Tuesday, May 31, 2011

National Running Day - June 1, 2011

Sophia showing off my medal after my first half-marathon
 Did you know that June 1, 2011 is National Running Day

To be honest, I think they could have picked a better day than June 1st, maybe like April 25th or May 1st when the weather was much cooler here in Dallas.  Tomorrow, June 1st, the temperatures are expected to climb to the mid 90's!  But since it is NATIONAL Running day and not TEXAS Running day, I guess I shouldn't complain. 

Since I just found out about this National event, like five minutes ago, I am not sure how I am going to celebrate.  Team in Training is joining forces with DFWRuns and putting on a social run at the Katy Trail in Dallas tomorrow evening at 6:30 PM.  This would be a great time to get hot and sweaty with a bunch of other DFW runners and celebrate our passion for the running lifestyle. 

You can check out this site to see if there are running events in your area. 

After several attempts to become a runner over the past several years, I can now say that I am hooked.  I am officially a runner.  If you are not a runner, you might ask... Why do you run?

I run because...

It is my "me" time away from my kids
It is beautiful to watch the sun rising on early morning runs
It makes me feel stronger, physically and mentally
It makes me more feel more confident
It puts my problems into perspective
It makes me feel empowered as a woman
It can make a difference in other people's lives

Why do you run?  Share your love for running by leaving me a comment about why you run. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day!  I hope that everyone gets a chance to spend some time with family and friends today.  Also take a moment to honor and remember all of the men and women who have lost their lives serving our country.

After a busy start to this four day weekend, we are slowing things down at the Suire house today.  The kids spent the night at their Gran and Opa's last night so Trey and I were able to sleep until 8:00 AM!!  After starting some laundry and cleaning the kitchen, I headed to the gym for an hour long workout.  Although this may not seem like a big deal to you, I was so excited that I had more than my usual 40 minutes on my lunch hour to squeeze in my workout. 

About five minutes after I got home, Gran showed up with the kids so we could all head to the pool.  Trey drove the kids to the neighborhood pool while I finished making us all a picnic lunch.  After packing the ice chest and grabbing my towel, I walked down the block to meet them.  Tallen has not been a fan of the pool so far this year so when I got there this afternoon I was happy to see that Tallen sitting in a raft, splashing in the water and enjoying himself.  Trey had borrowed a raft from our neighbor so Tallen and Sophia were both sitting in it while Trey pushed them around the pool.  Besides our neighbors and their friends, we pretty much had the pool to ourselves. 

The kids were hungry when I got there, so they got out of the pool and sat down at the picnic table while I set out our lunch.  Lunch was kind of a free for all because I never know what the kids will be in the mood to eat, so I packed carrot sticks, grapes, strawberries, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on wheat bagel thins (Sophia insists on bagel thins instead of bread now), veggie Pirate's Booty, cheese sticks, banana chips and yogurt smoothies.  Trey and I shared tuna salad (made with mashed avocado and a little mayo) on three seed wheat bread from the bakery along with some carrot sticks and grapes. 

After lunch, the kids got back in the pool with Trey and I did something that I have not been able to do since I became a mother almost five years ago...  I sat in a lounge chair by the pool and read a magazine for 30 minutes without anyone interrupting me!!!  I looked up a few times and saw Sophia playing with the neighborhood boys in the water.  She was wearing her floaties and there was always a dad close by so she was safe.  Trey took Tallen into the baby pool to play for awhile, then Tallen came back to my chair to ask for more snacks. 

It was about time for Tallen's nap so I offered to walk home with him while Trey stayed at the pool with Sophia.  I told him that there was no way that I was getting in the water (it is still way to cold for me) so it would be better for him to stay so Sophia could play a little longer.  I came home to a quiet house and took advantage of the few minutes I had alone to blog. 

Well, Trey and Sophia are back from the pool so I better go see what else we have planned today.  I vote for a frozen yogurt trip followed by a cookout in the back yard.  I have some turkey hot dogs and watermelon that would be perfect on this beautiful summer day! 

Check back later for a post about our trip to San Antonio and Seaworld this weekend!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Everything is better in TWOs!!

Tallen is TWO YEARS OLD today!!  How did that happen?  Excuse me while I wipe away a few tears.  My baby boy keeps growing so fast and I really need to quit calling him a baby, he outgrew his baby status this past year.  People often comment on how tall he is... Although I don't think at my height (5' 2 1/2") that I can take any credit for his height.  Here are my musings about Two, inspired by Tallen turning Two. 

