28 June 2013

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
Yesterday the only real friend I've made since coming to this town moved away! Cora and her daughter were buds, too. We met through the library story time way back in like November and then found out we lived in the same apartment complex. I'm supposed to be the one that moves, not the other people! I'm feeling very deflated. I also feel like since proximity breeds friendship that I won't really be able to make new good friends until we buy a house.

--- 2 ---
On a brighter note, I had seen a group of ladies meeting up with their babies in strollers outside the Y a few times before going for my run. I finally just opened my big fat mouth to one of them yesterday and asked her about it. Turns out, it's a class at the Y that I don't know how I missed hearing about! I got home and checked the monthly class schedule I keep on fridge and sure enough, "Strollin' on the Trail" Thursdays at 9:15 was staring in my face. I'll be joining them in 2 weeks :-)

--- 3 ---
Speaking of house-hunting, our realtor took us to look at a house yesterday and there was one of those kitschy signs that said "Good moms have dirty dishes, laundry piles, and happy kids."
I found this via an image search; pretty sure the actual one I saw did NOT mention sticky floors
While I totally agree, I found it funny that this is also the same house that had a (permanent) sign at the front door asking you to remove your shoes and had shoe covers in a basket for us home-viewers to put on. (We've looked at a lot of houses now, and this is the first time we've had that happen.) I guess I feel that homes are meant to be LIVED in, with shoes or without! I generally take off my shoes at our place, but mostly because I feel more relaxed, not because I don't want to vacuum or am afraid of my kid eating floor crumbs. Maybe I'm crazy or something, though.

--- 4 ---
Can I just brag on my kid for a bit? For the past 3 months or so, she has been in the picky-eating phase that most toddlers hit (and hers was almost perfectly timed with when she started walking). However, it has been sooo easy to take her out to restaurants! Once we realized she likes hummus (um, I feed it to her every other day!) and most dips, we just order off the appetizer menu for her. (How many kids love spinach artichoke dip?) She has only gotten a kids' meal once--B's aunt got it for her--and she didn't touch it. (I generally bring one of those fruit/veggie pouches in my purse just in case.) But last night we went to a Greek place and she loved the pita, hummus, tzatziki, and even liked the avgolemono (lemon/egg/rice) soup that B got! She also tried the spicy feta and then cried a bit when the spiciness hit her. She was eating so fast I hardly could get a pic.

It also may have helped that the owner of the restaurant looked like my dad. (I'm Lebanese, not Greek, but they're pretty similar. And both names Catherine and Cora have Greek origins, so there's that, too.)

--- 5 ---
I went "Midwestern tubing" for the first time this past week. It was . . . scary. Midwestern tubing = tube being pulled behind a speed boat. Southern tubing (my fave) = floating slowly down a river (usually involves sipping alcoholic beverages).
That's me on the left and B's youngest brother on the right.

--- 6 ---
Hooray for summer reading at the library! We read enough for Cora to get her first prize--an egg shaker!

--- 7 ---
My big girl turned 17 months on Wednesday! And also turned into a 1-take wonder. This was almost too easy to get. (Very different than last month!)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

25 June 2013

Race Recap: Riverfest 4K

I ran a race this weekend!

I haven't run in a real race in over 2 years (when I did the Fiesta 5K), right before I got pregnant with Cora. Pregnancy and running do not mix with me, and neither does being within the first 6-8 months post-partum (or so I've found).  I decided to go easy on myself and run a 4K first this summer. (Plus, it was only $5 to register. A steal!) It was definitely a small race, as I figured out pretty quickly. We ran all around the campus of a small college (IPFW) here in Fort Wayne, and it was part of a festival to celebrate our mucky brown awesome rivers.

After a couple of logistical mishaps at sign-in (my bib bag didn't have any twist ties for the shoe chip and only contained ONE safety pin for the bib), I was ready to run! Cora had fun playing with her great-grandmother, who came out to look after her while I did my thing. There were two other races that morning, and the start times were only staggered 15 minutes. This was a bit odd, since kids were still finishing their fun run which ended right where our race started. Also, about halfway into our run, we ran the opposite way through where the Mud Run was finishing, and I had to dodge a photographer and a few participants. Hopefully they can figure that out a bit better next year.

