Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The 2013 Version of Me

Let me be blunt. 2012 didn't live up to my expectations. A lot of people I care about lost close loved ones, including a mother and a child, we lost our beloved Murdock, and there were a lot of changes at work. The country is in the midst of a financial crisis, OSU went 12-0 but couldn't go to a bowl game because of a post-season ban they should have taken last season, and I started having anxiety attacks for some reason. But through all of that, at least the world didn't end in December as some people expected, so we keep on living as long as we are blessed to do so, and we look forward to 2013 with high hopes for a better year.

You may recall my resolution post from last year. Admittedly, I didn't accomplish ALL of my resolutions. So some of them are on the 2013 list as well, in addition to some new resolutions. But let's review.

1. Lose the baby weight. We're talking ALL the baby weight, going back to my pregnancy with Rachel. This didn't happen. It wasn't for lack of trying, believe me. Once again, I gave it my all. I worked out 4-5 days a week, running 3-5 miles 2-3 days a week for almost 10 months and doing 1-2 days of strength training from March through November. I also restricted my calories to 1500 or less, 6 days a week. Through all of that, I lost about 7 total pounds (4 from my Gavin pregnancy, and 3 of the pounds from the Rachel pregnancy). So I am still hovering 6-7 pounds from my goal weight. I got within 3 pounds of my goal after a week with the stomach flu, but most of that came back with the holidays. And when I stopped running in mid-October because I had no time for much of anything due to extra freelance work, I started losing some of the leg muscle I built up. So I am still working at losing the extra weight. Everyone tries to give me their tips and tricks, and believe me, I have tried a lot of different methods. I even had my thyroid tested because my doctor couldn't explain it either. I eat more reasonably than most people my age (I am very experienced with dieting and nutrition). I exercise the recommended amount. So I just have to see what this year brings. Perhaps my body was holding on to the weight through the breastfeeding. Maybe the hormones of pregnancy were clinging to me. We'll see. 

2. Run a 5K. Now initially, this was "Run a half-Marathon" but I thought that might be a bit lofty for a goal. DONE! Ran my first 5K in May, but I had been running 3.2 miles in my 2-3 days every week for about a month or so prior to that. It was such an uplifting experience. I managed to run the entire way straight-through, with no walking, and I finished with a decent time, given the crowd. And I go to run it with my sister, which made it even more fun. We started training for a half-marathon in October, but we waited a little too long to sign up for that. This worked out for me, because I had trouble getting my longer runs in during the hotter months. So our new goal is a half-marathon this May, which means I have to start running now. I will have to use the treadmill more than I did before, because the snow keeps coming around here, but I will make it work. I am determined. And this goal links up closely to #1 anyway, and it makes it feel less like exercising to lose weight than exercising to feel good about myself.

3. Spend more time with the family. I was successful with this through 7-8 months. Then my freelance picked up like crazy, Duane and I bought a bowling alley that took him away from the home 5 extra evenings a week, and like just got crazier. So I am leaving this on the agenda for 2013. I have been off work since December 21st and I don't have to go back until January 7th, so I have had a chance to really spend some good time with the kids. I have loved watching them play with one another, the dog, and Duane and me. It makes me wish I could afford to stay home with them, but I am lucky enough to get an extra week of vacation this year, so I plan to use that to spend with them. I will take a full week off for a trip to the lake again this year, and I am saving my money for a trip to Disney in the Fall, which I am SO excited to share with the kids--especially Rachel. That leaves 2 weeks of unplanned time, one that I will probably save for the holidays and the other I can use for special days here and there.

