Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Best Wishes: Update

Way back in August, I wrote about my brother-in-law's engagement.  At the time, I was reeling with how soon he proposed after meeting his future wife.  Fast forward a few months - they were married this weekend.  A beautiful wedding, filled with so much love.  I couldn't be happier for my brother-in-law and new sister-in-law.

For truly, she already is such a part of our family.  She has completely embraced all of us, and there are many of us to embrace.  I return her embrace whole-heartedly.

laura gavin kisses jenandme

(And for the record, I absolutely loved how I looked on Saturday!  I felt so confident in my slinky sequined dress, with the hot pink heels.  My make-up was exactly how I wanted to look, and even my hair cooperated.  Confidence is fabulous!)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

More On Boston and Running

I tend to close myself off from tragedy.  It makes me seem (and often feel) a bit cold and unfeeling, but it's only because if I allow myself to become involved I feel too much.  I dissolve into a lump of sadness, and I can't move on.  I need distance from tragedy to hold myself together.

I haven't been able to close myself off from Monday.  My brother was there.  My brother is safe, but what if?  What if the explosions had been earlier?  What if my brother had run slower?  What if my older brother had been able to meet him at the finish (as originally planned), and they had stayed to watch?

So I'm searching for the news and updates and articles that I usually try to avoid.  And I'm feeling pretty fragile.  It's heartwrenching to read about the victims, but there have been a few things I've read in all of this that I wouldn't have read in a more closed-off state.  Lovely articles that made me cry, but also resonated in my fragile heart. 

The People Who Watch Marathons had me sobbing on the train this morning.  I have been the one cheering in the crowd at so many races for so many years.  Yelling and screaming for my brother, as I watched his high school and college meets.  Jumping up and down like a maniac as he ran past me for a few fleeting seconds. 

And I know it doesn't qualify me as an expert, but I have now run in two races of my own.  And even though they weren't very long races, I was so touched at each by the crowds of strangers along the streets, holding up signs for ME.  Jumping up and down for ME.  Cheering... for me.  It was so different - and exhilerating! - being on the other side of the race.  

So I'm stuck.  Feeling too much.  Feeling too fragile.  Feeling stuck and weepy and unable to concentrate.

But also wondering when I can run another race again.  So when my dad emailed me about the Port to Fort 6k in Baltimore, which already supports a cause dear to my heart, and how they have created the team "Run For Boston," I knew I had found my race. 

Now all I need is "permission" from Nate to sign up - I'll need his babysitting services!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cause Boston, you're my home

I grew up in a town just west of Boston, where Patriot's Day meant two things: spring break, and the Boston Marathon.  My father ran the marathon several years ago now, though it feels like his run was last year.  He trained for months, losing 50 pounds along the way. 

My younger brother ran it yesterday.  Yesterday, while I was reveling in my 5k success, my brother had just finished a 26.2 mile run through the suburbs of Boston. 

In my post yesterday, I meant to write about how I was sitting at work, nearly biting my nails with nerves, watching the live coverage of the marathon online, hoping for some little glimpse of my brother in the crowds.  He was near the front with a very low bib number, so I thought just maybe he'd run past a camera at the start and I'd see him.

I was on edge all morning watching the race, waiting for the text messages to tell me his splits.  He finished at 12:47, with a race time of 2:46:53.  Twenty-six point two miles, averaging 6:21 minute miles.  Amazing.

And as soon as I received that text, my heart began to feel lighter and I was able to relax a little.  He shortly thereafter sent a text "Call me Elvis cuz I'm still alive."  He was making jokes!  Cheerful!  So I knew he was in good spirits, and happy with his race.

And even more thankfully - he finished so early, he was already boarding a train out of the city when the bombs went off.  He was safe, and heading home, far from the fray of the explosions.  He texted everyone immediately that he was fine.

My brother is safe.

My heart goes out to every Bostonian today, to all the runners, all the race organizers and volunteers, and to all the spectators at the race.  My prayers are with the victims and their families.  I am beyond thankful that my brother is safe, that all my friends and family from the city are safe.

