Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy (Good) Friday

Sometimes I photobomb the kid while she brushes her teeth.
Before this whirlwind weekend takes off, I wanted to stop in and wish everyone a happy Friday, and an extra happy Good Friday and Easter to those of you who celebrate.

I have a short day at work today, which is an awesome way to round out a really productive week in the office. I got a huge burst of motivation and energy seeing my vacation days on the calendar and it pushed me to get a lot of things done that I have been wanting to tackle. 
Once I get out of the office I am forcing Matt to also take a half day with me so we can all go to church, where I am scheduled to read, and then I have to be a total last minute mama and go get everything for Maddie's Easter basket and egg hunt. Whoops! To say I have been swamped lately would be the understatement of the year, and at least it isn't the day before!

Tomorrow I am running the BAA 5k, which will be a fun way to kick off the weekend and get pumped for watching the marathon on Monday. This has been an incredibly hard week and I have found a lot of calmness and closure on my runs these mornings. I spent this morning with my Back on My Feet team helping to cover as everyone rests and tapers for Monday; we had a great time at the track working on the couch to 5k program with the res-runners and seeing their determination and progress as the sun came up over Boston was pretty great. 

Saturday night Matty is attending a dinner with his running team and since we are sans-sitter I am going to stay home and (hopefully) get a good chunk of packing for our vacation taken care of. I am trying to be super organized since I am working Wednesday and then going straight to the airport and have so much going on before we board the plans, so here is hoping I can get it all together!

Sunday we are dedicating the whole day to Easter and family; we were able to schedule our long runs before and after marathon spectating on Monday, which will be a little tricky but totally worth it to just get to relax and spend time with everyone. Maddie is super excited to see her cousin and keeps asking about the "baby" despite me telling her that she will now be big enough to play and not just hog mama's hugs!
This little face is my favorite!
And then it will be Monday and we will be cheering, clapping and high-fiving our friends, teammates and fellow runners as they make their way down to Copley Square! I cannot wait to catch the elites as they fly by (go Shalane! USA! USA!) and I am excited to try out my new zoom lens to try and snap them in the split second before they are gone. As soon as the last runner crosses I think that a lot of us are going to exhale a pretty big sigh of relief and find some peace in making it through the first race since 2013, allowing us to further set our sights on everything the future has to hold, including a training plan for me to join them on the same route soon!

A lot has been going on for our little family and I have to tell you that this vacation and chance to be unplugged cannot come soon enough. Lots to share once we get back, hopefully (cue vague cliffhanger music)!

Have a great weekend, and GOOD LUCK to everyone running on Monday!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 15th in Boston

There is not much to say that has not been said. Boston Strong. Resilience. Prayers. Love. Peace.

It has been a year since the Marathon attack and today was spent remembering, mourning and looking ahead to the future. People came from all over, returning to the spot where their lives changed forever. We all have our story. I told mine just a few days after the attack, when it all really started to sink in. I was supposed to be there, I was not, my family, friends and running acquaintances were all left unharmed.

Not everyone I know was so lucky.

I have friends who knew one of the dead and many more who know the injured. Martin Richard and his family live less than a mile from our home in Dorchester.

But for one little quirk in life that day I would have been standing in the same spot as the Richard family, just as I had the year before as we all watched Matty cross the finish line. If I think too hard about it I get anxious, scared and sad. After the attack I had a weird fear of trash cans, stemming from the thought that maybe there were un-detonated bombs leftover. My story is one of millions, and mine is mild compared to so many more but today we all grieve together as we pass that first anniversary mark.

Right before the moment of silence I went to run errands and decided to go into the Arch Street Church, which is known for the wide range of people that are there at any given moment. Today was no different. There were people in suits, homeless people, old and young people, people in running gear. And there was me. A runner. A Bostonian by choice, married into this city and all that goes along with it. The mother of a Boston born child.

It was here, in the safety of the church and around the silence that I let all my tears go. I cried for those who died and their families, I cried for those wounded and those who cared for them, I cried for the two people responsible and families, I cried for myself, I cried for my family, I cried for my city.

After the moment of silence passed I walked out into the drizzly grey day, caught the T back to work and resumed the reports I am working on, the preparation for vacation, the chat with my husband.

