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A Maine Wedding Weekend

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I’m really inexcusably late in recapping our all-too-brief trip to Maine this fall, but I so want to share these pictures.  I’ve thought back on this sunny, warm, happy weekend many times since our return.  It was just a perfect weekend – filled with friends and family and the wedding of two wonderful people.

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At the end of September we traveled to Camden, Maine for my brother Dan’s wedding.  Dan and his then-fiancee (now wife!) Danielle had planned a sweet, personal ceremony that perfectly reflected the things they love most – their friends and family, and nature and the outdoors – and we were so happy that we were able to share it with them.  We arrived on the day before the wedding and Dan suggested that before the family dinner we had planned for the evening, we meet up for a walk on the beach and some shell collecting.  We picked our way slowly along the beach – it was rocky and tough for Peanut to negotiate – while Dan and Danielle ran back and forth bringing Peanut sand dollars.  Once we had collected a handful and gotten our jeans hems thoroughly wet, we headed over to a lobster restaurant for dinner with Dan’s and my parents, Danielle’s parents, and our close family friends.

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Peanut rocked her “i love my uncle” shirt.

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I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual.  Also, who is that poking Peanut’s belly?

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The wedding day dawned bright and sunny – perfect.  At Dan’s suggestion, we drove to the top of Mount Battie, a local lookout.  We’d have loved to hike it, but we didn’t have time for a big climb that morning – we had to get our scenery in, grab lunch and get back to the hotel for naps and cleanup in time to be on the dock at 2:30 promptly.  Wouldn’t want the schooner to sail without us!  So we drove.

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The view was breathtaking.  This is where Dan proposed to Danielle.  Good work, right?

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We did a little bit of exploring at the top of the mountain.  Peanut has adventure in her heart.

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She was pretty annoyed that we didn’t let her run free and wild the whole time, but we were nervous – there were a lot of large rocks and… uh… a big hill that we didn’t want her to go rolling over.  So we cut off the explorations when they started to get a bit too adventurous and drove back to Camden.

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Camden is a beautiful seaside town in coastal Maine.  We took some time walking up and down the main street and grabbed lunch overlooking the water at the Camden Deli.  Hubby was on a mission to eat lobster at every meal in Maine, so he had a lobster roll.  I went with seafood chowder and a bagel.  Yum.

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That view!  Right?

After lunch we headed back to the hotel for a nap; I don’t know if hubby slept, but Peanut and I sacked out for about an hour and a half before hubby woke us up to get ready for the wedding!  We quickly showered, tamed Peanut’s wild mane of ginger curls, and headed down to the Camden Docks to meet up with the family.

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Peanut was thrilled to see her grandparents, but a bit concerned about what we were doing standing around the water.

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She was even less thrilled when her day included a hat and a life jacket.

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Eventually we did let her take off the life jacket, as long as she was in the schooner’s cockpit and within arm’s reach of a parent or grandparent.

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She had fun steering the boat with Grandad.  And yes, she is wearing a bracelet.  Can you even handle it?  I giggled at it all day long.  (Carter’s, for my mom friends.  It’s recommended three and up, but Peanut loves wearing “bracelets” – a.k.a. linking rings, plastic donuts and Mom’s ponytail ties – so I knew she’d leave the bracelet alone.)  She kept one hand on the wheel and the other hand with thumb firmly in her mouth.

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The rest of us enjoyed the sun and the trip out onto the open water, until it was time for the ceremony.  I took tons of pictures, but I’m not going to post them, because it’s not my wedding.

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After the ceremony, Peanut enjoyed some snuggles with Great-Grandmother…

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And she pulled this lever, which was the one thing the captain asked her to please, please, please not touch.  Nothing happened, though – whew.  Toddlers, I tell ya.  I don’t even know how many times we shooed her away from the lever, but she found a way.

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After the schooner docked, we headed up to a park overlooking the Camden harbor to take some pictures of the new Mr. and Mrs.  Peanut, of course, thought the picture-taking was all about her.  Of course Grandad can’t resist that little face, either.  But we did get some pictures with the happy couple, and I hope they’ll forgive me for sharing just a few.

