This winter, my friend, Erin, and I trained together for a 25K. We ran it in March, through a lot of rain and mud...but we did it none the less.

Although I had maintained running in general, I realized I hadn't done a race in almost two years! It was high time. I needed a goal. Somehow my over-enthusiasm about running rubbed off on Erin, and before you know it - we were signed up. Training was fun and relatively easy. We tried to do most of the longer runs together throughout trails and neighborhoods around Ann Arbor. Sam also joined the party during the weekday runs. We often joked that between the three of us, one was always crying ( <-- true story)

Come race time, we made a fun weekend of it in Grand Rapids with the hubbies. My family also came, and we all had a slumber party at my in-laws.

Come the morning of the race, it was raining cats and dogs.
You are correct in what you are seeing below, that's us...standing in trash bags. It's a decent trick if it's raining when you begin a race. It keeps you dry (and warm-er) and you can easily throw it off once you get going. We ended up taking them off within the first half mile because it's quite difficult to run in a trash bag...but it helped for the first half hour while waiting at the start line.



I'll probably get in trouble from the west siders for saying this (this race is serious business over there), but the race was built up to something it just wasn't. To be fair, if the weather was nicer I'm sure the race would had been much more fun. 
There wasn't a ton of people out cheering the runners on, and the mood was pretty solumn overall.
I was also disappointed that the course is 80% a trail along the river (which you can't really see) and not really through the city.  BUT, I'm still glad we did it and let's be honest, I'd probably do it again.



But the actual race...
By mile 13, I was mentally done. I was bored, and drenched...and bored. For some reason, I was thinking that 25K was 15 miles, not 15.5. Well, for any runners out there - you may know and sympathize where this story is going.
I hauled butt from mile 13 to 15! I gave it everything I had left because I was just over it and ready to be finished. Then I see the sign for Mile 15, and no finish line. I quickly do the math in my head and realize I had another half mile. Oh, what a horrible half mile that was.



I knew where our families were, so I tried to muster up as much energy to at least pass them and wave (and use the encouragement to motivate me through the last hill.) Kyle told me I looked really strong at the finish, but I'm not sure how that is possible because inside I was DONE.

15.5 miles in the rain- Check.


We enjoyed a great lunch, naps, ice cream and a movie date that evening. Totally worth the extra scope of delicious chocolate fro yo.




Last time I was in the Bahamas, I was 14 weeks pregnant and thought I was HUGE. Ha.

This time, I brought with me our (then) 6 month old son. Hard to believe how quickly the time has flown by.
This was my first time flying with Sam alone, and I was a tad nervous. Thankfully, people were gracious and helpful, the airline staff was great and we had smooth sailing the whole way there and back. I ended up in rows by myself for extra space, and strangers helped to keep Sam occupied with silly faces, songs and noises. He ate it right up.
(But, now that Samuel is mobile, I'm not convinced it will be as easy to have him on a plane!)

Sadly, Kyle had to work (a few weeks prior we used his vacation to head to Colorado), so Sam and I met his family in Nassau for the week.

I couldn't wait to get Sam in the pool. Knowing how much he loves bath time, I was pretty sure he would love the pool...once he got used to it at least.



Dipping his feet in the sand and ocean for the first time



It's SO.MUCH.FUN introducing Sam to new things. The ocean, pool, trees, flowers, climate, birds, accents..everything. You can just see the wheels turning and it's amazing. 




Daily walks on the beach helped get little man to take his naps :)








Trying out his new bodysuit:





...and writing this post 4 months later. Sam looks SO small! I can't believe he was that little. Someone stop time.




We are jumping back, FAR back, to March. Apologizes for the time lapse and reversal, but we will catch up to the present [eventually].

We took our first family vacation this past March and headed west to Colorado. My sis-in-law lives there (I visited last year when I was just 7 weeks pregnant), so we went to spend time with her and explore the outdoors. With a six month old baby.

This was a significant time for us. It was the first time longer than two days that we've gotten to spend together, just the three of us, since the first week of Sam's life. Kyle had some really rough rotations the months after Samuel arrived, and it proved to be a strenuous time for all of us. This was a MUCH needed time away, and we loved every second of it.

We hiked all over, explored the city, went wild at REI (Okay, the Denver store is amazingballs! We spent more time there then we should admit), went fly fishing, ate some great food, shopped and just relaxed.
I love everything about Colorado. And I think I got Kyle hooked too :)


We ventured to Rocky Mountain National Park and hiked the mountains for miles. It was so much fun...and apparently a great workout for Kyle, who later admitted that he almost died from carrying sam the man the entire time.



Sam loves his Auntie Kelly!


Kyle, Sam and I ventured on a little hike the first day, and just soaked in just being able to be OUTSIDE and not FREEZE TO DEATH. The sunshine alone was so rejuvinating. Sam didn't know what to do with himself with all that fresh air.