As for the race itself, I got off to a great start and blew ahead of a lot of people. Most of the race was just . . . me, and nobody else around. I passed the 1-mile mark and glanced at my watch: 8:06! Are you kidding?! When I run on my own, the fastest pace I've had was about 9 minutes, but it's usually closer to 9:30. I have noticed that the shorter the run is, the faster I am, though, so I believed it. I also train on some hills, and this course didn't really have any.

I sprinted the end (as I always do), and great-grandma didn't even see me! I had asked her to take a picture, but I looked back as a volunteer took the chip off my shoe and saw her looking very intently the other direction (at all the people finishing). Oh well! I had her take this picture of me afterward, though:
Just pretend the background is the photo below.
This was the actual finish line I ran through.
I also forgot to stop my watch right when I was done, so I had to wait two days for the official results to come out to know how I did! (I didn't stay around for the awards ceremony because Cora needed a nap and I needed a shower and Grandma needed to get out of the humidity--and the ceremony was over an hour after I finished.)

I finished my 4K (2.48mi) with a time of 21:14 (8:34/mi pace), and I came in 2nd in my age group!! And 20th overall. Yes, it was a small race, but I still beat over 140 people and 11 girls in my age group! Also, this is weird, but I had made a comment a week ago that I wanted to be 30 so I could do better at races, but actually I would have come in 4th in the 30-34 with my time. I guess everyone my age is too busy having babies/running big races like half marathons/did the Mud Run instead?

Here are all the final results, if you're curious: http://ipfwriverfest.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/4k-run-results.pdf

my cheering section
I'm signed up for one more race per month through September, and I'm excited to see how well I do!

21 June 2013

Running Playlist (Part Two)

This is a continuation from the running playlist post I did two weeks ago. Here are 7 more songs that I jam out to while on the trail. Tomorrow is my first race in over 2 years! It's the Riverfest 4K, and my goal time is 23:00. Let's hope I can do it!
This thing now has new purple headphones, but I was too lazy to take another picture.
(There are little music  players from Grooveshark below each song title; hopefully they all load for you.)

WARNING: Almost all of these songs have explicit lyrics, so click the players at your own discretion.

1. "Natalie" by Bruno Mars (2013)
Natalie by Bruno Mars on Grooveshark
Makes me laugh, and makes me go faster somehow (even though according to jog.fm the BPM would put you at a 13:48 mile, which is way slower than I run).  

2. "Love Like Woe" by The Ready Set (2010)
Love Like Woe by The Ready Set on Grooveshark
This song is just fun and fast. (6:48 mile pace! Which is sorta half that Bruno Mars song, so they go together, right?)

3. "Troublemaker" by Olly Murs featuring Flo Rida (2011)
Troublemaker (feat. Flo Rida) by Olly Murs on Grooveshark
Hey, this song even says "run as fast you can" in it! A good time to do, well, exactly that.

  4. "Evacuate the Dancefloor" by Cascada (2009)
Evacuate the Dancefloor by Cascada on Grooveshark
If you want dance-pop, Cascada is your girl.

5. "Backstabber" by Ke$ha (2010)
Backstabber by Kesha on Grooveshark
This is probably closest to my pace (or at least where I aim to be). 160 BPM for a 9:00 mile. I'm usually closer to 9:30 for longer runs, but I'm doing a 4K race tomorrow and in my practice for it a week ago I got under 9, so I hope this helps!! (If you want to hear more about my love/hate relationship with Ke$ha, there is this post from 2 years ago.)

6. "I Love It" by Icona Pop (feat. Charlie XCX) (2012)
I Love It (feat. Charli XCX) by Icona Pop on Grooveshark
Well, if you want to get technical, I actually have the "Glee" cast version, since I found that one for free. But this song is straight Eurotrash, and you know what? I don't care.

7.  "Love Is Marching" by BarlowGirl (2009)
Love Is Marching by BarlowGirl on Grooveshark
This is either a warm-up or a cool-down song, but it's super pretty.

