Friday, February 21, 2014

Running with Jimmy Fallon

This winter has royally sucked for running. Snow, ice, bitter cold, wind. One at a time, all at once. A couple of weeks ago the temperature wasn't too bad so I decided to do my long run outside. I had the right clothes, I had a hat, a neck gaiter thingy, and swim goggles. Wait, what? Yeah, I had swim goggles because the neck gaiter makes my sunglasses fog up. I need the neck gaiter because my face gets too cold and if I breathe in the cold air I have a much harder time, but I need the sunglasses to keep the wind out of my eyes. And the sun. Such. A. Pickle.

So, I tried swim goggles:

They didn't work out the best. They started out okay but then they started fogging up too. And they were less than comfortable so I wound up taking them off and putting them in my pocket. Which was am amazing feat because my hands were horribly frozen. I was wearing running gloves but they just didn't cut it. When I started out the sun was out and everything was ok, but then the sun went away and it quickly went downhill. I had in my mind though that I needed to run 7.25 so I could get 20 miles for the week. So that's what I did. I knew I wasn't in danger of real frostbite, but my hands were seriously cold. It was so bad my left hand started cramping up towards the end of my run and stayed that way until the next morning. That was NOT fun. I think I'll just wear my regular old winter mittens the next time I go out. If that ever happens.

The next weekend was another snowy frigid one and I wasn't going to attempt another outdoor long run. But I needed to run long. So, I hopped on the treadmill. I rely on the treadmill during the week to do my tempo runs and intervals and easy runs. I can do 4-5 miles when I break it up into intervals. But doing a long slow consistent run would make me go insane. Nonetheless, it had to be done. I grabbed my water, my iPad and headed down to meet the only person who could get me through it: Jimmy Fallon.
I took this pic before my run on Tuesday, which is why it's The Tonight Show.
I was watching Late Night when I did the 7 mile long run. 
I've been running with Jimmy a lot this winter. The only danger is when I have to hold on so I don't fall off laughing. That's happened a few times… I may have also gotten a little choked up during his farewell episode of Late Night and his first episode of The Tonight Show. I made it through 7 long slow miles and there is NO way I could have done it without Jimmy. I want to get my long run back up to 10 but I'm seriously hoping the weather warms up enough for me to do it outside. I'm not sure I could do that on the treadmill. Even with Jimmy Fallon. 

I've wound up taking most of this school break week off from running/exercising, but I've done some tromping though the snow with the kids and I'm okay with it. I think it's good to take a break every once in a while. I'll be back at it soon enough, especially now that I know which Ragnar legs I'm running! 16.9 miles in 2 days. I'll be building the mileage up again pretty soon. Good thing I have Jimmy Fallon to get me through it!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Those kids I have

I was going to write about yesterday's kickass intervals, but I haven't done a kid-post in a while.

Last month LightRunner turned 18 months old. I can't quite believe so much time has passed. I think it's a bit more bittersweet knowing he is my last and I won't experience those early infant days again (and I do love those early infant days.) But 18 months is also my magic time… I can see his little brain ticking. I can see him absorbing EVERYTHING. It's so unreal how you can just see the difference when their little wheels start turning. He stops and thinks before he does things, he does things to deliberately make me laugh, he remembers things from day to day. He's starting to say a lot more words and repeat a lot of sounds. He helps me unload the dishwasher and hands me each individual item saying "he-ah" (here) after each one and "thank you" after I thank him. He loves his Haze, but he also loves playing with his siblings. The Princess can make him giggle just by looking at him and sticking her hand out to pretend to tickle him. The other day he jumped on SkyWalker and wrestled him. I love this time when he is learning so much and everything is a wonderful new experience for him (and mess for me). Next year it will be just him and me and I am already planning on resurrecting my Preschool Playdates program and really cherishing our last year before preschool starts.

Chewie is doing really well with her speech--twice a week--and enjoying her new preschool. She talks to other kids in gymnastics and at preschool and has come a long way. She and the Princess are always playing make believe and when the Princess is not here Chewie just plays by herself. I frequently hear her talking in the living room living out whatever fantasy she is making up. She is ready for kindergarten and going on the bus with big sister. I'm not sure I'm ready for her to go, but we have 7 months to get ready.

The Princess is as crazy as ever. I've talked to a lot of moms with 6 year old girls and it's almost universal. The happy one minute biting your head off the next syndrome. She has done better with her tantrums, but she is still very quick to anger. Over the most ridiculous things. She's doing very well in school and I have no problems there. She does her homework right away, works hard on everything she does, and is well behaved when she is there. She doesn't seem to involve herself in any of the girl drama. I suppose it's better that she saves her crazy for me, but I look forward to this phase ending.

SkyWalker is not crazy but he is lazy. He is SO smart but he just dislikes doing hard work. And anything that he thinks is going to take more than 5 minutes is hard work. His handwriting is horrible, still, and he will often put the minimum amount of effort into anything (except Minecraft). His first report card was so good--nothing below a 90--but the one he will bring home today will not be as good. His grades have fallen in both math and science, mostly because of the ridiculous common core that's supposed to make things so much better. If he had a worksheet of simple multiplication or division to do the old fashioned way he would get it done no problems. But he can't do it the old fashioned way. He has to use their strategies. Look up number discs. It is the most ridiculous thing in the world. Vader and I don't agree on much but we are in unison when it comes to this common core crap. Anyway, SkyWalker gets annoyed that he has to do this extra work when he already knows what the damn answer is and he tends to skip directions and get points off. In the last couple of weeks he has improved a lot with math and is putting more effort into following directions and labeling. I threatened to take Minecraft away and that seemed to have an effect. This is the first year that he cannot rely on his raw intelligence and he has to actually work. I think his grades going down might actually be beneficial for him (and his low grades are 85s, we're not talking failing). He's playing basketball and seems to enjoy it a lot more than soccer. He's not very good because he's just not an aggressive kid. He told me the other day that there are two boys at his table at school and one was kind of mean to the other and said that he was going to work on a project with SkyWalker and that the other kid had to work alone. SkyWalker said no, they would all work together. So, I'm okay with him not being aggressive enough for sports.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Little pangs

Facebook is having their 10 year anniversary and making little movies of highlights for people. The very first picture in mine is of Isaac. Which is fitting since I've been thinking a lot about him lately.

