Saturday, June 25, 2011

In Six Years...

Andrew and I have raced over 1,000 miles combined on the bike and on foot.

Jaynie and I at a 50k, Andrew's bike on the way to a race.

We have adopted three dogs and experienced the loss of one.

Chopper, Tessa, and Stella (may she be running around in doggie heaven)

We have embraced America's Test Kitchen and tried hundreds of new recipes together.
We have watched every episode of 30 Rock, twice.
We have dubbed Friday night pizza night and have tried deep dish, grilled and thin crust.

We have moved from Dunkirk to Hamburg to Deerfoot to West Virginia and now back to Fredonia.
We worked at the best place in the world, Deerfoot, together.
We have watched two siblings get married.
We have earned three graduate degrees (two Master's for me, one J.D. for Andrew).
We have celebrated Thanksgiving in three different states.
We have read hundreds of books and have shared a love for popcorn mysteries.
We have joined a church and led a small group.
We have shared a love of big breakfasts.
We have figured out how to love each other even when we aren't very happy with one another.
We have learned how to be parents to the cutest baby ever.

Happy Anniversary!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Saying Goodbye

A couple of nights ago while Andrew and I were feeling sad about moving he said, "When we moved here we were just a couple, now we are a family." In so many ways that statement is true. We are moving back to Western New York with so much more than we came with to Morgantown. Two dogs, a baby, furniture and hearts that are full of love for the friends we have made.

Three years ago, Andrew's parents drove a moving truck to Morgantown and we met them after a glorious summer at Deerfoot. They helped us unload the truck, took us out to lunch and said good-bye. We were totally alone. We didn't even know where a Wal-mart was to buy a shower curtain. Andrew didn't know how to get to the law school and I didn't know how to get to work. We felt very lost and very uncertain about what the next three years would bring.

Three years ago, we left our home in New York to start a new life together in an unfamiliar place and we were committed to making it our new home. We were determined to make friends, get involved in a church, find people to bike with (Andrew--not me), and to be happy with our new strange home.

As a place, Morgantown is not my favorite. I hate the traffic, the thousands of students, the poorly paved roads, and the hills are exhausting during long runs. The people of Morgantown however, are individuals that I will always cherish as they've embraced Andrew and I and made us part of their lives.

As we started our life here we started checking things off our list. Andrew found people to ride both mountain and road bikes with. We went to bike races together and slowly unfamiliar faces became friendly meetings around town. We found a church together that we grew to love and through that church we made dear friends. We started a small group that we have grown close to over the past two and half years through weekly dinners and weeknight workouts. We laughed and cried with those same small group friends as we've all experienced loss and joy in our lives together. I found a job that I love and through that job friends that I will never forget. Friends that helped me grow as a teacher and a person. Friends that gave me advice through my pregnancy and who have shared in my joy of becoming a mom.

Now it is time for us to say good-bye and it is impossible to do. My first round of good-byes started when school ended and tonight we had another farewell that is causing tears to run down my cheeks. It is only going to get worse. One of the hardest parts of this good-bye is that we are moving our family. Our close friends here prayed for us as we tried to get pregnant, prayed for us as I was pregnant, were at the hospital right after he was born, and have watched Ben grow over the past five months. It saddens me to know that they won't see him every week and that we won't see them every week. It is hard for me to leave knowing I have friends who will have babies and I won't be here to watch them grow.

With all of this sadness, there is great joy however and we are excited about our move. We look forward to Ben growing up near his grandparents and other relatives. We are excited about living closer to friends from college. We hope to embrace our new life in Fredonia with the same determination that we had when we moved to Morgantown. Our determination to truly live in Morgantown is what is making it so hard to leave. We will miss you Aaron, Amy, Ryan, Carly, Rylee, Adam, Stephanie, Breena, Jeremiah, Chris, Julie, Megan, Jen, Jesse, Brittany, Rob, Gunnar, Betsy, J.R., Sarah, Justin, Rhonda, Kellie...the list could go on. Thank you so much for being there and for being a part of our lives.

Five months? Really?

How is it that Ben is five months old? Wasn't I just pregnant yesterday? Is it really June 23rd? It doesn't seem real that the "little" guy who arrived in January is rapidly growing into a big boy!

To start us off, some stats:
Ben weighs in at just over 17 and half pounds unofficially on our scale and his chubbiness is endearing. He has nearly doubled his birth weight! Those meeting Ben for the first time often ask if he is talking/sitting up/playing soccer/eating steak because they assume that our chunk of a child is much much older.

Look at that sleepy chunky child

Height: ? if anyone knows of a good way to measure a squirmy infant let me know, if not, we'll wait for his 6 month check up for that! Evidence that he is growing? When I hold him to nurse his legs stretch all the way across my body.