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Isn’t Danielle a beautiful bride?  And Maine is a beautiful place – I’m so glad we made it there at least once.  (Dan and Danielle moved to Colorado just a few days later.)  We had so much fun exploring the Camden area, even for a couple of days, and spending so much time with the bride and groom.  Now I’m scheming a way to get to Colorado to visit them in their new life out west.

The Winter List

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And just like that, fall is over.  It’s definitely over, and winter is here with a vengeance.  From everything I hear, this winter is going to be even tougher than last winter – ugh – and last winter was no joke.  My usual winter survival methods involve lots and lots of fresh air and enjoying the outdoors as much as I can, but this year, even that is going to be difficult, because

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Yeah, so I’m benched from a lot of my favorite winter activities.  Downhill skiing?  Dream on, mama.  Ice skating?  Don’t make me laugh.  I had wanted to try snowshoeing, but when I looked into snowshoes for my Christmas list I realized that my little passenger will be big enough to put me in the next size up.  I want to get good snowshoes, and I don’t see the point of spending that kind of money on a piece of equipment that will – I hope – be too big for me next winter.  (Rather just wait until next year and get something that will fit for a long time.  Although I could always rent snowshoes, and I may look into doing that this year.)

But I’m still determined to enjoy winter as much as I can, even though I’m expecting to be pregnant for most of it (and I’d better be – Nugget, you’re not expected until the very tail end of winter, and you’d just better stay put until then).  So here’s my winter list, in all its half-baked glory.

  • Clean out and decorate Nugget’s nursery!
  • Hike at Reinstein Woods – the first of our seasonal hikes for 2015.
  • Have friends over for dinner.
  • Build a snowman with Peanut.
  • Eat lots of citrus.
  • Knit a baby blanket for Nugget and a pair of cozy socks for me.
  • Cook up a freezer full of meals for the first few sleep-deprived newborn weeks.
  • Go cross-country skiing, pulling Peanut along on her red sled.
  • Buy, assemble, and organize shelves for Peanut’s playroom.
  • Visit the Botanical Gardens so Peanut can hang with her besties in the koi pond.
  • Bake an olive oil citrus cake.
  • Plan a garden to plant with Peanut this spring.
  • Get my books unpacked, finally.
  • Take a winter hike at Knox Farm in East Aurora.
  • Have a date night with hubby – we’re long overdue for one, and they’re going to be even harder to come by with two kids.

There!  Fifteen things to do this winter.  Think I can do all of these?  Yeah, me neither.  But I’m going to try.

What’s on your winter to-do list?

The Fall List Update

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Well, fall has been and gone – gone sooner than I had hoped it would, thanks to six feet of snow dumped on our area the week before Thanksgiving.  (Weirdest storm ever: we were snowed in for a week, then we had a 61 degree day and almost all of the snow melted.  So strange.)  And now we’re in the in-between time better known as The Holidays, and soon we’ll be deep in winter.  But before I completely close the book on fall, I need to revisit my fall list and tell you how I did on it.

The short answer: not great.  I knew my list was a bit ambitious.  Still, I had hoped to get through more of it than I did – but thanks to weird weather, unexpected travel, and everything breaking, I mostly just hung on for dear life this season.  Still, I checked off a few items on the list:

  • Hike Zoar Valley.
  • Visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Greycliff – I wanted to get here over the summer, but I’m sure the house and grounds will look spectacular in autumn colors, too.
  • Re-read Anne of the Island, my favorite of the Anne books and a perfect read for back-to-school season.  Done.  I always love a visit with Anne.
  • Bake fall treats – apple coconut family cake, pumpkin bread, cinnamon scones, and cranberry-studded oatmeal cookies all sound good right now.  Can I call this done if I made homemade applesauce and an apple-cranberry pie for Thanksgiving?

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  • Visit Tifft Nature Preserve for our seasonal hike – this one will bring us full circle!  Done.  We had so much fun hiking Tifft in every season, that we’re going to continue the project – at a different nature preserve – next year.
  • Knit a pair of warm socks.
  • Make a dent in some of the unpacking; living in a sea of boxes gets wearing.  Done, thanks entirely to my parents, who spent a weekend unpacking, organizing and fixing things around the house.  We still have a lot to do, but a major dent has indeed been made.
  • Go to Maine for my brother’s wedding – the event I’m most looking forward to all season!  Done – recap coming very soon!  The wedding was lovely, the bride and groom were radiantly happy, and Maine is beautiful.  I have a post with all of our weekend adventures coming to you on Monday.
  • Make apple butter.  I’ve always wanted to try.

