Tuesday, September 18, 2012

All About Ben

Baby Ben turned 1 on July 21…and the fact that I haven’t written anything about it is a testament to how busy life has been.

But this isn’t a post about juggling kids and work, workouts and my addiction to certain reality TV shows (including, but not limited to sports). It’s about Ben.

This happy, giggling, super-active baby boy (and his big brother Sam) is the reason for this blog; and though it’s easy to focus on life with kids, however many, and what weeks look like with them, this post is purely about my little/big guy who’s getting older every day. As a tribute to Ben, I’m simply writing out his wonderful traits:

-       happy
-       healthy
-       giggly
-       wiggly
-       loves his big brother
-       loves to eat
-       loves to play in the garden, picking his own tomatoes, and eventually he’ll figure out that the green ones don’t taste very good
-       loves picking his own strawberries and knows to get them when Sam is in the other part of the yard
-     loves eating apples off the tree...a couple of bites, anyway
-       loves throwing a ball
-       loves to dance, and can not sit still when he hears music of any kind
      - loves his blanket his Grandma Sally knitted him, and sometimes dives for it out of my arms and into his crib
-       loves playing with water in the bathroom sink
-       loves playing with the hose, pretending to help me water
-       is very proud of walking
-       likes to climb up on the chairs at the dinner table and pretend to eat like mom, dad and big brother Sam
-       is pretty darn tough, considering the wrestling that goes on
-       loves to say “uh oh”
-       loves to throw food on the ground from his high chair and then say “uh oh”
-       likes to use big, adult-sized spoons while eating yogurt and cottage cheese, instead of a baby spoon
-       loves to organize things, put things in, take things out, put things in, take things out
-       likes to try to blow the fluff off dandelions, like his brother Sam taught him (“pheuh”)
-       likes to smile at me, sleepily, in my arms when I hold him before he goes to bed, eyes at half-mast but smile at full grin

In my next post, hopefully sooner than months away, I may go back to writing about how I’ve resorted to 2-n-1 shampoo/conditioner for the pure time-savings of it, and maybe the adventures of getting into cyclocross racing and its efficient, family-friendly nature.

For now, Happy Belated Birthday, Ben.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Training for Disneyland

I recently left Mark at home for a week and flew with Sam (turning 4 tomorrow) and Ben (turning 10 months in a couple of weeks) to San Diego to visit my family.

From there, my parents, the boys and I drove to Disneyland for two days, staying in a motel for a night.

First, let me say that I’m one of those adults who loves Disneyland. As a kid living in Southern California, nothing was more exciting to me than a day spent at Disneyland. We'd drive up to Anaheim for birthdays, special occasions, and because my dad (now 75) loves it just as much as I do…just as much as I did as a kid.

So now, with my own kids, I have this new reason (or, “excuse”), to go back to the Magic Kingdom. But that said, taking two young kids to Disneyland without my spouse – albeit, with my parents – is no easy task…to say the least.

It dawned on me mid-day: Standing in line for the Buzz Lightyear ride with both Sam and Ben, grabbing a half-eaten granola bar out of a specific pocket in my backpack -- I'd saved it and put it right there for a reason, earlier that day -- to curb a hunger meltdown, while simultaneously pulling out a toy for Ben out of a different, yet, also specific pocket in my pack without having to frantically fish around for either. All those years adventure racing made me well-prepared for things like tackling Disneyland with two young kids.

For one, there’s the living out of a backpack. Snacks in one pocket, Boogie Wipes in another. Diapers ready, plastic bag from the popcorn saved to stash stinky diaper. iPhone -- Disneyland map and wait-time for lines App installed -- in a diaper- and snack-free pocket, easy to access at any moment...just like my racing compass. (And subsequently, Sam is now interested in maps and navigating, due to the Disneyland map on my phone and memories of where rides are located.) Water bottle, sunblock, chapstick, more snacks, money, credit card, extra layers for all three of us, hats for all three of us... ready at all times, and in specific places in my bag that I can quickly access without wasting too much time, or losing my mind.

Another racing skill that comes in greatly handy as a parent: Being prepared for anything that could happen (and will happen), and not wasting energy fretting about things that do. Flat tire on my mountain bike mid-race? Don’t dwell, just change it and move on. Blow-up in Ben’s pants nowhere near a bathroom? Don’t dwell, just change it and move on. I've found that rolling with the punches is fairly imperative for staying sane as a parent.

