Friday, May 27, 2011

Running (Friday Favorites)

I've been doing a lot of running lately, including the full 13.1 mile half marathon distance last Saturday (it was a lovely run through Provo Canyon and only painful the last three miles). And yes, I'm going to use this post as a shameless way to brag about what I've been able to do the last few months, so be prepared with helpful and supportive comments (Did I mention that I ran 13.1 miles last week? And maybe this is a good place to note that I'm down 28 lbs. as well.).

My first half marathon race is two weeks from tomorrow, then I've got one more half marathon at the end of the summer and the St. George Marathon on October 1st!

A couple of my favorite marathon training books so far:

Marathon: You Can Do it! by Jeff Galloway. You can read my review here. Basically, this is THE book for Marathon beginners.
The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer is another awesome one, especially for the mental suggestions and in-depth discussion of basics like nutrition, injuries, and so forth. My review is here.

My favorite (free) app that turns my Blackberry into a GPS, records a map of my runs and gives me detailed information about elevation, pace, and maps: IMapMyRun. (But every once in a while it does some wonky things -- anyone know of a good alternative?)

And my new favorite training log website is Dailymile.com. I've entered in my data since January and I love being able to track it.

I love that I can see my training by day:
by week:


and by month:


It keeps track of my fastest time (a still-very-slow almost 11-minute-mile pace), my furthest run, and how I've felt through the runs I track.

But my favorite part is this "lifetime stats" part of the page, where I can scroll down and see this little gem:
Yep -- I've run 210 miles this year! Not bad for a mom of eight who still isn't sure what do do about a title like "runner."

Oh, and remember those 28 lbs. I mentioned? I went from my heaviest ever (Katie added about 15-20 of those pounds, but who's counting?)

To this in about 10 weeks:



I've still got another 30 lbs or so to lose, but I've also got a ton of mileage on my training plan, so I'm quite hopeful, and I'm very proud of myself.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Life with Your Hands Full


I'm the guest post over at Living a Big Story today, answering questions about handling life with your hands full -- how it affects our marriage, how I fit in my own goals, and how I handle the challenges.


Leave a comment to be entered in Laura's Mother's Day Giveaway.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Three Days in Chicago








I know you've all been waiting for weeks, hoping I'd post more about our trip to Chicago (right?). Here's what I sent out in my weekly email to the grandparents about it:

Chicago

Grandma came up and went to Church with us last Sunday, then we left early in the afternoon. Katie was pretty good on the plane and was fairly pleasant on Monday as well. From then on, it was downhill. She had a really hard time sleeping in the stroller and instead of taking two long naps a day, she slept only about forty-five minutes each day. She got rather cranky by the end and the plane ride home was miserable, as she fought sleep and cried for the first two hours. She finally gave up and slept on me in an awkward position, and I tried my best not to move at that point. She was so thrilled to be home and quickly regained her pleasant personality after several long naps the next day.

We stayed in the Chicago Hilton, right across from Grant Park and just a block from Lake Michigan.

Day One

While the others were sleeping Monday morning, I got up and ran through the park and along Lake Michigan. I downloaded a free app for my Blackberry called imapmyrun and I love it. I push a button on my phone and immediately it starts recording my run, how long, how fast, and how far. I love that I don't have to map out a route in advance. I can just check it to see how far I've gone and decide where to go from there. When I'm done, I push a button to stop, and one more button to record it on the website. The website will show the map and the elevation gain details as well. I really enjoyed the Monday morning run with the city around me and other runners sharing the route.

After a free breakfast at our hotel, Joey, Katie and I set off for the Sears tower, now called the Willis tower, the tallest building in the world until 1997. We arrived a few minutes early so we had time to duck into a Walgreen's across the street and get a bus pass. Then it was up to the Skydeck, on floor 103, where the views were amazing and a bit heart-dropping. They have installed glass boxes that you can step out onto and find yourself with just glass between you and the tiny little ant-size cars on the pavement below. It was very difficult for me to step out onto that platform, though Joey and Katie seemed to have no problems with it. I had to deliberately not look down.





After the Skydeck, we stopped at a bus stop to figure out a way to get to the Field Museum. We asked a woman there and she said she was going to the Science Museum. We were hoping to go there later in the week, but we figured since she knew where to go, we'd just tag along and save ourselves a bit of stress later on. It was quite a distance, in Hyde park. The museum is enormous, in a grand old building with floor after floor of hands-on exhibits. They claim to be the largest science museum in the western hemisphere. Joey loved riding on a flight simulator in the airplane section, and we watched a chemistry demonstration with different colors and degrees of explosions involved. There were baby chickens hatching in the genetics area, a two-story whirlwind to control in the weather area, and the only German U-boat in existence in an annex.

