Thursday, August 13, 2015

A is for...

AUGUST! Here we are half way through August and my tan is just now getting good, so here is hoping for a September that still has beach days because I am really not ready to let this summer go yet. I am now fully aware that we New Englanders make up for the horrific winters by jamming a million things into the summer months and I am officially ok with it, though my husband may say differently.

Last weekend, for example, our Sunday afternoon opened up and so we drove up to York, Maine to eat at the Goldenrod, go to the zoo and enjoy one of the most beautiful drives along the water. It was awesome and as we sat in traffic on the way home I couldn't believe that we had spent the morning at Maddie's swim class but then crossed three states and pet baby goats.

I love you, New England, even if I do say otherwise in the middle of February.

Kiddo is wearing zebra leggings too, if you can't tell.
GOATS! She was so sweet with them and I really wanted to take one home.
They rebelled and had to feed the ones on the other side of the fence too.
I was so proud of how brave and gentle she was with all the animals. 
These two are so cute together. 
Her first time on a ferris wheel and she loved it!

ANNABEL! Oh man, this sweet baby of mine, I just cannot get enough of her. I remember being pregnant and not really understanding how I would be able to love another kiddo since my heart kind of bursts with love over Maddie all the time. I knew it would happen, but I had no idea that my heart could emit all sorts of fireworks and rainbows over two kids like this. Annabel is just the zen to our chaos, the squishy to our hardness and I am head over heels for her, as is her big sister; no one gets a bigger gummy baby smile than Maddie does and my heart feels like it has pop rocks in it every time. At almost five months (!!!) she spends most of her time trying to roll over, picking things up and bringing them to her mouth (toes and her toys, but mostly her toes) and smiling at everyone. Baby girl. you complete this family of ours in a way I didn't know needed you and we love you SO MUCH.

Her 16 week photo shoot.
Picnic at MFA!
Rolling over all day every day.
Watching the monkeys at the zoo while big sister rides the paddle boats.

ANXIETY! Irony is cancelling your first appointment with your therapist in almost two years because you cannot possibly get out of the office to make it across town. Oh, boy. My anxiety monster is never truly gone, but it tends to go deeper into hibernation sometimes and right now is not that time. A lot of it is work related, not because I don't love my job but I just have a lot I want to get done and then all the sudden it is 4:00 and I am out of time. The rest is just the season, I think. Two young kids, two fast moving careers, school about to start for Maddie and Matty (and the price tag associated with that). It is a lot, but it won't be forever, and I know this, but sometimes the anxiety monster can't be bothered with rational thoughts because making my head feel like it is going to pop off is a lot more fun.

Here's to the end of the week and moving on to better letters: babies, beach time and beers.

Friday, July 10, 2015

On the Run (again).

The last time I ran a half marathon was when I was 13 weeks pregnant. 13 miles at 13 weeks! It was ironic and awesome. I had spent the first 8 weeks of my pregnancy pretty miserable, especially since I hadn't experienced sickness my first pregnancy and wasn't quite sure why my body was being so hard on me. So being able to put 13 miles in at that point felt awesome. It was one of my slowest halfs but I was proud of my body and happy to have my little running partner in my belly. 

I kept up running until about February, mostly on the treadmill because of the ridiculous snow situation in Boston. I did get some lovely outdoor running in Florida but it was on that trip that I ordered a belly band because I was experiencing some pain and need for extra support around my big bump. Once February hit it was impossible for me to run outside and really a huge undertaking to try and drive to the Y so I let myself take a break and started sleeping in and preparing for the lack of sleep I was about to experience with a newborn in my bed again. I didn't feel one bit guilty and was honest with myself about the work I'd be faced with postpartum while snuggling in for cold winter nights with my growing belly. 

Lo and behold, Annabel came a couple of weeks early and despite being a peanut of a baby, I left the hospital not too far away from my pre-pregnancy weight. On the ride home from the hospital I was already counting down the days until I could run again. A couple of weeks after having her we went to our first mama and baby yoga class and I very gently started using muscles and getting used to not having that big belly. I almost asked my OB for permission to start running again at 4 weeks but decided not to push it and start going on some long walks with Annie in the Ergo carrier to get some exercise and make sure all the snow had melted.