Developmental Milestones: Rolls over with increasing consistency from belly to back and gets on his side from back to belly, can grab toys and transfer them from hand to hand, will sit up unassisted for a few moments with his hands on the floor, chats and giggles all of the time, looks when we say his name (most of the time), tries to stand on his legs, holds his head up high when he is on his tummy and grabs his feet. He also squirms everywhere! The days of Ben sitting placidly in my lap while I ate are over as he is constantly looking around and trying to see what else it out there.

I love my toys!
Highlights from the month:
Ben's first weekend as a fourth month old baby was spent travelling. We had two weddings in one weekend--a friend from college and a cousin of Andrew's both tied the knot. We enjoyed seeing college friends and family as we showed off our new addition.

Family Picture at Nick and Katie's wedding

Ben showing Mark just how fun being a daddy will be!

The remainder of the month of May was spent with Andrew studying hard for the bar and watching Ben while I finished up working. It was a busy couple of weeks, but we made it through. Once the students were gone, my principal allowed me to bring Ben to work with me which was wonderful. We said our first round of good-bye's to friends at Westwood Middle School and I cried with the realization that our time in Morgantown really was ending.

The first weekend in June I ran a half marathon with my faithful running friend from NY, Jaynie. It was amazing and I loved having Ben at the finish line (although walking up the huge hill to our house was a bit tiring after running 13 miles.)

Ben and I also took our first solo road trip to visit two of my roommates from college, Holly and Erin. It was his first time meeting them both and we had a great time playing with Holly's little guy Daniel. He met Erin's parents who were very excited about the babies and the prospect of matching outfits for the boys for future reunions. Ben traveled pretty well and napped most of the way there and back. He did have to run through the drive-thru on the way down for a snack, but isn't that often part of a road trip?

In addition to travelling, Ben also went swimming for the first time this month. We discovered that when your child is at least 40% body fat, they float really well! He appears to like the water and he enjoys it so much that it puts him to sleep. Thanks to a friend's recommendation we found adorable reusable swim diapers at Walmart for him to wear in the pool. He looks like he is wearing a little speedo under his swim trunks.

Five minutes after this picture Ben was totally asleep!
Over the last month it has been a joy to watch Ben grow and change. He lights up when he sees his parents and is interactive with other people. He laughs and smiles at other babies and charms everyone he meets. He is very interested in his dogs and they are in him. Tessa tries hard to stealthily sneak a lick whenever we aren't looking.

Ben has expanded his toy repertoire. Not only does he enjoy the coziness of his vibrating chair but he continues to chill out in his bumbo--although unless he starts to thin out his days in his bumbo are numbered--we have to pull it off his thighs to get him out!

A good friend let us borrow her exersaucer during apartment packing time so that we didn't have to buy one and move it. He enjoys "standing" although it is hard work holding up his muscular physique and he tires quickly! He's figured out that if he kicks his legs in his vibrating chair it bounces and he loves to grab the animals that hang in front of his face. He loves toys that light up and make music. His new favorite teething toy is a nuby bug teething necklace. He loops it around his arm and shoves it in his mouth. When it is hot out he enjoys sucking on cold teethers. He loves his play mat and can kick himself in a circle.

One of the highlights this month for Andrew and I as parents is longer nights of sleep and more consistent naps. Once I stopped working Ben started sleeping again (most of the time) for 5 hour stretches. He often puts himself to sleep for both naps and nighttime. He falls asleep on his side snuggling a little blanket (which I remove when he is totally out because I'm paranoid.) Right before he falls asleep he happily tests out his full range of words before giving us one good scream to let us know it isn't exactly what he wants. Last week, after I tired of being a human pacifier, I thought I'd give the paci one more shot and it worked! Ben pulls it in and out of his mouth and seems to enjoy sucking away on it. He wakes up in the morning laughing and talking to himself and gives us a great big smile when it is time to get him out of his crib.

As another month of Ben's life has passed, Andrew and I are continually amazed at how much we love our little man. He is such a joy and we look forward to what next month will bring.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hard Stuff is Supposed to be Hard

I am an adventure geek. I love following stories of racing. I love racers.

At my core, I'm a way overcompetitive kid that wants to win at everything. I am a decent athlete, but I've never been so natural that anything upper level has been easy - I flamed out of college soccer, and am a decidedly mid-pack mountain bike racer and runner.

I just typed that I'm fine with that, but, really, I'm not. I want to be fast, I want to be skinny, I want to dominate. Low goals, I know.

In pursuit of these goals, I have done intervals, turned myself inside out on group rides and practice races, and out-sprinted guys and gals for 10th place. I don't screw around.