Strategy also comes into play. In an adventure race, route choice is key...It's even more key at Disneyland, if you want to minimize crowds and fatigue, hitting as many checkpoints...I mean, rides...as you can before burning out completely. One of my biggest strategic moves was parking my mom in Toon Town with Ben, allowing him to crawl around for an hour and sitting her down with a cold drink while my dad, Sam and I hit the Peter Pan ride.

More strategic moves, coupled with endurance on everyone's part: My parents had taken Ben back to the motel and had gotten him to bed. (This I knew from a call made with my iPhone pulled from the right, diaper-free pocket of my bag.) Pushing Sam in the stroller at the end of the day, we walked by a food stand without a line(!). I decided right then and there that was dinner. We grabbed our hotdogs (him) and veggie sandwiches (me) to go and kept on walking. Success!

Thinking we'd head back for bed, too, I returned the stroller I'd rented for Sam. But as we started walking out of the park, I realized that the opportunity to stay out late at Disneyland with Sam at his age was rare, so we turned right back around -- both of us excited -- for a couple more rides and to watch the fireworks (which was incredibly awesome).

Very-tired Sam was a trooper. We (strategically) took the train around (instead of walking) to the other side of the park, and endured another line in waiting for the Astro Orbitor Rockets…And we were rewarded with views of the castle lit up at night, and all the sights and lights from high up on the ride, not to mention the fun of swooping up and down (and Sam proclaiming, "Mom! I can see everything!"). It reminded me of enduring a long trek up a mountain to be rewarded with the view, and then realizing that the journey to get there was special, too.

It was an awesome trip, and I can’t wait for Ben to be old enough to enjoy things like this as much as Sam and I do. And I'm excited to maybe pass on some adventure racing skills to both of my boys so they, too, can navigate Disneyland – and life – with preparedness and a sense of adventure.  

For a related post on adventure racing and family, and again being the “girl” on the team, see this blog I recently wrote for Skirt Sports.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's All Worth It

A few weeks ago, I had a 24-hour work trip where I flew to San Francisco to cover The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship 50-Miler. I hadn’t flown by myself since having Ben, and as soon as I got in my car for the drive to DIA, my brain started working differently. Traveling with the kids, my mind usually cycles through thoughts of: “Do we have enough apple juice for the flight? Should I change Ben’s diaper before we get on the plane? Is Sam’s super hero bad guy toy in the outside pocket of my bag so I can get it easily? Do I have a lollipop ready to bribe Sam to stay in his seat with his seatbelt buckled until the pilot makes the 'ding' sound? Is Ben going to poop on my lap?”

But traveling solo, my brain was free of worry, inspired by work, and full of ideas. It was a brain I hadn’t used in months.

My giddiness increased as I drove toward the Marin headlands and Mount Tamalpais, headed for a run on one of my favorite trails of all time. By myself. In 75-degree weather (have I mentioned that part?).

Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, I had all windows down, music blaring—I think it was Green Day, which made me feel 25 years old.

Anyway, my excitement carried over a little too much into my run. My postpartum return to running has been slow, cautious and calculated. But on this day, this run, I just couldn’t contain myself. I approached the top of the big climb—a view I had been craving (see photo above) and unwilling to let go unseen—I felt like I could fly right over the golden hillsides and pine forests, soaring along the Pacific…But I also felt like my body might be suffering.

On the way back down the trail, a muscle in my shin flared up, which turned into an achy ankle and foot. Turns out I flared up an injury I’ve had off-and-on for the better part of five years. Normally, I would beat myself up over having pushed too hard, too far. I'd berate myself mentally for doing too much, thinking, "If I only hadn't gone that far."

But—and this is new for me—I decided that the run had been worth it. I decided to do the run that day, and I decided to keep going. It was a ridiculously enjoyable afternoon...Heck, I felt like I could fly. So I'm trying to just do the physical therapy exercises, cross-train and ease back into where I was with running, and not blame myself for anything.

And that’s a resolution: make everything worth it. I generally don’t like resolutions (why not just aim to be better every day of the year?), but this one might do me some good. Instead of over-thinking choices, regretting certain decisions, and live in an “if only I did” or "didn't" kind of mindset, I’d like to be more present. Own every decision. Live with less worry, less regrets. And I’d like to show my kids that you can remember to pack the apple juice, the super hero bad guy toy, enough diapers and a lollipop and still be a free-spirited, inspired, regret-less mom.

Happy New Year, everyone. Hope everything you do is worth it.