Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Runner Again

I have been running since I was ten years old.  Both my parents are runners, and I grew up going to road races and watching each of them head out the door for a run at least five days a week.  I rode my bike with my mom on her runs and earned a new book for making it up all the hills on her route without stopping.  (I picked my first Babysitter's Club book.)  When I was nine, I went to a women's race with my mom and was thrilled to learn that there was a mother-daughter team award.  I decided that I would like to be a team with my mom the next year.  So I started running.

It wasn't too many years before I could be on the J.V. track team at the high school, and I ran track and cross-country all four years of high school.  In college I met a number of wonderful people in the Williamsburg running club at weekly interval workouts and ran my first Virginia Ten-Miler, followed by my first half marathon.  I ran while I was teaching English in Poland, and my first date with Keegan was a running date.  I ran in Korea on a fantastic road winding through rice paddies and ending at a statue of the Buddha.

I always knew that I would run all the way through any pregnancy, because I never stopped running, and because that was what my mom had done with me.  Unfortunately, I had some complications early in my pregnancy with Sophie, and the doctor told me not to run during the first trimester.  I tried to start up again in the second trimester, but it was not easy to restart, and I ended up confined to walking for the rest of the pregnancy.  The strain of having a newborn who slept fitfully and unpredictably combined with the long hours Keegan was working and the lack of friends and family who could help meant that I didn't run much for a long time after Sophie was born.  I made a few attempts to restart my running schedule, aided by our BOB running stroller, which was the best baby gear purchase we've made.  Soon enough, though, I got pregnant with Annabelle and once again was benched throughout the pregnancy and for the first crazy four months of her life.  Finally, when Sophie started preschool in September I decided that I would get serious about running again.

My first run back was in Colonial Williamsburg, from Merchant's Square to the Capitol and back.  I felt horrible.  Having run for so long, I could never understand why people complain so much about running.  Let me tell you, coming back to running after the break I took to have Sophie and Annabelle STUNK.  I totally get it now.  I felt awful every day for weeks.  I gradually, gradually increased my mileage, slogging along and feeling awkward and ungainly.  Finally, probably two months into my training, I started to feel good again.  That feeling of floating along effortlessly came back, and my pace began to increase.  My heart and lungs started to feel powerful instead of overtaxed.  My legs felt strong instead of clumsy.  I had a brief relapse a few months ago when life was crazy and I felt like there was no time to run, and after only a week or two I started to feel tired, heavy, and grumpy.  Time to get back onto my running schedule!  It's a priority now, and I am able to cram in three runs a week pretty reliably.  My goal is to keep that schedule up, to start doing 5k's about once a month, and then to increase to four runs a week next year when Sophie starts her four-day-a-week preschool class.  My long-term goal is to set a new PR for the 5k and then return to triathlon training, but that may be a few years off.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spring Break

Sophie is on spring break this week, so we've had time to do some fun things.  Although we have not gone to Disney World, as Sophie told her friends and teachers at preschool last week, I think we've made some good memories.

On Monday night, Sophie spent the night with her grandparents so that I could make an early exit Tuesday morning to take Annabelle to her appointment with the gastro-intestinal specialist.  She's on the chart for weight, around the 10th percentile!  She weighs 17 pounds, 5 ounces, and is the size of an average seven-month-old.  The dietician gave us some advice about how much she needs to eat and talked a bit about moving up to toddler formula, which we won't do for another few months. We don't have to go back until July.  

Wednesday we had some fun at home, playing with Sophie's Bill Ding set and dyeing Easter eggs with Portia.

My mom remembered these from her childhood and was thrilled to get a set for Sophie.  They are pretty fun.

Today, after a lazy morning at home, we went for a picnic at Sophie's favorite playground with some friends from preschool.  

"Mommy, Annabelle and I are making a T!"

Climbing a tree at Chickahominy Riverfront Park

Tomorrow we are headed to Busch Gardens with Grandma and Grandpa.  A nice week and a nice break from the usual routine.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sophie Update

Sophie doesn't get to be the focus of the blog very often, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to write about her latest adventures and accomplishments.

At three years and nine months, Sophie continues to be a lively, funny, imaginative, nonstop chatterbox.  She is getting more and more independent, but she still wants nothing more than to be held or watched, and I can tell that she is jealous of the attention that Annabelle gets.  She is loving her 3-day preschool program and the kids in her class, especially her best friend Portia.  She often tells stories about Portia right after she talks about herself (even to complete stranger, so I know her friend is never far from Sophie's mind.

