Wednesday, August 29, 2012

To Be 19 Again…

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Sometimes you just have to do it.  Party like a rock star.  The night before your son’s very first day of Kindergarten.  It is super responsible parenting.  Believe me!!

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First we bought tickets to see Train in another city.  Hoping that the first day of school wouldn’t conflict, and it did of course.  Then Rick and Cali booked a ridiculously long limo to go to the concert allowing us to let loose (mainly me and Cali) in a way that hasn’t been seen in probably five years.  Like I said, great parenting.

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We lived it up.  Got questioned by the cops.   That is a long story, but basically there is ABSOLUTELY NO TAILGATING at this venue.  We learned the hard way.  Drank more beers than I care to count.  Took pictures that are blurry and silly.  Ate McDonald’s late night just because. 

Of course we listened to some awesome music…you tube wouldn’t let me post in though!!

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Then partied like rock stars on the way home.

It was five years in the making.  Two back to back pregnancies and years of nursing.  It was time.  The inner Kappa Delta, Hokie, College Kid came out in a major way.  I loved every second of it.  

Just not the next day when the kids were miserable and I was still nervous to eat anything at one in the afternoon.  Life is short and you gotta let yourself let go sometimes.

It was a night to remember. 

PS  Thank you for all of the encouragement, words of congrats, and questions about losing the baby weight.  It feels great to know that hard work does pay off!  I will definitely do a post about some of my favorite foods right now, and go to snacks that won’t undo your hard work.  Stay tuned!!

Love, Clare

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Journey to a Better Me

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Maybe it was the three years of being pregnant or nursing.  Maybe it was seeing myself in Christmas photos this past year and not liking what I saw.  Maybe it was just the right time for me.  Something clicked after having Grace.  It clicked in a great way, and has made the better part of 2012 a journey to a better, fitter, faster, stronger, and healthier me.

There have been ups and downs in the road, but I have officially lost every ounce of baby weight left over from Ellie and Gracie.  That is 31 lbs. lost from January to June.  How did I do it you ask?

First I have to say that I wanted it, and that is probably the most important part.  Yes, I lost all the weight from Bradley.  A few lbs. crept on while we were trying to have Ellie.  The doctors told me not to work out so vigorously.  Next thing you know I am pregnant and the roller coaster of weight gain begins again.  Add in nursing Ellie for 11 months, not really working out hard, and one more pregnancy and Taaa Daaa…not so pretty!

After Grace was born at the end of October, I gave myself two sleep deprived months to eat terrible, survive the holidays, and then the week after Christmas I purchased a new pair of running shoes and the journey began.

I still remember that first run after Grace, I could hardly run 10 minutes without my lungs burning and thinking I was going to die.  I knew that the battle to get fit was going to be a long and hard road.  Especially after two c-sections in two years.  That will do a number on your body!

Second was finding an amazing trainer.  I wish I had a picture of Vanessa to share (one will come soon).  She teaches a number of classes at the gym by my house, you can walk or run up to it, it is so close!  She is motivating, fun, and will push you harder than you think possible.  I started seeing her in January once a week.  Vanessa would take me through machines at the gym in a totally different way.  She had me working so hard on the rowing machine one time, that I have used plenty of times before, that I thought I was going to die.  And that was just a warm up.  When you are counting down the first eight minutes of your hour long work out, you know you are in trouble!  Plus the fact that she would show me how to really use the machines to work hard, it seemed as if I must have been picking my nose when I came to the gym before meeting Vanessa. 

Not only did we do things around the gym, but she has a great way of using your own body against you.  It is an evil little trick she does.  You start with the first rep of this or that and think, ‘this isn’t that hard’ and by the third round you are swearing her up and down.  There is something so fun and happy about her that makes you still want to come back for more torture.

Meeting with her once a week, and taking her Athletic Conditioning class once or twice a week has been killer.  I have seen myself change.  My body get so strong.  And feel the best I have felt in years.  Vanessa really helped me to get my core back together.  Literally.  She will still laugh at what a weakling I was about core work this winter.  Now I am right there with the best of them.  You wouldn’t even know that I just had two c-sections!  I can do regular push-ups, run sprints, do jumping jacks until the cows come home, and throw the medicine ball from here to the moon.  Ok, not really, but sometimes it feels like that!  (Thank you Vanessa!!)

Third was running.  Lots and lots of running.  I found a little spark for running in college.  I have enjoyed it on and off since then.  But, I have run A LOT in the past six months.  I added two apps to my iphone “Run Keeper” and “Map My Run.”  They are both great, but I have fallen in love with Run Keeper.  It will tell you ever five or ten minutes your distance, pace, and time.  It will also keep track of your ‘runs’ online, distances logged, etc. 

