Monday, April 13, 2015

First Ragnar Experience

The tagline for this event is:

"Ragnar is the overnight running relay race that makes testing your limits a team sport.

You and 11 of your craziest friends (or 5 of your crazier friends for an ultra team) pile into two vans and tag team running 200(ish) miles, day and night, relay-style."

I'm not really sure what part of it appealed to me most, but it definitely sounded like an experience that I would never forget... and I loved it!

My dad picked me up at 4:00am on Friday the 10th, and then I was participating in the Ragnar until he brought me back home at 5:00pm on Saturday the 11th (including the 2 hour drive home).

During that time I had three runs, and lots of time spent in the van or in my aunt's beach house in between our turn to run (which I was told was a very nice way to do the ragnar, compared to normal camping or just sleeping in the van).

My first run was at 5:50am or so. I ran 4.15 miles in 39:07. It was dark, but fun, and I got to chat with some of the other runners. This was a very uneventful leg of my journey. Then, I didn't run again until 6:45pm!

In between I cheered on my fellow runners, and we saw the start of "code 731." As with all relay races, when one runner finishes, the next runner is supposed to be there, waiting, ready to start their run. With a crazy relay race like ours, with van rides between spots, there is occasionally delays. But we saw one runner, runner from team 731, who arrived with no one there... and still no one after 10 minutes... 20 minutes, 30 minutes plus... and then our runner arrived, we made the switch, and we had to drive off to our next location. But our whole team was worried about this runner, and kept an eye out for their van.

We did see the van, about leg 6, of team 731, and felt reassured that they were reunited once more. But by this point, code 731 had become our way of reminding others to hurry to the next runner, because we didn't want any of our team to be "code 731" where they were wondering where the van and runners were.

My second leg, starting at 6:45 was a beautiful run, very scenic, and I got to see the sunset. But there was a problem... the sign that there was one mile left, at which point we text the team that we are a mile out... wasn't there. I waited to see if my garmin was wrong... but by the time I knew it was wrong, I could actually see the exchange point! So... I texted "almost there," not sure what else to write!

It wasn't a problem, my team was there (no code 731...yet), but I did so well, I actually was too fast for my dad to see me finish the leg. I ran 3.98 miles in 35 minutes, way better than my typical 10 minute mile pace. He arrived as I was walking away with vanmates back to the car.

Around this time, one teammate got a horribly bad migraine, to the point where she could barely sit up, much less run. Another teammate took her place for the night run, and we talked about me taking her next run if needed, in addition to my third leg, or switching runs (I had a shorter flat run, she had a longer hilly run).

We got to head back to the beachhouse after our second legs at 10:17pm, and I think I went to sleep about 11pm. We were planning on getting up and moving at 2:00am for our next set, but at 1:40am, we discovered that our other van was moving fast, and we needed to hurry to get there as their last runner had already taken off! So, we managed to take off from the house in just a few minutes, and made it to the exchange on time.

At this point, my not feeling great vanmate was feeling better, but on the fence about switching runs with me, or toughing it out, so I was prepping myself to run my leg (at 3 or so), and drinking coffee etc. But she eventually decided that it was in her best interest to switch and to make sure she didn't push herself past her limits (and agreed after her run that it was good to switch), so instead I had 4 more hours before my run started, and now I was wide awake. I made the best of it, and was able to see each team member's switch through the night.

My last leg started at a little bit before 8. It was cold outside, while not running, and as the sun wasn't too high yet... so I was wearing a running skirt and a long sleeved team shirt as I set off. This leg started with a half mile "warm up" before I started climbing the hill... for the next mile and a half! I went from sea level up to 450 feet of elevation! Not easy, but I pushed through, and even passed a number of people.

As you would expect, the running, plus the hill, plus the day getting warmer, I got hot... and though I hated to do it... I had to change to just my sports bra after I made it to the top. While I was working on the process of removing my shirt... a girl I passed on the hill caught up and passed me.

I wasn't about to let that go, so I got my pace back up, and passed her again. I stayed ahead of her until the last little stretch where I look over my shoulder... and there she is again! I couldn't let her pass me again... so we did a full blown sprint to the end of the leg. (So fun) But alas, her teammate was there, got the switch, and I was a code 731! (no teammates there!).

