Friday, May 15, 2015

Toddler Discipline

Congratulations-- you made it!  You survived the first year!  No more monthly pictures next to the teddy bear!  No more crying with each passing milestone!  You have a one year old and they are learning to walk and talk and eat and sleep all by themselves!  Sweet bliss...

But then this thing happens, just as you're convinced that you're best parent with the happiest kid on the planet.  Somebody sneaks in in the middle of the night, and replaces your happy baby with an alien creature who looks a lot like your sweet kid but this thing seems to be bipolar and maybe has schizophrenia.  They will give kisses and hugs and say, "Mama, care me!"  And then they will throw themselves on the floor because you put your socks on, flail every limb when getting into the car seat, or scream like they're being kidnapped when you try to leave the playground.

 {See this sweet picture?  This was last April, when Charlotte was 15 months old.  She screamed and cried almost the entire photo session, literally laying herself down in the gravel and flailing all extremities.  I just stared at my mom, like "Who is this kid?"  I had never seen her act this way, was totally unprepared for it, and had less than no idea what to do about it.}
This isn't meant to scare mamas of infants-- you enjoy every second of that coo'ing little baby and remain in blissful ignorance, just like I did.  This is to send reassurance and encouragement to mamas of little toddler changelings... You are not alone and you are not a failure, but you might need a seat belt and maybe some Valium.  Here are few pieces of advice, kernels of information I might pass along to new mamas entering this stage, while I myself am in the thick of it.

1. It's Just a Phase...Probably
Kicking...biting...pushing...food throwing...tantrums...bed time resistance.... Every kid tests out at least one of these charming behaviors-- you're not doing anything wrong, you just have a toddler!  But how you handle it will probably have an impact on how long that cute little phase sticks around.    Don't give them a free pass because they're little and wait for them to grow out of it-- address it head on to make sure it indeed stays a phase, not becomes a habit.  Kids don't always know right from wrong, but it's our job to teach them.  Let them get away with it, or slather them with attention for it, you can almost bet that behavior will stay on repeat.

Or, it might not be a certain behavior but kids go through phases where they just seem off...they're extra whiney, don't sleep well, and their fuse is an inch long.  Last summer, when Charlotte was 18 months, we had the worst June on record. I literally cried every morning because they previous day had been so hard and I'd wake up optimistic it would be a better day...and even by 8am, it wasn't.  I was relieved to get to go to work every day, embarrassed to leave her with the baby-sitter, and guilty for feeling that way at all.  Was she getting sick?  Is she cutting a tooth?  Is it because Tyler is gone?  Does she have a brain tumor???  I did my best to consistently love her and correct her and not lose my crap.  I also looked for every excuse under the sun to explain why she was a maniac.  And then one day...my sweet kid came back.  I can no more explain it than I could map the stars.

{Good resource: The Wonder Weeks-- it goes through 20 months, I think, but most times Charlotte seemed off, I'd check the chart and sure enough, there would be some developmental milestone she was undergoing that I wasn't even aware of.  I didn't always understand their explanation-- I just needed some affirmation that my kid wasn't actually of the devil.}


2. Give them credit.
They're still your baby, but don't kid yourself if you don't think they know how to push your buttons, or know the difference between right and wrong.  Toddlers are capable of a lot...including putting their toys away...putting dirty clothes in a hamper...and looking straight in your face and throwing food immediately after you warned them not to.  Don't lower your expectations of them-- teach them what your expectations are.

It can be exhausting-- when Charlotte was younger, I literally had to sit on the floor with her and hand-over-hand pick up toys or messes with her.  It is perfectly acceptable for kids to unload tupperware drawers and toy chests...but it is also perfectly acceptable for them to learn to put them away.  Take the time to teach them, and they will eventually do it on their own.  Charlotte still unloads drawers, "drops" food, pitches fits... She also knows how to use a paper towel and sit in time out.  You might have to do it over and over {and over} again...but they'll eventually get it.  Stay strong mamas!



2. Get on the same page.
With your spouse, that is.  It's not fair for one parent to always have to be the bad cop, while the other one is all hugs and bedtime stories.  It's also not fair for a kid to get away with something with one parent, and then get sent to timeout by the other one the next day-- it's confusing in the long run and I believe that kids need consistency when they're learning and experiencing so many new things every day.  It's also common for one parent to spend more time with the kids than the other, and that parent is usually the one that will set the discipline tone.  Fill your spouse in on what you're doing so they're not totally in the dark.  Discuss and have a plan on how you're going to handle certain behaviors, instead of reacting individually.

Of course, there will be breaks in the system.  Tyler tends to be more lenient because he's home less and has more patience left in his tank at the end of the day.  He also doesn't want the few hours he has with her to be used on discipline.  I'm usually at my whits end by 6pm and I've already corrected her 555,600 times that day.  Sometimes I just need more patience, and sometimes Tyler just needs to be the bad cop.  It won't be perfect, but do your best to have a balanced, consistent approach...coming from both of you.

