Friday, September 28

Everyone Should Get To Run (if they want to)

First, thanks for all the loving, supportive comments about the big race.  I'm just lucky to have so many people cheering for me.  It's so helpful to have such a great team behind me--especially my lovely husband Sol.  He teased me about not calling him my #1 fan--and it's because you can't call someone who is on your team, who is your coach and biggest support a fan.  He's more than that, and I'm so SO grateful for all he does to let me chase my dreams over and over. Sol = awesome.

This is what Sol and I looked like after running the Chicago Marathon in 2006.  Gross, half-crazed and hungry.

Second, I have to remember when I'm mad about my Achilles holding me back, that I am blessed to be able to run at all.  I have 95% strong legs. And that's pretty good.  I'm blessed to have two healthy boys who can run (or toddle, in Braden's case).  Finley wasn't born with feet that would let him run--he was born with clubfoot.  Clubfoot is easily treated and corrected through a series of casts and sometimes surgery--and we're delighted that Finley is a running fool today.

Sweet little baby Finley.

Clubfoot is the world's most common congenital birth defect--200,000 children are affected a year.  These children grow up to live fulfilling active lives--Mia Hamm, Kristi Yamaguchi and some guy named Troy Aikman did.  Unfortunately, 80% of children with clubfoot are born in developing countries with limited access to medical care.  And clubfoot is so easy to fix with the right resources--all you need in many cases is some plaster casts.  That's it--no fancy OR are highly trained doctor.

So to celebrate marathon #8 and strong little Finley, I'd love it if you'd join with me in helping one kid have strong healthy feet. Cure is an organization Sol and I like to support--we love flipping through the kids and picking ones to help.  Little Hope is an adorable little boy who needs his clubfoot corrected.  It's only $250--can you believe it?  To show me that you are cheering for me on race day, I'd love it if you could donate a little to help Hope have the opportunity to run as much as he wants. At the very least, go look at his sweet little face and TRY to not donate.  Just try.

Thanks--for supporting me and for helping little ones have the chance to run.

Wednesday, September 26

A History of Marathons

For a very long time, I've wanted to qualify for Boston.  I ran my first marathon in 2004, eight and a half long years ago.  My friends and I made the trek south to Oklahoma City for my first marathon.  I don't know why I wanted to run one--it was my junior year of college, I was the president of my sorority and, you know, a full time student.  Crazy.  My time from OKC was the equivalent of my favorite grade in school--I loved to get an 89.6% (it rounds up!) and in OKC I ran 3:59:50.  Just about as close as you can get to running under 4 hours.

How awesome are my friends? Vic, me, Tara, Al and Kat. They made awesome shirts and were the best cheerleaders I've ever had.

I ran two marathons while we lived in Boston--Chicago in 3:47:48, which was snowy and glorious, and the Cape Cod Marathon, which was gorgeous but insanely hilly.  I ran the Cape 20 seconds faster, 3:47:24. Still not qualifying for Boston.

Sol ran Chicago with me!  And by with me, I mean we both finished the race.  And how awkward do I look in that first picture. Loser.  It was so cold that day--the only race I've ever run in tights!

And Vic, my number one fan, cheering me on in Chicago.  Somehow I didn't see her during the race, even though she was (and still is) 6 feet tall and wore bunny ears.  And my sister french braided my hair for the race.  Memories.

A truer picture has never been taken that the one on the right.  I ran my heart out--the Cape was hilly and very tough. Sol snapped that picture before I knew he was there, otherwise I would have tried to look less dead. Can we also take a minute to appreciate the irony of Dunkin Donut sponsoring a race?

My mom and sister got to watch this one too--Laura was getting her white coat for med school the same weekend so we had a big New England party.

After Boston, we moved to Virginia and I started having babies.  Six months after having Finley I ran the Marine Corps Marathon, and another six months later I ran Pittsburgh and got about as close as you could without qualifying--3:41:35 in the rain and over hills, 36 seconds too slow.

After the Marine Corps. I clearly didn't run fast enough.

I had a huge cheering section--my mom, Vic, my Aunt Kathy, Sol and Finley.  It was rainy and terrible.