They got the text (code 731) and my exchange person was there quickly. Problem was, my sprint to the end threw them off, and they thought I had more time before I would be there based on my average mile time of the first few miles as compared to my quick 9 minute last mile. They were there on time... just a bit off and talking.

With that, our van was done, and we feasted on a well earned IHOP breakfast, and then had what I honestly consider the worst part of the whole race... waiting for van 2 to finish. I was done, ready to go home, ready to see my kids... but there were 6 runners still going on our team before we could all finish together. I did take another couple hour nap in the van, but for the most part, I was just bored, walking around or resting till we got runner 12 done.

On our way to the finish line... who should we see but runner 731! We talked to him, took his picture, explained our code in honor of him, and discovered what had happened. His team had gone to the next exchange, accidentally skipping his exchange. He didn't like to run with a cell phone, and didn't know his team's number anyways. But they were at the next stop, wondering what happened to him, and it took them a whole hour before everyone was reunited once more, with the help of the Ragnar volunteers. Anyways, crazy that we happened to see him and his team, with so many people around.

I was crazy tired that night, and I am still sore, but I still felt like it was a great experience and I do hope to do another Ragnar someday, possibly in another state!
 Checking off 1 mile done
 Van 1 cheering on Tabitha as she conquered a crazy hill (also distributing well earned candies to people as they finished their hill when we were waiting for her).
 Van 1, leg 1 done.
 (no pictures of leg 2) This is my last mile of my last leg picture... such a pretty sight!
 I finished the running portions of my ragnar!
 All 12 of us crossed the finish line together!


 Don't let a code 731 happen to your crew!


 All twelve medals actually go together. It is hard to read but says, "Together we ran 200ish miles, Ragnar Relay series"
 "Silly face" team picture
 Van 1 team picture
 Checking off my third leg... which was actually Tabitha's (yellow check mark meant run by someone else for our team)




Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Snapshot of Life as I turn 31

In a rare occurance these days, Grace and Remington are both taking a nap!

I decided to take it as an opportunity to write a short, no picture blog of my life before I turn 31 tomorrow.

My life is full, blessed and I feel that most days I am able to find that delicate but beautiful balance of time for me, time as a mom, and time as a wife.

Grace has preschool twice a week, and those mornings are special because I have time with Remington that he doesn't have to share with Grace. We sometimes run errands, or go to the park, or Pretend City, or just stay home, but he gets all the mom time, and he loves that, and I do too.

Tuesdays we visit my mom, and have special grandma mornings with her followed by a lunch. Then Remington falls asleep on the drive home (and sometimes Grace does too, but almost always wakes up as I get her out of the car.

But most afternoons, when Remington is napping, Grace and I have a special time where we play board games together. She loves a princess game my brother got for her and she always is Snow White, and loves to win. Recently we got a cooperative game, and she just couldn't understand how we could both win, but she loved it.

I have never lost the love of reading that I got as a child (and have passed onto my kids), so I get my doses of me-time in my reading at two main points of the day- breakfast and snacktime. At lunch and and dinner, there are no books, phones or tv (unless it is a Ducks game) allowed, and we focus on actually having a conversation. But at breakfast and at afternoon snack, both kids know that mom is reading. They are happy and content in their food, and I read that it is actually really beneficial for kids to see their parents reading, as it sets a good example. As Grace has gotten older, she actually will ask me about my books from time to time and I share what I can about what I am currently reading.

Perhaps it is because of that, or something else, but both of my kids love to read. We get stacks of books from the library, in addition to our extensive library at home (inherited from years in the classroom) and a good chunk of my time with the kids is spent reading books to them. Both of them love to bring me a book (Remington will say, not so politely, "Read it!") and sit on my lap as I read them a story, and are getting good at telling me the story of books we have read together many times.

I try for an afternoon walk with them every day, but when that doesn't happen, I try to get Blake to take them instead. But even at home, Remington especially, the kids get a lot of exercise with the variety of balls we give them access to, and hockey sticks/net, baseball tee, etc.

I strive for running before everyone wakes up two days a week, and then once on the weekend, and I also have added weight training a few days a week when Blake gets home. This is another good me-time place where I don't have to worry about anyone but me, and Blake has been amazing at giving me occasional evenings where I can go out with friends too, and he watches the kids (and I return the favor for sporting events or what he wants to do).

