Sunday, March 25, 2018

I am the 1 in 4

      Today I participated in one of the toughest races to date. This race challenged me mentally and emotionally, not because of the distance, but because of the cause that it benefits.  Anna's Grace Quarter Marathon was designed by a family who experienced the loss of their baby girl, Anna, who was stillborn to benefit the families of the Greater Baton Rouge area enduring miscarriage, stillbirth, or the loss of a baby under the age of one. As I ran those six miles with my sister I grieved once again for my second child, the one I never got to meet.
     In September 2010 I found out I was expecting again. By the end of October my baby was gone. In that short period of time I experienced such joy and excitement followed by immense disappointment and heartache.  I remember feeling so very alone during the whole process. I hadn't told many people I was pregnant. My sister was due to have her first in the beginning of November. My husband was in Texas, training for the military, so the most he could give me was the occasional phone call.  I knew no one who had gone through what I was experiencing. It felt as if the world was moving forward as my world was crumbling down. I had an 18 month to care for and nothing at home to ease the grief, so I stuffed it down, went back to work, and moved on the best I could.
     I vowed I would never have another child. I was so afraid of losing another baby, but maybe more so I was afraid of losing my faith, my hope.
     Having Logan was one of the hardest and best things I've ever done. I was so afraid of losing him. I remember coming home from a run and curling up to cry and pray that he was okay, and that I hadn't hurt him by exerting myself too much, but the running helped lower the anxiety, so I kept on. Since he was born, the grief has been easier to bear. He doesn't replace the baby I lost, but having him did help restore my hope.

     Today I found the support that I so desperately lacked almost 8 years ago. My sister purchased a race sign honoring my baby without my knowledge, so when I saw it for the first time and completely lost it at mile 3, she held me steady and comforted me.  I was vaguely aware of fellows runners shouting encouragement as they ran past me. I was given a Sharpe and a blank sheet of paper to write a note to my baby and leave it on a wall with the words of so many other families.

   I was able to put my baby's name on a balloon and release it with a host of other balloons.  During the rememberance ceremony I received a hug and words of encouragement from a complete stranger who probably needed a hug herself.  I am so grateful to this organization for bringing everyone together to honor those babies that never got their chance at life, and for helping me realize that I was not alone!  As a mother who finds solace in the miles I leave behind me I think today was the perfect outlet for the grief I've carried with me all this time and that will probably never fully leave me.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

How to Calm a Fussy Baby When Boobs Aren't the Answer

     Today marks 10 weeks since my son's birth. 10 weeks of uninterrupted one-on-one time with my sweet baby boy. I am so grateful to have been given this time with him, to get to know him, and to watch him grow. I have a few more weeks until I go back to work, and although nothing can replace time with my family, I think I'm ready to go back. I don't want to leave my son, but I am fortunate in that I love what I do, so if I have to be away from him, I'm glad it's to help people. 
     Little Monster will be staying home with his daddy, since J has the summer off from school. It makes me happy that my son won't have to go to daycare, but it terrifies me that my husband will be in charge. My husband is an amazing father, and I'm glad my kids will get extra daddy bonding time this summer, however my concern is based more in the knowledge that my husband's first response to any signs of discomfort from Monster leads him to unceremoniously dropping little Monster into my lap with the words, "he's hungry".  Although I've explained to my darling J several times that just because Monster fusses, doesn't automatically mean I need to feed him, I do understand J's sense of impending doom when our son does get fussy. After all, J sometimes feels helpless when Monster's hungry because, as he puts it's, "I'm not the one with the boobs".  So to help J in those moments when our son is so fussy he can't think straight and I'm not around, I've made a list of things he can try before force-feeding our son a bottle, when he may only be asking to be burped. 