And then I grew a cute Braden.  I ran Richmond (with a time I don't even want to admit to) and then the Potomac River Run Marathon with my fastest time to date, 3:39:02, which qualified me for Boston, but 8 months after they changed the qualifying time. Sigh.

Just chugging along in Richmond.

Cutest cheering section ever.

And here I am, two weeks from Chicago.  The first half of my training was probably the best I've done--good long runs, speed work, lots of sacrifices to run early or after the boys go to bed.  And now my achilles hurts.  I ran a very fast 20 two Sundays ago and haven't run since.  It still hurts a little.  I've been icing and taking ibuprofen and resting. I've been going to the gym to do the elliptical just about every night, and I'm hoping I can still get in a few runs before the race.

I'm trying to be gracious about this setback--I may not be able to run at all, I may start and not finish, I may run slowly or I may run great. I go through these phases where I think I'm going to do awesome because I'll be really well rested... then I think I'm going to fall apart since I haven't been running.  I get panicky and anxious very easily. Blech.  And on top of all that, with Boston's new registration process, there are still spots open for next year.  It's doubtful there will be any by the time I run Chicago just in case I qualify, but it makes me have hope that I would be able to get in next year before it closes.  And part of me just wishes it closed really early and filled up with super fast people first so I could just let this dream die.  Isn't that sad?  But I'm let with this small glimmer of hope...

I'm really ready just to do it.  Chicago is a great race and my WHOLE family will be there to cheer me on, the first time that's ever happened.  So who knows what will happen race day.  Not me. Not at all. All I know is that I'll be there, on the starting line.  And we'll see what happens.

Monday, September 24

Slides and Sharing

These are some pictures from last weekend that I like too much not to blog.

The boys were having a blast on the slide--Braden just thinks it's the best thing ever when he gets to play too.  He can actually climb the stairs and go down by himself--but the slide is superfast and a little unsafe for him to go down unassisted.

And eye update--he's back to being a little less tolerant of it... you have to watch him pretty closely before he peels it off.  He clearly knows he's not supposed to though. He's a sneaky one.

And a little bit of sharing at Pinkberry--Finley really does love to share his food with Braden.  He asks for me to move Braden's high chair right up next to him so he can share whatever he's having with Braden.

Finley hasn't figured out that sharing with Braden means less for him--or maybe he has and he's just much sweeter than I give him credit for.  Regardless, it's very sweet to watch him take a bite then give Braden one.  If only we could get him to share his toys too...

Thursday, September 20


Somewhat inspired by my friend Kat, I've decided that I should just go ahead and blog pictures, even if I don't have many words to go with them.  I want to remember the somewhat chaotic bowling trip we went on, even if I don't have any hilarious anecdotes to go with it.

We went bowling.  Finley miraculously got 4 spares in a row, and ended up with a score of 103.  I'm thrilled when I break 100, so I was pretty proud. Granted, he used a ramp and bumpers... but still.

The bowlers' little siblings were pretty good sports.  Abby rode around on her mama, and Braden devoured a bag of animal crackers. After he finished, all he wanted to do was go down the lane to the pins and he was FURIOUS that I wouldn't let him.  Sometimes I long for the days where he could not walk away from me.

Cutest couple ever, right? I love these two.

Wednesday, September 19

Little Engineer

Sometimes I'm amazed and confused at what Finley can do.

The other day I found him intently building this pyramid out of cars (not all the cars--only the race cars.)

He built it over and over after Braden knocked it down and was willing to pose for some pictures with it.

And actually the most amazing thing about the picture above is that he's looking at the camera and smiling. Looks like he has quite a few career opportunities ahead of him--more than likely being the guy who stacks up the cars for monster trucks to drive over.

Tuesday, September 18

How to Make a Paper Garland Backdrop

I get quite a few requests to purchase the paper garland I made for Braden's mustache bash and Finley's sailboat party--and decided it would be best to post a tutorial so that party planners can make them on their own!  We don't currently sell them in the Etsy shop because of how time consuming they are, but they are pretty easy to make if you have the time to do it.

