Weekend recap…Charlottesville

This past weekend I was excited to be able to get away with my husband, even though technically he would be working.  Some people might think it’s odd that I would jump at the chance to drive over 5 hours after work on a Friday to go watch him coach baseball, but these weekends are some of my favorite trips!

I have always been a pretty independent girl, which is why I think our marriage works so well for us. Jeff travels and works a lot, especially this time of year. I don’t get to see him as often as I would obviously like (thankfully, we work in the same building so that helps).  Even when the kids and I join him, he’s there for his team. I’m sure this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but part of the reason I love him so much is that we share a passion for coaching, our sports, and our teams. Watching him coach is fun for me. Being around his team, the other coaches, and their families is one of my favorite places to be.

I decided to keep the kids home this past weekend. I’m really lucky that my family is so supportive and will take them in for a whole weekend while we get some time together. February can be tough for us. My swim season gets busy, his baseball season takes over, and the rest of the time is left for focusing on the kids, work, and all of the usual life responsibilities. This weekend was such a refresher for our relationship. I honestly feel that couples need that time to strengthen their marriage and that is what makes them better parents and a better example for their children. Plus my kids love being spoiled by their grandparents.

So what exactly happens on these weekends? Here’s some of the highlights from this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

I feel like the best way to explore a new place is to run through it! Both mornings, while Jeff was at his team breakfast I laced up and set out to see what was around. I’ve kind of felt like I was in a slump with running the same route lately so this really helped me get back to loving my runs. The town and campus were hilly, but I hardly noticed with all the new scenery and historic buildings. Our hotel was about a mile and a half from the campus of the University of Virginia so I ran around there. I was able to run almost 18 miles over the 2 days and if I wasn’t running a half marathon this weekend, would have done more. Saturday Jeff was able to meet me halfway through and gave me a better tour; we hadn’t ran together in a while so that was really nice too.

I also knew that there weren’t any weights in the hotel gym, so decided this would be a great time to try out my new toy…a kettle bell. It was super easy to just pack it in the car and I got in a short, full body workout each morning after my run. It was so easy to just have it in the car just in case, and I plan on bringing it from now on. You really don’t need a huge space to get in a quick workout, which is perfect in the hotel room.

 

 

There’s a good amount of down time between when the team leaves for the game and when it actually starts. I am very lucky that the head coach’s wife and I are great friends and enjoy a lot of the same interests. So we usually work out together and sneak in a little shopping and lunch too. They had some great stores and restaurants around, and it’s fun to make the trip into a little bit of a girls weekend as well. I don’t have a lot of time to hang with friends, so I really look forward to it. Plus, she is an excellent co-pilot and we keep ourselves amused on the long car rides.

After the games, we usually go out with the whole coaching staff for dinner. This is always a lot of fun. Saturday night we headed to downtown Charlottesville and walked around, it was a really cute place I would like to be able to explore a little more someday. We ate at a place called Millers Downtown, which is where Dave Matthews got his start. It had a great vibe and my black and blue burger was pretty good too.

Let’s not forget the real reason we are there…baseball! Even before Jeff and I dated, I always loved the sport. There are weekends where we are at the stadiums for hours, and I love everything about it. Saturday was chilly, but that meant the hot chocolate was free…score! The games this weekend were really exciting and on Sunday they beat the defending national champions. I loved seeing how excited they were! When I’m home during the season, I watch the games on the computer and follow along. I hate not being there and at the end of that game especially I knew I made the right choice to be there in person.

It’s hard to explain sometimes why I look forward to these trips so much. When I say I am driving hours and hours to go watch my husband play baseball I get some weird looks and reactions sometimes. But I love sharing these memories with him. My kids have been able to visit some really neat places, and although we sometimes get a little sleep deprived and I am not the biggest fan of packing, it is absolutely worth it in my book.