I don't live in Boston anymore, nor do I have plans to move there in the future.  But Boston is my home.  It's part of me.  You can take the girl out of Boston, but you can never take the Boston out of the girl.  Love that dirty water.

Monday, April 15, 2013

On Pace

I ran my second 5k in as many weeks yesterday - the Red Shoe Shuffle, for which participants raised over $250,000 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Baltimore.  Well over three times the original goal of the race!  I am so proud that our family took part in such a great cause.

Yes, we ran the race as a family.  Sort of.  Nate walk/jogged holding Gavin.  I ran pushing Laura.  Laura chatted and kicked her feet up, after telling us for weeks how excited she was to run in the race.  I'm not at all surprised she didn't actually run at all - and having her run wasn't the point.  The point was we were running for sick children in the hospital.  And when she kept asking when we would get to the hospital to help the sick children, I knew she wanted to help.  She didn't run, but her heart was 100% in it.


As for me, I ran a 5k pushing a stroller for the very first time in 33:40!  I was hoping for under 35 minutes, giving me a 5 minute grace period from my solo 5k last week.  I knew pushing a stroller would be harder.  And it was!  What a different experience!

First, I had to remember that I usually run swinging my arms.  Once I realized that the BOB I borrowed was so, so easy to push one-handed, I just switched which arm pushed and which arm swung, and that helped.  But perhaps even harder was that I don't usually talk when I run... and Laura could not have been chattier!  I was so exhausted just from talking to her, and leaning down to hear her over the noise of wind, other runners, some very loud cheering, and bits of traffic!

I did have to walk a tiny section - the middle portion of the very last "hill" was just too much.  But when the firefighters started clapping for me, saying "Great job, mom!" I knew I had to start running again and make it to the top! 

As far as racing tactics went, I had a little trouble getting started.  There were a TON of walkers blocking me from running at all, and I had to get used to navigating the stroller through those crowds.  I was a little irritated, as there was a start section for runners (I was in it), and a start section for walkers - people clearly just didn't care. 

Aside from that, my pacing was much more even this race!  I probably went out a little too fast the first half, since that last hill slowed me to a walk, but I also wasn't sprinting like a crazy person at the end, with too much left in my legs.  So I'm really happy with that.

I don't have any more races on the horizon, but I'd definitely sign up for another 5k if one came my way! 


Friday, April 12, 2013

Why I Blog

I freaked.out. the other day.  Completely, 100% lost my everything.  Over birthday party invitations.  And just when I thought I was going to ruin the birthday party and mess everything up and have the worst, uninspiring invitations ever, I dragged myself back to reality.

I read through my blog.  I pulled up the posts on the three birthday parties I've thrown so far, and read them.  I smiled as I remembered Laura's first, second and third birthdays.  I lovingly revisited her parties - and laughed when I remembered how difficult it has been for me to find invitations for her birthdays, too!

I read through my blog, and found some perspective.

But I also found a little inspiration.  Reading those blog posts reminded me of some websites I hadn't checked yet for this round of planning.  Websites like Paperless Post.  How could I have forgotten Paperless Post?!  Hysteria does weird things to a person.

At any rate, if you haven't clicked over to Paperless Post, go check it out.  I have always been so, very pleased with all of their beautiful invitations.  I feel such a connection - knowing that I'm not the only person out there trying to throw a polar bear party, or a Preakness (betting included) first birthday party.


Perfect, right?  Absolutely, freaking perfect.  Exactly what I wanted - and was unable to find anywhere else on the web.  Etsy, Tiny Prints, Minted, Shutterfly, Snapfish... I was getting desperate, and no one had what I wanted.  Paperless Post did - and in paper form, too!

By spending a few minutes to read through my life in blog form, I found focus - and ultimately found invitations.  Panic has subsided.  It's going to be a great birthday party.  And Gavin won't even care!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Panic Mode! Again.

It's that time again!  That wonderful time in which I panic over ALL THINGS PARTY!  

