Volunteering at Second Harvest

I’ve been saying that I’ve wanted to volunteer with my kids for years now. It comes up, I think about it for a few days, and then I do nothing about it. Part of it is because it’s HARD to find volunteering opportunities for kids and the other part is that I’m just full of excuses about being too busy and too consumed with my own life.

That’s changing.

This week I FINALLY had a chance to volunteer at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Second Harvest collects, stores, and distributes donated food to more than 550 feeding partners in six Central Florida counties. Their food goes to food pantries, daycares, soup kitchens, emergencies shelters, and senior centers (to name a few). Over 50% of their food comes from retail stores – but chances are, when you donate goods in Central Florida, it ends up at Second Harvest.

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Second Harvest has many, many volunteering opportunities for adults, but every other month they offer a “Family Night” where kids from ages 5-9 can volunteer, which is where I went (with B and L) last Wednesday night.

Also joining us was Paula, who, by the way, my kids decided they want as their new mom. #tryingnottobeoffended

My kids decided that @eatwatchrun is their new mom. #coolerthanme

And just think, she only thought she was signing up to volunteer for a few hours!

We got to Second Harvest 5 minutes before 6 (the program ran from 6-8), signed in, and then was sent to the volunteer break room. The whole process was very simple. We waited for about 10 minutes before they raffled off two tickets to Fun Spot (that thankfully we did not win — shhh don’t tell the kids I said that) and then we were directed into the warehouse to sort food.

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And sort food we did! There were 18 pallets of food (about 15,000lbs) that we placed into a variety of bins (cans, dry goods, chemicals, non-food, candy, etc.).

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It was a simple activity, but seeing all of the kids working hard was so fun! B especially got into it, while L made friends with an older boy (seriously) and helped collect the empty boxes.

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Is it too early to lock her up?

We ended up smoking through the pallets (they anticipated 12 pallets taking 2 hours and had to bring in 6 more after 45 minutes – which still wasn’t enough) and finished up a little early.

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Paula and B REALLY wanted to take home the candy, but I’m mean and I said no.

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As we were leaving B BEGGED to come back (he actually wanted to stay and do more), so I signed up for September as well. As of right now there are still about 25 spots left if you are interested in volunteering with kids!

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And by the way, another event that Second Harvest is involved in is Taste of the Nation Orlando which is coming up on August 9th.

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Taste of the Nation is a HUGE fundraising event for both Second Harvest and the Coalition for the Homeless – raising money together for their No Kid Hungry campaign.

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It also happens to brings together some of the BEST local restaurants (as well as a few chains) where you can eat and drink your little heart out. It’s a one of a kind event where you can feel gluttonous about eating massive amounts of food, while also feeling good about the cause.

You may remember that I went last year as Paula’s date and had a FANTASTIC time. I cannot wait to head back again this year!

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So, long story short – if you’d like to dedicate a few hours of your time check out the Second Harvest Food Bank. If you aren’t local, it’s worth checking out your local food banks.

AND If you are looking for something to do in August, which just so happens to support a fantastic cause, you can buy tickets HEREDo it! It’s for the kids!

My Rock

I was contacted last week by Red Envelope — you know, the awesome site you visit when you need gift ideas? Yeah them. They didn’t contact me to test out a product, or give them rave reviews — but instead to promote their newest campaign — Thank Your Rock. It took me .4 nanoseconds (if that) to decide who MY rock is.

Yes, it’s always and forever this guy.

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I know…It’s an obvious choice. I didn’t just decide to marry him for funsies (although, our wedding WAS fun).

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But in all seriousness I could not do half of what I do without him by my side. He is my equal partner. He cleans, he picks up food, he chauffeurs, he baby wrangles. He tolerates my crazy and supports my early morning wake ups.

We’ve known each other since we were 18. We had a somewhat tumultuous relationship while were in college, because, well, we were in college. We were young, stupid, and naive. Oh the good ‘ol days when I didn’t have bangs and he did.

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As we’ve gotten older and wiser (ha!), we’ve found ways to keep our relationship interesting by traveling, having kids, and participating in key swap parties. (just kidding, just checking to see if you’re still reading).

While our relationship is far from perfect, Dan has always supported my decisions and acted as my sounding board. When I’m stressed out at work or something is bothering me – he listens. When I’m paranoid and anxious, he doesn’t tell me I’m crazy (I’m sure he certainly thinks it) – he make accommodations. To me, these gestures are more important than gifts or affirmations. Of course, my highest ranked”Love Language” is Acts of Services, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

So to Dan… thank you. Thank you for being there, sharing your life with me, and having these adorable kids with me.

