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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fitness Friday (on Thursday): Safety with Road ID

Now that I'm really getting into my half marathon training, I've been running longer distances than the 2-3 miles I was doing when I first started. It was easy to do a few quick laps around the neighborhood walking path and call it a day. Doing 7 miles of that, however, would be a boring, boring nightmare. I've found a lot of really great runs around town, but it's been a little nerve wracking going out so far by myself. A good friend of mine, and soon to be marathon runner, suggested that I get a Road ID. A what ID?
Born from Edward Wimmer's dangerously close call while running one day, Road ID was inspired by the concern his father, Mike Wimmer, had while Edward was training for his first marathon. The idea to have important identifying and medical information available in an obvious and accessible place should something happen, is nothing short of simple brilliance. Still run by Edward and Mike, Road ID has received countless thank you's and testimonials over their 15 year span and I can understand why. 

Whenever Jeff or I go out to run, day or night, we always tell each other to be careful...and worry anyway. Obviously this snazzy looking band isn't going to prevent an accident, BUT it will provide incredibly helpful information to EMS quickly, saving precious time in an emergency situation. 

Our bands (of course I got a pink one) were easily customized on Road ID's website - I think it took me 10 minutes to order them. Once you choose between the original version or the interactive version (compare them here), pick a size, and the type of band you want, you can begin plugging in your information. At first, I wasn't sure what information would be best to add, but their easy to follow guide gave suggestions for what each line should contain. There was even a long list of one line, inspirational quotes to add if I had extra space. 

On my band, I included:

Full Name
Town, State
Jeff (555-555-5555) Husb
Chris (555-555-5555) Sis
DOB Year
No Allergies, B+ Blood

This will allow someone to know who I am, where I belong, two options for emergency contacts and who they were, my age, and that I have no allergies and my blood type. Six lines of info - that is huge! I really think when Ginny gets to the age of needing a medical alert band that I will get her one of these to wear. It's comfortable, inexpensive, and has the ability to contain a huge amount of information. 

I think Jeff and I both feel a little more at ease when the other goes out for a long run, especially as the days get shorter and visibility becomes poorer in the evenings. In addition to the wrist bands, Road ID also has a selection of visibility gear such as reflective bands, tape, and laces.

To check out their website, click the affiliate link below!

Aside from wearing high visibility colors and reflective gear, here are other ways to stay safe while running...
  • Avoid using noise canceling head phones or keep one ear bud pulled out so you can hear traffic around you. 
  • Always run against traffic. Even if a driver is distracted, you will see them before something happens.
  • Side walks aren't automatically safe - pay attention to driveways, hidden alleys, entryways, etc. as you run along. 
  • Follow traffic signals and laws. Yes, pedestrians have the right of way, but dodging through traffic or running through "do not walk" signs is just unsafe. 
  • Anticipate blind curves and steep hills where cars may not be able to see you as clearly. 
Luck favors the prepared, so be as prepared as you can be!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How I *Really* Do It All

I get asked a lot, "How DO you do it all?!" in reference to working full time, blogging full time, and training for races - all while still being an active parent in my home. In reality, I'm pretty sure most people are just being nice and making conversation, but if I actually broke it down and had to answer the question, the answer would be....I don't. That's the secret ladies and gentleman - I don't do it all.

When I was about 24, starting out at my first job post graduate school, a very wise mentor told me (as I was having one of what would turn out to be many break downs in his office), "Jen, you have 100% to give and no matter how hard you try, no matter how much passion you have - you don't have any more than that." As an eager young professional, that was particularly hard to hear, but he was right. No matter how hard I tried, something had to give and that was okay. I couldn't be in two places at once, I couldn't solve every problem alone, and I eventually needed to eat and sleep.

Though it took a while to fully adopt that line of thinking, I never realized how valuable that conversation would be a few years later when Charlie was born. I was working 40-50 hours a week, Jeff was student teaching while also working full time, and we had a colicky newborn at home. To this day, I don't know how we survived. From the outside, people would ask me even then, "How do you do it all?!" Again, probably out of politeness when they saw the bags under my eyes or noticed I was on my sixth cup of coffee. What they didn't notice were the dirty laundry and dishes, the nights Jeff put Charlie to bed while reading for class because I was at a late meeting, or the fact that we hadn't eaten a coherent meal in weeks. It felt awful; I felt like the coy, modest smile and shrug I gave when people asked me was a total lie. I think the Moms knew; they had to know, but I think others genuinely had no idea that just because I showed up to work dressed that day didn't mean I'd accomplished everything on my many to do lists.