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  • Find Peanut an adorable Halloween costume to wear to school.  Done.  She was the cutest little Afghan princess ever!  Now the challenge will be topping this costume next year.  It was a genuine Afghan girl outfit, purchased by Aunt R in Kabul, and there’s no way we’re going to find something nearly as unique ever again.
  • Spend some time in Fairacre with my favorite teachers – Miss Read, Miss Clare, and Mrs. Annett.  And Amy, of course!  Well, I did re-read The Fairacre Festival, which at 103 pages isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of a doorstop, but I guess I can call this one done since I looked in on Fairacre for a few hours.  It wasn’t as much time as I’d wanted to spend there, but who ever gets enough time in Fairacre?
  • Discover a new local hike.
  • Take Peanut to visit Cornell, Mommy and Daddy’s (and her future) alma mater.  LET’S GO RED!
  • Drink hot apple cider as much as I can.  And make roasted pumpkin seeds.  My two favorite seasonal treats.  I drank hot cider exactly one time, so can I call this one at least half done?  I never got around to making roasted pumpkin seeds – bummer.  I look forward to them all year and I’m furious with myself for letting the opportunity slip by me this year.

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  • Run for fun – a few 5Ks and, of course, the turkey trot with my sisters-in-law.  Done – one 5K, anyway, and the Turkey Trot.  Running with a passenger is not easy, but I’m glad that I’ve been able to stick with it this far into my pregnancy!
  • Pick out a pattern and start working on Peanut’s Weasley Christmas sweater.  Done.  Peanut’s Weasley sweater is almost finished, thanks to a week snowed in at home, plus a long weekend for Thanksgiving.  I’ll definitely be done in time for this one to be under the tree.
  • Read some Dickens.

If you made a fall list, how’d you do?  If you didn’t make a list, what was your favorite way to celebrate fall this year?

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Back in 2012, I did a series of posts on gift ideas for holiday shopping – all things that I had, used, and enjoyed.  I’m not planning to do the same this year, but I have been thinking of doing a gear round-up and sharing some of our favorite hiking and outdoor accessories for awhile, and I thought, what better time than the holiday shopping season?  If you’re looking to shop for an avid hiker, but don’t know where to start, here are some of our favorite toys:

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Boots.  Hiking boots are pretty personal, so you may want to let your hiker pick them out for him- or herself.  But they’re also expensive, so they’d make a welcome gift if you know what your hiker wants.  (I have my eye on a pair of waterproof hiking boots to supplement my summer boots, and will be contacting Santa directly about those.)  Hubby wears Merrells from about a million years ago and could probably use a new pair – but I know he’d recommend them.  Merrells don’t fit my feet, as I’ve learned the hard way.  Instead, I wear Oboz Lunas and love them to distraction.

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Hiking Poles.  Hubby and I both use Black Diamond hiking poles.  Hubby has the men’s poles and I have the women’s version.  I save mine for strenuous or technically challenging hikes, but hubby rocks his on every single outing.  His center of gravity is thrown off thanks to the toddler on his back, so he finds the poles particularly helpful.  We’ve found our Black Diamond poles to be lightweight yet sturdy, reasonably priced, and I love that they’re adjustable for people of all different heights.

Child Carrier.  If your hiker also happens to be an outdoorsy mom or dad, I guarantee they will appreciate having a way to tote their offspring along on their adventures.  Hubby and I have brought Peanut on many hikes – from our seasonal easy jaunts through Tifft Nature Preserve to the top of two Adirondack high peaks – and the key to our ability to take her along with us has been the Deuter KidComfort III.  Again, a child carrier is a pretty personal item, but expensive enough that your hiker would definitely appreciate some help with such a big purchase.  The packs definitely vary by brand.  We went to EMS intending to buy an Osprey Poco – I’d been doing research and was impressed with the reviews I’d read – but when hubby tried on the Poco he didn’t feel comfortable in it.  The Deuter KidComfort III felt much better on his back.  Still, I know there are herds of Osprey devotees out there – that’s why I say these packs are personal!  You have to try them on to see how they fit your frame.  If you know what your hiker likes, go for it – otherwise, let them try the packs on and tell you what they want, or just grab a gift certificate to EMS or REI – it’ll go to good use.

