Running Update and Our First Fall(ish) Weekend

It’s been a great weekend around here, per usual. Trying to soak up the last few weekends we have before we hibernate for our 5-month winter.

Andy has continued to be an amazing support for this running thing I’ve been after lately. My 10K training plan is completely relentless and has me running both mornings of my weekends now – about an hour each time. He keeps the kids entertained while I go completely obliterate my large muscle groups and other major organ systems.

This Saturday, I ran 6 miles – which, for those who don’t know, is a mere 0.3 miles shy of a 10K. Why didn’t I just go for broke and run the entire 10K? Because my training program didn’t tell me to, that’s why. ::shrug:: I put much faith in those who have done this before, so I’m rather rigid about doing what it tells me.

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I actually felt amazing during the run. Never really out of sorts, but after I finished my run – I was in all kinds of GI distress. Totally disproportionate to how I felt during the run itself. Never winded or draggy. Sorry not to overshare or anything. I just felt cheated.

Dr. Google tells me it’s a phenomenon that happens to almost half of the long distance running population. Blood supply is directed to the extremities, away from the gut. Turns out that makes for an extremely unhappy tummy. Who knew?

Today I took it easy on my 4 mile run and no issues whatsoever. Next week, I’ll be ready for my longest run ever: 6.5 miles. Dun-dun-DUN! (I will also plan to not have events, such as Andy’s company picnic, following my long run like I did this week. “Hi! My name is Debbie, I’m Andy’s wife, willyouexcusemejustaminute??!“)

I would also like to note that the above route is the actual route (again, save for 0.3 miles) of my 10K race. I’m not sure about how Andy felt about me running my longest run ever in a new place fairly far from home – what with my propensity for getting lost. But I have Andy’s Garmin to thank.

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While not the most user-friendly device ever, I was able to load the 10K course into the watch ahead of time, and it directed me where to turn to stay on track. I am happy to report that I made it right back to my car. No problems!

As for other goings-on around here. It’s a pretty typical weekend in Wisconsin-land. We had Andy’s company picnic in the morning yesterday and a visit to the park yesterday afternoon. In the evening we built a fire in the fire pit.

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This one was notable because we needed jackets when the sun went down, and I ultimately had to get a blanket to throw over my legs by the end of the night.

Today, Graham, Reid and I went for a walk in the woods nearby while Andy cut the lawn. There, Graham found a caterpillar that he just had to bring home to put in his bug house.

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Do you see him? Of course you don’t.

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Because I think Graham found the TINIEST caterpillar in all of the upper Midwest. ;) His name is Simon.

As for Baby Reid, he has been big on addressing people this weekend. As in, instead of, “Hi,” it’s, “Hi, Mommy!” and, instead of, “All done!” it’s, “All done, Daddy!” He also has learned the word, “Meatball,” which is hilarious because I’ve called him that a time or two. I’ll say, “Hey, silly meatball!” and he’ll parrot back, “Hi, meatball!” (Guess I deserve that!)

That’s about all from here – hope you all had wonderful weekends too!

4K and Hand, Foot & Mouth

This weekend has been a mixed bag. But let’s start at our high point:

Graham started his 4K program today!

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Graham has been looking forward to today since we picked him out a backpack several weeks ago.

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Great choice? I think so. Please also note the fact that Graham has on a pair of short that are *not* of the athletic variety. This took moving a small mountain and the fact that 4K has a ‘no soft shorts on the first day’ rule.

::shrug:: Whaddyagonnado. I don’t make the rules.

This 4K program is a great deal for the G-man. It’s actually a program run through our public school district and housed at local daycares throughout the city. Graham’s daycare is a participating location, so that means he just goes to daycare like normal, then, after lunch, he lines up with his backpack at the door with the other kids going to 4K and walks downstairs to the 4K classroom. There, he meets up with other kids from the community. After a couple of hours, he goes back to his regular preschool daycare room.

The only thing we learned about Graham’s first day in 4K is that they sang the “Tootie Tot” song where they stuck out their butts and tongues and sang “a tootie tot, a tootie tot, a tootie tot-tot”. I tried to tell him that I know that song – it’s “Singing in the Rain” and WHOO BOY that was the wrong answer!!

Did I also mention that he no longer has time for a proper nap with the 4K schedule? Ha. Yeeeah.

I was home with Reid today while he convalesced after a rather wretched weekend with Hand Foot & Mouth disease.

Let me start off by saying: Reid is fully in the throes of toddlerhood. The man has plans and rarely do they jibe with ours. When things don’t go Reid’s way he roars and throws things and cries. So it was a solid 24 hours before Andy and I were like, “He seems fussier than normal, no?”