When you're a working parent, and god forbid you have a hobby on top of that, it's easy to feel like you need to give full, constant attention to everything you do. After all, anything less than 100% isn't giving your all and I've read enough trolling internet comments to know that my kids need me 24/7 or they will become recluse sociopaths with trust issues! /sarcasm font

But really, I have two options when it comes to balancing my life; I can either put on a Facebook worthy front and essentially lie that everything is perfectly under control OR I can be honest and let other Moms know that no, I didn't do the dishes last night either, that yes, I, too, stayed late at work and missed bedtime....again, and that I feel ya sister - I can't remember the last time I shaved my legs or tweezed my eyebrows either. I've brought kids to work, I've brought work home, I've blogged during my lunch hour instead of going home and doing long neglected laundry, I've gone on a long run instead of having dinner with my family, I've skipped training runs to read extra stories at bed time...

The key to all of this is that it doesn't flipping matter. I have 100% and damn it, I know that I give it every day. I give it to my husband, to my children, to my coworkers, to my job, and to myself. I am okay that my focus ebbs and flows with the day and know that staying late at work won't spoil my children's love for me. I know that reading three extra bedtime stories and not finishing a blog post won't destroy my reader base. I know that leaving the dishes in the sink so I can watch a movie with Jeff won't make the house fall down. I know going for a run to save my sanity isn't abandoning my responsibilities. Heck, I'm writing this blog post as Jeff makes dinner and the kids run around the living room playing, despite not seeing me all day.

There are people out there trolling the internet who'd love to make me feel bad about all of these things, but I don't. Parenthood can be alienating enough without feeling guilty about doing the best that you can.

I also think it's important to highlight that while I'm out there not doing it all, I'm also not doing it alone. I have an amazing husband (who I gushed about here...) who helps keep this house together and is on the front lines with me every single day. He certainly deserves credit for the daily balancing act I perform for the masses.

My answer to this age old question has evolved over the years. While yes, I certainly take it as a compliment as it recognizes the hard work I put in, I no longer just shrug and smile modestly. I want people to know, other Mothers to know, that I'm not doing it all, but that the things I am doing are being done with my whole heart and that that is enough. When I'm with my family, that is our time and I want it to be as rich and joyful as it can be. When I'm at work, I will give it everything I have and put other things aside. When I go for a run, I (try to) appreciate the time alone for myself and put my to do list out of my head. I'm still getting used to that last one.

Even though the feeling creeps in every once in a while, that guilt of not being able to simultaneously give my job 100% and my family 100% and myself 100%, I remember that I only have 100% and that it takes balance and a bit of juggling, but that I can only feel guilty with my own permission. My hope is that all Mothers, Mothers who are questioning their success or doubting their impact, can feel this sense of peace - even if we need reminding of it once in a while.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ginny: 15 Months Old

And yet, today she is 16 months old. It's funny how I sometimes suck at updating the things that need updating! So, in celebration of a month milestone (and exactly one month late), here is Ginny's 15 month update!

Stats: 21 lbs and 29" tall. Still a bit of a shorty, but growing along her own little curve.

Clothing: 18 months with a few 24 months thrown in. She still has some tiny feet though, I think she's in size 4's?

Favorite activities: Giving Mommy and Daddy a heart attack. But really, this girl is a dare devil like Charlie never was. She is our climber! It is amazing how sure she is on her feet though - up and down stairs, climbing onto chairs (and tables!), up ladders and down slides. It blows my mind. Her favorite things right now are the slide into the kiddie pool and trying to figure out Charlie's tricycle.

Favorite toys: Lately she has really been enjoying her singing princess castle and Klip Klop stable play sets. She'll sit for quite a while and move the princesses around, making them dance and sing with the music. She also loves and wants pretty much anything Charlie is playing with at the time. She drives that poor boy nuts.

Eating: Everything. Absolutely everything. Her favorite foods are bananas and other fruit, crackers, pickles, and anything sweet.

New Tricks: This girl is CHATTY. She must have 50-60 words at this point and is beginning to pair some of them together to make tiny sentences. She says please when she wants something and has been really good about communicating when she wants something or needs something. I know I won't remember them all, but at this point she can say Mommy, Daddy, Charlie, puppy, kitty, banana, milk, more, please, night night, all done, get out (of her room or high chair), ball, baby, read, book, bye bye, hi, tickle, poo poo (she tells us when she does it!), yes, no, up, down, belly, head, nose, eyes, ears, shoes, love you....and I can't even remember the rest!

