Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Elves went to the zoo! And they got us tickets to see the Lights Before Christmas at #toledozoo! #christmas, #elfmagic, #smallstepsseriouschafing

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A few "essentials"

In addition to proper fitting shoes and decent clothing (truly doesn't have to be anything fancy but something you are comfortable in and works even though I prefer to stay away from cotton) there are 3 things that I consider essentials in my running bag.

1) Body Glide: It comes in a handy deodorant type stick and can be applied easily to an area that is prone to chafing during a run.  I tend to use it near any seam or band that may rub and have also used it on the back of my ankles if I am having issues with shoes.  I forgot to put it on on Tuesday before our early morning and the under arm chafing from my arm sleeves is not comfortable.

2) Warm FX: Similar to Icy Hot and made by the Body Glide it helps to loosen up tight/sore muscles.  This is by no means a replacement for traditional ice and heat therapy but it works in a pinch.  I prefer this one because it also comes in a handy deodorant type stick and can be applied easily.

3) The Stick: This is a recent addition and I could kick myself for not getting it sooner!  When I used to visit the gym regularly I would borrow their foam rollers, and they are fantastic as well.  When I started working out from home more, I still was hesitant to spend the money on The Stick and just used a rolling pin.  It worked but was not flexible at all.  So I sucked it up and The Stick arrived Monday.  I have used it daily and will continue to.  I can easily roll out my leg muscles as well as my arms and back that are very sore from the push up challenge.

What I consider essentials
What do you consider to be an "essential" in your running bag?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Simon, the Santa hat and the bullies...

Yesterday I proceeded to ask Simon the normal after school questions...What made you happy today at school? His response is usually long as he speaks of specials, his friends, his teacher, and the bus ride. Then I ask "what made you sad today at school?" His response to this question normally is "oh nothing" or "I was sad because we didn't have science today", EXCEPT yesterday he proceeded to tell me how 2 boys from his class were picking on him and kept taking his Santa hat off and throwing it in the dirt. He told me he handled it "sponsibly" (he loves using big words) and told his teacher and the boys received "consequences". Him and I had a conversation about the incident and how he did handle it very well and I felt the teacher handled the situation at school correctly as well.
This morning as he declared he did not want to wear his Santa hat to school and would only wear it on days he did not see the two boys, my heart broke for him. It was not only his Santa hat that was damaged yesterday, but also his free spirit and his little heart.
While he is at school today I will wash the dirt off his hat and when he comes home hopefully attempt to repair the damage done by the other little boys. This is a teachable moment and an opportunity to discuss with Simon the damage words and actions can do and the lasting effects they may have. We will also talk about how brave he was to be different and hopefully by Monday I will send him off to school rocking his Santa hat again!

How would you handle the situation? Any good book recommendations that would help him understand bullies or that it is ok to be different?

UPDATE: After publishing the blog this morning a friend shared a link that contained a list of books about some tough topics we may face as parents ( As I read through the little reviews, the book Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy grabbed my attention because it was so similar to what we were dealing with.  As I searched the internet for a little more information about the book and the author I not only found out she was local but also having a book signing tonight!  So right after school we trekked out to the Barnes and Noble to pick up a hard copy of Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun and her new book The Potato Chip Champ.  We all had a great time meeting Maria, chatted a bit, took a few pictures and got some autographs.  She also told Simon how cool his Santa hat was and shared with him that the little girl "Lucy" in the story was really her and how she was teased when she was little.  After we came home we sat down together and read the book, discussed the feelings of the characters (which opened up some dialogue about his own feelings sometimes) and allowed us an opportunity about doing the right thing, since at the end of the book Lucy does help the bully when he needs it, even though she really wants to tell him what a meanie he is.  It was great to see him smile again and sport his Santa hat again!
Simon reading Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun

The 2 books we picked up tonight written by Maria Dismondy (who is also the co-author of Juice Box Bully)

To visit Maria Dismondy's website/blog and learn more about her books:

Monday, December 3, 2012

Beer + Coffee = Delicious! Thanks @marathondan it is awesome! I may not be running at 5:15 am tomorrow though after this! #smallstepsseriouschaffing, #founders, #beer

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Nap time, conference call, and cross training! All brought to you by speaker phone and mute! #smallstepsseriouschaffing, #crosstraining,

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Christmastime is scary this year for me...

