Thursday, January 29, 2015

18 Months with Baby E

Wow...where did my baby go? I ask myself that question more than I probably should. Everyone says the time goes quick, but you never really realize how quick until it is your child growing up.

Um...I am learning here

Baby E really isn't a baby anymore, but a smart, funny, energetic, adorable toddler. She is a ball of emotion with distinct likes and dislikes. It is hard when something completely irrational, like a water cup not fitting in her cozy coupe cup holder, sends her into complete meltdown, but it is amazing when she runs to you asking for a hug.

Toddler life is hard
Climbing is E's favorite thing right now. Tables, chairs, toy boxes...anything else she can get herself onto, she is there. She has even figured out how to climb out the window of her cozy coupe. This keeps us on our toes and makes me very nervous. Luckily, she hasn't tried to climb out of her crib, yet. 

I got do I get out

We also have a chatter box. The speed that E is learning words and language really blows my mind. Her vocabulary grows by the day. She mimics everything (I need to watch what I play in the car now) and is starting to put two word phrases together on her own. 

E is super smart (I know I am bias) and the things that she figures out really blow me away. She knows that Grandma lives in my phone (we Facetime a lot) knows were the GoGo Squeeze applesauce lives. She knows what doorknobs and keys do, but luckily hasn't figured out exactly how to open them yet as well as a ton of other things.

I am beginning to realize, that at least for a while, kids are always in the moment. It is amazing to see the raw emotion (joy, awe, happiness) in E's eyes when she is taking something in. She will dance whenever there is music and doesn't have a care in the world. It is a good reminder for me to say focused and in the moment with her.

At 18 months out I am doing much better than I was right after E was born and for most of that first year. Trying to balance everything is hard and some days I feel like there is not enough of me to go around, but I do the best I can and hope it is enough.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

It is 2015...Time for a Reboot

Hello...yeah, it has been a while. Sorry about that. The last bit of 2014 was crazy and a bit rough for me, so blogging was not at the top of my priority list. All I can do now is catch you up on what as been going on and let you know where I am going.

When we left off in September, I had 5 races on my end of year list. I ran two. The UCF 5 miler, which was a total disaster because the course was not marked correctly, and the Run Nona at Night 5k. Neither was a great performance because I was not well trained and dealing with some minor, but annoying, illness and injury things.

I never signed up for two of the races and the Space Coast Half Marathon was a big fat DNS (more on why later). Needless to say, I am not exactly happy with my running progress in 2014.

The worst part of the fall was that both a very close family friend and my Father both passed away in November. We had just come back from a funeral in South Florida when I received the call that my Father's treatment was no longer working and he was being put into hospice. I left for WI a few days later and he passed away a few days after I arrived. His viewing and funeral were the Monday and Tuesday after Space Coast, so I obviously didn't run.

We spent almost 2 weeks in WI and got back to Orlando mid-December. The rest of the month was spent catching up on things and trying to cram some Christmas joy into the season. Opening gifts with baby E was so fun this year. (I owe you an update on her. She it turning into and amazingly awesome little girl.)

That brings us to 2015. I did a decent job with my goals for 2014, but there was room for improvement and further growth. This is what I am working on this year.

  • Focus on overall fitness. 2014 was all about running and it was not uncommon for that to be all I did. While not the worst thing in the world, it has left me weaker that I would like to be. I am taking a more well rounded approach and focusing on building strength and hoping that it helps in my running.
  • Really work on my dissertation. I made a good start on this in 2014, but it is a long process. After a couple months away because of my Dad's illness, it is time to get back to it.
  • Blog more regularly. My goal is to get 2 posts up a month this year. It is not a lot, but creating consistency is step 1.
It is a short list, but it is some pretty big things and will help keep me accountable in 2015.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why I am not Racing in August or September

So, for those of you who have been following along, one of my goals for the year was to run a race each month. As you may have noticed, there is no August Race recap. It isn't just late, I didn't race last month and I am not going to race this month either. That said, the goal is still at least 12 races by the end of the year. There are two main reasons why I am not running these months.

First, I am behind in my training. The Space Coast Half Marathon at the end of November is my next big race. I am trying for a PR in this race, but my training has not been a smooth as I would like it. I have been sick, Baby E has been sick, we have been traveling and work has been hectic. All these excuses add up to being a few weeks behind where I would like to be. So, I made the tough decision to focus on running, not racing, for two months.

The other reason is that there were not a lot of races I wanted to do. One thing I have learned is that I only enjoy racing when I want to do the race. I am never going to be fast, so 5ks are not my favorite and running a random one just to race is not fun. I enjoy some of them, such as Run Nona at Night, Suck it Up Buttercup 5k and the Lady Track Shack 5k, but running them just to race is not my deal.

