Monday, April 14, 2014

A Weekend of Non-Race Results

I swear I read on the pamphlet that the kids' race started at 9am. I've had it written in ink in my calendar for months, since I reserved Peanut's spot right when registration opened.

I get a call from my mom. Where are you? The five-year-olds are already lining up. Peanut is 5. Oh noooo! It's 8:30 and the races have already begun. I race down the street and will the lights to turn green with my razor-sharp glare. We pull up and the 6-year-olds are already starting to run. Peanut is crying real sincere tears in the backseat as I share the news with him that we missed his race.

Peanut and I rush out of the car and run toward the crowds, my pregnant belly not holding me back yet. We race up just in time to see the 7-year-olds lining up. His cousin is in this group, so we'll see about sneaking him in. I get Peanut in line to run and I race over to the registration booth to grab Peanut's race bib. Without enough time to pin it on, I tell him to just hold it in his hands.

The whistle blows and the 7-year-olds and one 5-year-old bolt across the pavement. The route for 7-year-olds is quite a bit longer than the route for 5-year-olds, but Peanut holds his own. He even manages to pass a few little runners. With his height, he doesn't even look the least bit out of place.

I meet him at the finish line, and the huge smile on his face as he shows me his medal helps me to feel a little less guilty. I high-five him and give him all the accolades about keeping up with the big kids. His daddy calls and gives him a virtual fist bump from work. He's happy and proud and smiling. And that's what truly matters.

Sunday morning, Hubster and I are signed up to run the corresponding 5k. I also signed us up way back when registration opened. I pick up our race packets after Peanut's run and set out all our gear for the next morning. Being pregnant and tired, I plan on walking for most of the race, which suits my unconditioned Hubster just fine.

But Saturday night turned out to be the very epitome of "April showers." April showers that didn't relent for one second. April showers that filled our backyard like a built-in pool. The rains went well into the night and we prepared ourselves for what happens nearly every spring.

Hubster set up camp on the couch, checking and adjusting the pumps every half hour. I pulled a pump-watching shift from about 1-3am since I couldn't sleep anyway and Hubster needed a break. The encroaching waters and the perceived threat on our garage and eventually our basement left me feeling wide awake in the middle of the night.

Toward 6am, the rains finally let up and the backyard drainage was actually getting somewhere. We were finally starting to feel that exhaustion seep in as the water finally seeped out. Sleep was much more needed than the gratification of finishing the race. Yes, the race is one of our family traditions, but so is pumping out our spring-fed backyard I guess, so we're even. Ha. We'll run again next year.

This morning we woke up to snow on top of our spring floods. It was like a cruel, yet beautiful-looking joke. With our natural northern instinct, we brush off our vehicle windows, pull out the snow pants again, and pretend like the snow will just vanish by the end of the day, hoping against hope that 70-degree weather will be in the forecast for next week again, yet knowing in the back of our minds that snow is possible well into May.

How was your weekend?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Florida Trip Highlights Part Two

Check out Part One of our Florida trip here.

I have never been to Disney. Our family did quite a bit of travelling when we were younger, but generally the trips didn't reach past the state lines. Peanut had obviously never been there either. So this time, we planned a trip into the Magical Kingdom. Although I couldn't ride any of the rides in my condition and I'm not big on big touristy amusement parks, I had so much fun being there for the first time.

What struck me most was the overwhelming awe I have for Walt Disney himself. The dreams, visions and ambitions of one man have manifested in this larger-than-life empire right down to the tiniest detail. I remember reading about a woman who worked on a Disney cruise ship and the type of training and guidance every single Disney employee receives. It's just beyond impressive how this entire place, not to mention the movies and merchandise and everything else Disney, originated in the mind of one ambitious man.

And ok, I already know these Disney people are brilliant, but putting activities for kids to follow all along the lines for the rides is just pure genius!

I've been hearing about the Small World ride for my entire life. I know what it is and everything about it, but I was finally able to experience it for the first time myself. I loved watching how Peanut took it all in and truly enjoyed it. We even used a handful of pennies to send our own wishes out into the world. Peanut wished for us to be able to stay in Florida. I did a little too:)

The only ride Peanut hated was the haunted house ride. He cried and closed his eyes the entire way through. I love how they make the ride very kid-friendly. No ghosts pop out to scare you or anything. However, the music and voices are a bit macabre, just creepy enough to make a Peanut uncomfortable.

Peanut recognized Rapunzel's castle right away. Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair!