We will be traveling  the next two weekends as well. I’m excited the kids will be joining us for these! They are really excited, especially my daughter, who is finally at the age where she remembers previous seasons and loves going to these games and watching daddy. I love that we are able to have these experiences as a family and that they have him as a role model. I can only hope they always want to come and spend this time together. Next stop, Washington DC! (In case you missed it, here’s how I survive these trips )

“One travels to escape routine, that dreadful routine that kills all imagination and all our capacity for enthusiasm”-Ella Mailart

Happy Travels,

Heather

 

Are we there yet? Road trippin’ ready with littles.

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So it’s finally that time of year for our family…road trip season! I absolutely love traveling with my family and this spring we have some fun weekends planned. We are only a couple weeks away from some fun adventures (some for mommy’s races, some for daddy’s games, and some for both!) which means I am in full planning mode when it comes to making sure the kids are happy and content for the drives. The main goal is to try to avoid having them go from looking like this….IMG_3189 to this…IMG_3188

These pictures still crack me up!

Since she was less than a year old, my daughter has been enduring some long trips in the car. Through my experience, I have learned what works best for us. She was always pretty easy in the car, and would take some marathon naps which helped a lot. My son on the other hand, he proved to be more of a challenge. But I’m always up for those! I had to be much more creative once we had two and now we are way better prepared for pretty much anything.

So here are some of the things that help make our trips a little easier, and actually pretty fun too!

  1. Food. Personally when I am bored, I get hungry. When my kids get bored, they turn into savages! Food for us is definitely first on the list. I have my snacks very organized even at home, which makes packing for trips really easy. Everything is pre-sorted in snack sized bags so I can just grab and go. I make sure to pack two of everything. If you have more than one child, I’m sure this is a no-brainer. Even if your child never eats something, when the other child has it in the car they will want it. I pack a big variety of both dry and cold snacks, and keep the two separate in large storage sized plastic bags. Then everything goes in a soft cooler that we use at the beach too. Along with food, I usually just buy a gallon of water to use for refills in all of our water bottles and sippy cups.

    Some of these snacks are for me as well, I am a way more patient mommy when my belly is full. As for meals, we stop and eat…usually at a restaurant over a rest area but making the time to eat a full meal rather than just snacks all day can really help too.

    2. NEW activities. Sure, your kids have lots of coloring books, stickers, and other small toys perfect for a trip already. But having new things is exciting, and doesn’t have to be expensive. This time of year I am constantly hitting the dollar section of Target and the dollar stores finding things I can hide away and surprise them with in the car. Some of my personal favorites are stickers and paper, window clings, activity books with those wonderful clear markers, scratch books, and even bubbles. If you are down with electronics, both of my kids have kindles and we download a new movie or two and some new educational games on them right before the really long rides. Just remember the charger! Here are some of my latest finds from my latest trip to Target that will be used for our next long ride:

    3. Games. For the bigger kids, there are tons of scavenger hunt type games you can play…it’s super easy to cut and paste pictures and hand them a clipboard and pencil for this. Some things my daughter will hunt for are road signs, different color cars, words that start with certain letters, or just keep it simple like trees, tractors, airplanes, whatever! She is just starting to be able to read, so the pictures right on the page or the letters make this easy. Then she just crosses off the items as she sees them…maybe even for a prize.

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    On our way to Pittsburgh last summer, road sign scavenger hunt and counting tunnels

4.  Cleaning and organizing supplies. I prefer to use the bathroom hand towels as napkins in the car. They are nicely kept in the box, and easy for the kids to pull out one when they need it. However, for any big cleanups have a roll of paper towels handy too. Hand wipes or baby wipes also come in handy for sticky hands and faces. Bring a few extra plastic shopping bags to use for garbage, and do a sweep anytime you stop. Up until this past summer, we were lucky that our kids do not get car sick.  Then we found out the hard way that my daughter cannot color in the car. Lesson learned, pack one extra outfit for each child in a large plastic storage bag and keep them somewhere accessible. We were on the side of the highway, pulling out suitcases searching for new clothes for her. The storage bag will come in handy for the soiled clothes after they change. Along with that, a plastic bucket from the dollar store isn’t a bad idea either. Pack a container of disinfecting wipes for car seats, and also to wipe down all those things kids love to touch and put in their mouths at the hotels (think TV remotes…not at home but without fail in hotels…what’s up with that?).