After planning our annual Christmas party in December, Gavin's baptism, Laura's family birthday party, and Laura's friend birthday party in January, and my mom's 60th/going away party in March, I thought I was going to relish a few weeks off from party planning.  Well, I did for a minute or two.  And then I realized that Gavin's 1st birthday is really, really soon.

Crap.  So now I'm floundering in party planning panic mode.  And I just have to say - this panic is just not well timed. IMG_4817a

I'm still struggling a little bit here to pull myself out of the winter doldrums.  Everything sucks.  Everything is the worst.  I want to eat all the food all the time.  I just am feeling really negative.

And now - the horror! - I can't find invitations for Gavin's birthday party that remotely fit the bill (or are in my cheap-o price range).  Quelle disaster! 

First world problems, I'm sure.

Woah there, Caitlin.  It's a first birthday party.  There will be other parties.  Who cares if the invitations aren't perfect with typography and horseshoes and little Gavin on his rocking giraffe.  Gavin certainly won't care.  No one else will, either.

I really need a reality check, where I realize that the world isn't ending over birthday party invitations.  That my life is pretty damn awesome.  I am sincerely fortunate - and I need to appreciate that fact.  The sun is out, the birds are chirping, and my family is the best. 

I just think maybe I need a little more ice cream first.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Cherry Blossom 5k

Ok, so I was originally supposed to run the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile.  My head and lack of training got in the way and talked me down to the 5k.  And I'm honestly glad for that.  At 7:00 yesterday morning, as I watched the waves of runners go by, I was so, so glad I was waiting for the 5k to start.

A 5k - 3.1 miles.  A whole 5k worth of confidence.

I weighed my options between both races very seriously.  Did I want to just finish a 10 mile run, and possibly not be able to, and very possibly quit running after the race?  Or did I want to try for a time in the 5k, feel great about it, keep running, but maybe deal with a twinge of guilt for not trying the 10 mile.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="225"]20130408-144741.jpg Pre-race[/caption]

So I went with 5k, understanding that I wanted a sub-30 time, also understanding that I have no idea how to pace myself without a treadmill.  Ahem.

I lined up, near the start, and nudged myself and my friend (whose goal was to run the first mile) closer and closer to the front.  Might as well start at the front of the pack!  We were probably the first 100 over the line.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="300"]20130408-144750.jpg 5k start[/caption]

And then we were off.  A jog really for me, but I was enjoying my friend's company and I was afraid of going out too fast.  I stayed with my friend at a really easy jog till the first "hill" (on a very flat course).  My feet were itching to go faster, and I just hate jogging up hills.  So I bid farewell to my friend, and really started running.  I got to the first mile at 11:20.

And my heart and brain shouted "CRAP!"  So I picked up my pace.  I got to the 2nd mile at 21:56 - the ten minute mile that is so comfortable for me.  But a third ten-plus minute mile wasn't getting me that sub-thirty time!  So I picked up my pace.  And picked it up again, and kept increasing my speed and passing people and passing more people... which felt great, but also felt stupid - I should have just been faster all along!

I got to the 3 mile mark - just one tenth of a mile to go, and really tried to pick up my pace just a little bit more, but my legs were all "hey crazy lady, how much faster do you think we can move? c'mon!"  So I just kept up as fast as I could.

And then I saw it.  The clock on the finish.  The clock that was reading 29:43.  And I knew somewhere in me that it took me a little to get over the start, and that I was getting my sub-30, but I just needed in my heart for the CLOCK to be under 30 minutes when I crossed that finish line.

So I gave every single last drop I had in me.  And I crossed at 29:55.  An adjusted time of 29:40.  And I am so, so, very proud of my time.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="225"]20130408-144757.jpg Post-race[/caption]

However, I really couldn't done a worse job pacing myself!  A sub-8 minute mile for the last mile?  STUPID!  I could have run 3.1 9-minute miles and gotten an even better time!

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="225"]20130408-144805.jpg Cherry Blossoms[/caption]

Or.  I could have run ten 10-minute miles.  Because I obviously have more run in me than I knew.

