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.

Taste of the Nation

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.

That Time I Went To A Taping Of The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon

Something kind of miraculous occurred on Monday… I snagged two tickets to see the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon — for the next day.

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I checked the site (ok, I was stalking the site) and all of a sudden there were tickets available for Tuesday. I know I said I was bad at the internet, but somehow it all worked out!

My heart was about to leap out of my chest while I entered my information and I’m pretty sure I didn’t breath until I received confirmation. As you can imagine, I was OUT OF MY MIND excited. Maybe not as excited as a having a baby, getting married, or seeing a positive pregnancy test — BUT CLOSE.

Of course, my excitement was briefly halted when Dan reminded me we had three kids who needed to be picked up at three separate locations while we were at the taping.

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I wasn’t going to let that stop me though and it didn’t. Thankfully, my dad came to the rescue. I seriously OWE him and Wanda! After we figured out those logistics, we were good to go (thankfully, work was flexible for both of us!).

So, on Tuesday morning we dropped the kids off and headed out to Universal Orlando Resort for a day sitting around and being reminded that taking your kids to a theme park (and really on vacation in general) is HARD WORK (seriously, watching these families on vacation was exhausting).

I had heard conflicting reports on picking up tickets for the Tonight Show, and we didn’t know WHAT to believe. The reservations say that you need to be there between 10-2 to pick up your tickets — BUT that they always oversell and it’s first come, first serve. However, I knew from Twitter that they ended up having extra tickets for Monday’s show that they were just giving them away around 2:30. We also weren’t sure if the tickets were distributed based on when you arrived or if they were pre-assigned, so we took a casual approach and arrived early, but not TOO early.

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This was the halfway point.

Apparently there were people who got there at 6:30 to get in line!  We got there around 9:45 and waited about an hour after they started distributing tickets. The girls in front were super nice and they nicely took pictures of us and didn’t try to run away with our phones.

Hello boob sweat.

Turns out the tickets were pre-assigned (which really sucked for the people who got there at 6:30) and once we grabbed out tickets from the REALLY AMAZINGLY NICE Tonight Show Staff – who have probably had to put with idiots for days – we just hung out in City Walk for a few hours.

We started at Starbucks, drinking our $4 water and bonded with a few other Jimmy Fallon fans. For lunch, we tried Red Oven Pizza Bakery which was surprisingly well priced AND very tasty.

Dan and I both ordered the Alla Benno — a red pizza with mozzarella, jalapenos, pineapple, and prosciutto. Honestly, we SHOULD have ordered just one pizza, but thinking “we’re at a theme park – that’s probably only enough to feed one person.” WRONG. It was good we stuff ourselves silly though (we both ate all but one piece) because we didn’t really eat dinner last night and we were in NO WAY hungry during the taping of the show.

After lunch, we walked around for a bit and checked out some of the City Walk stores.

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So cute.

I haven’t been to Universal in YEARS (I think the last time I was there was when B was 1 — 7 years ago.) and it looks like they are giving a huge (and much needed face lift). Still there though, was Margaritaville. We figured — well, Jimmy Buffet IS a guest on the show tonight, it’s only fitting that we stop by and have a margarita or two.

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Somehow the afternoon just flew by and before we knew it we were doing some last minute prep for the show.

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The doors opened at 4 and the show pretty much started at 4:45 when the doors closed. They cautioned us to use the rest room before we went through security (otherwise, you’re peeing your pants) and to not be late. No pressure.

We quickly made it through security (again – nicest people) and hung out for 10 minutes or so before we went inside. No cameras were allowed (and they are SERIOUS about that rule – the girl in front of us snuck in a few – but she got caught) so this was the last picture I got…

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As for the show itself — it was really a lot of fun. We had GREAT SEATS —  Row E, seats 36 and 37. I’d be surprised if you saw us on camera since we were kind of tucked away, but it was perfect viewing for the interviews and even the monologue.

