Monday, August 22, 2016

Training Week 7: Harvest Time & Peak Week

Harvest is rolling by one day at a time and praise the Lord for this beautiful weather!

Life lately feels like the "Groundhog Day" movie where the same day keeps playing over and over and over. The days are really long and everyone is worn down. Lately I haven't been able to fall asleep until my husband comes home around 10 or 11 pm and it's making the whole 5:30-wake-up-thing a whole lot less appealing!

I really need to get my sleeping figured out before sugar beet harvest starts...


Sometimes I wish my husband could predictably come home in time for supper every night but that's just not the farming life. Growing up on a farm myself has helped as my dad was rarely in for supper time and there was (still is) always work to do. But, you know, having a normal family schedule does sound appealing on the long days!

Farming has been part of my life from the beginning and I do love it.

I am thankful that my husband works for a very family-oriented farm that brings all the families together for supper in the field on harvest nights and we do have our Sundays together. I'm thankful the kids get to ride in combines, see daddy work and the fellowship with the other families is really great.

My husband loves farming and I love seeing him do something he loves.

Some of my favorite times with my dad were spent riding on the fender of his swather. Bumpy and loud, but special none the less.

I trust that God has us right where He wants us at this moment in time and it really is a wonderful way to raise a family.

#realmenwearsuspenders ;)

Now here's the funny part...

Running and farming just do not go together!

Spring races mean it's planting time; Fall races mean it's harvest time. It was a miracle that my husband was able to watch me run the marathon back in May (and we even celebrated our wedding anniversary)! Time off during the busy season is a pretty big deal in the farming world!

Since it's busy harvest time, that means my next race must be near. One month to go!

What is left on your race calendar for this year?
What time of the year is busiest for you/your family?
.....

Wild Hog Marathon Training Week 7:


Monday, August 15

Rest.

Tuesday, August 16

Easy-Effort: 8 mi, 01:13 @ 09:11 pace.

Wednesday, August 17

Speedwork with double stroller: 6 mi, 00:48 @ 08:01 pace. 5 x 800m @ 8:01, 7:42, 7:41, 7:53, 7:41/mile pace with 2:00 recovery jog in between.
Strength: 6 x 1:00 plank series.

80 degrees felt so hot this morning!

Thursday, August 18

Strength: 2 sets of - thrusters, bicep curls, rows, flies, tricep kickbacks, running arms.

Friday, August 19

Tempo: 8.65 mi, 01:06 @ 07:39 avg pace. 2 x 3.75 miles @ 7:32, 7:24/mile pace.

Saturday, August 20

Easy-Effort with double stroller: 6.02 mi, 00:56 @ 09:13 pace.
Strength: Mowing the lawn with the pushmower.

Perfect cool morning! Temps in the 60's feel amazing and running felt easier.

Sunday, August 21

Long Run: 20.2 mi, 02:54 @ 08:36 pace.

Well, I lost my iPod on our camping trip and ran this long run without any music. GASP! I thought nearly 3 hours in silence was going to kill me! #firstworldproblems

Running the 20-miler without music ended up being a totally refreshing and worshipful time. I loved it and I really need to do that more often. I love how music drowns out my tiredness and my tired body's whining, but a break from music was really nice.
Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul! 
I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 
PSALM 146:1-2

Total Mileage: 48.87


Linking up with Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Intercessory Prayer {Book Review}


Since dedicating my life to the Lord five years ago, prayer has been something that leaves me awestruck. To think that the Almighty God wants to talk with me, one on one, is mind-blowing and also a bit confusing.

I have had many questions about prayer over the years, some I have asked and some seem so silly I didn't dare ask anyone.

Why does God want to talk to me? Do my prayers really matter? Does He answer our prayers? Do I ask God for too much or do I not ask enough? Do my prayers make a difference? 

Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets has helped to grow my understanding of prayer and the necessity of a prayer life. He has a way with words that explains deep theological concepts without totally losing a non-theologian like me.
"The real question is: Does a sovereign, all-powerful God need our involvement or not? Is prayer really necessary? If so, why? I believe it is necessary. Our prayers can bring revival. They can bring healing. We can change a nation. Strongholds can come down when and because we pray." Dutch Sheets, Intercessory Prayer
Having a better understanding of the "how's & why's" of prayer has inspired me with courage to pray for the impossible and has motivated me to be more persistent in my prayer life.

As the author points out, stubbornness can be channeled into a righteous force called persistence or endurance. I have plenty of stubbornness to go around and my prayer is that I can channel it into prayer-endurance! (Isn't it nice to finally hear a positive spin on being stubborn!?)

