Thursday, October 31, 2013

Running in Costume, Halloween, and How Do You Get RID of the CANDY After Halloween?

Is it too soon to be plotting the ways that I can get rid of at least half of the copious amounts of Halloween candy that will be living in my cupboards by the end of tonight?

Seriously, this is going to be a year like never before.  You see, we are living in this cute little house that is right smack dab in the heart of a little town that is apparently OFF THE HOOK on Halloween night.  When the neighbors walk by they make sure that the new neighbors (us) know just how insane it can be and just this morning the neighbor across the street informed me that she gets at least 20 (maybe she said 30...I had a hard time hearing her since we were shouting from across the street) of the big 60-100 piece bags.  What?!  So, today, in addition to setting up for a small gathering with some of the soccer families, I am stocking up on a bit more candy.

I found one of my favorite pictures from 2 Halloweens ago:

Man, I felt so awesome in this Bat Girl costume!  I went on a run in it (as you can see by the running tights, arm warmers, watch, and shoes) and I felt fast, strong, and bad A.  Ha! Okay, really, I felt a little ridiculous BUT if I would have been in a race where I was running with other people in costume, I would have probably run really fast just because of the superheroishness (yes, that's a word) of the costume.

Speaking of costumes, my electrical engineer husband stayed up all night geeking out with wires, metal, tubes, batteries, and various switches to make his Halloween costume.  With the black wig he found, he will look very similar to the man below...Whiplash from Ironman 2.  I couldn't help but laugh a little when I saw him so involved and excited over electrical stuff but mostly I was thinking what a cool dad he is to be making this awesome costume to match our little four year old Ironman.  Can't wait to see him all decked out as Whiplash!

I started writing this post a few hours ago and now as I've come back to finish it, my train of thought is nowhere to be found so I'll end with a short gratitude list.

Today I'm thankful for:

  • Fall Colors.  Driving around today (and on my run) I felt like I was in the set of a movie.  It is amazing to me how much brilliance and ART there is in nature.  I would never want to live in a place without seasons.  I'd miss Fall way too much.  
  • The fact that I feel strong after my ten 400's yesterday.  Granted, they weren't super fast compared to when I'm in peak condition but they did provide a great workout and the fact that I feel so good today is a good sign. But I won't talk too much about that or I might jinx myself.  
  • Training for another marathon soon.  Yup, I said it.  I knew this excitement to train would come back to me if I waited long enough and gave myself enough time off.  It almost always returns around this time of year.  
  • Feeling FULL of gratitude, life and joy.  This is a good place.  
  • The family memories and traditions that come with the holidays. 
  • Girlfriends.  
Do you dress up for Halloween?  Yes.  We have fun with it. And I think this makes it fun for the kids too! However, I spend very little money on this holiday.  Most of my costumes are as simple as throwing a few things together from around the house or borrowing costumes from friends who have old costumes just collecting dust.  Last year, I squeezed into a princess dress in the dress up bin and wore it over my running clothes with a random blonde wig (also in the dress up bin).

Do you celebrate Halloween?  I grew up as a Jehovah's Witness (until I was 12) where we didn't get to celebrate ANYTHING.  Not even our own birthdays.  So yes, I do!  But it doesn't have to be about EVIL and fact I hate the EVIL Horror side of Halloween.  We make it about costumes, pumpkins (picking and carving), and being joyful about the change in seasons/harvest.  
Does your neighborhood get a lot of trick or treaters?  

and Last But NOT LEAST...

Do you keep all of the Halloween candy that your kids bring home? Please share all the ideas You know of for how to get rid of all (or some) of the CANDY after Halloween is over?  For your sake and your kids.  I've gotten some great ideas already from my Runninghood Facebook Post about this. I'm not sure we'll get our kids on board with this but I've got to find a way to get this crap out of the house...I know myself, I'll EAT IT.  All between the hours of 8 p.m and bedtime.  And honestly, although I do allow my kids a fair amount of junk food, I'm a big believer in feeding the BRAIN so we limit a lot of the junk without cutting it all out.  


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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Things That Matter Most

The past few days have been no school days for my daughters.  This has meant loose schedules, lazier days, and plenty of free time for them.  This has also meant more fighting, messes, noise, and the constant popular chorus of "Mom, Mom, Mom..." filling my house.  Don't get me wrong, I cherish these days.  I do.  I love having kids.  I love being a mom.  I know these days will go way. too. fast.  However, when I'm riding the waves of hormones and my nerves feel like someone is pinching them with a wire cutter, I turn into more of a nagging witch-like (perfect for Halloween) mom instead of a patient, creative and bubbly one.  That was yesterday.  But it didn't last.