3. Stand your ground.
Dammit if toddlers aren't the most persistent little suckers on the planet.  They will wear.you.down.  "Iwantmusicmommy, Iwantmusicmommy, Iwantmusicmommy, Iwantmusicmommy."  The overarching theme to shaping our kids is love and consistency-- try your darnedest to respond consistently to what your child is or isn't allowed to do, how they're expected to treat and speak to adults, and how they're expected to treat their peers {we're in the throws of sharing drama around here}.  Even when they do it 900 times in a row, which they will.  Don't give in, don't negotiate with terrorists.
Charlotte and my friend's son, Ben.

4. Take notes.
Learn from friends you trust.  Similarly to newborn advice, everyone will have a different approach to share, everyone has different expectations of their kid, and everyone kid has a different personality.  Take cues from friends who's parenting styles are similar to your own philosophy.  I have friends who I think are too hard on their kids and I have friends who I think are too easy {opinions I keep to myself}.  Seek out council and advice from friends who have survived these years and have kids that behave similarly to what you expect-- you'll probably be surprised to hear those seemingly-perfect kiddos were once terrible toddlers too.

Along the same lines, many of those baby books we thumbed through last year have produced follow-up editions for toddlerhood.  Be it BabyWise, Happiest Baby on the Block, or Secrets of the Baby Whisperer-- if there is a particular author or philosophy that really aligned with your parenting beliefs, chance are there is a toddler edition to consult.  Books don't have all the answers {and who has time to read them??}, but it's always nice to add a few tools to your arsenal when you're just not sure what to do.

{And at the end of the day...trust your instincts.}

5. Be a Model
It's cute when they pretend to talk on the phone or put on lipstick... You know what wasn't cute?  When in the middle of a crowded Target aisle, Charlotte yelled, "Come on, move people!"  Yikes...someone has spent a little too much time in the car with me, apparently.

Try to be aware of the tones in which you speak, the language you use, the way you react to your own child.  From what you say in traffic and how you speak to customer service on the phone, remember that little eyes are always watching.  It's hard for a kid to learn patience and gentleness when they're watching you lose your cool all day.

6. Extend Grace
To yourself and to your toddler-- you won't get it right all the time.  We overreact or we'll let something slide that usually isn't allowed.  We're not perfect and there are plenty of times I've been too tired or lazy or worn down to correct Charlotte one more time.  I've given in when she's demanded something instead of asked for it... My Mother's Day gift to myself was to let her watch movies in the car while we drove around town {a treat reserved for road trips} because I just couldn't deal with her whining any more.  We had a recent battle of bedtime prayers and after Tyler and I walked out of the room, I said, "We got that wrong..." I straight up yelled after she turned over a bag of pretzels in the middle of the floor after I'd asked her three times to put the bag down.  I'm not proud of my impatience and I know I need forgiveness for a thousand other things-- as a parent, wife, co-worker, sister....  Our kids aren't perfect either and our purpose as disciplinarians is not to build an army of little obedient robots.  We can't be on every single little thing all the time-- it's no way for us or them to live.  So choose your battles, decide what's important, and know that neither one of you are going to get it right all the time.

The toddler stage is so, so, fun... When you thought you couldn't love your kid any more, they start to talk to you...and kiss you...and hold your hand while you walk down the sidewalk.  There is so much joy in our day and they learn so much so fast-- I can barely keep up with it.  And then the hard stuff is hard.  And exhausting.  And it takes discipline and consistency and a lot of patience.  But the rewards are big and the hard work is worth it-- there is a lot at stake.  Nothing irks me more than older people complaining about the next generation as if they had no hand in it.  This is just the beginning of the hard work, and we have a big responsibility to raise up the next generation into loving, kind, polite, patient, generous, {the list goes on and on} adults...

Let's do this, mamas.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Blogged: Mommy Hacks!


I shared a few things I learned last year to help manage the stress of being a single mama over at Her View From Home, an awesome site with great articles on everything from fitness to cooking to decorating... I am thrilled at the opportunity to be included in their community-- go check it out here!

What are your tips and tricks when it comes to managing home, work, kids, and YOU, without losing your junk?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Running Pregnant: The GW Parkway Classic

I did it, I made it!

Last I left you, I was somewhat training for my favorite race here in the DC area-- the GW Parkway Classic.  The late April weather is always great, registration rarely fills up early, and it's very well organized.  The route itself is scenic, the hills are gentle, and it's run along a single stretch of the George Washington Parkway, from Mt. Vernon down to Old Town Alexandria.  I love ten milers, it's low stress, and that's probably why it appeals to me.  Me, the low-stress runner.
                                    