Since I started using the running apps in April I have run 170 miles in five months. 

I have gotten my average pace down from a 11 minute mile to a 9 minute mile.  I have logged some of my farthest runs in years.  Once a week I am trying to do a long run for 6 to 8 miles.  And then a few shorter sprint or interval runs.  It is amazing to walk in the door after a six mile run.  I feel like a million bucks, smell like a laborer, and I am probably more emotionally level than ever.  If that makes sense?

Fourth has been food.  I know, I know you don’t want to hear about all of the crap, I mean rabbit food I have been eating.  But, I am going to tell you anyway.  I joined weight watchers.  Did I mention two years of back to back pregnancies??  Well, that can also do a number on your eating habits.  Ice cream?? Sure.  Snacks?? Sure.  You know the drill.  Weight watchers is one of the few plans that has built in systems for breast feeding mamas.  So, I used it all while I was fully nursing Grace, weaning Grace, and without nursing Grace.  I still felt like I was eating, just not as much, and smaller portions as the breastfeeding tapered off.  Unfortunately you can’t have weight loss without changing your food AND moving your body.  I realize too that was why I was able to lose the weight so quickly.  I was working out five to six days a week, breastfeeding, and dieting.  That is a lot going on in one little body.  I wanted it gone.  For good.  Even though I say rabbit food, it really hasn’t been that at all.  I found this AMAZING website, Skinnytaste.  I have printed out an entire three ring binder of her recipes.  We eat from them pretty much every night of the week.  She has so much variety and something to please even the pickiest eaters (my kids;)  We still go out to eat, maybe once or twice a week.  I still splurge now and then.  But I have also found a lot of substitutes for things that I love.  If you want more info on the food part let me know!

The last reason it worked was making the time.  I put myself first, for the first time in a LONG time.  Probably three or four years to be exact.  Chris and I found the money and the time for me to meet with Vanessa once a week.  I meet with her in a small group so it is really cost effective.  I run early in the mornings before the kids wake up.  Or I drag them all to the gym with me.  Luckily, I am home, the gym is very close, and they have childcare available.  I will wake up early on the weekends to run, or run before we start our day while the kids are eating breakfast.  I just make the time.  Period. 

I am better for it.  I am happier and healthier.  I am setting a good example for them.  And fitting into skinny jeans isn’t so bad either…

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It Happened

Today it happened…

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You got on that big yellow bus, you know the one that all new mommies dream about.  That moment in time that seems so so far away when you first bring home that little bundle of a baby.  That morning, that moment that all moms dream about and dread came this morning.

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  You climbed right on that bus this morning.  We sent you off with your big boy hair spiked up, your new bright sneakers, and your enormous Batman backpack.

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You got on.  You smiled.  You had fun. 

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I don’t know when it happened.  But it did!  You grew up into a little boy that we couldn’t be more proud of.  I thought about you ALL day.  Wondering what you were doing, if you were having fun.  If you felt safe and happy.

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My mind is still trying to process this HUGE moment.  For now I am just happy because you came home happy and smiling.  And all is right in the world.  Until next time big yellow bus…

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Patience, Being Silly, and More Patience

Aren’t those the three things you need to get the “Perfect” beach picture of your family?!!  We tried for an entire afternoon to get the perfect shot!  Everything from standing on our heads, hooting like birds and other crazy make believe animals, bribing kids with sweet tarts and other treats, and just plain begging them.  Sometimes it works…

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Unfortunately, the lighting wasn’t good in a bunch of the pictures when my three where all looking at the camera so sweetly.  I tried to fix them up in lightroom, but I think they are just botched…turning some of them into black and white photos seemed to help!!?

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And sometimes all of the begging and pleading just doesn’t help…look at THAT FACE!

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I love these three little birdies though, they were such buds on the trip.  I know they will be life long friends.

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Some of my favorite pictures with my littlest babe

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Ellie dancing around like always, I couldn’t have picked a more perfect sky!

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And look at these pictures I got of Rick and Cali and the girls…LOVE

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Rick doesn’t look very happy, but I know he is smiling on the inside!

My biggest and my littlest, can’t believe he starts Kindergarten in TWO days!

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This might be our best family shot, at least they are all looking at the camera!

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I sure love this one though…Gracie screaming and Ellie fussing at her, life with little ones!

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I am officially done with beach pictures, it only took me three weeks! 