I am not disappointed in myself in the least.  I am really proud of myself for running at all, the past few months.  I am really proud of myself for getting that sub-30 time, come hell or high water.  I am really proud of myself that now I know I can run a 10 mile race.  And I am really, really proud to say I know I'll run it next year.

And who knows - maybe next year, the cherry blossoms will actually be open!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Things I Can't Say

I am so excited and honored to be guest posting for Shell today!

I always wanted to be an advocate for something. It took me a long time to figure out what that something was.  Read about the cause I am choosing to support at Shell's blog, Things I Can't Say. Read my post over there! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Old School Blogging: April!

I had fun with this last month, so I'm doing it again!

1. How did your husband pop the big question?

How was he supposed to?  Or how did he?  He planned to ask on a sunset hot air balloon ride - something I have always wanted to do.  He found a place in Virginia, had it all planned... and it was too windy at the last minute.  He kept waiting for the wind to die down, in hopes that we'd still get our balloon ride, rather than ask at any of the gorgeous wineries we'd been at all day.  So when we got the final word on the ride (not happening), he asked in the middle of our 4pm dinner - in an empty restaurant.  I swear I nodded "yes" before I grabbed the ring!


2. What are the three most surprising things about married life?

When I said that vow "in good times and in bad," I didn't quite realize how soon we might be tested on the bad.  And yet, when we came back from our honeymoon to find that Nate's company had closed overnight, we were able to face it unfazed - this was our first "in bad," and we were fine.  We are fine.

Our priest said in his sermon that from the moment we said "I do," we were a family.  Those words went straight to my heart.  We were each other's family from the very moment we were married. 

While we are our own family, and I treasure that feeling, the families we grew up with are right there behind us.  Because you don't just marry your spouse - you marry an entire family.  And if you thought they drove you nuts before... well, good luck - they're your family now too!


3. How did you find out you were pregnant for the first time?

I wasn't late yet, but we were definitely trying for a baby, and I just felt... different.  My period wasn't late, but I took a pregnancy test anyway.  Two very pink lines later I knew I wasn't crazy!

4. How did you choose your first baby's name?

I have known I would have a "Laura" since I first read the Little House books, starting in second grade.  Nate and I had been dating about six months, when he shyly asked, "What do you think of the name Laura? I'd love a little girl named Laura."  I laughed and asked when we could make that happen!  (At ages 20 and 24, I'm glad we waited a little longer before getting our Laura!)

5. Describe where you see yourself in 10 years from now...

2023.  Wow.  That seems really far away!  I'll have a 13 year old, an 11 year old, and hopefully another around age 8?  Nate would say "and another around age 5 or 6!"  Help.  We'll be in our forever house with more than one bathroom and some closets!  I'll be in the thick of things with Laura being a teenager, so in ten years I see myself clutching a mug of coffee and a bottle of wine.  I'll be helping with homework, dropping off, picking up, carpooling, maybe in minivan #2 (unless they invent something cooler)... and probably still working, too. 

6. Describe how you find bliss, either with words or images.

Nothing is more blissful to me than the ritual of brewing and drinking tea.  I can't imagine anything more relaxing than pouring the steaming water into my teacup, jiggling the teabag to help it steep, stirring in my sugar, smelling the Oil of Bergamot and finally taking that first sip.  Maybe if I'm doing that on a cool, sunny day with a book waiting patiently to be read.  Especially if that cool sunny day and book are on Cape Cod.  It's the little things in life :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Project: Decorate

I have seen so many bloggers post about how easily they recovered their dining room chairs. So when I was given six wonderful chairs from my parents a few weeks ago, badly in need of recovering, I decided to buy some fabric and break out the staple gun!

But let's stop for a little confession: I haven't really ever done any decorating in my home.

I mean, I've made some bad paint choices (that I'm living with), and I've hung a few pictures (not very straight). But the only curtains are those that my mom made for Laura's room before she was born. The only furniture I have bought is one (massive) desk, the dining room table, a kitchen island, and a TV stand. Everything else in our house is a hand-me-down - some welcome, and most other less so.