First, decide how much paper you need.  Each 12x12" scrapbook page of paper will make a 3' long garland that is 3" wide. But the quickest way to find how much you need is to find the area (math alert!) of your space.  Take the width (round up to the nearest foot) and multiply it by the height (round up to the nearest foot) and then buy that many pages of paper. My space was roughly 6' wide by 4' tall, so I needed 24 pages of paper.

Second, cut your paper. Each page will be cut into thirds, and then each third will be sliced into 1" chunks, yielding 36 little rectangles.  The BEST way to do this is to design a template on the Silhouettemachine and have it cut it for you.  The second best way is to use a paper trimmer. The worst way is to do it with scissors.  But it works.  Whichever way you choose, do NOT cut all the way through when you are making the 1" chunks.  Leaving a 1/4" margin on one end (so they all still connected) will make it infinitely easier to sew them together.

Third, sew them together! Sewing paper is easier than sewing fabric--rejoice!  Use a straight stitch and sew down the middle.  Make sure none of the pieces overlap, or they won't spin independently. Keep sewing strip after strip together until you are done!

Fourth, trim off the edge you left connected so that the pieces will spin.

Fifth, attach it to your ceiling and trim to the appropriate length.

Sixth, impress your guests!  And if you are anything like me, you'll leave it up for about four months because you can't bring yourself to cut it down.

Don't forget, if you need any matching party decor head over to our Etsy shop for some cute goodies!

Monday, September 17

17 months and 41 months

I really just can't wait until Finley is 100 months old.  How fun will that be to write for the title?  Well, I skipped a monthly update last month due to laziness, but here's the little buggers today.

Braden really likes to pick an important object and carry it around for days.  This picture was taken during his Pampered Chef sandwich cutter phase--which has been replaced by a bulldozer spoon phase.  He has had the spoon for a little over two days--even sleeping with it.  He literally carries it with him EVERYWHERE. It's cute.  We can thank Finley for his sweet smile, Finley danced a lively jig behind me to make him happy. Some quick updates...

Eye patch... it's going much better.  He tends to forget it's there and wear it for long periods of time. If you mention it or if he sees it in the mirror, he tries to take it off--but most of the time we can distract him out of it.

Walking... he's a full fledged walker now!  He started walking about two months after Finley learned, and is much steadier.  Poor Finley's head was black and blue all the time, and Braden rarely falls.  Except when he has the eye patch on, then he tends to walk into tables. Poor baby.

Talking... he has so much to say.  He says "UM" a lot. He'll be talking gibberish and then pause and say "ummm" every few words. It's so sweet. He'll try to repeat about anything you ask him to, and says mama, daddy, Finley, doggie, all done, water, cracker, ball, balloon, apple, eye, Up (the movie) and a few other sweet ones.  He knows a lot of body parts and quite a few sounds (duck, dog, train, Wilderness explorer.)

Cuddling... he's a much cuddlier fellow than Finley ever was.  Sometimes he'll lean on me while we are sitting together or he'll rest his head on my shoulder.  It seriously almost kills me. He likes me, he really likes me. Actually, he REALLY likes me.  So much that he gets very upset when he thinks there's even a tiny chance that I might be leaving him.  Like if someone new walks in the room, if I stand where he can't see me or if I try to set him down in a strange place.  We start BSF this week and my friend Amy has been watching the boys while I work, so I'm hoping the combination of those things will help him to remember that I always come back.

Oh Finley. It was like pulling teeth to get him to take these pictures.  He was pretending he was on an airplane--that's why the chair is in front of him (I think?) You can see Braden cruising through with his toy in the second picture.  Finley is really into everything. He loves doing his preschool activities, building things with blocks, playing with cars and racing around the house.  He's stubborn and wants do things HIS way... typical three year old behavior. He amazes us with what words he picks ups and the things he tells us.  I could write many a post on the funny things that come out of his mouth.

Braden was clearly excited to take pictures with Finley. Finley may may be turning a little kinder towards Braden.  It seems like he smacks him a little less--although about twenty times a day I hear Finley yell, "Can you please get Braden??!?" as his brother wreaks havoc on whatever Finley is working on. He's also rather protective towards him--Finley freaks out if he thinks Braden is about to get hurt, whether it's putting something in his mouth or walking towards the street. It's very sweet--and sometimes a little rough. If we aren't taking care of the problem, Finley will grab him and try to hold him back, which doesn't go over well.