Life continued.

And on Monday when thousands of runners take that first step in Hopkinton I will be waiting to cheer them on. I will watch friends and running teammates and strangers as they run towards their 26.2, towards tomorrow and towards another April 15th. Life continues, but we must always remember what brought us to today.

This hangs on the overpass near my home, a quote from 8 year old Martin Richard. Smart kiddo.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Maddie

I often say that my career has prepared me pretty well for parenting: five years of Starbucks taught me how to live off of no sleep; working in the prison taught me how to appreciate my freedom; working with mental health patients taught me how to deal with schizophrenia, violent outbursts and periods of mania and managing has taught me how to have difficult conversations and to use positive reinforcement. Maddie, however, has taught me the most important lesson of all, which is how to love unconditionally, even when she is exhibiting all of the aforementioned lessons. 

Toddlers, my friends, they sure are something.

Luckily, they are also hilarious little humans. This morning after getting dressed (which is either the most awesome or the very worst most terrible thing ever, depending on the day, or minute) Maddie dug around in her toy box pulling out a pair of bright orange star sunnies and a metal Curious George radio. She then proclaimed "mama, I going to school" and gave me a kiss, a hug, and an uggamugga (if you don't know Daniel Tiger, it is like an Eskimo kiss). She asked that I "stay put" and left towards the front door, only to come back a minute later to tell me "I can't find school, so I go to the zoo instead".

Sounds like a logical alternative to me.

This little girl of ours is turning into such a funny, passionate and smart person. She continues to have a ridiculous amount of energy and loves to the max - people, animals, intimate objects like her bath toy boats that she has to kiss goodbye at the end of tubbie time. She is starting to understand empathy and that her actions have a real effect on people, though the face pulling and screaming bouts are not quite being understood as the very worst thing she can do to mama at the end of a long day. She is very interested in letters and the alphabet song and points out "H for Hannah" and "D for Dada" whenever she sees them in a puzzle or book. She flips through her photo book to point out her Aunt Megan and her Gramma and her Jane and is so very excited to go on a plane to see Gramma and Grandpa Bob in a couple of weeks. 

My Maddie is growing and changing and evolving every minute of the day and I am just so glad to get to be her mama and be along for the ride. 



Monday, April 7, 2014

Over the Weekend

I don't know why, but Maddie has been having some serious sleep issues again, which results in her waking up in the middle of the night and one of us sleepwalking to bring her into bed with us and then her keeping us up for a couple of hours until we either put her back in her room, where she eventually passes out, or us almost giving up on ever sleeping again when she eventually passes out....at which point an alarm always seems to go off. This morning, my sweet, sweet husband actually got up with her at 5am and let me have a glorious hour all to myself in which I had the deepest sleep ever. 
But then it was time to get up. 
I know that someday we will all joke about what a terrible sleeper little Maddie was and how it helped her study so hard to become the engineer/train conductor/macaroni and cheese chef she ends up being, but for now, it just sucks. A lot. And it makes for some pretty hard Mondays, especially with those long runs on Sunday.
Oh, parenthood, you tricky little devil.

Sleepless Sunday aside, we did manage to have a really lovely weekend and, for once, it did not feel totally jam packed and leave us exhausted. We actually had some time to relax and do a whole lot of laundry and cleaning while still getting some fun adventures in, and even a secret date!

Saturday, per our usual routine, we dropped Matt off at school and hit the Breakfast Club for a pancake (for Maddie) and an omelet (for me) en route to gymnastics class. Maddie has been struggling with the circle-time/structured aspect of the class so we spent a lot of time talking about how she should give that part a try and that it might help her to learn something new like a song or a stretch, and lo and behold, she actually showed some improvement this time. Unlike her music class there is not a real transition between free play and structure in this class, which is something Maddie and her high-energy needs, so I have been trying to pay attention to the teachers and provide the transition for her so that we don't end up having to go chill out in the lobby while Maddie screams bloody murder to get back in the ball pit. So overall, yay Maddie!