As I made my way into the dining room mid-nag to ask my oldest daughter to do something I had asked for repeatedly, I was greeted with the sweetest of surprises.  The table was set with my grandmother's china (which we rarely use) and I could see that she was in the process of putting something very special together for the family.  There was a creepy menu being made and the table was decorated in cobwebs, mini pumpkins and spooky looking name cards for all of us.  No wonder she was asking me all morning what dinner was going to be.  Instead of quinoa, it was going to be fish eggs.  Instead of beets, it would be bloody brains.  Lemonade was snake venom.  You get the drill.

Seeing my little girl put this special memory into the making melted my heart.  Not only did it make me smile to see my grandmother's china all set out, but I felt so proud that creating this memory and fun now new tradition was something of value to her.  And she got the other two kids in on the action.  They were decorating the chalk board, picking out Halloween music, and deciding on costumes and decorations for the house.  All I had to do was cook.

By the time dinner rolled around, I was wearing a blue wig and a black dress and I had a little witch and two vampires dancing merrily around the house.  In between grilling the human thighs (chicken) and steaming the worms (green beans) we took turns hitting the spooky dance floor and busting a groovin' move.  I was still a little irritable and low on patience but I was loving the fun everyone was having.

Dinner was ready just as my husband walked in the door with arms full of electrical things, big metal chunks of odds and ends and a smile on his face over how much fun he was going to have making his Whiplash costume (bad guy in Ironman 2) electrical engineer style!  Looks like everyone was in the holiday spirit tonight.

The final dinner menu consisted of fish eggs, thighs (human), tadpoles, octopus, snake venom, blood, bear blood, green worms, huge banana slugs, blood balls, bloody brains and few other appetizers.  

A most spooktacular dinner!

As the dinner progressed and we were sitting around the table giving cheers with our snake venom and bear blood (beer), I knew we were making a lasting memory.  These are the parts in life that matter most someday.  It isn't about having a clean house or making sure all the messes are cleaned up in the bedrooms (although that certainly keeps me from losing my mind).  It isn't about how organized my cupboards and closets are.  Or what kind of car we drive.  It's not about having everything perfect all the time.  What my daughter did for all of us last night was priceless.  It's definitely going down on my list as something that I want to remember forever and a tradition worth continuing for always.

What are some fun family traditions you have, have had, or want to have for the holidays?  
What's one of your best family memories from your childhood?


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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Best Race Swag Ever, Easy Pace Getting Faster, Love, and Random

 Could today get any better?  I'm not so sure. It has been one of those days that starts slow and cherished and then just keeps getting better.  After my 11 mile easy run that felt amazing for easy (more on that in a minute),  I came home to a hot shower, happy kids, a husband grilling and a cold beer!

  1.  I think a day like today calls for a good beer. 
  2. I used my favorite race swag EVER to open my beer.  Seriously, the Boston Marathon knows how to do it up right.  This bottle opener is some pretty sweet race swag.  I love it!  

Waking up to cold weather, sunshine and nowhere I needed to be made me feel all cozy inside.  It was one of those rare mornings that are far and few in between these days where our little family is just frozen in time:

Cold Saturday morning,
                                                      frosty windows, sunshine-full room, 
a family wrapped in blankets,
cartoons, cuddles, coffee 
A promise of chocolate chip pancakes.

These mornings will be one of those slices of life memories we treasure for always.

After a few cups of coffee, plenty of blanket/couch time, and deciding my run could wait,  I couldn't help myself ... the beautiful fall day was calling my name....and a walk to the bakery in town for one more cup of [good] coffee was in order. Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE this town that I live in?  Yes, I think I have.  Well, for good measure, I'll say it again...I LOVE living here!  I love this small town.  I love the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I love the community.  I love the sunshine.  I love the little 1900's Craftsman style home that we are temporarily living in.  LOVE.

Decided the run could wait until later. Too much life to enjoy at home this morning! Cold, crisp, sunny, beautiful morning with a short walk to the bakery for our last cup of coffee. Notebook along for the never know when there will be words to catch.

More coffee
Plenty of cuddles
A new haircut
Quality time with my oldest daughter

Only thing missing was a nice longish run (long run for me these days seems to be around 10 to 13 miles) but I made sure to add that to the list too!

My run today was just another part of this Joyful morning.  I turned my watch around so I wouldn't look at it and I just set the goal to run Happy and Easy.  Every time I did look at my watch, I was surprised to see my mile splits at quite a bit faster than I expected.  Must have been the gorgeous fall weather! With my first mile at 7:45, I tried to deliberately slow down but most of my splits stayed under 8 until the end where they were a bit slower.  My EASY is getting FASTER!  This is a good feeling!