When my six week appointment came I was giddy with excitement and laid out an outfit for the next morning before I even went in and got my all clear (which thankfully I did!). I almost went out that afternoon but made myself wait for the next morning to get back into my routine and see if I could actually wake up at the crack of dawn for something other than nursing. I told myself I would take it easy and just try for a mile, then I made all the rookie mistakes (went out too fast, didn't bring an inhaler, etc) but I made it to 1.5 and didn't die. I was back in action!

Fast forward to today where I've got 12.5 under my belt from last weekend, a lot of hydration in my system and those awesome pre-race jitters. I'm not expecting this to be a PR and I'm still a minute over my goal pace for my next marathon but I'm here and I'm proud. Training and running can be hard for anyone and I am completely in awe of what my body has been able to do over the last 8 weeks that I've been running again. It's really hard to wake up at 5am and leave my squishy baby (who still takes many trips to the boob fountain throughout the night) and get my ass out there. Not only am I pumping at work for the time I'm away at the office but I'm also pumping once each morning for long runs and stocking up for marathon training in the fall. Hydration is no joke because if I'm not hydrated then neither is my milk supply. Last weekend I was amazed that while my body was getting me through a two hour run it was also making milk to nourish another person. Bodies are amazing! I just want to give a big HIGH FIVE to all the mama runners out there and keep thinking about how awesome it will be to have my two girls at finish lines knowing that they too can do anything they put their mind to.

So good night (even though it is still light out) and please send me and my feet happy thoughts for tomorrow! 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Over the Weekend

I have to say, last week was the hardest I have had yet as a working mom of two who also trains for half marathons and likes to hang out with her friends. I am well aware that I have a lot on my plate, but last week finally came crashing around me and I spent a couple of afternoons in tears and Friday morning on the train trying to act like I had allergies when really I was just a weepy mess.

For all of the wonderful that Maddie is, she can be very, very (veryveryvery) challenging, as most three and a half year olds are, and for some reason it took last week to push me a little over the edge. Needless to say, when Friday afternoon finally rolled around I was thrilled to have the week behind me and SO excited that we had a dear friend offer to watch BOTH girls that night so Matt and I could go out on a date. Like, without one or both kids. It was amazing!

In order to get some peace and quiet that we are not used to when with the girls, we decided to go see Jurassic World in 3D IMAX (yep, and it was quieter than most Friday nights at home), The movie was awesome and both of us stayed awake! We even went to a bar and had a drink after. Amazing, right? Such a great way to end the week and press reset for the weekend.

Saturday morning I headed out with my run club for a 10 mile training run; I did 7 of the miles on my own and was able to run at my goal pace for the half I am doing in two weeks and still feel really good afterwards. I am not at my next marathon goal pace yet, but am starting to think it may not be the most impossible goal in the world to run a sub 4:30 race at 9 months postpartum....

After my run I took the girls to the Ronan Park Kite Festival where we had an amazing time. I learned that I will never spend money on a kite again because the homemade kite was way better than anything we have ever bought, and Maddie was an expert at keeping that puppy in the air! Luckily, Matt had a change of heart after his run and met us at the park instead of diving into homework because after a couple hours of chasing Maddie around with Annie strapped to me in the Ergo I was desperately needing to sit down!

The rest of the weekend was spent preparing for Maddie's first day at Vacation Bible School today (!!!), taking her to her first preschool swim lesson at the Y, hanging with Auntie Kate and preparing for a better week than last :) With how excited Maddie was for camp today, and how calm I felt on my morning run, I think we may have a fighting chance of calling last week a one off and keeping our plate just as we like it: overflowing, exhausted and happy.

Here are some pictures from our weekend!

This guy was hanging out on my long run Saturday; city deer are brave!

A girl and her kite. She ruled at this. 

Sliding down cardboard in a potato sack because WHY NOT?!

I got to sit down and snuggle this little chubs, who was loving the kites.

Sisters. I just love it.

Making pancakes with Dada before camp!

First day of camp!

My heart: KABOOM.







Thursday, June 18, 2015

Happy Fourth Trimester, Annie!


My little peanut turned 12 weeks old today and I really do not know how time can go so fast because I am pretty sure we just brought her home from the hospital.

This baby is so sweet and gentle. She smiles from the time she wakes up until fifteen minutes later when she needs her first nap; did I mention she loves to sleep?

She has just discovered her hands and spends many an hour trying to examine one and fit it into her mouth while the other kind of bounces around like a little boxer's fist.

Her hair is so long and light and her eyes the most beautiful light blue with the deepest blue rim. She has at least four thigh rolls now with the most delicious chubby belly to match.

