A New Year

Happy New Year!

The holidays have come and gone and as I suspected I was busy with Christmas shopping, entertaining, holiday programs, volunteering at school and all the usual year end activities. The last six weeks have passed in a flurry Christmas preparations followed by days off from school for vacation and winter weather.

I did continue to exercise in December and felt good about where I ended the year. I know that I have not blogged for several weeks about my road to fitness but I managed to walk, run or bike a few times every week. The holiday season is always a problem with unhealthy habits, but I didn’t stress about it too much which I believe made a big difference in the outcome.

I enjoyed my time with my family and the sights and sounds of the season. It is so easy to get caught up in the stresses, but my children really love Christmas and it is contagious. We love the songs, the decorations and the holiday baking. We all stayed up past midnight to ring in the New Year and talked about goals we want to accomplish in 2014.

It seems appropriate to take time today the twelfth day after Christmas to get back on track with my blog and begin to work toward some of my goals. I am settling back into my routines and also challenging myself to be a better version of myself this year and in the future.

Happy New Year to you all and thank you for taking the time to read my words.

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Week six and the flipped course

Week 6
Day 1 – Today I took a walk in the woods with my dog. We had a nice long walk but the entire time I was scanning the trees in fear that squirrels would attack me again. I felt like I should be banging sticks together or ringing bells to let all the animals know that I was coming and they should stay away. Eventually I relaxed a little and got a nice walk in. The beauty of the area helps to relieve the every day stress I feel in my life.

Day 2 – I started out my run running farther than I ever have. I pushed myself and ran until I got to my first real hill. Then I walked for just over a block and ran again as far as I could. I am pretty sure that I ran my fastest time but was not keeping track. Today I had a hard time running again after I had stopped to walk. I know that I need to stretch and can really feel that my muscles are sore. I have not been this sore since my first week.

Day 3 – Wednesdays are a day that I volunteer in my kid’s school and we do a lot of running around, so I was not able to get a walk in. I did do some stretching, but still not the level I would like.

Day 4 – Today I brought my phone along so I was able to use the Endomondo app. I ran for .75 miles before walking for the first time. Then I walked three telephone poles and ran again. I feel like I am running for much of the time now, but today I felt slow. I am running at 12.52 minutes per mile. I certainly wouldn’t win any races but just a few weeks ago, I could only run a block at a time.
Over the years I have heard of so many people injuring them-self, that I really want to avoid that. My negative alter ego was asking me why I am even doing this. As I get older I really realize how important it is to be healthy not just for me, but also for my kids. Since I started my family later than many, it is even more important.
During dinner my ten-year-old was talking to me about muscle soreness and muscles breaking down and re-growing. He also asked me if I was going to run a 5K that many people from his school run in the spring and offered to run it with me. This is why I run, to set an example for my kids and to teach the how to live a healthy life. It makes it all worth it.

Day 5 – I took my dog for a long walk, but today we went through the neighborhood because the squirrels still freak me out. We walked for over an hour and I would guess about four miles, but I wasn’t keeping track. Never once on a walk, have I questioned why I do it and I really enjoy this form of exercise. I look forward to feeling the same about running.

Day 6 – I decided to run today because we have a lot of things planned tomorrow. I also had the bright idea of flipping my run and running the same route but the opposite way. It. Was. Hard. I thought the normal way was difficult because of the big hill and a long gradual hill, but this way was harder and I ran less than I have been. I also got a headache part way through it, but I kept on. I hope to run on Monday and hope that run is better.

Day 7- I finished off week six with a leisurely walk around several blocks while my middle son and his friend sold popcorn for Cub Scouts. It was slow and easy so I can’t really count it as exercise but I thought we were going to be sitting in front of a grocery store selling so I can’t complain.

Journey to Fitness

My Running Journey

Week ONE
Day 1 – a few weeks ago, I made a promise to myself to start running to get fit as soon as my kids started school. It will serve a dual purpose by distracting me from my empty house as well as increasing my fitness. I could easily have broken that promise to myself, but I made that commitment to my sister who is getting ready to run her first half marathon and other friends and family members. I didn’t want to feel like a loser by not following through, so as soon as I got home from that first drop off, I put on my sneakers, stretched for 15 minutes and headed out the door.

I ran the first block, walked the next, then stopped to catch up with a neighbor for a few minutes. After that, I ran a block and walked a block for about a mile. I ended up walking most of the rest of the time with occasional running. I did a total of 2 1/4 miles at a pace of 14 minutes per mile. It may not be the greatest, but it is a start and I am proud of my effort. I have never been a runner ever so It feels monumental to take it up at age 45. I would like to see that pace drop to ten minute miles in the future but my near future goal is to run the entire time.