She can point out and name several body parts, take off her shoes and put them away, do motions to a few songs, give the BEST hugs and kisses, and follow most directions we give her. She is one smart cookie!

Sleep: Still loving her big girl bed!

CAH Update: After firing Ginny's endocrinologist and jumping through a few other hoops, we're meeting with a new doctor August 8th. I cannot wait to meet her and get some answers for what has been happening lately! Ginny is doing much better with the salt seeking, but she's been pretty run down and asking to go to bed at 6PM. A little concerning, but hopefully it's just a growth spurt.

I can't even explain how much personality this little girl has. I love every sassy second of it. She is so energetic, yet incredibly affectionate; she gives the best hugs I've ever gotten and gives me kisses hello and good bye/good night unprompted. The sound of her little voice screaming, "Mommy!!" when she hears me come home after work is the most wonderful sound. Happy 1 1/4 birthday, my sweet girl.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ode to My Husband: The SAHD

If I were a Dad, a lot of things I heard and read about Dads would probably offend the pants off me. Think about it, for some reason there are several companies and slogans out there to the tune of, "even Dads can do it!" or being "Daddy proof." What does that mean exactly? That things need to be dumbed down and made idiot proof in order for Dads to not look like the "before" person in an infomercial?

I think we owe Fathers a whole lot more credit than that when it comes to kids. While yes, Dads typically do things a little differently than Moms would (satirical exhibit A), that doesn't mean it's wrong.

That brings me to Jeff; husband turned father turned temporary stay at home Dad. Since Jeff is a teacher, he has the summers off and he stays home with the kids. Last summer, Ginny was only a few months old and while my still sappy postpartum self was very nervous to leave him home home with a newborn and a toddler, I never doubted he could do it. Truth be told, I was impressed at his ability to maintain sanity, keep the kids alive, and keep up with the house. Heck, he even maintained a garden and made dinner every night. This man is capable! But why wouldn't he be? He's a parent just like me.

This summer, the kids are a little older and still go to daycare two days a week to get them out of the house and around other kids. Jeff uses the days "off" to lesson plan, work out, clean the house, and make me (slightly) jealous of his free time. The days they are together though, I love hearing about the things they do while I'm at work.

Together, Jeff and the kids garden, read, go for walks, visit the library, play games, do puzzles, run around outside, swim, make lunch or bake, watch their green bean plant grow on the back porch, watch movies, color and paint, play with play doh...all things that they just like to do together.

It makes me wonder why so many parents (okay, mostly Moms) spend so much time on the internet searching for activities and ideas. Just do what your kids love! Sure, some days I get home and the kids are running around half dressed with PB&J on their face and there are 97 sippy cups and snack bowls hidden around the living room, but they are so happy and loved their day. This should be a big ol' win in any parent's book.

And despite all of that toddler entertainment, somehow he gets the laundry and dishes done, washes the cloth diapers, keeps up with Ginny's multiple medications, runs errands, and makes dinner. Jeff isn't an anomaly, he's a Dad - and a damn good one. I'm not going to giggle and call him "Mr. Mom." I'm not going to "Dad Proof" the house with Post Its and reminders. I'm not going to enter him in an "Even Dad Can Do It!" photo contest. I'm going to genuinely thank him for being such an amazing husband, father, and partner in this whole crazy parenthood thing - especially on the days when I know, for a fact, that you'd like to run screaming into the hills.

Keep rockin' babe. These kids are ridiculously lucky to have a Daddy like you.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fitness Friday: You Know You're a Runner When...

Last week's post about searching for 5K's when you travel got me thinking. You know you're a runner when... Jeff and I started talking about it and came up with a pretty hilarious list. A list, I might add, that I would not have made nor understood a year ago. Gotta love it.

You know you're a runner when...

  • You search for 5K's at your travel destination in case you can squeeze one in. 
  • Your running shoes are by far the most expensive shoes you own.
  • You begin sorting your laundry by darks, lights, whites....and running stuff. 
  • You sleep in your sports bra to make getting up for early runs easier. 
  • You run around your apartment building a few times just to get that last few tenths of a mile. 
  • You try not to use your phone a lot during the day so it'll have enough battery for your run after work. 
  • You accidentally run on your off day (I did this one last week! Whoops!)
  • You have more races on your calendar than other social events. 
  • You don't want to vacuum the living room, but will put in 4 miles down town. 
  • You know where all of the bumps in the side walk are from running with the stroller. 
  • People regularly tell you that you're crazy and you say, "thank you."
  • As you drive around town, you keep an eye on the odometer so you can plan your next long run.
  • Your toddler climbs in the jogger and asks to go for a run.