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Apparel.  I don’t know a hiker who wouldn’t love to unwrap some cool apparel to wear to the mountains.  Hubby and I love our EMS graphic t-shirts – we both have way too many – and tech tees.  Hubby often hikes in Lululemon or Adidas tech tees, while I swear by Lucy Activewear (both the tech tops and the surplus pants).  Ladies who haven’t discovered Lucy yet, get thee to the mall now!  The clothes are cute, comfortable, and sweat-wicking – perfect for a strenuous climb up a mountain.

Socks.  I know there are many, many sock options out there, but in our family it’s alllllll about Smartwool.  Hubby and I each have a drawer almost full of Smartwool socks and still can’t get enough.  Our Smartwool socks have scaled mountains, carried us on sub-zero temperature runs, and cushioned our feet on casual family strolls.  We wear them in all seasons – not just winter – and they’re always on our birthday and Christmas wish lists.  I’m wearing a pair as I type this gift guide.

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Guidebooks.  No matter what area your hiker frequents, I guarantee there’s a guidebook – and a good one – for her.  When we lived in northern Virginia, we were working our way through 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Washington, D.C. – a great book, and I’d highly recommend the 60 Miles series if your hiker lives near one of the featured cities.  We no longer live in an area covered by a 60 Miles book, but we’ve been enjoying 50 Hikes in Western New York, as well as the High Peaks Trail Guide for our Adirondack trips.

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Stocking Stuffers.  If you’re looking for little items to stuff in your hiker’s stocking – or the Smartwool ski sock that serves as a stocking – there are plenty of choices.  Hikers appreciate quick fuel on the mountain, so Honey Stingers or Gu energy gels would certainly be welcome.  If your hiker is working toward the Adirondack 46 (as we were starting to do before Nugget came on the scene) there are plenty of cool ADK goodies they’d love.  We have a Nalgene bottle with a list of the high peaks and their elevations (purchased from the Keene Mountaineer, but I’ve seen similar bottles at EMS even in Buffalo).  The Mountaineer also sells commemorative patches for the high peaks – mainly individual mountains, and a few ranges.  We’ve got the Cascade and Porter patches, which we bought to celebrate our climb this summer, and we’re hoping to add to that collection as we bag more peaks (once Nugget is out of the oven).  Or, hey – just go to EMS and check out the cool selection of thermoses, water bottles, camping and hiking accessories, and more.  (One tip, though: if you bring a toddler with you, she will try to make off with a solar lantern.)

Edited to add: Just in case anyone is wondering, this is not a sponsored or perked post, and none of the links are affiliate links.  All the gear recommended was purchased with our own money, and the retail links are provided for your convenience – if you click on any of them, I will never know or get anything out of it.  Happy shopping!

Are you shopping for a hiker this season?  Fellow hikers, any gear you love that I should be including on my Christmas wish list?

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One day you won’t be able to do this.  Today is not that day.

Now that I’ve spilled the beans about Nugget, I thought I’d write about a topic that I’ve been thinking about a lot over the past few months: pregnant running.  Running is one of my favorite hobbies – I might be slow, but I love getting out there – and it’s my preferred way to get a workout in.  And I love lining up for races; spending a weekend morning jogging along with a few thousand of my closest friends is always going to be high on my to-do list.  So when I learned that Peanut would be a big sister, one of the first things that popped into my mind was, “Can I still run?”

When I was expecting Peanut, I tried once or twice to run, but something about it just felt wrong and off.  Deep down I knew that feeling was more than just the extra huffing and puffing, or that weirdly bouncy, ungainly feeling that comes with pregnant running – it was a sign that I should not do this.  So I stopped.  I walked as long as I could before ending up on bed rest in my third trimester, and I was very, very glad that I didn’t push myself to run.  I’ll have my whole life to be a runner and chase after new fitness goals, and slowing down felt like what I needed to do, just then, to put Peanut first.

