Lessons learned

Week 2, Day 3 done. We completed week 2 yesterday, and it was a good day for learning a few running lessons. Until now, we’ve had a relatively easy time finding childcare, fitting the run into our schedules and letting it be a refreshing sort of event in the early or middle part of our day.

Not so yesterday. Phil had an all-day training for substitute teaching, so our run was scheduled for after 4:30 p.m. — after he’d been in a seminar all day, after I’d been with the kids all day, and right around supper time. Thankfully, my grandparents bought us a jogging stroller/bicycle trailer for Christmas and it arrived last Saturday. So, we planned to load up the kids in it and get our run in for the day.

A little easier said than done. We changed and stretched, then had to cart the stroller up from the basement, reassemble it, air the tires and secure the kids. By then, we’d already been stretched for 10 or 15 minutes and it was dinner time. I started our run with a bad attitude, thinking there was no way we’d be able to get this done, that I’d be starving and because it was the end of the day, I’d be extra worn out. Some of those things were true, but five minutes in to the routine, I was feeling good. The kids were mostly happy. Corban looked a little uncomfortable but he put himself to sleep. Phil worked harder than usual because he was pushing 55 extra pounds. But all in all, it was a successful end to the second week.

I don’t really like running that late in the day, especially with supper waiting in the oven, but I learned that mental obstacles can be overcome and discipline is about sticking with the committment even if conditions aren’t ideal.

On to week 3.

A ballerina firefighter and her brother the clown

The kids seem to be growing/changing/developing at a crazy fast rate these days, and I feel like I can’t keep up with it all. To remember for posterity, to share with family and friends who are far away and might possibly not check Facebook every second of the day. (Shoot, if that’s the case, they might not read this blog, either!)

Isabelle, at 2 1/2, has decided that she wants to go to kindergarten. Tomorrow. And ride a school bus. Today. We live along the school bus route, so when she sees the buses go by, she almost always  notices and asks, “Am I going to ride the bus?” She also has asked if we’re going to watch her when she rides the bus. Another almost-daily occurrence is the declaration that she’s going to kindergarten or school. She often dons her backpack and says she’s ready for school. I’ll remember these days when she’s a teenager and refusing to get out of bed, right? Who knows, though, maybe she’ll actually like school and be one of those weird kids (me) who wanted to go to school. It’ll be here soon enough; I just wish she wasn’t trying to rush it.

When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, her current response is “a firefighter.” Good thing her grandparents found a firefighter jacket for her to play dress-up with. Occasionally, she also wants to be a ballerina. You go, girl. We live in an age where she could totally do both.

Today at the park, I saw, once again, our little social butterfly emerge. When we arrived, there were no kids at the park. Within minutes, a woman showed up with six  kids and another woman brought her two kids. Forget whatever plans I had for a relaxing time at the park with my two kids. Instead of letting Corban swing in a baby swing and Isabelle play on the age-appropriate slides and equipment for her, I ended up following my daughter around as she tried desperately to join these other kids in their pursuits. She even started calling out their names when she heard the other kids call them. I sort of felt bad, like maybe she needs more social interaction. But maybe she’s just got the sort of personality that easily makes friends and includes everyone. She certainly didn’t get all that from me. I couldn’t even bring myself to say more than “Hi” to the other women at the park, even though I wanted to tell the woman with six kids that she was brave to take on such an endeavor.

This girl wakes up at 90 mph. and doesn’t slow down for most of the day. Including now when she’s supposed to be napping so we can go to the library later. Some days, she is a greater test of patience than others. But she’s better than a cup of coffee to get me going in the morning. She jumps out of bed and yells, “Mommy, mommy” then takes off for the kitchen or living room before I’ve even opened my eyes completely. And if her brother happens to wake up at the same time, she runs to him, loudly shouting, “Cor-ban. Cor-ban. Hey, popsters.” (His dad sometimes calls him Mr. Popsters or Popping-pops. The little sponge has picked up on this nickname and many others we use to describe him. I hope he won’t have a complex that therapy can’t solve later in life.)