We have started "cry it out" with Remington and it seems to be going well, though it is heartbreaking to do with a kid with his advanced vocabulary, as you won't just hear crying, you also hear, "Momma, where are you?" and "I love you, " as he tries hard to get me to come back early. However, with his wider understanding, we can talk about how mom will come back after he goes to sleep, and that seems to be helping. Last night was only a few minutes of crying, and I hope that it continues to go down (as I truly hate hearing him cry).

After the kids go to bed, Blake and I get our unwinding time either with a tv show- recently we are on a superhero kick- or the video game that we have returned to for the upteenth time, having started it before we graduated college and have played and quit multiple times.

I sneak art projects in from time to time, but most days, in the down time between preschool, Grace's dance class, my mom, their other grandma time, and playdates, etc. I just let them play. I really push the divergent thinking toys (which are toys that can be played with a multiple ways). The latest favorites are things like the train tracks/train set, the dollhouse, and the small animals. I love seeing their creativity come out. I have seen Grace give the tiger a shot and Remington have a princess riding a dinosaur. Remington, the other day, set up a bunch of animals in a row, and started feeding all of them with a pretend fork, and saying, "Yummy," as he went. Grace will cook us up crazy foods in her play kitchen, and it never ceases to amaze me what creative minds my (and probably most) kids have when you just let them play with a toy with no specific, predetermined purpose (like so many electronic games and toys these days).

Not to say that I even meet my own perfect image of what parenting should be. Perfect world, my kids wouldn't watch any tv... but the only way I can find to be the wife I want to be is to make a compromise here. For an hour every day, I let the kids watch a show while I clean up the kitchen and prep dinner if I can. They do have to pick up toys first, and whoever cleans up best gets to choose the show. Another way that I am less than my own ideal is with cloth diapers. I feel the need, on this blog of mine, to admit that while Grace still uses cloth diapers at night, we still haven't made the switch with Remington. It is hard to get away from the better look, and ultimately ease that the disposable diapers offer, especially with the many outings we go on.

With that, Remington woke up... and so did Grace... but suffice it to say that I am at a great place of peace and happiness with my lot in life these days.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Recent Happenings

I have 15 minutes before I have to pick up Grace from preschool, but I know it has been forever since I posted a blog. 

There have been two races for me, both in tutus, one was a costume contest, which I didn't win but was proud of my Irish step dancer try.


The kids are cute as always, and remington is talking up a storm and we were told was "definitely advanced" according to the dr., with his 60-70 plus words he knows and his numerous two word phrases- like "no way" and "hockey game". 

Grace is doing great at preschool and loves to do creative play at home, like making us pretend blueberry cheese to try. 

Last picture is of a ducks jersey with a bell costume and heels :)

Life is good, but busy and full, and most of my spare moments of 2015 have been spent exercising, or working on putting 2014's pictures in a photo book... Perhaps I'll finish by the end of the year. 

Now I've got 7 minutes to add pictures!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bucket list item complete!

Way back in 2011 I came up with the crazy plan to do a 10k, half and full marathon, and officially announced it on the blog. There was going to the the two shorter races in 2012 and then the full in 2013. But thanks to Remington, I was a spectator that year. Then pregnancy, recovery and retraining, minus the broken toe time, and I made it to today. 

I completed my marathon today!!!! A goal since high school, a committed goal worked towards for 4 years, was completed today!

But more than that I am super excited to say that I didn't just finish... I rocked it! I was afraid of shuffling along, eventually going 15-16 minute miles, lots of walking. No, that was not my race today.

I was strong! I had to hold myself back in the first half and still finished in 2:13,
and then kept running the majority of the second half, taking walking breaks for water or at the mile markers. I was passing people in the last 6 miles! Passing them! And when I saw my time on my watch, I figured out I could make it under 5 hours if I ran from mile 25 to the end, and I did it! I actually sprinted, yes, sped up, for the last .2 and crossed before the 5 hour mark by 2 minutes!

