Thursday, April 20, 2017

Race Report: My Hot Chocolate 15k PR

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Hot Chocolate 15k Minneapolis as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Travel Day: Friday, April 14

My family and I left on Friday morning for 5.5 hour drive to Minneapolis, Minnesota. The kids travelled well and, upon arriving to the city, we stopped by the Como Zoo for some fun.

Our biggest accomplishment by far was surviving the downtown traffic at 5 pm. We arrived at the Westin Hotel, found parking and were ready to call it a night (after eating at Five Guys' Burgers and swimming, of course).

The Westin was on the recommended list of hotels for the Hot Chocolate because of its close proximity to the race course - only a 1.5 mile walk. Upside: Close to the race. Downside: No continental breakfast.

Thankfully I took advantage of the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k packet mailing option for $15 to avoid battling the downtown traffic any further. This race did not allow packet pick up on race day, so I was really happy when mine arrived in the mail a week prior!

I laid out my gear the night before the race in preparation for a wet and rainy morning. With scattered thunderstorms in the forecast, the weather did not look promising.

My plan was to carry my phone and extra gear in my Camelbak to keep them dry at least and then just accept the fact that I was going to be soaked.

Race Day: Saturday, April 15

I threw on my race gear, ate a quick PB & J, and made a mad dash to the front desk in search of safety pins. I had everything organized... except for safety pins. Thankfully, the wonderful front desk worker had a few to spare. Total lifesaver!

After securing the safety pins, I found three 5k runners from our hotel who were walking to the race as well. They were an absolute answer to prayer because I was nervous about walking through downtown alone and my husband wasn't super excited about that either.

With the rain, it just wasn't worth dragging the kids to the race so early. They stayed back and drove Dad nuts in the hotel room instead.

The Walking Route

The tall downtown buildings threw our phone directions for a loop but we eventually made it to Boom Island Park, drenched, but in one piece. I will always trust old-school map reading over these smart phone directions. "Siri" gets crazy sometimes!

First things first. I had to take a picture of Marshall the marshmallow:

The gear check was very well organized and because we arrived so early, there were no waiting lines here or for the porta potties! I checked my somewhat dry extra bag and then found shelter from the rain.

The grass was saturated and there was no hope for keeping my feet dry. I lingered in the roofed buildings for a while and chatted with various other runners waiting for our race time to come. Oddly the 5k runners started at 8:10 and the 15k runners didn't start until 8:50.

I ran into fellow Bibrave Pro Casey while lining up in the race corrals and then ran into Catherine, also a Bibrave Pro, within the first mile of the race. Her and I ran together for the rest of the race and her company and conversation was wonderful!

We kept each other motivated throughout the damp run and kept an even pace in the 9's. I had planned on doing walk/run intervals but our pace was just perfect for this hilly course.

Mile 1 - 9:04
Mile 2 - 8:56
Mile 3 - 8:46
Mile 4 - 9:29
Mile 5 - 9:15

My only disappointment was the lack of chocolate at the aid stations! They did offer water and Nuun energy though I really could have used a handful of M&M's :)

Free Race Photo Courtesy Hot Chocolate 5k/15k
Mile 6 - 9:06
Mile 7 - 10:11
Mile 8 - 9:58
Mile 9 - 10:17
Mile .42 - 4:14

I crossed the finish line in 1:29:04 which counts as a 15k PR! It was so fun racing with a friend and putting a new distance under my belt.

At 11 weeks pregnant, chalk this up as our Baby #3's first and last race in utero. Maintaining mileage to train through morning sickness was a feat in itself!

Free Race Photos Courtesy Hot Chocolate 5k/15k

After receiving our medals, we headed to the post-race festivities. Casey, Catherine and I met up for a quick picture before we all went our own ways to seek out dry clothes and warmth.

BUT, before departure, we had to pick up our finisher's mugs! Each participant received a Hot Chocolate 15k/5k plastic "mug" full of delicious hot chocolate, apples, a banana, a Rice Krispie, marshmallows, pretzels and cookies all ready to dip in a rich chocolate sauce.