But April was a crazy month traveling for Easter and hosting a lot of visitors, so my workout and eating routines were totally off.  Plus, I'm 31 weeks pregnant by now...did I mention that? How did I get this far?? I was unsure I could recover from my lapse but a week before the race, I managed 7.5 miles so I bit the bullet and registered.  I wasn't running with anyone, the forecast was terrible, and plenty of people told me I was nuts, so I wondered if it was worth it.  But I'd worked hard and knew that my body could safely handle it. I was much more concerned about my bladder's ability to travel ten miles than my legs.

So I registered last Monday, took it easy the rest of the week, and went through my typical weekend, pre-race routine:

1. Packet pick-up Friday.  Yay for tech tees and free granola bars!


2. Carb-loading Saturday.  {I probably should have done pasta, but whatever... I was hoping that cheese would keep me backed up, if y'know what I'm sayin... Plus, the cheesy bread from Monterey's in INSANE.}


3. Flat runner pics Saturday night.  Followed up with checking the forecast a thousand times...willing the rainy, 45 degree forecast to change.

4. Hate myself Sunday morning.  "Why the h-e-double hockey sticks am I up at dark so I can pay someone to RUN? Why do I do this?"

5. Race arrival. "These people are for real about running. Just look cool. Where are the bathrooms? Why do I do this?"

{The Parkway Classic bus system is super easy to use and very efficient, if you're looking for specific info on this race.  I usually use it, but this year had my husband drop me off at the start, which was also extremely easy. Bonus: Allowed me to leave the house later.}


I was eager for the race start. I am an introvert squared and I didn't have a buddy for this race, so I was happy to stop standing around trying to look busy. As soon as I crossed the start, I put in my ear buds-- new for me because I typically don't listen to music during races. 

{I made a playlist with "Shut Up and Dance" on it approximately twelve times. It came on notta once.}

And here's how I spent the next one hour, fifty-eight minutes, and twenty seconds...


Miles one and two.  "This sucks. Why am I doing this? Can I walk yet? Everyone is passing me-- I can't walk yet. This sucks."


Miles three, four, and five. Start my walk-run, based around hills rather than distance. Grab Powerade at every chance.  Resist the urge to stop for a bathroom-- my body CANNOT think it's okay to go to the bathroom.  But man, I wanted to stop.

Mile five.  Always at my favorite bridge.  The next glorious mile is downhill-- the best way to go into the second half.  No walking and my pace picked up.  I think I might just finish this thing.


Mile six, seven, eight. "Yeah yeah, the Potomac is pretty.  The sun is shining.  The trees are green.  My knee hurts.  I'm bored. Can I stop yet? Why did I do this?"  Somewhere in there, I heard spectators cheer me on for being pregnant and another runner, who I'd been around most of the race, came along side me and chatted with me for a bit. Starting to feel proud of myself.  Also, texted my mom and assured her I wasn't in labor.

                             
                                        {Running to give Charlotte a smooch...}

Mile nine.  Old Town!  Brick row homes! Cobblestone streets! New scenery! Almost there.  Passed Tyler and Charlotte around 9.5.  So fun to see their smiling faces.

Mile ten! I finished!  Do not stop. Do not collect $200. Find Tyler. Find a bathroom.  Pregnant mama coming through.

My back and pelvis started to ache within minutes of finishing but it didn't stop us from enjoying a sunny brunch outside {yes-- I DID will that forecast away-- it was a gorgeous morning, without a drop of rain, and with plenty of sunshine in the 60s}.  I love the guiltless brunch and laziness that follows races.  Once home, I took a long shower, a long nap, and another bath to stave off some Braxton Hicks-- the first I'd felt this pregnancy and sufficiently freaked me out that I had sent myself into labor after all.  The ache in my pelvis and low back was bad, but nothing a lot of water, Tylenol, and rest didn't solve.

What I wouldn't typically talk about is that I'm really proud of myself. I'm not a super athlete. My time was nothing crazy. I'm not super competitive.  But I worked hard to stay this active this far into the pregnancy and worked hard to try to do this race.  It felt good to run by Charlotte and give her a big, sweaty kiss.  I want her to know what mamas can do and I want to be as healthy as I can, to be around for her as long as I can.  So, yeah...I'm proud of myself. And really, isn't the human body amazing?  It almost, almost makes me consider natural childbirth.


And so, here I am with nine weeks left of this pregnancy which sounds simultaneously so far away and so, so soon.  I plan to keep running, but probably more like four to six miles...I don't think this mama has any more ten milers in her!

Finally, here's the take away: pregnancy isn't a disability.  You don't need to run ten miles-- everyone has different pregnancies and different bodies.  But don't let yourself fall into the trap of eating more and exercising less because you're carrying a baby {obviously, medical issues and doctor's advice considered} .  Consult your doctor if you're new to exercise, or if you need some modification ideas {good, basic information here}, but don't sit this one out!  Your body will thank you, your brain will love it, and you and your baby will be better off.  So I dare you...grab your shoes and go buy some XL sports bras, you're going to need them!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Running Pregnant

I am a low stress runner.  I am not an elite runner. I'm not a particularly competitive runner.  I'm not even a particularly fast runner.  File me under "reluctant runner."