Another 7, so 7QT it is! See more at Conversion Diary.

19 June 2013

Kangaroos, Sex, and Prudishness

This post will have a story, a diatribe, and a cute video of a baby kangaroo being born. I may be a little long-winded, but oh well. Just hear me out.

The Story: We have a membership to the zoo here, so one morning I took Cora in the stroller for an hour or so. My favorite part is the Kangaroo Walkabout exhibit, where you get to walk through the kangaroo habitat, and sometimes they even hop on the path right in front of you! It is seriously cool, and it's one of my favorite parts of the zoo. It was a quiet morning that day, and it was just Cora and me and one other little family in the exhibit. And it was that same morning that we all bore witness to two kangaroos mating. All the kangaroos hang out near each other (there are about 12 total), so the mating kangaroos were sorta in the middle of the whole mob* and you couldn't not see it. Cora is still small (16 months), so she obviously doesn't question stuff yet. I just said, "Oh look, they're mating." The 3-year-old girl there with her dad didn't  really question it either.
I didn't have a camera that day, but it happened in this general vicinity.
(*Actual name for a group of kangaroos--aren't I fancy?)

There was a (volunteer?) docent talking about the mommy-joey relationship at another part of the exhibit. It's a children's zoo, so she was holding a kangaroo stuffed animal and mostly talking to the 3-year-old girl about the baby in the pouch. The girl went back to go see if she could find the joey in a momma's pouch among the kangaroos. As she left, I saw that the two from before were still mating, so I said, "Looks like you'll be getting a new joey soon!" Then the docent stammered, "Oh, uh, sorry about that." I said back to her, "Don't apologize; it's just nature."

The diatribe: It's Just Nature.
Boy, did the puritanical prudishness of our culture rear its head right there through the mouth of that docent. Why is she apologizing for something that the kangaroos are instinctively doing? And she's even talking to us about the fruit of that act! How have we gotten to a point where we can be so happy about a baby but so ashamed of the act that created it?

Sex is not inherently dirty. It is only dirty because our culture has made it so. Sex is dirty when it's premarital, extramarital, one-night stand, rape, etc. Sex in a committed marriage with two consenting adults is not dirty one bit and is not something anyone should be apologizing about. Also, from my trivia knowledge, only humans and dolphins have sex for pleasure, so a kangaroo is just doing what his instincts tell him to do. He's not rationalizing it, and he obviously doesn't care who sees it. The kangaroos are naked, unashamed, and it's not an intimate act in the way it is for humans. Even though we are rational beings (unlike animals), and the intimacy of the act is what keeps us from having sex in public, we do conceive our young in the same way as almost all mammals.

So, my point?  Don't apologize for animals doing what they do to propagate their species. And don't be ashamed of sex within your marriage.

The video:
In all of this thinking and huffing and diatribing, I remembered seeing a sign at the zoo that said mommy kangaroos are only pregnant for a month before the joey is born. This kinda blew my mind, so I read up more about it. Basically, kangaroos are born the size of jelly beans and then do all of their development in the pouch. It is seriously fascinating. So here is a kangaroo giving birth and then the little joey making its way to the pouch, where it will develop for the next several months (just like we did in the womb!).

The other thing I love about kangaroos? They are classified as "macropods" --literally meaning "large foot"--and I think that is an awesome name to call any sister/husband/child of yours who wears a big shoe size.

16 June 2013

What I Wore Sunday (Vol. 19)

Linking up with the beauties at FLAP
Sorry for the crappy quality picture. B was napping, so I did a selfie from the bar counter, and I had to really edit the crap out of it to get it looking halfway decent. Also, Yuengling! They don't sell that beer here in Indiana, but B is a total beer 'snob' and only likes that particular brand. So we were given a case last week when his brother drove in from DC. My parents also said they'll be bringing him some when they visit in July. As for me, I hate all beers (it's either the hops or the barley, never cared enough to figure out which), so I got me some hard cider in the fridge.
I originally intended to wear a skirt and sandals, but it was raining.