We're having a fun time. I feel so lucky to spend my days with these munchkins.

Thursday, September 13

Recent RV Projects

Aside from designing a super fun awesome Halloween pack... I've also been busy doing little project for friends.  None of these are currently listed in the Etsy shop, but I wanted to share what I've been up to because I love the designs so much!

These two cards are for friends from Wichita... the one on the left is an ordination/baptism invite (probably the only one of those I'll ever do!) and the right side is a baby announcement.  We are LOVING printing at MPix lately--they are cheap, super fast, gorgeous and a Kansas company.  We love love them.

The left card was printed on their linen paper and the right one was printed on the pearl--it has a really pretty shimmer to it. I think you can kind of tell the difference in the paper in the pictures below.  They recently added the rounded corners as an option and I pretty much want to round everything.  Victoria came up with this cute tag line to put on the back of cards--how cute is it?

Wedding invitations aren't something we design quite as often, and they always intimidate me a bit!  I did this one for our dearest friends from Boston... and I even got to accompany the bride to Paper Source to harass help her pick out the coordinating paper.  Don't you love the little belly band? She actually did that all by herself.

The view of the unfolded invite...

These are all three of the cards we designed--I just really love the flourishes!

The last project I've been up to lately is this bright, hip save the date (or STD as the bride really likes to call it.) It didn't photograph as well since it was a postcard that had gone through the mail... so you can just imagine it in real life. Now that I've scrolled through all of these... I'm realizing I'm going a little heavy on the green and gray.  I should probably try to find a different color scheme.

So there you have it.  Some of the recent projects coming out... we really love designing things for friends (and enemies, as long as they pay us) so please pass our name along to anyone you know of who is throwing a party.

And please please, go pin/purchase our Halloween pack!  Share it with your friends (and your enemies, Jesus said to love them too.) THANKS.

Wednesday, September 12

Finley's First Week of Preschool

My Google Reader and Facebook feed has been full of moms lamenting (or celebrating!) their children going back to school.  We're not sending Finley to preschool this year for a variety of reasons--it didn't fit with my work schedule, it's expensive, I'm selfishly not ready to send him off, and he has a preschool type setting in Sunday school and in BSF every week.  For this year, I'm doing preschool with him at home (I hesitate to call it "homeschooling" because it elicits all sorts of reactions).  We're meeting with his pal Margaret a few times a week to do a project and go on a related outing.  Last week  we were learning about the letter A... and here's Finley doing some apple stamping.

And some very serious apple painting.  I'm a little surprised at his fine motor skills--he did an awesome job painting in the lines and he is a pretty accomplished cutter.  I just need to remember to keep the scissors out of his reach...

Last year, we did BFIAR with his little pal Margaret, and this year we're doing a letter curriculum.  BFIAR is a neat program that has a book that you read everyday for a week and some accompanying activities and questions that go along with it.  We really enjoyed doing it together. For this school year, my friend Kate and I purchased a curriculum that has a bunch of worksheets, along with a bible verse  and some extra suggestions of books to read, movies to watch and crafts to do.  I'm trying to find a half an hour a day to work with him on his activities--which he has LOVED this week.

We started it off with A for this past week. We spent Friday morning doing some Apple projects with Margaret--these pictures were taken in her cute homeschool area her mama made--it's adorable!  We stamped with apples and did a few projects my friend Jenae has on her incredible blog. Finley really loved doing his activities with Margaret and eating apple cake with her on the deck. He even agreed to sit in the blue chair even though HE LOVES RED.

I'm going to try to have some sort of project from each week to save so that we can accumulate an alphabet throughout the year... here's an apple and a butterfly we've made so far.

We're trying to find a fun related activity to do on Fridays--our plans to pick apples last week were foiled by the apples not being ready to pick. And this week we are planning on going bowling.  So that should be insane.  Feel free to pray for us. :)
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