Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Making the Tough Calls

As every other parent on the planet, I am always trying to do the best for my kids.  We all do.  It is a tough balance between doing what is best and allowing them to learn on their own.  This year has been a roller coaster of highs and lows.  Teetering on that edge of what is right and what you feel in your heart. Kids have this knack for making you question your decisions sometimes. Little stinkers!

Lincoln is our youngest and you would think that by the time you have your third kid, you have this parenting gig down. That is not the case.  The lovely thing about it is, each kid is different in so many ways.  That is what makes parenting more of an adventure. Not always the fun adventure but an adventure nonetheless.

Lincoln has been quite the adventure since he was born.  Each day is exciting and fresh and well, unpredictable.  He has a way of bringing a smile to anyone and everyone.  I'm not sure how he does it but he's a charming little guy.  Chuck will always take the credit for that.

During this school year, Lincoln has been pushing and plodding along but as the lessons got harder and the words got longer, he started to lag behind.  His teacher and I noticed it and talked about it a lot.  We kept our eyes on his progress and talked about how we can work to keep him where he needs to be. The gap was getting bigger and we finally made the decision to have him evaluated to see if there was something that the special education office and school psychologist could find that would explain this gap. I was nervous that they would wait until next school year to get the series of tests done.  By law, they have 60 days from the day they receive my permission, to test him.  There were less than 60 days left in this school year.  Thankfully, they did the testing right away and they were gathering the information from several sources for the results.

He does have what is being labeled as a learning disability.  There is no specific name for it, it means that there is a discrepancy in his results.  In a series of tests, all pertaining to reading and comprehension, he tested "high above average" in some areas and "well below average" in others.  This means that he needs some help in some areas of reading with the special education staff in order to bridge the gap.  The director of special education feels that it is very likely that with this intervention, he will be able to close that gap and may not even need help in the future.  He may "catch up" to his peers and be fine as he gets older and uses the learning tools they give him to do it all on his own.

The director was saying that they would create an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for him and they would make sure he would have the appropriate teacher for second grade.  I immediately looked at his teacher because in our previous conversations, we decided it would probably be best if Lincoln repeated first grade.  We decided that before we had this meeting though, so does that change things?!  I felt like I had already made the decision so am I again faced with making the decision based on the new information?  They felt that he could go on to second grade now but I thought we had that cleared up.  Shoot......I didn't want to have to decided again.

And then, the director gave me advice........

"Listen to your mom gut."

Isn't that what we all usually rely on?  She was spot on.  There I was sitting there second guessing my decision thinking, well, it would be nice to not have to explain why he is repeating first grade and he would be happier just going on to second grade.   No!  Stop it, you made the decision.

Repeating first grade will essentially help him bridge the gap much more easily than to send him to second grade where the benchmarks and expectations are higher and he has an even bigger gap to close in on.  It just makes sense for him to repeat.  He is also young, he isn't going to turn seven until the end of July so it's not like he is going to be so much older than his classmates in year number two of first grade. He will fit right in, age wise.

He has no issues with making friends and his teacher this year is going to be his teacher again next year since she is an inclusion teacher (classroom with children with IEP's, special needs, etc.) He told his class that he is going to be repeating first grade next year and the teacher started cheering and waving her arms, his classmates starting booing and saying they wanted to be with him next year.  It's really bittersweet.

It wasn't an easy decision but we are looking at the future.  Do we really want to send him on and watch him struggle and get frustrated?  No, I cannot handle another year like that.  It may not be an easy year next year but he will be getting help where he needs it and we are hoping to build a great foundation for his educational future.  The director also said that through the intervention, it is our hope that he gains more self confidence and feels better about himself.  Who can argue with that?!  No one and certainly, not me.

Parenting is definitely not an easy thing, but it is so far beyond rewarding.  I wouldn't trade my silly, loving, crazy boy for the world's riches. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

What's Your Why

A few weeks ago, I was in the car with my son after one of his lacrosse games and he asked me what my why is.  I told him that it was a very good  question.  I'm not sure if someone asked him that or he heard it and decided to ask me.