With Nugget, I’ve felt differently.  Oh, not about putting the baby first – that’s clearly the most important thing, and the first indication I have that running isn’t good for us, I’ll hang up the running shoes until after Nugget makes his grand entrance in March (and hopefully not before).  What I mean is that I’ve felt differently about running.  With Peanut, I was worried and apprehensive.  With Nugget, running still brings me joy.  With Peanut, a short run knocked me out for the rest of the day.  With Nugget, running leaves me more energized than before.  Knowing that the general recommendation is for moms-to-be to exercise as much as feels good, and that you can generally keep up what your body is used to (or even start a fitness routine, if you’ve been sedentary, with your doctor’s approval of course) I resolved to ask my doctor if I could keep running and training for races.  If she said no, in light of the complications I had with Peanut, I’d have been fine with it and obeyed her recommendations.  But I was hoping she would say yes.

So one of my first questions at my first prenatal appointment was, “Can I run?”  The doctor was well aware of Peanut’s early birth, so I expected her to say no, or at least to tell me to dial it back.  But I explained that I had just recently completed a half marathon, that I had several more distance races – including two half marathons – lined up for the rest of the summer and fall – and that while I was planning to defer my planned marathon I did want to run the two half marathons if at all possible.  She immediately agreed, and I rejoiced.

Having gotten my doctor’s blessing, I continued to work out as much as possible, and I found that it really helped me during those first few weeks.  When I made the effort to get up early and get in a run or a kickboxing session, I felt better all day – no morning sickness! lots of energy! – and slept marginally better at night.  (Pregnancy insomnia has hit hard and is still going.)  I wanted to work out because running means something to me emotionally, but I was shocked at how much better I felt when I exercised.  With Peanut, an easy hike would take so much out of me that I’d end up napping all afternoon and crashing on the couch before 8:00 p.m., but with Nugget, a good sweat session was a sure-fire cure for queasy tummy and afternoon yawns.  I fell off the bandwagon a few weeks later, between a crush of work deadlines and moving house, but I still managed to get out for a lunchtime walk and to get in a run or a Stroller Strides class on the weekends.

And I’ve kept up my racing schedule.

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At nine weeks (and already looking thicker around the waist – ah, second pregnancy), I participated in the Color Run.  It was a perfect event to do while pregnant, because there was no timing chip, lots of walkers, and no pressure.  I ran the entire distance, with the exception of the water stop, but I kept the pace easy and fun and at the end of the run I felt that I could have gone much longer.

Running While Pregnant 2

At eleven weeks, I ran the Biggest Loser Half Marathon.  As you know from my recap, this was a tough race for me.  I huffed and puffed through the majority of the race, and spent a lot of time ruminating on the fact that I had comfortably run a 2:24 – a great time for me – just two months earlier.  I didn’t beat myself up over it, though, because I knew what had changed in those two months: I had a little passenger along for the Biggest Loser half, who hadn’t yet appeared on the scene when I crushed the Fifty Yard Finish.  I needed more fuel, more water, more oxygen and more time.  Still, as hard as the run felt, I was so grateful to be out there.  I know that any run could be my last for awhile, and I made it my mission to enjoy the experience.

I really do feel thankful for every step I get to take, and for every time I lace up my running shoes.  I know how quickly a situation can turn, and if a day comes when my doctor won’t approve any more runs, or when running just feels wrong – as it did with Peanut – I’ll put my hobby aside for the good of the baby.  But until that day comes, I’m still getting out there and doing what I love to do.

Tips for First Trimester Running

I’m no expert!  These are just some tips that worked for me, in my individual experience, and helped me to run through my first trimester (and hopefully beyond).  Most of them are common sense, but PLEASE, don’t take my word as the be-all-end-all.  Consult with your doctor about what sort of fitness or running routine is best for you, ESPECIALLY if you’re pregnant!

