Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Goodbye, Dina and Knox!

We got together with a few friends today at Indian Creek to say goodbye to our dear friends, Dina and Knox.  They are moving back up to Boston.  While I'm excited for them, we will certainly miss them in our little playgroup.  Here are some pictures that Mia and Kara took today of the kids playing on the playground.

Birthday Date

On Saturday, I turned 33 years old.  I don't feel old, so I have no qualms about stating my age.  Hopefully, I'm a young, energetic 33!  Anyway, my parents gave me a gift card to the movies so that Jason and I could go see The Hunger Games.  I read the first two books of the series over the past month or so and really enjoyed them.

On Saturday night, they offered to babysit the kids so that we could go out.  This certainly felt indulgent, considering that we just returned from a 5-day trip to Boston (with my parents watching the kids the entire time).  We went to a wonderful dinner and then out to the movies.  This was the first time that Jason had seen a movie in a North Carolina theater, and only my second time.  We have lived here for about 3.5 years, and we have never gone to the movies.

It was fun to sit in the stadium seating waiting for the movie to start.  One of the previews had an actress in it that we just couldn't place.  Jason asked me,"Where do I know her from?"  All I could remember was that her character (in whatever we had seen her in) had been very stylized and that she was singing.  Then it dawned on me.  "Sesame Street, Jason.  She was on Sesame Street."  My, how our lives have changed!

Sutton Foster and Elmo.  She love, love, loves a lever.  She's a lever lover through and through.
 Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the gift card and the night out for my birthday!

Boston Marathon

We just returned from a great trip to Boston.  I had not been there since I was a teenager, and Jason had not visited before.  We stayed at the Omni Parker Hotel in downtown Boston.  This was a much bigger splurge than we usually do for accommodations, but it was so nice to be able to walk to everything and be in the middle of the action (especially since we did not rent a car).

Of course, this was not just a trip to Boston.  Our visit was primarily for Jason to run the Boston Marathon.  After his 4 Ironmans, his latest goal was to qualify for and run Boston.  Of course, he trained very hard and qualified for the marathon this year.  The Boston Marathon is extremely competitive and just qualifying to run in Boston is quite an accomplishment.

This was also the first time that we had been away from Miles and Vivienne for more than a couple nights.  We were gone for 5 full days and 4 nights.  My parents took wonderful care of the kids for us.  I'm not sure that Miles and Viv even noticed that we were gone.

On our first day there, we went to the marathon expo.  It was very organized, and Jason was able to get his packet quickly.  Then we explored through the booths and sampled some of the free samples.  We grabbed lunch at Chipotle (a pregnancy craving favorite of mine) and headed back to the hotel.

Dunkin Donuts was on every corner.
On our first morning in Boston, we went to the Paramount in Beacon Hill.  The food was awesome and the ambience was fun.  The restaurant was established in 1937, and we can see why it has survived for such a long time.

After breakfast, we went on a Duck Boat tour.  It sounded like it was going to be cheesy, but we loved it!  They gave us so much information about the history and architecture of Boston, and it was fun to drive the bus into the Charles River and boat around for a while.  This was a great way to see Boston without using our legs too much, because Jason was saving up his legs for the race the following day.

Jason had been watching the weather forecast for Boston for a couple weeks before the race.  As the day approached, it became more and more ominous.  The forecast was projected to be in the mid to upper 80s - not ideal for a marathon.  The race organizers were sending out emails to the runners recommending that they "just enjoy the run - this is not a race" and offering deferments to people who were not elite runners.  Of course, Jason did not take the deferment, but his original hopes of a personal record time for the marathon were put on the back burner.

Monday was Patriot's Day, and this was the morning of the marathon.  Jason got up around 5:30 to catch a bus out to the start line.  In Boston, they bus the runners 26 miles out, and they run all the way into the city, finishing just under a mile from our hotel.  While Jason was warming up for the race (which didn't start until 10 am), I slept in and then went for a jog around Boston Common and across the finish line.  It was surreal to think that in just a few hours, the runners would be coming down Boylston Street.

After my jog, I went to the Granary Burying Ground, where Samuel Adams and Paul Revere are buried.  I was enjoying the serenity and history of the site when a parade went by.  Before I realized it, they had stopped in front of the burying ground and some officials were walking up to Paul Revere's grave for some kind of ceremony.  It was neat to see this on Patriot's Day (when we celebrate the first battles of the Revolutionary War).  Once the parade moved on, I went to the hotel to get cleaned up and go to the finish line.

I'm hoping that Jason will write out a race report so that I can include his experience running the marathon.  It was clearly a very tough race day.  Everyone that we know finished 20 - 40 minutes slower than their goal times.  Jason finished in 3 hours and 27 minutes.  It was slower than he had hoped for, but it was a very good time, considering the conditions.