4. Pay off as much debt as possible. Still a work in progress, but we have a better sense of what we can do now. The purchase of the bowling alley has definitely helped, even though we aren't paying ourselves just yet. It isn't going to happen overnight, but Duane and I are working hard to do whatever we can, and we have a savings built up for emergencies now, which makes me feel better.
5. Be a better mom. FAIL. I'm sure my kids love and appreciate me, but I lose my patience far too quickly to consider myself a good mom. I get so stressed out that I lose a sense of calm that I have always prided myself on. I even started having anxiety attacks that caused heart palpitations. I took some pills to help with this, but they knocked me out too much and I began feeling like a zombie at night and in the morning, so I stopped taking them. The anxiety is a little more manageable now, but I still need to count to 10 sometimes and remember that the goal is to have fun with the kids -- I don't have to be supermom. I love my kids and I do the best I can. But it stays on the list.
6. Be less judgmental. Yeah...probably not great. Not a complete failure, because I have been able to step back and try to put myself in others' shoes more, but there are a few people out there who just push my buttons. So we leave this one on the list. I do feel like some of the tragedies of 2012 have helped me be a little more understanding of people around me though. It has provided some perspective on what is important and what isn't.
7. Figure out what I want to do when I grow up. Well, I got a new boss... Other than that, I haven't changed much. I haven't done anything about schooling because I know I don't have time, and I still am not convinced about what I want to do. So I may need to keep working on this. I have some opportunities coming up that may help diversify my skills, but I wish I could just have a year off work (paid) to really invest in what I want to do, because I think I would really enjoy going to nursing school or medical assistant school. I just can't afford to do it at this point.    *8. Blog more frequently.  One of the big reasons I have kept up on this blog for years is because it documents my kids' lives better than a photo book or scrapbook ever could. One day they can look back and see their lives documented. And I lost track of August through December this year. I need to get on here and document more of what they are doing, because they are growing up so fast! Gavin started walking in August (really walking, not just a step here or there) and I wasn't on at all before he started actually running. He is a professional walker now. Rachel has become so grown up that she has logical arguments with me. She is independent and wonderful and I didn't capture much of that either. So I need to be better about posting quick recaps as often as I can.   *9. Be a more appreciative wife.  I have a pretty great husband. He works his butt off, 60-80 hours EVERY week between 2 jobs. Then he has to come home and do the things I can't do here, because there are just some things I can't do around the house. And he isn't sentimental or mushy. He is a guy's guy. But he does all of this because he wants to provide a better life for us in the future, and I appreciate that about him. I have lost sight of that at times over the years. Like in any marriage, you get so focused on some of the things that bother you that maybe you lose sight of all the great things still there. But I need to focus on everything he IS doing and make sure he knows that I see all his hard work and I appreciate everything he does.   *10. Spend less time online.  I don't regret being on Facebook and blogging, in general, because it is a pretty awesome way to keep up with your friends. Think about 15 years ago when you wanted to contact a friend who had moved away. Generally you would have to call or write letters. Now, you can see what they are doing and stay closer than you used to be able to, because it is right there at your fingertips. And I LOVE my smartphone. I can look up almost anything within seconds. But...I go overboard a lot of times, and I need to set some limits for myself. I need to make sure I am living life offline more than I am spending life online.   
And with that...I am off to live 2013 to the fullest! Happy New Year!!   

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Since my last post, my kids have started driving, gotten scholarships to Harvard and MIT, respectively, become engaged, and now I am a grandmother.