Two is...
  • The number of times I kissed each of Tallen's hands and feet this morning while changing his diaper after he woke up...
  • The number of times someone sang Happy Birthday to him this morning (Mommy and Daddy each sang to him)...
  • The number of times Tallen rode on a pony at my company picnic this weekend...
  • The number of times I have almost regretted writing this post now that Tallen is no longer a baby...
  • The number of Tallen's birthday cupcakes I ate on Sunday night (hey, they were not frosted yet so they didn't count)...
  • The number of Tallen's birthday cupcakes that I plan on eating tonight (check out the recipe here for these AMAZING cupcakes)
  • The number of miles I ran on Saturday morning before I got a call from my mother-in-law telling me that TWO of my kids were sick...
  • The number of times that Tallen apparently threw up on Friday night...
  • The number of plans we had to cancel on Saturday after the kids got sick (we canceled our play time at the Indoor Safari Park in Southlake and canceled family pictures with our favorite photographer)...
  • The number of movies I watched with my husband this weekend (a rare occurance) - we saw Bridesmaids at the theater on Friday night and watched The Fighter at home on Saturday night...
  • The number of days until our family vacation in San Antonio - we are taking the kids to Seaworld!!
  • The number of family celebrations we have in May - Our wedding anniversary and Tallen's birthday...
  • TWO is the number of kids in our family.  Which makes our family complete. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Your Toys are Going in the Trash... or Not.

Tuesday evening, I was home with both of the kids while Trey was working late. It was a non-bath night so we headed upstairs to Sophia’s room around 7 PM to play awhile before bedtime. When I walked in her room and saw that the floor was covered with toys, clothes and shoes (the usual four year old mess), I told Sophia that we needed to pick up her room so that Selena could clean her room on Wednesday. (Yes, we have a lady who cleans our house every other week but I am a full-time working, career mama of two little ones and there are only so many hours in the day and I would rather spend them with my kids instead of cleaning toilets so don’t judge).

Because it was close to bedtime and because she is four, Sophia started to whine and was not having anything to do with my “Let’s clean your room!” enthusiasm. Because I had woke up at 5AM for work that day and because it was close to her bedtime, which means MOMMY TIME in my world, my patience was thin and I did not want to hear the whining. So, I told her if she did not help me pick up her toys I was going to… wait for it…

Throw Them Away.

In the trash.

The toys would be gone forever!
(I may have even raised my voice when I said this).

“Okay,” she replied and went back to playing with her Scooby-Doo action figures. “Just don’t throw away these toys that I’m playing with.”

She was calling my bluff.

To show her that I really meant business, I picked up the empty laundry basket from the corner where I had been folding the clean clothes and starting throwing in everything I found on the floor. I called out the name of each toy as I threw it in the basket so she would know that I meant business.

"Little zebra is going in the trash.  All four Barbies are going in the trash.  The skirt you wore to school today is going in the trash," I called out.  "Oh no, I hate to see all your dollhouse furniture going in the trash."

Sophia jumped up and finally decided to join me in my cleaning spree.  She grabbed her Barbie corvette, "Mommy, this can go in the trash too.  I don't like it any more." Then she moved on to the biggies: her dollhouse and her Barbie airplane which she BEGGED for just last Christmas. "Let's throw my airplane away too, I don't play with it.  And you can throw away my dollhouse and buy me a new one."

I couldn't keep my poker face on any longer, I let a four year old beat me at my own game. 

"Sophia, I am not going to make you throw away your Barbie plane, or dollhouse, or even little Zebra.  Maybe we can find some toys that we can give away to charity and clean up your room a little." 

In the end, we filled two bags full of toys to give away in addition to an entire bag of shoes from her closet that no longer fit.  I would like to say that I won that battle but my little girl managed to 1) get me to clean up her room 2) get me to clean out her closet and 3) delay her bedtime by thirty minutes!!! 

Remind me not to play cards with my daughter when she gets older.  Sophia is sooooo much better at bluffing than I am.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The End of my Journey to Motherhood

Tallen at two weeks old
Our church had baby dedication on Mother’s Day this year, making the day a little “extra” special for those new moms who proudly held their squirming infants and toddlers in front of the congregation. Tears blurred my vision as I looked down the row of little girls covered in bows and ribbons, and little boys dressed in their Sunday best. On two separate occasions I have stood at the front of our church to dedicate my children to God and I know how proud and exciting that moment can be for both parents.

