was Tyler. He said he felt really sluggish (yet, he still managed to catch up to me – that boy), but was going to try to stick with me. I told him I was trying to stay under a 9:00 min/mile pace – but I didn’t want to kill myself before the end. So we just ran and talked and tried to avoid looking at our watches.

This was the first race where I actually tried to push myself AND talk at the same time (not including when I was pregnant) — and you know what? I kinda liked it. I truly didn’t think I could keep the pace and constantly ramble about myself, but I’ve been surprising myself a lot lately.

Because I was talking rambling, most of the race just flew by. Every time my watch beeped, Tyler and I would look to see the pace and he would say “We’re still doing good!” We saw Paula 3 times and each time I was SO happy to see that she was only a few minutes behind us. We also screamed GO PAULA – WOO! every time we saw her. She is pretty much the closest thing I know to a celebrity.

Around Mile 7, I hit my usual wall. The wind that hit us at one of the turnarounds DID NOT help. I took a gel though and sucked it up. I’m pretty sure that at that point Tyler COULD have gone on without me – but he didn’t, instead he pushed me along and I appreciated EVERY second of it. I got another little wind with about a mile to go and we started pushing the pace. I passed Kat again, who like me was NOT appreciating the wind.

The end of the race was really fun – we ran around BrightHouse Stadium and down one of the side streets. I started my finish line sprint a little TOO soon (I actually shouted to Tyler “I think I’m going to die.”), but it was worth it.

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My official time is a little confusing (they gave me the wrong chip – which I had to put on my shoe). At first it was listed as 1:27:58, but since Tyler came in at 1:25:59 we knew that was WRONG. Later, it was listed online as 1:26:00. My Garmin said 1:26:03, so we’ll go with 1:26:00. By the way, Tyler BEAT ME by 1 second. That little minx.

As for my time? My A goal was 1:30 — so I guess you can say I smoked it and I’m pretty freaking happy! Plus I came in 5th in my age group. I don’t think I’ve ever been below 10 before, even in a small race. Woo!

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Of course, the best part of the race is seeing my family cheering me on. Even if L told Dan that I was wearing a pink shirt and black shorts (she woke up as I was getting ready), so he had NO idea it was me coming in for the finish.

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Nope, not even close.

I also caught Paula speeding into the finish just a few minutes later with a massive PR.

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Overall, I think we were all pretty happy on how the race was run! The course showed up short on my Garmin, BUT it’s short everywhere. I don’t think it registers turnarounds very well — and there were quite a few of them.

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Obviously, we celebrated by taking pictures. Next year I expect more people I know at this race… and more people in general.

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And then we ate at IHOP.

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This was L’s — I had a veggie omelette, pancakes, and hash browns, in case you thought I was going with a lame after-race meal.

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Tyler joined my crazy, crazy family and they, of course, loved him.

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I think we are going to adopt him.

And just like that, my 2013-2014 race season is OVER.

Up next?? THE CHICAGO MARATHON!!! And lots, and lots of running. Lots of it.

One-Upsmomship Can Suck It

More running later (I have a race this weekend!), but first I need to get this off my mind…

One of the headlines this week consisted of Gwyneth Paltrow telling the world that she has it SO MUCH HARDER than regular non-famous moms. Going to the office every day?? Is SO easy! We have routines! OK G.

To follow this up Mackenzie Dawson wrote a rebuttal to Gwyneth, basically stating the obvious – G doesn’t know what it’s like to be a non-famous working mom. And then proceeded to put her down.

In my opinion? Both women came across as huge a-holes and… the war on Motherhood continues. Right?

What I fail to comprehend is how ANY of these sentiments and statements make you , me, or even G a better mother. We don’t live each others lives. We don’t know each others hardships. Yes, it’s very first world problems to announce you have it so much harder because you have to work 14 hour days for 3 weeks in a row and then go on vacation — but I get the thing about the kids not having a routine or being able to see their mom (which, I do believe was the point). Sometimes being a mom – working outside the home, or staying at home – can just plain suck.