{Dreaming of skinnier days...my first long race in 2011-- the Army Ten Miler}

Even though I love it, I don't know much about my pace, all of my clothes are from Target, and I have never eaten one of those energy gels.  There are no stickers on my car, I don't have any cool socks, and spoiler alert: this girl doesn't own a foam roller.

I promise you, it's not a too-cool-for-school thing-- I have so much respect for serious runners. I just don't invest that much into it.  I know and do enough to be safe about running distance, but beyond that...I just kinda run.  I love it and run a few long races a year so I have something to keep me at it.

So I don't exactly fit the profile of someone who would run late into pregnancy.

{Feeling skeptical about a run at five months}

But this being my second pregnancy and knowing more about what happens to my body before, during, and after childbirth, I decided to not give myself a free pass to sit this one out just because I was pregnant. I wondered what would happen if I kept running as long as I felt up to it.

So after my long, exhausting, busy, squishy first trimester, I resumed my typical exercise routine-- an hour of cardio 3-4 days a week, strengthening once or twice a week via Stroller Strides, and a long run once a week. Nothing my body hadn't already been doing, so I knew I was safe.  Sure, I breathed like Darth Vader and had to modify a few routines {elliptical resistance went waaaaay down} but it made me feel better in every way-- lighter, stronger, less puffy, more energy.  With running specifically, I quickly realized I couldn't run more than two miles without a break, so I transitioned to a walk-run: walking a quarter mile for every half mile I ran.



And now, here I am. Six months in and I'm still going strong.  My aches and pains are different-- easy runs are quickly followed by low back and pelvic pain, and I always, always have to pee {I am so over peeing}.  I keep plenty of water on hand and usually a snack, just in case. A few people have questioned me running five, six, seven miles pregnant but it's nothing I wasn't doing before.  And the thing about me being a low stress runner, I'm not out to prove anything. I trust myself; I'm never going to push through or ignore something I shouldn't. I'm just not that emotionally committed to it.

So my favorite race, a ten miler along the Potomac River, is coming up next month and I'm going to see if I can maintain my routine until then.  I'll be waddling well into my third trimester, and six weeks away is a long time in pregnancy land and I may hit a wall. But until then, I'll just keep doing what I'm doing.  It has made me so much better and stronger this go round.

So we'll see-- hopefully I'll have a fun running update for you next month!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Virtual Chestnut Praline Latte Date

A friend of mine wrote a blog last week I loved called a Virtual Cappuccino Date.  I thought it was a creative way to write a typically boring catch-up post, so without asking her permission but giving her full credit, I'm stealing the idea!  Except today, instead of a cappuccino, on this cold, winter morning, we're going to share a Chestnut Praline Latte...Starbuck's new holiday drink from last year that I am still dreaming about.  Rumor has it, it may become a year-round drink but I have seen no evidence of this in real life.  Until then, I will daydream about that yummy, not-too-sweet coffee concoction...

If we were sharing a chestnut praline latte today...I'd say YES, I am still drinking coffee!  For my typical morning coffee, I drink half-caff.  I avoid things like aspartame, but otherwise I'm not NOT eating anything.  I get a lot of protein but don't have any specific cravings-- just when something gets in my head, it stays there until I have it.  Like when we drove an hour in a snowstorm last week for Chick Fil A. ;)

If we were sharing a chestnut praline latte today...I'd talk to you about the weather!  Up until last week, we'd had a pretty dry winter.  Which just means it was super cold and ugly, with no lovely snow to make it bearable.  Although I'd take more, I just need one or two good storms a season.  We got about five inches last Tuesday...then another three on Saturday...then another few on Thursday.  Keeping us blanketed in a winter wonderland for the last two weeks.  I love every second of it!  As we enter into March, though, I'm ready for nice spring temps...but there's more snow coming this week.

If we were sharing a chestnut praline latte today...I'd tell you about our awesome Valentine's Day date last week!  I have a sweet, selfless friend Amy who offered to come over and stay with Charlotte while Tyler and I enjoyed an overnight getaway in Georgetown.  We dined at a steakhouse {using a gift certificate we'd had forever...nothing says romance like a gift certificate!}, saw The Immitation Games {love}, slept in, and grabbed the most amazing, never-ending brunch at Farmers & Fishers the next morning.  It was like 2012 all over again...just fatter and greyer and tireder. ;)


If we were sharing a chestnut praline latte today...I'd tell you Charlotte got into preschool!  The only thing rigorous about preschool around here is how early you have to apply.  Otherwise, there's nothing crazy about the application process {at least the ones where we're applying!}.  We applied to two different church preschools very close to our house, and got into both.  We essentially chose the school that has the days and hours that work best for us.  It's three mornings a week, and I am having sweet little visions of pushing my double stroller around the block on a picturesque fall morning and walking her to school.  That's how it'll be, right?  Picturesque?