Independent Sophie on the Sesame Street boat ride at Busch Gardens.  She did great on the kiddie roller coaster too.  I only got to go with her because she was't allowed to go by herself.
Favorite activities these days are coloring and drawing, playing doctor, changing her clothes to suit various activities (such as having a picnic, going to a tea party, putting on a dance concert, or taking a nap), and walking pretend pets on leashes.  She loves to watch Phineas and Ferb and Doc McStuffins and to sing songs from Frozen.  We are loving Dr. Seuss books, and we pick a new one each time we go to the library.  I think both of us would pick I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew as our favorite so far, although The Lorax is up there too. The Arthur books are also recent favorites of hers, although I can take them or leave them.  She can swing for what seems like hours.  She likes to hug/wrestle poor Annabelle when she is practicing her rolling and wiggling on her play mat.

Sophie's "buddies" join us for breakfast.  
An adorable habit of late has been asking us "Do you know what I love about you?" and then telling us.  Can't say I mind that.  I usually get "I love your snuggles," but I have also gotten "I love the way your hair looks," and "I love your seaweed giving."  Keegan also got complimented on his hair.

Sophie has a knack for dawdling and getting distracted by a million things on the way to completing a simple task.  Getting dressed has become a lengthy ritual that involves laying all the clothes out precisely on the floor as they will go on her body and then doing anything and everything to avoid actually putting them on her body.  Usually this is messing with Annabelle, although it can also be climbing on the windowsills, critiquing my bed-making skills, playing with whatever toys can be found, or trying to pick out "extra" clothes to take with us in the diaper bag.  Fortunately, everyone else is usually late to preschool, too.

"Helping" with dinner.
Sophie is definitely getting stronger and can walk for longer distances without asking to be carried.  She likes to have races and to decide ahead of time who is going to win. She lets me win sometimes, and other times can tell that I am letting her win.  And sometimes, she just shoves me out of the way or starts the race when I am still several yards behind her.  Generally, though, she accepts the result of the races with equanimity, so I hope she will be a graceful winner and loser in the future as well.

So, overall, we are proud as can be of our older daughter and can't wait to see how she'll change as she grows.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Annabelle's Eleven-month Update

Annabelle is eleven months old and doing great!  Her major milestones this month are rolling from back to tummy and beginning to really eat pureed foods.  She has been so eager to lie on her back on the floor so that she can practice her rolling and wiggling skills, and she is all over the place!  She often wiggles completely off the mat or blanket we lay her on.  In the mornings, I often find her with her head where her feet were when I laid her down at night.  She is also getting more flexible at her knees, and she looks better when we practice supported sitting with her.  I can tell that her upper body is getting stronger, although her balance is still pretty shaky.  Also, she thinks sitting is for the birds.  She wants nothing more than to lie down and roll, roll, roll.  Finally, she has begun to tolerate being on her tummy for short periods of time.  She can hold herself up on her arms and doesn't fuss half as much as she used to.  Progress with tummy time is awfully slow, but I know she's developing great strength and vision skills when she's able to do even a little.

When we first started feeding Annabelle solids, she would not open her mouth for them at all.  But now she opens (could be wider, but we'll take what we can), smiles at the spoon, and kicks her legs in delight.  She is beginning to move the food around her mouth with her tongue and jaws better instead of just sucking it back.  Her favorites so far are bananas and yogurt, but she also likes applesauce and pears and sometimes potatoes and avocado, although those are less reliable.

Annabelle continues to be happy and smiley and to love sounds.  She giggles at all kinds of sounds, from velcro and zippers to fingernails on the material of her car seat to the sound of her little fist whacking the paper table covers at the doctor's office.  We discovered Sophie's forgotten drawer of music toys, and Annabelle gets a thrill out of banging on the little drum we found inside.  She has started making raspberry sounds - they were one of Sophie's first sounds, too, so that seems like a good sign.  We are beginning to do some simple sign language signs with her - eat, milk, and bath.  She is fascinated when I make simple consonant sounds for her and loves to watch me shake my head and nod.  She also shakes her head, often to hilarious effect.

She continues to gain weight like a champ, and she's now 17 1/2 pounds!  She is also healing well from her surgery.  The stitches are all gone, and she has a "normal" bottom at last!  The coming month will bring not only a barrage of medical appointments, but also Annabelle's first birthday!  Hurray for surviving the first year!

For some reason this month's photo session was a FAIL.

"Maybe she'll be happier lying down," thinks Mommy.  "Wish I was anywhere but here," thinks Annabelle.

Big sister brings momentary joy to even the most trying times.