Simon heading off to school in his Santa hat...

Last week Simon was so excited for Christmastime that he wanted to wear his Santa hat to school in place of his winter hat.  I let him, but spent the majority of the day with anxiety.  What if that Santa hat brought on unnecessary discussion about Santa and his existence?  He does ride the bus with older children, waits in line to go inside the school with older children...oh please do not let anyone ruin the magic for my little boy, I am not ready for him to stop believing in the magical time of Christmas.  This is the first year I was uncertain we would make it the entire season without getting busted by one of the boys.  I would rather have Simon use his critical thinking skills to figure out that the logistics of Santa are not possible (or legal since people cannot just go around climbing down chimneys), then someone at school telling him Santa is not "real".

In our house we believe in Santa and we are definitely an over achieving elf family.  Now, I know there is some controversy out there in Parent World about Santa (and please remember there is no right or wrong way, nor am I judging anyone that does it different then us, but this is what works for our family and why), but let me explain why he is a big part of our Christmas Season.  As a child I remember the excitement and magic that surrounded the holidays in our house.  The wonder and make believe.  The ringing of the bell on Christmas morning so we could come downstairs. (One of those bells still sits on my mantle year round and I smile when I see it because it triggers so many happy memories)  I do not know when I figured it all out, but part of me still believes in Santa.  Not the person himself, but what he stands for; the good in people, the giving without the recognition (I know when they figure it out they will understand it was mom and dad but for right now their smiles and joy are all the "credit" I need), the make believe and the magic.  Santa does not put the boys on the naughty or nice list though in our house, I have explained to Simon several times in his little life that just because he makes poor choices sometimes this does not make him a "bad kid", so we stay clear labeling them naughty or nice around the holidays as well.  This is also one of the reasons we chose to use Elf Magic Elves, because I was not a big fan of the Elf on the Shelf story that talked about him reporting to Santa.  We want them to behave even when know one is "watching", when they do the right thing because of their own self pride not because someone can see them.  I also did not like that you could not touch Elf on a Shelf, so when I found the Elf Magic Elves and the story behind them that talks about making memories and spending time with the family I was sold.  (You can really use ANY elf or any "doll" for the holidays and still have the same outcome).  Our elves really like to bring us activities that we can do as a family or activities we can do for others, such as when we bake our cookies for the neighbors or go shopping for our toys for other children.  I know many people roll their eyes at our little elf tradition or the amount of time and effort I put into it every year, but I will never forget the smiles and excitement I get to see every morning.  I will never forget the memories that we have made and will continue to make and I hope long after they figure it all out for themselves, they continue to enjoy the opportunity to imagine and believe even as an adult.  I hope that long after the material presents have been broken or outgrown; they remember all the fun we had as a family and they remember the little things that make the holidays special.

Over achieving Elf Family
When the day comes that Simon figures out the whole Santa business (which even if a kid at school does not spill the beans it will be soon I am planning since Simon is a pretty logical thinker) I plan to share a letter similar to the one written by another mother who explains it all so perfectly HERE.

What holiday traditions do you and your family enjoy?  What happened after your little ones found out?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Small steps toward loving the imperfect me...Part 1

It all started with a 20 minute video posted by a friend on Facebook yesterday morning. Brene Brown's TED speech on The Power of Vulnerability...


 As I was listening to her speak about how we try to be perfect, perfect our children, numb our vulnerability with "beer and a banana nut muffin", see vulnerability as weakness, are afraid to be who we are and be really seen and in turn sacrifice joy and belonging I thought she was talking directly to me. It really made me think about myself, my own life and the life I was creating for my children. So I decided to write a series of blog posts as I dig deeper into these thoughts and Brene Browns work including her book The Gifts of Imperfection that I downloaded last night on Kindle.

"Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do" -Brene Brown


I think this is a good place to start....because it is a daily struggle for me to accept that my imperfect self is enough for anyone including myself.  As a wife I wonder why I cannot be a better cook, better housekeeper, or a better wife who takes care of her husband.  As a parent I wonder why I cannot be patient 110% of the time, nurture them and guide them instead of hiding behind the bathroom door as they all fight with one another.  As a person I wonder why I judge, why I cannot always empathize, why I am short tempered and illogical at times.  All of these are my imperfections the things that make me feel like I am unworthy of joy and belonging.  But here is the thing....the people in my life that have seen me the real me are the ones that bring the joy.  My husband, my kids, my close family and friends. I think Brene Brown was on to something, I do not have to think about who I am around these people, I just am, and they love me anyways!

Will you join me over the next week every time that little voice inside your head starts yammering on about how you could be better, skinnier, faster, smarter tell it to quiet and simply remind yourself "I am enough"?

Will you remember every time you compare yourself to a friend, fellow parent, fellow coworker etc that as a society we only share our highlight reels?  People aren't openly sharing struggles, it makes us vulnerable and appear weak...

(**As I am about to hit send my stomach is in knots, the feeling if vulnerability...I really wish I could numb the feeling with beer and banana nut muffins....)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! #turkeytrot, #running, #stoneycreek, #smallstepsseriouschaffing

via Instagram

Happy Thanksgiving!

On Thanksgiving I do not do the local Turkey Trot. I have done it once a few years back and the experience was not something I ever had to do again. So today I slept in and headed to our local Metro Park for a long slow distance run of 10 miles, my first run over 7 miles since the Detroit Free Press 1/2. It's always nice to meet up with my some extended family for our own little Turkey Trot. The first 6 miles were spent chatting with my sister in law while the last 4 I let my mind wander to all memories of the last year, the tears and joy, all that has changed, and all that has stayed the same. There is something refreshing about a run where my mind is not focused on pace or even distance because of the marked path.

I realized sometimes it is so easy to focus on all that I want out of life or the material things I often forget all that we (as a family) have to be thankful for.

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Shoe Saga

To call my shoe troubles a saga is a bit dramatic which I tend to be according to my husband.  After Theodore was born and I started running again I began wearing the minimalist Saucony Kinvara 2 shoe.  I really loved the feel on my foot and felt that the shoe and the Good Form Running seminar at my local New Balance Store helped me modify my stride and decreased my injuries.  In previous years I had been prone to knee pain and plantar fasciitis.  There were times it was painful enough I didn't ever want to run again, especially the plantar fasciitis early in the morning. OUCH!  The new to me mid foot strike seemed to eliminate the problems and I ran pain free/injury free from November 2011 - August 2012.   That is when everything seemed to go down hill and I am not sure if it was the new shoes (Saucony Kinvara 3 which was significantly different in my opinion then the 2's) or the Funniest Home Video worthy spill I took on one of my first runs in the new shoes that resulted in scrapes, sprained ankle and a bruised ego.  The weeks that followed that spill were filled with excruciating hip pain.  Eventually I figured out that certain stretches and yoga poses helped decrease the hip pain but that did not solve the problem.  It was not until I was cleaning off the bottom of my running shoes recently I noticed a significantly different wear pattern on the bottom of my shoes.  It was my left hip giving me the trouble and by looking at the left and right shoe side by side I notice a difference.  Up until this time my previous shoes had always worn pretty similar.

Saucony Kinvara 3 - Approx. milage: 230
Off to Hanson's Running Shop I went and just started trying on shoes until I found ones that fit the most like the Kinvara 2's.  I preferred the extra cushion and the snug feel of that shoe.  I also knew I wanted a 3-4mm heel-toe drop because that was now what I was used to.  I have never worn Brooks shoes before but was pleasantly surprised with the fit and comfort of their new Pure Project PureFlow shoes.  After taking them for a spin on the treadmill in the store I decided to take them home with me.
So far it has only been 18 miles so to soon to tell if new shoes will help but I am sure hoping!

"New" Brooks PureFlow (18 miles so far)
Runners do you always by the same make/model of a shoe? Are you brand loyal or willing to try others to get the perfect fit? 