Checking out the fort on the island. We found a little girl who was inconsolable after losing her family. I sat with her until her brothers ran back to find her. I'm not sure if she even spoke English. Later, we spotted another boy who had gotten misplaced. The workers tell us they have family reuniting down to a science.

Peanut was overjoyed that he finally got to drive a go-kart. This kind stayed on a track, so there wasn't much room for error. 


We caught Disney shows at the castle, watched a 3D movie, rode some rides, explored some islands, met some Disney characters and ate all kinds of overpriced food. Peanut even rode a little roller coaster, which I was so proud of him for attempting. Grandma pointed out all the Disney movies that Peanut hasn't seen yet. When we got home, we immediately rented Planes so at least Peanut knows who is who in the little airplane pack he bought at the souvenir shop.

We stayed until after the nightly parade and fireworks, of course. Tinkerbell stuck her tongue out at Peanut when he got shy and wouldn't wave back to her. We got a good laugh out of that. I captured most of the castle entertainment on my camcorder, but we weren't in a great position to see the full effect of the fireworks.

After the shows, we headed to the car, which is quite the process. We took the ferry across the water and Peanut immediately fell asleep on the floor of the vessel. Then, we had to wait for a trolley to make the hike to the car. We had another 2-hour ride after that in which Peanut slept the entire way. We were completely spent, but happy. Thank goodness Thursday was a sleep-in casual day.

What about you? Is there some major place that you haven't been to yet? What are some of your favorite Disney memories?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Florida Trip Highlights Part One

There's something magical about the air in Florida that makes a girl forget about her morning sickness. I'm not sure if it was the warm air on dried out Wisconsin bones, the factor of distraction, or something else, but never in the past few weeks have I felt as good as I did in the Sunshine State.

We began our trip with travels late on a Monday afternoon that got us into Orlando at the bewitching hour. We spotted a wild raccoon in some brush under a bush at the airport. Couldn't get my camera out fast enough though. The warm humid air and light rain that greeted us excited me from the moment we walked out of the airport. We picked out our rental and drove a few hours to our host's house in Bradenton.

We were immediately greeted by two crazy beautiful German shepherds that invited us in like they'd always known us.

Our hosts were the best hosts ever, fixing a room for all three of us and tending to our needs like family. We hadn't met them in person, but Hubster had known them for quite a long time. The fact that they invited us into their home so graciously and enthusiastically still makes me smile. 

Tuesday was a day spent playing with those sprightly pups (Peanut's favorite part of the whole trip) and visiting family in Sun City Center. I found this amazing Goodwill bookstore that I easily could've gotten lost in. I had to make it quick though, and all I really wanted a frothy chick novel that was made for tropical vacations. I can't be expected to always read heavy, academic novels can I? 

Wednesday was dedicated entirely to Disney, but I'll save that post for "Part Two" since it requires its own story. Thursday was probably my favorite day of the trip. We did a bit of sightseeing that was a bit more wild and natural and a little less tourist-driven.

We started out at Myakka State Park in Sarasota. Originally we planned a trip into Clearwater to do some miniature golf/feeding of alligators. But our hosts pointed us in the direction of a more natural gator habitat less than 30 minutes from their house. Yes! We pulled up to the first little river and spotted two gators right off the bat. Peanut was afraid to approach, but once he saw the gators were pretty distant, he got really into it. He's a huge Gator Boys fan, so gators are his thing right now.

The park was just beautiful. As we passed the campground, we thought about how much Florida camping is different than Wisconsin camping. In Wisconsin, your biggest fears might be about bears in the northern part of the state and ticks. In Florida, you are likely to come across snakes and potentially gators. Geckos are everywhere in Florida. Mosquitoes are everywhere up here. In Wisconsin, state parks are filled with pines, oaks, and maples. And in FL, the forest looks a bit different peppered with palm trees. In Wisconsin, you can freely swim in most waterways without fear of any kind of big creature biting off a limb. In Florida, not so much.

Taking the same highway we got to Myakka on, we passed to the opposite side of the freeway to visit Siesta Key Beaches, the #1 rated beaches in the US. White sand stretched as far as we could see. This was the part of the trip I couldn't wait for! Although between getting there and leaving, it felt like we were only there for about 15 minutes. I certainly could've used more time there. It was therapeutic. 

Peanut was karate-chopping all the waves.
We had him taste the saltwater on his hand
too, because we so rarely experience saltwater.

Last time we came to Florida, Peanut was only a year old and he was terrified of the sand. It took awhile for Hubster and I to get him away from the comfort of his towel. After some crying and apprehension, he finally took his first few steps in the sand and eventually ventured out. It just brought back so many memories seeing Peanut playing in the sand four years and many inches later.

