Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Picnic in the Garden

This past Sunday we celebrated the best AIL ever with a picnic at the Boston Public Gardens followed by our annual Swan Boat ride. This year we also added riding the carousel on the Common (three times) and a trip to the Frog Pond playground. It is pretty much the best tradition ever, especially since it involves lobster rolls from Yankee Lobster.

The clouds were threatening our plans when we got to the Garden, but by the time we were done and walking around the sun was shining. It was a pretty perfect way to celebrate a pretty perfect lady.

It is not lost on me how fun it can be to play tourist in my own city (even if the real tourists do still kind of annoy me every other day). With all the stress and unknown surrounding our home buying situation, it is so nice just to enjoy a few hours of summer, family and of course, food.

Thanks Boston, you really know how to take our minds off the chaos and fill it with fun.

Helping to set up our picnic blanket.

A mouth full of cherries!

A stick! So exciting!

I held onto the back of her dress the whole time because she insisted on the end seat.

We take this picture every year! She is so huge!

She got three rides because, well, we love it too!

She wanted her new swan to have her own seat too.

The ladies!
Well played, Boston. Well played.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Exploring the Outdoors

My little explorer.
I will be the first to (proudly) admit that I am not the outdoorsy type. I run outdoors and every once in a while I will hike, and I do love a nice outdoor cocktail on the porch, but my enthusiasm ends there. Camping is literally my idea of punishment. Soooo I was as surprised as anyone when I found myself taking Maddie to the Boston Nature Center on Friday for some outdoor exploring while her nanny took a much deserved day off. There is a program called Free Fun Fridays in which families can go to all sorts of fun places around Mass for free, but it tends to be really popular and the last couple of times any of us have tried to take advantage of it we have decided it was not worth the crowds. However, I had a hunch that this might not be as popular as the zoo or the children's museum, so I decided to give it a try after checking their schedule and seeing that this was just a couple of miles from us. Turns out, I was right! There were definitely a lot of visitors in addition to the day camps that they run, but the area is so big that it did not feel crowded at all.

Since it was a Free Fun Friday event they had tents stationed around the grounds with fun activities for the kids, so Maddie got to catch bugs with a net, make a coffee filter butterfly and learn how different beaks can pick up seeds using various sized clothespins. We did a couple of the shorter trails where we saw bunnies and lots of birds; Maddie sings a little song about "going adventuring" from the Land Before Time series and she was so cute singing it as she walked along. There is even an area set up where kids can build and dig and play a wooden xylophone! 

As part of the day Read Boston had a professional storyteller come and do his thing as we all sat outside under the big trees. Instead of reading from a book he told interactive stories using his surroundings and some props, which was really neat. Maddie was in awe, since her latest request is always to be told stories about narwhals or sharks or giraffes (we have all gotten really good at improv). She sat and listened and was so excited to retell the stories to us later and at the end, she got to choose a new book, so we had a new National Geographic book on dinosaurs to read once we got home!

It was a super fun day even if I did get three million bug bites (I bathe in spray; why do they feast on me?!?!) and we will definitely be back. It's kind of funny that this was less than two miles from us and yet I had no idea it even existed! But now that we know, I am excited to make another visit soon, outdoors and all :)
Here are some pictures of our day!
Adventuring down the trails.
A little peek-a-boo in front of some puddingstone.
Who is this child and what has she done with my baby?
Catching bugs!
Jamming out on the xylophone.
In the kid's area making a little shelter. 
Pretending to be a bird in her "nest".
Don't I look rustic with my bright pink lips?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Maddie

"Mama. put down your phone and dance like a ballerin-o wif me. Twirl Mama, twirl." 
You got it baby girl. You. Got. It.

Her imagination slays me. Sometimes she decides that she is a baby giraffe or baby bird and calls everyone else the same animal plus their name. She will only respond to her animal moniker in these moments and asks for grass to eat for her and her "fwends".

She asks about the "new house" often and seems pretty excited for it, which I totally feel, baby girl.

In the afternoons her nanny picks me up then we drop her off and pick Dada up so we have that extra time in the car to chat and review our day. She always gives her beloved nanny air "ugga muggas" (like Eskimo kisses) when we drop her off and she insists on calling Dada on the way to his work to tell him about the boats or the runners on the Charles in the few minutes before we see him. When we get home she needs a minute to sit on the porch and watch for planes before she can go in and start helping me with dinner.

She retains things that I hardly remember telling her. She told a friend recently that her birthday is in November and another that her Dada helps sick people when he goes to his play place (work). She asks me what friends I was running with when I come back from morning runs. She also tells me I should take a shower and that I am smelly ;)

This little girl of ours is something else and I cannot get enough of this personality of hers. Thanks for being such a cool kid, Madds.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tri Training, Week Four

Four weeks down and three to go before I attempt to not drown/crash/lay down before the finish line at the Boston Tri. The good news is, I know how to ride a bike and run, the bad news is that it is really hard to run when you get off a bike and the worst news is that I still pretty much suck at swimming the "right way". I am excited for the tri because I always like to have a goal to work on, but I am really more excited to have it done with so I can go back to distance training (which is so crazy, thinking back to all those frozen tears training through the polar vortex).