Fussy Baby?  Have You Tried?
  • Walking around? There are many times in which little Monster simply wants to be held while we walk around the house.  Doing so gives him new things to look at, and provides a distraction while Daddy gets the bottle ready or Mommy finds a comfy place to sit to nurse. 
  • Bouncing/burping baby?  Most of Monster's fussiness comes from gas, so gently bouncing him or burping him helps alleviate the gas.
  • Walking the stairs? This goes along with bouncing/burping.  Going up and down the stairs is an easy way to bounce him, and it gives me a slight workout.  So, if you have stairs in your house, give it a try.
  • Gripe water/Mylicon drops?  Again: alleviate the gas, ease the fussing.
  • Pacifier?  This one rarely works for us, but every now and then I can get my son to take the pacifier, but Monkey wouldn't go anywhere without one.  If you're for it, use it.
  • Outside time?  It never fails, as soon as J steps outside with Monster, he quiets down. There's just so much to look at outside that he forgets he was fussy.  
  • Play mat?  Little Monster has this play mat, and he loves it, but as with most of these tricks, it's hit or miss on if it'll calm him when he's fussy.  Still, it's worth a try.  
  • Diaper change?  This is one that almost always works for us.  If we lay Monster down on his changing table, immediate calm ensues.  I don't know if he likes the vantage point to observe his surroundings better, or what, but I don't question it.  
  • Bath time?  One of the best pieces of advice I ever received as a new Mommy was when someone told me, "If they're crabby, put them in water".  This works for my 7-year-old Monkey as well as my newborn.
  • Tummy time?  Although this typically causes the fussiness to start, not end, every now and then it works to calm my son down for a bit.  Again I think it's the new vantage point. 
  • Swaddling?  Up to a certain age, this is a classic remedy for a fussy baby.  J argued with me that Monster hated to be confined, but then he got desperate.  Can I also just add that Swaddle Me's are the best thing ever?!
  • Swing?  My sister is a life-saver; she lent us her baby swing, and it works wonders on little Monster when he's fussy.  Don't have an electric swing? Just cradle your LO and gently swing him.
  • Shushing? Babies like white noise, so the "sh" sound is actually really soothing to them.  The trick is to make sure they are able to hear you over their own cries. 
  • Running water?  Again with the white noise theory.  If I'm in the shower, J will sometimes bring Monster in if he's fussy, and a combination of the running water, shushing, and gentle bouncing will help calm him.  As long as he doesn't hear me, that is.
  • Funny faces? Babies love studying faces, so I often sacrifice my dignity in the noble cause of calming my son.  He loves when I blow raspberries or stick my tongue out.  It makes him giggle.
  • Rocking?  A time-honored tradition on soothing babies, rocking never gets old.  Whether you have a rocking chair, a glider, or just your arms, rocking can calm a grumpy infant.
  • Singing?  This is one that I don't think of all the time, but it works.  Much to the distaste of everyone else in my house, Monster loves when I sing. 
  • Toys/pictures/mirror?  Like looking at faces, babies love studying toys and mirrors.  They also find simple designs interesting.  I colored a few sheets of card stock with black and white stripes, stars, and swirls, and he'll study them for about 5-10 minutes each. 
  • Wearing baby?  We recently bought a Tula, and that was the best money ever spent.  J loves to wear Monster when we go out to the library or other places.  Little Monster likes to be close to his Daddy, and gets the gently rocking motion as Daddy walks around without J having to sacrifice the use of his arms.
  • Skin-to-skin? Stripping baby down to his diaper and laying him on your chest is not only soothing to baby, but it strengthens the bond between you and baby.  Plus, who needs an excuse for extra snuggles?
  • Baby massage? I've used this method when Monster's been gassy, but I'll admit it's hit or miss.  I found the inspiration on Pinterest here.  There are other types of baby massage like these.  

     I hanged (hung?) this list in our living room as a reminder for myself as well.  After all, there are times when little Monster gets fussy after a long day, and I'm tired, and I feel like I've tried everything, but one look at this list reminds me that I have a few more tricks up my sleeve. So I thought I'd share.  Now, keep in mind that these are things that work for our family. They may not all apply to your little one, but hopefully it'll help get your ideas flowing when the baby's crying and you feel like you're all out of options. If you'd like to print the list for your own use, click here

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

It's Not That Simple

     Writing my last post made me realize how much I miss blogging, and writing in general.  Life got pretty hectic for a while there, and although I don't foresee it slowing down any time soon, I want to attempt to reclaim this blog.  After all, it's good to have an outlet, especially when life gets crazy.

     So, what do I plan to blog about today?  Nothing so profound as my last entry, that's for sure.  I shed enough tears writing that one to last me a while.  Instead, I thought I'd revisit an old favorite: shopping exploits with J.  Now because the pediatrician (and my better judgement) suggested we not bring little Monster out to crowded places such as the grocery store until he's gotten his shots, J's been in charge of groceries.  Anyone who remembers the time he was in charge of finding something for dinner will understand my trepidation at placing him in charge of foraging for two weeks worth of groceries.  To my surprise, however, he did really well, which makes this almost unfair to even mention...almost.  You see, because I just had a tiny human exit my body, I found myself in need of some feminine hygiene products.  And since J was headed to the commissary anyway, I figured it would be simple for him to pick up a pack of pads for me.  I even made it dummy-proof by sending him pictures of different products that would suffice (in case they were out of one brand or another).  Well, apparently, it's not that simple because this is what my darling J came home with:

     It even says "discreet bladder leakage protection" on the package.  I'm pretty sure it wasn't my bladder needing protection, but hey "A" for effort, right?  He was even a trooper and brought them back in exchange for what I actually needed.  By the time I head back to work, he'll be an old pro at perusing the commissary.  Maybe he'll even be making the grocery list himself....or not.

     Despite the fact that my shopping requests aren't always simple, this recipe I'm about to share certainly is.  Simple and delicious!