Yes!  Easy pace is picking up again!  Thank you body.  Thank you mind.  And Hello Spirit!  Truly a Run Happy kind of day!  And my Brooks Ravenna 4 felt perfect. 

I'm certain that this day (now night) will only continue to get better.  I intend for it to be that way.... Today, I CHOOSE JOY!  We really do have so much to do with how our life unfolds.  There are some big things I'm working on in my little world and not all of them are easy.  However, I can say that they are all WORTH it because they are part of making my life the very best that it can be.

And to end this post with something to think on, I thought I'd post this quote that I saw on Facebook.  Definitely something I could chew on for a bit and see from multiple perspectives.  A good discussion piece FOR SURE.  I'd love to know YOUR first reactions after reading it.  I posted this on Runninghood's Facebook but in the comments below, I'll include some of the comments posted about it.

  1. How was your weekend? What stood out to you?  
  2. Who's racing this weekend?  
  3. What's your idea of a perfect weekend morning?  
  4. What's the best race swag you've ever received? 
  5. Is the weather in your neck of the woods drastically cooling off?  What's it like?  
  6. And, last but NOT least, what are your thoughts/reflections about the quote on love posted above??  

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Thankful For...

I have exactly 15 minutes to sit down and write something.  Seems like forever since I've written a gratitude post. I love this exercise.  It's quick, easy, and almost always leaves me feeling happier than I was before I wrote it.

Thankful for:

Today started off  with not feeling so well. But it didn't take long at all before I perked up.  One of those rare days that I just let things go, went back to bed for a bit (husband took care of getting kids to school), and woke up to coffee in bed and a late morning Pilates class.  The day only got better with sunshine, quality time with each of my kids, and a few fun surprises.  
  • Today.  
  • The courage that comes and pushes me to share my life as it is...the good and the bad.  Something good almost always comes from opening myself up.  On that note, thank you for the continued comments and e-mails from those of you reaching out after my last two posts.  Such support and love.  Thank you!  It feels good to have community to help remind us that we aren't alone in our struggles.  
  • The decision we made last year to take a chance and LEAP with our move across the country from Portland, OR to Asheville, NC.  All in the name of adventure.  Wow!  This has been quite the ride.  Yes, it has been adventurous and fun.  However, it has also been a little scary and taken some time to feel like we're all standing solid on our feet.  Woo Wee, what a beautiful ride life is!  I've been stretched in ways I didn't know possible.  Wouldn't go back for anything.  
  • A quiet morning where I took it easy on myself with coffee in bed, some deep breathing, and quality time with my husband who is home not feeling so well today.  
  • Pilates class.  Wow, what a reminder of how inflexible these runner legs are.  And what a great strength training to add to my routine when I get one.  
  • Seeing my kids love their schools and small town that we live in.  Not a day goes by since we moved here that I don't feel so grateful to be here. I know our time here will go way too fast but I'm determined to soak it all up as much as I can.
  • Running.  Period.  Especially running on fall days where the air has a slight chill to it and I'm surrounded by such a contrast in sky, white sunshine, and reds/greens/yellows/browns of the trees!  
  • Learning. We have so many resources in this world to learn about whatever we want!  You bet, I'm going to take advantage of this.  Yes yes yes to life long learning!   
  • Working at something I love and not settling for mediocre.  The things we love the most are ALWAYS worth working at so they can be great....marriage, raising our kids, career, goals, relationships, etc. 
  • Those handful of people in my inner circle in life that truly know and love me...all of me.  This last year has been full of wonder and joy but it has also brought challenges that have rocked my world a bit.  My husband is at the top of this list....what a gift!
  • My marriage.  This is probably the single most important thing in my life right now because when my  marriage is thriving, our entire family benefits.  Making my marriage strong and keeping it there takes work but it is work that is more than worth it. Good work.  Fun work.  I'm not going to pretend that it is always peaches and roses and rainbows and butterflies...that would be one big fat lie... but it is the foundation for so much that I do in life...that WE do in life.  I'm thankful for a partner that is willing to do the maintenance that keeps our love strong, fresh and beautiful.  This last stretch of time has been filled with lots stress (moving across the country, settling, our son, etc.) but through it all, we've been committed to communicating, working together, reading books about making our marriage stronger, finding TIME to devote to each other, writing down and speaking the things that matter most to us and that we are most thankful for about the other person , and remembering our love story.  Working on making a stronger marriage has been the most rewarding work I've ever done. 
  • Exciting possibilities on the horizon related to career, running, and friendships.
  • Always getting a new day to start fresh.
  • One-on-one time with my kids.  Precious time!  On that note, I'm heading out the door to walk my daughter to the library.  