Okay, so I am exaggerating, but with all of the things I am busy doing, it feels like they have grown 2 years between my posts these days. Gavin is walking like he has been doing it all his life. He started walking more than just a few steps at a time on August 24th. How do I remember that date? It happened to be the day we were in Cincinnati getting ready for my brother's wedding, and I was trying to decorate their wedding cake, so the timing wasn't ideal for me to be worrying about Gavin becoming even MORE mobile. Luckily Duane was there to help out.
Since that day, he has gone from walking to practically running, and he does it with ease now, so you can't even really call it toddling. He is eating finger foods, because he has two more top teeth coming in (for a total of 4 top teeth and 2 bottom teeth, plus a random molar in the back at the top). I am trying to give him a variety of foods, because I would like him to eat more than his sister will eat. (Although her diet of cereal, bacon, pancakes, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, mac 'n' cheese, and pizza doesn't keep her from growing like a weed either.)
Gavin is also attempting to talk more now. He has babbled for quite a while, but he looks at objects now and says distinct "words" as if in an attempt to identify what he is looking at. He can say Mama very clearly, generally with a nice whine in his voice because he is so incredibly sad about something and only Mama can make it right. He yells says "RA-RA!!," which I assume is Rachel, and he also says "Dah-Doo," when he is trying to say "Thank you." Rachel was pretty good about saying thank you early as well, so I am pretty proud that my kids learn their manners early. :) He also holds objects to his ear and says, "Hey-woah." Since I started writing this post 2 months ago (I'm not kidding), he has taken to smacking me in the face and proclaiming, "OW!" I am half-proud he makes the cause-and-effect association there, but it is starting to hurt! He talks in his gibberish quite frequently, which already concerns me because Rachel is talking incessantly, and I had always hear the 2nd child was the quiet one, but Gavin shows no signs of wanting to stay silent.
Around the same time that Gavin started walking, I celebrated my 32nd birthday.It was one of the more low-key birthdays I have had in recent years, because we were all preparing for Doug & Megan's wedding (I actually baked their wedding cakes that day), but it was a good birthday nonetheless. I even got in an early morning run. More than anything, I enjoyed the time I took to reflect on the changes this year has brought -- to me personally, as I have tried to better myself as a person, but also to the lives of so many of my friends and to our family.
Doug & Megan's wedding was wonderful. I really enjoyed being a part of their weekend, and they even gave me a birthday dessert at their rehearsal dinner, which was very touching.
The bowling alley is doing well. We are learning a lot as we go, and Duane has resolved that he wants it to be an investment and not his sole job for quite a while. The more we can keep it an investment and build some profit, the earlier we can retire!
We had a wonderful holiday season this year, although it was fraught with tension about my job. We just went through another major re-organization in an effort to move to digital, and we lost people in the process. One of these days, I may not make it through. In our last re-org in 2009, I was virtually ignored. Reprints isn't exactly a glamorous job, after all. They tend to put me in my little reprint hole and just let me do my thing, which is good, but it pigeon-holes me at times. Should I ever try to move on to something else, my resume is quite specialized. So when we re-orged this year, and I had several people approach me about positions in which they think I would be great, I was shocked and flattered! It makes me nervous, but it is definitely something I should consider.
Duane's new job at Buckeye Boxes is great! We couldn't ask for better treatment from them. They absolutely love him there and he enjoys his 40-hour-a-week job again, which is what we really needed to make the Alley venture successful.
So our holidays were very nice. Rachel was really excited about Christmas this year, which made it so wonderful to share with her. We invested in the Elf on the Shelf, which made it even more fun every morning, as she woke up to find where elf would be that day. She ooohed and ahhhed over decorations, and she made a Christmas list full of things she wanted. Her eyes were wide on Christmas morning as she opened all the gifts Santa brought her. And we shared a wonderful holiday with our extended family as well, and we got a little bit of snow to play in the day after Christmas. I couldn't ask for much more.
I will do a New Year's blog later, reflecting on 2012's resolutions and making my resolutions for 2013. But here are some highlights from this year.

My babies in August 2011. Look how they have changed!!
Rachel saw her first movie. She loves popcorn. (January)

Rachel's first dentist appointment (February)
Rachel's first fish (March)

Gavin's first Easter (April)

I love the personality in this picture! (May)
She might look a little like me (May) 
Rachel and I went to the circus! (Gavin came too, but hardly paid any attention) (May)

My baby boy grew into a toddler at some point...
We lost our beloved Murdock, our first "baby," in June.

Rachel turned 4 years old. I can hardly believe it! (June)

Rachel's first soccer game (June)

My big girl (June)

Rachel's first real experience at the lake where she played in the water and sand (July)

Me and my sweet girl at Doug & Megan's wedding (August)

Gavin turned ONE! (July)

A rare photo of us together (August)

Me and my handsome devil at Doug & Megan's wedding (August).