Basically, Reid was walking around crying all day long. When you’d try to give him something you think he wants, he’d yell “NNNNNO!”, take whatever it was that you’d given him, throw it, and about 50% of the time he’d hit you too, just to drive the point home.

The nurse I called today asked if Reid ever ran a fever over the weekend, Welll, yes and no ma’am. If you mean “Was he warm and sweaty?” then yes, he was because a perpetual state of pissed-off screaming will do that to you. If  you mean, “Did a thermometer read over 100.4″ then no, because measuring Reid’s temperature would have been like trying to apply mascara to a cat.

But then there were moments like this:

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I read once, “If kids are fussy, apply fresh air.” So true, random Pinterest typographic print-maker, so true. My failsafe key to a screaming tantrum still works: GO OUTSIDE. An onslaught of pleasant stimuli to the 5 senses + a vague feeling of being watched by no one in particular = a calmed down child.

And so the weekend went on. Three days of crying on and off. Some cuddling. Some interrupted sleeping. Poor guy couldn’t eat. That was the worst part. He’d stick food in his mouth, chew it up and then start a piercing cry, shove his entire plate away and sign “All done” with tears streaming down his face and a mouth full of food he couldn’t swallow.

That’s why Reid and I stayed home today. His appetite hasn’t gone back to full capacity yet, but he’s able to eat now and is back to feeling better all around.

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That’s what I’m talking about. :)

Some Updates

We’ve been busy around here lately.

Andy transitioned to full time employee (from being a contractor) last Monday. This means lots of fun things like quarterly bonus eligibility and a company phone, but we are just excited that he’s now gainfully employed in a non-temporary way.

This job, when he took it, was contract-to-hire, so we had line of sight to this change but Andy still had to impress them well enough to keep the job. Way to go, dear!

In his spare time, Andy holes up in the garage and saws wood into pieces. Every so often he sands. When the stars align, he’s been known to glue a piece or two together. I have no idea what he’s doing out there except for the fact that he is doing and that makes him happy. Good enough for me!

Graham continues to keep us on our toes. He is making friends at his ‘new’ daycare, which we are all thrilled about. He played tee ball for six weeks this summer. He loved being on the team, but after Week 3, he pretty much devoted his time seeking out opportunities to stall the game and get laughs out of the other kids. Maybe next year.

Graham starts 4K in a couple of weeks. He is very excited and even has a new backpack to show for it. The 4K program is funded through our school district and hosted by local daycares – of which Graham’s current daycare is one. This means we will drop him off in the daycare class in the morning, he will play, eat, nap there and in the afternoon he will put on his backpack and walk to the 4K classroom to join other kids from the community. Really, it’s a lot of shuffling. But they make a big deal about the shuffling, and he’s excited to shuffle with other kids in his class. So we roll with it.

Reid is learning new words all the time and figuring out (FINALLY, thank you God!!) how to put some words to what he wants. This makes life better for everyone. He relies a lot on signs still and generally prefers moving around to speaking, but we’ve made progress in the verbal department.

Reid’s favorite show is Sesame Street. He loves Elmo and Big Bird.

There is also a distinct possibility that Reid is the reincarnation of Andre the Giant. His mission in life is to tackle someone. Mainly Graham, but Andy or I will do in a pinch. When the boys are watching a TV show, and Graham isn’t interested in rough-housing, you can tell it takes concerted energy and concentration on Reid’s part not to tackle his brother.

As for me, I continue to become adjusted to my new work environment. I work with some really great people and things are constantly evolving. It keeps me on my toes.

I’m still running. My regular run loop now is 4 miles, and I don’t get lost anymore! A few of the girls I work with signed up for a race in late September, and I signed up too. I was very excited to run a[n organized] 5K again, and I told them so. Immediate mock-shaming commenced because they had all signed up for the 10K loop. Uh.

I caved to peer pressure. I am now training for a 10K. Hold me.

In related news, I am trying to get ahead of some asthma issues. I’ve been having attacks since coming to Wisconsin for the first time in my life, so I’m trying to get to the bottom of it. Predominant theory is allergies. Getting asthma in your 30s is awesome.

That’s an update on us! Debbie, out!

Making it Work

There are moments when I realize that my kids are living the lives of kids in a dual-working-parent household, and their willingness to go with the flow makes me so utterly grateful.

Camping and other weekend trips are fun, but reality soon sets back in. Since weekends and evenings are the only free time Andy and I have, those mundane daily chores like grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, mowing the lawn, etc. all get pushed to the narrow space we have after work, mealtime and bedtime for the kids.