After my run, I met a friend at Starbucks and then came home to stretch. I then took the dog for a three mile hike/walk at a pace of 17 minutes per mile. The hike is on a somewhat rocky path down to a creek and then back again. It is peaceful for both of us. I don’t know if I was tired from the run, but after tripping the second time, we headed home.

Before bed on day one, I stretched again to ease some of the aches I felt. I also ate some fresh pineapple for its’ natural anti-inflammatory properties. Today was a good first day.

Day 2 – today I took the dog on a four mile walk through my neighborhood. He was on leash and has to sniff every tree he passes and I spoke to my sister through much of it, but we still managed a pace of 17 minutes a mile. Before the walk, I stretched for almost 30 minutes. I follow the stretches of Bob Anderson in a book called Stretching that I have had for years. My shins and thighs are a little sore today but I feel pretty good.

On the advice of my sister, I also used a foam roller on my legs and thighs. It is like a shorter, fatter, denser pool noodle and massages and stretches muscles. I laid on it and used my body weight to move the roller up and down my thighs and calves. In some spots it felt like pure torture, but the effect was positive afterward and some of those tight muscles felt looser.

Day 3 – I almost talked myself out of my run today because it was drizzly and my legs felt leaden even walking. Instead I somehow mustered up the enthusiasm and did my pre-run stretching and spent a few minutes using the foam roller on my thighs and headed out the door. I followed the same path as Monday, but noticed the running was easier even though I felt slower. I was able to keep up my run a block, walk a block for longer today and continued some running in between walking until I got home. I went 2 1/4 miles again but today my pace was 13.5 minutes per mile so there was measured improvement!

I am using a free app on my android phone called Endomondo which tracks my time, distance, shows my path, allows me to choose my exercise and more. I like being able to monitor my progress. Once I got home I stretched immediately and used the foam roller again. I feel pretty good and once I finally got out the door I actually looked forward to the run.

Day 4 – today was a no run day so I made plans with my friend in Pennsylvania to talk on the phone while we both walked. I also had my dog and my neighbor’s dog so my pace was much slower. I did my hike and went 2 1/2 miles at a pace of only 20 minutes per mile. It has rained a lot the past couple of days so I was a little worried about slipping.

I also stretched and used the foam roller on my legs. I noticed that I have a blister on my big toe so I need to invest in good shoes and socks if I plan to keep this up. I do. I am less sore today than yesterday and all this exercise is helping me sleep really well. I can even fall asleep after the boys wake me up so that has been an immediate benefit.

I had my pace evaluated this afternoon at a running store and bought a pair of stability shoes to support my right ankle and a good pair of compression socks. I learned that running shoes should be a half size bigger than regular shoes to give your feet room.

Day 5 – I stretched and used the foam roller today, but took a break from long walks or runs to let my blister heal.

Day 6 – I stretched and ran/walked my 2.25 mile loop at a pace of 13.25 minutes per mile. I felt good and like the new shoes.

Day 7 – The boys and I hiked through the woods to the grocery store. We went just about four miles at a pace of 24 minutes miles. We took our time and had to climb over big rocks for part of it. The boys took off running for a good bit of the hike. I hope that means my path to fitness is setting an example for them. It has been a good week. The running isn’t easy, but I can do it and I look forward to improving.

First Day of School

Aside

Today was the first day of school. It is a day that I have been anticipating and dreading in equal measure for the last three months. My youngest son started full time school today. He joins his brothers in a Spanish Immersion program that will continue through 5th grade. For the next two years, there will be one school drop off and pick up. This will greatly simplify our lives in many ways.

Family and friends have been asking half tongue in cheek half seriously what I am going to do with my time now that all my boys are in school. Since September 2003, I have been a full time stay at home mom except for the ten months that I finished graduate school and dipped my toe in the water as a working mother. That wasn’t ideal for our family so  I inevitably stayed home. Well actually we did anything but stay home.

There have been playgroups, preschool programs, travels, museum and zoo visits, park outings and many many errands with children in tow. In so many ways, that was a simpler time. The children were harder to care for because they needed help with so many things, but our days we our own. Five years ago, when the oldest started school those care-free days came to an end. We have to adhere to a school schedule and calendar now and it isn’t always convenient. There is no more traveling to NYC and further whenever we want. There are no more mid week trips to the zoo or Smithsonian museums with my boys. I can still do those things, but it won’t be the same. My free time is scheduled between 8:40 drop off and 3:05 pick up.