YUM. Let's just say by the time I got back to the hotel, I was a hot chocolatey mess. Of course I had to eat whatever I could before the kiddos saw the goodies I brought back. Don't worry, I saved them some apples ;) Talk about #pregnancycravings...

The Hot Chocolate 15k was a well-organized race with an energizing race atmosphere, despite the rainy day. I love that the Hot Chocolate 5k/15k provides free race photos for all participants. That is such an awesome perk!

Racing the 15k distance was a new experience for me and I really enjoyed it. Unlike the full marathon, I was ready to take on the rest of the day after running 9 miles in the morning. Though I will say my legs were super stiff the next day - I'm not used to running hilly routes.

And howabout that medal?! It's gorgeous!

After a warm shower, lunch and a quick nap for the kids, we were on to big city adventures on the light rail and at Mall of America (Lego Land!). This trip was an action-packed learning experience for our family and let's just say it felt good to return to small-town Minnesota.

There's no place like home!

Check out more Hot Chocolate 15k race details in my review!

Hot Chocolate 15k Training Week 8:


(Treadmill) 3.1 mi, 00:31 @ 09:53 pace


Lots of outside time with kiddos, walking, stretching.


3.06 mi, 00:30 @ 09:48 pace with double stroller.


Almost all day spent outside!


Travel day and a visit to the Como Zoo.


Race Day: 9.42 mi, 01:29 @ 09:28 pace. Followed by a quick shower, Caribou Coffee, kiddos' quick nap and a ride on the light rail to Mall of America (for Lego Land!!!).


Breakfast at Perkins, Easter service at The Grove Church and the looooong drive home.

What has been your favorite post-race treat?

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

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Runner Spotlight: Amanda

If you are reading this post, chances are that I survived the Hot Chocolate 15k and will tell you all about it next week. This week we've got some other exciting business to cover! 

While I'm all about the Cadbury Cream Eggs that come with the season, today is an extra special day to remember and celebrate the true hope and joy we have in Jesus. I hope you and your loved ones are having a blessed Easter!

And with Easter being late this year, Marathon Monday follows just on the horizon. I have been looking forward to sharing this Runner Spotlight interview with you from a runner competing in the Boston Marathon tomorrow!

Meet Amanda. 

She's a follower of Jesus, wife, RN and crazy fast runner of all distances - even two ultras. I have been so inspired by Amanda's commitment to glorifying God in all she does and her ability to balance life with training while hitting some really fast paces in the process.

Amanda has a bunch of running experience and wisdom that is sure to inspire so let's jump into her interview!

All About Running:

When did you start running? What sparked your interest?

I had wanted to join track since ninth grade but, because I went to a private school, I couldn't play public school sports. So I transferred to public school my senior year so I could join track and field. I desired to compete and I chose running because I loved the feeling of flying on my own two feet.

When did you run your first race?

My first race in track was the spring of 2007 and I ran the 800m, the 4x400 and the mile. After each event I was overwhelmed and exhausted, I remember thinking, "Wow this is a lot of work to push my body to the limit, but I like it!"

My first road race was a 5k in 2008 in my hometown of Grand Rapids, MN after I had just ran xc and track my freshman year of college. That year made me realize how much I enjoyed the longer distances and the endurance it took to finish well was an addicting challenge to obtain. However, it was also a difficult year due to the loss of my teammate and best friend unexpectedly after xc nationals. Our team was so close and we clung to each other like family as we sought peace from the Lord and tried to make sense of it. This shook me. How could someone so healthy with so much life and potential just pass away with no answer as to why?

I went to UND after that year to pursue nursing and walked on to the xc team. But after a couple weeks I realized I wasn't ready to be part of a new team. I never did run again at the collegiate level. Looking back now, it's hard not to wonder how it would have shaped me as a runner if I had.

Throughout my four years at UND I continued to run on my own and began to dabble in longer distances. I completed my first half marathon in 2009 and became fond of the distance. I worked to become a stronger runner and began working towards the goal of the full marathon. In 2011 I ran the Walker Marathon in Minnesota and decided there was no looking back, I had found the distance I love!