What about you? How do you know you're a runner?!

On the training front, things are going really well! I have about two weeks until the Chocolate Tour 6 miler and I AM READY! I ran 6 miles on Monday night that honestly felt great. I ran in town until I ran out of sidewalk, then came back home. When I was approaching my house I realized I'd only run 4.75 miles and briefly considered stopping there. Then I realized; if I ran another 15 minutes, I could hit 6 miles. Fifteen minutes. That's all! Running is such a mental game and I'm learning that more and more as every day passes. It is all in my head. Right now? I've got one thought...

I can't wait to crush this race!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blogger Bash Recap!

A few months ago, I mentioned that I was planning on going to my first blogging conference - Blogger Bash NYC. Between the trip to NYC, the fun events, and free swag, I was pumped to go. Little did I know how much I would actually get out of this two day event.

Blogger Bash is the brainchild of six brilliant women who know what it takes to network and use social media to the max. With the recognition that parent bloggers are some of the most influential forces in media, the Blogger Bash team built a two day conferencing opportunity for bloggers from around the country to gather, learn, and network with some of the biggest brands around. A combination of lectures, round tables, and expo settings provided a huge opportunity, to even small time bloggers like me, to make once in a life time connections with companies I would otherwise have no access to like Lego, LeapFrog, Disney, Crayola, Fisher Price, and more.

Credit: Janice Croze for Blogger Bash
Credit: Janice Croze for Blogger Bash
Wow. Right?

Let me tell you, after two days I had a fist full of business cards, about 15 miles put on my shoes, and a powerful need to take a nap. After I recovered from my networking hangover, I took a little time to go through all of the material I'd gathered up and realized that not only did I have a list of brand reps I was super excited to contact, but I had connected with a ton of other women; about blogging, about parenting, about many things. Some we just chatted about our kids and whether our husbands were surviving being at home with them, others gave me a pep talk that it's "not all about numbers." Either way, it was the first time I was around that many women, that many Moms, and didn't feel like it was a competition. There was smiling, there was sharing, there was kindness.

Now that I'm getting all misty, onto the rest of the event!

One of the larger events during the conference was called Sweet Suite. What a blast! Sweets, treats, and toys galore. I absolutely loved seeing all of the fun, new products and toys brought by the various brands and representatives! There was SO much to see! The people representing each brand were a ton of fun to talk to and I was so impressed at their ability to talk to nine billion eager bloggers and not lose their minds!

Credit: Janice Croze for Blogger Bash
But seriously, how often do you get to play without the kids around (and without getting funny looks from strangers....) There was video games, board games, coloring, stuffed animals....the works.

Credit: Janice Croze for Blogger Bash
Credit: Janice Croze for Blogger Bash
In addition to Sweet Suite, there were several other events including BabyPalooza, a brand "speed dating" session, meeting Anne Geddes (!!!), lots and lots of delicious treats, a Back to School Party hosted by KizVuz, and more. I can't even begin to describe it all. Not to mention more tweeting, instagramming, and facebooking than I've ever done in my life!

Check out the BabyPalooza interview with Anne Geddes below!

Credit: Justin Lee of Josh Strauss Studios
I can't say thank you enough to the women who worked, what had to have been hundreds of hours, to make this happen. For me, this was so much more than the business cards and free stuff. For the first time, I was immersed in the blogging community in a real way; not staring at avatars on a screen. I cannot wait to continue my contacts with everyone I met and truly see what I am capable of achieving.

Want to see more post recaps and pictures from Blogger Bash and Sweet Suite, BabyPalooza, and KizVuz? Check out the link up at A Grande Life!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Sangria

Nothing says summer like a cold, fruit filled glass of sangria. Mmmmmm There are a thousand recipes out there that add everything from kiwi (blech) to apples, white wine to red, but this one is by far my favorite. Simple, sweet, and so, so good.

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 1/3 cup orange juice, no pulp
  • 1 (750 mL) bottle of red table wine
  • 1/2 cup triple sec
  • 1 lemon, sliced into rounds
  • 1 orange, sliced into rounds
  • 1 lime, sliced into rounds
  • 2 cups ginger ale

  • Mix together lemon juice, lemonade concentrate, orange juice, red wine, and triple sec. 
  • Float slices of lemon, orange, and lime in the mixture. 
  • Refrigerate overnight for best flavor. 
  • Add ginger ale shortly before serving. 
Some for the recipe, some for Momma...
I bought this big glass pitcher just for this sangria recipe and I'm not afraid to admit it! It's just too pretty to be poured out of a plastic tub; it's not Kool Aid, people!