Notice "Snapper," Peanut's new gator friend
from the Myakka souvenir shop.

For us northern birds, no Florida trip is complete without a gecko hunting excursion or five. We never get to see any kind of lizards outside of commercial pet stores up here. The fact that they're as common as cats in WI is completely novel to us.

Our trip was way to short, as trips to the southern region often are for those who suffer through relentless winters. I seriously considered checking our itinerary to see how much it would cost to transfer our tickets from Friday to Monday, but I relented. I know we won't get around to those parts for another few years, but I'm taking my sunburn and memories back to Wisconsin to try and pretend like summer isn't that far away.

Check back for Part Two of our Florida expedition, the Disney files, later this week. I'm finally starting to actually feel better as I move deeper into the second trimester. I am hoping for the stamina and wherewithal to continue with a regular posting schedule.

Monday, March 10, 2014

News to Share

Photo: This week we have some better news to share. John Collins and I are expecting baby #2, due in September.

Our little family of three is expecting a new little visitor to this Earth in about 6 months. We couldn't be any more thrilled to be adding to our family, our family story, our traditions, our memories, our hearts.

It took us a full 5 years to be at a point where we felt semi-ready (you're never fully ready, right?) to go through babyhood again. On the other hand, the older and more self-managed Peanut gets, the harder it seems to be starting over with a fully-reliant infant. It's so easy to do most things with a well-disciplined 5-year-old. With a baby, I know it will be a monumental task just to go across town. And potty training again? Oy. But really, in the big picture of "family," those things mean nothing. When it comes to everything from day-to-day life to celebrating Christmases at home to taking family vacations, all of our lives will be enriched by the incorporation of our new family member.

Peanut is beyond excited about "his" new baby. He's already taking ownership with his big brother status. He kisses my belly and gives the baby hugs all the time and I can already see his little heart making room for this new sibling of his. He wants the baby to sleep in his room and he says he'll take care of everything. His well-meaning words are enough to warm a mother's heart. We know that having a sibling will be good for him.

We got to see the baby last week at our first OB appointment. Doc couldn't find the heartbeat, which is normal this early in pregnancy, so they did a quick scan. The baby was moving around so much that it was no wonder the doc couldn't nail down a heartbeat. In the ultrasound, we could actually see the heartbeat, not just hear it. At just 1.5 inches, it's amazing how human-like this tiny little bean already is! I keep those pictures with me at all times. When I start to feel defeated by sickness, I just peek at the pictures and reflect on what this is all for.

It hasn't all been pretty pink and blue roses though. For one, I've been pretty darn sick. In fact, last week, I was so sick to the point of tears. I know I don't have it as bad as some women, but still, feeling like you have the flu or an awful hangover all day every day for days on end does begin to wear a person down, even a person with a pretty high threshold for pain/discomfort.

With the morning all day sickness and fatigue, I haven't been very active. Pregnancy is a time where you must listen to your body. Mine is saying rest and I'm more than willing to listen. I've really been taking this time to sloooow down. For the most part, I've put my ambitious to-do lists away in favor of just the must-get-dones like paying bills and even doing dishes. My eating habits have been much different than they were pre-pregnancy. Simple carbs are sometimes the only things I can keep down, and I'm not ashamed that there have been Pop-Tarts and granola bars involved.

In the midst of the pregnancy news, we've also taken some hard hits in our family recently. After one little trip to the ER, my dad learned he had cancer and in a whirlwind of activity had tons of tests and surgery all within one week. He's starting chemo today, and I still don't think this diagnosis has quite sunk in for any of us. If you'd like to follow along with his story or show your support, check out our fundraising page.

At the same time, my grandma was navigating her way through the end stages of cancer. With our religious family background and strong faith, her passing was more peaceful than I would ever have imagined. She's in heaven with grandpa, there's no doubt in my mind, and what's better than that? We got to say our goodbyes, which is a blessing in itself. I just melted under the last long hug she gave me, the "I love you's" and the sweetest, most precious prayer in my ear for me and the baby.

I think it's safe to say that I am pretty much off-the-hook for being MIA. So much is happening and all my energies have been focused on family in various ways with little room for anything, let alone a blog post here and there. I'm pretty sure my lack of posting even affected my application to be a FitFluential Ambassador, but I shall just try again next time they open applications up.

I will be back to posting again soon, though probably not as predictably. I've got some projects and posts up my sleeve already. I've been itching to get at the sewing machine. I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to Baby Fever that I have been keeping secret for months. Now, I'm finally pulling up my sleeves and ready to start sourcing some fabric. I can't wait to share what I'm up to on here. And if I get really ambitious and start feeling better, I may even post a prenatal workout or two, who knows?