If we were sharing a chestnut praline latte today...Speaking of double strollers, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't super nervous about transitioning from one to two kiddos.  It's not even my least-favorite newborn phase I'm worried about.  It's the idea of going back to work, Charlotte starting pre-school, getting out of the house, and juggling multiple drop-offs/pick-ups that terrifies me.  Working moms, help me!  Tell me how you do it!

If we were sharing a chestnut praline latte today...I'd tell you about our little weekend getaway to a resort a few hours away for some indoor waterpark fun.  Or, if you're Charlotte, torture.  For a kid who hasn't been in a pool in six months and seriously HATES water splashing in her face, this was not our finest parenting moment.  It was nice to get away and out of the house, but I admit I was annoyed and frustrated by her fear and refusal to happily participate in our plans.  I have found that joys and frustrations found in parenting come heavily from our expectations for our kids...chalk this one up to a parenting fail, because I know in Charlotte's book, it was a great weekend.  She splashed in kiddie pools, took giant bubble baths, and watched movies in the car-- what more could a kid want?

It was so nice sharing these mundane little life events with you!  These days, this is what life is like...and I wouldn't trade it for anything!  But R emember when I used to blog about vacationing in Italy...?  We're nestled tonight, waiting for seven inches of snow coming tomorrow-- happy snow day!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Just a Lil' Update...

I'm finally doing it!  I'm going to write blog!  At least ten times over the last month, I've been sitting around on my arse and I think, "Maybe I should blog!"  Followed by...starting a new episode of Call the Midwife.

I put everything on hold back in November/December-- blogging, Etsy-ing, Facebooking.... If you follow me on Insta {that's right, I'm too cool for two syllable words}, you might have an inkling of what's going on our world, but if you follow this blog at all, you perhaps think I was kidnapped.

Fear not, I am safe and comfy in my semi-warm house.  I just needed a break.  I wasn't shy about sharing what a long year it had been, and last I left you, praise Jesus, Tyler had just wrapped a successful 14 month political campaign and was coming HOME!!!

But what I didn't share was that we'd found out we were pregnant about two weeks before that.  At that point, I still felt fine, but I barely survived the next two months of the first trimester {also known as narcolepsy}.

As soon as the election wrapped, I worked my rear off making and selling Barefoot Decor items for a big holiday show that month.

The day before the big holiday show, we found out we were moving.  In 30 days.  {Tread lightly if your wife casually says, "Oh, let's just go look at that cute house!"}

Two weeks after the big holiday show, we drove ten hours to Kentucky to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and throw my Dad a belated 60th birthday party.

Two weeks after that we moved.  Just houses, a mere mile from our old row house.  {Still a huge pain in the butt.}

A week after that, we flew to Nebraska for Christmas.

Four days after that, we flew to Atlanta for Christmas.

Four days after that, we flew home.

All while battling the most ridiculous fatigue that I did NOT experience with Charlotte {at least on that level}, constant hunger or nausea, and just a bad mood.

Let's just say, I had very little Christmas spirit this year.  Happy tears were shed on December 31st-- I'd never been ready for a year to be over!

And now, here we sit.  We are settling into our house, that we really think we're going to love for the next few years.  Our sweet, soon-to-be big sister Charlotte turned two this weekend and we had a low key celebration with my parents and a few dear friends.  We have very little on our docket the next few months, save for a few local field trips and opportunities to soak in life as three before things get crazy again this summer.

I hope to share a snapshot of what life is really like these days, share a few pictures from Charlotte's party, and share a few of my favorite winter essentials.  I might keep Etsy on the back burner for a bit and slowly re-acclimate myself into life doing too many things!  But if there's ever a product you're interested, feel free to reach out.

And if you're reading this, well God bless you for sticking around...  How are you doing?




Friday, November 7, 2014

Happy Election Week

It's been a great big, happy, long week around here folks!  I took the week off of work, so I'm a little foggy about what day it is, but I write to you from an AIRPLANE.  Yes, an airplane!

Not a novelty because of the glory of wifi, but for the fact I have a computer in my lap. With only MY fingers pushing buttons.  Because my toddler is an amazing 8 feet away from me, across the aisle, buckled into her car seat, governed by her father.  Novelty #2-- I'm not flying alone!



We're on our way home as a family of three!  A year of living apart meant a lot of checked bags home but we managed well and we're halfway home...somewhere over Kentucky {I'm just making that up-- don't check my flight path}.