  • Consult your obstetrician before implementing any kind of pregnancy workout routine!  This is the most important of the tips I have read for pregnant exercise, and was the most important thing I did.  The general recommendation, at present, is that pregnant women should continue to exercise if at all possible.  Exercise during pregnancy has been proven to benefit both mom and baby in a host of ways.  Most doctors will allow moms-to-be to continue the same types of workouts they’ve been doing.  That wasn’t a given for me, though, in light of my past bed rest, so I made sure to ask my doctor for permission before doing any kind of workouts.  I was very clear in my explanations of what I wanted to do – run the half marathons I’d already committed to – and I was also fine with hanging up the running shoes if that was her recommendation.  Happily, it wasn’t – for now.  But I plan to continue to keep my doctor informed about my activity level throughout pregnancy and if the recommendations change at some point, I’m good with that.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t do what you used to do.  On June 23, I PRed in the half marathon – by thirteen minutes.  By early August, an easy two-mile route to the library and back had me huffing and puffing.  If I wasn’t pregnant, I’d be beating myself up over it.  But I know exactly what changed in between those dates, and I also know it’s temporary.  I expect my pace to slow, and while that’s occasionally painful to see – especially during a race, when I want to do well – I try to be philosophical about it.  Running is more about the joy of it right now, and less about setting new records for myself.  There will come a time for chasing goals again; now is the time to go easy on myself.
  • HYDRATE and FUEL like a maniac.  I am well aware that if I want to keep running safely throughout my pregnancy, I have to be smart about it.  That means making sure I am more hydrated and more fueled than ever.  I adopted the following philosophy: if you think you’ve had enough water, you’re wrong; if you think you’ve had enough fuel, you’re wrong.  I wore a Camelbak to the Biggest Loser Half instead of relying on the aid stations (I could have relied on them; they were well-stocked even for those of us in the back of the pack) and I took in more fuel than I would have had I not been pregnant, both during and after the race.  (Not before; although I’m sure I could have used the extra calories, there’s only so much I can tolerate in my stomach at the beginning of a long run.)
  • Be flexible, and change your running strategy when appropriate.  As I wrote in my recap of the Biggest Loser Half, I really struggled through the first two thirds or so of the race.  I was walking more than I was running and starting to get pretty down about that.  At mile 9, I decided to go back to my Galloway roots and run by the method I used when I first picked up the sport.  I normally try to run the entire distance, but walk through aid stations – but that wasn’t working.  So I adopted a 4:1 ratio of running to walking.  I told myself that I had to run for those four minutes, and then I could walk.  It worked.  The four minutes of running got me over most of the remaining distance, and the regular walking intervals let me recover, sip from my Camelbak, take in fuel and bring my heart rate down.  The moment I decided to go back to Galloway running was the first moment I felt in control of the race, and once I finished I decided to stick with the strategy for the rest of my pregnant runs.  I’m now doing all of my regular runs Galloway-style and hoping that strategy shift buys me a few more races before I hang up the shoes for the duration of my pregnancy.
  • Have FUN and remember why you’re out there!  It’s not just about the benefits that exercise provides for a growing mommy and baby.  I could get those benefits by doing barre (which I do want to try), or prenatal Pilates (NEVER, I hate Pilates), or my kickboxing DVDs, or in any number of other ways.  I choose to run because I enjoy running, and I like participating in races.  I get a mental benefit from running – it relaxes me, gives me strength to face the rest of my day, makes me a nicer person, and I find it weirdly fun.  I’m not grinding out runs with a grimace on my face; running is my happy place, and I’m grateful for every step I get to take.

Have you run through a pregnancy?  What got you through it?

Welcoming Winter

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It’s winter!  Okay, it’s been winter.  (Six feet of lake effect snow, anyone?)  But after Thanksgiving is when I get on board with winter.

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Here’s a little-known (or maybe not-so-little-known) fact about me: I hate Black Friday.  I find the whole concept faintly sickening.  I mean, wasn’t it just yesterday that we were giving thanks for the intangibles, like the love of our family and friends, and now suddenly we’re supposed to switch gears to rampant consumerism?  Plus, crowds tend to really stress me out.  Yeah, I know the deals are great and it sure does help to have those discounts apply to holiday shopping, but… I just can’t do it.  So for years I’ve celebrated “Buy Nothing Day” on the Friday after Thanksgiving – although this year I did send hubby out for groceries.  So, okay, we did buy some food, but at least I avoided the craziness of Target and the mall.

