Wednesday, April 27

THE BOSTON MARATHON


If any post warrants an all caps title, its this one. BOSTON MARATHON!!!

 photo IMG_1242.jpgWell. Twelve years after I first got bit by the marathon bug, I got to run Boston. It was my tenth marathon, the 120th Boston and 50th year women were allowed to participate. The math teacher in me loved all that.

 photo IMG_1252.jpgMerritt is seven months old--not the best sleeper and still exclusively nursing. So I had to bring a pump and pump at the starting line. It was comical--I stuck a trash bag with a hole in it over my head and walked the .7 miles to the start pumping in secret. Heh heh. And then I abandoned the liquid gold with everyone's sweatpants.

 photo IMG_2497.jpgHere's the race recap before I forget everything that happened... I rode the bus in to Hopkinton (our bus got off at the wrong exit and had to make a u-turn, not a great start to the day!) The races is basically 26.2 straight miles into Boston. Straight--but hilly. I had been warned about the hills, but Beaumont is so flat, and I decided that I'd just take it easy and then the hills wouldn't bother me. That didn't end up working very well... but I survived. It was an unseasonably warm day--so my Texas training helped me there! I forced myself to hold to close to 8:20s for the first 4 miles, then tried to stick to 8:15s for the first half. I was feeling great and it was tough to take it slow. I'm so glad I did, because at about mile 16 my legs decided we were done and it was tougher to stay on pace. At that point, I kept thinking WHY DID I WANT TO DO THIS RACE SO BADLY?? But I kind of had to finish... so on I went. The last four miles were quite a bit slower. Once I got to Boston, I just wanted to enjoy the experience so I kind of coasted back in. I stopped to use the bathroom (a first!) and stretched once.

The crowds and experience was magical--it really felt like the community's race. People were in their front yards handing out wet paper towels, water, oranges, bananas, vaseline... spraying people down with water. It was amazing to watch Boston step up and help the runners.

I ended with a 3:46:14--which I was happy with. I ran marathons after having Finley and Braden and was around 4:15, so this was a huge improvement over my post baby times. I fought and fought to get close to 3:40 for so many races, so to be able to fairly easily run a 3:46 felt great. I've learned a lot about how to train for a marathon and take better care of myself over the last 10 years and its paid off. Next step: qualifying for the Olympics. I kid, I kid. But seriously.

A video posted by Rachel Scott (@solandrachel) on

I felt horrible after the race. Terrible. Maybe worse than I've ever felt before? I think it was a combination of the heat and hills. My cheering section (who I failed to get a picture with! Sol and the kids, Aunt Maya and Uncle Tom and Tom's parents) met me on Newbury Street. I couldn't walk any farther. I had some Shake Shack milkshake and rested... then felt better.

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My sweet boys made some signs and were excited to be part of the marathon experience. Finley was hoping I'd come in the top 20. He was not impressed with me.

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I am now the proud owner of the ubiquitous Boston jacket. This year's jacket looks a bit like something you would have roller skated in 25 years ago, but I'll take it. Everyone wears the jackets all weekend and it's like a really cool club that I got to be in. People thought I was pretty fabulous when I walked around in the jacket while carrying Merritt--you ran a marathon after having a baby?? Yes, yes I did. I'm amazing.

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So I ran it. Much like childbirth, it hurt and I wanted to never do it ever again when I finished... but now the rose-colored amnesia has set in and I'm all about it. I'm running Houston in January, so we'll see if I can beat the stupid cut off time legitimately this time.

Thanks SO much to everyone who cheered for me and donated--you guys are amazing.

Tuesday, April 26

Make Way For Ducklings: Episode IV

Well, we made our bi-annual trek to Boston... and no trip is complete without making our kids sit on some ducklings (2010, 2012, 2014). We generally visit in the summer, so it was a bit cooler than previous trips! Merritt was our littlest duckling to date--she wasn't quite big enough to sit on a duck solo!

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We failed to get a family picture... this was actually the only time I took the big camera out on the whole trip. More people makes it harder to get good pictures of anything! I suspect this will get easier when they get less wiggly and more predictable. Hopefully there's a sweet spot before they hate me taking their picture...

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The ducks were dressed up in straw hats... maybe for spring? I'm actually surprised they aren't in something marathon-y.

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I made Merritt a hat for the trip--it did a good job keeping her melon nice and warm. I assume. She didn't complain, so it must have worked!

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Friday, April 15

Easter

Yay Easter! Here's a bunch of pictures. Braden and Keaton both had egg hunts at school--although I only photographed K's. This egg hunt was a turning point for him. He was no longer in it for the joy of finding eggs--he realized they were full of treats and the other egg hunts we did over the weekend were much slower because he had to stop and open them.