Charlotte and I flew out last Friday so that Tyler didn't have to miss out on trick-or-treating fun.  Even though it wasn't Charlotte's first Halloween, it felt like it because this was the first year we could really participate with full costumes and buckets and "trick-or-treeeats!"  {Okay, her version is a jumbled mix of t's and k's...but she nails her "please" and "thank yous!"}


We trick-or-treated in Lincoln with our friends Shelly & Jeremiah, and their two cuties, Oscar and Orla.  Their neighborhood was perfect-- sidewalks, no traffic, and tons of kids everywhere.  It took Charlotte awhile to warm up, she really just wanted to sit in the wagon, but she eventually got the hang of it and squealed every time she saw a "PUNKIN!"  Which was every six feet....  The only downside was the 35 degree temperature after dark!!  It was freezing. {Almost}


Saturday, I begrudgingly accompanied Tyler to the Nebraska-Perdue game, annoyed that I would miss Georgia's domination over Florida but it actually turned out to be a saving grace...though I streamed it on my phone much of the game, I didn't have to suffer the misery of watching that loss in person.


Sunday, we laid low, and Monday, Charlotte and I were on our own while Tyler was on campaign duty.  With the Holiday Expo coming up,  I couldn't let a week of traveling stop me from working on my Christmas inventory, so I borrowed a sewing machine from Shelly and managed to make 20 dishtowels and 30 pillows-- time zone change + Daylight Savings + Charlotte's allergies were my saving grace...she has been rocking the three hour nap.


Tuesday was a somewhat busier day packing up for election night.  Even though the victory party was in Lincoln, we grabbed a hotel across from the venue to make it easier to go back and forth.  Tyler's parents joined us and we had dinner before getting ready for the festivities.




Election Night was fun but to paint a real picture of the night, everyone I knew there was busy working so Miss Introverted spent the night trying to look busy and not do anything too awkward.  Charlotte helps with this, but it never feels quite as posh as the pictures might make it seem...  The race wasn't close, so they announced the winner early and the candidate gave his speech early...none of which I heard because it was 9:00 and my one year old was acting like one year olds act at 9:00.  So we were in the hallway running around.  But there were lots of words and cheering and sign waving.  The rest of the evening was spent mingling with friends, texting friends and family, and watching the other election results come in.  Much different than two years ago when I was seven months pregnant and got a stomach bug in the middle of the victory party!  Charlotte was a super trooper and stayed up with us until 11:00...a small miracle for my little sleeper.



While we were on the winning side of the night, we've all been on the losing side of things and know what it feels like, so I am careful in how I choose my words.  While I am eager to see what is to come, I am hopeful that our leaders can work together and pass legislation that is not so contentious so our country can experience some stability and unity.

We have the unique experience of being heavily involved in the political scene living in Washington, DC, and it provides us a different perspective from many others across the country.  I am disheartened to see people's reactions when results don't go their way-- not because of the their disappointment but because of the ugly way they react.  Our experience is that Washington is much less polarized than the rest of the country, at least in how we treat and speak to our "opponents" because we understand passionately working toward and dedicating yourself to a cause, even if it's not one we personally support.  We have received the most sincere and gracious support and congratulations from our friends across the aisle...this is my hat tip to the generous and hard working friends we have across the aisle who handle election results better than a lot of other people I know!

Politics aside, I am looking forward to what lies ahead for our family!  Ready for some time together again as three...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rollercoaster…

Two weeks from today, it will be November 4th.  If you’re smart, you’ll head to the ballot box and cast votes in a myriad of Congressional and Senate races.  For me personally, it will also mark the fourteenth month my husband has been gone, running a US Senate campaign in his home state.

And whatever happens on election night, I will be celebrating because it means he’ll finally be coming home!  The last year has been a lot of things…short, long, hard, rewarding, teaching, growing, frustrating, bitter, prideful…and more.  I feel like I’ve been on a rollercoaster—one of those old, wooden jerky ones with a lap bar nowhere near your lap, that make your neck hurt.  You know, the kind you get off, wonder why you ever got on, and swear you’re never doing again. ;) 

As this time is coming to an end, I’ve been reflecting a lot on how things went and I can easily break it up into distinct phases… Here’s how it went down:

The Honeymoon Phase

This phase was full of crying departures {me}, baked goods, and lots of hugs and celebrating homecoming.  I never want my husband to dread coming home or always welcomed by a nagging wife, so I was very intentional that when he came home, it was to a home happy to see him.

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This phase {and all of this ^^^} lasted about three weeks.

The Bitter Phase

My “I can do this!” attitude waned REAL FAST.  About three to four weeks in.  Exhaustion took over and I was in breakdown mode every Wednesday night {our busiest day/night of the week}.  I was angry and bitter that I had to do everything by myself and no one was throwing me a ticker tape parade or baking me casseroles.  I had a very hard time adjusting to being with Charlotte all.the.time, especially as she was just getting mobile {at the time, the hardest part of parenthood for me}.  Every quick errand, every jog, every bathroom break, every grocery run.  Charlotte, Charlotte, Charlotte.  You couldn’t leave her anywhere unattended without finding her trying to scale the oven.  My only break from her was to go to work…to play with somebody else’s kids all day.  I was exhausted and very much in need of a break that was nowhere in sight.