Salmagundi (aka Really Fancy Salad Full of Yum)
(From Syrup & Biscuits)

4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
8-10 mini sweet peppers, stems removed and cut in half lengthwise
3-4 shallots, peeled and halved
olive oil
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
12 oz salad mix
4 oz each of ham, turkey, and roast beef, diced
4 oz each of Swiss and cheddar cheese, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2-3 boiled eggs, sliced

Preheat oven to 450.  Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Arrange potatoes, peppers, and shallots on baking sheet, keeping them separated for presentation, if desired.  Drizzle with oil.  Add seasonings and toss to coat.  Bake for 30 minutes or until veggies caramelize.  Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile place salad mix on a serving dish and arrange remaining ingredients on top.  Once cooled, add potatoes, peppers, and shallots.  Serve with or without your preferred dressing.


     As you can see in the picture, we had to forgo the shallots, roast beef, and turkey.  J said he couldn't find diced turkey or roast beef, and the thought never crossed his mind to buy the regular lunch meat and cut it up later.  The shallots were MIA because J had no clue what they were and didn't ask anyone or Google it.  I  may just have to pump an extra bottle for little Monster and go myself next time.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day

     Today is Mother's Day.  Yesterday my newborn made one month old.  These two seemingly unrelated events have combined to cause me to spend a little time reflecting.  You see, there's something about my journey into motherhood that I don't mention often: my miscarriage.  Over the years I've become more open about losing my second child, but it's still not something I advertise.  In the beginning I didn't want to mention it to people because it hurt too much.  I remember sitting on the couch in my living room as a concerned family member knocked on my door, worried about my odd behavior yet not knowing its source.  I listened to her knock as I prayed she'd simply go away until finally I called out, "Please leave me alone".  It was my husband who later called her from California where he was for training to tell her why I needed to be alone for now.  I remember going to pick my 18-month-old up from daycare, taking her home, and simply holding on to her for as long as she'd let me.  Over the next week I remember returning to work too soon, simply because I couldn't take the silence of the house any longer.  Most of my coworkers knew of the baby, and I remember how grateful I was that most of them seemed to realize I just wanted to think about something, anything, other than the baby that was in the process of leaving my body.  I remember telling myself that everything happens for a reason, and that maybe that reason was that God had other plans for me that I wouldn't accomplish with another child.  I told myself that, maybe, if I worked on me, if I was the best mother, wife, person I could be, one day I'd have the chance to raise another child.  So I began plans to return to school, which was something I had all but forgotten I wanted.
     Over the years, I made it into nursing school, and my response to those who unwittingly asked, "When are you going to have another one?" I would laugh and say, "Not until I get through nursing school", although that was only to hide the panicky, throat-clutching fear I had developed at the mere thought of another pregnancy, and ultimately, another loss.  Then in my last year of nursing school, when I began to ask myself if I'd ever want to try again, I made a new discovery.  Because of the fact that my blood type is not compatible with J's or Monkey's I was supposed to receive a shot that would prevent my body from generating antibodies against future babies that had their daddy's blood type.  Because I never received that shot from the doctor who delivered Monkey, my body would create antibodies which would attack any baby J and I conceived, which would lead to fetal death at worst or at best the need for fetal blood transfusions en utero.  Those didn't sound like good options, so I made my mind up that Monkey would be an only child.  I felt that if I couldn't guarantee a baby better odds than those, it would be selfish to even attempt to bring another into this world.
     As nursing school drew to a close, I decided to go have lab work done that would tell me once and for all how many antibodies I had built up against a future child.  The week before my appointment, however, the unthinkable happened: I found out that I was pregnant.  I sobbed, knowing that this couldn't end well.  It was genetically impossible for J and I to conceive a child with my blood type, which meant my body would attack this baby.  I steeled myself for another loss, wondering if I could handle it mentally.  Then a miracle happened.  I went to the doctor, who examined my blood, and found no antibodies.  Her great medical explanation for this was that, "You just got really lucky".  I could very well have this baby without complications, she explained.  I was far from convinced, however, and continued to be scared.  She ordered an early ultrasound, "just to be safe", and at 8 weeks pregnant, I cried tears of relief as I watched my baby's heart beat on the monitor.
     Now my son is a healthy, happy one-month-old baby, and on this Mother's Day, I find myself so very grateful for the two beautiful blessings God has given me.  Monkey and my little Monster have given me so much joy.  I've found happiness in watching Monkey grow and become the beautiful, smart, sassy little lady she is, and my little Monster has already been a reminder that miracles do exist, and that God is watching over us.
     So even when Monster refuses to fall back asleep at 0200 unless I rock him and nurse him for another hour, I smile, count myself blessed, and sing him another lullaby.  Even when Monkey wants to snuggle when I'm exhausted and touched-out, I'll lay my head on hers and tell her how much she means to me.  These are the moments that make me a mother.  These are the moments I pray I never take for granted.
   So this Mother's Day I want to remember all the moms out there who are worn out from never sleeping, since their babies are tiny and haven't developed a sleep schedule yet.  I want to say, "This won't last; you'll rest again one day."  To the moms whose babies are grown and moved away, I want to say, "Good job, mom.  You did your duty, but you're not done yet.  They'll always need you."  To the mamas whose children are in school, and you're juggling homework, and dance lessons or soccer practice I say, "Don't forget to slow down and absorb as much of this as you can; they'll be grown up soon."  And to every woman who has suffered the loss of a child just know that you have a little angel watching over you who I believe you will get to meet and raise in Heaven.  So to all the mothers out there, I just want to say, "Happy Mother's Day".