I often tell other people that I am doing this health and fitness thing for several reasons.  It is so true.  It's hard to pinpoint exactly why I am trying to be the best me that I can be.  I feel like there isn't just one reason. 

  • Me.  I am trying to be my best because for many years, I have been doing so much for others, I have put myself on the back burner in an effort to care for others and make other happy.  I don't necessarily think that it is a bad thing that I have done so much for others.  I do enjoy doing things for others.  However, it is my time to put myself first.  The time that I spend working out or running, I get my thoughts out, my frustrations out and stress is lessened.  I am able to relax when I need to relax and I am able to have the energy needed to keep up with my family.
  •  My family.  My husband and my kids are my number one in life.  They are what keeps me grounded, what keeps me going everyday.  I need to be able keep up with them and I want to be able to stay active with my kids, playing in the backyard.  Run with them, ride bikes with them, play baseball, catch and frisbee with them. We love to be active so I can't do that if I am not healthy. 
  • To help others.  It is in my nature to help others.  I want to help people in any way I can.  I love that some people have remarked that because of me, they have started to exercise more.  It is so good for people to get out and move, to find that one thing that makes them feel good about themselves.  I love to help others find that thing.  To see that they are worth the time and effort it takes to be healthy and active.  

So, now I'm asking you, what is YOUR why?!  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Finding the Right Plan for Me

If you are a runner and have looked for a distance running training plan, you know that there are several out there to choose from.  I have pinned quite a few on my Pinterest page over the last year or so.  Each one seems to have its benefits and I can usually tweak them a bit to fit my schedule.

Then, I found this one:

It is just perfect for my weekly personal schedule.  I can get my runs in on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the morning before I go to work because those are the days that I don't work at the gym.  The stretch and strength on Mondays and the cross training on Wednesdays I can either do at home or do at the gym.  I really like that Fridays and Saturdays are rest and recovery days because those tend to be days when I want to do stuff with my family.  The Sunday long distance runs are perfect because I can get up and go for a morning run to finish my weekends and get ready for the new week.

I am hoping to run at least two half marathons this year so I need to start training now and building up my strength and stamina.  My half marathon isn't until the fall but if I start now, I will be good to go by September, October and November.  I can't imagine doing a half marathon in the heat of the summer so I decided to wait until the cooler temps of fall are here.

It is always hard to find the time for running and exercising with our busy family schedule but as the school year winds down and we have more free time, I can make the time for more running.

Have you found the perfect training schedule that fits your needs?

Monday, May 19, 2014

It's Going to be Wonderful

In less than three weeks we are leaving for an out of town wedding then heading to the coast for a few days at the beach.  I am both excited and stressed.  We have had a few unexpected expenses pop up and so I am less financially prepared than I was planning on being but we are still going.  I will make it work.

We are going to our nephew's wedding in Virginia and then the following day we are going to Ocean City, MD for four days/three nights.

We were in the car yesterday for a short road trip for a lacrosse tournament for Jada and I was sitting there thinking about how much I love being in the car with my family.  Sometimes the kids are annoying and I want to choke them (don't worry, it has never happened) but I love to be in the car with the people I love the most in life.

Our car ride won't be as long as our drives down to North Carolina and they will be broken up into two drives but I am excited.  We laugh, we talk about memories, we make memories and we sing our hearts out.  There is nothing I love more than my husband and kids and even though it can be a long road, it is worth it.

This will be our first family vacation.  Yes, we have been on vacation before...a few times to the beach.  However, this will be our first time with just the five of us.  We have always gone with other families or our extended family for our beach trips and hopefully we will do that again soon.  I am looking forward to a trip of our very own.  Just the five of us.  There may be more fighting, bickering and annoyance but that's okay. We are making memories of our very own to share with only ourselves.