Swinging in the playground exhibit!
She requested a picture with her favorite train at the museum.
Right after class we headed over to the Museum of Science to meet up with Maddie's best friend, who used to be a weekly visitor at our house. Maddie was THRILLED to see her and spent the whole time holding her hand and being totally smitten with her "fwend Corie". It is so neat to see her develop real relationships with people, especially little people, and it makes me so excited for future sleepovers and friend dates for her. I would not be nearly as happy and fulfilled in life if not for the awesome lady friends who are a part of my circle, and I really hope to show Maddie the importance of healthy, loving relationships, especially with other women. 

After our free parking ran out at the Museum I decided to roll the dice and see if I could keep Maddie up long enough to get her in her stroller and walk around the North End, which was  really a plan to fulfill my Pinkberry craving. Like some sort of stars aligning, we got our yogurt (which Maddie happily polished off all by herself) and then she passed out as we walked around the cobblestone streets, leaving me free to go into Starbucks, get a cup of coffee and READ A BOOK! 
What? Wait, wait, it gets better!
 Matty finished up class early, hopped on the T and took the seat right next to me to enjoy a cup of coffee himself and she stayed asleep! For like two hours! We talked and cuddled and pretended that we were just two totally sleep caught up people having a date at Starbucks. She didn't even wake up until we were walking over to a bakery to get a fresh ciabatta loaf for dinner, which we only realized when we heard her say "hi puppy" to a passing golden retriever. Kind of  a super, duper lovely way to spend a Saturday. 
We made it home in time to make a yummy dinner, Skype with Grandma and get some snuggles and Cinderella watching done. Maddie also got her first manicure; I just couldn't say no to her while I was trying to make my gross runner's feet look a little less terrible with pink polish. And how cute are those tiny hands? She was so excited and kept showing Matt, the cat, her stuffed animals and the tv her "pink fingers". They will look totally awesome with her fire chief coat and Thomas the Train shirt.
Yummy Pinkberry with ALL THE FRUIT!
Out like a light in her stroller!
Matching digits! 



Yesterday was "long run Sunday" and, once again, thanks to my wonderful AIL, we both got to get out and get it done. I did an 8 mile run around Belmont and then met my running team to do the Cambridge City Run 5 Miler. I kept pace with a res and non-res runner for the first 3.5 miles but then slowed myself down for the last bit because I was just plain TIRED. But it was a beautiful day and just awesome to be out there with my team, which included one of my new res runners doing his first ever race. The smile and sense of accomplishment he was rocking after was so great and made my heart so happy; I truly love being a part of Back on My Feet and am excited for the change in weather and opportunity to do more running with them.

While I was lumbering through my run all slow and steady, my husband was out annihilating a 20 miler at an extraordinarily fast pace - that man of mine never ceases to totally amaze me with how far he has come as a runner and I am sure he will be qualifying for Boston within the next couple of years, at which point I will need to get a jet pack to keep up with him. He even came to meet me and my cheer squad at the finish line, directly from his 20 miles. Have I mentioned lately how much I adore that guy? The best, I tell you.

After a short drive back to my AIL's, in which she will surely needed to Febreze her car, we were all treated to an amazing lunch, hot showers and rest and relaxation. If I ever won any sort of medal for running I would immediately give it to her for all of the time and energy she has put into our running. We are so, so lucky and hope that Maddie gets the hang of doing the laundry and dishes for her soon :)

After we recuperated we headed home to do laundry and open the windows to let some fresh air in for the first time this year. Never one to let 20 miles stop him, Matt changed our brake pads and then let me have some time to myself while he took Maddie to the park to ride her bike. I parked my bum on the couch and caught up on some Parks and Rec while eating assorted Italian cookies we got in the North End, which was a pretty great way to wind down a lovely weekend.

Here is to a productive week, more sleep-filled nights and lots more fresh air! Happy Monday!
Maddie showing her bowling pin animals the dump trucks on our drive...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Boston Strong, One Year Later

Every so often I like to have a date with my first love on the East Coast: my beautiful city! I haven't had one of these days in a while; it has been a busy few months and, let's face it, walking around Copley Square with the freezing wind whipping at your face isn't really my idea of a romantic time. Lucky for me, yesterday finally felt like a real spring day and I had some rare time to myself before a hair appointment on Newbury with no toddler, no agenda and no rushing necessary. I walked down Boylston and Newbury, checking out the colors starting to emerge in the shop windows and even popping into H&M to peek at the spring line and plan my next shopping trip. I took my time, finally felt some rays of sunshine on my face and the possibility that winter is really over finally in my heart. It was nothing short of completely lovely.