Her big sister still absolutely adores her and has been showing us what an amazing team player she is by reading to Annabel and putting on puppet shows with her stuffed animals. She always wants to include "our baby" in plans and makes sure she knows where Annabel is as soon as she is up and out of her bed in the morning.

Annabel Marie, you are one loved little lady and Mommy and Daddy can't thank you enough for your mellow demeanor and sweet, gummy smiles.

Happy three months!



Monday, June 15, 2015

Ripping the Band Aid


It's been almost two months since I have had the time to come here and put words down, though I have done it in my head a million times, and I don't even really have the time today (I just really have a case of the Mondays).
Life is BUSY, but that is stating the obvious if you didn't just randomly stumble across this blog. A newborn, a toddler, a career, a marriage, friends, running, neighborhood involvement...it doesn't end and I love it, really, every single day I feel so lucky to have it all, even when I can barely spell my name or apply lipstick with a straight hand (hello, today).
Let's just use this blog as a little (big) catch up and then get back to regularly scheduled programming, shall we?

Annabel is a joy. She is so sweet and snuggly and smiley and I really just cannot get enough of her. She also does one thing that Maddie didn't do, which is sleep! Like, at night, when I want to sleep. We are cosleeping with her, as we did with Maddie, so she wakes up a couple of times a night, nurses and goes back to sleep. She wakes me up just by making little grunts, kicking her feet a bit and reaching for me. No tears from anyone and no walking up and down the hall trying to get her back to sleep. I am very aware that this could, and likely will, change at any moment, which is even more reason to enjoy it.

Madeleine is one hell of a big sister. She is also one hell of a three and a half year old. She is fiercely independent, opinionated, stubborn, irrational and funny beyond belief. And oooooh how she pushes my buttons and makes me strive and pray and strive some more to find patience and zen. It is both my favorite and least favorite age all at the same time and I can go from never wanting her to get older to thanking God that she will grow out of this, all within the same car ride. It has been a great lesson for us as parents to remember how we want to parent and supporting each other to make sure we can do it. There are lots of tap outs and nights of passing out minutes after she does from the sheer exhaustion of it all and yet I just try and remind myself that it is fleeting. She will not always be like this, for both the good and the bad, so remember the good and let the bad come and go with everyone still alive.

Work is a lot. I came back into the office after just 8 weeks out but was very connected the whole time so it really didn't feel like I was away and yet there is so very much to do. All the goals and ideas I had at the time of my promotion can now grow legs and start their own lives. It is exciting, exhausting and a bit overwhelming but I am happy for the opportunity to do all that I love to do and still be able to be home well before dinnertime.

Everything else is happening and that makes it great. Marriage and friends and running and being involved in the things I care about all still exist because I have an awesome husband who helps me to make them a priority and awesome friends who meet me halfway (and usually more) to spend time together, to watch the girls and to tell me I have a good hand on this parenting two with a career and commitment to wearing make up every day.

Hello, my name is Stefanie, and I kinda sorta got this. It's good to be back, blog!



Friday, May 1, 2015

Birthday Blogging!

I woke up today as a 33 year old, which is so weird to think about because I can barely see myself as that; I still feel like a kid! But here I am with two babies and a mortgage and a great career and an upcoming five year anniversary with this amazing man who I have this incredibly adult relationship with. And I am only 33! I feel like I have accomplished so much yet there is so much I want to do before 34. Birthdays are funny like that. I think about everything I have accomplished since my last one (a healthy pregnancy and baby, a home, a promotion, another marathon) and everything I want to do next (be a better mother of two, home improvements, more success at work, another marathon). 

But here I am, in this moment, enjoying a free Starbucks looking out at the Boston Marathon finish line, a 5 week old strapped to my chest and just trying to be present; to respond to all of the lovely texts and messages from this amazing treasury of friends I have accumulated in these 33 years, to enjoy this afternoon while Maddie hangs with her beloved nanny and I can just gallivant around this city I love.

I will go home and (hopefully) catch a quick nap with my new little peanut and then get taken out to dinner by my brood. Maddie will (hopefully) sing me 'happy birthday' another few times. Life will go on as this chaotic, busy, wonderful life and tomorrow I will be another day into 33, another day to work towards all those things I want to do before 34. Another day. But today, today is my birthday and I am going to milk it and celebrate it and sing it (quietly) from the rooftops because. Just because.

