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The night before was a late one, up until 11 with a sick Wild Man. Then again from 2am-4am for the same reason.

And this morning, before my eyes have opened for the day my Quiet One is asking me what I want for breakfast then hanging a sign on my bedroom door instructing me NOT to come out, before relaying my requests to my Right Hand Gal. Half an hour later the Quiet One is back, hanging a new sign instructing me TO come out.

I walk into a dining room that has been adorned with streamers and a Happy Birthday sign, a balloon, 3 gifts and a plate of breakfast. All 4 of mine are sitting at the table, breakfast bowls in front of them, smiles on their faces, Happy Birthday on their lips. They talk excitedly, show me each of the decorations and gift bags and the balloon. We eat and chat and soon I realize that the Baby needs her diaper changed and that half of the cereal they have poured for themselves is scattered across the table and all over the dining room floor. Oh well.

We move to the living room where I change the Baby’s diaper and listen to the oldest 3 argue about who’s gift will be opened first and who’s gift will be opened last. I listen for awhile and sigh and debate how much to lecture on this morning and then we decide I will eeny meeny miny moe it and that takes care of that.

The gifts are precious and priceless and nearly bring tears. A movie from my oldest, chocolate from my wildest, money from his piggy bank from my quietest. The baby didn’t get me a gift but she did scribble a bit on a piece of paper that her sister then signed and wrapped to give to me.

We read library books on the couch. We make it through half a book, with Wild Man talking all the while and the Baby hamming it up in my lap. My Right Hand Gal reads the second half. We finish that one but decide to wait to start another.

A dance party follows, as well as a bit of fighting when Wild Man changes the song before my Quiet One is ready for the song to be changed. Our party breaks up and my Quiet One remarks, “That was a really short birthday…”

They run and chase and wrestle and holler while I get dressed and pour my coffee and try to read 1 page of the book I am in the middle of. But the volume continues to increase so I lay down my book, put my ice coffee in the fridge and tell them all it is time to go outside.

The older 2 ride bikes, the younger 2 ride in the stroller and I walk up and down our street, up and down, up and down. The Baby falls asleep. Wild Man whines. My audio book plays through its last chapter.

Under the carport where I can see her, the Baby sleeps as I make lunch and the older 3 play. But she doesn’t sleep long so her brothers entertain her while my Right Hand Gal helps me get lunch on the table. Veggie burgers and homemade hummus and carrots and green grapes. We chomp and chew, lunch is oh so good. We play lunch games (games with no pieces) and talk about the plan for the rest of our day.

Chores are tackled, another diaper changed, much more whining and many more tears come from the semi-sick Wild Man. Then it is rest time for all.

The older 2 take the youngest to “space” and close the door. I read to Wild Man, sing 9 songs, smother him in kisses, remind him to hug his mama, and hope, as I walk out the door, that it will be as easy as that. Today it is.

I sneak out to the backyard to complete my 100 burpees, ask my oldest to give me just 5 more minutes when she wanders outside, with the Baby on her hip, before I have gotten to 50, then head back inside, burpees accomplished, sweat pouring, legs and arms shaking.

I clean the kitchen, guide the older 2 through the last of their chores and take the Baby to her room to nurse and nap. She nurses. She does not nap.

We eat popcorn in space and watch Planes. The Baby plays on the floor. Wild Man sleeps. The clock hits 4. It is time to shower and shave and spend more than my usual minute on my appearance. Tonight is a birthday date with my hubby.

Wild Man wakes up. He and the Baby sit on the floor of the bathroom playing with cars and Legos. The Baby forgets I am there until she pulls up on the tub and peeks her head around the curtain. Then she is suddenly desperate for me to hold her. Wild Man has barely stopped fussing since the moment he woke up. I call for my older 2 and ask that they intervene. My oldest takes the Baby. My Quiet One tells Wild Man to come play in space. My girls stay quiet. My boys are fighting within minutes. Sigh…

I dress. Make-up and mousse and a bracelet. Sandals with a bit of a heel. The wild one keeps crying, nose running, hair as wild as he. The baby is tired. The older 2 help. I settle the Baby in her crib, close her door and my hubby is beside me. Relief.

“This day, babe. Oh this day! So sweet and so crazy.” I say. He asks me what I want to do. “Lay down.” I reply, as I finish getting ready to go.