But, there’s no reward for being in the suckiest position. It just sucks more. So why the EFF are we bashing each other over it?

Are we addicted to one-upsmomship? Why do we have to keep proving that we are simultaneously the best AND the worst moms? And  do we have to tear each other down to feel good?

That said, I feel REALLY lucky. I have a lot of mom friends. Some of them work, some of them stay home, some of them work from home — and you know what? It doesn’t matter what we do. We honestly don’t talk about it. We all have similar complaints and struggles. Our kids go through the same stages and have the same ups and downs. We spend our days worrying about kids, we get pissed off when they act out, we are brimming with pride when they do something that amazes us, and we love them more than we ever imagined. But then I read this crap online and think — what the hell? Why do people care what my family does? And more importantly, why are we so definitive on how much harder our lives are?

My favorite quote lately seems to be “Be kind, for everyone for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” I mean, how freaking true is that?

Maybe we all need to continuously chant it. Be KIND. It goes a long way. Do any of us really know what we know what we doing?

And one-upsmomship? Yeah, it can SUCK it.

Let’s commiserate — what’s hard for you this week? For me, my pump is sucking — or rather, it’s lacking some suck and it’s pissing me off. I think the motor is dying. Plus, E is still waking up twice a night. *Yawn*

On The Night You Were Born {2}

On the night you were born,
the moon shone with such wonder
that the stars peeked in
to see you
and the night wind whispered,
‘Life will never be the same.’

Because there had never been
anyone like you…
ever in the world.”

~Nancy Tillman

5 years ago, I couldn’t have told you what my baby looked like. Well, except for smooshy. And soft. With a good set of lungs. And that she took her sweet time to arrive. Obviously, she wanted to make a grand entrance.

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I couldn’t have guessed her personality, her hair color, her eye color, what her voice sounded like, or how she would write her name.

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Olivia Caroline 3.26.2009 8lbs, 12oz, 21 inches

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5 years ago I didn’t understand what it would be like to be a mother of two. Or how different it would (eventually) be raising a girl.

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Five years I knew it was more than just the endless amounts of love. Than what kind of bedding, diapering, feeding, and sleeping decisions I was going to make. So much more. But I didn’t know this baby or how she would impact our lives.

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I didn’t know my heart could grow. I didn’t understand how I would, and could, love another little person. I didn’t realize that having a second baby, while familiar, is still different and would still change the way I saw the world.

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Five years ago – today – I was blessed with a little firecracker, who has grown into the smartest, most beautiful, loving, and determined little girl.

What a difference a year makes!!

With light brown hair, green eyes, a smile that lights up the room — and has longest lashes in the world.

Those lashes...

She is sassy and witty – and already too cool.

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She's such a nut.

She loves to sing, dance, and entertain – and the furthest thing from shy that you have ever met.

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She loves books, dolls, Legos, coloring, princesses, puzzles, running, and most of all… her brothers.

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She is stubborn. So incredibly stubborn and strong willed. She proved to us that all babies are different and from the minute she came home, she’s had her own voice and done things HER WAY.

She says she wants to be like me when she grows up, and I take that as the biggest compliment in life. Even if she changes her mind in a few years.

Being a mom a second time isn’t THAT different – except there’s more of everything and less surprises. It’s still better than I anticipated and I still have NO idea what I am doing.

Five is still a really big deal. There are now opinions and fashion choices. She can write her name and sentences, do simple math, and is learning how to read. She’s a little person, instead of a baby. It’s hard to believe.

This is apparently not my daughter, but my pet baby tiger. At least she's a baby tiger who can rock some boots.

It’s hard to squeeze five life changing years into one post, but I can only hope the next five years are equally life changing, in the most wonderful ways.

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It's class/cap & gown picture day and her smile is ready! I really can't believe she's going to be 5 next week.

Happy Birthday to my sweet and sassy Olivia! Shakespeare was describing YOU when he wrote “Though she be but little, she is fierce!”

Sometimes I think "Where did she come from??" #luluturns5

May you carry this trait with you now and always. Along with a little piece of my heart.