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I love how much Elisabeth and Keaton love each other! They are both the bossy, silent type and are too cute.

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I sewed some Easter baskets for the kiddos this year--because why not? My next door neighbor has an embroidery business and is kind enough to embroider things I run over last minute to her.

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Time for our yearly family photo where allergies force me to wear glasses!

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Aren't my boys the cutest? They are. I know I'm biased but... cute.

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It's cool that I bought a matching dress for M, right? This was my rehearsal dinner dress from 11 years ago and when I saw a similar one at Carter's I had to grab it!

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Third and final egg hunt! We have the greatest group of friends here who meet every other Sunday for bible study--all 13 of our kids got a ton of eggs! It was a lovely Easter and so fun to celebrate such a special day with our friends and family.

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Thursday, April 14

A Star Wars Party for Finley and Braden

I've thrown a lot of big fancy party over the years--this is not one of them. (Aside from the cake table--it looks pretty good.) My friend Lauren and I decided to throw a birthday party for all four kids of our big kids together--a lot less work for us in the long run! It only took a little bit of convincing to get the girl on board with the Star Wars theme.

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We rented the local indoor soccer field (again!) and gave each kiddo a pool noodle light saber and only a few kids were minorly injured. We confiscated real light sabers at the door. ;) Long picnic tables were covered in coloring paper for those who didn't want to run around and hit each other.

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Our two families all dressed up (Keaton was an Ewok for a bit!) and a lot of the guests came in costume too!

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My little Rey was a trooper, as always, and was happy to just come along for the ride.

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And little Leia was too cute too!

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Sol did a great job letting kids beat up on him and running around as Darth Vader. We thought the Braden-as-Luke and Sol-as-Darth was an important father-son moment!

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I was worried the kids would be bored and there wouldn't be enough to do--but apparently hitting each other for two hours just doesn't get old.

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It was a big party.

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I was also worried we wouldn't have enough cake--and there are currently two full cakes in my freezer. We were fine.

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Happy birthday to my big boys!

Wednesday, April 13

A Few Disney Tips

Let me start off this post by saying that Disney with four kids who are 6 and under is not for everyone. I think most people thought we were crazy when we told them we were going alone without grandparents to help. But honestly, it was our most fun trip to date and we had very few stressful moments. I think the biggest thing that made it successful and fun for us is that we knew what we were doing. It was Keaton's fourth trip, Braden's fifth and Finley's sixth. We're experienced. I've taken a ten week old before, so I know the nursing drill. We have a system for bathroom and diaper changes. We've perfected what to bring in our backpack and stroller. We know how to get kids to nap and plan our activities out so that we can minimize people sitting and waiting for other people. We know what we are doing and what we like to do. SO. If its your first trip, you can still have tons of fun. You just need to do research and have a plan. Do not show up to Disney World and expect to have fun unless you've done a lot of work making decisions beforehand. Because there is absolutely nothing more painful than trying to figure out a plan as you go and watching the lines get longer and longer while your kids whine... So here are a few tips!

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Look at a crowd calendar six months out and pick which days you'll be at which park. They aren't 100% accurate, but its a good guess. Six months is when you can make dining reservations, and if you plan to make any, you need to make them ASAP. We generally bring in one meal and eat one park meal every day, and do a nicer meal about every other day. The character meals are great--your kiddos get to meet a bunch of characters without waiting in line--and you get free drink refills. They are expensive, but the sit down meals tend to have better food and are often buffets (with unlimited Diet Coke). Everyone needs a break in the middle of the day! Aside from bringing in a meal, we bring tons of snacks. Granola bars, applesauce pouches, crackers, raisins, water bottles... I don't think we bought any snacks in the park at all on this most recent trip. But chances are, when your kids are fussy, they need a snack. Same goes for your husband. Our favorite place to take a break at the Magic Kingdom is the PeopleMover. Eat a snack, feed a baby and relax for a few minutes.

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Tip number two--be at the park early. In general, we try to get to the park about 20 minutes before it opens. Maybe earlier for the Magic Kingdom--you also have to account for the ferry/monorail, so those tend to be very early mornings. The lines get long fast, so getting in early assures you a spot in Jedi Training at Hollywood Studios and a chance to meet Elsa and Anna at Magic Kingdom. This was our first trip to have a pre-park opening breakfast reservation and it was awesome. The park opened at 9 to the public, and we got to go in at 8 for breakfast. We got this series of less crowded pictures on Main Street and I ate a $20 donut (not kidding--although it was delicious.)