His parents have come to take care of our 4, while my hubby takes care of me. Hugs and thank yous and the door closes, we drive away.

He surprises me with Fidos and my parents, my grandmother and my siblings. Gifts, flowers, a book and a photo album filled with old snapshots. All of my favorite things. We share a meal with my family for my birthday. The sweet tradition has carried on. Chicken and eggplant and sweet potato and spinach. Every bite is savored. So is the cinnamon latte that follows. The drive home is peaceful.

I come home to nurse the Baby to sleep. Read books to my Quiet One and listen to his thoughts. Right Hand Gal learns division with her daddy.

The house is quiet. All 4 of my babes are asleep. My hubby is near me.

Days are long and sweet. I am loved. Life is good.

Just when I think I’ve got this whole motherhood thing figured out (which usually lasts about four point three seconds), one of my three throws another curve ball. This time it was my oldest.

For the majority of her seven years of life, my oldest has been my easiest- compliant, mature, helpful, gentle, trustworthy. She is big sister to two brothers (ages four and one) and exhibits first born qualities through out the day, every day. She is my helper, my sidekick, my shadow. So when, on a now forgotten date, some weeks ago, she began exhibiting behaviors I had never seen in her before, I quickly became more than a little perplexed.

Dark was her mood for many of those days, and not in the way of a young child, not in the way of her brothers when they pout or whine or lash out. This was different. This was new. -Honestly, she reminded me of my darkest days as a teenager, days when I was sullen and brooding and weepy with no idea why or what in the world to do about it. (“Can a seven year old be hormonal??” I kept thinking. “Surely not!”)- Many tears were shed over those few weeks (most of them hers, a couple mine), as I wondered what was happening to my girl and what was I, her mama, going to do about it? But it wasn’t until last week that I became alarmed when she not once, but twice within a few days time, was physically unkind to her brother.

Now I realize that in many households this is normal- siblings fight, siblings hit and push or worse- and would not necessarily be cause for alarm. But this has never been the case in our home. (ok, I take that back, my one year old hits when he is mad -or frustrated or whatever it is that one year olds get- and that was probably the case when my other two were that age as well.) But now, and for as long as I can remember, Meadow and Granite do not and have not been siblings that physically fight. So last week when one argument with Granite led to her angrily pushing him off the bed with her foot and another involved her hitting his leg in response to something he said, I knew something just wasn’t right. (Both times I happened to walk in the room right as she did it, allowing me to observe and understand in a way I could not have had I only learned about it through Granite telling on her. I think that was a God thing.)

So last Thursday night (after the morning that Meadow hit Granite’s leg, her second “offense”) we were in the car on the way home, Meadow and Granite bickering in the very back seat of the van, Chaz and I talking quietly in the front as I tried not to overreact to the bickering, and Canyon observing it all from his carseat in the middle, when I brought up the hitting incident and expressed my concerns about what was going on with Meadow. I had mentioned her behavior several times prior but not with as much emphasis or concern. “I don’t know what to do with her. I don’t understand where this behavior is coming from.” were some of my words to my husband. And it was right around that time that the bickering in the backseat escalated (once again, as had happened so many times that week, thanks to Meadow) to the point that Meadow was told by her father not to speak again until we got home (about five minutes away).

“You guys go on inside. I’m going to stay in the car and talk to Meadow.” were Chaz’s words to me as we pulled into our driveway. I gathered the boys and their bags, headed inside and began getting them both ready for bed, all the while thinking about my girl and wondering what was being said in the van sitting under our carport.

About fifteen minutes later father and daughter entered our back door and Meadow quickly, quietly headed to her room to get ready for bed, Granite following her close behind. I greeted them both from the couch then watched Meadow walk away, noting that I would talk with her after talking to my hubby. Standing, with Canyon on my hip, I asked my hubby how the talk went, what was said, what was her response to him. Almost immediately his eyes filled with tears. Alarmed and surprised I waited for him to speak. He recounted their conversation, speaking the words that brought his tears-

“A few minutes into the conversation it dawned on me to ask, ‘Has someone  been treating you that way?’ (referencing her hitting and pushing her brother), to which she immediately answered, ‘Yes, Amaya next door hits and pushes me sometimes and she yells at me.'”

At that point he paused, giving me a chance to gently ask, “Why the tears?”