Watching those beautiful babies that Sunday morning, I waited for the feeling of longing to enter my heart, that gentle tug to have another baby. It is a feeling that I usually get every time I hear that a friend is having a baby or when I get the chance to hold and breathe in the intoxicating scent of a newborn child. To my surprise, that feeling never came…

I was about 25 years old when my older sister had her second child (another boy). Although I lived almost 1,000 miles away from her and was not there when the baby was born, as I listened to her voice as she told me about her new baby I felt the tug of motherhood for the first time. I experienced this feeling, the longing to be a mom multiple times over the next 5 years but due to timing and circumstances, motherhood was put on hold.

By the time Trey and I decided that we wanted to start a family, I was 31 years old. Sophia was born nine months later and the minute that the nurse put her in my arms, I knew that I wanted to have more babies. Blame it on the hormones, but the rush of love, amazement, and wonder that you experience those first few hours, days, weeks after your baby is born... indescribable.

Thankfully, the lack of sleep from caring for a newborn wore us down and we decided to wait awhile before having more babies. I say babies because we always talked about having three kids when we first got married. We actually were not set on a certain number, but we both agreed that we wanted more than one. Trey was an only child and has always felt like he missed out on having brothers and sisters. 

A family of three

Around the time that Sophia turned one, we started seriously talking about having another baby. Although I liked the idea of having another baby, I did not enjoy the actual pregnancy the first time and I was not looking forward to it again. I was fast approaching 34 and knew that my time was limited before I became “advanced maternal age”, which is any pregnancy after the age of 35. Surprisingly, my body needed some encouragement to get pregnant the second time and we visited a fertility specialist for several months before I found out I was pregnant with Tallen.

This time, I kept telling myself to enjoy every moment of the pregnancy because it might be my last. Tallen was born at on May 24th at 11:19 PM (during a game of the NBA playoffs, which was playing on the TV in my hospital room) about 10 minutes after Trey bet me that the baby would not be born until after midnight.

Our first family photo as a family of four

Over the next two months, Tallen did his best to ensure his lifelong status as the baby of the family. Colic, reflux, screaming eight to ten hours a day... By the time I went back to work when he was 9 weeks old, I swore that I did not want any more children. I was finished having babies.

But then I would visit a friend in the hospital who just had a baby, or hold a newborn and marvel at those little fingers and toes. The longing was trying to creep up on me again. My OB-Gyn asked if I was ready for permanent birth control options. I could not tell her yes. When Tallen grew out of the infant seat, I moved all the baby gear out to the garage so I could load it up and take it to the resale shop. The swing, bouncy seats, and baby clothes have been there for over three months. I loved holding my babies, rocking them to sleep, kissing their sweet little cheeks. But my babies are now 4 ½ and (almost) 2 years old so they don’t really qualify as babies anymore.

However over the past month, I have noticed some changes. We invited some friends and their kids over for a cookout. As I watched my friend with her 9 month old, I did not get the longing to have another baby. In fact, watching her struggle to feed the baby while fighting off her exhaustion – I actually thought “I’m glad I am not in her shoes.” I held another friend’s baby a few weeks ago and was happy to hand her over to her mom when she woke up and burst into tears.

Family picture taken around Tallen's First Birthday
Our babies have grown up. Our kids can play in the backyard without me hovering over their every step. They can sleep all night in their own beds. Sophia can go to the bathroom, get herself dressed and brush her own hair in the morning. Tallen can tell me what he wants (or doesn’t want) to eat at dinner. We have started to enjoy traveling with the kids instead of dreading it, so we have planned a few short vacations this summer.

So when I teared up looking at those new moms at the front of the church on Mother’s Day, I was also shedding a tear for me too. Babies are no longer in my future and I have come to the end of my journey to motherhood. But my motherhood journey is still rolling ahead full steam. And I love it more every day.

My "Babies"

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Arts and Letters Live - Kathryn Stockett

When I entered the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas for the Arts and Letter Live Special Event on Tuesday night, I was already a fan of Kathryn Stockett's debut novel, The Help, which has been on the NY Times bestseller list for a stunning 93 weeks to date.  After less than five minutes of listening to the slow, southern drawl of this Mississippi native, I became a huge fan of the author too.  Her quick wit, dry sense of humor and obvious southern charm worked its magic on the packed sanctuary of mostly (white) women who spent the night in rapt attention or in roars of laughter. 