5. Plan to stop. Take your time getting to your destination if you can. Before having kids I would set the GPS,  look to see what time it was estimated I would arrive at a destination and think, challenge accepted…I can beat that by an hour! Now I set it (the Waze app is my personal favorite these days) and laugh knowing it will take us way longer. Medically I am not supposed to go more than 2 hours without stopping due to the risk of blood clots, so that is one reason we need to stop. But I have found along with that the kids really benefit from getting out for a few minutes and moving. Some fresh air is good from time to time. If we are really taking our time, we look and see if there are any parks or trails we can stop at and get in a quick run too. Just be ready, as soon as you get back on the highway, you’ll hear the word “potty”, or smell that it is time for a diaper change

6. Emergency candy stash. For me, this is everything. Once in a while they are just done. And this usually happens about 30 seconds after you pass the last rest area for 150 miles. At this point, you do what you have to do. Having a secret bag of non-messy candy can be a life-saver for me. Usually it’s pez dispensers, smarties, dum dum lollipops (pull all the clear colored ones out of the bag) and mints. Keep these handy for restaurants on the trip too…a lot of times we eat pretty late at night and these can help keep them happy when off schedule…along with some of the stickers and books from above.

 

I try and use either plastic tubs or tote bags to keep everything organized. The next trip we take which will be around 4 hours long I will be driving without a co-pilot. We are meeting daddy down in DC so making sure items are within reach for either me or the kids is going to be pretty important. The food will be next to me on the passenger seat and the toys between the car seats. The more you plan ahead, the smoother things will go. Let the kids help with this.If they feel involved, it can be an easier process.  I allow my kids to pack one small bag each with whatever they would like to bring. Toys, books, blankets usually make the cut. If it fits in the bag, it can go. Helps make the hotel feel a little more like home too.

As for me, I find that if I work out before we start I will be a lot more patient on the ride. I will wake up super early and get in a few miles because I know for me, it will make the trip a lot smoother.

Every trip I find new things to bring along, and face new challenges that make me tweak what we do. Road trips can be a lot of fun. Stressful at times for sure, but the memories and fun we have on these trips far outweighs any of that. What are some things you find work for you? I’d love to find some new ideas to keep things fresh!

Happy travels!

Heather

 

 

All about the love

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I have never been a mushy, romantic, Valentine’s Day kind of girl. My husband knows that I would much rather receive a new pair of Asics over a dozen roses, and definitely a jar of peanut butter over a box of chocolates. It’s just the way I am. But even though I may not be what’s considered traditionally romantic, I’m still all about the love. So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I decided to make a list of some of the things I love.  So here it is, in no particular order.

Celebrations                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I’m sure this popped into my head first since there’s a holiday this weekend, but I am a huge fan of celebrations. And themes.  Party themes, holiday themes, Disney trip themes, races…all of it. If there is the possibility of a new outfit, decoration, or dessert, you better believe I’m on it. My kids are completely on board with this, we could probably come up with a reason to have a party or celebrate every day if we wanted to! The first day of school my daughter came home with a list of all the “spirit days” they would have for the year. I was online that night finding ideas and ordering t-shirts. I’m not exaggerating, that day I got her a Star Wars shirt for “May the 4th be with you”day. I can’t help myself. Parties are the same way. I figure out the themes months in advance and start shopping. Sometimes years in advance; knowing 2016 is an Olympic year, my daughter’s 6th birthday has been planned since she was born! I firmly believe that life is worth celebrating, no matter the occasion. Every day is a gift.

My Family

Without a doubt my kids and my husband are the most important people in my life. They inspire me, support me, and we have so much fun together! But it doesn’t end with the people I live with. My extended family is so important as well. I feel so very blessed to have both sets of  my children’s grandparents, plus all of their aunts and uncles live so close to us. They have such great relationships with their cousins, and I am happy to watch my kids grow up being best friends with my nieces and nephews. I love them all so much and am especially fortunate that through the years my sister and I have always been there for each other,  and always will be best friends.