I am planning on it being a wonderful trip.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Another One?! Wow, I am Feeling the Love! Liebster Award #2

I actually love answering the questions so I am going to just answer the questions that the sweet Fit Foodie Mama sent me when she also nominated me for the Liebster Award!

Here are her questions for me:

1. Where is your favorite place to travel and why?
The Outer Banks, North Carolina.  It is quiet, beautiful and I love the beach!
2. What is the last good book you read?
Oh man, Fifty Shades of
3. What did you want to be when you were little?
I wanted to be a teacher and then changed my mind and wanted to join the Peace Corp...I did neither!
4. What is your favorite way to be active?
Anything that involves being outside!  
5. What is your go-to breakfast?
I'm so bad at breakfast but I do love scrambled eggs.
6. If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Ha, I answered this for someone else, Pizza. 
7. What are your hobbies outside of work/blogging?
Running, writing, listening to music, activities with my kids
8. Would you ever be able to go a day without your phone?
Yes, my phone broke and I had to go about a week or two without one and I was dying at first but by the end of the time, I was fine and enjoyed the freedom!
9. Do you prefer to exercise in the morning or at night?
In the morning....heading out to go to a spin class in a few minutes!
10. What is your favorite thing about blogging?
Connecting with people.  I love when I find a topic I am passionate about and finding others that share that passion, whether it is kids, family, fitness or anything.  The friendships that can evolve from blogs is amazing. 
Be sure to go check out The Fit Foodie Mama over on her blog!

May Is Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month

Did you know that one in every two women and one in every four men over the age of 50 will experience a fracture related to osteoporosis in their lifetime?

That is a scary statistic for all of us. 

But there is a source to get helpful information, tips and health/fitness news that will inform you about osteoporosis, the symptoms, the treatments available and prevention tips.  You can check out the American Recall Center for that information. Their mission is to raise awareness about osteoporosis and help people prevent it as much as possible. Here is a helpful infograph that they have prepared: 

You can see in the infograph that there are ways to help prevent the onset of osteoporosis.  Be sure to eat and drink foods rich with calcium and vitamin D.  Stay active to help strengthen your bones. 

We are all going to experience difficulties as we age but why increase your chances of osteoporosis?  Get out there and move to stay active and drink your milk!!  

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post.  I was contacted to help raise awareness and help my readers with some information.  I was not scripted in any way. All words are my own. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I Got the What?! What's a Liebster?

If you look up the word Liebster, you will get a translation from German to English and it means "dearest, beloved."  I received the Liebster Award from Rebecca at Flex and Shout Fitness!  It means that I have a beloved health and fitness blog.  I am so thankful to her for her nomination.  Does this award hold any weight in the blogging world?  Maybe not, but I still adore it.  :)

The award comes from bloggers to other bloggers with a smaller following to help get their blog out there to those that may not know about them.  I love the idea!  There are rules attached to this don't just receive it and smile. 

Here's the lowdown on the process:

1. You have to answer the questions that the blogger that nominated you gave to you.
2. You have to give the award to 10 fellow bloggers that have a small following.
3. You have to give the nominees 10 questions for them to answer on their post about the award.
4. You must link back to the person/blog that nominated you (of course!)
5. Go to each of your nominees' blogs to let them know you are nominating them!

Seems easy enough, right?!  I think it is a great way to network, find great, new blogs and have some fun along the way!

Here I go.......

So, again, I was nominated by Rebecca at Flex and sure to check out her blog, she posts some great workouts!