I highly recommend Intercessory Prayer as a book for individual study or as a group Bible study. It is available with a study guide, 8-session DVD and youth edition as well.

Learn more about Intercessory Prayer on Amazon.com
Visit Bethany House on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My Fears of Being a Full-Time Mom (And What Really Happened)

Disclaimer: I am sharing my thoughts and my personal experiences to encourage those in need of encouraging and celebrate this journey in my life. This is not in any way meant to ignite a "mommy war".

Three years ago, I left my position as a corporate graphic designer to stay at home with our son full-time. That was one of the most stressful and pivotal decisions of my life. It was a leap of faith and many doubts and fears crossed my mind.


Fast forward to three years later and here I am, alive and well! I am still working as a full-time mom with two busy boys in tow and part-time as a graphic designer and blogger. Huh, yeah, I really didn't think my "hobby blog" would grow into a part-time sorta thing!

Reflecting on my journey as a full-time mom, here are the fears and doubts that tried to paralyze me and then what really happened:

Will I be bored staying at home?

Nope. Nunca. Boredom has never been a problem because there is always something to do or that should be done. Now the question is... do I really want to do the thing that needs to be done? Confession: I tend to procrastinate putting away the laundry.

Running around outside, cooking, playdates, reading books, chores, and the nap-time crunch of design projects, writing, or reading keep things quite entertaining. What do I do all day? My brain is too tired to recall. I can make a list for you tomorrow though :)

Will I waste my degree by staying at home with my kids?

Not for one second would I consider caring for my children and serving my family a waste of anything! Having a degree in graphic design has been handy because I am able to do freelance work from home.

Plus, spending time with little people is quite intellectually stimulating in itself! Our 3-year-old puts me to the test with his insightful questions, especially when it comes to theology and faith in Jesus. Honestly, I have learned so much from our children!

Will I miss out on adult interaction?

Well, if you never leave the house, you likely will miss out on adult interaction. This was a big fear of mine because I was surrounded with adult-persons all day at my office job. Transitioning to a full-time at-home mom wasn't as painful as I expected because the kids and I visit with adults on a daily basis.

Whether it's meeting with friends, talking with neighbors, fellowship with our church family, or small-talk at the library or grocery store, there are plenty of opportunities for adult interaction. The key is putting yourself out there, especially when you're a new face in town. It's hard and at times awkward, but someone has to start the conversation!

How will we live on one income?

This was the #1 question I received when it was announced I was leaving my job. Living on one income requires living within your means, thinking on a budget, being debt-free (or at least moving in that direction), and trusting God's faithful provision.

Is it enough to be "just" a mom?

Simple answer: Yes. It's a blessed and wonderfully calling. Being a mom is the most important ministry opportunity that I will ever have!

Some moms choose to dabble in a side business (i.e. selling books, tupperware, nail decals, etc.) or to work a part-time job. I design and blog part-time because it is an enjoyable creative outlet for me and a chance to make a little extra income. It certainly doesn't give me more value as a person. Being "just" a mom is enough. Being a child of God is enough!

Will my house finally be clean when I stay at home?

If you have children that are capable of moving themselves, NO. While sitting at my desk pondering the future as a stay-at-home mom, I pictured my house neat and tidy with meals always ready to go and Pinterest-worthy.

So maybe my vision of staying at home was a bit off. A little, a lot. When our oldest was in daycare and I was working out of the home, we left the house in the morning and nothing moved until we came home. Now, with two toddlers in the house, a clean house turns into a battlefield in a matter of minutes. They leave what I call "snail trails" of debris behind them. Thankfully, the 3-year-old is becoming more responsible and helps clean up. One-year-old... not so much.

How will my kids learn to socialize?

This is similar to the adult interaction question. Though I will say that parental interaction counts as socialization, assuming the parent actually interacts with the child. Children's social skills grow greatly as they live daily life in the home, out of the home, at the playground, at the store, visiting friends, so on. Socializing is everywhere IF you put yourself in social situations.

And then there are siblings where "teachable moments" naturally abound. Numerous times a day our toddlers are learning lessons about sharing. Sharing mommy, sharing toys, sharing food, sharing the dog, sharing a bedroom, sharing paper, sharing an empty milk jug. Who knew a one-year-old could torment his older brother so well!

Will I be able to return to the "professional world" someday?

Just before resigning from my job, this question came to mind. I had just received a raise, I enjoyed what I did and most of my coworkers. My job was comfortable. "Will anyone ever hire me again?" I chose to trust God's plan, knowing that when He wants me to return to working out-of-the-home, He will open the doors necessary.