Although it may seem like the book became an overnight success, Stockett spent five years writing The Help and received a total of 60 rejection letters before finding a literary agent who was willing to represent her and the book.

"What if I had given up at 15, or 40, or even 60?" she asked.  "Call it tenacity, call it resolve, or call it what my husband calls it, stubbornness.  I could not give up." 

She even shared some of her rejection letters with the audience.  "I really didn't like this book at all," she read aloud from one letter before going on, "Please do not send me any more of your writing again."  She can smile about these letters now, given the enormous success of The Help which has sold over 2.2 million copies. 

The book is set in Jackson, Mississippi during the the civil rights movement in the 1960's and explores the relationship of young, southern white women and their black maids who they trust to raise their children, clean their homes and cook their food but not to polish the silver.  An unlikely friendship leads to a secret project that uncovers the stories these maids have never been able to tell and breaks all the rules of society. 

Stockett talked about finding the voices of Aibileen and Minny, the two black housekeepers who work for white families in Jackson.  When the book was released, she convinced her best friend Octavia Spencer to come on her book tour and read aloud the character of Minnie.  Then she selected her best childhood friend Tate Taylor to write the screenplay and direct the movie version of the book, which is scheduled be released in August 2011.  Stockett herself makes a cameo appearance in the movie (as does her mother, sister, and friends) in the DAR scene.  Her daughter, Lila, is also cast as the young Skeeter, although she does not have any lines in the movie.  

Blonde haired, petite and "adorable" (as dubbed by one of the ladies during the Q&A session), Stockett kepts us entertained the entire night. I was not the only fan in the room of Stockett.  One woman waked up to the microphone and told the author how much she had enjoyed the evening and how she wanted to "hit her friends over the head with this book for not being here tonight." 

"Call them!" Stockett drawled, "Let's tell them what they're missin!"

Another fan in the audience, had this advice for the entire audience.  "If you liked reading this book, then you will like it five times more if you listen to the audio book".  I am in complete agreement because that is how I heard The Help.  The accents and heavy dialect of the black characters drew me in to the story and I could almost picture Abilene and Minny sitting at the kitchen table sharing stories over their coffee.  If you haven't read The Help already, I suggest you read (or listen) to it before the movie comes out this summer.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Heels and Hills Half Marathon 2011

I don't even know where to begin.  For the past three months, I have been getting up at 6:00 AM every Saturday for my long runs.  On Tuesday nights, you could find me at the track in Valley Ranch doing speed work.  Once the weather warmed up, I would come home after work and run 3-4 miles around the neighborhood.  I ran somewhere between 175 and 200 miles preparing for my my first half marathon and now it is over...

I ran a Half Marathon and I have a medal to prove it! 

We checked into the Omni Mandalay Bay in Las Colinas on Saturday afternoon and immediately headed to the pool so the kids could go swimming.  After family time at the pool, I headed upstairs to get ready for the Team in Training (TNT) Inspiration Dinner.  It was a night full of excitement, lots of purple attire, plates piled high with pasta and special recognition of the Honored Heroes; those men, women and children who have fought or are still fighting against blood cancer.  After dinner, we decorated our purple TNT race jerseys with our names, pictures and ribbons.for our honored heroes.   

I headed upstairs to my hotel room with high hopes of getting a good night's sleep.  However, my stomach was full of nervous butterflies and my room was full of two energetic little kids who were excited to be sleeping away from home.  It took about an hour to get them settled down and I finally drifted off for about two hours before I woke up to go to the bathroom at 1:00 AM (that is what pre-race hydration will do to you)!  When my alarm went off at 5:30 AM, I had managed to get between 4 - 4 1/2 hours of sleep. 

My nerves were settled by the morning and I took my time eating breakfast (bagel thin with peanut butter and a banana) before getting dressed.  Even though I was trying to be quiet, the kids woke up just before I left and gave me good luck kisses before I headed downstairs to meet my TNT teammates in the lobby.  Unfortunately it was raining, so we covered our carefully decorated jerseys with trash bags and walked 1/2 mile to the starting line.  The sky cleared up a little so we took advantage of the sliver of sunshine to take a team picture.  GO DFW METRO team!

