Sunday, January 24, 2016

Mama On The Run: Let the Training Begin (Again)!

It's my Type-A Mama on the Run dream - a training plan to follow!

After taking a few months off of any set training plan post-October marathon, I'm excited to get back into training mode tomorrow.

As I mentioned in my 2016 running goals post, this year is about focusing in on quality miles that hopefully lead to some PRs. My ultimate goal is to PR in both the 10K and half-marathon this year. I'm glad to get back to training for these races and to improve my speed and tempo paces instead of focusing on super-long training runs that were the reality in 2015 as I trained for two different marathons.

In order for me to go for a PR in my favorite Easter Run 10K race in March and half-marathon race in May, I'll need to do the following this training season:

  • Sleep! I'm aiming for a minimum of 7 hours of sleep most nights, but shooting for 8. This means turning off electronics or television at least 30 minutes before sleep-time and go to bed with a book, crossword puzzle, coloring book - anything relaxing that sends me off to dreamland. 
  • Nutrition: Serious cut-backs on the sugar intake, which means backing off on my baking habit to the weekends-only. This is my main source of sugar, and there's nothing quite like cold, wintry days to make you want to bust out a couple dozen cookies. I'd like to keep baking, but need to reserve it to a weekend-only treat and include the kids more often so I'm less likely to eat the treats in front of them. I'm also continuing my two big glasses of water for every one cup of coffee and that's been going well. I haven't had a diet soda in weeks, so that's a plus, too!
  • Strength training: I've been in a strength training rut for months now and end up doing the same routine. Not good! I'm going through mile exercise clip book (yes, I'm nerdy like that!), and getting some new moves to use throughout the week. 
  • Foam roll and core work: I drop the ball far too often on these two items. I need to foam roll to protect myself from injury and the same goes for the core! A strong back and core goes a long ways in speed, power, and protection from getting hurt. 
So there you have it. Bring on Week #1 of half-marathon training and the refreshed mindset and goals that come along with it. It's almost like welcoming a new year all over again!

Happy running!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Kidlet Basketball & Future Crusaders in the Making

This year we're spoiled in that both Mackie and Brax are able to be on the same basketball team through our Lil Dribblers program at Hutch Rec. Daddy is coach, and several of Mackie's kindergarten classmates and friends also are on the team. 

It's the only year where the kidlets will be able to be on the same team, so we're soaking it up! They've played five games so far, and it's fun to see the improvement each year with Mackie (and others who have played on the team in previous years). 

She's a foot taller than most kids on the floor, so we're trying to encourage her to get big on the block. (mama can't help herself!) What we love more, though, is that both kids hustle, don't mind getting on the floor to go after the ball, and obey both coaches. 

Here's a brief snippet of Mackie's first-ever basket! (of course mama missed it due to talking to another of the year, right here! Thankful for a fellow fan who just happened to be recording it on her phone). 

Brax has also improved each game (he's the youngest and smallest one on the team), but managed to even attempt a shot in this morning's game.

It's crazy to think that Mackie will be in "big-girl" basketball next year and go to 1st-2nd grade girl's league with Hutch Rec. But it's also time. We're excited to gather up a group of her fellow friends and classmates and get them playing together for the future years to come.....we have to think ahead for future Lady Crusader basketball, you know!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bring On 2016: Awareness

Like many of you, I've been wrapping my head around new beginnings, new challenges, and new goals to strive for throughout the course of the next 366 days of 2016 (yay for a bonus day!). The year 2015 was all about digging deep and pressing on, and boy, did God give me opportunity upon opportunity to do so, as you've read over the course of the past year in this blog.

God whispered a word during my run one morning several months ago: aware. It stuck with me throughout these past several weeks and I take this word with me into the new year. I'm eager - as with any new year, quite honestly - to start fresh, hit the re-set button, continue to live for God's glory, as I know it all comes from Him and not a single thing I could ever do here on this earth could match His unlimited grace.