“It’s just so pitiful. She’s never been treated that way by anyone. And you know it’s been on her mind by how quickly she answered me. Just picturing her dealing with that and thinking about that…” he kind of trailed off at that point, tears still filling his eyes.

We talked for a minute more before the older two ran back into the room, then decided to continue the conversation later, after all the loud short people were in bed. I hugged my husband fiercely, so very grateful for his care and concern for our daughter and our family, and kissed him goodbye as he headed back out the door to return to work for several more hours.

And for the rest of that night and for the past week since, Meadow has been back to her usual self- chipper, talkative, helpful, occasionally emotional, sometimes selfish, silly, gentle and kind. Her mood has been joyful, her aura light, her energy pure. Our home has returned to its usual state- quiet and peaceful, full of chatter and laughter, with a bit of arguing and bickering mixed in.

And all this week I have asked myself: How could one conversation with her daddy release my girl from the torment that was causing such ugly behavior, such emotion, such a dark mood for so much of those three weeks?

This is what I have come up with, these are the lessons I have learned (or relearned maybe?) from the kid next door:

1) Learn to ask good questions. I think sometimes our children/the people around us are hurting or thinking/feeling things that they need to express and just don’t know how to without a little prompting. Learn to ask good questions. And lots of them.

2) Don’t always take a child’s/person’s behavior at face value. Children/people are selfish creatures and much of their ugly behavior stems from this. But other times they are only reacting out of the hurt that they are experiencing or feeling. Don’t assume their bad behavior is just them being “bad”. It could be from them feeling hurt.

3) Don’t be naive and assume that the children your children are playing with are going to treat them with respect and kindness. Be observant. Be vigilant. Be appropriately protective, especially until your children are old enough to protect themselves.

4) And lastly: There is power in the spoken word. I have learned (relearned) this for myself recently as I have fought some ugly demons (another post for another time) and watched the stronghold that these demons have had on my heart loosen each time I confess/express/speak them to a friend or family member. I saw that same power the night Chaz talked with Meadow. So speak, my friends, speak! Find someone you trust, someone who loves you and speak your truth, speak your struggle, speak your demons. Find the faith, the humility, the guts, and speak! And if you have no one, no one in your life to listen with compassion, please, please message me. I know an incredible counselor and would love to pass along his number. I am also a willing listener myself. Speak what weighs on your heart and watch as the load begins to lighten.

I hurt when my children hurt. I so much want to protect them, protect myself, avoid any and all hurt as well as I possibly can. But I am also learning that life’s hurts usually lead to life’s greatest lessons. And that that is one small/huge piece in our story of redemption. So I  am also grateful. Grateful and learning and hurting and laughing. Thanks for reading, friends. Let me know if you need me.

Sincerely Yours,

~Echo~

Welcome to my last “first trail race” training post!

Week Four Training Recap:

Sunday: rest.

Monday: p90x “ab ripper x”.

Tuesday: 4 mile road run.

Wednesday: no workout. not sure what happened here…

Thursday: 3 mile road run. 10 sets of 15 push-ups. (to try and make up for yesterday)

Friday: 40 minutes of p90x “stretch”.

Saturday: Wild Thang Nine Mile Trail Run!!! :)

Week Four Nutritional Recap:

Well, it has been four weeks of no soda and no “junk” food (with the exception of my birthday on which I did enjoy some cake and ice-cream!) and I can’t say I’ve really missed it (yes, it’s been shocking to me too). So what have I learned from this experience? What have I gained? I have learned that our bodies are incredibly adaptable and so are our taste buds! I’ve learned that the more I eat “real” food, the more I crave “real” food (and the more “junk” food sounds, well, yucky). I’ve learned that real food fills you up faster and for longer, making eating less, less of a big deal. I’ve learned that eating real food doesn’t have to be time consuming and complicated unless you want to make it that way (fresh fruit, fresh veggies, cheese, yogurt, nuts, beans and whole grain anything- so easy! so simple. It only has to be as complicated as we make it.) I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for God’s Creation- God created our bodies, God created “real” food to nourish our bodies. Beautiful. Simple. Functional. I’ve also gained (or perhaps simply reignited) a conviction that treating our bodies well is so important! So vital to our well being and quality of life. “We are what we eat.” I believe that with all of my heart. Stay tuned for more on my real food journey. This story is not over yet.