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Marriage

Where do I begin? I do not know what I would do without my husband. From what I’ve realized listening to other wives, he is one of those mythical ones who goes above and beyond. The man cleans, changes diapers, wakes up with babies in the middle of the night, cooks, fills in as “dance mom”, and gives some amazing foot rubs after long runs. There is not one time that he does not call or text to see if I need anything on his way home. We have a great friendship and mutual respect for what the other needs. We both love to workout, so we understand when the other one needs to get out and run. We both coach, so we understand long practices and putting in the extra time for our teams. We both want our children to be raised to be strong and independent with good values and work as a team to parent them the way we think is best. We have each others back. Sure, we have disagreements. I tend to be the emotional (dare I say irrational) one…but he just lets me get it out and then teases me about it later. It works for us and I am grateful for that everyday.
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Being a Mom

Growing up I was not a girl who talked about how many kids I would have or what I would name them. I guess I assumed I would have children but didn’t really give it a lot of thought. But then one day a switch went off, when I was in my late twenties and I was ready to be a mom. We were very fortunate to get pregnant easily and my daughter forever changed our lives. Three years later we were blessed once again,  and being a mom to my two little loves makes me unbelievably happy. I love watching them learn. I love watching them grow. I love watching them develop problem solving skills and find their independence. I love their hugs and kisses. I love when they fall asleep in my arms. Now at age  5 and 2,  I love watching them play together and how proud they are of each other. Being a mom is exhausting but is the most rewarding experience of my life.

The “Aha” moment

Being a teacher, coach, and mom there are a lot of these. Nothing makes me more proud then  when one of my students, swimmers, or kids have that moment where everything clicks. When they try something over and over and then all of a sudden…it’s there! It could be something as simple as a puzzle piece fitting the right way to achieving a varsity time. That look on kids faces…that “I get it now!” look. It’s just plain awesome.

Running

I know, shocker, right? There are so many reasons to love running. Some are obvious even to  those who don’t…weight loss/control, your health, the races. But it is so much more than that. I love the way I feel when I am running. I am in control and every decision is mine. How far, how fast, how long. I love how I feel after I run. I love how strong running makes me feel. Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. I have overcome a lot of obstacles in my life. Running, as well as the other sports I have participated in, have taught me how to overcome something that isn’t easy. That when something is difficult or doesn’t make you feel great you can get through it and the sense of accomplishment far outweighs all of the excuses of why you shouldn’t do hard things. I love the example I can set for my children, my team, and other moms through running. I love how I can be completely stressed out but come back from my run a nicer, saner, happier person.  Running is not just about me though, my babies are always up for a stroller run and we make every race an adventure. Whenever I sign up for a race, we find what other activities, museums, and parks we can explore as a family. Having my kids at the finish line, or in the stroller as we cross the line is so important to me and I’m so happy to share the experiences with them.

A challenge

A few years ago I came across the quote “If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you”. It has stuck with me and I cannot agree more. I am constantly trying to evolve in my life. I love going to new places, especially now that I can experience them with my children. I love watching my kids do new things for the first time.  As a mom I am constantly encouraging them to be brave and explore new activities and to not be afraid of the unknown.The past few years I have started to realize I need to take my own advice. Last year, I started signing up for half marathons and have really found out how physically strong I can be, and have already signed up for 4 more this spring. This year, blogging and weight training have been my newest challenges. And both are proving to help make me more confident and discover things I didn’t know I was capable of.

 

Me!