In light of this, it probably isn't terribly surprising that videos like this drive me crazy.

Geoff Roes is a total badass. He's won a ton of 100 milers, and last year broke the course record at Western States 100 - one of the most competitive 100 milers in the world.

He says he doesn't really "train" like us mere mortals, he just goes out and runs, every day, up and down mountains.

I wish I could be this Zen. Reasonably decent performances, for me, require effort. I don't always want to run. I don't always want to go out and run for hours. I don't want to get down with Fran, or Tabatas, or go out and practice perfect form on corners on my mountain bike.

And I have a hard time believing that even the most "Zen" of elites never have bad days. Athletic performance is way more like digging a ditch than it is like meditation - and I wish these faux-zen athletes would just admit it.

Hard things are hard, no matter how much you enjoy the end goal. You might love the effort, you might appreciate the process to the fullest extent possible, but that doesn't make pinning your heart rate at 189 for 5 minutes going up a hill "fun" like eating pizza is fun.

I think that elites like Geoff who claim to not care about competitiveness on a day to day level are willfully ignorant of their true state: They care so much about the end result that the day to day slog becomes pleasurable.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Short walks with the Ornery Dogs

Since being a cyclist isn't expensive or time consuming enough in and of itself, I've decided I need another equipment intensive hobby.

After shopping around a bit, I decided on photography. Now nerdiness abounds.

I've actually wanted a DSLR for quite a while. My sister and her husband helped stoke this fire by getting a canon a couple of years ago. This past summer I bought a Canon S90 point and shoot, and preceded to take 2700+ pictures in 5 months.

The fire was even more stoked.

Shelley and I got together and cooked up the cutest baby in the history of babies.

The fire was raging.

So, as a combination Graduation, Fathers Day, Birthday, Anniversary, Christmas, Valentines Day, Easter, Anniversary, Birthday, and Christmas present, Shelley encouraged me to get a DSLR.

So I did.

Who needs presents on holidays, anyways?

So now, in addition to being a dorky guy that walks around in stretchy shorts and clicky shoes, I'm a dorky guy that walks around with a big camera hanging off of my neck. I've begun to delve into the strange, dark, and uber-nerdy world of photography forums.

Most importantly, though, I've been taking scads and scads of pictures. Are you ready to see some pictures? I sure hope so, because they are a-coming.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Things I love...

I love it when Ben smiles at me when he sees it is time to nurse.
I love it when Ben smiles at Andrew and I when we walk into his line of sight.
I love it when Ben smiles when he wakes up in the morning.
I love it when Ben smiles at me when I give him a kiss on the cheek.
His face:
I love that Ben looks surprised all the time because you can't see his blond eyebrows.
I love that Ben sticks his tongue out.
I love that Ben looks around and takes in the entire world.
His hands and feet:
I love that Ben transfers toys from hand to hand.
I love that Ben puts everything from his hands into his mouth.
I love that Ben puts his fingers in his mouth and sucks on them hard.
I love that Ben has found his toes and grabs onto them whenever he gets the chance.
I love that when Ben falls asleep he grabs his snuggly animal and brings it to his face.
I just love my sweet little boy. I knew I would like being a mom but I didn't know I would love each moment this much!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Road Back

I'll always be a runner. It is something that brings me great joy, challenges me and makes me feel human. When we decided to have a baby, I knew that my running would slow down and possibly even stop for a period of time. I ran until 28 weeks but didn't feel like pushing it past then. I probably could have run more but with the weather getting colder, my days at work feeling longer and my body getting bigger I turned off the running part of my life and switched to long walks.

I couldn't wait to run again. I missed it. I missed the feeling of doing a long run and having my body tired. I missed sweating. I missed having the ability to leave the house and pound out mile after mile. I missed running with a dog. Most of all I missed my friend Jaynie. Jaynie, the most reliable running partner and the best friend I could ever ask for. We ran our first marathon together (and several after), we ran a 50k together, and we tried a 50 miler. After her second child I ran with her to complete a half marathon and then a marathon. While I was growing a baby last year, Jaynie was still running marathons. I knew that for my running debut after baby, I wanted Jaynie to be there to help me finish.

My journey back to being a runner has been slow. A lot slower than I thought. My goal was to run a half marathon in Morgantown the first weekend in June. I started running three weeks after Ben was born a couple of miles at a time. I ran a few times a week, mostly on the rail trail with Tessa. I took Ben in the jogging stroller occasionally but more often relied on my wonderful husband to watch him as I snuck out between feedings. Slowly I tried to build up some miles. The first time I ran six I felt pretty good but then I ran 7 and it was awful. I did eight and then ten and started to feel better but not the same. I cheered myself on, ran with music and ran with Tessa. Slowly but surely I started feeling like a runner again.