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Disney's Glass Slipper Challenge 2016: What I Did and What I'd do Differently

     This has taken me a lot longer to write than I planned, but I figured it's about time I write my review of the 2016 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend.  My sister and I ran the Glass Slipper Challenge at Walt Disney World in Florida.  The weekend included the Enchanted 10K Saturday morning, followed by Monkey's 1-mile Kids' Race Saturday afternoon, and then the Princess Half Marathon Sunday morning.  It was a magical experience, but it was also pretty rough.  Being almost 33 weeks pregnant definitely took a toll on me not only physically, but that was nothing compared how it changed the mental battle that comes with running long distances.  More on that to come, but first...

The 10K
     The Enchanted 10K was the highlight of my race weekend to be honest.  I felt it was a good distance for me at this stage of my pregnancy.  It was cooler Saturday morning, which played a huge part in how I felt compared to the half.  We started in corral B, which meant we didn't have to wait long to start.  The course was mostly in Epcot, which meant there was plenty to see.  My only regret is that I was so nervous about the "dreaded balloon ladies" that my sister and I only stopped for one character, the Genie.  Our time was good, considering it included 3 bathroom stops (with lines included) and one character stop.  We did stop in front of each mile marker to snap a quick selfie (us-y?) before proceeding.  We finished middle of the pack, which meant we weren't weaving in and out of too many walkers during the race.  I felt amazing afterwards, and I couldn't wipe the grin off of my face as they placed my first ever runDisney medal around my neck.  Oh, and the Cosmo's coconut popcorn in the goodie box afterwards was AMAZING!  So here's my brief play-by-play of the 10K:

Wake up: "Oh, thank God I didn't oversleep.  Plenty of time for oatmeal and water while getting dressed and ready to go.   Now, just to meet up with big sis, and we're good to go!"

On the bus: "This is so exciting!   Everyone is so friendly.  The Baymax outfit idea was genius!  I've gotten some laughs out of it already.  This is awesome!"

Waiting in our corral: "Okay I've peed several times now, I should be good to go.  Look, the other corrals are starting.  I'm glad we're not going to have to wait long to start or I might have to pee again.  We'll be off and running in no time."

Start line:  "This is it!  I'm either really excited or I still need to pee.  Probably just excitement.  I have the best big sister; she's been awesome to motivate me to do this.  This is going to be so much fun!  I hope I see Tiana.  Oh, here we go!!!"

Mile 1: "I knew I should have peed again; oh well, I'll know better for tomorrow's race.  We're still in the front end of the pack.  Oh, look; Anna and Elsa are waving at us.  Of course we need a selfie! And another at the mile marker sign.  This is awesome, and I'm making decent time."

Mile 2: "Look at all the fun costumes.  I don't know which is better the cross-dressing men or the human Dinglehopper.  I love Disney.  I love Disney fanatics.  I'm definitely doing this again.  Just not pregnant.  I'll be faster then and have more time to stop with characters.  Mile 2 complete; time for a selfie."

Mile 3: "Is that a contraction?  Yep.  Definitely a contraction.  Just take it easy.  Big sister has been so good about walking with me when I need it.  She's the best cheerleader.  Contraction's stopped now.  We can run again.  Ooo, another mile marker!  Selfie time!"

Mile 4:  "I think I'm gonna need to pee again soon.  At least I know I'm hydrating enough, and there are real bathrooms up ahead big sis says.  She's so prepared. I didn't even look at the course map.  Oh my goodness; is that Epcot?!  Woot, woot!  Oh, look at the funny men on stilts.  Yes, I agree I should get two medals; no, I didn't have to pay two entry fees.  Okay, enough of the preggo jokes, smile for the camera boys.  Now we're officially in Epcot.  I feel like the fact that we're actually in Disney just sunk in.  Awe, look at the sunrise.  More pictures.  I'm glad big sis brought her camera.  This is why she's the older sibling."