Do you work with a coach or are you self-coached?

I don't work with a coach but I read runner's blogs, what elites are eating, their workouts and strategies. I research the best exercises and have come up with a lot of workouts, training plans and routines that are working for me and my specific goals as an athlete. Although, I feel I am reaching a point in my running career where I could benefit from a coach assessing and guiding me on occasion.

What weekly mileage do you run during training on average?

My training for the full is usually a 16-18 week plan with average mileage per week at 35-45 and peak weeks are 55-65.

What do you think is the most important aspect of training for a long-distance race?

The most important aspect of training for a long distance race, for me, is pushing it hard on speed days and truly taking it EASY on recovery days. This combo is proving to be so beneficial for me and I know other runners have said this same thing. I feel it's sharpening my endurance and giving me the proper muscle recovery just in time to push my limits again. To see the benefits of this you have to be consistent in your training plan.

What are your PRs?

I have run 4 halfs, 9 fulls, and 2 ultras (30k and 50-miler) with a 1:25 half marathon PR and 2:53:30 full marathon PR.

What has been your favorite race experience?

My favorite race experience is a tie! Being a Disney girl, my first Walt Disney World Marathon in 2015 was the most magical experience! Running though the parks and posing for pictures along the course with my favorite characters was the most fun I've ever had running a marathon (and I even PR'd in it!)

Crossing the finish at the 2016 Walt Disney Half Marathon

Tied with Disney is my first Boston Marathon in 2016. It was such a big goal of mine that I had achieved (with God's grace). I was overwhelmed by the city and the excitement the morning of the race. I even cried after I crossed the start. I was just so thankful to be running this historic race. And never have I raced a marathon with a community that cheers you on from the start all the way to the finish. There's never a stretch of the course that's empty of spectators.

What is your favorite post-race treat?

My stomach tends to be uneasy for the first couple hours after a marathon, so I just focus on hydrating and replacing electrolytes. But as soon as I am feeling good and hungry I like to go out to eat and celebrate with a bacon cheeseburger and fries (preferably shoestring)!

What are your running-related goals for the future?

I am running Boston again this year and hope to break 3:00. I am also running The NYC Marathon, and plan to complete a couple local half marathons through the summer. My plan is to keep growing in strength and endurance and to continue to become the best runner I can be! It's exciting to know I haven't hit my peak and I hope I have a long ways to go before then!

Personal/Family Life Balance:

Is your family interested in running as well?

My family does not run but they are all very supportive of my running goals. My husband is my number one fan. He is always there, at every race to cheer me on. My parents even flew to Boston last minute last year to see me run the marathon for my first time. I am very blessed to have so much support.

Amanda's sister, Amanda and her husband at the 2016 WDW Marathon

How do you balance family time, daily responsibilities and training?

By the grace of God. My husband and I don't have children yet so I don't have to deal with that aspect just yet.

I am a full-time RN who works 12 hour night shifts and this can pose a challenge. It's hard to wake up in the afternoons and have motivation or the energy to run after a night shift and before going back to work. But I draw in Gods strength and force myself out the door on those tough days.

Most days it's not a struggle though. I love to run, it is a passion and a lifestyle for me. I plan out my runs weeks at a time and the time of day I will do them and try to fit the rest of life around that and it works well for me. Of course I remain flexible to life events that may make me reschedule or move my run from morning to evening.

When do you fit running/training into your day?

As I said it's usually the first thing I do in the morning or afternoon if I'm on night shift. I like to start my day with it! It gives me focus, motivation and energy to tackle other tasks!

What advice would you give to new runners?

Be patient with yourself. Fast race times, a strong body and mental endurance come with time and your being consistent and committed to the sport. Practice positive self talk.

When it come to pain, listen to your body! I made the mistake in my early years of thinking I was tough and pushing through the pain, only to end up with an injury.

And lastly, do it for the joy of it!

Good luck/congratulations to you, Amanda, on running your second Boston Marathon! Thank you for sharing your running experience with us!

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

Monday, April 10, 2017

Hot Chocolate 15k Taper & Race Goals

Hot Chocolate 15k taper week has arrived! This will be my first 15k race and my first race for BibRave.