I thought I had left the hotel with plenty of time to see him cross the finish line.  Little did I know that the finish line was an absolute zoo.  Of all the triathlons and marathons that he has done, this one was by far the most difficult from a spectator standpoint.  It took me over an hour to find a spot where I could be 5 people away from the fence on the side of the race (which at least got me close enough to identify what little I could see of the runners as they went by).  So many road crossings were closed, and the crowds were unbelievable.  I was getting pretty stressed out that I was going to miss seeing him run by, but luckily I got to my spot with a few minutes to spare and caught a glimpse of him over the crowd.

After the race, he was in decent condition.  He at least came out walking, which was not the case for all the runners.  I saw lots of people coming out in wheelchairs.  He wasn't feeling too perky, and there were people everywhere, so unfortunately, I didn't get a good post-race picture of him.

We got on the T (the subway) to head back to the hotel.  At the first stop, he said we needed to get off the train.  He proceeded to lie on the ground in the subway (ew!).  I wasn't sure exactly what to do - whether he was going to throw up or pass out.  He said he was just feeling nauseated, so I stood over him while all the people on the train pointed at us out the window.  We decided to walk to the rest of the way back to the hotel, stopping at McDonald's so that he could get a large Coke to drink.

Once he showered and changed, he seemed to feel much better.  We walked around the corner for some burgers and fries.

My Boston Finisher!
The next few days were great.  We did tons of walking.  We walked to breakfast each morning.  We walked all over downtown and to the Esplanade.  We walked the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile walk by lots of historic sites.  (This city is great for any lovers of the Revolutionary War.  Unfortunately, I remember very little from high school history!)  We climbed to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument.  294 steps feels like a lot more when you're pregnant!

We visited the North End for some cannolis at Mike's Pastries (twice) - absolutely amazing!  We had a wonderful seafood dinner and took in a Red Sox game at Fenway Park (complete with drunk Bostonians beside us - loved it!).  Our final day was spent visiting Cambridge - Harvard and MIT.  It was just a great time to spend together and explore a new city with one another.

Before cannoli.

After cannoli.

USS Constitution - the oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat

Fenway Park
Make Way for Ducklings
The Boston Public Gardens

I know that the race wasn't what Jason wanted it to be, but I couldn't be more proud of him.  Just qualifying to run in Boston is a goal that most people can't reach in their lifetime.  Not only did he qualify for the marathon, but he finished strong and was in the top ranks of racers.  I know he would still like to run a sub-3-hour marathon, so I see lots of running in our future... and I'm pretty sure that we'll be back in Boston in a few years so that he can feel like he didn't let Boston get the best of him.  Hopefully my parents will be up for babysitting THREE kids for a few days at that point!

We got home late in the evening after the kids were already asleep.  The next morning, Vivienne and Miles were ecstatic to see us.  They were jumping up and down in their cribs squealing when they saw us walk into their room to get them.  Boston was a great getaway, but it was also nice to be home with our snuggle bugs in our pajamas watching Sesame Street.  I have to admit that maybe I even missed Elmo a little bit.  Or maybe not...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Museum Visit

Grandma and I recently took Miles and Vivienne to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham.  The kids love that museum, and the adults like it, too.  They have a great train, a replica C. P. Huntington locomotive.  (Huntington, West Virginia, which is very near to where my father grew up, was named after Collis P. Huntington.)

Vivi and Grandma on the train
 After the train, we explored the Butterfly House and the kids had a blast playing outside on the stairs and the trails near the farm animals.

The biggest hit of the day may have been the sand toys.  They have a large sandbox outside with different types of trucks and machines.  Both kids enjoyed some time in the dirt.

Unfortunately, the day ended with Miles hitting himself in the face with one of the trucks while he was pushing it.  The truck popped a wheelie unexpectedly and hit him in the mouth, resulting in lots of blood and tears.  Why do mouth injuries bleed so much?  Luckily, it wasn't that bad, and it was time for us to feed the kids lunch and get them home for a nap anyway.

Thanks for playing with us, Grandma!

My Gardening Staff

At the end of the day, Miles, Vivienne and I are often found tending to our little garden.  We have lots of different kinds of plants throughout the yard, and the kids tend to be very enthusiastic about helping me.  They love to pick up mulch and throw it (often throwing it on themselves).  Lately, Miles has enjoyed filling the dust pan with mulch or dirt and dumping it on himself.  When I'm weeding, they love to help me pull up the plants, or sometimes they get lazy and just start throwing all the mulch into the trashcan (A for effort, right?). 

While I was pulling up the pansies to plant some begonias and polka dot plants in the front of the house a couple weeks ago, Vivienne was very excited to help.  She got her little spade and started digging away!  So far, she seems much more skilled with removing plants than installing them.

