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!

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.

Hashtag Random Rambling

It’s June – which means it the most expensive time of year (for me) and the busiest. Looking at my calendar for the next few weeks makes me both excited and exhausted. While we kept things super low key last year thanks to the addition of E, we have no choice but embrace the crazy this year!

First up is this little lady.

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We have a whole double whammy thing going on with her this weekend – not only is she graduating from PreK (O.M.G. how is that possible?), but it’s also her dance recital. L is a little performer through and through and she is so freaking excited about taking the stage.

Oh, and if you follow me on Instagram you already know that her dress attire for her graduation is black and white business casual.

Umm.. What is considered business casual for a 5-year old?

Umm, what?

We got some clarification what that meant (I think L is a little too young to shop at Banana Republic/LOFT) and ended up buying her a super cute (and sparkly) black and white dress. I’m not sure WHY she needs to wear black and white business casual apparel, but there’s bound to be a reason. RIGHT?

It’s also the end of the school year for B this week, to which I just want to shout THANK GOD!

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Maybe I’ll go into it in more detail someday on here, but this year has been particularly challenging. It’s never easy to receive feedback on your child’s limitations and that has been the theme of this school year. I continue to be perplexed by this whole parenting business and I can truly say that 2nd grade both amazed and humbled me. I am seriously amazed at what my kid has learned, but so frustrated with what I thought was just “boy behavior.” I’m almost terrified of what 3rd grade will bring. I’m glad I get a little break though. Bring on summer, no homework, and camp wearing the heck out of my kids.

Speaking of questionable parenting, I attended an advanced screening of Maleficient last week and I brought B along. I figured that at almost 8, he wouldn’t be scared - and I was right. Now, I definitely could not have brought L (she was terrified at parts of Frozen if that gives you perspective). That said, I really didn’t expect it to be SO VIOLENT. I personally didn’t LOVE the movie, though I did think Angelina Jolie was AMAZING and perfect for the role (they really missed the boat on so many of the other characters though). One thing I DID learn, is how to pronounce Maleficient. Man, that was not an easy word for me to learn.

In other non-running, but kind of running related news, I booked our flights to Chicago today (PS – Southwest is having a big sale right now)!! We’re actually staying an extra day because it saves us money (weird, right?). Next up is planning trips to the zoo/aquarium/museums and meet ups. I AM SO EXCITED!! I am going to remember this excitement every time I have to wake up at 5am for a training run.

In running related news – I JUST remembered I’m running a half marathon on Sunday. This should be interesting.

Oh – and speaking of races. I am HORRIBLE at the internet. Let me explain — a few weeks ago I tried to get Jimmy Fallon tickets (did you hear he’s going to be in Orlando in two weeks?). I spent ALL FREAKING DAY stalking the site (while multitasking, of course). I was updating people when they were going to have tickets and I let people know when the tickets were available. And I managed to get ZERO tickets (while my coworker got them without a problem). Then this last Sunday it was the registration for Best Damn Race Orlando (where you have the change to register for $1, $5, $15, etc). I was READY to go – I even went to the early church service (with a slight hangover, if we’re being honest) and put E down for a nap to ensure I would be able to get the best price possible. I clicked refreshed probably 100 (000) times —- and despite all of the effort – I was #55 and ended up paying $35 for the race (which is $20 better than last year but COME ON!!!). So lesson learned — don’t ask me to win any kind of internet contest for you.

And finally… this picture just cracks me up.

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Are you in there mommy?

Could this post BE more random?

Expert Advice Time: Three Kids, Two Parents

Now that I’ve expertly survived an entire year, I thought I would dole out a little advice. I mean, I now know EVERYTHING there is know about having three kids, so you should follow everything I do to a tee.

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Obviously.

If you do, you too will feel sleep deprived, inadequate, and completely paranoid. So without further ado, here are my top 5 tips for surviving a zone defense. It’s not man on man anymore…

1. Continuously remind yourself that you are responsible for three people (other than yourself).

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Sometimes you need a little reality check. Usually that reality check comes every .25 seconds when my kids whine the word, “Mommy” (or “Mom” if you have a too cool 7 year old) even though I am the only adult in a 2 mile radius. But then sometimes you really forget you have three kids. It’s usually brief, but there’s always that moment of “holy shit! they are all mine!” that you have to get over. Never gets old.