My I am excited that my racing hiatus will come to an end soon and the fall is full of races. This is what is on my calendar right now:
I am still figuring out what I want to do for December. I am thinking about the Mount Dora Half Marathon, but not 100% sure I want to do another half this year. Let me know if you have any good December races.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Baby Free Weekend

I know the blog has been quiet for the past couple of weeks. I wish I could tell you that there was one big thing that was sucking all my time, but there really wasn't. It has just been a lot of little things sucking my time. Since baby E's birthday, there has been travel, illness (both her and me) and visitors. In addition to trying to keep the house running and my career on track. I guess that is a lot. 

Our last trip for a while was this past weekend. The husband and I had our first weekend alone together since baby E arrive (over 13 months ago for anyone who is counting). It was a much needed trip. Friday evening we packed up the car and headed South. My husband's aunt offered to watch baby E for the weekend. She lives in the Jupiter area, so that was our first stop. After getting E settled and giving way too many instructions (I was a little nervous), we were back in the car and headed a bit further south to Fort Lauderdale.

It was about 8 p.m. when we got to Fort Lauderdale, so our first stop was dinner. Guess where....Publix. Yup, our first night away from the baby and we ate subs in our hotel room for dinner. We have such a wild life. In all honesty, we were both wiped from a long week and a long drive. It was nice to relax and go to bed early without having to worry about entertaining a little one.

Saturday my body clock got me up at 6:45 a.m. Yay adulthood! We found an amazing French bakery for breakfast. Then hit the beach for a while. The weather was questionable most of the day, so after a few hours in the surf with rain clouds looming, we decided not to push our luck too much more. We headed back to the hotel to clean up and relax. 

Ham & Cheese in a Crossant....yes please
I take terrible selfies
  That evening we found a local brewery. The beer was good and it was nice to have some time to have a real conversation. That evening we headed back to the beach and enjoyed oysters, ceviche and more beer. After a walk on the beach we headed back to the hotel and hung out for a while.

Oysters and Beer

Sunday morning we slept late (until almost 9), then got ready and packed. We took a walk around the harbor close to our hotel and eyed some of the boats. The boats by our hotel were large gigantic and really pretty. Maybe if I win the lottery I can have one. The only problem with that plan is that you have to play the lottery to win and I don't do that.

So pretty

After ogling the boats, we went back to the French Bakery for breakfast and then headed North to pick up baby E. It was nice to have some time to ourselves, but I missed her smile. She gave me a huge hug and did not want to be put down for the rest of the day. The best thing was that she was happy to hang out with her Aunt while we were gone, she was even happier to have us back.

A few hours later, it was back home and back to reality. At least until our next trip.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How We Made it Through 12 Months of Breastfeeding

Baby E just turned one and this means we hit the one-year mark on breastfeeding. I feel very lucky and blessed that I have been able to provide her with both milk and the closeness nursing provides for the past year. A few months ago I discussed the first 6 months of our nursing journey, and while overall, the second 6 months was easier it did present different challenges.

One of the big problems over the past few months was Baby E would get distracted. Starting at about 9 months, Baby E would pull off at the slightest noise or movement. This made it more difficult to nurse her when we were out and next to impossible to nurse her in the car (not while driving). She also stared occasionally doing what I call yoga nursing when we were home. The urge to stand up would hit her and she would end up in something that looked like downward dog while latched. That was always interesting.

Around 9 months is also when I started to get really sick of pumping. Not just, oh this is a pain sick of pumping, but wanting to poke my eyeballs out sick of pumping. The constant 5:30 a.m. wake ups and building my day around the pump sucked. I don't miss the pumping at all. That said, it was worth every minute I spent attached to that horrible machine to be able to still nurse Baby E when I am around.

Several people have asked me how we made it so long and there are several things that helped.
  1. Pump early. I started pumping very early on and started pumping with some regularity beginning at about 4 weeks. This meant that by the time I went back to work we had almost two months of milk in the freezer. Knowing we had extra gave me comfort in the beginning and allowed us to go longer without supplementing.
  2. Pump often. For me to keep my supply up I had to pump a lot. On days when I worked it was sometimes as many as 7 times a day. I was lucky in that Baby E slept through the night very early on. However, the early morning hours were when my supply was highest, so for the first 8 months of Baby E's life I pumped at 1:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. every day. At 8 months I stared to drop the 1:30 a.m. pumping session. While they completely sucked, without these pumping sessions, I wouldn't have had enough milk for daycare.
  3. Rotate your stock. When I went back to work, I started sending a combination of part fresh and part previously frozen milk. I would then freeze the additional fresh milk. Another step that took some time, but this kept my freezer stock fresh and made sure that none of the milk went bad. I think I would have cried if I would have had to throw any milk out. It was bad enough the couple of times I split some.
  4. Make friends with the letdown feature. This girl turned me on to this trick and it helped me increase my output. About halfway through each session, I would run the letdown cycle again. I was all about more milk in the same amount of time.
  5. Take it one day at a time. Over the course of the last year there have been days when I wanted to give up. It may have been a day when my output dropped or a day when I had to do every pumping session in the car or a day when I missed something because I was stuck pumping, but whatever it was, I was over it. Each time I took a deep breath and said to myself, "try one more day and see how it goes." The next day was always better and that gave me the momentum I needed to keep going.
My supply dropped pretty significantly when Baby E was a little over 9 months. I continued to pump and get as much as I could, but I was only pumping about half of what she was taking. Luckily Baby E was pretty well established on solids when this happened. Additionally, because of the amount of milk we had in the freezer we were able to give her exclusively breast milk until around 10.5 months and then started to give her small amounts of organic whole cows milk. Deciding what to use as a supplement was an agonizing decision, but in the end, we decided that cows milk would work best for us.