As a fun side note, this can also be frozen and made into a slushy! Just let it sit in the fridge over night as directed, then remove the fruit pieces and strain to get all the little pieces out. Then, put into a zip lock bag in the freezer for about 2 hours. The alcohol in it should keep it from freezing solid. Mash it up in the bag and spoon into pretty glasses or bowls. 

I'm making this, along with grilled peaches and ice cream, for a My 31 party I'm hosting tonight. A kid free night with sweets and wine? Sounds fabulous to me. Cheers!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fitness Friday: NYC Style!

Jen here, reporting from Blogger Bash 2014 in NYC!

According to Sarah at Sparkly Runner, you know you're officially a runner when you look up 5K's at your travel location just incase you can squeeze one in. Unfortunately, there is nothing going on this weekend in the Big Apple, but that isn't going to stop me from running anyway.

This morning I got in a run in some pretty gorgeous weather before all of the conference fun started up again. I cannot believe it, but I got my butt outta bed at 6:00AM and walked down to the Hudson River Greenway, a biking/walking/jogging path that circles Manhattan.

Can I just say that I LOVE running in this city? Not only are there a ton of other (very friendly) runners out there with you, but the running paths are flat, wide, and clean, and the scenery is amazing. Plus, you feel like you're covering so much ground! In 10 minutes, I had run past so many blocks, it felt like I'd run five miles, not one. I ran past Pier 84 and the Intrepid, which was really cool, and got a beautiful view of the city. Including my to and from the hotel, I did my own little NYC 5K.

If you think working out is tough, keeping with your routine while traveling can be even tougher. While I haven't been at this for long, I end up doing a lot of traveling and made it a goal to not let that stop my running plan. Here are my tips for running on the go.
  1. Pack your work out clothes. This sounds like an obvious one, but pack enough work out gear for the length of your trip. It is really easy to make excuses not to get out there if you're not prepared like you would be at home.
  2. Use your apps. I use MapMyRun when I run to keep track of my miles and time, but realized recently while I was visiting Mary that you can also look up the routes that other people have submitted. I found a nice little 3 mile route around her neighborhood instead of just getting lost amongst the suburbia. 
  3. Take advantage of the change in scenery! Check out what is around you that would be neat to see. If you're staying at a hotel, ask the front desk if there are recommended running routes or nearby landmarks worth passing. 
  4. Look up running clubs or races if you need motivation. I tried to do this for this trip, but didn't find much. Instead, I put the word out to the other bloggers attending the convention and formed my own little running group! 
  5. Remember to be safe. I hate that this is so necessary, but it is. Especially in an unfamiliar place,  do your research, don't go anywhere that makes you uncomfortable, and remember to bring ID incase something were to happen. 
No jogger? No problem! I borrowed this 
Joovy Zoom 360 from Mary during our visit to go for 
a run with Miss Ginny. I love this stroller!

Even though it was early, I'm really glad I got out there and ran this morning. It felt great and I started the day off in a positive way - especially after not running all week while I was sick. I consider it a huge achievement that I dragged my butt out of bed while traveling to make it happen.

If you're ever in NYC, I highly recommend checking out the Hudson River Greenway on the west side of Manhattan for a great, scenic run.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Holy Zucchini

Is your garden spitting out zucchini the size of baseball bats? Oh, just ours? Either way, we've got a LOT of zucchini coming our way and there's only so much we can give away; might as well pull up some recipes!

My favorite zucchini recipe brings me right back to childhood. I remember my Mom making huge batches of zucchini bread to give to friends and neighbors for the holidays; the smell of the spices is the smell of Christmas.

While we do make some bread during the holidays as a tradition, we end up making a ton of it during the summer thanks to our garden. 

Mom's Zucchini Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup unpeeled zucchini, shredded
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon zest
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease a loaf pan, set aside. 
  • Sift flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and nutmeg. 
  • In another bowl, mix egg, zucchini, oil, and lemon zest. 
  • Add wet to dry and mix well.
  • Pour into greased pan and bake for 55-60 minutes. 
  • Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes, remove from pan, and cool completely before wrapping. 
I really enjoy this recipe because of how flexible it is. You can sub oil for applesauce for a healthier version. You can also add other veggies (shredded carrots) or take out the zucchini and add apples, bananas, blueberries, etc. If you want to make muffins instead of a bread loaf, keep an eye on the oven and cook them for about 30-40 minutes instead.