Mostly I've been thinking about how different our lives would be if he were still here. We wouldn't bring Haze down to LI with us. I would have to lock up the dogs whenever Chewie's speech teacher comes or we have playdates or it's nap time and I don't want any barking. The biggest thing though is LightRunner. He and Haze have a bond. They curl up together, he follows her around saying "Heze, Heze." He pets her and grabs her little face and she is the BEST dog ever and tolerates everything he does and just cuddles into him.

Which would never happen with Isaac here. First, Haze wouldn't pay as much attention because she would be too busy licking Isaac. But mostly Isaac wouldn't want LightRunner anywhere near him. Well, that's not true. But he certainly would not tolerate LightRunner crawling on their bed for a snuggle! I would have to jump every time LightRunner went near him. Not that Isaac would seek him  out to hurt him, but that he just did not have the patience for shenanigans that Haze does. It is so unbelievably cute seeing Haze and LightRunner curled up together sitting on our speech teacher's feet. And every time I see it and smile there's a little pang of guilt that it's so much easier without Isaac. Haze is easier to calm down, barks less, there's no play-fighting to scare people away. I don't have to worry as much. Which is really nice, but really sad at the same time. LightRunner will never say "I-a bark" like SkyWalker did but I console myself knowing that Haze and LightRunner wouldn't have the relationship they do with Isaac here and that relationship is pretty special and that sometimes things work out for a reason.

Monday, February 3, 2014


Or, how I finally solved my laundry problem.

While 62 miles a month may not be a lot to some people, to a Mama of 4 with other responsibilities as well ( it was a lot to me. I didn't run after the half marathon in October and when I started up again in December I had a really hard time fitting it into my schedule. I am a creature of routine and habit. I had been running M-W-S for so long that I just couldn't break out of it, but M-W we have preschool and then speech and then when I finally get LightRunner down for a nap, it's time to get the kids off the bus. It just wasn't working. So I used January to get running and exercising back into my schedule and establish a working routine. I switched my running days to T-Th-F-S (yes, 3 days in a row) and added cross training on those days as well. I'm following the "hard days hard" philosophy and making my T-Th really hard, Wed just cross training, Friday easy, Saturday long and Sunday-Monday completely off. No run, no exercise. Two full days in a row and it works out lovely. Sunday I am with my family and doing odd things around the house. Monday is my grocery shopping day. It's working out really well. Sometimes there are wrenches--like class parties on Thursdays--but I just adjust nap times and make it work. I have a monthly calendar on the fridge with every single day designated for something and I like checking off my run or cross training or stretching.

The other thing I have on the fridge now is a weekly calendar. I have given myself completely to lists and schedules and organization. On Sunday I go through the week and make out my daily to do list with such thrilling activities as dishes and cleaning toilets and laundry and other crap I have to do. Like I said, I am a creature of habit and the way I have done things for decades is to wait for things to pile up and then take care of them. This is particularly true of laundry. When the hamper is full or we've run out of underwear is my signal to do laundry. It worked out fine until I had all these kids. There are 6 of us and we generate a lot of dirty clothing. The kids' clothes were a real problem because they are so much smaller, more clothes could fit in the damn basket. Now I'm fine with putting clothes in the washing machine and dryer. It starts to break down when I need to take it out of the dryer and there's a complete fail when it comes to folding and putting away. So I would wind up doing all of the kids' laundry on the same day and have a bunch of clothes to fold. But the kids' clothes go upstairs and I am basically downstairs the entire day. I would wind up frantically trying to fold clothes at bed time, irritating the man who thinks bed time is learning time. It wasn't working. So, much like changing my running routine, I have overhauled how I do everything. Instead of waiting for things to pile up, I am now scheduling them ahead of time and breaking them into sizable chunks. I clean toilets and do our clothes on Mondays. On Tuesdays I do the girls' clothes, on Wednesdays the boys, Thursday is whatever, Friday I do the girls' clothes AGAIN and the same with the boys on Saturdays (and my running clothes which I always forgot to do before!). Breaking the kids clothes up into 4 days a week has made it so much more manageable. It's not like it's just a few things--there's still a load of clothes but I'm not doing two double loads. I can easily fold the clothes on the couch during nap time, put it back in the basket and get it put away when I get upstairs.

This has seriously revolutionized how much crap I have to do. I don't have baskets of laundry in the living room hanging over my head. It took me a few minutes to clean the toilets instead of having to do a major cleaning. Then I still have time in my day for running and exercising and stretching and showering and reading and writing book reviews and playing games with kids. Sure, it might start to feel like I am doing the same things over and over and over again--Lather-Rinse-Repeat--but I am in more control over it. Instead of feeling like Sisyphus rolling his bolder up the hill and not making progress, I feel like I am taming the laundry/housework beast. (Of course having a mobile 18 month old creates all sorts of messes that can't be scheduled in, but I can always bribe older siblings to help with that.)

January was all about establishing the routine and I did pretty good. February is going to be about taking it a bit further-- getting my long run longer, my speed work faster, my legs straighter, lifting higher weights, reading more books, writing more reviews. But don't worry, I'm not planning on dusting at all.