Friday, March 27, 2015

nola + co-muck

Finola is 22 months old.  

Doesn't seem significant, except that it is for me.  It is the exact age Cormac was when I gave birth to his baby sister.   Cormac couldn't even say ten full words when he was 22 months, yet I was prepping him to abandon his position as baby, exit the crib for a "big boy bed" and be "big" when he was still so very small. It floors me every time I think about it.  She is so little.  He was so little.  But then he became a big brother.
Sure, people have kids close in age all the time, and he transitioned really wonderfully...but I am in awe that I was able to do that.  That I readied my brain for such a change - to have two babies. 
they didn't always take to each other...

Well, I can safely say that she is nearly two and I am not pregnant.  I can focus on her and her brother without getting lost in the excitement of a new tiny one entering the world.  I know how lovely and distracting that can be!

We are still praying about whether adding another baby, God-willing, to the mix is a good idea for us.

Whatever we end up deciding, I am enjoying Finola being a "baby" still.  

She is a lot different than her quiet (then), serious, contemplative brother was at this point.  She is a wild, dancing, very vocal whirlwind of curls.  She likes to make us laugh and be the center of attention.

She sings with me constantly.  Anything I start singing she will sing along.  (I mean, she doesn't say every single word - but she hits the important ones.)  Her favorites are anything from Frozen, 'The B-I-B-L-E,' and 'Goodnight, My Someone.'  She will sing anything, though - in a deep, sometimes creepy, throaty warble.

In fact, if we even faintly hear music playing somewhere she will start moving side-to-side and bobbing her head.  The other night in Chipotle she put on a crazy dance review to the loud salsa music for all the restaurant to enjoy.  (Cormac joined in, too, not to be outdone in silliness.)

She can count to ten.  Okay, well, sort of.  It is funny to hear her try.  I know she can't really count, and she is just repeating what she hears constantly, but she looks so proud when she does it!  "One - doo - tree -fo - five - six - funny - eight - noin - ten!"

If you ask her what her name is, she points to herself and says, "Nola."  She also identifies correctly most other close family members in photos.  "Co-muck" was one of her first words - of course.

She speaks in two-word sentences, which is awesome because we can actually communicate with each other quite a bit.  "Sit down!"  "Not nice." "Too slow!" (when we are playing "high fives") "Go now!" (when we are paused at a red light) are a few.  She is super bossy.

She loves to joke and play.  She is sneaky, yet completely adorable.

It is not all fun and games.  She has her trying aspects.  Sometimes she screams and cries and absolutely nothing I do will help.  Believe me, I try everything, but she wants nothing to do with me.  She just seems to want to throw a fit...and then when she is all cried out she is fine. (Yes, Hubby, that does sound familiar. Yes, we do know where she gets it from.)  I haven't quite figured out what to do with this charming aspect of her personality yet...but because I can relate to it I deal with it pretty gracefully.

She is not exactly the kindest to other "little friends" - in that she will stiff-arm them if they come near anything she is playing with and yell, "No! Mine!"  

She has a naughty smile and seems to mock my efforts at putting her into a time out for discipline.

Despite all that, to me she is so much fun and I can honestly say I delight in nearly all of our interactions.  My favorite is our bedtime routine, which she insists must be done by "Mama!!!!!" through shrieking and panicked tears if any attempt is made by Dada to do it.   I don't mind because, honestly, the child is the easiest kid to put to bed.  Ever.  When I leave her room she always cheerfully waves, blows kisses and says "Bye!"

Cormac is heading towards turning four, and I can't even believe how quickly the past two years went since he became a big brother.  The supposed "terrible twos" and "more terrible threes" whipped by.  It is honestly all a blur.  A blur of chicken nuggets and runny noses and play dates and dirt and laundry.  Oh, and sure, tantrums, epic tantrums, followed by a plethora of ways to deal with tantrums, some more helpful than others.   I often feel guilty, because I know he is the "test child" for two very inexperienced parents.   I hold him to a higher level than Finola, without really intending to.  I have expected him to grow up and be a big boy faster than a kid should.   I guess that is typical "first born" mama guilt stuff.