Mile 5:  "Awe; it's the place where we got that picture that one time with Mom; we'll take a selfie here and tag her in it later.  'Hi, Mom'.  Look it's Lumiere and Cogsworth.  No, let's not do the line.  We can just do a selfie with them in the background.  But wait, is that the Genie?!  We're totally waiting in line for him!  He's even got the Goofy hat on.  How cute!"

Mile 6:  "Wait a minute, where are we?  The Boardwalk?  Well this is a first. It's beautiful!  Oh, look!  The Epcot ball is getting bigger!  We must be close.  And I think I can hold my pee until the finish.  It's a win-win for everyone."

Finish Line: "This is all so magical.  My first Disney medal!  It's so shiny!  Yes, I need water.  Oooo, and Powerade.  Yummy, snack boxes.  Now just to tackle tomorrow, and I'll get two more shiny medals!  There's J and Monkey with their cute motivational signs!  Oh, look, port-potties.  Yay."    

The Half Marathon
     The Half Marathon was a different animal altogether.  It was my second morning getting up at 0230, and since we went to Chef Mickey's for dinner the night before, I didn't get the early bedtime I was counting on, so I was tired.  Physically, though, I felt good.  As we loaded the buses, the mental game began.  Most of it was baby-related; my biggest fear was that I'd somehow induce labor and ruin not only the vacation, but my son's arrival.  I began to hint to my sister that she could leave me behind at any point should I get too far behind, to which she responded, "Enough.  None of that this morning.  We're doing this, and it's going to be fun.  No negativity this morning."  God bless her for that!  We got to the race check-in, and after ensuring we emptied our bladders at least 3 times each (neither one of us wanted a repeat of the 10K, where we stood in line for 15 minutes for the only porta-potty at mile 1, only to be cut by a fellow "princess") we then preceded to the corrals.  We were in corral F for this race, and I believe that is what saved us from the balloon ladies this time.

Wake up: "Oh sweet mother of all that is holy and good in this world it is too early to be awake...again.  Is that my nephew I hear crying in the next room?  Poor baby.  Better text big sis to let her know I'm up.  Gotta get dressed; gotta get going.  Let me make sure I hydrate.  Two water bottles should be good for this morning.  Fill up the Camelbak again.  Grab the oatmeal.  Okay, let's do this thing!"

On the bus: "Everyone looks tired.  Maybe it's just me.  Maybe I should warn big sis of how I'm feeling this morning.  I just feel off.  I don't want her getting swept because of me.  She can totally leave me behind.  She's a rockstar; if we see the balloon ladies, she could probably take off and still have time to stop for pictures and such.  Okay, she's right; I need to get my head right.  No more negativity.  Game plan time.  Okay, so if we see the princes, the villains, the pirates, or Tiana I definitely want to stop.  Big sis wants to stop if we see Mrs. Incredible.  Sounds like a plan. Oh, we're here."

Corral:  "Big sis is right, we don't need to rush to get to our corral quite so early.  Time for pictures!  Okay, let's head out now; but first let's pee... a few times.  Holy crap, the corals are super far away.  Does this mile hike to the start count towards the 13.1 mile?  It should.  Okay, coral F.  Here we are.  Just a little warm up stretch and one more pee break, and we should be good."

Start Line: "This is it.  Awe, look at the fireworks!  I'm loving this!  I can do this. I did half this distance yesterday, and I've done a half before.   No; I wasn't pregnant, but that's okay.  I'll just be a bit slower.  Look the princess behind me is pregnant too.  She says she's 5 months.  That's cool.  I wish I was 5 months, and not 8.  Oh well.  Oh, selfie?  Sure thing, big sis.    And we're off!"

Mile 1:  "Alright; we've got this.  This is gonna be great!  Look, more cross-dressing princesses.  Those guys are hilarious.  Wait, what?  Mile marker one?  That was quick!  Oh, yeah, no pee break to slow us down this time."

 Mile 2:  "ARE THOSE THE PRINCES?! Yes, we have to stop now, not on the way back.  That line is nothing!  Oh, Prince Eric called big sis 'Ariel' and me 'Sea Witch'.  Guess he got the costumes.  Yay, we can scratch those guys off our list.  Now to find the pirates and/or the villains."

Mile 3:  "Oh, look the Children Miracle Network Balloon.  Omg, is that the sign for Magic Kingdom already?  Man, this race is flying by.  Why does big sis not seem surprised.  Oh, yeah, she read the map.  I really should have done that.  Next time.  Oh, mile marker 3 selfie? Of course!"

Mile 4: "OMG is that Jack and Sally?!  I LOVE Nightmare Before Christmas!!!  Please, big sis can we stop?  Sweet!  Highlight of the race.  Hey, guess what; we're halfway through the Glass Slipper Challenge.  I'm so getting that medal."