Okay  listen up, because this one is huge! It took me over 30 years to get to this one. Even as I made this list I was shocked that I made it. Not that I’ve necessarily ever hated myself, but I don’t know if I could ever honestly say I truly  loved me. I always struggled with self confidence and felt that I was never good enough. I was always the girl that had to change 50 times before going anywhere. I constantly felt that  I didn’t deserve to be completely happy, or maybe that I was being selfish or stuck up if I was. But I have had a lot of breakthroughs lately. It’s hard to completely explain but something has always held me back, or maybe I just kind of ignored it. I no longer feel the need to worry about what others think or say about me. I no longer feel responsible if someone doesn’t understand my journey. It has helped that I have built up a great support system of family and friends who help empower and motivate me. Along with that is that I can even say I love my body. It has been with me through so much…excessive exercise, major surgeries, a blood clot, and numerous bumps and bruises, not to mention carrying 2 babies. I am very proud of what my body  has overcome and continues to accomplish. As a mother,  I  know that the most effective  way to really show my daughter how to love herself and to be proud of who she becomes is by leading by example. I try every day to do so. I am so happy to not only type this, but to actually mean it when I say I love me!

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There are so many more things I love about this life I am living, and I could write for days about them. But these were the first that came to mind. I’ll call it my “I just won an Oscar and want to thank everyone but no doubt will forget someone important” moment. So I will just save some of those for next year…here’s hoping by then I will have tons more incredible experiences and memories to be grateful for. If not, that’s fine too…my heart is very full anyway.

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Take care, Heather

my tiny hero

As Nolan’s second birthday approaches, I have been reflecting on the past 2 years with memories of the day he was born and of course looking at that gorgeous baby’s pictures. I am pretty sure anyone who knows me can attest that pictures are extremely important to me, especially when it comes to my children. So there are most likely thousands of pictures of my baby boy. However, there is one that I will always be attached to, that will always bring me back to those first moments of his life, and will always be a reminder of all of the events that have occurred since he came into our lives. A reminder that this little guy was my hero from the minute he was born.

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That smile. At the time, I thought what a sweet picture and how did my sister ever get that shot? But not anymore. Now I see something so far beyond that. When I look at this picture, I see a little baby who is happy because he knows he just saved his mama. He is at peace knowing everything was now going to be okay. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks that, but here’s why.

I have to say I was very blessed with both of my pregnancies. Very “textbook”,  and although I was considered high risk due to my age with Nolan, I was not restricted and was able to work, coach, and run throughout my entire pregnancy. At around 35 weeks, I started to notice some leg pain but I chalked it up to me being on my feet a lot and  assumed he was just on a nerve. It was bearable and I didn’t really give it too much thought. We had been very busy moving back into our home, I had a very energetic 3 year old, and I was determined to keep working until the little man arrived.

Nolan decided that he was going to enter this world 3 weeks early. I was out to lunch with my (also pregnant) sister and Ava when my water broke out of nowhere. It was fast and almost aggressive in a way, and I immediately knew that this baby was on a mission to be born. What a sight we must have been, 2 very pregnant ladies and a toddler trying to quickly buckle and head to the hospital! I honestly did not think we would make it. Somehow we got there, got me in a room and Jeff showed up just in time. Less than an hour later, our little guy was here. It was intense, fast and honestly a little scary, but he was healthy and our family was complete.

We left the hospital 3 days later, in a snow storm and started to settle into our new home as a family of four. I noticed my leg was still sore, but still wasn’t worried. In fact, I coached 2 swim meets and was starting to figure out when I could start running again!

That all changed when Nolan was a week old. That day my leg swelled, was red, and hot to the touch. My mom came to watch the kids and Jeff and I headed to the ER. In an ultrasound, they determined that I had a DVT blood clot in my left leg. I was immediately admitted and told that due to the risk to the baby, he would not be allowed to be there with me.

I no longer felt any pain in my leg. I felt nothing other than heartbreak. I have never been an emotional person and I consider myself to be strong and handle bad news pretty well. But this was new territory. I cried the entire week I laid in that hospital bed. I hardly told anyone that I was there. My sister and family stepped in and took incredible care of my children, but it was the absolute worst week of my entire life. I never felt sorry for myself, but my heart ached for that little guy who I now realized came into this world early to save me only to have his mom taken away. I was worried  for my little girl whose life was completely rocked when a new baby came home and then her mommy and daddy disappeared. I felt guilty and blamed myself wondering if I had done something that had caused this to happen. All I wanted was to be with my babies.