The U-boat has an interesting story. It was captured by the Americans during World War 2. The crew was also captured and sent to a POW camp, where they were kept apart from the other prisoners and not allowed to communicate with their families, Geneva convention rules aside. The U.S. couldn't allow the Germans to know we were studying their technology. The German government informed their families after a year that they were lost at sea, so it was quite a shock to them after the war when the crew came home alive.

We watched an IMAX film about tornado alley, about several groups who chase the storms and try to capture them for science or film.

There were tons of school groups in the museum but they mostly cleared out by 4:00, when Joey joined a hands-on science experience in a lab there. He dissected a cow's eye and the teacher of the class was impressed at how much he knew about optic nerves and things.


Katie watched from the other side of the glass.

Joey also got to handle pig's eyes that were still attached to the brain.

I'm sure you can imagine how thrilled Joey was with the museum. He's already hoping to bring Michael to Chicago sometime so they can go there together.

On the bus on the ride home, we got to people watch. For a while, we were the only white people on the bus. We passed a gruff-looking old man walking an enormous poofy poodle and we laughed.

Back at the hotel, DH was finished with his conference so he joined us for dinner. We walked about a mile to a pizza place we had a gift certificate for from Restaurant.com. We passed the post office, where the "no parking" signs along the street were being ignored by a half dozen or more cars with their emergency lights flashing. We had a thin-crust pizza that was unique and very tasty.

Day Two

Tuesday, we walked to the Aquarium and started the day there. It was beautifully done, with lots of exciting animals like anacondas, piranhas, and turtles as well as fish. We met a trainer who showed us a scar on his hand he'd gotten from a bite from Nickel, their giant sea turtle. Katie loved crawling around and climbing up on the fish. She's standing a lot on her own and even took a few steps this week without realizing it.






The Aquarium started filling up with school groups, so we left for the Field Museum nearby. The museum is huge, with more exhibits than we had time to see. We saw Sue, their famous T-rex skeleton, some Native American and Pacific Island exhibits, and lots of large meteorites and other rocks.

We had Chicago dogs from a stand outside the museum and then took a bus to the Hancock Tower, farther north and with much better views than the Sears tower. The building is built with outer "X" braces, so the floor was very open. The views in all directions were lovely and there was a nice sandwich shop there where we bought strawberry shakes. Katie drank most of mine, barely stopping to take a breath or letting me have a sip.


We walked down the street, went to the Hershey shop and the Disney Store, walked through the old water tower, and then took a bus back to Millenium park, a bit north of our hotel. We saw the Gehry-designed ampitheater and the "Bean" statue, then walked across a pedestrian bridge to the Art Museum. I wanted to go through it then, but Joey wanted to go back to the hotel and go to the convention's expo to get free stuff, so we went back.







That night, DH joined us and we walked a short distance to The Chicago Curry house, which had Nepalese food as well as Indian. We tried a lot of dishes and their naan bread was fantastic. One dish was so hot we couldn't stand it, but everything else was delicious.

Day Three

Wednesday morning, Joey spent time at the Expo with DH being cute and collecting free things. He loved it and seemed to have a system. He'd walk up to the table and pretend interest in whatever thing was there until the person would offer him something. He collected six necklaces from one booth for his six sisters. He got a free pedometer, a couple of shirts, lots of candy and mints, a calculator, a bunch of pens, five dart guns, and a few stress balls. And he didn't even go to every table!

We then walked to the Navy Pier, which was further away than we expected. We got tickets to an architectural river cruise included with our three-day Go Chicago Cards and visited some shops. We spent a half an hour in the Children's Museum before we had to get on the boat. The cruise was interesting, as they drove up both forks of the river, pointing out the buildings and sharing information about the history and architecture of Chicago. Joey took pictures and Katie slept through it.

Afterwards, we bought gyros and then took a bus to the Art Institute, where DH met us (the only time we spent with him other than dinner) and we walked through many beautiful exhibits. I enjoyed the Impressionists, tried to appreciate the Modern art, including a bunch of Picassos, and raised my eyebrows at a truly bizarre exhibit about design. DH got a sandwich nearby and we looked at a model of the city and read about the architecture there, saw the historic end of Route 66, and gathered our things from our hotel.

We took a taxi to the airport and headed home. It was a miserable plane trip, but we were thankful to be home and the kids were very welcoming. Allison and Sarah had made us a "Welcome Home" sign and Harmony was thrilled to see us, especially Katie (the next morning, DH called her "my Katie-a-roo," and Harmony got mad, "She's not YOUR Katie-a-roo! She my Katie-a-roo!"