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Thank you for supporting my running addiction, for making the coffee, for washing the 8 gazillion pounds of laundry, for not questioning me when I buy more makeup and more workout clothes,  for supporting me when the kids say I’m mean (we both know you’re the “fun” parent!), and for all the little things I recognize, but may never acknowledge.

E feels this way about Edward Cullen too.

Thank you for your friendship, you humor, your commitment to making me laugh every day, for taking pictures of me/us in weird places/at strange times without questioning it, and for doing Zumba in public with a baby on your shoulders.

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In short… Thank you for being my rock.

*you may all vomit in your mouth now*

Who is YOUR rock?

**I hate that I have to write this, but I wasn’t compensated for this post, nor was this post sponsored/affiliated. I just thought it was a really nice campaign that came with the opportunity to gush over a person I truly love.

A Working Mom With Three – One Year Later

A year ago, I went back to work after my (final) maternity leave. E was 9 weeks old. I was tired, stressed, and SO ANGRY. I (obviously) didn’t want to go back so soon, or (at the time) at all. No matter how much self-talk I did, I didn’t want to drop my little guy off at daycare every day. Going back was harder with each kid and with E it felt like complete torture. It sucked that I only got 6 weeks off (with 60% of my pay — I took the extra 3 weeks as vacation), in fact it sucks that the US doesn’t have a maternity option. The only reason I had 6 weeks off is because recovering from childbirth is considered a disability. I’m pretty sure hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is go back to work when I (and the baby) wasn’t physically and mentally prepared.

Got to see my bub at lunch today #happy

Fake it till you make it.

My days were pretty much a blur. I can’t tell you many details except that I hated pumping, I had absolutely zero schedule, and I didn’t know how I was going to fit anything (running, reading, friend time, husband time, etc) into my life again. I was OK with that though. E was sweet, snuggly, and worth it. I preferred to spend most of my free time with him in my arms and I think he would do anything to be in my arms.

After a fussy night, E is back to his smiley self. Smiling > Shots

Who can resist this??

I was also very, very anxious. I couldn’t define what I was feeling as postpartum depression (though, I don’t doubt I was experiencing it to some small degree), but my postpartum anxiety was fierce, lifesucking, and out of control at times. Looking back, I was in a far deeper hole than I imagined. I never thought I was going do anything to harm anyone, but I constantly thought about all of the horrible things that could happen to everyone that I know. Do you know how stressful that is?

Over time, things have gotten so much better. For starters,  handling all three kids — with very, very different personalities — has gotten easier. Going into all of this, I didn’t realize that L at age 4 was going to be SO dramatic and hard to deal with (although, it was easier than when L was born and B was almost 3). At the same time, I also didn’t realize how amazing B would be with his little brother — so obviously these things balanced themselves out. I think over time the kids have realized that E is here to stay and he’s quite the little charmer. You want things? You go through E.

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A year later things are… the way they are supposed to be. We (kinda) have a routine. I can get to work before 8:30. I’m no longer pumping. I feel like me again. I’m no longer angry. I’m still tired, but mostly because E is still waking up a few times a night (I’m still breastfeeding, so I guess I don’t mind). I don’t have to squeeze workouts in and when I do work out, I don’t feel guilty that I might be needed or missing something.

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As for work – I’m enjoying it again. You know, as much as you can enjoy work. I like getting to my office every day and I like the work I am doing. I’m busy, I feel productive, I’m constantly learning – and when I see my coworkers I’m no longer putting on a happy face. I’m genuinely happy.  I’m reminded that this is WHY I’m a working mom… I truly do love what I do — and the people I work with too!

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Birthday lunch with some of my favorite people. I’m pretty lucky!

I’m still anxious, but it’s lessened immensely. It hits at weird times and I can now attribute it to being overtired or being overwhelmed. I still worry about things I cannot control – but if I take deep breathes and focus on the things I CAN control, it helps. But, for the record… I’ll probably have to live on Xanax when I hit menopause.

It’s amazing to me how much can change in a year. I can’t really pinpoint when these things all clicked, it wasn’t all at once and there was no real “a ha moment” — it’s just when reflecting that I’ve realized how different things are, in a good way! While a baby’s first year is the most amazing, sweetest, and snuggly year imaginable it’s also just plain hard. I’m not going to pretend subsequent years aren’t hard – in fact they are harder, just in different ways and they are FAR less hormonal.