(super awkward family photo, but it was the only one we had with this backdrop, so bare with me)




Kyle's birthday present was to go fly fishing. If he had it his way, we would have gone every.single.day, but us girls shot down that idea right away. We paid for 4 hours with a guide, but he and the guide became immediate besties while talking about fishing and just decided to fish the rest of the day together. Pretty standard for the hubs.




He was on cloud 9.


Meanwhile, Sam and I hung out on the riverbank.


Somehow I got suckered into going fly fishing again...something about "I'll just bring my stuff just in case.." ;) (That's the net sticking out of his backpack)


This trail was so beautiful. We passed tons of runners and cyclists that it made me wish I could run a road like this everyday.



Until next year, Beautiful Colorado!


(Did you catch that, aunt kelly?! Because we are totally coming back!)



It was back in February.
I know, I'm behind here.
As in, 5 months behind.
But I'm catching up...now.

But before I do, let me just say that blogging over the past six months has seemed to overwhelming with everything else on my plate. Loving on Samuel, taking time out for our marriage and running a business have pretty much consumed my life in the best way possible. AKA, blogging hasn't been one bit a priority.
However, part of the reason I have this darn thing in the first place is so that I can have a running record of so many events in our life. I want to read through it and remember the good, bad and ugly and beautiful times. Thus, my attempt to blog..again :)

So, let's start with some fun adventures that we took Samuel on this past winter.
In February, my mom (aka Grandma Juju), Sam and I took a trip to NYC to visit my sister. It was Sam's first time on a plane, and I was a bit nervous. THANK GOD FOR GRANDMAS!!

Little man did excellent! He ate upon take-off and slept the entire trip there...even through the crazy taxi ride to the hotel.


We ate incredible food, played some mad games of scrabble (where we discovered my mother's a professional scrabbler player thanks to "words with friends"), wandered all throughout town and watched some chick flicks.
It rained/snowed the majority of the time we were there, but Sam was so cuddled up and happy to see Aunt Jessi that he just rolled right along with us :)


Hard to believe this was 5 months ago! 


The way home was a bit rough. Upon loading onto our plane, they canceled our non-stop, 1 hour flight home. That turned into 8 more hours in the airport, a flight to Chicago, then another flight to Lansing (we left from Detroit!) and arriving home at 2 am. Less than ideal.
I think Sam handled it better than me! What a trooper this little one is.
This picture was taken at 11 pm at night, in line to get on our second plane to get back to Michigan. Far too much to see in an airport to sleep.


I suppose it wouldn't be an adventure without something going haywire. Welcome to the world of traveling, Sam!





Side Note: Can I still call it a  "weekly" letter if it has turned into more of a "once-every-few-months"
Either way, here we go..


Dear NYC,

You were great. We loved visiting Aunt Jessica! Sam loved seeing all of the people, strolling around through a snow storm and getting lots of "ooos" and  "ahhs" from strangers. Hard to believe that I once thought I'd live amongst your concrete jungle. Clearly, the "smaller" town life has rubbed off on me. Far to many people, far to few trees and one to many somewhat sketchy man who liked to follow too closely. However, your food- delicious.

(I didn't bring my camera since this was my first time packing for a baby...and well, enough said. At least we were able to get a few photos. Sadly, I didn't take a picture of our very intense games of scrabble during the snow storm. I am still standing my ground that "ow" is not a word, I don't care what "words with friends" says.)





Dear American Airlines,

You, not so great. I'll be on the phone with you later collecting my many reimbursements from your cancelled flights, reroutes and landing us in a city in which we didn't even depart from. That will be an additional $20 in parking fees, thank you. Can I tack on extra for making us do this with 5 month old baby?!! We spent almost as much time in the airports than we did in the city. So much for a 1.5 hour, nonstop flight.

Other than that, Sam enjoyed his first time on a plane! He only stayed awake for one leg of it.




Dear deserted blog,

As with any other time that I go a while without writing on your pages, I miss you. Now that I'm beginning to get my head above water and feel somewhat "normal" after transitioning jobs and becoming a mother, I'll visit you more often. Pinky swear.



Dear Spring,

Come soon. PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE.


Dear Winter,

I may have been raised in Michigan, but these arctic temperatures are not for me. -24 degrees, really?! That's just mean. Go away. You aren't welcome here anymore.


Dear Nestle,

Thanks for making delicious hot chocolate that helps comfort us on the days that we are stuck inside.


Dear Amazon Prime,

I'm so embarrassed I haven't used you sooner. I like you, a lot.


Dear Running Shoes,

I'm putting you on again as often as possible. I've missed you so. We have a few races coming up this Spring, and we have lots of training to do before then. I already told Winter to kick the bucket, so here's to hoping that you and the running stroller will also get some work in once we are above 0 degrees.