The race packet showed up on my doorstep last week. How cool is that!? Considering we are driving 5 hours to the race and there is no packet pick up on race day, the packet mailing option saved us some hassle.

I used to consider it "bad luck" to wear a race shirt/jacket/etc before actually completing the race but I have been wearing my Hot Chocolate sweater. I had to make sure it fit... And then I just couldn't take it off.

My goal is to run this race at an easy effort around 9:00 to 10:00/mile pace. Walk through aid stations, visit with other runners, encourage someone who is struggling, just take it all in. Mentally, I've broken the race into 3 x 3-mile intervals.

Per the Hot Chocolate 15k website, the sweet stations will include marshmallows, chocolate chips, and M&Ms to enjoy along the way! YUM. Talk about motivation!

View Image Source

Sooo... I'm not actually going to "race" this 15k. Why? 

In case you haven't picked up hints in previous posts, I'm 10 weeks pregnant and running competitively while pregnant is not my thing. Mostly because the first trimester just wrecks me (energy probs, GI issues, nausea, the works) and pregnancy is the perfect time to take a step back from training.

Racing is about pushing the limits, pregnancy is not.

Though I didn't know I was pregnant upon signing up for this race, I'm going to make the best of it and I look forward to meeting up with some of the Bibrave Pro crew. We are going to make a fun family trip out of this Easter weekend and have extra time together to celebrate the rising of our Savior! We feel so blessed to have Baby 3 on the way and I will share with you more after our first appointment with our midwife in a couple weeks :)

Hot Chocolate 15k Training Week 7:


3.17 mi, 00:30 @ 09:31 pace.


Stretching time and walks with the kids.


4.5 mi, 00:43 @ 09:35 pace with double stroller.


Raking in the yard and walks with the kids.


3 mi, 00:28 @ 09:13 pace.


Long Run: 6.26 mi, 01:01 @ 09:46 pace with double stroller. Perfect morning for a long run. Just a light breeze made for a nice run with the stroller. I was pretty well exhausted by the end!


Rest day.

Are you racing these weekend?
Do you have any Easter family traditions?

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

Monday, April 3, 2017

Safety Tips for Early Bird Runners | Brilliant Reflective Review

Disclaimer: I received Brilliant Reflective strips to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review find and write race reviews!

As the warmer months are approaching, the sun is rising a little bit earlier each day - praise the Lord! The mornings of complete darkness had me feeling like a nocturnal creature.

Waking up to run in the dark morning hours isn't the most appealing choice (versus staying cozy in bed) but watching the sunrise and listening to the birds sing makes me glad that I did get up and running.

I am an early bird runner at heart. I can't promise it happens like that every day but I do enjoy running in the early AM. Getting outside before the kids are awake and the day has officially begun works best for my family.

The town feels so quiet and peaceful. It feels like I have the whole place to myself! (There really aren't many runners around here. Maybe 3.)

The only downside to running early is that it's usually dark. In the winter, it's really really dark. Thankfully in the spring it's only dark for 30 minutes or so of my run.

Running in the dark does seem scary to some but it doesn't have to be. With thought put into it and the right gear, it is possible to run in the dark safely!

Safety Tips for Early Bird Runners

1. Stick to Well-Lit Routes

Running by street lights will make it easier for vehicles to see you and you will be able to avoid any road obstructions like potholes, cones, or small dogs (seriously, they pop out of nowhere!). If you don't have a well lit route near by, carry a head lamp or handheld light such as Knuckle Lights with as you run.

2. Keep Someone in the Loop

Whether it's your spouse, friend, parent or coworker, let someone know when and where you will be running, your expected ETA and consider carrying your phone on the run too. Every morning that I go out, I poke my husband and tell him when I'll be back. I'm not sure he actually hears me, as he's a pretty sound sleeper, but I try at least :)

3. Be Seen

Wear bright, reflective clothing. The more reflective-neony goodness, the better! I wear a reflective vest when I run and some running gear has reflective strips built in. For my gear that doesn't have built in reflective strips, I have found a new handy tool.