The questions she gave me:

1. What do you love most about fitness? Pick 1!  
I love that I have found that I am able to do so much more than I ever thought possible, I am stronger than I thought I was!
2. Where is you favorite place to work out?
My favorite place to workout is probable outside. I have found some great outdoor workouts to do in my yard and I prefer to run the roads in my neighborhood.
3. Do you prefer to workout alone or with a buddy? Why?
I think it depends on the workout.  I usually run alone but I do like when my son or husband joins me, they usually push me to run faster. For monthly challenge workouts, I do like when my family joins me, it's fun to make fitness a family activity.
4. What’s the best part about where you live?
Well, I live outside of Pittsburgh, which is a beautiful city, home of the Steelers (I bleed black and gold!) As far as where I live, we have a  large yard and I love to just sit outside in the yard and enjoy the quiet and calm of the country. 
5. What’s your favorite piece of gym equipment?
Hmmm....I like to push myself on the leg press to see just how much weight I can press. For cardio, I like the Precor EFX machine, it is such a good workout.
6. What’s your guilty pleasure?
Oh man, I'm not sure I could pick just one.  I enjoy baked goods (bad) and Facebook (time suck)
7. If you had a million dollars, what would you spend it on first? (but not a real green dress, that’s cruel!)  
This one is easy for me.  A new house.  I like where I live but I could use an upgrade that doesn't need as much work!
8. What other windows or tabs are open on your computer right now?
Google (for Liebster definition) and Flex and Shout Fitness blog for reference on this nomination.
9. Apple or PC? Why
I have a PC.  I haven't taken the jump to an Apple product.....not sure if I ever will.  Maybe someday ;)
10. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Probably pizza.  I know it's not the healthiest thing but I think it may be the only thing that I wouldn't get sick of eating!

And now, here are my nominees:

1.  Susan at Simply Modern Dance
2.  Lauren at Run Salt Run
3. Tiffany at The Chia Athlete
4.  Michelle at One More Biz
5.  Amanda at Running By Day
6.  Angelica at Helly on the Run
7.  Courtney at Run for Cupcakes
9.  Katy at Joy Laughter Sweat
10.  Angela at Cowgirl Runs

Now, on to my questions for you!

1.  What is your favorite song to workout to?  
2.  What is your dream race to run?
3.  If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
4.  What is your biggest pet peeve about the gym?
5.  What is your most favorite piece of workout clothing that you own?
6.  How do you relieve stress?  Workout, yell, cry?
7.  Do you encourage others to workout with you?  
8.  What is your dream vacation destination?
9.  What is your idea of a dream date?
10.  What is your biggest accomplishment in life, so far?

Thank you, again, to Rebecca at Flex and Fitness for her nomination!!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Wrong Message

It's no secret that we have become a society obsessed with image.  I am also guilty of it.  I have been obsessed with my body image for years.  I always wanted to be skinnier to fit into the tiny clothes and have people comment on how skinny I am.

Thank goodness my thoughts have changed and I'm no longer wishing for a skinnier body. I am now okay with not being in a certain size but I'd rather be healthy and have a stronger body.  I am always amazed at the things that I have been able to do with some hard work and determination.

It's sad that many people will go to any length to be that shape or size that they believe is perfect.
There is no perfect, folks. Every size is beautiful. 
No, society and some companies won't tell you that but it's true.  We need to change the way we think.  We need to start telling our young daughters that it's okay if you aren't wearing a size 2.  It's okay if you are wearing a size 12. The bottom line is, you need to be healthy. It's true that as your weight or size increases, you are more likely to have health problems which is why health and fitness is important.  The scale is not.

Go to a mirror and really look at yourself. Find the things about your image that you like.  Go on, do it. There is so much about you that is great and beautiful.  Inside and out.

Your image does not define you. You are more than your size.
I have noticed that some people who are working for "health and fitness" companies are trying to find customers in prom goers.  They are advertising to teen girls to "be skinny and beautiful for your big night."  NO!  That is the last thing that teenage girls need to hear.  When they put on their gowns or dresses and have their hair and makeup done, they are enhancing the beauty they already have.  They don't need a magic lotion, gel or wrap to be beautiful.  It's the wrong message. Every single time I see the ads, it infuriates me. We cannot send this message to kids that being skinny equals being perfect or beautiful.

Of course I workout daily.  Of course I want to be as fit as I can be.  Am I trying to be perfect?  Nope.  There is no perfect.  Even the skinniest girls, the most beautiful girls have problems.  We are human.  We are imperfect in many ways but that's okay.