Dear Bahamas,

I'm coming for you.  Last time we visited you, Sam was in my belly! Now, little man and myself are fully packed and ready for SUNSHINE. Sam isn't going to know what to do with the weather you will give us. I can't wait to get his little feet in the sand and ocean. I hope he doesn't cry when we have to go home...well, let's be honest, I hope I don't cry.



Dear Denver,

You're next!



I couldn't think of another title for this post, as "a new life" sounds quite dramatic and probably a bit more extreme than necessary. However, a lot has changed over the past five months. (Note that I just changed three to five...this post has been lingering for err...two months.)

Samuel will be five months old next week (it's heartbreaking to think that time has gone by that quickly, by the way!). A lot has changed for me personally and professionally during that short period of time.

Here is some backstory on how this all came about and where I am now. But first, I must say that over the past year I've learned a few things that brought me to this point:

1) Nothing worth having comes easy
2) (Although it may sound corny...) You can do anything you want. There isn't a straight, one-path way to a destination. (But that is what college seems to teach you)
3) Sometimes you just need to dive in and learn to swim. You can't always be prepared. (Much to my dismay ;)
4) We never have to go through challenges, changes and journeys alone. Never.

So, here I sit at my laptop mid-afternoon. Sam is taking his afternoon snooze, the washing machine and pandora serving as my background noise, I have my hair pulled in a ponytail, complete with a  headband, a workout sweatshirt on and jeans (yes, jeans. Not yoga pants..today at least.) I'm not in my old office, because this is my new office.
Home.

That is both scary and relieving at the same time. Exciting and nerve-racking.

You see, I didn't know what I wanted to do after Sam arrived. I have never been one of those woman who just knew that they wanted to stay at home 100% of the time and raise their children. If that was you, I'm jealous of you- because you knew! In the back of my mind, I always thought I would transition my photography business to full-time once we had children, but when we found out we were expecting, I wasn't ready to make that decision or commitment. I knew flexibility was going to be imperative for us, but fear of failure kept me questioning.
Thankfully, my other work was gracious and let me have time to decide. I left my office one week before having Samuel, thinking that I would be back in some capacity.

Since Kyle has such long work hours, carrying two careers kept me happily busy. For the past two years, on top of photography, I also loved my other job.  As in loved. I learned new things everyday, my coworkers were incredible, I was challenged, pushed and encouraged. I was able to take one new, fun projects and make something out of nothing. All of which created an environment where I thrived. It was a huge blessing to me in multiple ways. (and I'm not just saying that because some of my old coworkers may be reading this ;)
I really did love my job.

Then Samuel arrived. And life changed. Drastically.

A colleague of mine had told me prior to Sam being born (two weeks before, to be exact), that when you first hold your child, it's one of the only times in life that all of your priorities perfectly align. Suddenly, you realize what is important and what isn't. He said he often thinks about when his girls were born, and how email or phone calls just didn't matter anymore. They carried no weight compared to that of your child. It's not that those things were not important, but they took a backseat.

He was right.

Then days became weeks and I stressed about this looming decision before me. It's an extremely personal decision and, truthfully, I felt pulled in all directions. I prayed about what to do. I spoke with other women who have been in similar situations. I talked to my husband, friends and family and had deep, honest conversations about my fears, potential regrets, but also my excitement.

It all became clear.

I spoke to my boss, who wished me nothing but the best as I told him I would be taking my photography business full-time so that I could have a flexible schedule in my career to care for our family. As the words came out of my mouth, I choked up. Maybe it was still the pregnancy hormones, but leaving a career for a new one and saying the words out loud made it very real. Very exciting and very scary. I would be lying if I told you that I have never questioned the decision since. I do. Often, actually. There always seems to be a little voice that encourages me to doubt rather than rejoice.

But God has been faithful in continually reminding me that this decision was and is the best for me and our family.

Now,  I change diapers and go to photo shoots in the same afternoon. I edit sessions while Sam naps. I blog in the evenings once little one has gone to sleep. When grandma comes to visit, I work on growing my business.

I thought that a balance would come right away. But, like most things in the past few months, everything is a process. It's going to take time to get an ebb and flow down and understand how to find balance in this transition. Of course, the type-A part of me wants it all to just fall into perfect place and be what in my head I imagined it would be. 5 months in...I'm only seeing glimpses of that.

Being able to spend time with my son is irreplaceable. Coming to a place professionally where I am now able to pursue what I once saw as a far away goal, is ridiculously exciting (and scary, of course!).

It's a honor and gift to be able to do both. In the days that seem long and frustrating, when I am only checking off a few things from my mile-long list, it's difficult to not look at this face and know I am right where I am suppose to be.





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