Friday, June 29

Chicago Marathon Training

I'm currently wrapping up week four of my Chicago marathon training, so I thought I'd put a few details here so I don't forget.  This is my second Chicago marathon (I ran it in 2006 with Sol in the freezing cold) and eighth marathon.  Yikes.  We're almost to double digits, people.  Didn't see that coming.  I meant to get a picture of me running to post but I forgot, so your picture for this post is my DailyMile stats.  As you can see, I've only taken 2 days off in the past 4 weeks... which I didn't realize until just now.  Slightly concerning.

I'm doing my best to take this training as seriously as possible--I really do want to qualify for Boston still (even though I have to run a 3:35 now!) and don't want to regret not working my hardest for 16 week and missing it by a minute.  I'm following Hal Higdon's Advanced I training plan--he had a promo code a while back so I actually purchased the one specifically for Chicago.  I may have gotten ripped off... oh well.  My other big change is that I joined an actual running group.  They meet at 6:30 in Arlington for long runs on Saturdays.  I think this will be great for me--it's so much easier to run around other people and it will force me to get up and go early while it's a little cooler.

I'm running 6 days a week and trying to do some sort of strengthy thing twice a week.  I also might try to sub one day for cross training.  I've done a spin class at SIX IN THE MORNING twice which makes me worry about my decision making skills.  Ear-ly.  I'm occasionally running before Sol goes to work or after the boys go to bed... taking advantage of the summer daylight and trying to beat the heat.

I also joined a training group that I do my long runs with on Saturdays and track workouts with on Wednesdays.  The jury is still out on whether I think it was a good idea--it's mostly beginning runners but I think no matter what I'll be glad to have a group to commiserate with when I'm running those 20 milers.

I'm pretty sure I need to do a better job of stretching and eating things that are healthy.  But I'm really proud of how much I've been running and sticking to my schedule.  Let's all hope it pays off!

Tuesday, June 26

Our New Swingset

I think normally a new swing set wouldn't merit it's own blog post, but the story of how ours came to be is too fun not to share.  As I've mentioned one of out favorite places to shop is Craigslist.  It's safe to say that ALL of the large furniture in our house is from Craigslist--with the exception of a dresser and shelf from IKEA. After many weeks of searching on Craigslist, Sol eventually settled on a swing set.  

It's huge.  Bigger than huge.  It's right on the edge of looking ridiculous in our backyard.  Sol has currently put all our outdoor toys underneath it, so it kind of looks like a yard sale, but it's still awesome.  And if you look closely, you can imagine 495 running right behind our backyard, beyond that second fence!

It has two slides, swings, monkey bars, a rock wall, a cute picnic table and a little fort. It's awesome.  The boys love it.  I think they could literally play all day in it.  They sand table moved under it--providing a little more shade.  They both love love the sand--Braden thinks it's delicious!

Every morning since it arrived, Finley runs to the door and looks out and says, "My swing set is still there!"  He also told Sol that if it rains, we need to put the swing set in the shed.  Um... probably not.

All four of us love it.  I'm so proud of my super Craigslisting husband. And I'm even more glad we hired some dudes to disassemble, relocate and reassemble it for us or we would probably be working on it for a month.

Friday, June 22


Are you ready for a lot of random Instagram pictures?  Well get ready.  I haven't cleared out my phone in about a month, but we'll just start with the trip to South Carolina!

1. Naked baby at the beach.
2. Happy parents on a quick date at SC.
3. Mama with B.
4. The family that wears printed shorts together, stays together.

1. Zonked little boy.
3. Brady in the pool.
4. Finley in a tent.

1. Finley picking blueberries.
2. Blueberry freezer jam! So delicious.
4. Boys watching Mickey in a trance. Sometimes I have to cook and they get to watch TV. 

1. Brave Finley in a fountain.
2. Ridiculous high school friends in a Google+ hangout
3. Boulevard is sold in VA now!  Hooray!
4. Delicious Father's Day lunch on the deck.