This is how my kids are. They just adore one another. (September)

She was the perfect Snow White (October)

My monkey! (October)

We decided to get Macy in late October.
Our first trip to Hawaii (November 2012)
Rachel's first snowman. (December)

They met Santa. Rachel was very interested in Santa this year. Gavin...wasn't. (December)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Happy Birthday Gavin!!!

I can't believe my little guy turned 1 year old 2 weeks 4 months ago. And I can't believe I didn't blog about it sooner! Well, actually, I can believe that because I have been so stinking busy. 
I am pretty proud of myself, because usually I am not a planner. I don't map out decorations and favors and themes far in advance. I do a fairly good job of putting a party together, mind you, but generally I overlook the tiny details for the big picture. But for Gavin's first birthday party, I wanted to make it extra special. I went with a Safari/Jungle theme, and about a month before his birthday party (which was July 29th), I already had the plates, cups, tablecloths, and favors secured. I bought animal print balloons, and I even got zebra print duct tape and made the water bottled extra special by taping it over the normal labels. I also decided I wanted to make a pinata. I really wanted a pinata, and I didn't want to pay for a store-made one, so I successfully made one at home, and the kids seemed to really enjoy it!

Foodwise, I didn't do anything super extravagant. I knew Duane's time would be limited by the bowling alley, so I ordered pizzas and had some munchies and, of course, CAKE! I also took the time to make chocolate-candy-covered Oreos with animal cookie molds. It was my first real attempt at chocolate candy molds, and I was really happy with the results.

Gavin, like most 1-year-olds, didn't pay too much attention to the party. He didn't care for the pinata session (I think the noise scared him), but he had fun experimenting with the cake. My kids are not natural cake smashers, but once he got ahold of a fork, he really enjoyed flinging his little cake all around. I even let him play with it while I opened his gifts for him.

At his 1-year check-up, Gavin weighed in at a moderate 21 pounds and measured 30 3/4 inches, which put him at the 25th percentile for his weight and 88th percentile for height! How we got such tall and slender munchkins I have yet to figure out!


Also, the doctor discovered that Gavin's top two teeth have broken through, which puts him at FOUR teeth now. I love his little ornery grin with his bottom two teeth poking through.

He isn't walking on his own just yet, though he walks with assistance, and he took a couple of steps the other day! He also said "Ra-EL!" once or twice, though Rachel insists that he should call her "Sissy."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

11 months!

I can't believe we are here -- 11 months (and some change) from the day Gavin was born. I feel like the first year with Rachel was so much longer. But then again, I was still learning how to take care of a baby then, and I only had one child to care for!
But seriously, where have the last 11 months gone? I am truly befuddled that I have an almost-1-year-old son!
So here are your 11-month updates on Gavin:

  • At 11 months, Gavin still has NO teeth. I can see at least 4 below the surface of his gums, but they refuse to pop through! I feel terribly for him when he is gnawing on anything he can fit into his mouth (including my wallet strap, my chin, my shoulder, my fingers...)
  • Going right along with the gnawing, Gavin is being weaned from nursing right now. I made it to about 10 months with minimal formula supplementation, and I am very grateful for that, because that is about 4 months longer than I made it with Rachel before she was getting half-formula/half-milk. But in the last few weeks, my supply has taken a hit, and in a couple more weeks, we will start Gavin on whole milk entirely (have already started here and there), so it is time to prepare my little guy for all bottles all the time! And this is just in time, because the little sucker BIT me the other night, so I would like to get him off the breast before his teeth finally come through!

  • Gavin is walking with assistance now (see video proof below). He hasn't taken those brave first steps on his own, but he will walk with us holding his hands, and he is very proudly walking running with his toy walker. This is ahead of where Rachel was at his age (she walked between 13 and 14 months), and it is probably the first thing he has done off-schedule from his sister (except she did get her teeth at 10 months).