6746_10102786117155730_68995803_n{Oh, you said you needed to go to the bathroom did you?}

And very tired of being asked, “So, is Tyler home this week?”  “No, he’s not home.  He’s never coming home. Whyeeee do you keep asking me???”  I was a joy to be around.

Tyler received the brunt of my frustration {the nice word to use}, usually in the form of snarky text messages.  I was pretty much mad at him all the time, feeling like I would always be second, third, or fourth on his list.  And if he came home for a weekend, it took me a good twelve hours to be happy to see him—a long time when you only have two days together!  Of course, not all days or weeks were bad, but this was the overarching theme November through January. 

Yep, this phase lasted about three long months.

The Indifferent Phase

Sometime around February, I hit my stride with the whole single working mom thing.  A few key moves were using grocery delivery and joining a gym with childcare—just thirty minutes or an hour to myself, head phones in, no talking.  Bless these services.  I lost five pounds that month- never missed a workout!  Charlotte and I just found a rhythm, and I discovered the most efficient way to do ev.er.y.thing.  From laundry to packing lunches and preparing meals, I got it done and I got it done fast.

My neighbors also took us in and regularly had us over for dinner, I started having girls nights in on Fridays, and my introverted self found myself loving the solitude.  Life wasn’t nearly as hard, I wasn’t mad all the time, and I was actually proud of myself for juggling life and work and doing it fairly well, I thought.

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But this was a dangerous place to be…because I didn’t need Tyler.  I didn’t miss him, I wasn’t mad at him, I didn’t care if he came home or not, we barely talked.  As long as he kept paying our rent, whatever man.  Even in the midst of it, I was well aware how dangerous indifference is to a marriage, but I couldn’t, or didn’t want to do anything to change it.  I think it was just self-preservation… We saw Tyler for a total of ten days maybe between January and May, and I just didn’t have it in me to care anymore.  The only thing I could do was hope things would go back to normal in May, when the primary was over. 

This phase lasted about two or three months, but really peaked in month three {April}.

The Back to Normal Phase

{AKA I no longer want a divorce- yay!}

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Primary Day!!  Our candidate won, Tyler flew home with us, and we saw more of each other that week than we had all year.  I was happy to have him around with no lingering bitterness.  He still had to travel quite a bit, but the balance was good…because I’d grown quite comfortable in my routine and all my Real Housewives.  If he traveled, he was still home Friday night through Monday, which felt like a lot.  We went on vacations in June and August.  Things were good.  {I was originally under the impression that the May Primary was the end of traveling for good, so I was still plenty frustrated at times, but overall, we were good.}

This phase lasted four short months, May through August.

The Indifferent Phase: We’re baa-aaaack!

And now here we are again.  Back to indifferent.  This time, my attitude stems more from a more mature “It is what it is,” rather than “I hate your stinky guts forever” which, I suppose, is a bit healthier.  But as election day nears, there are debates to prep, rallies to organize, commercials to film.  Tyler’s just gone all the time…nothing I can do.  So life goes on—I went to New York, Tennessee, and Georgia, ran a race, went to football games, concerts, and fall festivals.  I’m sad Tyler wasn’t a part of most of it and I hate what he missed out on, but we have great friends and a precious daughter and I’m just tired of sitting at home by myself.

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I also learned a valuable lesson along the way in self-control: there is no point in arguing or being angry about something that can’t be changed.  I reached a point where I realized, what good does it do to make my husband feel guilty for working too much, knowing full well there is nothing he can do to work any less right now?  He is powerless to change the situation, so why rag on him for it.  I typically just vented to my sister or scratched my thoughts in a journal and moved on.  It makes for a much happier existence, at least in the short term!

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So here were are with two weeks left!  It’s almost weird.  I’m binge watching all the “Call the Midwife” and “Scandal” I can {and exercising some serious self-control by not watching those Homeland episodes on our DVR}, getting in all the girly stuff I can.  I’m somewhat hesitant in my excitement because the role he’s taking on when he comes back doesn’t guarantee a nightly presence at the dinner table.  We’ve been through the opening-a-congressional-office thing before—it’s hard work and takes a lot of man hours.  Only time will tell—is it harder with a newborn or with a toddler?

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{Charlotte then and now}

To be honest, if I knew then, what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have let him go.  If I’d known how big Charlotte was going to get, or how many milestones he’d miss, or how many insignificant moments he would have loved to see, or knew how many nights we’d actually spend apart, how many social invitations we’d turn down, the thousands of miles I’d drive alone, the opportunities at work and church I’d miss… I would have said no.  I didn’t realize how much our friendships would suffer, or the hit our church life would take.  My “me things” took a backseat: blogging, Etsy, running races.  I’m honestly not complaining, but if you would have written out a list of these consequences and showed it to be last September, I would have put on my Mean Wife hat and made him turn down the job.