Now I must get busy posting about our very exciting week ahead!!  We already met our new teacher, Mrs. L and are headed to Kindergarten on Thursday.  The bus picks up at 7:25 outside the house, early right?!  Our Kindergarteners get to do a “staggered” entrance.  So, school actually starts for everyone on Wednesday, but the K classes get split up into smaller groups so the can have one day with six or seven kids to get used to school.  Bradley’s day is Thursday and then he starts every day next Monday.  Yikes!!

I have been flooded with emotions with this big milestone approaching.  Tears were flowing as Chris and I talked in bed after open house.  There is so much to process, but for now checking off the last few days of summer with some fun!

More excitement coming soon! Love, Clare

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Beaching it with the Besties

This was our fourth year traveling with Rick and Cali and their girls down to the beach.  There really isn’t anything sweeter then spending your vacation time with people you love and watching your children play and grow up together over the years.  Cali is such a special person, one of the very first people we met in Charlottesville.  Rick actually sold us the lot to our old house!  We both had Larken and Bradley right around the same time, and nothing bonds you quite like testing out motherhood together.  She is so special to me and their whole family has a place in our hearts.  

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Chris and Rick have a very similar sense of humor, and they would get Cali and I laughing so hard we would cry!  Watching the Olympics with those two boys was a trip.  Cali texted me when we got back about missing their commentary while she was watching gymnastics. 

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And this guy has been so busy the three months leading up to our vacation.  It has been a blessing for Chris’ business, but we both have been running around in circles.  The three kiddos and I at home, and Chris leaving early each morning and trucking home late each night.  The beach trip couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.  It was much needed for me and the kids.  Here we are in our annual group photo headed out for a delicious dinner on the town.  We have gone to this local restaurant each year the, Fin and Claw, and it is amazing! 

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On to the kiddos…

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It is downright amazing the amount of things you have to bring to the beach.  And with the two girls still needing so much “stuff” we actually bought a Thule attachment for the top of our mini van.  Yep, three kids, tons of crap, and a bag on the top of the car.  I am sure we looked hilarious driving around!!  Gracie and Ellie both still needed pack and plays (Ellie is in a big girl bed this week…more news on that later), Grace needed bottles, formula, baby food, bibs, spoons, the list goes on and on.  Add all of that in with the normal beach junk and you have a car full! 

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We stayed in the same beach house as last year and it was perfect!  Plenty of room for everyone, a huge pool, two kitchen areas, and lots of places for the kiddos to run and romp around.  We added a golf cart to our rental this year and that was really fun.  The kids loved zipping around in it, up to the beach, to grab ice cream, or taking a playground trip.  It was Chris’ idea and it was such a good one!

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The kids had so much fun in the pool this year!  We played in the pool every day when we got home from the beach and a lot of times we went in again before or after dinner.  They love having a pool right there at the house.  The Daddies are always so much fun in the pool, Chris and Bradley really played around in the water.

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Bradley was quite the little scientist on this trip.  He spent a lot of his beach time looking for cool shells, searching for mussels and crabs, and he even caught a frog at the beach house.  So fun to see them really growing up!  He wasn’t into swimming in the ocean as much as last year.  The surf was a little rough while we were there.

More of my favorite beachy photos…

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Life is good!  Love, Clare

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Let’s go to the beach, each….Let’s go get away

That was our theme song for this trip, Nicki Minaj was played over and over again at the beach house.  She could be heard outside from the pool speakers, over the squeals, screams and splashes of the kids playing hard all week.  To sum it up, we had a BLAST!

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We played hard every day.  Beach first, check.  Pool next, check.  Naps next, check.  Rinse and Repeat, check.

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I’m not sure who was more tired at the end of each day and at the end of the week, us or the kids…it might have been a tie.

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One beach house and six children is a recipe for madness, but we handled it and had a lot of fun in the process.  We pretty much did everything the beach has to offer, sand, swim, bike rides, pool, tooling around in the golf cart, ice cream, putt putt, go carts, shopping, the list goes on and on.

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This little mamacita loved the sand.  I am talking covered from head to toe.  She wasn’t such a fan of the waves and water this year.  She stuck very close to Chris and I and did a lot of digging in the sand and building sand castles. 

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Bradley spent most of his beach time building things with Chris or looking for little crabs and mussels.  We learned some hard lessons when he tried to bring them all back in his beach bucket and they died.  He would hunt for them every day on the beach, all the while building elaborate castles and moats with Chris. 

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I have yet to really look through the hundreds of photos, but here are some of my favorites from the warm days on the beach.  Just a few more weeks of summer for us and Bradley starts kindergarten in just a bit.  I really can’t wrap my head around it!

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More on the beach coming soon!!!