It’s a dream of mine, in addition to celebrating “Buy Nothing Day,” to spend Black Friday on a family hike, soaking in the peace of the woods while others are fighting their way through holiday crowds.  But another Friday-after-Thanksgiving tradition of ours is to host our small tree-trimming party and decorate our Christmas tree.  So between the cleaning and cooking and digging out of decorations, my day was fully accounted for and a family hike was not on the schedule.  But I resolved to make up for it on Saturday, by taking Peanut to Knox Farm to play in the snow… and toting along the camera, in the hopes of getting a good Christmas card picture.  Which I did, and here are the outtakes.  (Warning: massive photo dump ahead.)

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(Peanut’s mittens are size 2T-4T and they were HUGE.  I kept having to pause the picture-taking to put one particular mitten back on.)

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Peanut’s preferred snow activity is sweeping… which is very similar to her preferred dirt, grass and leaf activity.  The girl knows what she likes.

We hung out by the barns for awhile, then ventured into a nearby field for some running, chasing, and jumping.

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And more sweeping.

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And general cuteness.

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And, okay, one photo of the pretty bird feeders that are everywhere at Knox Farm.

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But I couldn’t spend too much time focusing on bird feeders… I mean, I had the world’s cutest photography subject right there.  How could I point my lens anywhere else?

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Fun was had by all.  Giggles and squeals and grins until we collapsed.

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Okay, winter.  You can stay… for awhile.

Reading Round-Up Header

Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby.  I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book.  Here are my reads for November, 2014

The Penguin Book of Witches, ed. Katherine Howe – I started this volume of primary source material about medieval English and colonial American witch trials back in October with the goal of getting it finished by Halloween.  Life intervened and it took me into November to finish it, but I really enjoyed it.  Reading the primary sources was a new and fascinating endeavor – everything from newspaper accounts to letters from overzealous witch-hunting clergy and, my favorite, actual trial transcripts.  It was also sad – the primary source material made so plain how many lives were ruined (some ended) by spite and overactive imaginations.  Katherine Howe also added her own explanations before each item, which placed the historical texts in their proper context and illuminated some of the more opaque parts.  Highly recommended, especially to history nerds and anyone with an interest in the Salem witch trials (and similar witch hunts taking place around the country).

The Fairacre Festival, by Miss Read – I finally found my Fairacre books packed away from my move after hubby set up my bookshelves and I got the chance to dig into the book boxes.  I hadn’t read much all month, but I jumped right into this very slim (103 pages) Fairacre novella and loved re-reading the story of how the village bands together when disaster strikes their beloved St. Patrick’s church.  After an October storm destroys the belfry and part of the nave, Fairacre residents pull together a massive festival to raise funds to repair the church roof.  But the bill is steep and money is tight in all the Fairacre households – will they be able to raise enough money, or will they have to sell off a cherished piece of silver to pay for the repairs?  The Fairacre Festival is one of the shortest in the series, but it’s packed full of tension and drama, and with plenty of Miss Read’s signature dry witticisms sprinkled in – at the expense of Mrs. Pringle, mainly.  I always love a visit to Fairacre and nw I’m thinking of a re-read of the entire series.

Saddest. Round-Up. Ever.  What you see above is ALL I managed to finish in the entire month.  Oh, I started a few more books – The Railway Children on my phone, which I’m reading in bits and pieces, All The Light We Cannot See, which I had to return to the library so I bought a copy and then promptly laid it down, and Gilead, which I have been reading verrrrrrry slowly but which I will have to focus on before I have to return it to the library.  You’d think I’d have had more time, what with being snowed in for a week and all, but I just haven’t been able to focus.  Between catching up at work after the big storm, hubby’s absence earlier in the month and all the work I’ve been doing around the house, I just have not made the time to sit down and read.  (It’s also hard to read for extended periods of time because I’m at that stage of pregnancy – have been for weeks – where the couch is hideously uncomfortable.  I’ve started calling it Gitmo Couch and suggested torching it several times.  Since that’s where I do the bulk of my reading, it’s been tough.  I finished The Fairacre Festival while lying on my side on the floor, with the book over my face and one leg up on the coffee table.)  I am hoping for a more bookish December, what with Christmas reading and the fact that I’ve finally managed to unpack most of my favorite books… but I’ll settle for a slightly less pitiful effort.  

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