So choosing fabric for these chairs was a really big deal for me. Such a big deal, I completely choked when I got to the store and saw all the choices. Colors! And patterns! And textures! OH MY. I sent several options to my mom. And got a quick NO!NO!NO! response from her. She guided me away from prints, and towards mossy green - to match my beloved Constance china.

Here's what we found (a cotton-poly blend moire in "Medici Leaf"):

The next challenge was deciding how much fabric I needed to buy. I had six chairs and had read somewhere to get a yard per chair. But my fabric was really wide, and wouldn't need a pattern to be lined up anywhere (bonus!). I quickly texted Nate to see how wide our chairs were, to see if I could double up the fabric. Response: Four phones across. How scientific! But the measurement was enough to assure me I only needed three yards.


Laura and I returned home, our precious roll of fabric tucked under my arm. I broke out the screwdrivers and staple gun, tore off the old fabric (seriously - my parents lovingly put that on in 1993! It held up, got the job done, and was ready to retire), and discovered my next challenge: my staple gun was broken. Off to the store for a new one, and we were ready!

This was seriously such an easy and gratifying experience. I LOVE the fabric I chose (thanks, Mom!), and am so happy with how quickly and easily I was able to transform these chairs.  I also only used two yards of fabric in the end, so now I'm thinking of using the extra yard (plus maybe I'll buy some more) to make some sort of window treatment to tie things together.  Who knows.

Fabric: $32.40 ($10/yard)
Staple gun: $13.00

Total: $45.40 (plus a little time watching TV while I worked)

Since I had some nice little side scraps, I thought I'd recover one extra little chair as a surprise for my Chief Decorator, Laura:


For this little chair, I used a few lines of hot glue, and just cut around the arms and back of the chair. It took me about ten minutes. Laura (and the mouse she stole from Gavin) love it!



If I can do this home decor project, there's hope for the world!  What should I decorate next?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Easter

Our Easter weekend started Friday, when my MIL (aka nanny!) headed to the South to spend Easter with one of my brothers-in-law.  The kids were left without daycare, so Nate planned a Day of Fun with them.  They left the house around 9am, and didn't get home till 6pm.  This day included a trip to the sporting goods store (thankfully, the helmet and bat did not come home), Babies R Us, and a fabulous park!


The kids love the park. Laura's favorites are the slides.

Gavin loves climbing. I love this picture.

Saturday, Laura and I embraked fairly early on a trip to Joann's and Home Depot. I needed fabric for a home decor project (post to come!), and Laura needed more flowers for her my gardening project.  I had a minor panic attack trying to choose fabric, which included a call to my mother at 8am California time.  We scored some great fabric in the end, and Laura chose some really beautiful flowers! 

However, Laura's career in gardening came to an abrubt halt when she learned that she'd have to get her hands dirty to plant the flowers.  She opted instead to scoop out the world's tiniest shovels full of peat moss into the holes I dug, and to yell at me when I just dug my hands straight into the peat moss to get the job done.

The kids went to bed, leaving Nate and I to decide on our Easter Tradition, as this is the first holiday we have had, jsut the four of us, ever.  And the first Easter I haven't spent with Nate's family since I was nineteen.  Let that sink in a moment.  We decided that the Easter Bunny would leave the baskets in plain sight, and would not hide any eggs or candy this year.  With two dogs in our small house, we just didn't think a three-year-old and ten-month-old would really notice the lack of candy!

Don't you worry - they had some pretty sweet (and fairly inexpensive) gifts in their baskets!  They look really full, as they were mostly filled with bubble wand sets!



Yup. Gavin is wearing real, authentic leiderhosen, courtesy a business trip my father took to Germany in 1979. Yup, my older brother wore those back in the day!

We made it to church, enjoyed delicious brunch, took epic naps, and finished our gardening in the rain, and almost completely finished the home decor project yesterday. It was a packed weekend. And absolutely wonderful! Happy Easter!