At this point I plan on continuing to nurse Baby E until she is done with it. Sometimes I worry that is right around the corner, and other times I think she will want to nurse forever. Right now Baby E gets cows milk at daycare and she nurses in the morning and the evening. Without having to pump, I am enjoying the nursing sessions more. It is a good way to welcome the day and reconnect after work. It is bittersweet to be closer to the end of this journey than the beginning.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

One Year!

Baby E is one year old today. In many ways I can't believe it has been a year already, and in others, the time seems to have gone so slowly. All I know is that I don't really remember what life was before this little girl was a part of it.

I know the first year is full of changes, but it is amazing that in a year she can go from a little lump to a walking, talking little girl. Each day her personality comes out more and more. I love that smiles and giggles are common.

How do you go from this....

To this in just a year?

Baby E is doing great. I don't have her exact stats, but I know she is about 22 pounds and tall enough that she can no longer play under the table without bumping her head. Unfortunately, she doesn't always remember this, but she is learning.

Baby E is starting to climb and trying to run. She loves being outside even if it is just in the front yard. While it is not quite as often as when she was a tiny one, Baby E still likes to snuggle and be held. It is not uncommon for her to walk up to me with her arms out and squeaking, which is her way of asking to be held.

Her birthday was filled with lots of Mommy and Daddy snuggles, some time at an indoor playground (rain meant no swimming), a dinner of her favorites (eggs, beans and blueberries) and a giant strawberry cupcake.

What is with the singing...give me that cupcake.
A year later I am in a different place than I thought I would be. To say it has been a growing year would be an understatement. There are still days when I still struggle with Baby E's birth, but it is a lot better than it was. I am regaining some confidence in myself. The one thing that I am happy to say is that I am still nursing Baby E, but no longer really pumping. (I will have a whole post on this shortly.) I don't know when she will wean, but at this point I am not in a hurry. 

Love this little one.
I know the first year is full of some of the most dramatic changes you see in a child's life, and there have been many moments where I have been blown away. I am excited to see what her second year brings.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Race Recep - Suck it Up Buttercup 5k

A few months ago a coworker of mine was looking at ways to get in shape for his 40th birthday. A couple of us convinced him that participating in his first 5k would be a great motivator and he said if I could find one, he would do it. It felt like it was meant to be when I found a race the weekend before his birthday in the part of town where he lives. Little did we realize that the Suck it Up Buttercup 5k would live up to its name.

Race morning my alarm went off at 4:15 a.m. I got up and got myself together and packed up. This was the first race in months that we were all running, so a little before 5 a.m. I got Baby E out of her crib. The goal was to get her changed and into her car seat without really waking her up so she would sleep in the car on the way to the race. Yeah, that really didn't work. She woke up and didn't fall back asleep until about 10 minutes before we got there.

We all piled in the car and were pulling out of the driveway at about 5:15 a.m. This is the first time in a long time that I wasn't running late for a race. It was a nice feeling. The drive went smoothly and we got to the race site a little before 6 a.m. I let Baby E sleep for a few more minutes, then woke her up so she could nurse before we started. This was as much for me as it was for her.

After a quick stop at the port-o-pottys, we found my coworkers and lined up toward the end of the starting line. I had the stroller, so I wanted to give myself plenty of room. The organizers pushed the start by about 5 minutes, and at about 6:35 the national anthem was played and we were off.

The first two miles went well. It was hilly, but not too bad. I knew the course was not flat and I would have the stroller, so my goal for the race was to keep my pace under 13 minute miles. At the two mile marker, I was just under this pace and super excited. That excitement didn't last long, because the next mile was a killer. There were several really steep hills and pushing the stroller down the hills was worse than pushing it up. For this mile I felt like we were back in Virginia because the course was much more Virginia hills than Florida hills. 

This picture doesn't do the hills justice
I was super excited when I saw the corner to turn down for the finish. At that point I was hot, tired and ready to be done. I was also glad that I didn't sign up for the 10k this year. 
At the finish line

My final time was 41:24 or a 13:21 per mile pace. Which means that I took forever to cover the last mile. Oh well, I'll be better prepared for the hills next time.
What was so hard about that?

Post-race group photo
This was my first race with Final Mile and I have to say I was really impressed. Yeah, the course was hard, but that is not a bad thing. The event was well organized and marked, you had access to your photos, and the race shirt was a gender specific tech shirt. 

Seven months of racing down and now it is time to start gearing up for the fall and winter racing season. I am happy I decided against doing a full marathon this year, and excited to try and kick some butt in the half.