In 2016, I pray for God's work on my heart as I become more aware in:

  • My sin - namely those sins that I flippantly shrug off and scarily hide and sweep off to the deepest, darkest parts of my heart. 
  • My time in God's Word - these last several weeks I haven't had a structured Bible reading plan or study to go off of. God has created me to be a creature of structure, a type-A junkie who loves and craves and thrives off of a plan. I'm excited to dig into 1/2/3 John study by MacArthur to kick off the new year. 
  • My family - Chunk out time after school/work each day when Mackie gets home and Brax wakes up from a nap and turn my phone completely on silent or (better yet!) off. Spend this time reading with them, dancing with them, going on outdoor adventures, cook dinner together, giggle, snuggle - whatever. Just be with them as their mama first, not a mama who's trying to be with them but constantly distracted by the darn phone/e-mail/Facebook/text messages. Same goes with Jack....part of that time will be when he's home during dinner, but also purposely chunk out time with him each night without any electronics around to simply talk, dream, plan.
  • Purposeful work time - It's a huge answer to prayer having a more flexible job and work schedule - something I never want to take for granted. However, I tend to struggle shutting off work when the kidlets are in bed or after school when they could be watching a show, but really should be enjoying quality time with mama. Granted, there are seasons in my work year that I do need to dedicate every chunk of possible time to deadlines. But I find myself cramming too much work into the nooks and crannies of life. A lot of it comes from the lack of prioritizing and being constantly purposeful with work. I strive to get back to more purposeful planning in my work day that will lead to better productivity and home life balance.
  • Reading (in general) - each year I create a lofty goal to read books more. I even go to second-hand bookstores and buy books, thinking I'll read them if I spend a little money on them. I want to read more. I get giddy hearing my book-loving girlfriends chat endlessly about their recent literary adventures. One said girlfriend posted Tim Challies' 2016 Reading Challenge - and I'm committing to the Light Reading Plan. This will be the year I become a bookworm again! (and this structure is just what I need!)
  • Moving my body - you all know I love running and enjoy active living in general. I blogged about my 2016 running/racing goals in an earlier post. But I want to take it a step further (no pun intended) and move my body beyond the daily run/workout time. I received a FitBit Charge HR for Christmas and already I find the desire to move more throughout the day.
  • Sleep/eating habits - I'd like to blame the Royals and their month-long World Series run for my super late nights in Oct/Nov. But it really comes down to not shutting down the television or social media. My body tells me to go to bed by 10 p.m. (or earlier!) most nights. I tend to stay up a good hour or two past that and my body pays for it the next morning in extra coffee consumption and less-than-ideal morning workouts. My goal is to be in bed by 10 p.m. on weeknights.  Eating-wise, I'm getting back to using my weekends for meal prep and meal planning for the days and weeks ahead. 
  • Where the money is going - Jack and I already have started taking a closer look at various monthly bills and how we can save money or cut out unnecessary expenses. We've also been more aware of purchases and if we really need it (or will it end up in the garage sale pile a year later?). We're going with a simpler is better mindset and purging unnecessary items in our house, selling them and then setting that cash aside for date nights, special restaurant trips with the kidlets, etc. We're also working hard to build our savings these next few months now that Jack is wrapping up grad school and we continue to pay off some medical and other bills that unexpectedly came up this past year. 
Of course these are goals I have, but ultimately know that God's will is best and may HIS will be done this year. I pray 2016 brings me closer to Him. 

Happy 2016! May you enter these next 366 days energized and ready to live for His purpose - to GOD be the glory!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Weekends In December: Christmas Is Here! (Part 3)

We had a busy two days celebrating Christmas with each sides of our family. 

First up....Conkling side on Christmas Day. We enjoyed an afternoon of playing with cousins, aunts, uncles, and Papa/Grandma Scaliwag. With 10 kids ages 9 and younger, it gets to be a bit chaotic, but we all find that each year becomes more and more doable (and controlled chaos, if there is a such a thing!). 

The big kids each draw names, while the little kids draw names, too, to make the gift giving more manageable (and meaningful!). Mackie received a cute handmade mermaid blanket from her cousin Riley (compliments of Aunt Abby) as well as a dance wand/hat, while Brax received a head lamp from cousin Matthew. They also made bank from grandma and papa! (and so did mama/daddy)

Their cousins, Lincoln and Max, also received head lamps, so the three amigos thoroughly enjoyed playing outside with them turned on. You can imagine the giggles we had as they popped up and down, in and out of the windows from the outside looking in.

It was an exhausting day, for sure....

The next morning, we made the quick trek over to Papa and Grandma Preston's house for day-after Christmas Day celebration, complete with Uncle Tugs and Jamie. 