Shirt: NY&Co. // Pants: Alloy // Shoes: Old Navy // Watch: Charming Charlie // Necklace: The Vintage Pearl

I won a shop credit to The Vintage Pearl in a giveaway. Their specialty is personalized jewelry with your children's names and birthstones. So there's a garnet for Cora's January birthdate and a little pearl (which was standard, but is also my June birthstone). I have been wearing this necklace a lot lately!
In other news, that watch is made up of a bunch of safety pins :-)

Happy Father's Day to all the earthly fathers, spiritual fathers, and fathers-to-be. And may God bless all of my friends who have lost their fathers, since I know this day is not the easiest for you.

I'll leave you with this sweet picture of my husband, who is an awesome father.

I have some thoughts about kangaroos and sex that I almost included here, but I think that will be its own post later this week.

10 June 2013

Questioning the "Norm"

Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I feel like the internet is my parenting coach. There are a gazillion ways to parent in a child, but they mostly fall into a few categories. Old-school, new-school, and sort of a mishmash.

I would say the "old-school" or "traditional American" parenting is stuff like jarred baby food, disposable diapers, baby formula, and other conveniences that have come around in the past 60 years or so. Our parents used these items, so they are now "traditional" to the culture. If you don't think too much about parenting, this is probably where you'd fall. America's obsession with quickness and convenience has had a very heavy influence in the parenting world. When you go to make a baby registry, you'll be handed a suggestion list based on the "traditional" American parent. But as many of us have found out, you don't need (or even want) a lot of that stuff. (Yeah, most "baby towels" suck, so don't buy 8-12 of them, and a healthy baby usually doesn't need an air purifier. Or at least mine didn't.)

The "new school" type of parents (me, and probably you) start questioning these things, often retreating to an even earlier time or a different culture's type of parenting. Old ways have even been re-made into something more modern. Cloth diapers have been making a comeback, but in their own modern way. Breastfeeding has many loud and quiet proponents (and laws protecting your right to nurse in public!), and many of those parents are also the same ones to champion co-sleepers instead of cribs and (proper) babywearing in lieu of strollers.

Personally, I think it's great to question the "norm" and even your doctor. Parenting has changed a lot in the last 100 years. Back then, you learned all you needed to know from your mom or your sister, who probably lived close by (or even in the same house). Most of us now live alone with just our immediate nuclear family and may have never even changed a diaper before our first child was born. I haven't even lived in the same state as my family since before meeting my husband.  Because of those changes, my parenting style can be vastly different from what my mom did or what my sister does without causing a huge scandal. Heck, both my mom and husband were confused and slightly terrified at the thought of using cloth diapers, but a year later, they are happily on board! The internet has actually helped me make informed choices on breastfeeding issues, starting solid food, sleep training, and even just fun activities to do with my child at every age.

I'm actually starting to get annoyed when people don't question. I have heard my mother-in-law talk about how she just did what her doctor told her, and I still see some of that today. I want to tell my friend who works full-time and pumped but weaned after 9 months because it was "disruptive to her career" that she can do combination feeding! Who says breastfeeding is all or nothing? By the time your supply evens out (6 months or maybe even earlier?), you can most likely train your body to nurse at night and give formula during the day. I want to shout at people who throw the classic Baby Bjorn on their registry that they won't use it past 3 months but if they put an Ergo on there instead, they would love it! (Don't get sucked in by the alliteration, all you hormonal pregnant women!) When I hear people complaining about the expense of jarred baby food, I want to exclaim that you don't have to start feeding them at 4 months, and you don't even have to give your child purées of any sort!
My child eating soft-baked apples at 7 months old.
And, most importantly, I want to shout from the rooftops to any pregnant woman who has been told her baby will never make it and advised to terminate (like this gal) to never ever ever EVER stop believing in miracles. Because they do happen. And even if a full miracle doesn't happen, your baby's fate will be in the hands of God and not a doctor, and hopefully your heart will be changed forever. Because even the most well-trained doctors are going by statistical evidence, but you and your child are so, so, so much more than a statistic.