I especially look forward to this next year with Evan. I like to think of it as the year of wonder – when kids are aware of their surrounding, are starting to communicate, and just think everything is AMAZING. I do think each year of childhood contains a little bit of this wonder – but this year between 1 and 2 is the most innocent and gratifying. It reminds you to consider the little things, to enjoy the simple moments, and to be silly — because when it comes down to it, that’s what life is all about.

Birthday lunch. Who says you have to grow up? #beergoggles

So for all of you mamas — whether you’re raising baby #1 or #10 – just remember, this too shall pass. Sometimes you just need a little reminder (or a glass of wine) that things will get back to “normal.” I also caution that if you are feeling completely out of it. See a Dr., find a therapist, or talk to your friends. There’s no shame in admitting that things aren’t perfect or that you don’t feel right. I SHOULD have been more proactive, I think I suffered a lot longer than I should have because I didn’t realize it was abnormal. It’s OKAY to ask for help — and also know, you are NEVER EVER alone.

So basically, things are better and sometimes great, but I still live by my mantra… Parenting is hard, yo.

Things I’m Loving Lately – Marathon Training Kickoff Edition

Yep, that’s right. Marathon training is officially underway. Not that I’m really doing anything wildly different this week. This week I’m running 23-25 miles, which has become my norm. Next week, however I’ll start (gradually) upping the miles. I guess I’m ready?

Not only is marathon training back, but so is the ridiculous heat, humidity, and daily thunderstorms. For a few months I was actually managing to do my long runs at night after the kids were in bed (and I kind of liked it), but with thunderstorms rolling in anywhere between 4-9pm, I decided I need to commit to morning running again.

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Why is sooooo hard to get up??

There are a few perks to marathon training. Mainly, it’s a good excuse to buy new things. It helps that it was just my birthday so I can say things like “I’m buying these for myself, for my birthday.” Even though everyone knows that I would probably buy them anyways. It’s just fun to have an excuse.

So here a few recent buys that I have been worth buying (none of these links are affiliated, click away)…

1. Amphipod Hydraform Handheld In-Touch (20oz)

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So, this isn’t new. I bought it back in February and it was love at first run. I have never really been one to run with a water bottle, but it now goes with me on every run. Even the 3 milers. It’s very light and cozy in my hand and it holds my phone (I’m actually able to use my phone without taking it out as well). When it’s super dark outside I reverse my phone and use it as a flashlight. Basically, it’s great. I haven’t decided if I’ll use it on longer runs or on race day, but I will use it on runs up to about 13 miles.

2. Nike Breeze Tanks

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I finally found the PERFECT shirt for running in Florida! I probably could run with just my sports bra on, but I like having something to absorb my sweat (it dries fast) and protect me from those stupid gnats that are everywhere (if only I could find something that kept them from flying into my mouth). The material is so lightweight and bonus, it’s long.

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If the shirts weren’t $35, I would probably have one in every color. Instead, I’m slowly adding them to my collection.

3. Salted Carmel Gu

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Don’t get me wrong, Gu is still disgusting and makes me gag, but this is the most tolerable flavor I’ve ever eaten. Maybe it’s the salt? I just realized it’s a winter flavor, and salted watermelon is their summer flavor. I can’t decide if that sounds gross or not.

4. Elta MD Sports Sunscreen

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My dermatologist probably makes a fortune off of selling this stuff, but I have to give him credit because it’s pretty great. It doesn’t make my skin breakout (and I have SUPER sensitive skin), it doesn’t smell too disgusting, it’s not sticky, and it doesn’t sting if it you’re a moron (like me) and it accidentally gets in your eyes. I also now use this on all of my kids – including Mr. Sensitive Baby Skin himself.

Oh, and I make my ginger husband use it so he doesn’t burst into flames the minute he walks out of the house.

5. Ridiculously Bright Colored Clothes

I’m all about the neon.

I'm obnoxious. #wooendorphins

I’m obnoxious and I know it.

6. Fitness Blender workouts

I’ve been wanting to add an extra strength/HIIT workout to my schedule — but I don’t have time (nor do I want to wake up early) to go to the gym, so I’ve been doing these Fitness Blender workouts from home. Here’s one that kicked my ass and only took 20 minutes….

I love that they visually include the countdown clock and have a pretty broad variety of workouts (which also list the calorie burn range). Maybe I’m the last person on Earth to discover these workouts, but if I’m not, check them out!

7. This book.

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Ok, so it has nothing to do with marathon training, except it’s been keeping me up because I can’t put it down. If you want to read something and think, “Wow, she’s batshit crazy and we need to be best friends.” Then this book is for you.