1. Boys on a train.
2. A squirrel on a carousel?
3. Finley seriously made a hole in one.
4. Our new duvet--it's all Sol wanted for Father's Day. #joke

My new Instagram name is solandrachel... it was causing some confusion when I posted to Twitter since it didn't match.  I'm really loving Instagram because it reminds me to take pictures of little things I wouldn't normally shoot with my big DSLR and it makes me happy.  Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 21

14 and 38 Months

Basically, I don't know how to stop taking pictures of them every month.  Oh well.  I don't hear too many complaints.  Look at this little guy.  I think he just looks so big with his feet touching the floor--such a little boy! I mean, don't get me wrong, he's a tiny guy, but he's getting bigger as he often reminds me.

I'm not sure where Braden's B is in these pictures... Finley sure wouldn't let go of his F.  Last month he wouldn't let go of his Cars book and this month it was a wooden spoon.  I love how he picks out things that he just needs to carry around with him all day.

Still no walking from Braden--he'll occasionally let go of what he's standing with and stand alone for a bit... but no walking.  Any day now...

Braden is still taking two naps a day and is generally such a sweet baby.  The thumb sucking that used to only occur when I picked him up also now happens when he's holding his giraffe, which is so so sweet. He's much cuddlier than Finley ever was. He's also a better eater than Finley ever was--I routinely tell Finely if he doesn't eat his dinner I'm going to give it to Braden and Braden is going to get bigger than him. Finley doesn't seem to mind at all.

This is what happens with I told Finley to get close to Braden and put his head right next to him.  I guess he did what I asked... I'm totally taking suggestions on how to get Finley to stop clobbering Braden.  A good deal of the time he asks me before he does anything ("Mama, can I bam Braden?") or asks me to move him when he's in his way.  But sometimes he goes ahead and pushes him over or smacks him.  BOYS.

I love listening to the boys on the monitor before they take naps--it generally consists of Finley repeating some silly phrase to Braden and massive giggles from both of them.  It's so fun to watch them become friends.  Friends who beat each other up, but still friends.

Wednesday, June 20

Many Beach Pictures

I keep avoiding and postponing blogging about our trip to Charleston--mainly because I pretty much only took pictures of my kids playing on the beach.  Like a ton of pictures of them on the beach.  They were just too cute.  So I think that this is going to be pretty picture heavy and word light.  Also expect this post to make very little sense.  I plan to just write down random snippets of our trip that I don't want to forget in between all the pictures that I love.

We did lots of fun stuff in SC--everyone but me golfed, we kayaked, ate at delicious restaurants, cooked yummy meals and spent lots of time at the beach.  I managed to read three books--quite a luxury for me.

The drive down and back was pretty good--the boys have an undying love for UP and were happy as long as it was playing.  The terrible part of our travel? Oh that would be Braden refusing to sleep in the hotel we stopped at on the way down... receiving a call from the front desk to make our baby be quiet, family Mickey Mouse in the bed at 10:30, Sol driving B around to get him to sleep, me pacing the hallway for an HOUR to get him to sleep... finally we had a sleeping Braden between us and we got to sleep for about 6 hours before he realized he hated his life again. UGH. Not fun, friends. Not fun.

Braden is suffering from some severe stranger anxiety, but warmed up to my family after a few days.  His favorite part of our beach house was the stairs--he made a bee line for them whenever he could.  He just loved to crawl up them and try to figure out how to get down. Crazy boy. He also just LOVED the ocean.  It was the perfect temperature--and both boys were much braver than I'd like.  Braden would crawl straight in to the waves and tried to walk us out further and further.

And Finley loved everything--playing with everybody, the beach, the pool... everything.  He's often very cautious about new things, but he charged at the waves and wasn't phased when they knocked him over.  Much too brave.

Sol loved the excess off people--there was always someone to smoke a cigar with or join him for cards. He loves playing games and I sometimes don't.

And me? I loved less time with the laptop, running without a stroller on the beach, my mom cleaning up after my children... much less cooking and of course, time with my family. They are so scattered over the place, it's just so special to have them all together.  And clearly, I liked taking pictures of my kids in the water. The end. For now.

Tuesday, June 19

Braden likes Watermelon

For Father's Day, Sol went on a little Whole Foods shopping spree--he got lobster and steak to grill and more importantly, some sweet watermelon.