I plan to spend a lot of time in my boys’ classrooms. My middle son’s teacher already has a weekly job for me. I will do all of those errands without kids and hope to occasionally have lunch with my husband. I will do the school drop off and pick up most days since our elementary school is outside our neighborhood. I will take care of sick kids, do laundry and cook meals. Today I started a new fitness program which I will write more about later. Life is changing as it does, and while I am sad that babyhood is over for us, I am looking forward to the next chapter. I also wish my children every happiness and success as they move forward  in their lives.

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Summer Fun

Summer time and the living is easy. That is the line in a song anyway. For us summer time has been a mix of easy living and a hectic pace, a sort of controlled chaos. When the boys were really young, the days seemed long and we filled them with park play-dates, visits to the local pick-your-own farms, museum trips, movies and afternoons by the pool. It was a fun simple time.
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These days, summer begins even before school ends. The boys have classes through the middle of June and swim team practices begin right after Memorial Day. It is a juggling act the fit in daily practice with homework, school, piano lessons, social activities and a reasonable bed time.

This year, there were end of the year projects, graduations, first communions, birthdays, piano recitals, sporting events, dinner groups, book clubs and swim meets twice a week. Then when school finished, there was a week of Cub Scout Day Camp. I had the privilege of chaperoning a group of 14 boys from our pack along with two other parents on two days and chauffeuring six boys on two other days. It was a fun filled, action packed week, but I definitely breathed a sigh of relief when it was over.
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Before camp, my dad visited for a week. The week at our house was sandwiched between a trip to my sister’s house in Oswego, NY and my brother’s house in Herndon, VA. From there he headed south to North Carolina to see his sister. I think he thought that during his visit we would get to spend some time together going out for meals and just visiting. Unfortunately, he arrived during that transitional time from school to summer and we spent a great deal of time running around hauling the kids from activity to activity.

Tomorrow is the last swim meet of the season. This will be the first meet that I will miss this year and it’s a big one. Nate is swimming three events, free style, breast stroke and butterfly. At 9, he has come a long way from the days when it took him more than a minute to swim a lap. Will at 7 will also swim. He will swim “up” with the 9/10 age group and he will also swim the breast stroke. This is the first time this season that the two boys will actually compete against one another.
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The reason I am missing this Divisional meet is because I am on a plane to Las Vegas, NV to meet up with my niece, Nicole, her boyfriend and several of my sisters and their husbands to celebrate Nicole’s 21st birthday. Nicole and her mom have been through a lot in the last five years, and I want to go an help them make some happy memories. I don’t anticipate this being a wild trip ala The Hangover, but I am looking forward to fun, relaxation and a bit of bonding with my family.

Next week we will have our fourth set of house guests since summer began and we are all looking forward to our friends from Michigan visiting. They also have three boys, so I expect it to be more controlled chaos. After their visit, our family will go on vacation with Matt’s parents and his brother’s family. After that trip, we will have about two weeks free left of summer to hang out by the pool and do various other stay-cation activities. I am sure the time will quickly be filled up.

We will try to squeeze every bit of fun we can into the summer while enjoying some quiet time at home as well. After all it is summer time, and the living is easy.IMG_2479

Responsible Parenting

According to the Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, you can become an expert after 10,000 hours of practice. Based on this, I should be an expert at parenting. I do not feel like an expert. Each week and often every day brings me a new situation that causes me to pause and wonder if I am doing the right thing and what the best choice is. Often the decision is easy and instinctive, but somethings require more thought than others.

My oldest son turns ten this year and during my pregnancy with him, I began reading books about parenting and all the things associated with parenting. I still read many books and articles about parenting because I want to be the best parent I can. Some of the latest articles I have read have to do with how today’s parents are ruining their children because they have taken “helicopter parent” to the extreme. They do everything for their children and don’t give them a chance to become independent.

Last night a friend told us a story about a friend of hers who was trying to hire a recent college graduate for a job. On the day of the job interview, the mother of the applicant called to say that her daughter was not feeling well and would not be able to attend the interview. Since her daughter couldn’t attend, the mother would be happy to go to the interview and tell all about her daughter and why she should be hired. This friend of my friend agreed to let the mother do the interview because she was curious about what would happen. The mother arrived for her daughter’s interview dressed in a business suit with her daughter’s resume and proceeded to tell why her responsible daughter should be hired. Needless to say the daughter was no offered a job, but the mother was because she seemed professional and responsible unlike her child. I thought this was ridiculous but it really was a true story. This is extreme but it illustrates just how much some people hover and fail to teach their children responsibility.