Last night, I tried something a little different and loaded Graham into the car right after dinner (a dinner comprised of frozen pizza and chicken patty sandwiches, no less) to do our grocery shopping (to avoid future frozen pizza and chicken patty sandwich nights). In order to abbreviate the time it would take to corral a 4-year-old through the grocery store, I told Graham he’d have to sit in the cart for the first half of the shopping trip. If, however, he chose to stay in the cart the whole time, I’d let him have a treat at the end.

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Pushing through the store, Graham and I chatted about games he plays at recess, discussed sugar content in cereals, and thought up funny [read: gross] new names for my recipes. We were at our last stop in the store, picking out yogurt flavors and whining over the removal of aspartame in Yoplait Light (okay, that was just me), that I looked at my tall, gangly preschooler in the baby seat of the cart and became overwhelmed with emotion.

I used to wonder how Andy and I would make it work – having kids while we both work outside the home. I realize now that it’s the kids that make it possible. Sounds like a Catch-22, I get it. It just struck me last night that it’s not just Andy and I doing our parts to make a happy home, the boys pitch in to make that possible too. I wasn’t able to sit down for a minute between dishes and the boys’ bathtimes, I was pushing a cart around the grocery store. But, likewise, Graham wasn’t watching his nightly episode of Curious George after dinner either. Instead, we were making jokes and catching up on the day together.

That trip was both a sacrifice of routine and a gift of time together.

I gave Graham a big sappy hug, right there in the middle of the cultured dairy section, and thanked him for being such a great little boy and making his mommy so happy.

There Are No Perfect Parents

My career move into consumer science has put me unexpectedly in touch with human psychology.

And I love it.

I have gained so many insights into not only myself but also my relationships with others that I have become so much more comfortable in my own skin and confident in my approach to life. I’ve also come to deeply appreciate the value of gaining another thinking person’s reflection on the places where I’m stuck.

Andy and I sought out one such person in Dallas when we realized we’d shaken our toolbox completely empty when it came to our kids. We had been in so many parent-teacher conferences with little Graham and had seen first-hand the difference that approach makes in his confidence and well-being.

That’s where our lives intersected with Ms. Amy. Ms. Amy is a certified play therapist in Dallas.

::record scratch::

Play therapist? Yep, play therapist. A psychology professional who deals exclusively with kids under age 18. Let me go ahead and address some of my FAQ from friends & family who have discussed this whole “Ms. Amy” thing with us:

1. Graham is a perfectly normal preschool-aged boy, why would you take him to a counselor?

This has never been about fixing Graham. “Fixing” would imply that there was something wrong with Graham in the first place. No, what we needed was someone to help us understand Graham. And once she understood Graham, she then helped us diagnose what specifically is and isn’t working in our approach to parenting him. I think taking him to a play counselor says less about him as a little boy and more about me as a struggling parent.

2. Aren’t you worried about what Graham will think about being taken to a counselor when he’s old enough to understand? Will he label himself as a kid who needed counseling and carry that with him through life? 

I think we – as a society – need to shift our thinking about counseling, therapy & mental health as a whole. This hush-hush stigma that we have is perpetuating the shame that goes along with seeking help. There should never be shame about seeking out a healthier, well-adjusted, happier life. Period. To that end, Andy and I have committed to talk to Graham and Reid about the ugly stuff. The hard to talk about things. I don’t actually really count our month-long relationship with Ms. Amy as ‘the ugly stuff’ but you get the point maybe. Hiding these visits with her from him or others actually implies that there’s something there to be hidden. Hiding perpetuates shame. Shame begets more hiding. Time to break the cycle. Hence – I’m talking about it here!

Those are pretty much the two items that keep popping up. But you know what? I am so thankful that Andy and I took the steps to see Ms. Amy while we were in Dallas, because I just had to do a phone consult with her a few weeks ago.

Graham all of the sudden had a significant spike in separation anxiety about a month ago, and I placed a call to Ms. Amy. Before we got started on the current topic, she asked how Graham was and how we were doing after our big move. I told her that we still use all the tools that she gave us – even if we’re not perfectly consistent at it, we try really hard. She let me finish my thought, then interjected:

“Debbie, there are no perfect parents. There’s no such thing. What there are, are parents who love their children so much that they are willing to keep trying to do better the next time. And that’s what these children need.”

And it’s funny, you know? The “mommy wars” are real. And hurtful. We are all trying our hardest, and then we turn around and snipe another parent for not trying hard enough. Or for doing the wrong thing. Like it’s a black-and-white matter – a right-or-wrong answer. Like there are perfect parents. Instead of shaking our heads in 100% empathy and saying,

 ”I know, it’s so hard, isn’t it?”