He loves volcanoes, dinosaurs, racing, playing tag, playing monsters (really any 'pretend play') helping Dada build things, and any type of "shooter."  Total boy.  Although, he will ask to have his nails painted and play with Finola's dolls.

He is still my spirited child.  A definite extravert - craving "conversation" and "moral support" (his words) at every moment, particularly while pooping.  He seems to always want to have someone to play with and talk to, and is really, really loud a lot of the time - which makes his easily over-stimulated and introverted mama a little crazy.  He has an astounding long-term memory, is incredibly perceptive, and a total perfectionist.

While Finola is brazen and will look you straight in the eye to see your reaction to whatever it is she has done, Cormac is prone to whine, make every excuse in the book,  and avoid eye contact.

Finola and Cormac have an interesting relationship.  For the most part, they get along okay.  But believe me, they are not angels, and my sanity is tried every day.   They poke at each other constantly.  Constantly.  They push and steal toys from each other.  Cormac will bury her in pillows, toys or whatever he can find and stand there while she screams her head off.  He will take her stuff and hide it.  She will grab him in a hug and try to drag him to the floor while he hollers in annoyance.
I can't even say they look innocent...
But then there are those moments when he calls her his "best friend."  When she feels bad that she upset him and says "Saw-wy" and goes in for a bear hug.  When they climb into her crib together and play dolls.  When I overhear him "teaching" her something.  (He is way nicer to her when I am in a different room, overseeing them in secret.)

I cannot, at this point in time, because of their dynamic and very strong personalities, imagine adding another to the mix.  I don't think we are capable of producing calm and quiet children - they are destined to be high-energy, loud and very spirited.   I wonder whether my psyche could handle more noise on a day-to-day basis.

Until we decide, I am going to just enjoy letting Finola remain "the baby" and Cormac the "big brother" who will always be my first "baby."
climbing trees is totally his thing.
'Cra-z-sand - not as tasty as I thought it would be." 
Cormac's intense concentration when doing a project is fun to watch.  The giant tantrum if it doesn't work "perfectly" -- not as fun.  
finola has ne'er a worry in the world about the hot mess she may look at any given moment.
girry the giraffe has been loved to the point of losing his stuffing.
"If there is a puddle I gotta jump in it - duh."
he loves puppet shows and simply telling stories. lots and lots of stories.
accessorizing is her jam.
reading to a very inattentive monkey
he has mastered the art of cheesin' for a selfie
So there is my very wordy update of the little ones.   If I think of anything new I will wait for their birthday posts in a couple months.

They are wild and naughty and sweet and sassy.
They are treasures, both.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

19 miles

Want to know the secret to running nineteen miles, for the first time ever, like a boss?  All you have to do is complete three consecutive Saturday runs (mine were 15, 17 and 12 miles) on the treadmill, inside a sweaty gym, watching infomercials E! News and Kardashian reruns, and then do your nineteen miles outside, in the fresh air, in 40 degree weather.

You will run it faster than ever,  just from sheer relief of not being on the treadmill!

Complete bliss.

I am happy with those stats, especially since it includes running the first three miles with my dog, who, let's face it, has to "go" about four times every time we run.

Finally I felt motivated, like I could realistically run twenty-six miles.  I couldn't believe how quickly the miles ticked by.  Even after thirteen I was feeling amazing, which is odd because I struggled through twelve last Saturday on the treadmill.  (Reason: changing up my in-race fuel.  I ran out of Gu, so I nibbled on a protein bar during my run.  BIG mistake.  My stomach was in knots for miles.)

But nineteen was good, almost easy.  Does that mean 'twenty miles' is going to kick my butt?  Probably - but just so thankful the weather is warmer!  Now I know why professional marathon runners (is there such a thing?) move to places like Arizona during winter months to train for races.  