(Okay, that escalated quickly . . .)

On a lighter note, the next "norm" I'm about to conquer is potty training. It seems the "American" thing to do is wait until the child is "ready" and then they'll just potty-train in a weekend. However, a lot of kids don't reach "ready" until almost 4 years old, as I saw with my nephew. Then it's just a battle of wills for a year or so before that happens. I have heard of a lot of people having success at training a child younger than 2 (and it is actually the "norm" in many cultures!), so we are going to start trying at 18 months. I know you can't say it's "complete" potty-training since I'll have to help her with her clothes, but I'd sure rather do that than change a diaper until she's 4. And if we fail, oh well. At least we tried. As with most parenting decisions that probably don't really matter in the long run, it can't hurt to try.

Completely unrelated but adorable picture of my baby about to bunt a piñata
What have you done to question the "norm"?

07 June 2013

My Running Playlist (Part One)

I can't believe I went so long without running music. I did the Couch-to-5k a few years back with just the thoughts in my head. For Christmas, I got a small mp3 player that is perfect for the gym and running. (And probably beats wearing a phone on your arm, but I wouldn't know anything about that.) This tiny little thing just clips to my shorts!
I'm about to get new headphones for it, but these have been doing okay as long as it isn't too windy.
(There are little music  players from Grooveshark below each song title; hopefully they all load for you.)

1. "Feeling Good" by Michael Bublé (2005)
Feelin Good by Michael Bublé on Grooveshark
This is a great warm-up song. But I usually let my playlist go on random, so it's a nice boost toward the end of a run, too (as I found out today). Hey, I'm always ready to hear the silky smooth voice of Mr. Bublé (see my concert review from 2010 if you want more on that.)

2. "Here We Go" by 'N Sync (1997)
Here We Go by *NSync on Grooveshark
I was never a huge boy band fan back in the day, but I got the 'N Sync 'experience' from a good friend who had her entire room plastered with their images. I never had a backlash against their music or anything, so listening to this song just reminds me of high school and also makes for a great first song to hit as I embark on my running journey.

  3. "Chloe (You're The One I Want)" by Emblem3 (2013)
Chloe (You're The One I Want) by Emblem3 on Grooveshark
Definitely the newest song on my list, but oh-so-catchy. Also, it reminds me of a friend bearing that name, which gives me a good chuckle.

  4. "Save Me, San Francisco" by Train (2011)
Save Me, San Francisco by Train on Grooveshark
I just plain like this song, and I want to get my butt back to this city ASAP. I think this is the one song on the list that I consistently try to sing along to during my run. Cardioke, anyone?

  5. "Fat Bottomed Girls" by Queen (1978)
Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen on Grooveshark
Well, if you're gonna pick a song by Queen to run to, you might as well go all out, amirite? I've never even had a fat bottom.

  6. "22" by Taylor Swift (2013)
22 by Taylor Swift on Grooveshark
It's been a good 7 years since I was Taylor's age, but she totally nailed it. I met my future husband that year, I 'served my country' in AmeriCorps, dealt with homesickness and/or lovesickness for the first time, and it was the most "miserable and magical" year of my life. Plus, this song is super-catchy which means it's fun to run to.

  7. "Baby" by Relient K (Justin Bieber cover, 2011)
Baby by Relient K on Grooveshark
If you never quite caught Bieber Fever, and don't want to admit you actually like his first single, then this might be the best way to go. It's a little less peppy than the original, so perhaps you could save it for your cool-down.

I'll be back next week with another handful of tracks off my playlist! (I run for over 30 minutes, so there is definitely more.) I would usually recommend jog.fm to anyone looking for running music (it gives you music to match your pace), but it hasn't served me as well as I thought it would due to my weird pace. But check it out anyway. And since I just happened to do 7 of these, I might as well link up with 7QT at Conversion Diary.

05 June 2013

5 Favorites

Parenting: Illustrated With Crappy Pictures

I have loved this blog for a while, and I just devoured her book in a weekend (and I'm one of the slowest readers ever). It's weird because I seriously haven't even had most of the issues the author complains about (yet?). Still, the MS Paint-style pictures are hilarious, Amber's writing is hilarious, and Crappy Baby is adorbs.