Speaking of the boy, he is nearly 10 months old and just this week has started to stand without holding on to anything for longer and longer periods of time. It’s still only a few seconds, but I can see his improved balance and confidence on his feet. He also “walks” while pushing things. It’s only a matter of time. He’s also developed what we call the maniacal laugh. It’s different from his giggle or I-think-my-sister-is-hilarious laugh. He’ll be playing with something and all of a sudden let out this deep “ha-ha-ha” sort of sound that puts Phil and me in stitches every time.

He’s starting to eat us out of house and home. OK, so I know that’s not true yet. Friends with teenagers, especially boys, would tell me it only gets worse. But he’s eating more and more, especially if he can pick it up himself and put it in his mouth. He shunned baby food from a jar for a while, but now he’s eating entire jars in one sitting. We may burn through our stash yet.

Maybe he doesn’t intentionally do it, or maybe he does, but Corban seems to always be doing something goofy to put a smile on our faces. Sometimes it’s just putting an entire piece of fake food in his mouth then smiling. Or walking around with a fake hot dog hanging out of his mouth. Or banging on stuff to make loud noises. Whatever he does, he thinks he’s funny. And I guess that’s a good ingredient for a playful personality.

I often feel like we’re in our own little world and I forget to share these meaningful and ordinary moments with those we care about and who care about the kids. This is my attempt. I know it can’t totally make up for our physical absence in people’s lives, but it’s something.

Enjoy. We sure do.

Runnin’ in the rain

Week 2, Day 2. One more run, and we’ll already be done with two weeks? Hard to believe. Today it poured during our scheduled run time. It was a cool, refreshing sort of rain, but we were soaked and chilly by the time our run was done.

Not much to report, but here’s proof that we stretch.

Our little fitness trainer makes sure we do the right ones.

Does pain equal gain?

Week 2, Day 1. Today we ran for 90 seconds and walked for 2 minutes, according to the plan. It was our first afternoon run, and the temperature happened to be over 80 today. A gentle breeze kept us cool as we tackled the first day of a new training week.

But I have to say, I’m a little confused. Is this supposed to hurt? Because I’m not feeling much pain or soreness in my muscles after I run. I feel good, but for some reason I don’t expect that to be right. As we ran, I was recovering well in those 2 minutes of walking, catching my breath and able to gear up for the next run. Am I not working hard enough? Or is this what it’s supposed to be like?

I’m expecting to feel it more the more time we spend running with less walking in our routines, but I’m pleasantly surprised to be feeling good. I even lost a little over a pound this week. So far, I’m hooked on this plan.

I welcome your experience and advice. I feel like I could push myself a little harder when we run, but I’m just not sure if that’s wise.

One week down

Week 1, Day 3, thereby completing week one. I didn’t feel particularly challenged by today’s run/walk. Is that normal? I’m glad it gets increasingly more difficult, though I may regret saying that. Part of me wants to push it harder, but I definitely don’t want to injure myself, so slow and steady is the way it goes for now. I appreciate the encouragement that anything we’re doing is better than nothing, so even if I don’t feel like I’m working that hard, at least I’m working. Right?

We drove our two previous routes and discovered we’re covering about 2 miles with our warm-up walk, the 20 minutes of alternating running and walking, and the cool down to get us back to our starting point. That’s nice to know, too. I like measurable goals and that sort of thing, so knowing that we’re doing 2 miles encourages me that at some point we can do 3.

Feeling good still. Saturday begins week 2.

Press on!

Hills and flattened caterpillars

Week 1, Day 2. After the soreness of the weekend, I wasn’t sure I was going to look forward to today’s run. But my legs were not as sore this morning as they were yesterday, so my outlook for today’s workout improved.

We tackled one of the giantish hills in our neighborhood but also slowed our pace a little. By the end, I was still breathing normal and I didn’t feel like I was going to puke. I realize these moments may return another time, but I’m glad that I felt good, maybe even great after today’s run.

Isabelle likes stretching with us. It’s adorable. I hope to get a picture soon. She takes good care of us as we “suit up” to run, making sure we have our shoes and socks and do our stretching. “You wanna stretch with me?” she asks after we get back. A fitness trainer in the making?