This is definitely a grass is greener situation. I thought that it would be fun to mix up my routine of just running and (not enough) yoga, and it has been, but only to a point and the real point is that I miss my running. I went from putting in thirty plus miles a week leading up to the Maine Coast Marathon, jumped into the Johnny Kelley half a week later and then gave myself a lazy recovery period that brought me right into this swimming and biking routine, which has made me realize the following things:

  • Exercise other than running takes too much planning. In order to swim I have to pay attention to a pool schedule, which opens up later than my usual 5:30 get-out-the-door running time. Biking isn't too bad, but I have to get my bike out of the basement and get my helmet and pay attention to cars, which is harder when you are not just running on the sidewalk away from said cars. I am that person that hates the gym because all of those machines require too much thinking and decision making; same with yoga: I can do teacher-led classes all day but ask me to do my own routine at home and I go blank. I just like to put on my running gear and go on autopilot with my Nike Plus to tell me when to turn around and go back the way I came.
  • Apparently, when not training for a marathon, one needs to put less calories into their body or their jeans will get tight. Whoops! I mean, I also blame the stress-eating around the new house and how good a cold beer tastes on a hot summer day, but I never have to think about that when I am running for three hours straight at least one day a week. Again, I don't like having to put this much thought into things other than nail polish color and restaurant choices; like running, my eating habits are on autopilot and now I am being forced to think about things so I don't have to think about a new pair of jeans and now I have to actually intentionally not eat certain things for a bit to get back to where I was so happy being. I am a healthy eater, don't get me wrong, but I just really like to eat and I enjoy things like fresh goat cheese from Vermont at the farmer's market and don't want to have to think about whether or not I should just eat the whole damn thing.
  • I missed my bike. When Matty and I first met he bought me an awesome bike and we spent all of our free time riding. We rode to shows, to bars and pushed them home after late nights in Allston. We spent  many hours riding next to each other and getting to know each other and I learned to trust him as I bobbed and weaved behind him in Boston traffic. It was our thing, so much so that we had bike themed invitations for our wedding! I continued to ride when I got pregnant but I started getting nervous about cars and balance since it was not just one life I was trying to protect, and eventually I locked my bike up....for two and a half years. Getting back on it for the first time (with my cute new helmet) felt super invigorating and, as they say, just like riding a bike. I was back at it! If anything, this has solidified my thoughts about using it to commute a little more, especially since the new house to my office is a pretty great route.
  • I love a challenge and just like all those degrees I got in grad school, I am excited to add "tri-athlete" next to my "Tough Mudder", "marathoner (x2)" and "yogi" athletic achievements. Will I do another one? Ask me after my next long distance race when I can eat half a pot of spaghetti without loosening my jeans ;)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Over the Weekend

One (of many) unfortunate side effects of this home buying roller coaster has been feeling a little like we are stressing away our summer and spending a lot of time and energy on things other than the beach and sunshine. Of course I know that in the long run it will be more than worth it, but I really can't wait to just be in our new  home and get back to summer time and the livin's easy instead of INSANITY. It does look like we will be on track to close on July 31st, which happens to be the day before we go to Newport Jazz Fest, but those boxes will be there waiting for us when we get back, right? Right. 

I cannot help but laugh at the way things happen, but at least it looks like it is happening so no complaints over here. If there is one thing I love, it's a time management challenge!

This weekend we did manage to have a whole lot of fun despite the stress of everything living in the back of our minds. We started Friday afternoon visiting our favorite librarian at the Allston Farmers Market and had a nice evening of books on the couch and going to bed early. Saturday, Maddie and I went to her gymnastics class and then went to the WGBH Fun Fest, which was so much fun for her. She has never really seen costumed characters up close and has not met anyone that she "knows" so I wasn't sure how she would react but, as these pictures show, she just went right up to them with her usual confidence and was all smiles! She even started singing the "Dinosaur Train" theme song to Buddy the dinosaur, which pretty much warmed every heart in a mile radius. It was adorable.

Saturday night this mama went out on the town with my bestie; we hit up THREE bars, talked, giggled, made fun of what the kids are wearing these days and overall had the most amazing time. I am so, so glad that she is back in Boston and am looking forward to more of these girl's nights, though maybe without all the delicious cherry and rye cocktails from the Beat Hotel that went down a little too smooth.

Speaking of too many cocktails, Matt and Maddie let me sleep in Sunday morning before we got up and got ourselves to the beach, which was definitely worth dragging myself up for. We went to Rockport, to the same beach I was sitting on when I got the job offer from my current organization almost four years ago! The water was a little frigid, even for New England, but there was plenty of sand to be turned into castles and just enough of a breeze to help me sweat out my Saturday night fun.