Monday, February 17, 2014

National LOVE Day

Mondays are usually reserved for my workout rundowns, but mine is a little to post. There's a reason, but I don't want to get caught up in excuses. Let's do a weekend recap instead. It's a bit more exciting anyhow.

Friday night, I came home from work to a beautiful bouquet of roses and some Ferrero Rocher chocolates for Valentine's Day. V-day was pretty low key at our house, but it was fun to look through all of Peanut's little valentines from his school friends. All the kidlets are learning to write, so their handwriting is adorable.

After I gave Peanut a special Valentine, he ran into the dining room and wrote me a love letter of his own.

Mommy I love you to 100 forever. Signed, Kayne
Best Valentine ever!

Saturday night we were invited to a couple's Valentine's Day dinner with some church friends. It was a hit! We played The Newlywed Game--and Hubster and I won! Oh, but he might be in the doghouse for a few of his answers. The worst "How would you fill in the blank: my wife is a natural-born....what?" Oh. Yes. He. Did. He put Nag! Those that know me would probably widen their eyes at such a statement, knowing how inaccurate it is and how .... he is. Haha!

newlywed game

Our hostess had the most lovely V-day decorations all over her house. Her mother saved all her sweet lil valentines from when she was a kid. I wish I would've gotten a few pictures, but they all had such endearing vintage prints on them, like this:

Capping off the games, we had some tasty fruit fondue. This was after a full spread of lasagna, veggies, fruit salads and all kinds of goodies. No one walked away without a full, warm belly.

Chocolate fondue with fruit

Sunday consisted of church, followed by some much needed slooooowed down Netflix time. This time momma got to pick what we were watching. The choices? I ended up watching A Little Bit of Heaven with Kate Hudson. It was a heart-wrenching story, like a Lurlene McDaniel book. What really stood out, aside from the exploration of existentialism, was the adorable swing in the main character's living room! I love this idea and want Hubster to install one pronto.

Marley's kitchen

Next up was Amélie. The weird connection here is that I was reading Amanda Knox's book, and this was a movie she persuaded Sollecito to watch because it was one of her favorites. When I skimmed over it on Netflix, I thought, what the heck? It's a very interesting little movie with whimsical cinematics and quirky humor. I love how Amélie touched the lives of a whole bunch of people in the most creative, touching ways and how there are multiple storylines woven through the actual love story. It is not your typical cookie-cutter sappy love story. Put it in your queue, it's good.

How do you normally celebrate Valentine's Day? What's your favorite love story?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Agility Ladder DIY

You can get all the supplies to make your own agility ladder at a regular hardware store, and it really only takes less than half an hour to make.

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Agility ladders are an amazing unsung fitness tool that you're probably not using. I will be back to share some agility training drills soon too, so stay tuned for that. But these exercises shouldn't be saved for professional football players or high school track teams. Agility drills not only increase your agility, but they also provide a great source of cardio, especially if you're getting bored with your treadmill routine. You can get pretty creative with your fancy footwork, like sport dancing, and it also tests your mental acuity. We did some agility drills at the NASM workshop I attended and they were kind of fun and challenging and had me out of breath within a few minutes.

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  • Short nails/carpet tacks
  • Hammer
  • Wood shims or other flat thin wood*
  • Rope
  • Tape measure


1. Stack two shims on top of each other with one narrow side and one thick side of each together. Nail the end of the rope into the top of the first shim stack.

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2. Measure 15 inches to the next rung and hammer another nail into the top of that shim stack.

3. Continue until you have 15 rungs. Cut the rope at the end of the 15th rung. Now, go back and do the same thing on the other side of the ladder, hammering the string to the shims every 15 inches.

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Voila, your very own agility ladder! It's easy to fold up and hang in your garage or shed. Be careful if you're doing this project outside with little kidlets around. All the neighbor kids ran over when they saw what I was doing and asked if they could "help." Um, no. And we ended up with a knocked over pile of nails in the grass that I was really trying to prevent (barefoot in the summer, ouch!). Just hand them a few shims and a little length of rope and see who can make the best godseye.

*I would actually recommend using some thin wood versus shims. Shims are what I had on-hand, but nailing into the narrow ends proved to be a bit tricky. The wood needs to be pretty thin though, so you're not tripping over it. Also, if you have feet that are much larger than mine (women's 8), the width of a shim might not work for you. You should be able to fit both feet inside with some room left over, so take your own measurements from there.