Monday, June 11, 2012

Born to Run

I have heard of (and even know) some women who, after giving birth to their first child, suddenly have a new appreciation for their bodies. It's kind of a light bulb moment: this is what I was made for. This is what my body was built to do.

I had a similar revelation earlier this year, but not about childbirth.

When I was younger, I possessed very little (if any) natural athletic ability. I was short, clumsy, and chunky, which made most sports pretty much impossible. On top of that, I am not particularly competitive and I don't enjoy team sports, so there were very few activities that captured my interest or attention. I have a handful of vivid childhood memories involving learning to ride a bike for the first time (at age 11- yes, you read that correctly), running the mile in gym class, and attempting to exercise at the gym my family belonged to. And when I say vivid, I mean terrible. Needless to say, sports were not my thing. And you could tell by looking at me.

When my husband and I got engaged, I was 20 years old and at my heaviest weight ever, a solid 35-45lbs heavier than I am today. As part of our premarital counseling, we discussed some of our expectations for the future, among them that we would each do our part to stay physically healthy for as long as possible.

Somewhere in the course of these conversations, it dawned on me that I was not doing my part. Diet and exercise had never been a priority for me, but out of love for my husband (and a desire to look good in my wedding dress) I joined Weight Watchers, started hitting the gym, and dropped about 30lbs in time to walk down the aisle. I felt good, but even at that point, it had nothing to do with fitness. It was about diet and dress sizes. At the gym, I gravitated toward the bike or treadmill because I knew how they worked, and that was pretty much the extent of my thought process.

After my daughter was born, I struggled with putting the pieces back together physically. During the first year of her life, I was decimated by an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto's thyroiditis. It took almost a full year to be correctly diagnosed and begin treatment, and to this day I am still in the process of fine-tuning my medication levels. Hashi's rocked my world. Here I was at age 22, losing my hair, perpetually exhausted, and throwing up until I quite literally would pass out. Sometimes I couldn't form full sentences because I was in such a constant mental fog. Forget about exercise. I was happy just to make it through the day.

There have been other times in my life where I've felt uncomfortable in my skin, but never like that. I was angry at my body. I felt betrayed. I guess I thought that I was "owed" good health, despite no effort on my part to earn it. Not to mention the extra baby weight that wouldn't budge, and the scars of pregnancy. It was not the body I envisioned spending my life in. It was a huge wake-up call for me.

For the first time in my life, I started to really work out. I started running with a jogging stroller. I dropped those last few pounds of baby weight. I bought workout dvds. I asked a friend, a figure competitor, for tips. She directed me to My Fitness Pal, an online community for people who are trying to lead healthier lifestyles. In October 2011, I bought a gym membership.

I dropped 15 more lbs, meeting and then surpassing my ultimate weight goal. By January 2012 I was in better shape than I ever dreamed I would be. I started running more, and signed up for my first 15k with my sister-in-law.

That was when I fell in love with running. The more I ran, the harder I fell. I started to replace all those feelings of hatred and betrayal with gratitude for my body, in all of its weirdness. My petite frame that has never been able to carry an ounce of extra weight (at least not without me looking like the Michelin man)? Turns out, carrying less weight has protected my joints. My legs, which are long (too long) in proportion to my torso, let me run faster than other women my height. My flat feet that have never felt quiet right in heels, but feel oh-so-at-home in my running shoes. The list goes on and on. Suddenly my body makes sense to me. I was built for this. I was born to run.

There have been a few truly passionate loves in my life: God. My husband. My incredible daughter. All of them have knocked the wind out of me, taught me things about myself that I had never known before. They've shaped me into the woman I am and the woman I will become. I have loved each of them more than I thought possible. And I never, in a million years, thought I would say that there is a sport that could help me realize some of those same things, but running has done that for me.

Monday, November 07, 2011


I hate croup. I really, REALLY hate it.

Kisa came down with croup this weekend for the third or fourth time in her short life, but this was the worst case she has ever had before. I spent Friday morning at the pediatrician and Sunday morning at the ER trying to figure out what was wrong (I should have known croup when I saw it, but I guess I just hoped it would be something else). The ER doctor informed me that Kisa has smaller airways than the average toddler, which is probably why her lungs get so easily inflamed and why almost every cold she has ever caught has ended in croup. She is an unusually healthy child, so the reality is the only real illness we've ever dealt with is croup. And we've done it several times in the last year and a half.

In short, he told me to learn how to deal with it because it is the way her body responds to illness. Kids grow out of "croup" as they get older and their airways enlarge, but she will probably always be prone to respiratory illness and will get coughs more often than her peers. This is a wonderful trait she has inherited from her daddy.

Luckily, the older you get the less dangerous respiratory illnesses become (well... to a point), so hopefully there will come a time when her coughs are just coughs and not cause for alarm.

However. It is still a really scary and annoying illness. It's basically just the common cold settling in a kid's lungs, but it causes a cough and phlegm that can clog your airways and make you choke/asphyxiate. There's nothing you can do to treat it except push steroids (which help decrease inflammation and open up your airways) and ibuprofen to keep irritation down. Cough medicines don't work at all.