I hate to see companies that are perpetuating an image of perfection appeal to young girls.  Instead, these girls need a positive image to follow. One that encourages healthy eating, daily exercise (even if only for 30 minutes a day) and a big smile on their face.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Race Recap: The Pittsburgh Marathon Relay 2014

Last year, I worked at the health and fitness expo for the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon.  I had such a great time and seeing the excitement of all the runners made me excited.  I left that day thinking that the marathon was something that I really wanted to do.  No, I have no plans of running the full marathon.  I really wanted to just run in it.

The marathon relay is a great option for those starting out.  I decided that I was going to get a team together for the marathon relay this year.  I put out a note on Facebook to see if anyone would be interested and just like that, I had a literally, minutes!

I was so excited and so was the rest of my team.  We all did our training separately for each of our legs of the race. My leg was 6.1 miles so I just followed a training program for a 10k.  It was a great way for me to prepare for it.

Here's me after one of my training runs:

This was one of my last runs, supposed to be easy and I pushed myself.

Leading up to the race, there was a ton of information and you could say that I was getting a bit overwhelmed and instead of the information making me feel more prepared, I was feeling more nervous although I am sure that was not their intention.

Fast forward to race morning.....

The race started at 7am so that meant that we had to get up around 4am in order to get ready, meet up and head down to the city.  I was awake before my alarm even went off. Thank goodness I laid everything out that I needed the night before because it made my morning go much smoother.  We arrived down in the city with plenty of time to spare for walking to the start and figuring out where we needed to be, gear check and feeling prepared and ready.

I had to ride a shuttle bus to get to my starting point and then I waited...and waited....and waited.

I was feeling like I was going to have a bad run because I was standing around for so long waiting. My back was starting to hurt and my joints were sort of sore from the cold (does that make me sound like an old lady?!)

My friend came running up and I was so happy to see her and I think she was happy to see me (it meant she was done running!) I took off and was feeling okay to begin with.  I started to get into my stride and pace pretty comfortably.  I had my Map My Run app going but I had my earphones plugged into something else for music so I wasn't hearing my mileage as I was running.  This was both aggravating and liberating to me.  I am so used to knowing where I am with my mileage but it was nice to not concentrate on that and just enjoy the course.

I felt like I was running a little faster than I normally run when I am on the roads but I felt good and the energy of the spectators and fans was electrifying.  I was smiling, saying "thank you", giving high fives to kids along the way and I loved every single minute of my run.

I was coming up to the end of my leg of the race and I could see my friend waiting for me. She got a picture of me too which was nice to see....I didn't look like I was absolutely dying haha.

Before we knew it, it was all over and we were done!  We did it and we were so proud and happy to have done it. I think we all had a great experience.  Even my poor friend who experienced a terrible blister on her foot and ended up having to hobble her way to the end of her leg of the race.  She was a champ and didn't want to let us or herself down so she really pushed herself to get there.

Here's the picture of our team after the race!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Adding In a Little Extra

Over the winter months, I was doing monthly challenges for all the different body parts that needed work.  I was actually sticking with them too!  I recruited my teenage daughter to do them with me for both our health and for accountability.  It was great to do those with her and we looked forward to the workouts everyday.

I sort of slacked off doing them as I was increasing my running and attending spin classes on the days when I wasn't running. I also started with weight training.

It is time to start back up with the monthly challenges though in an effort to get ready for summer.  The amount of monthly challenges that you can find online is amazing.  I've found some really great ones that I loved and I look forward to going back and doing some of them again.

Here are the two that I am going to do for the month of May:

I found these on Pinterest and I am so excited to get started.  Well, I actually already got my pushups in.  I am trying to do full pushups, not modified so we will see how long I can continue with that.  It is such a major goal for me to be able to do the full ones.  The Beach Body Challenge is interesting to me because the workouts are different everyday so there is far less chance of getting bored with it.

Feel free to join me this month!!  Let's see what we can do!