Mile 5:  "Wait a minute; this place seems familiar.  We're right outside of Magic Kingdom, right?  Oh, this tunnel thingy doesn't look too good.  It's super crowded.  I'm just gonna go to the far left, up on this taller area so hopefully no one runs into me.  Whew, glad that's over.  Now onto Magic Kingdom."

Mile 6: "My brain feels foggy.  Big sis says stop and take a picture.  Why?  Oh, look the castle!  Wait a minute, that must be what she was taking a picture of.  I feel so slow.  Tomorrowland? How did we get here?  Oh, look Anna and Elsa again.  Wait a second.  This is the castle.  Oh my gosh.  We're here.  We did it!"

Mile 7:  "Okay, we made it to the castle.  Now, what?  No seriously.  That DJ guy on the side of the road said there's nothing out here but trees and suirrels.  So we're almost done now, right?  What mile is this?  There's the mile marker up ahead.  7?  That means we're only halfway through.  Seriously.  Those villains better be around here somewhere."

Mile 8:  "I've been too quiet.  Big sis looks worried.  I swear I'm okay.  Just tired.  I think I'm done.  Only 5 miles left.  I can make it to Epcot.  Wait, what did she just say?  The Incredibles are up ahead?  Run; go get in line;  I'll catch up.  Yay for a stop. I'll just stretch a bit while we wait, and then I'll feel better."

Mile 9:  "Nope, there's nothing out here.  That guy was right.  Just some random guys from the Bachelor.  I hate that show.  No, big sis, I don't mind skipping them at all.  The sooner we get to Epcot, the better.  Hey, look a port-potty behind that med tent with NO LINE.  That's worth stopping for.  That poor lady working the med tent.  Her eyes got as big as saucers when I ran up.  No, I don't need your help, just your porta-potty."

Mile 10:  "Overpasses?  I don't remember anyone saying anything about overpasses.  Thank God big sis suggested we walk up them and run down them.  We must be going pretty slow.  There are more walkers now, and fewer people are using the running etiquette.  It's hot.  I'm gonna start elbowing people out of my way.  No, your whole party of 4 does not need to run side by side.  Stop glaring at me when I call "on your left". Mile 10's done?  Oh, thank God!  Big sis says it's just a 5k from here.  I'll pretend that's good news.  She's trying so hard to get me through this.  On the bright side, the overpass gave me a glimpse of all the people behind us.  There are hundreds!  No balloon ladies in sight." 

Mile 11:  "My Camelbak is empty.  I have to pee again.  My hips hurt; my hips have never hurt before.  My knees hurt.  My feet hurt.  Big sis is trying to pace me, but I can barely do much more than an undignified shuffling waddle.  I'm coming, big sis.  I swear.  She says Epcot is close.  I'm starting to question her definition of 'close'.  Oh, look.  Wildlife."

Mile 12:  "Okay, I can do this. Only this mile and the next, and I get my medal.  I get to sit down.  I'll get to eat.   I see the giant ball.  We're almost there.  Almost there, almost there, people 'round here think I'm crazy, but I don't care.  I love Disney music.  I do love Disney.  This part just sucks.  What? The coachmen?  Okay, humor her and take a picture.  You owe her that much for getting you through this."

Mile 13:  "Okay, we're in Epcot.  No balloon ladies can get me now.  I'm just ready to be done.   No, I don't want to stop for any more pictures.  I shouldn't think like that.  She hasn't asked for much, and she's pretty much carried my slow ass through this.  Okay, we'll stop.  No, I will not stand in line for the Fairy Godmother.  I hate Cinderella.  I'm just ready to be at the end.  Great.  I have to pee again.  No; no stopping; we're so close.  I can hold it."

Finish line:  "Oh my God, has anything ever looked so beautiful?!  No one can judge me for these tears.  I did it.  I didn't think I'd make it, but I just finished 19.3 miles at 8 months pregnant.  Lord, my body hurts.  Thank you volunteer with water, God bless you lady with the Powerade.  You, ma'am, with the medals; you are my favorite.  Oh, look at that; ports-potties!  I'm in heaven."

It wasn't until I got back to the hotel that I actually got excited about what I'd just done, and that's when I decided I liked pictures after all.

 So, here is what I did, and what I'd do differently:

What I Did to Prepare
aka A List of Awesome Blog Links that I Read (and Should Have Re-Read) Before the Races
  • Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide---This one is at the top of the list for a reason; this girl goes through several "episodes" that tackle different aspects of the race weekend. I linked it to Episode V, because it's all about the Glass Slipper Challenge.  
  • Rundisney princess half marathon tips
  • runDisney Tips
  • Don't Fear the Sweeper
  • Of course, as with any race, make sure you train!  I will admit that I did not train like I should have.  Between work and pregnancy I was doing well to get 6 miles under my belt.  I've run a half marathon 3 times now, one official and two during training, but I could feel how unprepared I was by about mile 8 of the half, so make sure you train!
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!!  Especially since you'll be traveling and all that jazz, it's easy to let your body get dehydrated, and you'll definitely feel it on the course.