That is really all I have to report.  I have been doing a lot more daily yoga stretching, which I believe is helping my knee and body overall.  Longer post on this, soon!  

Last week's training...
Sunday:  Recovery!  (12 miles on the treadmill due to rain...yes, I am a wimp.  I should have ran in it.)
Monday: Ran 3 miles with the kids (double jogger) - whew! they are getting heavy!
Tuesday:  this 16 minute Miley Cyrus leg workout during naps
Wednesday: AM gym - 5 mile Fartlek
Thursday: no workouts due to sick baby throwing up all day long.  unless you count endless laundry as a workout.
Friday: AM yoga class
Saturday: 19 mile run (outside, finally!)

+ + + + + + + + +

Twenty miles this week!  Eek!
Praying for lovely weather and healthy kiddos!

PS: Vanilla Bean Gu - my new favorite!  

Monday, March 16, 2015

mexico recap!

It had been two years since we took a "romantic" (i.e. no kiddos) beach vacation and it couldn't have come at a better time.  First, because I actually wasn't pregnant for this one.  (I was beginning to think my fertility skyrocketed if we had a warm getaway planned/paid for!)  Second, because the weather was cold and snowy and just plain icky.  I was going stir-crazy and Hubby certainly needed a stress-free break.

So off we went!  

We decided to stay at an all-inclusive resort about a half-hour drive from the Cancun airport, in Puerto Morelos.   Hubby researched and found one that looked lovely and included wine and top-shelf liquor in its "all-inclusivity" -- which earned major points for this wine-drinking mama.  (Many do not include wine.)  

After several flight delays and me probably getting shin splints racing through the Charlotte airport in clunky wooden-heeled sandals in order to make our connection to Cancun, we finally made it to Mexico!

The minute we exited the airport and stepped foot in the warm and deliciously humid (albeit cloudy) weather of the Yucatan Peninsula, we did what good travelers should do : bought beers.

Various beers.  And pretzels.  The city bus we were envisioning riding on (you know, all the windows down, driver screaming obscenities at other passing bus drivers who nearly run into him) actually turned out to be a plush, air-conditioned coach bus with a TV in it playing a dubbed into Spanish Harrison Ford flick.  Despite this, it was way cheaper than a cab or shuttle, and we enjoyed our ride, drinking three beers each, getting a wee bit drunk, and finally getting dumped off at a gas station with me laughing and stumbling out and over to a waiting cab (half from the beer, half from my sore shins.)

It felt really nice to be driven around, a little buzzed, a little sweaty, and pretty much no responsibilities.  You don't get that a lot as a parent.  I tried to revel in each minute.

We got to the resort after a short drive through the little city and down a long bumpy road.  It was a sprawling place resembling a spa, much different than the place we stayed on the Cancun strip during spring break thirteen years ago.

They brought us a glass of champagne as we chatted with our "personal concierge" -- in actuality, a guy assigned to plug the resorts and try to convince us to re-book another trip.  It was sort of annoying sitting there listening to the sales pitch and all the "deals" he could get us at other resorts and businesses affiliated with them.  Finally we got our room keys and headed to our building.

Everything was very "open air" and clean and bright.

I liked the grounds and the buildings -- and that it felt like we were on our own little island, away from civilization.

After a quick stroll we found our room and we both were quite happy with it :  huge bathroom (twice the size as ours at home) a sunken living area and a balcony with a sort-of an ocean view.  I mean, you could see the ocean in the distance.  Good enough!
The resort had five restaurants to choose from for dinner : French, Mediterranean, Italian, Mexican and Japanese.  We decided we wanted Japanese food that night but confusedly thought we had to be dressed up to get in (the concierge had said a few of the restaurants required nicer attire) so I, in my tipsy state, decided I had to wear my fun red dress and heels.  In retrospect, I should have saved that one for another night since every other dress I brought was pretty casual, but "reason" was not high on my priority list that first night.  So red dress it was!
why I am posing in the bathroom, I have no idea.
We put our name on the list at the restaurant (they were all first come, first served) and then strolled around checking everything out.  We sat at the lobby bar and had a glass of wine, listened to some of the musical entertainment (I seem to recall someone with a heavy Spanish accent playing a guitar and singing cover tunes) and we conversed like we were on an actual date.  Wow - another thing that doesn't get to happen much anymore...uninterrupted conversation!