Celebrating Hug A Runner Day #gohard, #running, #smallstepsseriouschaffing, #hugarunner

via Instagram

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ready for a 5:15 am run! Coffee, breakfast (Honey Stingers waffle), gear all laid out #running, #keurig, #brooks, #garmin, #brightandearly, #smallstepsseriouschaffing

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Living out of laundry baskets...

Every week I start Monday morning off with all the laundry hung in the closets, folded neatly in drawers and baskets empty.  My goal for the week is to stay on top of the laundry, that means every morning throwing in the dirty clothes and every night put away the newly laundered clothes.  I try except that if something interrupts the schedule/routine I fall behind.  In order for this goal to be accomplished the following things need to happen:

1) No one wets the bed/Soils their sheets (normally Alvin)
2) No one soils their pants throughout the day (normally Simon)
3) We do not eat anything that can stain or make a child sticky (syrup, jelly, soup, juice, yogurt, bananas etc.)
4) We do not play in the sand/mud/snow/rain

All of the above immediately result in another load of laundry for the day throwing off the routine, because all of the above need to be washed promptly to avoid staining.

*Our dryer no longer shuts off so remembering that I put clothes in there is also helpful!

By the end of the week, countless outfits for each of the 3 kids later, the sheets changed on all of the beds and washed at least 3 times, I end up with 8 loads of clean laundry stacked by the dryer and we just search for the clean clothes we need.  (Mike is not a fan of this game, I pretend I am on an episode of Extreme Double Dare looking for that one sock in all those baskets before the timer goes off)
Empty laundry baskets make my heart smile

What works for you? I have found sorting clothes by child rather then darks/whites helps speed up the process.  What helpful hints/tricks do you use to make sure laundry is always done/put away?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

How I became a "runner"...

I was not always a runner.  I was an athlete all through my school years and stayed "active" enough into my 20's. (and when I say "active" enough I mean went to the gym enough that I could still over indulge in food and booze and look decent in clothes)  I did not understand runners, thought they were a bit off (I apologize for judging and to my friends who still think I am a "bit off" because I am a runner I forgive you).

In 2004 I trained for my 1st marathon through Team in Training.  I knew a young girl who was diagnosed with Leukemia and after the diagnosis felt helpless.  I signed up to raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by training and running the Bayshore Marathon.  This was an amazing experience.  Team in Training provided coaches along with regular weekly long runs for support through the entire training process.  I really was not a fan of the weekly training, and the weekend long runs were only made tolerable by a couple of really awesome running partners.  In 2004 I completed my 1st half marathon (Martian 1/2 Time of 2:28:09) and went on to complete the 26.2 miles of the Bayshore Marathon in 5 hours 31 minutes and 27 seconds.

I did a few 5k's, 10ks, and even the Detroit Free Press 1/2 Marathon after that, yet I did not see myself as a runner.  I did not long to lace up my running shoes and hit the road instead I reluctantly headed out a few times a week.

After Simon was born in 2007  I wanted desperately to get back into some sort of shape, but with nursing it seemed difficult to make the 15 minute drive to the gym, workout for 30-60 minutes and drive home.  Running became an option because I would head out the front door as soon as Mike walked in and be back in 30-40 minutes.  My little nursling did not even notice I was missing.  I "trained" with the Couch to 5K and signed up for the Detroit Free Press 1/2 Marathon again.  My goal was to finish since it was only 4 months after he was born.  I trained a bit with another mom, toed the line completely unprepared because I was not consistent with my training and walked/ran the 1/2, completing the 13.1 miles in 3:16:58.

The cycle of running because I should, not because I wanted to continued until I became pregnant with Alvin in 2009.  After his birth I started Couch to 5K again and this time I was determined to stick with it!  Baby weight was tough to get rid of and what I call toddler weight* was even harder.  Things were going well, I was hitting the treadmill at the gym and even signed up for the Bayshore 1/2 Marathon to give me a goal race.  To our surprise we found out we were expecting Theodore even though I was only 5 month postpartum.  YIKES!  I continued to "run" as best I could after getting the clearance and actually completed Bayshore 26 weeks pregnant.  It was a long slow race but I did it!  I stayed active for the rest of the pregnancy after that and 6 weeks after Theodore was born in 2011 I started Couch to 5K for the 3rd time in 5 years.  Now it was not about anything but getting back into shape and redeeming myself at Bayshore.  In 2011 I finished DEAD LAST in my age group!  Being a competitive person this finish was pretty damaging to my ego.  I know I will never win a race, and chances are I will never finish first in my age group but last was tough to swallow.