Easter 2012

Easter this year was wonderful.  The weather was gorgeous, and we started the day with pictures in front of the house before church.

Our little man in his adorable sweater vest.

"We're taking this car to church, right, Mom?"

Me and my big girl (and my little girl in utero)

Playing in Grandma's car after church

"Somebody hand me the keys, please!"

This was as good as a family picture was going to get.

I made Vivienne this hair flower the night before.
 After church, we went home to give the kids some time to rest.  For dinner, we went to my parents' house.  They grilled steak tips from the Meat House (delicious!), and we had spinach salad, fruit salad and sauteed veggies.  We ate outside in the perfect weather while the kids enjoyed playing.  Grandma and Granddad's new roller coaster was a big hit!

It was just a great Sunday to remember what Christ has done for us and how many blessings are surrounding us.  It's hard to believe that next year, we will have three little egg hunters!

Easter Egg Hunt at Knox's House

The day before Easter, we went to our friends' house for an Easter egg hunt and cookout.  Dina, Neil and Knox were wonderful hosts.  The kids had a fantastic time "hunting" the eggs in the backyard.  Of course, the eggs were really just sitting in the grass, but this seemed to present enough of a challenge for them.  =)  Dina made incredibly delicious sliders, and we enjoyed an amazing lunch and time with friends.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Running Update

Well, I'm still trying to run, but I'm slowing down.  For the past few weeks, I have gone about 15 miles per week.  I'm really just doing a gentle jog with some walking to get my heart rate back down when it gets too high.  Much of the time, I have been pushing the stroller with the kids, but sometimes my mom has watched the kids for me while I run without the stroller.  WHAT A HUGE DIFFERENCE!!  It's so much easier to not push the kids, and it's so wonderful to have some time alone to let off some steam, reflect a bit and enjoy nature.  (Thanks for babysitting, Grandma & Grandad!)

Last week, with the hand, foot and mouth disease, I only did about 8 miles.  This week, I haven't run at all, but I did go to Pilates, as usual, and did a yoga class and lots of yard work (mowing the lawn with the reel mower and planting some things).  I'm hoping to stay pretty active throughout this pregnancy, but I can feel myself starting to slow down.

Hand , Foot and Mouth Disease

Last week, both Miles and Vivienne had hand, foot and mouth disease.  It all started with Miles on a Saturday morning.  He was seeming a little puny, and I noticed that he had little spots on his feet.  It almost looked like he had poison ivy on his feet.  But I knew that he had not been outside barefoot or even in sandals, so this wasn't a possibility.  His crankiness progressed and he started a mild fever.  After a short bit of internet research, it became pretty clear that this was HFM.  Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do for HFM, because it's a viral infection.  It causes a rash on the hands, feet and in the mouth.  By Sunday it was clear that Vivienne also had it. 

Within a couple days, their entire bodies (minus their faces, for the most part, THANK GOODNESS) were covered in tiny red dots.  Their hands and their feet had blisters that looked like water blisters.  The worst part for both of them was their right thumbs, because they suck those thumbs when they sleep or need comfort.  So their thumbs both looked like one gigantic blister.  It was pretty gross.  I never really confirmed that they had blisters in their mouths, but they sounded hoarse and didn't seem to have quite their usual appetite. 

Vivienne had trouble sleeping at night.  We had two nights of very, very bad sleep.  One night, she woke up crying, and it was clear that she was not going to put herself back to sleep like she usually does.  I went in to hold her and eventually got her to doze off in my arms.  But when I put her back in the crib, she would wake up and start screaming, "Mommy!  Mommy!" in this pitiful, hoarse, tiny little voice.  At that point, both she and I were in tears and Jason went back in to get her again.  I tried sleeping with her in the recliner, but with the weight of her body and the baby, there was no way I was going to be able to sleep like that. 

We ended up sleeping with her in our bed that night.  This is the first time she has done that since she was a tiny infant.  I think it's safe to say that neither Jason nor I got very much sleep that night.  Vivienne moved around so much that she kept waking us up.  We were also paranoid about rolling on her or pulling the covers over her, so we weren't sleeping very soundly.

All of this was accompanied by some pretty funky diarrhea.  Needless to say, we used disposable diapers for most of last week.

The hardest part for me is that the kids were a couple days out of phase with each other with the disease.  So instead of 2 really bad days, like you might have with a single child, I had 4 really bad days in a row.  When Miles was in the worst of it, Viv hadn't really been hit yet.  Once Miles was feeling better, Vivienne was in the thick of it.

Jason and I both agree that this was by far the worst sickness the kids have had.  I guess I should consider it a blessing to be able to say that.  I'm glad that we're on this side of it now, and hopefully they won't get it again anytime soon.