We eventually got seated in the open air section and ordered nearly everything on the menu -- because you can do that at an all-inclusive!  The sushi was only okay, but Paul had a really delicious main course of coconut shrimp and rice and we sat there quite a while talking, eating and reminiscing.  

Back in our room I wanted to order room service (you can do that all you want, too!)  I was really craving a giant piece of chocolate cake, so I ordered what said "chocolate cake" on the menu.  Uh, apparently desserts translate much differently in Mexico (or in Mexican room service.) Let's just say it was not the chocolate delight I was imagining.  I decided that room service food should be avoided at our resort.

Day 2 : A day at the beach

One of the things I enjoy most on vacation is breakfast.  My breakfasts "in real life" consist of me waking up at the crack of dawn (5:30am) to have a few minutes of peace drinking my coffee before my son wakes usually between 6 and 6:30 and my day begins by me going into breakfast mode : making the kids and hubby breakfast and trying to make myself and consume a green smoothie in between all that.

However, on vacation it is a whole different story.  Breakfast is leisurely.  There is no blender in sight.  Just delicious food, whatever I want, prepared by other hands, and eaten by me at the pace I deem healthy.  My breakfasts on this vacation were typically what you see below : lots of fresh fruit with a mound of cottage cheese, several pieces of toasted bread with butter (I switched to french bread after this first morning - ah, I love bread!) an egg of some sort, fresh fruit juice, and, of course, black coffee.

I love breakfast.  I love carbs.
So started our first beach day.  We were ready for relaxing!
pre-beach selfie
on our balcony - we got lovely sunrises every morning 
we actually got time to read!
Here it should be noted that we were at a resort that not only allowed children on the premises, but had really cool programs and entertainment for such children.  This is awesome...unless you are trying to escape from children and literally don't want to see or hear children for a few days.  At first I thought we had picked the wrong place because of this.  There seemed to be kiddos everywhere!  (I think my head was still in "mama mode.") But then we realized that the "adult pool and beach" were just a short walk away from our side of the resort...and that is right where we headed that first day.  
relaxing at the adults-only end of the 'compound' 
We sat on the beach, reading, drinking (a waiter will basically bring you drinks constantly) and intermittently playing in the ocean.

The ocean.  Each time we swam in the ocean on this trip was one of my favorite moments.  Nothing makes you feel more free and young than playing in the waves.  You feel small, yet so connected to God and the earth.  You get a rush of endorphins as though you could do or be anything in the world.  I could have stayed in the waves for hours!

After several hours of relaxing we went back to our room for - more relaxing.  We did wander down to the pool near our building as the sun was going down, to yes, relax some more, even though it is not as relaxing with children playing/screaming in the kiddie pool in front of you.

We really wanted to try the Mediterranean restaurant that night, so we got dressed up and headed there.  I was surprised by the small portions and fancy presentation of the food, as I really wasn't expecting that from an all-inclusive.  There was a mixed grill of seafood for two, and I for the life of me can't remember what else we ate...but it was really tasty.  I think that ended up being our favorite meal. :)  Plus, this was an adults-only restaurant, so it had a more romantic and swanky vibe!
grilled seafood over risotto
When we left the restaurant we were treated to a fun surprise - apparently it was Oscar Night!  The resort entertainment was basically a huge soiree on the lawn creating an awards show vibe.  Red carpet, tables and tables of hors d'oeuvres, round tables, two giant movie screens airing the show.

Call me a huge nerd -- but I love the Oscars and this was super fun for me.  I only wished I had worn my red dress this night.  ;)

Paul's endlessly re-filled cup of red wine got him through *almost* the entire Oscar show. 