I owe so many posts. Annabel's (hilarious) birth story. Thoughts on staying at home with two kids (even more not-for-me than staying at home with one). A countdown until I can run again (FOUR. MORE. DAYS). And our adventures as a family of four (so many adventures). Until then, enjoy some pics of these zany days I am calling life.

Happy day to you, even if you aren't the birthday girl.

Sleeping Beauty (as long as she is on Mama).

Home got even more awesome five weeks ago.

These two. I couldn't do it without them.

Especially this one. She is my new daily sidekick and I wouldn't trade her for anything.






Wednesday, March 25, 2015

We Don't Have a Coffee Table // My Parenting Wins

Parenting has been a trial and error situation; we had a pretty good idea of the type of parents we wanted to be and what we wanted this child-raising thing to look like but really, you don't know shit until you are in the thick of it and trying to make it all work in real life. Am I an expert? Hell no. Do I make mistakes? Absolutely (all parents do!). But as I approach baby number two, I think there are a few things that I have learned along the way that have really worked for our family and hopefully they can help out at least one of my many friends who are expecting their first bundles of joy. Consider this one in what might be a few of the big things we have done that have been wins (I promise to share the fails too, because we have definitely had our share of those!). If anything, this is something I can come back to when I am having a day of fails to remind myself that we are (usually) nailing this parenting thing.

We don't have a coffee table.

Our living room floor is dedicated to dance parties or massive train track set ups and sometimes a dinosaur picnic with wooden steaks and felt peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We eat dinner together at our kitchen table every single night. There is no other option, and even if there was, there wouldn't really be because this is what we do. Coffee tables take up room and are just one more thing my kid (and soon kids) can bounce their faces off.

We really do eat dinner at the kitchen table every single night and it is usually a home cooked, no processed-food meal. 

Am I superwoman? Nope, but having dinner together each night makes me feel like it sometimes. I work 40 plus hours a week and have a lovely social life and somehow manage to raise a kid (while growing another one) and have an awesome marriage and still make good meals every night. This is because anyone can do this if you make it a priority. I guess the trend is now called "meal planning" but every Friday night for a the past couple of years I have made a shared note in the iCloud of our weekly dinner menu and then make a grocery list (AnyList is awesome) for my usual Saturday morning Stop and Shop run with Maddie.

What do we eat? 

I have some rotating favorites, like my homemade marinara on whole wheat spaghetti (which Maddie would prefer every night) but I get free recipes emailed to me (Real Simple and Food 52) throughout the week that I save up and try out as much as possible. Some get saved and put in my recipe book and some never get spoken of again (like these terribly soggy slow cooker stuffed bell peppers that I flopped last week).

I try and prepare things the night before or get up early and have Maddie help me chop things before I leave for work. I am also a realist and plan the weekly menu based on our activities for the week. Monday nights are tight because we have my weekly OB appointments so we always do a slow cooker recipe that is ready when we get home; Thursday nights are both of us at home so I do something a little more complicated since Matt can hang out with Maddie and keep her entertained for me. Wednesday nights we have a family dinner night at my AILs (which used to be called "two hand dinner night because it was the only night we could do that with a new baby) and Friday nights we usually treat ourselves to take-out to relax after a long week.

What are the benefits for us?

We only spend about $120 a week on groceries, which also includes breakfast and lunches for everyone for the week. The majority of what we buy comes from the produce, dairy and grains section so we get a lot of bang for our buck. That whole idea of shopping the perimeter of the grocery store first is spot on, and we always go between breakfast and gymnastics class so I don't buy a ton of weird stuff in a hangry phase.
We also eat healthy, which is probably why I have gained about thirty pounds less this pregnancy than my first; we eat together and Maddie is involved in the kitchen, which is awesome. She loves to whisk and measure things and has a respect for knives and hot stoves. Also, we get built in family time every single day  (no iPhones or toys allowed at the table). Research shows how incredibly major the impact of eating together is and I hope this is something that we can stick to with baby number two and throughout the years.

So that's something that has worked for us and made our lives a little more awesome and manageable; anything you do that I'm missing out on?

Pizza sushi? It could totally happen on the food blogs.
Helping me with homemade marinara.
Mixing is her JAM.
At least the cookies she eats are made from scratch....
This kid does not eat meat unless it is a slice of deli meat from her deli counter BFF.
My grocery store bestie (at Ikea).
And sometimes we make cakes from scratch for no reason but to eat them!