What are a few things that you are thankful for today?


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Sunday, October 20, 2013

It Gets Better!

It Gets Better...

The beautiful views from this part of the country,
The issues we struggle with,

Thank you so much for your comments and e-mails about my post yesterday:

Learning With and For Our Children...This Mother's Beginning Steps in Learning About OCD

It can be hard enough when we tell our own stories of struggle and growth but it can be even harder telling the stories from our life that involve our children and their struggles.  The biggest part of me wants to keep these stories to myself.  Partly to protect my kids and keep their personal struggles private but more because it is just difficult to share something that is so personally painful. Seeing our kids have a difficult time in life is hard. Period. And often, we can feel alone.  Embarrassed even. It's easy to feel like we did something wrong as a parent even though we know better when it comes to certain things like OCD.   Our struggles and personal frustrations in seeing our kids hurt is huge to us as parents no matter how small of an issue it is in comparison to the grand scheme of life.  Somebody always has it far worse than we do. Yes.  But I've learned to recognize these painful parts of my life as just as important...because they are important to me... they are part of My Story. I'm almost always glad when I share it because more often than not, there is someone else out there that is dealing with the same or similar things and it is so nice to know we aren't alone.  I'm glad I decided to write about this topic and I will continue to share more as it comes.  So much to learn in life! Thankful for the mind and resources to do so.

Today proved to be one of healing and rejuvenation!  We were so blessed with an opportunity to drop our kids off with a friend and take off for the beautiful Appalachian Trail right outside of Hot Springs, North Carolina at Max Patch.  Wow!  After a trail run, picnic on a hilltop, and a beer and burger in the small town of Hot Springs, my husband surprised me with a visit to the Hot Springs Spa for a private soak in a mineral bath.  The stress just melted off today.  THANKFUL!

I can think of nobody else I'd rather take on life with!  I love him!

Two videos.  Fist one from on top of of the Max Patch crest.  The second one is from down in the forest.  So glad I didn't offer my sandwich to the hikers from Illinois.  That would have been awkward. Ha!

Driving here after our run was a pleasant surprise!  


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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Learning With and For Our Children...This Mother's Beginning Steps in Learning About OCD

There's been lots of reading at our house lately.  Much more than usual.  Seems like a new box of books arrives at least once a week and I'm pretty sure that at this point, we are some of Amazon's favorite customers.  Most of the books we've been ordering have been books to help us learn about some pretty big things that our son has been going through. At least they are big to us.  I'm sure some of you saw my post this morning but luckily there weren't too many.  Really, it was a post that taken out of context, won't make a lot of sense to anyone anyway.  More of a journal entry type of post.  One that means way more to me than I could explain or express in writing right now.  I spoke of a random but not random dream I had about my dad (even though I didn't say what the dream was) and some of the thoughts it brought up for me.  That alone would be something that would take knowing me, my heart, my life, and my dream details to understand anyway.   I also shared a pretty painful motherhood moment from last night in regards to my son and his recently diagnosed OCD.  A topic I haven't spoken of on here yet but one that has been perhaps the biggest part of my life over the last year. I've avoided talking about it for several reasons:

  1. I haven't been so sure what exactly is going on with him and I wasn't ready to slap a label on him like the therapists I've talked to have done.  
  2. Fear.  I didn't feel like I knew enough about OCD to even understand what it was and what implications it held for my child.  
  3. My son's fears and behavior issues have been so all over the inconsistent...I've been in a state of exasperation most days.  Just stressed to the max....wanting to escape.  Almost hide from it.  Writing about it?  Well, I just wasn't ready.  
  4. Painful.  It's so so painful to watch our children struggle with things.  Some days are so much harder than others.  We have good days and bad days.  On and off.  Steps forward and steps back.  But at this point, I'm certain we are dealing with OCD and I'm ready to talk about it because I know that I'm not the only one.  There are others in this world dealing with the same thing and by telling my story, I know that I'll connect with others.  Community is always better than standing alone. 
An excerpt from my previous post about last night:  