Phil stayed ahead of me today instead of beside, which was fine except that I didn’t always notice immediately when he stopped after a minute of running. I guess I run with my head down because I noticed a lot of flattened caterpillars on the road. And when I’d look up after running for a time, I’d see Phil walking, unsure of how long it had been since he stopped. In a few weeks, we hope to be running distances instead of times to give us a better gauge of how far we’re going.

We’re taking your advice and applying it as best we can. The encouragement is great. And being accountable to you keeps us going.

Till next time.

First run

Week 1, Day 1 completed.

If you’d have told me even a month ago that I would have run/walked for 20 minutes on purpose, because I wanted to, I would have said you were crazy.

But we did it today. And I actually looked forward to it. There were some tough moments. My husband’s stride is longer than mine, so we had to make some adjustments so I wouldn’t wear myself out trying to keep up with him. I had to remind myself not to go too fast too soon.

When the last minute of running was done, I had to will myself not to throw up. My lungs were burning. My legs wondered what had happened. And I felt a little bit sick. But by the time we finished the walk back to our friends’ house, where the kids were playing, I felt good.

Now, over an hour after we finished, I feel great. My legs hurt. I’ve discovered muscles I hadn’t used in a long time. I’ll probably feel worse tomorrow, and I’m sure when we set out to do this again on Monday that I might dread it.

But I’m excited.

Small steps.

Thanks for the support and encouragement already.

Running for our lives

In high school, our gym teachers had this horrible conspiracy to torture us. It was called “the mile and a half.” Freshmen talked about it as a thing to be feared, and each semester, it was the time of year to be dreaded. At least for the non-running types, of which I was one. I’ve never been in what I would call great physical shape, so running was difficult for me. I wasn’t good. If the weather was hot, I sweated too much and had bouts of nearly passing out. One summer during softball practice (I know this has nothing to do with running), I puked in center field and was seeing white spots because I was overheated. Our hunky high school “coach,” more like an instructor, bought me a Sprite and ushered me to a shady spot on the bleachers. The other girls were slightly jealous, but that didn’t last long.

Enough digression. Tomorrow, despite all my past declarations against the sport, I become a runner.

The gear has been purchased (See new shoes in photo).

The plans for watching the children have been made. The fitness plan has been decided. My husband and I will set out tomorrow morning to begin our journey to run a 5K in late November.

This idea first popped into my head after I saw a friend “like” the “Couch to 5K Running Plan” (http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml?cmp=18-1) on Facebook. The idea intrigued me, especially since I would consider myself pretty much a couch potato now. Though two kids do keep a person hopping. But I also cope with bad days by eating chocolate and Cheetos. Sometimes together, sometimes not.

There’s more to this wacky plan than fitness, though. To be honest, our marriage is hurting right now and 30 minutes three times a week running with my husband, without the kids, will be precious couple time that we haven’t sought often enough. The physical benefits will be a bonus, as we both could stand to lose some more “baby” weight. Mine from the actual pregnancies, my husband from the sympathy eating.

Also, I’m realizing that I’m not terribly disciplined nor do I really understand what hard work is. Most of my life, I’ve chosen the easy way. Or avoided hard work altogether. Growing up, when my parents went outside to do yardwork, I more often stayed inside and read a book or watched TV. Even now, I have trouble not being selfish or lazy with how I spend a day. I sit way more often than I should, even with the aforementioned children running, crawling and climbing all over the house. I’m a writer by design, so naturally I’m drawn to sitting at a computer, reading a book or doing more intellectual things. Physical training has only ever been fun for me if it’s part of a game. Like volleyball or softball.

Running is hard work. I think that’s why I’ve avoided it. I don’t have a lot of self-discipline or mental strength to push myself to do something that takes work. I’m impressed by runners because they can push themselves to go another mile when their bodies want to give up. I need that sort of fortitude in other areas of life. The will to keep going even when the going gets tough.

I used to tell people, when dismissing the idea of running for fun, that I would only ever run to save my life. In a way, that’s what I’m now doing, what I proposed to my husband. In a lot of ways, we need to save our lives right now, and running is the answer.