8. Cute kids and a supportive husband

So, I’m pretty lucky (and nobody even paid me to say that). My husband may not understand my crazy hobbies, but he’s my biggest fan and cheerleader. I could not fathom training for these marathons (or writing this blog) without his support.

He seems really excited about this for some reason.

And as always, the cute kids help too. Especially, when they pretend to like each other.

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WHICH IS ALWAYS (ha).

Anything running (or non-running really) that you’re loving lately?

36

And just like that… I’m a year older.

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My computer can’t even lie to me about my age. Rude.

On the plus side, it’s an even year and I have a weird thing with even numbers. On the negative — I’m slowly sliding into that land called my 40s… but I still FEEL 25.

So, 35 in review… it was a pretty great year overall. I accomplished a few personal goals and work goals. I PR’d — not just once, but several times. I bounced back from having a baby and things in life got a little easier again. I’m healthy, my family is healthy, and I’ve got great friends. Actually not just great friends, the best friends. I also became an aunt – twice! and did a little traveling to a few places I hadn’t been before (for work, but still).

It was also a tough year. My hormones were all over the place, I wasn’t sleeping (well, I’m still not really sleeping, but it’s getting better), I lost my Godmother, and I might have lost my mind a little.

That said, I think there are always tough moments in every good year. That’s life, right? If anything it makes you appreciate what you have.

What I have is a plentiful life full of happiness and love. I know, I’m getting a little cheesy here, but even during the sad/unhappy/angry times, I am reminded that I have it good. And I am grateful – for these experiences, these moments, and the people who influence me every day.

Shhhh... Our babies are sleeping.

Last minutes snuggles before heading out. #workingmom #eisnotimpressed

My girls ❤ @kao4018 @eatwatchrun @jackiec44 @jlreynolds78 @shineyhiney

More drinking on Saturday... Before @eatwatchrun and I sent @jackiec44 off in a sketchy cab.

Going through my pics from Saturday night... The humidity killed our cute hair.

We look pretty hot. #OrlTaste #boobs

No makeup, hair in a bun, beer in hand...

Intense game of Toy Story Yahtzee.

Got to spend the day with my girl. ❤️❤️

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Somedays I feel crazy. Every day I feel lucky.

Doing a little cliff walking before we head home!

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So very thankful for my three favorite turkeys. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Three little Seminoles jumping on the bed... #gonoles #fsu

MJK

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Just one of many, and I mean many, work holiday party photos where I'm rocking the crazy arms...and the dance floor.

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I think @eatwatchrun and @hungryhealthymj are trying to hug me...

Jazz hands! (Thanks @hungryhealthymj for this photo!)

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Last night in Newport. Wow. #nofilter

2 hours of baseball practice with all the kids, by myself = a giant glass of wine.

1:54:14 (unofficial) #bestdamnpr @bestdamnrace

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Wedding selfie. It looks like we have antlers.

We steal bouquets when pregnant... This is the end of an era. @kao4018

This kid. ❤️❤️

No turning back now!!! #chimarathon #26.2 #eek

Kissing him, without protest, while I can.

Best running friend forever  @eatwatchrun

Breakfast baby meetup with @activeeggplant and @hmarron27

Livin' with my bitches. #live cc: @eatwatchrun @jackiec44 @kwidrick @jencook76

Low(er) humidity, no eaten bugs, and a view like this -- what's not to love? #running #wooendorphins

My three little loves. Just a little different from last year. ❤️

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Last day of school! They are definitely ready for 3rd grade and Kindergarten. #wheresthepausebutton

Can't wait to run 26.2 miles in this shirt on Oct. 12th! #TeamRMHC #chimarathon

Off to the Army Ball. It's like prom... When you're {almost} 36.

Tickets in hand!! Have I mentioned I'm SO excited? #fallonorlando

Important teachable moment: take selfies when you look cute and snuggly.

And that’s just a FEW of the pictures I took. I might need an intervention.

As for 36… I hope it’s a year of challenges, fun, and growth. I don’t see myself doing anything CRAZY, but who knows. The closer I creep to 40, the closer I think I might as well enjoy my youth. And by enjoy my youth I mean drink a glass of wine, read the Urban Dictionary monthly so I know what thinks like “Turnt” and “Show beer” and “Got Laid Parade” mean (yes, these are real things that I have to keep up with because I’ll have a teenager in 5 years *sob*), watch a lot of TV, and read a few books. Oh, and run. I’m going to run my little heart out this year.

So here’s to 36! *Clink clink*