But here’s the flip side…I would have spent the last year following this race, wondering if I’d made my husband miss out on the opportunity of his career.  Feeling like I’d sidelined him, forcing him to stay in a job that wasn’t great anyway, missing out on the chance to work in his home state, for a great candidate who we also call a friend.  And he has shined over the last year.  He has made front page news, he’s had articles written on the successes he organized.  I’ve had countless folks pull me aside and brag on what a great boss he is, how patient he is, what a pleasure it is to work with him.  And he’s never run a campaign in his life!  This was a big gamble—taking a job that was not a sure thing, and splitting up our family—and I am really, really proud of my smart, dedicated, hard-working husband.  Even when his work ethic drives me crazy.

And there will still be plenty of issues to sift through when we’re back together—reacclimating to life together, dealing with issues swept under the rug.  It will take another act of self-control to not be ready to pounce the minute he walks in the door…to be a constructive, helper-suitable, not a nagger-appointed.

But whatever dude!  This year is almost over!  My man is coming home and I’m about to go to Target all by myself whenever I want.

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.”  Hebrews 12:1-2

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Army Ten Miler 2014

I ran the Army Ten Miler last weekend!  Despite being super unprepared, I really enjoyed it!  I ran this race in 2011-- it was my first race longer than a 5k, so I had good memories of this one.  It's a hard race to get into-- one of those that you sit in front of your computer pushing refresh for an hour until you either get in, or crash the system.

Anyway, it's a great DC race that takes you through both Arlington and Washington and hits most of the major sites along the way.  I snapped a few pictures along the way, in lieu of a real recap.  Enjoy!

Saturday night prep...I spent the afternoon eating football food that consisted of corn, cheese, and buffalo sauce.  Tyler gently suggested I perhaps should maybe consider eating some pasta for dinner.  Smart man.
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Sunday morning came early.  Whenever I'm up at dark to run a race I PAID someone to let me run, I seriously question my sanity.  I'm going to organize a lazy man's race that is all downhill and starts at 10am.
0167b41bb867b04c15faecc8e1d640691b487732edMorning sun over the Pentagon.
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The corrals were really smooth this year.  We arrived in plenty of time for bathroom breaks and stretching but they efficiently moved the corrals through once the race kicked off at 8am.
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Running with my friend and co-worker, Amy, and her friend Jamie, who flew in from California.  She thought we were crazy for loving the cool, 50 degree morning temps-- she was freezing!
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We started running around 8:40 and were immediately enjoying the sites and scenes on a gorgeous fall morning... Crossing the start at the Pentagon, we ran toward Arlington National Cemetery…
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From, there we ran across the Memorial Bridge, toward the Lincoln Memorial…
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Then past the Watergate…
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Under the Kennedy Center, with the Potomac to our right…
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Past the Washington Memorial…
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The Smithsonian…
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…and the Holocaust Museum…
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And the Jefferson Memorial.
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Miles 7-9 are all uphill suck as the course crosses the interstate back into Virginia.  Seriously...everything about it just sucks. I hate hills and I'm pretty sure we walked most of them, which really just prolonged the misery.
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And you finally cross the finish back at the Pentagon!
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There is no shortage of inspiration on this race.  If running through the streets of history weren't enough, this race is run by soldiers, veterans, and their families who have bravely served and sacrificed for our country.
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Active duty soldiers run the water stations...
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{I ghosted this man early on the read his sign. He, probably on his 60s or 70s, survived a heart attack and bypass surgery last November and was running a ten mile race a year later.  AND he was from Savannah...so I stopped to say hi.}
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So many people run in memory of fallen soldiers.
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No words, all tears as I approached this group surrounding a wounded warrior after mile nine.  Something about a double amputee walking toward the finish line suddenly put my knee pain in perspective.  Not an uncommon site in this race- everyone hoops and hollars and cheers and "Hoorahs" as they pass.
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A "Marry Me...or at least think about it sign" spotted early in the race.  The poor girl that had to run another nine miles after seeing that!
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And these sweet faces were waiting for me at the finish!
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I'm a bit of a reluctant runner-- I really enjoy it but I'm not super talented or all that competitive, and I don't have a lot of fancy garb.  But there is just something about finishing a race, and pushing your body, that is so rewarding and emotional and euphoric.  There is camaraderie with the other runners-- you feel as much pride for them as you do yourself-- and appreciation for those lining the streets.  It's just...so fun!  Especially for a girl like me that didn't grow up playing sports.  This was the first race I'd done in awhile and I've got the bug again...  Time to sign up for some more.  Hoorah!
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I'd be remiss if I didn't throw out a big "Go Dawgs!!"  What a great weekend!