Running after being pregnant is like running in a new body. I feel so much slower, heavier and mentally it is a challenge. Inside I know I can run longer distance but the reality of having a child make each run a little harder. I have to plan when I run, I don't run when I want to all the time and I am tired from being up at night feeding the cutest (and hungriest) baby ever. Along with running I've tried doing crossfit with some friends which has helped me gain some strength, but the road back to fitness has been a long one.

The half-marathon crept up on me. With the end of the school year, busy weekends and busier weeks suddenly it was time for me to run 13.1 miles. Jaynie drove down for the occasion and we started off together. It was a perfect day--the weather was beautiful, the trail was gorgeous and it was fantastic to spend time with one of my dearest friends. Of all of the races I've done thus far, this was one of the most special. I had a challenge I had to overcome and a great friend next to me. Every mile was perfect as the sun shone on us and with each mile my body began to remember how it felt to really run. The post baby marathon is next on the agenda for the fall and I'm looking forward to my new favorite part of a race--seeing my beautiful baby boy waiting for me at the end.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Four Months!

(a week or so late)

Ben turned four months old on May 23rd. We've been really busy lately going to weddings, studying for the Bar Exam and trying to figure out how to make the last days of school fly by.

Our four month stats:
Weight: 16 pounds 7 ounces

Height: 25 inches tall

Hair: wispy strawberry blond strands cover his head but you have to be really close to see them

Head Circumference: 62nd percentile--although his round cheeks make it appear much larger.

Sleeping environment: the crib

Diapers: Fuzzibunz are still rocking our boy's bottom

Favorite toy: a green snuggly blanket with a doggy head

Rolls: Belly to back (on occasion) Rolls on legs: 7 per side

Favorite thing to put in his mouth: his meaty little fists

Watch out for: your necklace, your hair, you fingers, your arms, your dinner--this little guy is grabbing everything

Ben likes to: have his tummy and feet tickled, kisses, raspberries on his belly, fly like an airplane

Our month was busy! The end of April was filled with finals as Andrew worked around Ben's "schedule" to finish his third year of law school. Ben enjoyed a lot of quality time with his dad as they wrote some finals, took the dogs for walks and hung out in the apartment. While Andrew finished up with his finals, I continued to put in day after day at work. It seemed like this month would never end as we figured out how to manage life with a baby while I worked. It wasn't the cake walk we imagined.

Ben and I on
Mother's Day

Some highlights of this month included my first Mother's Day and baby dedication at our church. Ben was one of many adorable babies on stage and our church is taking "be fruitful and multiply" very seriously. If we were sticking around Morgantown, Ben would have a lot of playmates.

On May 2nd we closed on our house--Ben is incredibly excited to live close to the library and across the street from where his daddy will work. He also looks forward to having his grandmom and granddad just down the road for some serious spoiling.

On May 14th Andrew graduated from law school and while Ben didn't sit through the ceremony, he enjoyed being the cutest baby at the reception. He was smothered with love by his grandparents who drove down for the occasion.

Ben sacked out at the law school reception--it's hard work being the cutest baby ever!

After law school graduation was over the month calmed down a little bit until the first week of his fourth month which will be another post.

In addition to all of his social obligations, Ben found a lot of time to grow and develop. He has lost his newborn look and is working hard on his baby fat. He loves to talk and laugh to his parents or anything else he finds amusing. He finds his reflection in the mirror very suspicious and eyes up the baby he sees with great interest.

He tolerates tummy time much better now and he went from burying his head on the floor to holding himself up high.

He notices his doggies and they want nothing more than to sneak a good lick when Andrew and I aren't looking. Tessa's high pitched bark sometimes makes him pout.

Hmmm...what is this doggy doing...

He would way rather sit up and look around then to be on his back by himself. He loves hanging out in his bumbo seat. He thinks one of his favorite things would be to watch TV but Andrew and I try to avoid him watching it. Whenever a TV is on however, he turns his little head around and tries to see it.

Hanging in my bumbo

His feet and hands are of great interest as his hands are always moving and he loves to smoosh his feet together.

He loves to nurse and will stare at me while he eats pausing to smile. One of my favorite things is when he starts to fall asleep while nursing and he giggles. His little hands are incredibly active while he eats as he grabs at my face or his second course.

Our big boy is solidly wearing 6 and 9 month clothes although it has been so hot that he often hangs out in his diaper.

All of us are looking forward to this next month as I begin my new career as a stay at home mom, we move to NY and continue on the journey of being the parents of the cutest baby ever.