Since the kids were already awake when I left the hotel, Trey got them dressed and brought them to the starting line to see me.  This was a nice surprise because I thought they were going to stay at the hotel, eat breakfast, and be there to cheer me on at the finish line.  Too bad they were both a little camera shy at 7:30 in the morning.  Can you tell that neither of them wanted their picture taken?  Sad Sophia face :(

Right after this picture I panicked when I realized that the race was starting in four minutes!!!!  I did not have time to stop at the porta potty or even warm up.  The good thing is that I did not have time to get nervous either.  Trey was still strapping the kids back in the stroller as I ran to the staring line, found a place near the 2 hour (9:05) pace group, and the race began....

The first few miles were on surface streets in Las Colinas as we made our way from Williams Square to the Champion Trails of Irving.  Once we passed the first water stop just after mile two, it started raining.  HARD.  So hard that if felt like sleet, which really stung.  I was basically running with one eye closed, trying to stay in the middle of the trail and wondering how long I could keep up this pace in the rain.  After about 10 minutes the rain tapered off a little but we were still running into the wind, which was gusting up to 20 mph.  Because it was so early in the race, I did not get discouraged.  In fact, I decided to pull away from the pace group and turned on my Ipod for some musical inspiration.  Time for Gu and Gatorade.

Around mile 5, I started to settle into my stride and really enjoy the race despite the challenging weather.  Lots of spectators lined the route near the turn around point and one of my TNT coaches was there to cheer me on.. 

"You are doing great, Steph!" he shouted.  "You are right on pace. Sub-two, you GOT this!"

After making the loop at the turn around, I started passing lots of TNT members.  "GO TEAM!" we shouted every time we saw a purple jersey.  This was the BEST point of the race for me and with six miles to go, I knew that I could finish strong.  More Gu and Gatorade. 

A few miles later, I started to chat with the runners around me.
"What's your goal?" the guy next to me asked.  We both agreed that we wanted to finish under two hours.

Behind me, I heard a man's voice ask, "Who is Jacob Norvell?"

I was running this race in honor of Jacob Norvell, the grandson of my co-worker, Janet Norvell.  Jacob, who was diagnosed with Leukemia at age four, is now nine years old and has been cancer free for almost two years. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has been a huge blessing to the Norvell family and they are very grateful for the care that Jacob received while he was fighting Leukemia. 

I ended up running the next several miles with this gentlemen, who told me his name was "Spareribs".  Those who follow the running blog in the Dallas Morning News will recognize him by this nickname that he acquired in college.  Spareribs, who will turn 65 this year, told me he had recovered from an injury in February and ran the Boston Marathon in less than 4 1/2 hours just thirteen days ago.

At mile 12, he stopped for a water break and told me to run on ahead.  I knew the finish line was getting closer with every step and I had forgotten about the weather conditions... until I noticed the cops directing people off the trails and onto the street in front of me. Other runners noticed too and commented to the police who yelled back at us "Bad weather is coming, we have to END this race!"

Two things crossed my mind at this point:
1) There is NO way I am going to stop this race with less than one mile to go!!
2) There is NO way I am going to let those girls who cut in front of me beat me either!

So... I started running FASTER.  As fast as my legs could carry me after running non-stop for 12 miles.   

With the finish line in sight, I started scanning the crowd for my family.  Blue shirt.  Trey was wearing a blue shirt.  I finally spotted him on the left side of the street and started yelling and waving to get his attention.

That is me waving at Trey
 My family was there!  They were holding signs, waving and cheering as I passed them on my way to the finish line.  I glanced up at the race clock and saw 1:56:58.  I finished in under two hours!!!!!  After some young boy handed me my finisher medal, Trey came running up and gave me a big hug!  "I can't believe you made it so fast!" he said before adding, "I didn't expect to see you for another ten minutes!" 

There was no time to celebrate because a storm was headed our way and we needed to take shelter.  Official race times were not posted and I was not even sure if the race had been stopped at that point.  I later heard that some runners where stopped for about ten minutes before the race resumed.  The storm ended up dissipating before it reached Las Colinas, so all the runners were safe.

We headed back to the hotel for some post race pictures (Tallen still did not want to participate in the pictures), then I showered and we celebrated with a post race beer over lunch. 

My official time was 1:56:47 and I placed 8th out of 49 in the "Mom of Toddlers" division. 

My half marathon experience was wet, windy, cold, exciting, inspiring, tiring, exhilarating, and at times overwhelming.  I would definitely do it again!  Just as soon as I can walk and climb stairs again without pain.  I am so sore!!!
One more thing... GO TEAM!!!