My main job as a parent apart from loving and caring for my children is to teach them to become independent productive members of society. This means I don’t do their homework or projects (shocking), I don’t explain to their teachers why they didn’t get their homework done unless it truly was my fault (rare) and I don’t tell their coaches why they can’t practice because they don’t feel like it.  Just yesterday two of my boys did not feel like practicing for swimming because they have been at Cub Scout camp all week and were tired. One of them didn’t practice because he truly has been working hard swimming at practice and his meet the night before while the other one did practice because he has been taking it easy due to an ear infection. They had to talk to the coach about this because they are the ones on the team.

My kids are spoiled and have many luxuries that I did not have as a child, but they also have chores around the house. They help with meals, cleaning, taking out trash, doing laundry and they take care of their pets. They have consequences for their actions. If they hit someone or say something mean or offensive they will apologize and have a consequence. They get grounded, lose privileges and have time outs even at the age of almost 10 and it started before they could walk. This growing up is a journey and they need to learn that they are not entitled to walk all over others along the way. The worst offenses in our family are lying or trying to get something from one parent when the other parent has already said no. My husband and I may not always agree, but we parent as a team and if he says no, the same goes for me. Children will always try to divide and conquer and that doesn’t work for us.

I see many children who get their way every time they throw a tantrum just because it is easier for the parents. If someone said something mean to them it might be ok to hit someone else. I think that is wrong. We all make mistakes along the way, but it is important to take responsibility. I see a culture of permissiveness and entitlement and I think it is going to end badly. What is going to happen when these children realize they really can’t have whatever they want?

Another thing that we try to instill in our children is personal responsibility. That includes being on time. As a child, we were always late for every family gathering and it became a joke that we were on “Forsythe time”. I probably overcompensate for that by being early and it really does stress me out to be late for something. If I am going to be late, I make a habit of calling to let the person know because I value their time as much as my own. People have better things to do than sit and twiddle their thumbs waiting for others. I realize that things happen and there are isolated incidents, but when it is a habit, it is rude and disrespectful. It seems to say that your time is more important than others.

Parenting and responsibility have been on my mind a great deal lately as I struggle with making decisions that I believe are in the best interest of my children and our family. My children are not always happy with my choices but they would also eat candy all day long if I let them.

Celebration of Mothers

To those of you who have been following my blog, I apologize for being MIA for a bit. Today seemed like a good day to go back online.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mothers and to those of you who have mothers. That pretty much covers it. Without a mother, none of us would be here. I know one day shouldn’t take the place of loving our mothers and being grateful for being a mother, but I do think it helps us to pause and reflect on the blessings we tend to take for granted on a daily basis. Mother’s Day isn’t about the gifts and the cards, but for those of us who sometimes feel taken for granted, those things help.

Nine years ago, I celebrated my first official Mother’s Day. My son was eight months old and my gift was a patio table and four chairs and a baby swing so that we could all spend more time in our backyard. The swing has been passed on and exchanged for a play set because the tree the swing hung from was a casualty of one of our summer storms. The patio table and chairs are still in use, in fact we had snacks out there this afternoon. I enjoyed relaxing and doing nothing while Matt and our first born played catch until the wind whipped up and the table umbrella almost became an airborne projectile. We managed to save the snacks and the wine glasses and took everything indoors.

Since that first Mother’s Day, I have celebrated with my three boys and each one is blessed. Often, I am served breakfast in bed and the boys work really hard to make me feel loved and the day special. It is usually more relaxing than even my birthday because too often our birthdays fall on a school/work day and We don’t get to spend the whole day with family, which is what today is really all about.

This year I got tea and toast in bed, with homemade cards and some special gifts from my cub scouts. On Friday, Henry treated me to a party at his school and a handmade plate, a pasta necklace and a paper flower both of which I wore to brunch this morning. After a lovely brunch, we picked up steaks and veggies that my husband was going to prepare for our dinner.

Matt and I spoke to both of our mothers and I also called my sister whose daughter is traveling in the UK so she won’t see her until next weekend. This is Mary’s first Mother’s Day as a widow and she seems to be feeling especially alone. I wished that I could send her a hug along the telephone line, but the boys and I tried to let her know we are thinking of her and send her our love so many miles away.

After dinner, Will and I took our nine year old lab mix on a short walk, we watched an episode of Duck Dynasty and that concluded my ninth Mother’s Day. It ended it for the children at least. Now I sit typing my blog and Matt is channel surfing to see what programs he may be missing after I downgraded our cable last week. It has been a lovely day and I do feel very blessed to be a mother, for my own mother, my mother in law and all those who have acted as a mother to me for all these years. Their numbers are many and I am ever grateful for all those women and men too who have helped to make me a better person and a better mother especially. Happy Mother’s Day to you all.

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