.....Maybe because of how difficult last night was for me as a mother.  A night of seeing how deeply my son is struggling right now with some issues I feel so inadequate in helping him with at times.  It is so painful for me to see my child in fear.  His mouth raw from rubbing it for fear of germs.  His fear of being near his parents when we have coffee in our hands because of the smell.  His freak out about the bite we took from his popsicle.  The phrases he repeats over and over to make things feel right.  His OCD.  Irrational fears.   This is all so new to me.  I know he is young and I know that we will get through this.  I know that I'm his mother for a reason and I'm willing to give him all the love, time, attention and patience that I have.  I know all will be okay and that others have much bigger things to face.  But it is NEVER easy to see our children hurt.  I can't think of anything more painful for me than to see my child in fear.  It is easily the hardest thing I've experienced.  But at the same time, I can think of nothing more rewarding and beautiful and amazing and inspiring than to see my brave brave little boy fight back and face his fears.  Not a day goes by lately that I don't go to bed a stronger person.  Wiser.  Braver.  And in awe of the lessons that my son is teaching me along this journey.  There are many more steps forward than there are steps back.

Last night was a big step back for my little guy.  He was struggling more than usual.  This was a moment where I didn't care that he was the kid in the restaurant making the scene.  I didn't care if others were judging or assuming that he was just being a bad kid.  I didn't care about or see anything else around me except my son.  And thank God my husband was there to take over because all I could do was put my head down on the table and cry.  In pain.  It was a night that I had no answers.  It was one of those moments that I just wanted to be a child and lean on someone bigger and wiser than me. Someone who wasn't feeling the same pain over this issue.  Someone that loved me fully and that was there to just wrap me up and tell me that things were going to be okay.  Because they will.

Here are some things from right now that I do know:

  • Things are going to be okay.  
  • We will have good days and bad days.  
  • Sometimes it is hard to tell if my son is just having some major mood swings, anger issues and behavior problems or if he is dealing with something related to OCD.  Probably both.  
  • There are so many resources out there!  Books to read, cognitive behavioral therapy, and people to talk to.  
  • OCD is one of the MOST common disorders that people deal with  and it is very treatable.  Yay!
  • My son has always been a fearful little guy.  Even as a baby he was scared of things that most of our kids thought to be funny.  
  • OCD isn't caused by something I did as a mother.  It is so hard not to blame ourselves for things our kids are struggling with.  I've had thoughts over and over about how hard this move has been for him, on whether or not my parenting style has been too much for many things!  
  • It is interesting to see how my son fights back against his fears.  His compulsions are different every couple of weeks...this isn't always typical.  The therapist thinks this could be a sign that he is fighting back quickly.  
  • I've learned more from this brave and wise little boy than most people in my life.  I learn from him daily and I'm in constant awe of him. 
  • It is a relief in a sense to know more of what is going on with him instead of just thinking my kid is a HANDFUL and not knowing what to do as a parent.  
  • I can tell that it is a relief to him too.  To know that we are here to listen and help.  When we talk about his fears and try to separate the OCD fears from HIM, he is so open to working with us and working through his irrational fears.  Even though he knows that it doesn't make sense to be scared or worried about something, it is still so hard for him to push through that.  He's been terrified of the shower FOREVER but recently we faced that together and by going all the way through with it and not backing down, he not only saw the power of facing a fear (a very REAL fear to him even though most of you probably wouldn't see the shower as a scary thing) but he realized HIS POWER in being able to do so.  Now he loves the shower.  
  • This week has been harder than most.  My son's mouth is red and raw from licking and rubbing in attempt to keep germs out.  He's been afraid of being near me or my husband when we are drinking coffee or beer because of the smell and kissing me on the lips is on hold for now.  Who knows what it will be next week.  Maybe nothing...that's just it, sometimes we have perfect weeks where nothing happens at all...where he is a happy, easy going kid and we think it is all better.  
  • So far, school is easy.  He loves school and the teachers have never noticed anything out of the ordinary.  He's social and follows rules. Bright.  Enthusiastic.  No problem.  But from what I read, this can be common...and then they come home and practically explode from keeping it all in.  This explains a lot in regards to the fits I sometimes get to experience later on in the day.  
  • I'm thankful for one friend in particular who encouraged me to get help after a rather rough week in July where we were visiting him in Charleston.  During this week, my son was so compulsive with his constant need to say sorry and tell on himself for every little thing (apologizing and confessing are two common compulsions related to OCD).  This was maddening for me and now that I think of it, it was probably how he feels in his head almost every day.  Poor little guy.  

Well, there's a little bit of my world lately.  Not all running.  Not all happy motherhood moments.  But certainly all WORTH IT.  I'm learning so much and I'll continue to do so.  I'm so so blessed to have a husband that is beyond supportive and loving as a father and best friend/partner to me.  Together, we can do anything!  Especially for one brave beautiful little boy that we love beyond words.


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