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Next tip--plan some outfits. Outfits are great for several reasons--first, it helps you visually keep track of people. Knowing all my kids were in red shirts helped us be able to monitor them and not have to remember what they were wearing. It's much easier to find each other. And second, (I'll probably address this more in a post with costumes) the kids have more fun when they are dressed up. It helps make it magical--the castmembers fuss over them and sometimes they'll randomly give them free stuff. Disney is magic.

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And the last most important tip--plan out how to get everyone around. I don't think we have great picture of us in our total element, but this one is close. We LOVE this stroller--it has two seats and a glider board on the back, so we can get three kids around on it. We also brought an Ergo for Merritt and a Toddler Tula for Keaton (or occasionally Braden or Finley!) so that we could only worry about getting the big two around when we were walking from ride to ride. We generally leave the stroller parked and move it a few times a day--it's more like a home base for snacks and water bottles and a place to let kids nap. Merritt was carried 90% of the time and Keaton was up his fair share too.

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Those are my quick tips! I'm happy to share more if anyone has burning questions.

Sunday, April 10

Merritt || Seven Months

Seven months!

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Oh my goodness, this girl. Merritt got tubes this month--they've yet to magically transform her into a baby who sleeps all night... but at least I know her ears aren't hurting her anymore which makes me feel like a good mother. She's got four cute teeth that she likes to bite me with. She generally wakes up twice a night to eat (although technically I wake her up for the first one.) She's kind of a pain to feed... she prefers to nurse in dark, quiet rooms, which are kind of in short supply. I try to feed her when she's sleepy so she'll have a full feeding, otherwise she eats for a few minutes and decides she'd rather play.

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She's still a wobbly sitter, but she's getting better. She's VERY good at clapping her hands--a skill I'm sure she learned so she could cheer for me while I ran the Boston Marathon.

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She's fairly generous with smiles and giggles--her brothers crack her up!

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Her sweet blonde hair is starting to come in a little more. We're still a long way from being able to put a clip in it--but its soft and feathery and maybe has a bit of a curl? Can you imagine how terrible it would be if I had three curly haired boys and then my girl had stick straight hair? Don't you just want to kiss her head?

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I've sat her in the high chair twice to feed her and it's gone as you would expect. Bananas and sweet potatoes--she wasn't very interested in either. I'm planning on doing baby led weaning with her--so she's in charge of feeding herself. Nobody has time to spoon feed a baby. Even when they are this sweet.

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Her thumb continues to be her favorite thing. I love this little pose--when she first goes for her thumb she uses her other hand to anchor it in there for a bit. It's so precious. We love this girl!

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Wednesday, March 30

Star Wars at Disney

By far, the highlight of our Disney trip was all the Star Wars stuff. Hollywood Studios had added a ton of stuff to coincide with the 7th movie--it was very cool and our kids all had a blast.

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Most of all this little angel.

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The boys did Jedi Training and took it very seriously. I'm not sure why Braden is crouching while Finley is jumping when they were given the same instructions...

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They both got to battle the Seventh Sister who I think is a character from Star Wars Rebels... but I have no idea. They were very brave and surprisingly, the only kids dressed up in Star Wars costumes.

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Braden reached out to grab one of the ladies hands during the show when it was getting a little intense and it was so cute.

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At the end of their training they all had to use the force to send Kylo Ren back into the temple. They loved it! Braden kept telling the story of how they defeated Kylo Ren for quite a while after.

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I spent a ton of time getting together costumes for them--so I wanted to make sure we got a few good pictures of their outfits! As you can see, they were the happiest Luke and Han ever to wander Tatooine.

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Merritt was Baby Rey and was SUCH A HIT, obviously. Who could resist that girl? Keaton is the cutest Ewok and Braden kind of kills me with his little grin. Finley Skywalker does not mess around with the force.

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I really wanted one picture of all of them and we kind of got it. They mostly just wanted to pretend to "force" each other and run around.

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I found these great Stormtrooper shirts at Old Navy for them--I sewed the sides in on Merritt's so that she could be part of the crew.

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We got to meet Kylo Ren and Chewbacca--Sol was really REALLY impressed with Chewbecca.  Merritt liked to pull his fur. He made his Chewie noises at the boys when they tried to touch his controls and it was funny. Do you see Sol and I have super cool Star Wars shirts too? Target for the win!

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We watched the new Star Wars fireworks show, traded with a Jawa and chatted with some of the First Order Stormtroopers. We had a great time!
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