Paul is not that into stuff like this...but he was an awesome sport and sat with me drinking wine for nearly the whole show!

Day 3 : um, more beach!

I'll spare you a lot of details from this day, as there aren't many.  Just more beach, more ocean, more relaxing.
After swimming for a bit, Paul got a massage on the beach, while I lay here and read for literally hours.  It was AMAZING.  One of my favorite activities since I was a kid has been holing myself up with a good book and binge reading.  Since having kids I haven't really been able to do this, so this vacation I took advantage of the long periods of alone time.  I sat under our grass umbrella and became completely engrossed.  I had finished my first book on the plane ride there - a short one - The Giver.  I had never read this somehow, and loved it.  LOVED it.  So then I only had one book left - Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, which I'd been wanting to read since I saw the movie Capote.  So I kinda knew the ending, but I was sucked in by his writing and the grisly tale immediately.  Not great beach reading, as it is really dark.  But - could. not. stop.
no makeup, ocean hair, no problem!

We also took a walk along a stone path, which you see below, down to a marina.  
Dinner that night was Italian.  The highlight was when the waiter noticed my purse on the floor and plopped this bright pink coat rack right next to me.  I can't really explain why I found this so funny, but I did.  
It was just like, Poof! Coat rack in my face. 
I loved it and laughed probably way too much about this coat rack.
the night I dined intimately with a pink coat rack.  oh, and the A/C was not working, if you can't tell by my "humidity hair"
Day 4 : Tulum Tuesday

The next day we rented a car and headed for Tulum, which is a city about an hour or so away from Puerto Morelos.

Yay for road trips!  I've mentioned we love long drives together, and although this wasn't very long, it was still a fun way to break up our endless beach relaxing and have a little adventure.

We passed many signed for cenotes (underground rivers/pools) and "adventure parks" but didn't end up stopping for any of that.  We wanted lots of time in Tulum!  My friend Julie had told us how much she and her hubby liked it so I was pretty excited.

When we got to the ruins in Tulum we, of course, were accosted by people wanting to sell us the tour, and we ended up paying to have a "personal guide." I really didn't realize when we were paying for it that it would be just us and him - but I guess that is what "personal" means.  So our nice guide who spoke reasonable English led us through the grounds, gave us a good history of the place, and then let us stroll on our own.

I took plenty of photos (the only day I really used my "good camera") but haven't had a chance to edit anything...and probably never here are a just a few!
you can make fun of these pants all you want...but they are the best ever.  I would wear them every day if I could.
I adore my hubby...and his ever-crooked aviators
It was a very humid day.  I was so sweaty I had to tuck my hair in my already warped fedora.
pretty view of the beach from the ruins.
my favorite t-shirt.  people would just yell "hey new york!" at me randomly.

After walking among the ruins and seeing the beautiful views, we headed back to the tourtisty area that precedes the grounds and checked out the wares.  I should note that high-traffic tourist areas with lots of shops selling the exact same thing and shopkeepers all calling out to me saying things like, "Almost free!" gives me high we only quickly perused before I got stressed and we bought nothing.  Except...

...on my "trip bucket list" was to drink coconut water out of a freshly machete'd!

just sipping my coconut water - like a boss

I really regret not swinging and drinking at this bar -- could have been so fun!!!! 
We left the ruins and then headed to find out where to hang out in Tulum, since we had heard such great things!  Because we were driving ourselves we didn't have a cab driver to consult on where to go, we first ended up in the "downtown business district.  After wandering a bit, we realized that we needed/wanted to find the beach.

We took this photo so we would remember where we parked our car...
any pit-sweat?  nah, this ain't the bachelor or anything!
Finally we found the road that is populated by all the Tulum resorts that line the beach -- where we had looked at staying originally.  I have to admit, it had a really chill vibe!  Apparently, it is a really trendy spot for hipster celebrities to vacation!?!