It was Braden's first taste of watermelon.  He loved it, just like he loves everything that is edible. And some things that are inedible, like rocks.  He's just trying real hard to get bigger than Finley.

I don't like to eat things like watermelon because you have to use your hands and they get all sticky... so I always try to steer my kids away from eating messy foods. But oh the joy I would have been keeping from this boy.  He clearly likes his watermelon.

And also he likes beer.  Boulevard, to be exact.  That's right folks, Boulevard is now selling in Virginia... so I guess we have no reason to move back to Kansas after all.  Bummer.

Monday, June 18

Dulles Air and Space Museum Family Day

We had an action packed weekend!  On Saturday, we got to hang out with the Woods family--and Finley and Edmund finally got to hang out.  Carrie brought Edmund a shirt Finley had so they got to match! They really really love hanging out together--just not smiling or looking like they are having fun.  They are inside an ambulance here, so they were pretty distracted.

We spent Saturday afternoon seeing TONS of planes at the Dulles Air and Space Museum.  In addition to the regular exhibits inside, local pilots flew their planes in and the kids were able to get inside.  Even though it was hot, the kids loved it.  Well, Finley did.  Braden was pretty much grouchy.

Braden did like walking around the bottom of this plane in the shade--but for the most part he was only happy if we were feeding him... that boy loves to eat.

We got to get inside this huge aircrafty transporter thing--I feel bad I don't know the name, but I do know that it flies around and sometime carries tanks.  It was big.  And look--decent family picture!  If the boys could just stop chewing on stuff...

Inside, Finley got to fly this little plane down a runway--so cute right?  Especially with his totally hip sunglasses. Also, this little kid runway was beside the space shuttle that just retired which for some reason I found extremely awesome and cool.

And my cute boy in an old classic car.

Oh I love them.

Sunday, June 17

Happy Father's Day

There's a long list of why this guy is a great father to our to boys--I'm lucky to have him. He is always ready to play and tickle and hug (and do the less fun things like change diapers and potty breaks.)  The amount of joy he gets from being a dad is crazy--I love to see how happy the boys make him!

Happy Father's Day to Sol and to our dads and all the dads out there.  Without dads, the world would literally end.  Think about that.

Wednesday, June 13

Finley is Russell (and a scene from UP)

Have you seen UP?  Also known as the saddest Pixar movie ever made?  I'm proud to say I can watch the whole movie without crying now--thanks to our trip to South Carolina.  Finley and Braden watched the movie at least 15 times on our trip.  They both loved it and I'm pretty sure all four of us have it memorized now.  Sol and I have been brainstorming some of our complaints about the movie that may make it into a blog post eventually (namely the implausibility of supporting the ENTIRE weight of a house with strings tied to a fireplace grate, but I digress.)  In the meantime, this clip is pretty cute and apparently one Finley has taken to heart.

And this next one is LONG and only for people who are really interested in Finley antics (ie. direct family members and serious stalkers)... but it is PRECIOUS.

Finley likes to play in his closet (weird) and randomly knocked on it and started reciting the above scene.  On his first try, he did the whole thing practically verbatim while giving me directions about what to say and do with my head. Adorable. He does the right actions and inflections and everything. Things you might miss are him "holding" a book in front of his face to read, sticking his foot in the door after the second spiel and saying "madge" instead of badge.  He gets a little confused at the end and steps on the singing Mickey... but it's pretty sweet.

And here's the official transcript in case you don't speak Finley-ese.  Clearly Finley does a better job at his part than I do. :)