What I'd do Differently
After this race, there will definitely be a "next time", but here's what I learned from this one:

  • Not be pregnant: for obvious reasons. 
  • Get more rest:  The night before the 10K, everyone was in bed by 7, which meant 0230 wasn't so bad.  The night before the half, however, we went to eat at Chef Mickey's and even though we had an early dinner reservation, between the dinner itself and transportation back to our resort, we ended up not going to bed like I planned.  That made Sunday morning's 0230 wake up call a pain.  So heed my warning, don't make dinner reservations the night before, just go to bed.
  • Bring your own camera:  My sister and I took turns bringing a small, hand-held camera with us to the races, but we didn't rely on them, thinking "Oh, Marathonfoto has us covered".  Wrong!  Although Marathonfoto did get several candid shots of us running, I was missing all but one character photo from the races when they uploaded our pictures.  This meant I had to spend several hours digging through the "unidentified" pictures, hoping to find one of me with my favorite characters without much luck.  So next time, we'll be more willing to have the photographer or another princess in line snap one or two on our personal camera as well.  I did hear a rumor (from my awesome Disney-savvy sister) that they may be doing away with Marathonfoto and be using the Disney photographers so that all you'll have to do is scan your Magic Band.  Fingers crossed that it's true.
  • Stop more:  My sister and I had great start placements for both races, which meant we had a ton of cushion, even with my slowed pace.  I did not realize just how much cushion we had, however, which meant I was less willing to jump into the character lines for snapshots, but it's runDisney! That's kinda the whole point, right?  Next time I'll try to remember that.
  • Pee before the race:  This is something I got wrong on the 10K, which meant I wasted time in line for a porta-potty at mile one.  No fun!  
  • Post-race take it easy:  After the race weekend we spent 5 consecutive days at the parks, and although it was fun, by day 3 I was exhausted.  I think having a "relax by the pool day" would be a good thing to add.
  • Have a designated area picked out ahead of time for our families to watch for us:  This is a must!  The night before my sister was trying to explain to my husband where to be and what time to be there, because I just didn't think about it.  Bless his heart, even though he tried to be there at the finish line for me at the 10K, he was stepping off of the Disney bus from our resort to come see me just as he got the text message that I was crossing the finish line.  This meant I saw him right after the race, but he didn't get to see me finish.  Next time, we'll have a game plan.   This sort of bleeds into my next point...
  • Pay more attention to the race maps:  There were so many times I looked around Magic Kingdom in the days following the race, and thought "Wait, I think we ran past here".  I think if I would have looked at the maps a bit more, I would have been more aware of my surroundings.  But that brings me to my final point:
  • Take it all in:  You're in Disney for crying out loud!  Look around.  Absorb the magic.  After all, how often are you going to see the sunrise in Epcot?  Or get to see characters like Jack and Sally, the Genie, or Lumiere and Cogsworth?  Slow down and savor it.  

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Ramblings of a Pregnant Woman

     I feel like my brain is pulled in 50 different directions these days.  I can feel my mommy ADD kicking into overdrive as my mind tries to focus on any one of the following: baby, work, Disney, running, labor, J, Monkey, and the list goes on from there.  I think I get where the whole "baby brain" theory comes from; it's just a lot to think about at once.  Sometimes I wonder why baby #2 isn't a little less overwhelming to plan for, after all this isn't my first rodeo.  But then I remember that it has been about seven years since I've gone through all of this with Monkey.  And I wasn't working.  That's a bit of a game-changer.  It's not a bad thing though;  thankfully I have a career I love which makes being away from home easier.  It also makes me more aware of how I spend my time when I am home.  Soaking up as much time with J and Monkey has become priority one these days.  Just yesterday we spent the day in NOLA using the membership to the Audubon institutes Monkey got for Christmas to visit the Insectarium and then the Aquarium.  We had a great time, and Monkey's grandmother even came out to meet us for the Insectarium.
     Of course, between work and my agenda to make as many memories with my little family as I can before it grows means that I've had less time for other things, like this blog.  Sometimes I think of something to write, but then I get home and can't remember a thing I wanted to say.  Oh, well.  There's that "baby brain" again.
     That being said I've finally decided to take advantage of this opportunity to hop on here as I "supervise" J and Monkey as they put together Wolverine's crib.  So, let's talk Disney.
     In July....well it actually starts long before that.  For a few years now, my sister and I have passively made comments like, "We should do a Disney run one day."  Well in July we finally bit the bullet and signed up for the Princess Glass Slipper Challenge, which is the 10K Saturday followed by a Half Marathon on Sunday.  I was pumped, thinking of how great it was to have a goal that would motivate me to pick my running back into high gear after Nursing school ended in August.  Well, of course, I found out I was expecting Little Man the week of graduation.  I'm stubborn, however, and decided I'd be one of those super badass mommas who runs up until she gives birth.  These days, however, I find myself questioning my own sanity every time I pull on my running clothes and lace up my running shoes.  My pace, which was a decent 9'30" pace back in July, has plummeted to barely-qualifying to not get swept.  Monkey is faster than me these days.  I feel like I am working so hard to move so slow.  I get winded.  I get heart burn.  I get cramps.  I get thirsty, and boy do I get hungry!  But you know what else I get?  I get a rush of pride from knowing that I'm still getting out there.  Yes, I look like this guy:

But when I finish even a one-miler, I feel like this:

     That being said, the upcoming race still has me nervous, but what would a race be if it didn't get my heart going?   I've even decided to embrace the extra girth around my middle by forgoing the typical princess route and dressing up as this voluptuous baddie for the half:

     Meanwhile, my sister will be going as the little mermaid herself.  I'll be sure to get plenty of pictures for sharing later.  It's less than a month away.  Eeeeek!!!

     Well, I think I've rambled enough, and J's almost finished with the crib, so let me wrap this up with  a recipe.

Chicken Pot Pie
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup carrots, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
 2/3 cup milk
2-9" unbaked pie crusts (I use Pillsbury)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery.  Add enough water to cover and boil for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, drain, set aside.

In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent.  Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed.  Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk.  Simmer over medium-low heat until thick.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Spread bottom pie crust in pie plate (or if you're like me and don't have a pie plate, an 8x8 baking dish should work). Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust.

Pour hot liquid mixture over top.

Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough.  Make several slits in the top to allow steam to escape.

Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.

Cool for 10 minutes, then serve.  

     Enjoy!  It may not look the prettiest, but it's become a house favorite, as it's so yummy and filling.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

While Mom's Away.....

     I am thoroughly enjoying work right now.  My first day was last Monday, and although I have yet to do any actual patient care (that starts tomorrow) I find myself so content to simply be working on a regular basis.  As cheesy as it may sound, I get a little thrill every morning when I clip my badge to my chest.  Something about seeing that red tag with those big, bold, white letters "RN" makes me get a surge of pride and excitement.  It's a daily reminder of all I set out to do and accomplished, but it's also a humbling reminder to earn the right to continue wearing the badge for as long as I am willing and able.  I know that a lot of these feelings are related to the newness of it all, and I'm sure they will fade with time.  I only hope they don't fade too quickly or completely.  

     All this time away has caused a bit of an upheaval on the home front.  Poor J has had to pick up my slack by taking charge of Monkey, which includes getting her to and from school, packing her lunches, overseeing homework, and intercepting all messages from school.  Not to mention he's now in charge of dinner and most of the housework while I'm gone most of the day.  He has received these new duties with as much grace s is humanly possible for him.  He even mopped for the second time in our entire marriage yesterday.  It's been interesting to watch as he navigates these mostly uncharted waters.  And it hasn't been without its funny moments.  Take lunch for example, y'all have seen the cute-sie lunches I usually prepare for Monkey.  Let's just say that J has a more simplistic approach.  Let me present my case this way:

How Mommy does lunch:
      Cute and coordinated themed lunches that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are nutritious.

How Daddy does lunch:
     I think they're supposed to be lips....

How Mommy does breakfast:
     Bakes yummy Dark Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins the night before so no one is rushed or scrambling to find breakfast in the morning.
Recipe below

 How Daddy does breakfast:

J (yelling up the stairs):  Kid, if you want to eat this morning you better get down here now and grab some cereal! We leave in 5 minutes!!!

How Mommy does dinner:

Begins the process several hours in advance, making sure to enlist the help of Monkey so that she's engaged and occupied.  Presents a hearty, healthy, and filling meal to her family with pride.  

Recipe coming soon
How Daddy does dinner:    

J (walking up to my car as I arrive home from work):  Are you full of germs?
Me: No; I didn't take care of patients today.
J:  Cool, don't get out.  I forgot to defrost the chicken.  I'm taking y'all out to eat.  

     As much as I love poking fun at him, my husband has been a great help these days, and I have every confidence he'll find his own groove soon.  Or at least I hope he does ;-) Now, how about a recipe before you go?

Dark Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from two twenty one blog
Makes 15 muffins 

1/2 canola oil
1 cup 100% pure pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
2 cups dark chocolate chips

Combine oil, pumpkin, sugar, egg, and vanilla.  In a separate, small bowl combine milk and baking soda; add to pumpkin mixture.  Next add cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, salt, and flour to pumpkin mixture.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Allow the batter to sit for 15 minutes.  Line muffin tin with paper liners.  Use a scoop to ladle batter into prepared muffin tins.  Bake 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes away clean.