Once we got seated, we watched clips of the show and then Seth Herzog came on and warmed us up for about 15 minutes. He then introduced The Roots (AH-MAZING) who then did a little song and dance for us.  They played a few songs and then introduced Higgins.

The crowd was giddy and high on laughter at that point so Jimmy’s introduction just crazy. He could not get us to stop clapping. He must feel like such a damn rock star after these shows!! Also, he’s even cuter in person (although, I’m not sure Dan would agree).

As for the show itself, it just flew by. It was really interesting to see what goes on when they go to break – mostly makeup touch ups and camera redirection. Jimmy talked to the audience a few times to let us know what was happening next – and while he was doing promos for different broadcasts. He did 6 of those and did not mess up once. Actually, for the entire show he only had to do one retake, which I thought was REALLY impressive (especially because he could NOT hold it together on back in the day on SNL). Overall, the vibe on set was fun but you can tell that Jimmy and the crew really bust their ass to get the show done.

My favorite part of the show was when they revealed this clip….

We were all in tears – and Kevin Hart really WAS terrified. Also, he was so adorable. I wanted to pick him up and put him in my pocket. He’s 5’1 – it could happen.

After the taping they let us out into the park (Universal – not Islands of Adventure, which would have been more exciting for me because… Harry Potter) and said we could stay and “play” until Jimmy Buffet took the stage (around 9) OR you know, go home. Which is what we did, mainly because Jimmy Buffet isn’t REALLY our thing and we were freaking EXHAUSTED! Plus, you know – we have those kids :) We were so tired, we haven’t actually watched to see if we were even on the show yet. I am assuming not, but honestly I was happy we got that seats over being on camera.

Overall, it was a really great experience and I’m glad I stalked for tickets for weeks on end like a crazy person. I also learned a valuable lesson…Sometimes acting like a crazy person gets you things you really want and a day off with work to hang out with your husband.

If YOU’RE reading this because you have tickets to see Jimmy — get ready to wait, but know that it will be worth it!! I can’t wait to go see Jimmy in NY… someday.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done because you REALLY wanted something?

A DNS, Piriformis Exercises, And Where I’ll Be

I was supposed to run a half marathon last Sunday, but after a week full of events (and the inability to pick up the race packet on race day)…

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

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Ready to rock this show.

I decided to skip it. Yeah, that’s my first real DNS (Did Not Start). I actually emailed to ask if I could switch my registration to “Virtual” but I never got a response. Oh well.

A part of me was a little bummed, but the other part (the part that got to sleep in) said, “eh – life happens”  I ended up going to a spin class instead — which was exactly what I didn’t know I needed. I haven’t been to spin in probably 6 months, so it was nice to change things up. I feel like it kind of “reset” my muscles a little too — or maybe I just used a few muscles that are neglected when I run.

I'm obnoxious. #wooendorphins

Not neglected? Neon colors.

Actually, a few weeks ago my piriformis started acting up on my left side. It wasn’t like “OMG I AM INJURED!!” but more like “WHY DO I HAVE THIS HUGE KNOT FEELING IN MY ASS???” It mostly bothered me when I was sitting at work, which is pretty much the entire day, so yay.  Spinning this weekend really helped as well as this really bizarre exercise that I found while Googling — Neural Flossing. Dr. Google can be dangerous, but sometimes it does have the answers.

1 million views on this dude’s goofy video can’t be wrong!

So, yeah, I started neural flossing every day and that, combined with the cross training, my aches and pains are now minimal. The LAST thing I need is to be injured before marathon training even starts (which is in TWO WEEKS – did I happen to mention that recently?!!).

Oh, in celebration of marathon training starting up – I am taking the next two weekends off from long runs.

If you need me I’ll be at the beach Celebrating Father’s Day…

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Partying hard and celebrating getting old(er).

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This was from our (for real) 29th birthday. It was only 7 years ago, but DAMN we look young!

I’ll also be neural flossing on the couch, watching the 2nd season of OITNB.

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And every episode (to date) of Downton Abbey.

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 Lady Violet is a delight.

So, you know, important stuff.