Birthday Freebies
This was some of last year's since I'm too lazy to take a pic of this year's
Ah, I love my birthday. Mostly because of the influx of coupons, freebies, and good deals that hit my inbox in the week leading up to it. I got a free sub at Firehouse Subs, a free (kid-size) scoop at Baskin Robbins, a free $3 to spend on whatever at CVS, and a free burrito (with purchase of drink) at Moe's. I still have a free breakfast at IHOP that has so far gone un-used, along with a couple other 'buy something get something' offers that I'm not always so keen on because there is actual money involved. (But I did want that burrito on Sunday night, so that worked out well.) I think I just ate more fast food in one weekend than I have in a few months. Happy 29th to moi!

the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV)

Yeah, this is a weird one, but they do a great job with this here! They have good hours that can appeal to people in almost all shifts --open Tuesday through Saturday with certain days of the week open until 7pm. This is totally awesome because it meant I didn't have to lug the child with me to get my car registered here. (I did take her to get my license, and it was a huge mistake because she whined the whole time I was attempting my computer test. Doable, but not ideal.) They also have perfected speediness and short wait times. There were actually a lot of people there when I went to do my plates this week, but there were 10 workers, and each could handle anything. And there were another two 'floaters' who did things like checking my car's VIN number while we handled the rest of the paperwork. I got my number at 4:51 and walked out of there with my car registered in Indiana at 5:10. Less than 20 minutes, start to finish!

The only weird thing is that I only got a temporary plate, and they'll mail me the real one. The other states I've lived in just grabbed one from the pile and handed it over. Also, I've heard that IN plates are crappy plastic, but my others are pretty metal. I'm planning to hang my 3 former plates in our garage when we buy a house, so this kind of matters.

this house that we didn't buy

I probably shouldn't think about it any more, but we saw this house last Thursday with our realtor, and it was fabulous. It was also at the top of our budget so we decided to wait a few days. Someone else put an offer on it the next day, and there is now a big "Sold in 7 Days!" sign next to the other one on the lawn. If you want to see more pics, here is the trulia listing. (Yes, it even included the swing set!) Things I've learned: we (actually, it's just me) are totally gun-shy about making an offer, especially this early in our search, and the good houses around here go fast. I'm also probably going to compare every house we see from here on out to this one.

Maximum Cuteness
In the Crappy Pictures book, Amber Dusick introduced me to the phase called "Maximum Cuteness" which goes from about 16 months until 3 years. (I guess kids get mean and nasty about then, or at least that's what Crappy Mama says.) Anyway, Cora has hit this stage, and I am loving it. She had never shown much interest in her stuffed animals before, but now she has started carrying them around and hugging them and such. Then, there was this:

Let's take a closer look at that: 

And last night she fell asleep with her stuffed cat under one arm and her mousey under the other. I can't even handle the cute.

02 June 2013

What I Wore Sunday: Birthday Suit

Okay, not that birthday suit. I promise I wore clothes. But my 29th birthday was yesterday, and I also attended vigil mass with my daughter and my mother-in-law (but not my husband, as he was out of town).

We frolicked around town a bit yesterday, so I wore something easily worn for sporty/dressy/casual. I got my MIL to snap a photo outside the church after mass was over.

I'm guessing that's St. Vincent De Paul behind me, since that's the name of the parish,
but I didn't really check.
Shirt: Land's End (birthday gift to myself) // Skirt: Old Navy // Sandals: Target // Ponytail holder on wrist: probably Goody // I'm also wearing a nice watch but it's hidden

I've had a pretty good birthday "weekend" (if you want to call it that), even sans husband. I even ran 3.47 miles on my birthday morning! That's farther than I've run since high school, I'm guessing. I'm registered for a 4k in a few weeks! I'll be sharing my current running playlist with you later this week.

And since I make my daughter do it every month, I figured I would do it myself just this once for kicks and giggles.
348 months old
Go check out some other mass attire!