Grandma had done well with the kids and the house was in great shape. We are very grateful for her help. Since it's spring break, she had all the kids all day. One neighbor took the girls for a few hours one morning and another neighbor had a caramel popcorn and movie party another morning.

Back to Life

It was nice to be home. After three days in Chicago, I was anxious to leave. While Chicago was a lot of fun, it really doesn't have the charm of Boston. It's rather gritty and dreary, with very little greenery and tons of smokers on every corner. We came home to our weeping cherry in bloom, green grass, and lovely spring weather.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Few Favorites (Wordless Wednesday)

Some of my own kids:

(yes, my mom lets me eat dirt -- why not?)



I've had a couple of sessions lately that have given me hope that I might turn into an amazing photographer yet! You can see more on my photo blog.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Notes on "Raising Siblings Who Love Each Other"


Our Mother's Group on Friday enjoyed a discussion led by Natalie Larson, a mother of five boys and sister to ten siblings. I enjoyed learning from her experience and the others who came. I didn't take notes and a full weekend of yard work, photo shoots and other craziness means I'm only hitting the highlights, but here are a few ideas that Natalie shared with us:

* Natalie recommended the book Siblings without Rivalry.

* Don't compare your kids, don't have favorites and be careful not to label your kids – like “the quiet one,” “the naughty one,” "the stubborn one," etc. Not only does it encourage at times the very behaviors we want to discourage, but it also gives the other siblings a reason to doubt their own worth and abilities. How would YOU feel if your sister were the "pretty one" and your brother were the "smart one?"

* While we do need to respond to our kids’ unique traits, we shouldn’t allow them to feel as if they can only play that role.

* Have hard and fast “no hurting/hitting” and “no name-calling" rules. I've always been hard on the first one, but since the reminder, I've been cracking down on the second by making the child who calls a name say three nice things about the person they insulted. It seems to be working.

* When there are problems between siblings, always comfort the one that’s hurt first rather than disciplining the offender first.

* Try to head off the “he got more than me” battles by responding in terms of the individual needs of a child rather than the comparison. So if a child says, for instance, “He got three big pancakes while I only got three small ones!” you say, “Oh, are you hungry for more? How many more would you like?”

* Our kids need to learn that life is not always fair and how to handle disappointment. It's not easy, but we should try to teach our kids to be happy for the sibling that gets invited to a birthday party or has a unique success rather than feel as if they are diminished because of it.

* Our older kids can be taught that while we will try to be fair and reasonable, we are going to make mistakes. If kids can understand that we are also doing our best, they can accept what they see as inequities a bit better.

* Build the sibling bond by providing positive experiences for kids to be involved together. Natalie says that a lot of the closeness she feels with her sisters is because they shared a room late at night. When they get together now, it’s like a continuation of the many late-night chats they enjoyed because they shared a room. Natalie says the family trips they took together and the friendships they formed from constant play together also bonded her with her siblings.

* Family scripture study is an important key to setting a peaceful tone in the home.

What are some ideas I've missed? Those of you with close sibling relationships, how did those develop? What are ways you've found to help your children learn to get along?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Do a Good Deed Today

A friend of a friend is mourning her son. Isaac would have been two today, but he died just over a year ago at the age of 8 months. In honor of his birthday, his mother is asking for people to honor his memory by doing small acts of service. Leave a comment with what you've done and make Rachel's day a little brighter.

Rachel says about her son:
I have thought a lot about the kind of boy Isaac is, and the joy and love that just radiated from his chubby little body. He had the most beautiful smile, and he shared it so freely, in turn making everyone around him smile. I think he just brought smiles and sunshine with him wherever he went. So, in honor of him, I want to do something to make someone else smile and feel loved, just as he did for me. . . . . I encourage all of you, anyone who ever met Isaac, or who simply read about him or saw his photo and loved him, to do the same.

[G]o out of your way to make someone happy. Do something compassionate and loving. Help someone else feel better, even for a brief moment. Think of my dearest little Isaac, and the joy he would have spread each day had he lived longer. And try to scatter some sunshine of your own, in honor of him. Then, if you don't mind, please let us know what you did. It would mean a lot to me, and I think it would also mean a great deal to him.