Trust is a scary thing but if anyone is to be trusted, it's Him.

What if I don't like being a full-time mom?

After only one week of maternity leave, I was a hot mess. I didn't like staying at home with our son because I felt trapped and lonely. Blame it on the postpartum hormone rollercoaster perhaps, or the shock of being a parent for the first time ever.

Thanks to the encouraging advice of a couple veteran moms, I took it one day at a time with my teeny tiny newborn. I went into maternity leave in tears over being stuck at home but, when my leave ended, I was in tears dropping him off at daycare for the first time. They say you get used to being away from your kids all day but I knew I didn't want to get used to that.

It took time to adjust to staying at home with my son and when I resigned from my job I was ecstatic to spend my days with our little boy again. The days with our two boys are exhausting and some are easier than others, but I wouldn't trade this for the world. These little people grow up too quickly and I don't want to miss a thing.

How I have changed...

When I compare myself three years ago to myself now, I know that being a full-time mom has greatly changed me for the better. Marriage, child-raising, and life in general is a sanctifying process.

I have fallen in love with literature. I'm sure I have read more books in these past three years than in my entire life combined, whether it be "Little House on the Prairie" for the kids or Charlotte Mason's philosophy on education for my own personal learning. I have written more than ever before and, this blog!, it's been an opportunity that God placed in front of me. This certainly wasn't on my radar!

I have rediscovered the peace of playing piano. And the absolute hilariousness of our "family band". Daddy and E on their guitars, Mom on the piano, and Wes playing the drums (two pencils and a tupperware container).

The kids are teaching me to slow down and appreciate the little things. Watch the clouds float by. Follow an ant down the sidewalk. Set out on imaginary hunting excursions. Practice our skateboard tricks. Name the colors in the sunrise.

Being a full-time mom has grown in me a love for learning, it has taught me to appreciate the moments that really matter, and it has strengthened my walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Three years ago, I left my comfort zone because of the Lord's prompting and He has proven to be ever faithful. He always has been, always will be, no matter what the future will bring. 

"Life's Sunset Moments are glorious, rejuvenating, and gratifying to behold - but when I'm caught up in daily distractions, they are so carelessly missed." - Rachel Macy Stafford, Hands Free Mama
Linking up with Mommy Moments and Titus 2 Tuesdays.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Training Week 6: Last Camping Trip of the Year

This week we enjoyed our last camping trip of the year!

Because harvest is in full swing, the little ones and I snuck away with Grandma. It was a special trip — a Mother/Daughter + Sons Camping Adventure.

Despite stormy weather in the forecast, we went on a group bike ride/run, splashed in the Mississippi Headwaters and put those rolling hill bike paths to good use.


We ate a lot of amazing campfire food prepared by my mom like ham & cheese pockets and "spider" hot dogs. My favorite was easily the wild blueberry turnovers topped with powdered sugar.

Wild blueberries are delicious!


On one of the more gloomy weather days, we drove to a small local "zoo" called Animal Land. The little ones really got a kick out of the animals. They had quite an assortment for such a small place, from the "Tortoise and the Hare" to lions and camels.


And we climbed a 100 ft. firetower... with the 3- and 1-year-old. Yikes.

That was a big feat for me, as I'm not a huge fan of heights! Pretty sure I'm the only one that was scared. Grandma and the kids thought it was great.

After the .5 mile walk there, climbing the tower, and the .5 mile walk back, we were all ready for bed that night.


Before we drove to my parents' farm on Friday, I went out for a long run on the beautiful tree-lined bike paths. The mid-morning weather was toasty so I wore my Camelbak and tested out my SLS3 Neon Sport Socks.

My usual Fitsoks are great for cool weather running but they keep my feet too warm on hot weather runs. Fargo Marathon this year was a fine example of that. Hot feet, nasty blisters... ouch.

SLS3's Neon Sport Socks kept my feet dry, they stayed in position during the run and, after 13.6 miles, I was still blister-free! Use the code "DKJIJERK" to get $5.00 off a 3-pack of these socks.


.....

Wild Hog Marathon Training Week 6:


Monday, August 8

Easy-Effort: 7.51 mi, 01:09 @ 09:09 pace.

I was out the door at 5:45 and fit in as many miles as I could before 7:00 am... when the wild things wake up :) Then we spent the morning at the park, riding bike and in our back yard.

Tuesday, August 9

Speedwork: 6.04 mi, 00:48, 07:52 avg pace. 6 x 800m @ 7:37, :25, :19, :09, :23, 6:55/mile avg pace.

Wednesday, August 10

Packing and traveling for our camping trip with Grandma!
Easy-Effort with double stroller: 5.16 mi, 00:50 @ 09:44 pace.