  • True to form, my son really likes to talk. He gabs away pretty consistently these days. He now says "MA!" but I am not sure he knows what that means or why he is saying it. I have been counting for him, and he always smiles and tries to count back to me using his sounds. And of course, Rachel talks to him ALL THE TIME. They say sometimes the second child doesn't talk as soon because their older sibling answers for them. But my son doesn't seem to have that situation. He talks right back at her. I may need some earplugs.

    • Much to Kim's shock and surprise, I am already almost done with preparations for Gavin's 1st Birthday Bash! I want it to be special, since he and Rachel will share a birthday party in future years and this may be the last he gets on his own...ever. I just got all the favors and decorations in, and I have the cake all planned out. I am also attempting to create my own pinata. But I am hopeful the heat wave we have been experiencing for a week or so will not resurface because I do not want people to melt at his party! 
    • I have come to terms with the fact that Gavin is not a cuddler. Rachel would always let me cuddle her for as long as I wanted, but my little man only wants to cuddle when he is super tired or upset, and then only until he is soothed appropriately and then he pushes me away again. Sigh. I guess this is to prepare me for whenever a little hussy comes along and steals his heart away.
    • As laidback as my little guy is (and really has been since birth), he does NOT like to sleep. He only sleeps about 10 hours each night with one 2-hour nap during the day. Rachel would sleep for 12+ hours at his age with 2 naps. But he is a party animal until he can't go anymore. :)

    I am trying to do a little better at blogging with some regularity now that my schedule is lighter. I blogged so much more frequently when Rachel was a baby, so I want to make sure I cover Gavin's personality well. 

    Sunday, June 17, 2012

    Mourning and Celebration

    I have to tell you, June 2012 has not been the greatest of months for us and our friends.

    My best friend Kim lost her mother suddenly and unexpectedly on June 1st. Another of my close friends unexpectedly lost her baby at 39 weeks (he was due today). And we lost our beloved Murdock yesterday. He suffered heart failure while he was playing with Duane and Rachel in the backyard before Rachel's 4th birthday party.

    While our loss can't even begin to compare to the losses of my friends and their families (the details of which I won't expand on here, because they aren't my stories to tell), I think it is safe to say that June 2012 is not a month I would normally care to remember.

    But as I mentioned, we had a birthday to celebrate this month, so I can't write off the month completely. My little girl is turning 4 years old! And yesterday we had to pull ourselves together to celebrate, through all the grief, and try to find the positive in the month of June.

    It was a pretty hot day, but everyone managed to stay cool in the shelter and we had a great turnout of family and friends gathered to celebrate Rachel and Owen's birthdays. The kids loved playing on the playground, and we had a water balloon toss/fight. Rachel had requested a Team Umi Zoomi cake, and Owen wanted an Ice Age era cake (not the movie, mind you -- an authentic ice age era cake). The cakes didn't melt in the heat, though they did get hit with a bit of water from the water balloons.

    Rachel got so many great presents. I mainly requested clothes for her, because she has more toys than she knows what to do with right now, but the toys she got were great and she has already enjoyed playing with most of them!

    After the party, we went to my sister's house for a private Father's Day dinner with my side of the family. The kids played on the slip-n-slide and the trampoline, and later on we all gathered to play some Wii. Rachel beat pretty much everybody at bowling -- she is getting pretty good!

    Late last night, after the kids and I went to bed, Duane took Murdock to his brother's house and they buried him on an island in the middle of his pond, next to his friend Daisy (the bassett hound). It seemed like the best place to lay him to rest, since we aren't planning to live in this house too many more years. This way we can visit him whenever we go to visit with the family, and we know he is close to people he loved.

    It is eerily quiet in the house now. You don't notice all the things a dog does until he isn't there anymore. There is no clicking of his nails on the floor, no lapping of water from his bowl, no big brown eyes just staring at you, loving you unconditionally. I will miss my buddy. All the things he ate that he shouldn't have, all the fun times we had in the backyard as he ran around, how he always knew when I just needed a cuddle. I have so many wonderful memories of him. And I am grateful for each one. I hope we gave him the life he deserved, and I hope he knew we loved him very much.