I got super emotional at mile 25, 26, when I could see the finish line and when I got my medal! The worst parts were at the few points in the course where we had to double back, and I just wanted to reach that point. Also, my lower back kept hitting so all walking points also had a forward fold, stretching on the side time. 

Miles 20-26 were dedicated to the adoption process for Grace, with each mile representing one step closer to getting her home.

Overall I averaged an 11:30 or so pace, but it actually was closer to 10 (or faster) in the first part and 13-14 in the later parts. 

Thank you everyone for your support and especially to my dad who followed me around on his bike to cheer me on multiple times and to Blake, who took care of both kids all morning and still showed up with them at my race to see me finish.

P.s. How I feel now, with my legs crazy hurting is worse than I felt while running, but I finished that huge goal in a way I am so proud of!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

End of 2014

In last year's end of the year post, I wished that 2014 would be a much less exciting year than 2013... with all of the kids arriving and figuring out how to become a parent of first one then two kids.

I think I got my wish. As I looked back over the blogs of the year and then went through my annual jar of mementos, I made a few observations.

This year had big moments for other people, but not too many for us. My brother and sister in law got married, and I had two cousins have their babies. Huge events (invites featured in the top left) for those people, and events we were excited to celebrate with our family, but not big events for us personally.

In the top right you can see three race bibs (much less bibs than those featured in the 2012 end of year post), but the funny thing is that none of them carry much significance to me. The 2311 race number is for a race I did to try to get a good time for the Avengers Marathon (the 2360 race), so I could be in a good corral to start (which I did). Trouble was, I managed to break my toe a few weeks before the event, so though I did it... and finished... I walked it. Best thing about that day was having fun with my sister in law, bonding with her, and being in a superhero costume. But definitely less than the "I ran a half marathon" feeling. The little race bib is Remington's. It was for his first race, but even that was a dampened affair. Grace was supposed to do the race with him. They were both signed up to do the inaugural Avengers Kids race together. But the night before... Grace got a fever. A minor one. But enough that we had to do the whole ER visit, late night, blood draw evening, instead of the night before a race evening. It also meant that I went with Remington, but Blake wasn't there for his son's first race, and Grace just missed out on the fun. (For the record, he needed a lot of encouragement and some hand holding, but he did the whole 100 meters on his own two feet). I hope that in one month from tomorrow, I can officially say that I did my marathon, and that will be a race bib of 2015 to be proud of, but the race bibs of 2014 are all somewhat dampened for me.

On the left bottom you can see a category of mementos that seems to keep growing- sports stubs (and there were many more that never even made it to the bottle). We went to two baseball games, a football game, and many hockey games in 2014. Blake is becoming more and more a sports guy and I seem to be pulled along for the ride, and am finding myself enjoying these sporting events right along with him.

We have mementos of some of the stand out events of the year- Grace's first recital (a disaster in which she did not appear on stage), our family vacation to San Diego, OC Fair, my 30th at the House of Blues, first family trip to Disneyland, and seeing a musical. (Two less significant mementos- movie stub and carousel ride stub).

But one of the observations I made on this trip back through 2014 is of the big things that don't have any physical marker for them in the jar. This includes events like Blake's 30th boat ride, the girls karaoke night, and the trip to California Adventures, but it also includes things that I would say mark 2014 the most.


At the end of 2013, Remington was little more than a blob (a cute adorable blob) who had just learned to roll over, but he couldn't do much when you put him on the ground. Now, he is almost running, and is able to very much communicate with us, with several words! 2014 marks the year he went from baby to toddler.

Pretend City is another big one. We got a membership in March, and went countless times in 2014. I have seen both kids play with every area of that place in many different ways, and we have tons of memories made there this year.

If you had asked me back before I reread my year's blogs if Grace has drastically changed this year, I would have said no. But I would be wrong. Conversations with her in early 2014 were mostly run by us with her adding little bits. Now, Grace is saying many full, long, complex sentences and stories. For example, today on the ride home from some errands, she was pretending to drive. She said, "Bye, see you later, I'm going to work. I'm back, now I'm going to the gym. I'm back, I'm going to drink a protein shake." (Based off of what Blake does daily). Another day she was talking to her dinosaur and telling him to make good choices and to eat his rocks. If we tell her not to do something because she might get hurt she says, "I don't want to get hurt, then, I go to hospital, and get poked. " If you ask her what she will be when she grows up she says, "A doctor." (Except for the time she answered, "Santa, so I could have a long beard.")