As a BibRave Pro, I received Brilliant Reflective stick-on and iron-on reflective strips and have added them to my running jacket, my running shoes and tights. I need to get some more for my dog's collar and leash, too! These strips make my favorite gear reflective and save me from having to buy new equipment. Hang tight for more details on Brilliant Reflective strips!

4. Run Defensively

No matter how awesomely reflective your gear is, assume that the vehicles DO NOT see you. Even in our tiny town, people are in a hurry in the morning and aren't paying attention to anyone but themselves. Honestly, it drives me up a wall!

Keep your eyes peeled and always assume they won't stop for you or that stop sign. I've seen many mornings when cars don't stop because they think no one is around.

5. Please, No Audio!

Others may disagree with me on this point but I err on the side of caution. When running in the dark, I DO NOT listen to my iPod. I know there are super cool ear buds out there that enable you to hear your surroundings better but, personally, I want to hear everything. It's important to keep your eyes and ears open to hear vehicles or people approaching.

Are you an early bird runner or think you want to try it out?

I highly recommend checking out Brilliant Reflective's website. I used their purple strips in both stick-on and iron-on form. The stick-ons are semi-permanent meaning they can be applied and taken off in the future if needed. The iron-ons are permanent and will stay on even through the wash. Actually, my stick-on ones lived through the washing machine as well!

Brilliant Reflective's strips are made with retroflective 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material meaning the light bounces off the reflective and goes back to the light source. One pack is $9.95 with FREE SHIPPING and the strips are available in purple, red, black and blue. I used my two packs to cover my coat, tights and shoes.

These strips are quality, affordable and your safety is definitely worth it! Use the code "BIBRAVEPRO25" for 25% off your order until Tuesday (4/11/17) 11:59pm CT.

Join us for Brilliant Reflective #BibChat  on Twitter on APRIL 11 at 8 PM CST for a chance to win!

Hot Chocolate 15k Training Week 6:


3.25 mi, 00:30 @ 09:16 pace. Too foggy to run with the double stroller so I opted for the treadmill.


Stretching time and walks with the kids.


6.25 mi, 01:01 @ 09:45 pace. This counts as my long run for the week. I figured I should take advantage of the days when I feel good, plus the weather was absolutely gorgeous!


Stretching and basically a rest day. Bible study that morning and a late night after our MOPS meeting that evening. Late nights tire me out more than they used to.


3.25 mi, 00:31 @ 09:36 pace Early morning run before a busy day of homeschool co-op and a fun girls' night of Italian food and ballet!


Rest day. I woke up absolutely wiped after the past two busy days and slept in instead of running. We attended a funeral that afternoon and took it easy the rest of the day.


Rest day.

When is your prime time to run? Morning, afternoon, night? 

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

Monday, March 27, 2017

Look (Don't Smell) Like a Runner | SmellWell Review

Disclaimer: I received SmellWell odor-eliminating pouches to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador) and check out to review find and write race reviews!

"You look like a runner."

Doesn't that feel like a compliment? I mean, who doesn't want to look like a runner! After watching a couple of my marathons last year, my husband swears that runners have a certain "look" to them.

Being that runners come in all shapes and sizes, I haven't been able to pinpoint that common denominator just yet. Maybe it's the tights-wearing in the cool weather, fancy GPS watches or bright neon gear in the summer months that gives us away?

Now say someone approaches you and says:

"You smell like a runner."

That probably wouldn't make you smile, right? I know I would probably slink away to the nearest shower. My Shoes + Lots of Miles ≠ Smells Like Roses

Runners do cover a lot of miles and things are bound to get smelly!

As a BibRave Pro, I received the SmellWell Pouches to absorb moisture and eliminate the odor in my running gear.

SmellWell pouches absorb the moisture lingering in your gym bag, running shoes or other sporting equipment, prevents the growth of bacteria and effectively eliminates the odor. The fresh scent is very effective and my shoes smell great even after removing the pouches. I like that the smell-good sticks around and I'm sure my family appreciates it as well!