After getting beautified (Shaighla at Marc Harris has been my girl for years and even did my hair for our wedding, HIGHLY recommend her), I decided to take the long way and walk through the Common to catch my train home in order to savor a little more spring weather.

As I walked I checked out the signs that are up everywhere for the upcoming Boston Marathon, obviously a huge deal for our city every year, but even more so after last year's tragedy. I found myself become super emotional and choked up at the signs, then thinking about how silly it was to feel that way. I have always been annoyed at people who act as though everything is their own personal tragedy and I try and think about how things have impacted me in relation to others. For example, whenever someone dies at a high school and everyone comes out of the woodwork saying how they were their best friend and they are so sad and need to stay home for a week, when really they barely even knew the person. I saw it so many times in my youth, and again as an adult when friends would pass away.

 I am a very emotional and empathetic person and it is easy for me to take on the pain of others, so I definitely cry on my couch when watching sad things unfold on the news or when I hear of a tragedy close to home (such as the firefighters who lost their lives last week), but I never want to take away from the people that feel it more - the victims and their families - by acting like I was personally affected when I was more of an empathetic bystander.

I go back and forth with the Marathon tragedy because I do feel a very real sense of pain and sorrow; it happened in my city during a sport that I love and an event that I have watched my husband accomplish (and hope to do so myself soon); the second bomb went off directly where I was standing the previous year with our friends and Maddie as we watched Matty cross the finish line. The little boy who was killed and whose family was severely injured live a few blocks from us. I was supposed to be there but a work scheduling conflict changed that, so instead of taking our usual spot at the finish line, we were all safely out of harms way. It could have been me, but it could have been any of us.

I had dozens of friends running that day but none of them were hurt. I have friends and family who are nurses but none of them were harmed. Really, I made it out of that day pretty okay, but it is a year later and it still saddens me to the core that those two individuals chose to attack something so important to me, to take lives and hurt people and change the way the city operates during big events. My punk rock roots try not to be annoyed about the shelter in place that occurred or the search policies we can expect this year. I try (and sometimes fail) to not be annoyed towards people wearing Boston Strong shirts who had never run a mile or lived in city limits, almost a sense of entitlement where I get to feel it more than them because it really impacted my life, my hobby, my city, my friends. I feel so, so many things.

Grief, man, it's a fucked up thing.

But here we are, a couple of weeks away from race day; people are tapering, plans are being made for meeting up and cheering on all of our friends and both me and Matty's teams; events and dinners  leading up to Marathon Monday are being thrown in the iCal - this is always our life this time of year, we are runners and deeply involved in our running community and our city and we have always been huge fans of spectating our hometown race. I am starting to realize that those tears and emotion are also a strong sense of pride: for those running, those who will run some day, and for the sense of community that emerged in the face of such a terrible day. US. OUR. EVERYONE.
This is our thing, and even though this year has a whole new significance and storm of emotions around it, it is still Marathon Monday, and no matter how that day last year affected us, in two weeks we unite as one to move on, to heal, to cheer, to cry; we run as one, we run together, a year later, we all remain Boston Strong.

Each link goes to a way to donate to the many causes people are running for, as well as a fund established for the families of the firefighters who were buried this week in Boston and have nothing to do with me or any of my own fundraising efforts; I am simply spreading the word to those who may want to help. 

Matty finishing in 2011 during some awful heat!
At the finish line in 2011 (with a baby on board).
Before the race with a tiny Maddie!

A kiss at the finish line in 2012.
Waiting for Matty at the finish line.
Crossing the finish line in 2012!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Resetting










Try as I might, I cannot think of anything to blog about that doesn't include complaining about the weather, recapping our super busy weekend, talking about running or gushing about that super sweet cherub of ours. That is boring though, right? These are the things that I ALWAYS talk about. I mean, this is my life - being busy and running and raising an awesome little person (all while loathing the weather), but I feel like I should be saying more. I love to read blogs and I get a lot of joy from knowing people come to this little corner of the internet to read these words and I really want to be more here. Heck, I will be more here, someday. Just not today.