Ran to the Mississippi Headwaters and back with the littlest in the jogging stroller. Big brother rode on the back of Grandma's bike!

Thursday, August 11

Hiked 1 mile with 1-year-old in arms and climbed 100 ft. tower.

Friday, August 12

Long Run: 13.64 mi, 01:55 @ 08:24 pace.

Hilly and hot long run! I will appreciate the flat course on race day after this run. I "borrowed" the toddler's whistle that he got at the fair just in case I ran across any wild animals. This campground is very "city-like" and I haven't seen any bears on the trail personally, but better safe than sorry.

That little whistle would save me from a hungry bear, right? :)


Saturday, August 13

Easy-Effort: 4 mi, 00:39 @ 09:50 pace.
Strength: 6 x 1:00 planks. Leg raises and bridges.

Easy run and a great visit with my sister-in-law!

Sunday, August 14

REST! I'm wiped and will take the next day off as well. Better rested than sorry.

Total Mileage: 36.35 miles


Linking up with Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Training Week 5: Mixing Motherhood & Marathoning

I mean, they're kind of similar, right?

Running after toddlers...
Running the miles...
Except marathon training includes a rest day or two and toddlers just don't get that!

My approach to marathon training with small children at home is what I call "minimalist". Minimal mileage with minimal time spent training usually on minimal recovery.

Running 30-45 miles a week sounds like a lot to the average person but to a marathoner, that is low, wayyy low. It's not that I don't enjoy running higher mileage; this is just a realistic number for my life right now. Running for me needs to stay fun rather than becoming another item on the "to-do list".

Keeping expectations realistic for your current life season makes everything more enjoyable. Even marathoning.


Blogging can paint a picture of perfection and I am far, so far from perfect. Let me be "real" here with the struggles of mixing motherhood and marathoning... and why I do it anyway.

My biggest struggle with marathon training is TIME.  

Surprise, surprise! Isn't that everyone's struggle? "I just have too much time on my hands," said No One Ever.

In order to not skimp on family time, kid wrangling and daily duties, I fit in most of my workouts in the early morning hours or mid-morning with the kids in the double parachute stroller on fair weather days. Praise the Lord for running strollers! The kids enjoy a ride in their yellow chariot and mom gets a workout. Win, win.

Weekday runs are relatively short, like one hour or less, with my minimalist method of training. The weekend long run of 2 to 3 hours is a little more tricky but my husband is very helpful. He often watches the kids while I leave to run at 5:30 or 6:00 am on Sundays (or Saturday, if he has the day off).

Meet my second biggest struggle, GUILT.

I often feel guilty doing something for myself.

Taking time to exercise and refresh the soul is important, as long as it doesn't turn into a self-entitled attitude of "I deserve this!". I do feel guilty asking for help and leaving the kids when I go out for a long run or on race morning. Guilt is a problem for me. I warned you, I am NOT perfect.

Struggles aside, making time to train as a mom of little ones is worth it for me. 

On top of the health benefits of regular exercise—stress relief, increased energy, healthy weight, positive body image—spending that time outdoors, breathing in the fresh air leaves me feeling refreshed and revitalized. Healthy competition and pushing my limits motivate me.

I've found that those miles of running serve as a re-boot that God has wired into my soul. Peaceful moments on the road to think, pray or to simply exist are all a blessing from Him.
"I think it is a definite gain to the whole family when mother is able to take a little time to pursue her own interests, whether they be crafts, painting, sewing, gourmet cooking, a literature group, gardening, nature study, going to plays or ballets with her husband, bicycling, or ice skating.

'I have no time for these simple pleasures,' is the mournful cry. Yes, there isn't time for all of them. Think seasonally. One interest per season, coupled with thirty minutes of reading a day, may be all that is needed to keep up the Mother Culture and regain any lost enthusiasm for living." Karen Andreola, "The Charlotte Mason Companion"
How do you refresh your soul in your current season of life?
.....

Wild Hog Marathon Training Week 5:

My body said it needed more rest, so an extra recovery week this became!

Monday, August 1

Rest.

Tuesday, August 2

"Easy-Effort" Double Stroller Run: 9.01 mi, 01:22 @ 09:05 pace. This was supposed to be an "easy effort" run but it wiped me out (the hot temps didn't help). Woops! Probably over-did it.


Wednesday, August 3

Speedwork: (Treadmill) 4 mi, 00:31 @ 07:40 avg pace. WU, 3 x 1k @ 6:38/mile pace with 2:30 recovery jog in between, CD.