Monday, May 09, 2011

Progress

May is always a really busy month, with end-of-year activities for every child, a bunch of birthdays, Mother's Day, and gearing up for summer. I've got a couple of blog posts (including a guest spot and a Chicago trip report) in the works, but in the meantime, I've made a lot of progress lately, and I wanted to give a quick report on a few things:

1. Summer Plans
I'm determined that my kids will learn how to work this summer AND how to do it without fighting. I've divided up the workload into three different schedules (A,B, and C). Each schedule has what needs to be done in the morning, afternoon, and evening, along with three spots for checkmarks. The first is if it's done, the second is for if when it's done without reminders and the third is for when it's done cheerfully. The kids and I will be on three separate teams as follows:

June Team 1: Lillian and Allison
June Team 2: Joey and Sarah
June Team 3: Mom, Michael, and Eliza

July Team 1: Lillian and Sarah
July Team 2: Joey and Michael
July Team 3: Mom, Allison, and Eliza

August Team 1: Lillian and Michael
August Team 2: Joey and Allison
August Team 3: Mom, Sarah, and Eliza

Each team will rotate through a new chore schedule each week. We have about nine weeks at home this summer so by the time we go back to school, each person will do each chart three times. I'm planning lots of incentives, including privilege cards for Wii and computer time, plus other stuff I haven't considered yet (ideas?) for those who get all three boxes checked on every job. We've also got plenty of fun scheduled, with library time, movies at the theater, Family Parties on Fridays, swimming twice a week, and adventures like rockhounding and hiking. Add in a couple of Daddy Trips and family adventures and we're looking at a full and busy summer.

The theme for this summer is "Bartholomews Work Hard and Play Hard," and I've created a poster for our wall with two sides.

The first side says this, with large boxes for each dot here so we can mark off how much progress we make in each of our goals:

Bartholomews Work Hard At . . .

Service (3-5 projects)
• • • • •

Forest Clearing (100 hours)
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••

Running Miles (260 miles)
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••


Helping Little Ones (Work Hours Babysitting)
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••

Running Races (5+)
• • • • • • • •

Learning from Non-fiction Books (60)
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••
•••••••••• ••••••••••

Reading Chapter Books (Allison & Sarah -- 20)
•••••••••• ••••••••••

Projects:
Bat Cave • Clothing Shuffle • Garden Planted • Vans Cleaned Out • Garage Cleaned • Playset Put Together • Mulch in Front Flower Beds • Mulch in Side Beds • Mulch in Back Beds • All Windows Cleaned • Food Storage Organize •

The second side says:

Bartholomews Play Hard At . . .

Family Trip • Trek • Girls Camp •
Daddy Trips (2) ••

Parties with Friends (9)
•••••••••

Family Movie Parties (10)
••••••••••

Movie Theater Movies (9)
•••••••••

Library Crafts (9)
•••••••••

Hiking
•••••••••

Rockhunting
•••

Swimming (30)
•••••••••• ••••••••••
••••••••••

* * * * * * * * *
2. Fitness Progress
I finally feel as if I've turned a corner with my running. I absolutely loved my five and nine mile runs last week, and though some of my other runs were a bit tougher, I'm starting to understand why some runners actually look forward to getting on the trail. It only took, oh, about eight weeks of training to get to that point, but really, I can see running as something I'll do for the rest of my life. I'm making progress in my fitness and my weight loss is also coming along. I'm down 20 lbs in about 2 months, which is one-third of my goal.

I also love that I'm no longer scared of hills. Seriously, I used to plan my runs so I would avoid them, but no longer! My nine-miler was mostly uphill for the first six miles and I found it invigorating. My first race is less than five weeks away and I can't wait. I'm also signed up for another half marathon at the end of the summer.

And I'm also pushing myself a tiny bit more than I had planned. I think I was in some sort of crazed state of mind, but I decided on sort of a whim on the very last day of registration to -- I can't believe I'm saying this -- sign up for the lottery for the St. George Marathon on October 1st. I worried and fretted about it, but DH said he'd support me and I figured I probably wouldn't get in anyway, but I just now checked for my name, and I'm in! Eek! What have I gotten myself into? (But while I am signed up and I've read two books on marathon running and checked into a dozen different training schedules, I'm also leaving room for this to be one of those interrupted goals I sometimes have. I've been feeling as though I probably won't get pregnant for a while, but I'm not doing anything to prevent it, and if it's a choice between a baby and a marathon, you know I'd choose the baby any day -- of course, that's probably also because I don't have any clue whether I really CAN run 26.2 miles. What was I thinking?!?)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Four Birthdays in Eleven Days

I love having birthday clusters!
From youngest to oldest:

Katie turned one this week! (And her personality is even sweeter than these photos)

Michael turned 9 and Lillian turned 12

And last week, our family celebrated the birthday of our family -- our 14th wedding anniversary!

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