Thoughts:

The end of this week marks the end of a challenging but rewarding commitment that I made to myself and to you, my readers, four weeks ago. It has been good. It has been hard. I am so grateful for the legs and feet that carried me through to the end of my training. Tomorrow I will post about my race experience. It was incredible!!! Thanks for reading. Thank you for your encouraging comments. I hope today finds you happy, healthy and moving! :)

Welcome to week three of trail race training! Three weeks in and things are going better than expected. So excited about Saturday’s race!

Week Three Training Recap:

Sunday: rest.

Monday: 5 sets of 20 pushups, 5 sets of 20 situps, 5 sets of 20 squats and 5 sets of 30 seconds of superman in 20 minutes.

Tuesday: 2 mile walk pushing my youngest in his stroller. 4 mile road run.

Wednesday: so sore. everywhere. skip workout.

Thursday: 4 mile road run.

Friday: 40 minutes of p90x “stretch”.

Saturday: 12 mile road run at Shelby Bottoms Greenway.

Week Three Nutritional Recap:

Not much to report. Enjoying my fruits and veggies. A lot. Have increased my protein consumption in an effort to speed up my recovery time. Sometimes I think it’s helping. Other times I don’t think it’s making a difference at all really. Feeling lighter and, on most days, more energetic. Planning to write a “real food” post soon!

Thoughts:

The past few weeks have been a good reminder that we are capable of so much more than we think we are. My 13 mile trail run last Saturday was a good example of that. And my 20 minute circuit on Monday, that I could barely complete, was as well. If you had told me on Saturday morning that I was going to go out and complete 13 miles that day, I would have told you I wasn’t ready for that, wasn’t in the shape to do that. But we did it! We finished 9, got back to the car, realized we didn’t feel done yet, turned around and banged out 4 more. Finished strong. And it felt great! And Monday. Monday I would have told you I couldn’t do a hundred of anything in 20 minutes, much less a hundred of 3 different things. But I did it. Barely. But did it.

So. My friends. That is my challenge to you this week. Find one thing you think you cannot do. And do it. Whatever it takes. Do it. If you think you cannot go an entire day without drinking soda, go without. For one day. No matter what. Whatever it takes. No excuses. If you are sure you could never walk a mile without stopping, walk that mile! If running sounds like an impossibility for someone like you, go for a short walk and include just a bit of running. Even if it is only for 10 minutes. Or 5. Or 3! The point is to complete something that you never thought you would do, could do. Or maybe you are already a runner but just know you could never run a 1/2 marathon…or a full marathon! Well I say, sign yourself up! Start your training. And see what happens. See how empowered you feel. See the snowball as it builds. See how many things can change just by changing one. Truly, we are remarkable creatures. If only we would treat ourselves as such!

And In Other News:

My dad and youngest sister started a 90 day commitment to p90x this week, my husband biked 22 miles for the first time ever on Saturday, one friend of mine is training for her first Warrior Dash as of this week, another friend of mine has decided to run her first trail race this month (same one I am training for!), still another is in the middle of training for her first FULL marathon right now and I have a fourth friend who is now a couple months into training for his first Death Race. So many firsts! I love it! So inspiring. I love seeing people trying new things, taking care of the remarkable bodies that God blessed them with, choosing to challenge themselves instead of just staying comfortable. So amazing. So exciting. So inspiring. :)

I hope this week finds you healthy and moving and trying new things.

What is a “first” you have accomplished this year??

What challenge will you be taking on this week?

Five days to go until my very first trail race. Wish me luck!!! :)

Sorry for the belated post! How quickly I lose track of time these days! Maybe when the baby is two my days won’t stay so busy? Ha. Or maybe not. :)

Had another great week! Really enjoying my training.

Week Two Training Recap:

Sunday: rest.

Monday: poor planning. no workout. :(

Tuesday: 50 minutes of p90x “yoga” in the a.m. (yesterday’s workout). 3 mile road run in the p.m.

Wednesday: 3×10 curls. 3×10 hammer curls. 3×10 static curls. all with 15lb weights. 3×10 of 3 types of tricep raises (so 90 total) with 5lb weights. 3x1min supermans.

Thursday: 5 mile road run.

Friday: 40 minutes of p90x “stretch”.