Thursday, August 4

Strength: 6 x 1:00 plank series, core work and push-ups with an old exercise VHS we found at a thrift store!

Friday, August 5

Tempo: 6.26 mi, 00:47 @ 07:32 pace. WU, 2 x 2.25 @ 7:10, 7:15, CD.

Saturday, August 6

Easy-Effort with double stroller: 3.2 mi, 00:30 @ 09:17 pace.
Strength: 6 x 1:00 plank series.

Easy-effort run with the double stroller only half loaded as the youngest and I "ran" some errands. 30 less pounds makes the stroller push like a dream!

Sunday, August 7

"The Plan" said 10k Time Trial, my body said "No!". I skipped the long run this week to get some extra rest before a week of bigger mileage.

Total Mileage:  23.47 miles


Linking up with Holly and Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Academics' Choice Review: Time for a Story, Learning is in Bloom, and The Lorax

There are so many resources out there for parents and teachers these days! How do you decide what resources are right for your family?

Reviewing educational resources and reading the reviews from other parents and teachers has helped me to sift through the endless abyss of options! Today I'm sharing with you my review, as an Academics' Choice Advocate and reviewer, of the books Time for a Story, Learning is in Bloom, and the Lorax app.

We have a lot to cover, so lets get started!


Time for a Story: Sharing Books with Infants and Toddlers


Time for a Story by Amy Read and Saroj Ghoting explores fun and engaging ways to talk, sing, read, write, and play with infants and toddlers. The authors note that the most important item or tool that a teacher or parent has in preparing children for later reading success is a book.

Because story time can be complicated with impatient babies or active toddlers, this book provides the thought and preparation to help you can maximize the reading experiences of these little learners.

Time for a Story is a common sense approach to reading to young children and I think it is best geared toward new teachers and possibly new parents. It didn't include any mind-blowing tricks to help little ones learn but it does stress the importance of reading, and that I can appreciate!

Learning is in Bloom: Cultivating Outdoor Exploration


"Learning is in Bloom" by Ruth Wilson shares the importance of a child's time spent in nature and encourages teachers and parents with 40 hands-on activities. From making a nature notebook to exploring animal habitat, these activities motivate adults and children to get outside and learn!

Wilson points out that the children of today are more disconnected from nature than in the past due to the loss of access to natural areas in our neighborhoods and to the increase in the amount of time adults and children spend engaged with electronic media.

Living in a small rural community, I do not notice the loss of natural areas as much as perhaps someone who lives in a large city, but I do see the amount of screen time on electronic devices as a huge problem. (Writes the blogger... It's all about moderation, people!)

"Learning is in Bloom" is a resource that I have enjoyed as a parent and the teacher of my children. It is in agreement with the teachings of Charlotte Mason that stress the importance of time spent outdoors and the simple life lessons we learn, as adults and children, exploring God's creation.


The Lorax Interactive Book App


I have a special spot in my heart for Dr. Seuss' stories! Most of all, I love reading the books to my kids. The way the words flow, the creative use of color and odd made-up creatures are something I enjoy. As for the Dr. Seuss' The Lorax app, I'm not a fan.

While this app is well-designed and it does in fact tell the story of the Lorax (mission accomplished, in that way), I do not think it should be relied on as a literacy-enhancer for children. There may be a time and a place for phone or tablet apps but reading an actual book is always best.

We let our three-year-old flip through this app and he was most impressed with the sounds the story makes when you touch the screen. Personally, our family will stick to reading real books and skip the apps. The parent-child quality time is worth it!

Disclaimer: I was sent these products free of charge for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Linking up with Mommy Moments.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Doodling with Doodletopia: Cartoons {Book Review}


I am a doodler, always have been and hopefully always will be. There are notebooks upon notebooks full of my drawings of horses, cartoon people, imaginary creatures and faraway places!

It's my way of getting creativity out of my head and on to paper. Even better, doodling is very relaxing.

Our three-year-old and I have been dabbling in Doodletopia: Cartoons over the past couple weeks and we have had so much fun! He scribbles cartoons that mostly resemble tornadoes and requests that I draw superheroes for him. Lots and lots of superheros.

Doodletopia author Christopher Hart has filled this instructional book with cartooning prompts and creative inspiration. He gives helpful tips and tricks and then leaves the creative door open for his readers.

I really enjoy Hart's sense of humor. My favorite page spread instructs you to draw your "coolest-of-the-uncool" clothes for a hipster. Yes,we have to poke a little fun at the hipsters!


This book is an excellent resource for experienced doodlers and aspiring doodlers alike! Doodletopia is available for $18.99 at various retailers.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own.