After driving along and seeing all the lovely, eco-conscious boutique resorts, we found the public beach and went for a stroll along it.  Definitely a different crowd than at our resort!  Much younger and much more, um, carefree!
After walking a bit we just randomly chose a lunch spot on the beach - and ended up at a lovely place with sandy floors, leather bean bag chairs everywhere (???) and really cool open-air bathrooms.  (I wish I would have taken pics of this!) But I don't really think we could have gone wrong wherever we long as there was a table with shade looking out at the beach.

We ate Hawaiian flatbread pizza, chips and pico de gallo, and drank margaritas (well, Paul had a beer since, well, someone had to drive.) 
our view at lunch.  I could have stayed here all day.
Sadly our Tulum adventure had come to an end.  We didn't get to experience a cenote as we had hoped, simply because we ran out of time/energy, but we did swim in one our last trip, so I was okay skipping it.  We drove back to our resort and took a nap.  Naturally.

Dinner that night ended up being Japanese again.  This time we sat at the sushi bar, drank sake and ate sushi, and just had another fun "date" together.  I started to get sad, knowing that we only had one more full day left.

Day 5 : yoga and beach walkin' 

This day we actually did not relax and lay on the beach like the other days.  Actually, Paul got up early and for the first time the entire trip to go work out, while I stayed in bed and got up and ready at a very leisurely pace.  Total role reversal, and I liked it!

He went to the yoga class, held on the lawn at 8:15am, with the ocean in the background.  I was really proud of him, as I had originally planned to do yoga every morning...but while I did try to hit the gym each day, I never did make it to the daily morning yoga.  

He came back from it really energized and raving about how much he wants to do yoga on a regular basis.  Of course, I think that is great, as I love yoga, and it was cool to see how it affected him.
He even ate a mostly healthy breakfast that morning...
this plate of food really made me laugh.  I am easily amused, clearly.
Then we headed to the beach, but basically just dropped our stuff on our chairs and headed off for a long walk down the beach - suggested by Hubby (yay for yoga!)  We walked and talked and picked up cool shells and chunks of coral to bring home to the kids.
After our walk we decided we would drive the short distance into the downtown part of Puerto Morelos and hang out there a bit, since we had our rental car until 3pm.  We parked and just walked around the cute little town a bit, got the kids a souvenir, etc.  My phone died, of course, five minutes after we got there, so this pic of a colorful sign is all I got of the afternoon.
We watched artists making giant sand sculptures on the boardwalk, and then ate by the water - some of the most delicious fish tacos and fish burger I've ever had - with the sea breeze whipping our napkins off our laps.  It was a lovely "last day" lunch.

I got into kind of a funk that evening, thought, which I will blame on the novel I finished during our "naptime."  Post-book depression?  Lack-of-new-book depression?  Real crime murder drama depression?  Whatever it was,  I was kind of a crank until dinner, our last dinner, at the Mexican place (we skipped the fancy French place altogether.) It was good and I perked up eventually!
After eating we ordered some dessert + wine to go from the restaurant and holed up in our room to watch Vikings on Netflix.  (Which weirdly you can get in Mexico, but not in the US.) Perfect!

Day 6 : goodbye to Mexico

On the last day, because our flight wasn't until around 4pm, we got to have another leisurely morning.  I took my final selfie, crumpled fedora and all.

We spent the morning on the beach - and Paul showed off his yoga skillz.  Lol - LOVE!

I completely know how annoying leg/foot/beach photos are...but Paul likes them! :D
I took some parting shots of our little paradise, and then we had to go!

After packing up we were able to have one last meal at the resort before taking a cab to the airport.  I enjoyed a coupla mojitos just, ya know, because I could.  
Then we began the journey home.  There were delays and a cancelled flight, long lines, a lost immigration card, an unexpected overnight stay in Charlotte, and then finally home to our kiddos one day later than expected.  But it was all worth it!

Cormac is still pointing out Mexico on his globe and asking when he can go.

I am excited for that, someday, too.