RUSSELL "Good afternoon. My name is Russell. And I am a Wilderness Explorer in Tribe 54, Sweatlodge 12. Are you in need of any assistance today, sir?"
RUSSELL  could help you cross the street.
RUSSELL I could help you cross your yard.
RUSSELL I could help you cross your... porch?
RUSSELL Well, I gotta help you cross something.
CARL Uh, no.   I'm doing fine.
RUSSELL "Good afternoon. My name is Russell."
CARL Uh... kid...
RUSSELL "And I am a Wilderness Explorer in Tribe 54, Sweatlodge 12."
CARL  Kid.   KID!!
RUSSELL "Are you in need of any assistance today Sir?"
CARL Thank you, but I don't need any help!
CARL Proceed.
RUSSELL "Good afternoon. My-"
CARL But skip to the end!
RUSSELL See these? These are my Wilderness Explorer badges. You may notice one is missing. It's my Assisting  the Elderly badge. If I get it I will become a Senior Wilderness Explorer! "The wilderness must be explored! CAW-CAW! RAAAR!"
CARL So you want to assist an old person?
RUSSELL Yep! Then I will be a Senior Wilderness Explorer!
CARL You ever heard of a snipe?
CARL Bird. Beady eyes. Every night it sneaks in my yard and gobbles my poor azaleas. I'm elderly and infirm. I can't catch it. If only someone could help me...
RUSSELL Me! Me!   I'll do it!
CARL Oh, I don't know, it's awfully crafty. You'd have to clap your hands three times to lure it in.
RUSSELL I'll find it, Mr. Fredricksen!
CARL I think its burrow is two blocks down. If you go past --
RUSSELL Two blocks down! Got it! Sniiiipe! Here Snipey Snipey...
CARL Bring it back here when you find it!

Monday, June 11

My First 5K (That I know of)

While my family was in South Carolina, I convinced them all to run a 5K in Charleston.  Even Finley!  Braden was exempt because he's still working on becoming a biped.  The boys got to ride in a stroller while Sol took one for the team and pushed them so I could run fast.

(more cell phone pictures--sorry)

I'm pretty sure this was the first 5K that I've run since high school (Rim Rock!) and was excited/anxious to see how fast I could run.  Running 3.1 miles and 26.2 miles are very very different things!  My goal was to run under 22:30--but secretly I wanted to get under 22.  I knew that wasn't likely, but in the back of my head I was pretending it was an option.  I had no idea how to run a 5K except try to run fast the whole time.  It was hot and hard to push myself continually.  But I did it--and was very tired afterwards.  Not as tired as a marathon, but tired.  Also, I wanted to eat all day like I had run a marathon, even though I had burned about a tenth of the calories.  Fat girl.

The three victors.

In the end, I PRed--22:29. When I plug in my marathon time (3:39:02) into this awesome calculator it estimates my 5K time at 22:28--one second off what I ran!  That's what I call awesome, folks.  I mean, anything would have been a PR, but one second under my goal time was pretty exciting.  Also exciting--it was a small enough race that I got second in my age group!  My brother Ben and sister's boyfriend, Danny, also managed to get medals--we were so proud.

Refueling with an orange.

But probably the best part was Finley running the Toddler Trot.  He wasn't too excited about it initially, but eventually we talked him into it.  This video is adorable--he starts off in the top right and he's wearing a gray shirt and navy shorts.

He gets distracted by a cute girl! And then she beats him! Too cute. After the race, he was just super pumped to hug the big bird you can see at the finish line.  He also got a popsicle and a medal--but the big bird was still the highlight.  I'm looking forward to cheering that boy on at many more races.

Friday, June 8

US Botanic Gardens with Friends

One of our summer goals is to go on a fun outing every week that we seem to not have time for in the school year.  Our first big outing was picking strawberries a few weeks ago--and yesterday we braved the Metro and went in to DC to take the kids to the Botanic Gardens.

It was too hectic to bring out the DSLR for the Metro, so you'll have to enjoy these Insta-photos.  Three moms and six kids--it was a lot better than we thought it would be!  The kids obviously thought riding the Metro was the best part.

Finley, Calvin and Margaret--Finley is the oldest and also the shortest.  Poor tiny man.

Finley told me his favorite part of the trip was "feeding the fish rocks."  He kept throwing tiny gravel in the pond for the fish to "eat"--hopefully none of the fish ate his snacks or they will be stuck at the bottom of the pond for awhile.

We made some valiant efforts at group shots--the little kids did a great job of sitting in their strollers most of the time.  Calvin really didn't want to be part of the picture here.

And here's the whole crew!  I chuckled when I realized we were all holding our big ones hands--they'd certainly run out of the picture if they weren't restrained!  We ate a nice picnic lunch in the shade.  Looking back, I'm surprised how well it went! So many opportunities for it to quickly become a disaster, and it didn't. Hooray for brave mamas.
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