    So please remember to pray for my friends, their families, and my Murdock. And remember to appreciate every day with the people and animals you love.

    Here is one of my favorite videos of Murdock.

    Tuesday, May 29, 2012

    10 Months!!

    My baby turned 10 months old yesterday. That doesn't seem right. It doesn't seem like it was 10 months ago that I was in labor, anxiously awaiting his arrival. I have a good friend who is due with her son in a few weeks, and I look at her in awe, remembering how I was nearly as pregnant as she one year ago. The time has truly flown. It seems so recent that I was up late with my little man, watching Big Brother After Dark, letting him fall asleep at my side on the couch as Duane slumbered upstairs.

    And now, here we are. At his last doctor's appointment, Gavin was 30 inches long and 18.12 pounds. That puts him at 90th percentile for height and 23rd percentile for weight. I don't know where we got this tall baby, but I am already looking into basketball lessons! =) His health is excellent, and he is exceptionally happy. It amazes me how happy he is. Everywhere I take him, it seems like someone remarks on what a good baby he is, and I am proud to say it is true. He fusses only when he needs/wants something or isn't feeling so great.

    He isn't eating many solids yet, and he doesn't have any teeth. Though, neither did big sister at his age. He has started to crawl (before he just army-crawled) and pull himself up to a standing position. He really enjoys talking. His favorite word is "GA!" I can't tell what he is trying to say, but he says it with a lot of emphasis!

    He loves  ADORES his sister, and she has informed me that I am to refer to her as "Sissy" in Gavin's presence. I can't imagine making it through the past year raising two children with a traveling husband if Rachel hadn't been so interested in helping take care of Gavin. I am starting to understand how people have more than two children -- perhaps they have helpful siblings!

    And so, as I am preparing for my first baby's first second third fourth birthday party, I look back and marvel over the past 10 months. I hope I am doing everything that I can to make the most of each day with my children, though I know I could work less and enjoy them more. I am looking forward to some vacation time with them this summer, as I will be working summer hours and getting Thursday afternoons off! And I am already planning several trips to the lakehouse. We enjoyed a trip this weekend for Memorial Day, and Rachel put her swimming lessons to use. Gavin also really loves the water. I hope this trip was this first of many. =)

    Saturday, May 5, 2012

    My New Year's Resolution

    Donate Your Profile PictureYou may recall that one of my New Year's Resolutions was to run a 5K. I have been training to run since January, and my initial thought was that I would participate in the Commit to Be Fit 5K on Saturday May 5th.

    But after a lot of thought, I changed my focus to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Saturday, May 19th.

    Both are for great causes, but something about the Race for the Cure seemed to appeal to me more. So I joined Team Whitmore, which is the team my friend Carie joined and graciously invited me to join as well.

    I have put so much time and energy into my training for this 5K. I can't imagine how much more time and effort it would take to run a half-marathon. I started this resolution because I was in awe of people who did that -- and I am finishing this resolution even more in awe.

    There have been so many times where I wanted to stop running. I wanted to walk the rest of my 3.1 miles. I wanted to give up. And one of the things that has constantly kept me pushing forward has been the thought of the ultimate goal of running this 5K. And since I signed up for the Komen Race for the Cure, it has been the thought of people who are battling breast cancer. They don't have the option to give up, to stop fighting, to "walk" the rest of their journey. They have to give everything they have got to get through their illness.

    That may sound corny or overly dramatic to you, but I guess I really don't care if that is what you think. That is what has pushed me forward toward my ultimate goal, and it is an important goal to me. I will run in my first official 5K on Saturday, May 19th. I don't know how fast I will run it -- but I will run it. After that, I am hoping to start training for a possible 10K. And, if I can, I really want to train for a half-marathon in October. I have a long way to go to train for that, but it is in my mind now as a possibility.

    Until then, I promise to try to update more with fun kid pictures and updates. Gavin is getting so big. He is chasing Rachel around the house. Rachel is precocious, and I am already seeing some attitude in her personality. They both have birthdays coming up!!