But probably the number one reason I hate croup is because it is so deceptive. You wake up in the morning to a basically healthy kid and think, "really? Did I just imagine them almost suffocating last night? They seem FINE right now." All day they play happily and seem barely bothered by a slight cough. You question the decision you made at 3am in the morning to call the doctor when the office opens for the day. You think you must be past the worst of it, or maybe you were just overreacting. Then 8 or 9 pm rolls around and they are gagging and sputtering and your only option is to deal with it or pack them in the car and head to the ER... and you think, what the hell? THEY WERE JUST FINE.

So that is why I hate croup. Because no matter how many times I've dealt with it, despite knowing what it is and the symptoms and remedies, it is still surprisingly terrifying and stressful. Every single time.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

An addendum to my last post

I have discovered that Kisa does not understand the word "some". Ask her if she would like some of something (some peas, some cheese, some toys) and she will look at you like you just offered to give her a shot or put her down for naptime.

If, however, you ask her if she would like peas, or more peas, or cold peas, or hot peas, (you get the idea) she will understand you perfectly and a tantrum will be avoided.

Kids are crazy.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Conversations with toddlers

Kisa: (apocalyptic meltdown)
Me: Kisa, are you hungry?
Kisa: YES! (panic) Ok, YES!!!
Me: What do you want to eat?
Kisa: Fishes!
Me: You want fishes?
Kisa: No! NO! NO! NO!
Me: Do you want a strawberry bar?
Kisa: NO!
Me: Do you want some cheese?
Kisa: NO!
Me: Do you want some crackers?
Kisa: No! NOOOOO! (resume apocalyptic meltdown)
Kisa: Fishes!
Me: Do you want some fishes?
Kisa: No!
Kisa: Fishes!
Me: Do you want fishes?
Kisa: Ok, YES!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Interactive Play Mat for B

Note: I realize it's been a thousand years since my last blog post... so I'm going to do what any normal person would do and carry on as if there has been absolutely no gap in time whatsoever. :)

I have this girlfriend, Allie, who is quite the world traveler. Her husband's work takes him on business trips frequently- and she often gets to join him (with toddler in tow). Recently her family has decided to temporarily relocate to Indiana, which means she will be making a lot of plane trips back to Portland over the next year to visit friends and family. And she will be bringing her two-year-old on these trips. (I know, she's like supermom, I can't even fathom it).

ANYWAY. Allie came up with this GREAT idea for moms like her who are often in situations when they need to keep their little ones quietly occupied. It is sort of like a "quiet book"- made of fabric and with plenty of things for kids to interact with- buttons, snaps, zipeprs, etc. Instead of being a book, it is about the size of playmat and can roll up to be stowed in a purse or diaper bag. Neat idea, huh? Perfect for plane travel or while waiting for your meal at the restaurant.

As a going away present, I decided to tackle this project for Allie to (hopefully) keep her son occupied on his many trips back to visit us. I am pretty proud of the results so I thought I would show it off and give my blog a much-needed update (whoops, I mentioned my slacking off).

So (drumroll please) here it is:

The whole project is made of felt with two exceptions, which I will mention when I get to them. Let's start with the tree. The apples attach to the tree with magnets and can be interchanged with flowers (which are hidden inside a secret pocket in the tree trunk). The tire swing is only attached to the tree at the branch, so it swings around like a real tire swing (Kisa thought this was AWESOME. I had to go back to the drawing board after she ripped the first tire swing off the tree branch. She is an excellent product tester.)
The rope ladder is made of yarn, and the bucket at the bottom of the tree is a pocket filled with six apples on strings, for little hands to stuff in and pull out to their heart's content.

What you are seeing in this (really poor quality- sorry, I am just too lazy to go back and take another pic) shot is the center of the playmat. Little items of clothing attach with velcro to a clothesline. The flowers attach to their stems with snaps, and the ball slides up and down the grass. All the people (and the cat) that you see are backed with velcro so they can move anywhere (and attach to anything) on the play mat.

I really like the little house.

The flower patch is the same (snaps), but the door "opens" with a button. The roof of the house lifts up and the inside of the house is a pocket, where you can store the family when they are not in use. My favorite find was the little windows- they are actually tiny mirrors. :)

The sky:

The clouds are made of nylon and stuffed with plastic bags to make a little rustling sound (that didn't work out as well as I had hoped- oh well. The little pearlized beads symbolize raindrops. The ribbons (which you can tie and untie) are meant to be little birds.

The sun is made out of a felt, a bright yellow button, and a bunch of ribbon with free edges. I know how little kids love to play with tags and ribbons.

And, my favorite addition (a practical one, of course)... the suction cups at top, allowing you to secure the mat to a table/tray table to prevent that whole flinging thing that toddlers are sooooooo good at. :)

So... there you have it! An interactive play mat, the size of a place mat, that rolls up and then secures with a buckle:

The little red bag you see contains extras of the little pieces (since toddlers are also really great at losing small items).

And it all stows away in this little bag, which keeps it safe in your purse next to the sippy cup and the crushed-up goldfish crackers (don't pretend like you don't have those in your purse):

This is, by far, the most fun project I have ever worked on. I hope it buys Allie plenty of quiet time on plane trips. :) I plan on making a duplicate for Kisa soon (she fell in love)... after my fingers recover from all the hand-stitching. :)