I chose the Pink Zebra SmellWell pouches because, well, the pink zebra pattern is awesome. They do come in a bunch of other patterns as well (if Pink Zebra isn't your thing): Blue Leopard, Green Camo, Flower Power, Black Shadow, and White Zebra. Though the patterns differ, the SmellWell pouches come in one scent.

A pack of two SmellWell pouches is $9.95 and they are currently running a Spring Special of buy 3 get 1 free and buy 6 get 1 free (as of 03/27/17)!

I have used SmellWell pouches in my diaper bag, running shoes and I even tried them in my hockey skates. They are very effective and I love the scent. Every locker room could use these SmellWell pouches!

After using them for the past 3 weeks, my SmellWell pouches haven't lost any of their scent intensity either. SmellWell lasts for 3 to 4 months! 

SmellWell's pouches are an awesome addition to your running gear or gym bag, especially if you are a human that sweats (like me).

Join us for #BibChat with SmellWell on Twitter on APRIL 4 at 8 PM CST for a chance to win SmellWell pouches for yourself!

Hot Chocolate 15k Training Week 5:


5.16 mi, 00:50 @ 09:35 pace with double stroller. Beautiful 50 degree day! I felt very nauseous at the beginning of the run but better later on. Ran farther than planned because it was just too beautiful to stop!


Vinyasa Yoga Flow video


4 mi, 00:39 @ 09:50 pace with double stroller. It was colder and windier than I thought! I've been chilled to the bone the whole day after that run. Thankfully the kiddos were cozy in the weather shield!




3.11 mi, 00:30 @ 09:47 pace. Early morning run with the dog as my pacer.


"Long Run": 0.17 mi, 00:02:41 @ 15:47 pace. Yes, this was my Saturday long run. I started out with a 1-hour run of 6 to 7 miles planned and ended up walking home after dry heaving a few times. Thank you, morning sickness! #imnotcomplaining

My husband makes a special cheese sauce spread on toast (called "Monkey on Toast") and it was the only thing that could calm my nausea that day.


Rest day.

What do you think most runners have in common? (besides occasionally smelling bad!)

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

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Running Hard or Hardly Running

For me it's been the latter. Hardly running.

There are times to push and times to cut back. Now is a time to cut back but I feel really good about it. I'm running enough to maintain fitness to cover the miles of the Hot Chocolate 15k coming up in April but I'm not pushing my body's limits either.

Honestly, I'm exhausted and all I want to do is eat beef tacos.

Running the Hot Chocolate 15k is still the plan though I'm going to run at a more enjoyable pace rather than race pace. Take in the sights, visit with fellow runners. Besides, I'm guaranteed a PR since this is my first 15k ever, right! ;)

That's enough beating around the bush.

What it comes down to is that I'm really excited to share some news with you all but I'm not quite ready yet. Soon enough!

Until then, just enjoy some beef tacos for me. With crushed Doritos is a bonus.

Hot Chocolate 15k Training Week 4:


3.17 mi, 00:30 @ 09:27 pace. Due to my fatigue lately, I'm cutting back mileage and down the pace. I figured moving forward slowly is better than not moving at all! I took the kids out for a stroller walk that afternoon because the sun was shining too brightly to resist.


Vinyasa Yoga Flow video. The kids and I spent some time outside sliding around on the ice and climbing trees in the afternoon.


3.54 mi, 00:34 @ 09:38 pace. I took the double jogger out of hibernation mode today! The kids and I ran errands in town and back home again. I forgot how hard it is to steer with 2 toddlers, 2 gallons of milk and a load of other groceries. I need to work on my mom muscles!


Runner's Yoga


Long Run: 6.39 mi, 01:00 @ 09:23 pace. I switched my long run for today so I could run without the stroller. The morning was a rainy 36°F and the warmer weather felt so nice. I kept the pace easy and took the dog with for a few miles. Felt great overall minus a little nausea here and there. And thirsty. Always thirsty!


3 mi, 00:27 @ 09:06 pace. I'm feeling so tired lately so I called it good at three miles. Definitely looking forward to tomorrow's rest day!


Rest day.

How is your running going this week?

Linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday and Holly & Tricia's Weekly Wrap Up.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dear Mom of a High Need Baby

The first 18 months of our second child's life are still a blur in my mind.

As I was warned, our second bundle of joy was much different than his older brother. Our first was a "by the book" baby and quite easy going. Our second is quite the opposite.

His struggles started with constipation and sensitive skin rashes and then ear infection after ear infection. While I adore all the cuddles from our sweet babies, my little W was very much attached to my hip for a looong time.

We have many special memories together in those early months but we also had quite the challenges as well. I know, I know. Enjoy every second because the years are short but some days feel extra long. Like suffocatingly long. And the nights were even longer.

Everything our sweet second-born did was high-intensity.

All babies are born needy but some are definitely more intense and less content than others. Dr. Sears' High Needs Baby articles cover the topic much better than I can put to words.

The 18 months were filled with frustration, confusion from all of the mixed messages and secrecy because I was embarrassed to share these struggles with others. Frequently wondering "am I doing the right thing?" 

Finding someone that could relate, that truly understood the mess of emotions was rare.
GUILT for not enjoying every second with our new baby. For not being able to give his older brother the attention he needed because the baby was so all-consuming. For feeling like I had done something wrong.

ANXIETY from baby's constant fussing and feeling like this season would never end. Like I had somehow "spoiled" the baby to make him so fussy.

FRUSTRATION with all of the advice and judgement from those who didn't understand the situation or know our baby.

DISCOURAGED feeling like I was a "bad mom" and that I had somehow ruined our baby. Maybe he was better off in someone else's care.

ALONE because sharing these struggles lead to more advice and judgement.
These extra trying months drew me closer to the Lord and He answered my many desperate prayers by teaching me to be patient and praise Him in ALL circumstances. I decided to love my family the best I could exactly where we were, to see the good in these days and to ride out this tough season acknowledging that the Lord had a purpose in it all.

In the course of our trial and error, I learned that the "cry-it-out" method doesn't work with high need babies. That is the truth. We tried and it was miserable.

Baby W had such resilience that he gained momentum as the crying time went on. The poor baby had major diarrhea because of the stress and then he was extra fussy for the next 24-hours to make up for lost time. Though many people insisted "it worked" for them, it wasn't worth sitting by the wayside while our baby was miserable.

That's when I decided it was enough. My mother's intuition told me clearly this was not the way to care for my child.

So what then?

Baby W breastfed for 18 months and during that time, I found the only way to get any sleep was to co-sleep. GASP. Yes, we did and you know what happened? We all got sleep.

At 20 months, I laid him down in the toddler bed, just to try it out, and I sat on the floor bed-side. He fell asleep on his own and slept there. The whole night. I was in shock and a little confused by this newfound freedom.

Since then, W and his big brother have been sharing a room and he sleeps the whole night through. It's an answer to many prayers. He occasionally wakes up extra early and when I tell him it's still sleep time, he calmly goes back to bed.

This was something that we couldn't make him do in our time but that he grew into in his own time.

Now our feisty toddler boy is growing more independent every day and he is still just as full of spunk as the day he was born. High need babies are not easy to parent but they certainly aren't lacking passion in life!

I am so thankful for the children the Lord has blessed us with and their unique personalities.

Dear Mom of a High Need Baby,
I hope you can get some rest and find encouraged in knowing that this season won't last forever. Cling to the Lord for your strength, comfort precious, extra passionate baby and know that you are not alone. It's hard to find someone who understands but they are out there somewhere. Know that God made you mother to this sweet baby on purpose and for His glory. Take it one minute at a time, one day at a time, one month at a time and most of all TRUST the direction the Lord leads you in.
Every baby is a unique and a gift from the Lord.

We tend to say that a baby that sleeps through the night is a "good baby" but it's wrong.
There is no such thing as a BAD baby. 

Sleeping through the night at one month or one year.
Big eater or picky eater.
Contented or extra fussy.
Teeny tiny or top of the percentile.

Every, every, every single baby is a gift from the Lord and God made you specifically to be that baby's mother.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Linking up with Mommy Moments.