What I really need is a vacation, and I cannot wait for 23 days to pass so that we can officially be on one. Not to wish three weeks away, because there is a lot of good stuff on the calendar, but I want to get away and press my reset button. I want to see my Mom and not have cell service and stay up a little too late and feel warm sunshine on my face; all things that will be mine to treasure so soon.

These past couple of weeks have been hard. Work is hard, for both of us; home buying conversations are in full effect and although exciting are also super scary; marathon training has gotten ever trickier as I get higher up in those miles and have the weather and my own negative thoughts to contend with and this lack of being able to sit outside and listen to the birds is just really, for the birds.

BUT tomorrow is another day, this afternoon is a new chance to appreciate the opportunities that my life presents me and tonight is yoga night. And soon, another blog post that has nothing and everything to do with all of this will bubble right up to my fingers and meet me back here. 

I climbed that tower on Saturday, 61 flights, and it was awesome. 
Thankful for an amazing nanny who sends me pics of their adventures. 
Sunday morning routine; oh how I love them. 
Less than three weeks! Not my race this year, but I cannot wait to cheer for my friends. 
This kid, oh this lovely, wonderful, challenging little girl. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Life, Lately

You know when you are so busy that your mind just kind of shuts down and goes on autopilot and then a week has passed and you are like "WHAT?! WHO AM I? WHAT DAY IS IT". Yep, that has been my week (or two, oh my gosh what day is it?!), Add in a gnarly head cold and a little person who has been waking up ready to party in the middle of the night for two nights in a row and you have me in a nutshell!

Work is INSANELY busy and I left for three days to go hang out in Brooklyn, which meant that my to-do list decided to have little baby tasks and triple in size while I was gone. I imagine little tasks jumping around on my notepad in my office when I am away just multiplying themselves....and no I am not on cold medicine today.

I have had this little head/chest cold going on again; I really cannot believe how sick I have been this winter. Granted, it has been a terrible winter in New England, but I am so much healthier now than any other winter so I really do not get it. I exercise at least six days a week, I drink a green smoothie each morning, I guzzle water, I wash my hands and I barely have any interaction with our homeless clients (which has been a challenge in keeping well in past winters). Without sounding like a total whiner, all I can say is NOT FAIR. As if training for a marathon in this weather hasn't been challenging enough, trying to run without leaving a phlegmy lung on the side of the road is making it just that much harder!

I just turned the calendar in my office to April and I cannot believe how incredibly busy I am going to be, I mean, I am so freaking busy right now and things are about to get even more nuts. We have three weeks until we leave for California (hooray!) and in that time is Easter, Marathon Monday, two races for me, a ton of things to do at work, dates with friends, gymnastics classes, school (for Matt), 20 mile runs, and the day-to-day life of just being our crazy busy selves. Then we spend a week in California, fly home, and I am back on a plane to San Diego for business. And then I come home to run a marathon. Sooooooo, see you in June? Kidding!

On a serious note, Boston experienced a terrible day yesterday when we lost two firefighters in a huge fire near my work. I watched the flames from the other side of the river as I went to pick up Matty from work and I could not believe how massive the flames were from so far away. As a mama to a toddler that loves firetrucks and firefighters, we spend a lot of time saying hello to these heroes, and I am so saddened for their families, friends and co-workers. I attended a luncheon today that was also attended by our police commissioner and he gave some great words of remembrance for the two men lost. I am always humbled by those who run towards emergency situations instead of away from them, and first responders are always those people. Please keep our city in your hearts as we get through this so close to the anniversary of the Marathon bombings.

Thanks for following along on this little burst of chaos, brought to you by a very large mocha and a few minutes to myself.

Enjoy some pictures from this past week (no lost lungs included)!

En route to NY, Maddie insisted that Madeline also be strapped in. Safety first!
We got to see one of our favorite Manhattan residents during our trip! Love you, Kins!
Maddie also got to see one of her besties who now lives in the BK. Cute kid PJ party!
We visited a lot of parks in Brooklyn and Maddie approved of them all.
She also wore herself right the heck out.
Dinner at Momofuku!
The kid fell asleep so we got "secret ice cream". Parenting WIN.