Finally, a doctor was able to figure out medication I could take so I could go home. I didn’t even ask questions. After the longest week of my life,  I was getting out! I still could not really walk, and the recovery was long, but I was able to hold my kids and that’s all I needed.

So now, 2 years later I am grateful for this experience. What I never knew until Nolan’s birth was that I am genetically predisposed to blood clots and will be on a blood thinner for the rest of my life. We also now know that our children are at risk and we can take proper measures to make sure we are able to prevent this from happening to them as much as possible. Thanks to my little man, we can all be a little more prepared and have a better understanding of what can happen and the signs to look for.

It took me almost 4 months to be able to walk and run again without any real pain. Even now, however, I still experience discomfort and soreness in that leg after I work out. But I embrace it.  Nothing I feel will ever be worse than what I felt being away from my babies. They truly are my reason that I push through and the reason I try and be a better version of myself. I owe that to both of them, but especially my little hero who I will always be grateful for.

Here is a link to  Nolan’s second birthday photo shoot:

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Kindness over competition

 

A few days ago we were hit with a blizzard. In the past, I would have never went out and ran in the wind and snow, but over the past year I have made a commitment to myself to stop with the excuses, set the example for my kids and just get it done. Thanks to some motivating friends and a great community of amazing women I follow on Instagram I felt inspired to get out there. So out I went and was pretty darn proud of myself.

The first day I just ran up and down the same street not knowing what the conditions were around me. But the second day I ventured out…loving the sound of the snow crunching under my feet (and the occasional snow blower).  I would guess that about 90% of the people I saw were men. There were a few kids sledding and a handful of women shoveling.

As I ran by, most men waved or said good morning. I was also told, “god bless you!” “now that’s determination!” and was given a few thumbs up. It felt nice, although I wasn’t out there to be told I was doing something great.

But then it happened. Only one woman felt the need to say something to me. And that was the comment that hit hard. She stopped shoveling and stared at me as I ran by and asked, “Is that really necessary?”.  I almost stopped. I almost snapped back and asked her if her comment was necessary. I almost let myself feel bad. But I didn’t. I kept that one on her.

But why? Why not just ignore me if I was upsetting you that much? Why was I even worth commenting at? I just don’t get it. But what maybe made me even more proud of myself than the fact I got out there was that I just let her comment go. For years I would’ve held on to that and allowed her to make me feel like I was doing something wrong. That I was stupid for running that day. That I somehow should be apologizing or feel guilty for being out there. And that makes me sad. Sad I wasted all that time not letting it go and using it as fuel to work even harder.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with self confidence. Let’s face it, girls can be pretty mean sometimes and for whatever reason we don’t always tell each other how amazing we really are. It seems as though girls are taught to compete with each other instead of work together or build each other up. It’s taken me 37 years to fully wake up and realize that it’s okay to walk away from those who make you feel less than what you should, and that if someone is making you feel that way it is most likely an insecurity or issue within them, NOT YOU.

As a mother to a young girl, I’m sure I have been more sensitive to what other women say to me since Ava was born. I’ve made a huge effort to make sure she understands that she is amazing and not to take what others say to heart. It’s as simple as when someone pays you a compliment just saying “thank you”. Why do we feel the need to act undeserving of someone who is actually being nice? Why if someone tells us something simple like “your hair looks great” do we say something like “oh really? I need a trim badly” instead of “thank you”. We are so used to hearing something negative we can hardly even take a simple compliment. And this needs to change. For me to help Ava understand, I have to keep making an effort to change myself. To be aware of how I say things and make sure I am making other women feel good about their choices and not guilty. I know  I am not perfect in doing this but I will continue to try. We owe it not only to ourselves, but to those little girls who look up to us. They deserve that and so do we.

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