After the beach we headed into Gloucester, which is one of my favorite towns in New England because it reminds me so much of my Dad. He never made it to the East Coast before he died, but I know that he would have felt like home in Gloucester surrounded by old boats and beautiful scenery. It makes me feel close to him to be there and think about how much he would love it. We had lunch at one of our favorite breweries, Cape Ann Brewing Co., who have an awesome pub with a deck overlooking the water. Two fish tacos and two beers later and I was ready for a nap while Matty got us home (thanks, babe!).

So overall, a pretty awesome weekend, and hopefully just two more before we are home sweet homebuyers!

Happy Monday!

Riding the firetrucks by the farmer's market.

Ice cream selfie!

That face! She is such a big girl!
After serenading Buddy.
After giving Chirp a big ol' hug.
Boatspotting at Gloucester Harbor.
Sunshine, no make-up and my favorite hat.
These two make my heart go BOOM!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My First Panic Attack

Despite all the chaos in my life right now, I am still managing to throw myself into my book for a couple of hours on the train and before bed (ok, maybe once this week when I didn't fall asleep on the couch, but whatever) and right now I am plowing through Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety

Reading books about anxiety can go one of two ways for me: it can make me feel better and less alone for suffering from it, and even laugh at the absurdity of it all (much like Augusten Burroughs books do) or it makes me hyper-aware that my anxiety does indeed exist, that it came from somewhere deep and dark and that it is never, ever going to be a non-factor in my life. Monkey Mind is simultaneously doing both, which is great for the laughs but holy crap not the best timing for analyzing what I secretly refer to as my "anxiety monster". I know, not a very original pet name, but it makes it a little more childlike and a little less scary to call it that when in the throes of believing I am having a stroke, so that is it's name. 

I am less than half way through the book but it has me thinking a lot about where my anxiety came from and when it really started being a factor in my life. I can look back to being very young and remember situations that definitely give me anxiety now, and I assume made me feel something similar then, but it was not until I was sixteen that I really started recognizing what was happening to my body; this is also when I sought out help for it and allowed me to start defining the feelings I was having. I have strong memories of panicking in response to situations as a young child, even appropriately so, but it was not until one event when I was sixteen that I remember having a response to something that was not tangible. 

Growing up in Reno is probably a pretty good backdrop for a lot of anxiety stories, and that is just where this one starts. As a teenager in the punk rock community, my life revolved around basement shows and coffee shops, as did most everyone's across the nation. However, our coffee shops were inside of casinos and featured all sorts of bright lights, repetitive sounds, thick cigarette smoke and drunk people to make a sort of obstacle course of stimuli. This particular night my friends and I had completed about three hours worth of caffeine consumption and decided to wander around a particularly busy and hectic casino. I remember walking through and seeing the world  tilt like a fun house mirror and the noise sounding like it was being funneled directly into my brain. Almost immediately I lost my sense of balance, my heart started pounding and my legs went weak as sweat began to form in the most painful way I have ever felt. Not knowing what to do I ran to the entrance, leaving my confused friends to bolt after me. I spilled out onto the sidewalk and sat on the ground, terrified of what was happening to me. I wanted to call an ambulance but was scared I would get in trouble with my parents (even though I was not doing anything I was not supposed to be doing). I remember two guys outside trying to make me feel better but were drunk and kind of annoying and my friends were totally unaware of the extreme sense of dying I was going through and boy oh boy was that a way to learn about panic attacks. I was in this all by myself and had no fucking clue how to get myself out of it.

Someway, somehow I managed to convince myself that I was not actually dying and maybe just had too much caffeine (definitely a fact) and I got myself home in my little 1974 VW bug. That night I tossed and turned and had crazy thoughts, terrible stomach pains and could not shake the sense that I felt like I was dying. It was terrifying. It still is, thinking back to that night 16 years later. I had no idea what was happening to me and was scared out of my mind with no idea as to what I should do. 

It was within a few weeks of this night that I had another attack so bad that I nearly crashed my car and ended up having my mom take me to the ER for what we thought was an asthma attack only to learn that I was suffering from panic attacks (in addition to a generalized anxiety disorder). I will never forget that ride to the hospital, my poor mom helpless as to how to help me, yelling at cars to please hurry so she could get me in the care of doctors, unaware that I was not actually about to die.

Anxiety is SCARY. For us sufferers, for our families, for our friends and for all of those who suffer without knowing what is happening to them. For these reasons I have decided to start putting down a little more of my experiences and sharing them here. If one person relates, great. If one person gets help because of it, even better. If nothing, it helps me to look back over the beginning of my struggle with the anxiety monster and to show how I got to where I am now, which is a pretty good tamer of the monster, but still very much in the ring with it. 

Oh, and I will be sure to let you know how the rest of the book goes, as long as I don't need too much xanax to get through it ;)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Means...

...sun kissed cheeks

staying up just a little later so we can have one more trip down the slide

every other night tubbies

setting the alarm on weekends to beat the Cape traffic 

picking up things to throw on the grill instead of takeout

two weekend days for two different beaches

sand at the bottom of our all our bags

frozen yogurt before dinner

soaking it all up because she will only be two and a half one summer....