Saturday: 13 mile trail run at Percy Warner.

Week Two Nutritional Recap:

I am two weeks “junk” free at this point and it feels GREAT! Every one should try this “real” food thing some time. Seriously. I have barely missed my junk food. And am considering not going back after my four weeks is up. Better portion sizes this week too. I know that has helped me feel better as well.

Thoughts:

I would describe this week as slightly more than just the right amount of challenging. Not the workouts really. I am enjoying the workouts. But I have been sore almost every day for two weeks now. That is getting tiresome. Would like to continue the same amount of workouts because I like doing something most days of the week. But may need to make a few of them a bit lighter or easier. Just so my soreness isn’t so overwhelming. Hard to function when my entire body hurts all the time…

Saturday was definitely my favorite workout of the week. Percy Warner is so beautiful. And peaceful. And there’s nothin’ like running for hours with one of your best friends, lost in the woods, catchin’ up on life. I am so blessed.

That’s all for now, folks. Stay tuned for next week’s recap as I continue my adventures in trail race training! :)

 

Well, it’s been an interesting week.

First, a training recap:

last Saturday: 8 mile road run. 200 pushups. 200 situps.

Sunday: rest.

Monday: 160 push-ups. 160 sit-ups. 160 squats. 160 curls w/12lb weights. all in sets of 20.

Tuesday: 3 mile road run.

Wednesday: p90x “back and biceps” with the hubby.

Thursday: 4 mile road run.

Friday: 40 minutes of p90x “stretch”.

Saturday: 8 mile trail run at Ellington.

And a nutritional recap:

I ate a lot of good food this week. A lot of good food. Probably too much. Too much keeps me feeling less than my best. So that will have to be different this coming week. While satisfying my palette with fruits and veggies and proteins and whole grains (and a few treats like two glasses of wine and a few cups of coffee) is better than choosing processed junk “food”, I am remembering today that eating the right amount is really important too. So this week must be better. It will be better. I will do better.

As for my thoughts about the week:

It was a challenge. But not too challenging. Just the right amount. :) There were a couple workouts that wouldn’t have happened, had I not blogged about this last week. So thanks for your help with that. ;) Also, pretty sure I over did it on Monday. The soreness from those squats lasted until Friday. Not good. Will have to rethink that for this next week. And Tuesday’s run happened near midnight because my alarm didn’t go off that morning. Way too late to be running. (Although I must say there is something really peaceful, almost magical, about running at that hour. It is still one of my favorite times to run, though as a mama of three littles who like to wake around seven a.m most mornings, I rarely do it anymore.) Other than that, not much to report. I love working out with my hubby. I love getting up at five to watch the sunrise while I start my day with a run around the neighborhood. I love, loved running trails at Ellington this morning (definitely my favorite workout of the week). I am looking forward to seeing what this next week brings.

There are days when I look back and see how far I have come. On those days I feel strong. And capable. And confident that I can accomplish anything. Then there are days (like today, after this morning’s brutal eight mile trail run…) when I look forward. And see how far I could still go. Those days serve as good reminders to keep going. Keep pushing. Keep trying new things. Our bodies are so brilliantly designed. And they were made to move. I don’t ever want to get comfortable. I believe I have yet to see what this body can really do. ;)

 

How was your week? Any races in your near future (trail or otherwise)? Any training advice for this trail racing novice?

So what does one do after running seven 5ks, three 10ks, four 1/2 marathons, one full marathon and one Ragnar Relay? One runs a 9 mile trail race!

I’ve been wanting to try trail racing for a while now. I’ve heard it is a very different experience than road racing. So on Saturday I signed up for my very first! And in the name of accountability I thought I would share with you my training plan. It will be a challenge…but I can do anything for four weeks, right?!?

The goal: To complete a 9 mile trail run with energy to spare.

The countdown (from Saturday): 28 days.

The nutrition plan:

NO junk food

NO soda

LOTSA water

The training plan:

Sundays: rest

Mondays: strength training

Tuesdays: shorter run (less than 6 miles)

Wednesdays: strength training

Thursdays: shorter run (less than 6 miles)

Fridays: stretching

Saturdays: longer run (more than 6 miles)

 

I will be updating my progress each Saturday until the race. Wish me luck!!

 

What are you training for these days?? Leave a comment and let me know! :)

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