I’ve been thinking about what the apostle Paul wrote about running in his letters to the early church. I used to read over those words. Now I’m paying more attention.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)

We invite you to join us on this journey. I’ll be blogging regularly about our progress and would appreciate any advice, encouragement, tips you have about running, or living a self-disciplined life in general.

Stay tuned.

Dear daughter, in case I forget to tell you when you’re older …

… here are some reasons you continue to steal my heart.

First, this smile. It’s there when you wake up in the morning and is a constant reminder of the joy you have for life. You have an energy and a zest for living that I hope does not disappear when you get older and more “seasoned” by life. You inspire me and give me purpose.

Second, your prayers. You are 2 years old and you already know how to pray. When our friend prayed for the meal tonight, you bowed your head, folded your hands and sat quietly. One of the best parts of my day is hearing you say, “Dear Jesus, for my mommy, for my daddy, for my Corban. Amen.” And hearing you add in other people and things to your prayers. Keep praying, my daughter. It will be your lifeline.

Third, your imagination. As we walked home tonight, you stopped every few minutes and said, “Let’s take a picture.” You pulled out the worn-out camera Nana gave you and snapped a “smile” every chance you got. Will you be a photographer? I do not know. I love watching you play with your babies as though they were real. How you feed them, diaper them, offer them your snacks and entertain them. How the space between our front door and the door that leads to our attic can become an elevator to anywhere. And the other day out of nowhere you decided to show us the chicken dance.

Fourth, your creativity. You’ve loved to draw and color for a while now, but your pictures are becoming more than just scribbles. You love circles and drawing them over and over and over again. When you pull out your fingerpaints, we’re never sure what the outcome will be, but we’re as proud of what you created as if it were hanging in an art gallery. Jackson Pollock, watch out. And you are the best snake maker in the Playdough genre that I’ve ever seen.

Fifth, your negotiating abilities. “Just one more,” you say sweetly when you’ve finished your umpteenth episode of Dora. And even if I wanted to resist, I couldn’t. Between your smile and tone, I give in. I’m convinced you could win any case brought against your client, if you choose to be a lawyer. This could serve you well in life, but I’m almost certain you’ll outgrow it.

Sixth, your recall. As you were playing your memory game yesterday, you started saying, “Dos. Cinco. Dos. Cinco” as you placed the pieces on the table. This is the result of too much Dora and nowhere near the correct order of counting in Spanish, but I’m tickled nonetheless. Also, you know that the Spanish for open is “abre” and that if you really want me to follow you to another room, “Come on, vamanos,” gets me every time.

Seventh, your personality. You’ve started waving at strangers. Sometimes they wave back. Usually they smile. Your mother has a hard time initiating conversations or even contact with strangers, but you are young enough and have enough of your father’s genes that you make friends easily already and are quick to offer a wave or a “hi.” I can learn so much from you.

Eighth, your curiosity. “What’s that, Mama?” is a favorite question right now. And you really are interested. Daddy was telling you about his class tonight and when he said it was about the triune God, you repeated, “The try-oon God?” and he explained about Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit. That may be a bit over your head at this point, but keep asking questions. You’ll learn something new all the time.

Ninth, your innocence. You don’t yet know that it’s not OK to look out the front picture window when you’re not wearing clothes or a diaper. We constantly have to tell you to get away from the window until your jammies are on. I don’t think this means you’ll be an exhibitionist. It’s like Adam and Eve, before the Fall. Naked and unashamed. You don’t yet feel weird about the way you look, with or without clothes on. You don’t know that bad things happen for no reason you can explain or that loving too much can sometimes hurt you. Your world is safe. I wish I trusted God as much as you trust your mommy and daddy. I’m working on that.

And lastly, although I’m not sure there’s really an end to the things that I love, I love that God put you in our lives. Your father and I have not known many married days without you, and although your birth changed everything for us, we can’t imagine our lives any differently or remember what they were like before you came along. We haven’t scratched the surface of the things you’ll teach us, but you’ve grown us in ways we couldn’t have imagined. We are better people for having you in our lives. You are only 2, and it’s been an adventure with so much more to come.

Isabelle, you are a gift. If you should ever read this, try not to roll your eyes too much. Mommy is foolishly sentimental sometimes.