Again, we were spoiled by grandma and papa, as well as Uncle Tugs and Jamie. She made these super soft, comfy, and cute blankets for each one of us in the family - Brax received Ninja Turtles; Mackie - Frozen; me and my dad - K-State; mom - flowers; and Jack - camo. They were a hit!

Mackie also enjoyed opening up the new Cinderella DVD she's been wanting for quite some time now, as well as a new basketball outfit for AG Caroline, among other gifts. 

Brax's highlights included a Ninja Turtle toy, camo pants, the Cars DVD, and plenty of other gifts, as well as a Mike Moustakas shirt (MOOSE!).

We big kids were also spoiled with plenty, too.

It was a great time celebrating and even better to be with baby brother and his girlfriend. We don't get to see them enough!

What a whirlwind - but joyous! - three days of celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus. And now, the tree has been taken down. Christmas decor is put away. And we've been cleaning/organizing/purging to make room for our new toys and presents. But along the way, we cannot help but continue to be reminded of God's total grace and mercy in sending His Son in the form of a sweet, innocent babe - to be later suffer a grievous death on our behalf. Thank you, Jesus!

Weekends In December: Christmas Is Here (Part 2)

Oh, Christmas morning. A morning of anticipation for both mama/daddy and kidlets alike. Due to the late Christmas Eve, Jack and I were spoiled and Brax didn't bound into our room until almost 8 a.m. (which is like sleeping half the day away in our house!)

Jack led the final Jesse's Tree reading and we put the final ornament on the tree. There's nothing quite like reading God's promises in both the Old and New Testaments to bring sweet perspective to our Christmas celebration. 

This year we had the kids use some of their piggy bank money to purchase each other's special gift. We had a $10-$15 range for the gifts and I took each of them shopping. Brax insisted on buying Mackie a Disney Belle doll (like a Barbie doll) to complete her princess doll collection. Mackie, meanwhile, hemmed and hawed over various Ninja Turtle toys for little bro, but (finally) decided on buying him a special Leonardo toy that turned into swords (as if we needed more of those!). 

Brax's gift highlights included: special Lego tray that daddy made; Lego construction set; a recorder (because there's no such thing as a toy tuba); and some books and clothes. 

Mackie's gift highlights included: American Girl purple doll bed (my Cyber Monday steal of a deal!); new bike helmet; books and clothes. 

We typically use Christmas as a time to update and clean out the art bin and refresh it with new supplies. They opened a joint gift with all of the markers, colored pencils, construction paper, notepads, coloring books, play-doh, and stickers that you could imagine! It's a joint gift that's usually one of the bigger hits (for all involved, as they usually make an appearance at basketball games throughout the season!). 

Perhaps the biggest shocker of the morning came with the gifts Jack gave me. I had been hinting for a FitBit HR and a new MacArthur Bible study - and I was oh-so excited to open them both. (spoiled, I tell ya!) But the kicker was the final gift, one that I was not allowed to open until the very end of gift giving. 

Clueless, I opened the box and found a set of diamond earrings - and immediately the tears came because of the back story involved in the gift. Years ago, the Christmas before I we had Mackie (if memory serves me correctly), Jack spoiled me with a pair of diamond earrings. A few years later my sweet toddler girl was searching through mama's jewelry and one of the diamond earrings came up missing...forever! We spent days, weeks, months searching for the missing diamond and left empty handed. From time to time (notably on dress-up events), I have commented how much I missed having that pair of diamond earrings - and still felt awful for losing one of them. 

Apparently, hubs spent this Christmas season plotting and planning how to, a: splurge and spoil mama without her knowing (since she's super type-A in checking the credit card account and finances); and b: how to track down one diamond earring and mount the existing one to make a new set. Let's just say this mama was over-the-moon shocked and surprised when opening the box! (and felt really, really spoiled!) 

It was pretty tough to top Jack's gifts to me. I suppose that's the beauty of gift-giving, though as a recipient I couldn't help but feel a bit guilty accepting such an extravagant gift.

Jack's gift highlights included: Under Armour camo backpack for hunting; dress clothes and shoes; World Series program; and a new pair of jeans he had been eyeing. Again, tough to top the diamonds!

We had a wonderful morning celebrating Jesus's birthday by exchanging gifts and the playing with our new toys (all of us!). Jack and I even had a chance to each enjoy a quick outing for a winter run before heading to his parents' house for the Conkling celebration.

More on our family celebrations to come!