She goes to preschool, she can undress herself, she brushes her own teeth, she takes her medicine daily like a champ. She understands and knows so much! She can count to 13 perfectly (and the next numbers vary, in one instance being nineteen, seventeen, eleventeen).

She and Remington argue, as all siblings do, but she also can be super nice to him, and says, "Thank you, Remington," when he gives her things, and will also volunteer to give stuff to him.

This year has had its less than perfect moments too. Like when Grace missed her first trip to the mountains because of a bad crisis triggered by a beach trip. Landed her eventually in the hospital for two days, and she got an MRI (though thankfully nothing worse came of that crisis). She missed her first day of preschool for this hospital trip too. As mentioned above, she missed her first race to a fever. She, at all of three, had a liver biopsy this year (and already has some liver damage consistent with her known medical history, but nothing too bad to start a new medicine for sickle cell).  This new medicine is a gamble, as the doctors aren't sure how it will affect her other problems, and it is known to weaken the immune system, but the payoffs are great, so they advised us to start it. We shall see.

We had our one year old birthday party and our three year old birthday party, we had many Remington first holidays, and overall, I think we had a great year, enjoying the beautiful kids that are such a blessing to us.

My wish for 2015 is much of the same. I wish for continued health and happiness for our family and for others. I wish for us all to focus on each other more, and less on our stuff and our electronics. I wish for us all to make good choices (as I so often emphasize with my 3 yr old) for ourselves and for our relationships with others. Happy New Year!

p.s. Where are the cute kid photos and videos? They will be featured on another post within the week. :-D

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Living Life versus Recording Life

I think it is a modern day problem of having to actively choose to live life versus recording life.

When I was growing up, there were of course the video camera and the cameras with film that needed to be developed, but they were both limited. You could record a video, but if you recorded too much "fluff" you might not have space for the big moments. I remember being very aware of just how many pictures were on my disposable camera on field trips or family trips, and wanting to save them for the "best" moments, and the rest of the day I just enjoyed my trip.

But now, my phone is my camera, both video and still pictures, and is always with me. I happen to think (as hopefully all parents do at times) that my kids are adorable, and there are times that I feel like I could be constantly documenting all of the cute things they say and do, and sharing all of their moments on a blog or facebook or instagram or one of the other many social media outlets.

However, it comes at a cost. For one thing, even though both kids are still so young, they are very aware of when I am using my phone, and really want to see what I am doing, or see the pictures after I take them, or watch the video if I recorded one. In practice, this means that if my kids are both doing a great job playing with each other and I go to take a picture of them, suddenly, they aren't playing together any more, but are looking at my phone, wanting to see what I am doing. I lose the precious moment by documenting it.

Part of it too, is simply logistics. Grace's birthday party went great, and I think it was a success... but I didn't take a single picture the whole time. I think some other people got pictures... but not me. I was too busy running it! I was organizing the games, making sure the food was out, helping her open presents, and being a completely, involved, hands-on mama, which meant that I didn't even have a moment to think about my camera until the event was over and everyone was leaving. Oh well. It wasn't an active choice, but I probably would have done the same if it was. Same with her first Thanksgiving party at school. I was there, I was making sure she got food, making sure Remington didn't get into trouble... and not taking pictures.

As far as this blog goes, back before kids, there was a lot of time available where I could spend time with Blake, watching TV together or playing a computer game together etc. and still have time left over to do computer stuff or read. But now, each blog comes at a cost as well.

Blake and my time together without kids is limited to the few hours between their bedtime and my bedtime. I generally don't want to take much, if any of that precious time, doing something as solo as a blog post. So the other option is doing it while the kids are around. They tend to get into trouble if I do much on the computer while they play nearby if there isn't someone watching them. So blogs are now a very conscious choice made on a weekend afternoon, when Blake can watch the kids ( like now).

Most of the time, again, I have been choosing to live life with the kids instead of spending even part of it behind the computer, but at the same time, as I have said before, I like this blog as a record, and I know of people who only really get to follow my kids growing up on my blog (as they aren't on facebook and don't see them in real life often).  So, today, I am carving out that time.