Something happened while training for the 2012 Bayshore Half Marathon...I started to enjoy running. GASP!  I began to look forward to the me time, the quiet time (with 3 boys at home this was rare), the 30-60 minutes a day to reflect, to problem solve, to process memories and events.  Running was not something that I felt came naturally to me it was physically challenging but also mentally.  So far in 2012 I have ran 567 miles (last winter since I still did not consider myself a runner I spent time on the elliptical and at the gym), completed 4 half marathons (I'll recap 2012 races in another post), 1 5K and grown as a person, mother and runner.  When I see my running clothes hanging on the line to dry  it reminds me of the previous run, the thoughts and feelings I had when I was out there.  When I see my running shoes by the front door it reminds me of my potential as a runner, person, mother, and wife when hard work, determination, consistency and most of all self confidence surface.  What is possible when I let go of my fears and doubts.

I now consider myself a runner.  Let me rephrase that: I AM A RUNNER!

*Toddler Weight: The weight gained when a parent finishes the rest of the toddlers meal so it doesn't go to waste or the need to snack every time the toddler snacks.

Meet the Family

My other and sometimes better half Mike and I raise our 3 spirited boys the best way that we know how.  They are a handful to say the least and keep us on our toes.  Even with the daily hiccups we experience, our problems are pretty trivial compared to what many face in their lifetime.  We love each other unconditionally and are doing the best we can to live life fully.  We attempt to embrace our daily life...the small things that will ultimately become the biggest memories.  The family dinners, reading books to the boys, blanket and pillow forts etc.  Without anymore ramblings please allow me to introduce our little pride and joys:

Simon*: Age 5
Simon is my little scientist, mathematician and overall explorer of how things work.  He is sweet & sensitive, charismatic, cautious, analytical, perceptive, selective, assertive and persistent.  

Alvin*: Age 2
Alvin is intense, curious, creative, dramatic, energetic, and opinionated.  He was vocal from the time he was born and quickly turned those colic cries into an ever expanding vocabulary that he uses to express his thoughts and emotions.

Theodore*: Age 1
The jury is still out on our last little surprise blessing Theodore.  So far he seems to be just as spirited as his older brothers.  Recently he has been asserting himself a bit more and seems to be selective, curious, and dramatic.

(*For their safety on the world wide "interwebs" their real names will not be used and I ask any family and friends avoid their names in comments as well.  Thank you for your cooperation.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Behind the name...and the blog

First the name...
Small steps:
The first part of the title not only represents my the small steps of my young boys (3 "high energy" boys all under 5), but also the small steps we all take in life.  It is very rare that any goal is set and reached with one giant leap, it is a series of small steps that gets us to that final destination.  There are also many times in life that those small steps and that journey become more inspirational, influential and overall more important than our final destination.

Serious chaffing:
This represents the stuff no one seems to talk about or just happen to leave out when they are telling you "what to expect".  When I started running I pictured myself in a cute outfit just jogging down the street...UM NO! I'm a hot mess with chaffing and runner's trots.   Motherhood as well...everyone talked about the wonderful hugs, kisses, story times and memories yet they left out the constant battles over the color of a breakfast dish, the fact that until all children in the house are over the age of 5 you will not use the bathroom alone or with the door closed because the children can get into trouble faster then MacGyver can get out of a sticky situation and they are just as crafty, or the fact that some days survival (till bedtime or the return home of a spouse from work) becomes the main objective.

The blog...
It is just a way to share a little bit of my reality with the world.  Expect some humor, stories about my life as a mother and of my kids and the crazy stuff they do.  I also plan to document my journey to a Boston Qualifying time and to complete an Ironman...I promise I won't sugar coat the journeys so everything is rainbows and unicorns.