2. If things are going smoothly, you’re probably doing something wrong. Or you lost a kid.

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But seriously, there have been so many times over this past year where I thought, “Oooo…. silence. Ahhhh.” and then the 5 seconds later I realized that wasn’t a good thing. Kids do stupid things, because they are kids and it’s your job to discover them. The biggest challenge is NOT LAUGHING and having to pretend you are pissed off. Like the time when the people at the Y asked you if used the term “pissed off” a lot. Yeah, we are so winning at this parenting thing.

3. Accept that sometimes, dessert can be dinner. And so can breakfast.

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Sometimes food shopping doesn’t happen and all you have in your fridge is something completely unhealthy. Which is a lesser evil? Eating crap or not eating at all?

4. Sleep is for the weak. Also, not sleeping makes you bitchy. And that’s really not advice. Just reality. But you want some advice? Coffee.

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Coffee is how I’ve survived — hell, how I’m still surviving. I’m so thankful for coffee (and wine).

5. Remember that even in the most challenging times, your kids are going to become teenagers and it’s going to eclipse anything you ever considered “hard.”

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Yay.

Life Lately

I feel like I’ve taken a blog sabbatical because I don’t have time to write most days. Then on the days I do have time, I sit down and think “where do I start?” It probably goes without saying that life has been busy. Three kids, a job, a running problem, and who knows what else…

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Yes, it’s true I’ve been practicing my popping and locking skillz.

So what’s going on with me? Would it be weird if I said nothing? I guess that would be a lie, because I’m not sitting around every day staring out into space. Or am I?

Life lately…

I’m running about 20 miles a week – and planning to hike it up to 24 miles a week starting May. I still need to decide what to do about marathon training. Hire a coach? Bribe people to run with me? I’m still undecided. Can someone just decide FOR me? It would be easier if Dan didn’t have to work on Saturdays, but as of now he does and I can only do my long runs on Sundays. At least the views have been pretty…

The run was not pretty, but the view was. #summeriscoming #sohumid

I’m ALMOST done with pumping. Woo-hoo! It’s oddly bittersweet, but exciting all at the same time. I seriously cannot wait to WEAR WHATEVER I WANT TO WORK AGAIN!

Evan decided to freak me out this weekend by spiking a 103.7 degree fever and getting diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia. Ironically, he stopped coughing about 2 days before all of this happened. All of this has prompted me to ask — Why don’t they make you take medical exams before you have children??

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I got to meet the very lovely Anouk and her adorable family last week while they were visiting Disney (from Luxembourg!).

Not only did I get to meet @captainookie and her amazing family tonight, but I got to take a selfie with her.

Our kids had so much fun together and proved that dancing (at a bowling alley!) is in fact the universal language.

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I’m not sleeping enough. I tried out the Sleep Cycle app for a few weeks and it really didn’t do anything for me except prove that I go to bed too late, wake up too often, and average about 6 hours of sleep a night — with 60% sleep quality.  I’ll sleep again someday, right?

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I made the mistake of not going to the dentist for like 4 (maybe 5?) years. Yeah, that turned into 2 deep cleanings (aka – where they scrape the crap out of your teeth), a filling that needed to be fixed, and a crown. Lesson learned.

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I’m starting to plan E’s first birthday. WAAAAH. I don’t WANNA! I am excited to see him eat cake, but this year just flew by waaaaay too fast. Oh, and the day after E’s first birthday is Kindergarten registration for L. I need to stock up on tissues.

Flashing that charm. He knows how to work it.

I’ve been reading… I’m not going to say A LOT of books, but there are a few I feel I need to review: The Interestings, Park and Eleanor, Red Rising, and The Light Between Oceans.  Hopefully I’ll get around to that post soon :)

Yesterday marked 17 years of Dan and me. Sometimes I forget how long we’ve been together and how young (18) were when we started dating. Crazy. This is the first picture I have of us – on my 19th birthday.

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And finally, these kids… I love ‘em.

Happy Easter! Christos Anesti!

So, maybe I’ll get back into the blogging/writing groove. I miss being able to complain online to my imaginary internet (and sometimes real-life) friends.

Admit it, you’ve missed my (mostly) pointless posts? Or maybe not.