(This blog turned into more of a commentary on life and documenting life, so I am actually going to do the Grace birthday post on a separate post. )

 I do think that in general, we, this generation of moms, need to be more willing to put down the phones, and live life with our kids without the need to document every cute thing they do. I even remember learning about a study where you remember things less well that you take pictures of, because you at least subconsciously trust the picture to help you remember it, so you don't actually remember those moments as much.

It makes me sad how often I see (and I am guilty of this as well) parents focused on their phones instead of their kids. I recognize that there are times we need to do something on them, or even relax with facebook, but we also are sending a message that the kids are less important than our phones at that moment. I am trying to more actively limit my phone time around the kids, and I hope I can encourage others to do the same as well.

Grace's birthday

Grace's 3rd Birthday

Grace's third birthday was a Doc McStuffins theme, which is a TV show which she likes, featuring a little black girl who takes care of her toys, and fixes them with her very similar to real doctor tools, and her cute little diagnosis of their problems. On a side note, I actually really like the show, as there is usually a great real life application to each of the toy problems. For example, one episode has a soccer ball who is afraid to be re inflated because he is afraid of the needle.

Grace dressed up like Doc Mcstuffins complete with her very own real stethoscope. One game was the kids diagnosing the problems with toys, and then working together to fix it, while drawing the problems in their "Big Book of Boo Boos." They also played "Doctor Says" which was basically Simon Says but instead reinforces how it is important to do what the doctor says. The final game was the classic "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" idea, except the poster was another character from the show who needed a bandaid on his ouch.

Grace really seemed to have a great time, and I think the party was a huge success. 

Family Disney Trip

Unlike her un-photographed birthday party, I remembered to take lots of pictures of our family trip to Disneyland which we did on her actual third birthday (Blake even took a day off work).

For the sake of time, it will be a lot of pictures and just a few stories.



















Couple stories of the day:

The roller coaster was the big favorite of the day. She saw it when we were in toon town and she she barely made the requirements. I knew she had never experienced that kind of a fast ride before, and I had no idea of what to expect.

The ride starts and she is immediately terrified. Screaming, but not in the fun way, like in the same way that she does when she has to get a blood draw. Holding onto me, crying, "Mama," the whole thing. I think to myself... okay, so not ready for this... good thing it is a quick ride.

Then the ride ends. I ask if it was scary, and she said yes.. and then she says the craziest thing, "Again?"

I was confused, I thought she couldn't possibly be asking to go again... oh yes, she was, very emphatically, and to that end, she didn't even want to get out! I convinced her we had to go through the (thankfully short) line again, so we went again.

The crazy screaming was back, but slightly less... and she wanted to go again! In total, she went four times with me, and twice with Blake, and he reported that the last time she went, there was no crying, just excited laughing the whole time. She probably would have just kept going ALL DAY but the line was getting longer, and we wanted to do some other rides!

Meeting Tigger and characters is another story where she started with fear. She wasn't interested in the princesses at all, but Tigger caught her eye, as a big favorite for a long time (though out of vogue in our house more recently). She wanted to meet him, but she was scared, so first we just watched him meet other kids for a while till she finally decided that she did want to meet him (even though it meant waiting in line). She was still fairly fearful as she met him, but then she was less afraid with Eeyore, and then totally excited to meet Pooh.

The last two pictures were of us watching a parade, which Remington was excited about, but Grace was very tired by this point, as we were seeing if she could go without a nap. Moments before the last picture above, she said she wasn't tired, and didn't need a nap... and then sitting on dad's lap after a long day, she just totally crashed. Extra funny (in retrospect), is that she ended up peeing while she slept... all over Blake (glad it wasn't me). But it was okay, because we knew our day was almost over anyways.

It was actually a fantastic Disney day. Temperatures were not too hot, not too cold, she loved going on rides, and the lines weren't too bad throughout the park (on a random Monday in October).

As for Remington, he probably would have been equally happy with a day at the park, as the rides were less impressive to him than the swings or slide are on a typical park day, and while he didn't mind them, he wasn't really smiling or laughing on them either. But as we expected, at three, Grace was the perfect age to appreciate all the fun Disneyland can bring.