Friday, March 31, 2017

Limping to the Finish Line

The way this training cycle has gone I feel a little bit like I'm limping to the finish line of the season. I'm going to make it to my goal race, but just by the hair of my chinny chin chin. One day during my run I was pondering this whole situation I'm in and why out of all my friends who run at least semi-seriously have none of them ever just totally bonked an entire season like I currently am (at least that I know of). That's when I realized it's because they usually get injured and don't make it to the end of the season when they bomb a season by overtraining. I think I backed off just enough to keep from getting injured, but not enough to allow my legs to fully recover from the fatigue of overtraining which just kept adding more and more fatigue. For the last couple weeks I've been joking with Ty about how I am limping to finish line of the season and I'm just so darn thankful that I'm making it to the finish! I know I did some unwise things during this training block, although I'm not sure which thing in specific has led to my downfall or if it was a combination of things, and I'm just happy that I've been able to remain healthy so I can run the Aquarium Run Half-Marathon on Saturday. I may not be able to run the time I was training for, but I'm not injured and that's enough reason to celebrate!

I am a little concerned with how my left shin has been feeling lately. When I laid down in bed Friday night it was throbbing and it has been sore on and off ever since. I can pinpoint where it hurts and there's a bit of a lump where it is hurting, I'm thinking maybe a calcium deposit, but it doesn't hurt more when I run and most days I don't even notice it while running. I notice it the most when I'm laying in bed at night or when I am sitting down relaxing. I don't think it will affect my race on Saturday but I am a little nervous it may turn into something more serious down the road. Even though Saturday is my big goal race I also have some other April and May races planned that I am really looking forward to, not to mention a fall season where I want to chase after a sub-1:30 again. I've added some shin foam rolling into my foam rolling routine but I don't feel like it is helping that much, partially because I am terrible at it! I'm definitely hoping that this shin issue doesn't end with me literally limping to the finish line on Saturday, but I am planning on wearing compression socks in hopes of combating that!

With all the running struggles I've had lately and all the runs gone bad, I'm really holding onto the positive runs. The killer 8x800 repeat workout I ran a couple weeks ago, the awesome 4x1200/400 workout I ran faster than the fall, the 6 and 7 mile tempos I ran at the beginning of the cycle, and runs where I just ran faster than expected. This past Sunday I ran my last longish run before the race with a 9 miler. I just went out at what felt comfortable and when I felt like picking up the pace during the last 4 miles, I did. I was pleasantly surprised to finish my 9 miles in 7:38 pace compared to the 8 mile tempo I had struggled through the week before at 7:24 pace. During my 9 miles I was running comfortably and during that 8 mile tempo I was pushing the and struggling. I am holding onto a little bit of hope that even though I overtrained this season and didn't do my body any favors there, these taper weeks will help me out a lot and tomorrow will go better than I am expecting. I definitely plan to go out conservatively and just see where that puts me pace-wise. I am hopeful that it will be somewhere around 7:00-7:15 pace. Even though I know running a PR is likely out of the question, I haven't given up hope and if 6:55 pace feels sustainable, I will go with it. I'm not going to force it by any means, but I also figure I have nothing to lose. If I take off at what feels sustainable and then crash and burn in the 2nd half, I really have no problem with that. Might as well go for it, if it's slower than 1:31:35 it won't be a PR anyway so who cares how slow it is, right? I also know it's easier to make up time when you go out conservatively and feel strong in the second half then it is to keep from losing too much time when you are hurting at the end, so I'm not going to try to force a certain pace from the start. With my terrible late season tempos, I don't have a good idea of what a reasonable goal pace should be so I'm going to have to listen to my body. That seems to always work best for me anyway. When I go out with a certain pace in mind and try to hit it from the start, the last few miles are always a struggle.

The best part of the race? The sea turtle theme! We have visited the sea turtle exhibit 5 times since it opened the first week of March and I am in love with the sea turtles! One of them is very social and is always at the glass checking everybody out. He'll look right at you and follows you along the glass. The other one is also social, or so I've heard, he's just been napping every time we are there. I just can't get enough of the sea turtles. Thursday I ran with Elise while Carter was at school and we ran from the aquarium. I ran the first section of the race, which is an almost 3 mile loop that we will do before heading out onto the Riverside trail, to get a feel for it. Then I ran out a little before heading back along the finish of the race course. I started getting so excited about the race, picturing myself crossing the pedestrian bridge during the last mile of the race and then kicking it in to the finish line at the entrance of the aquarium. Regardless of what time I run, it will be a fun race and I'll get to walk around the aquarium for a little bit afterward. After our run Elise and I walked around the aquarium and then picked up our packets. The shirts have a sea turtle on them and are just plain awesome! The closer the race gets, the more excited I get! I think this bumpy training cycle has been beneficial in that it has forced me to let go of my expectations for this race. Instead of going in nervous about running a PR, I am just excited. I can't wait to run and am hoping for a better race than what I'm predicting. I'm predicting sub-1:35 with a possibility of running under 1:33, but I'm also not putting much pressure on this race. I'm just celebrating the fact that I made it to the race uninjured and I'll be able to go for a PR again in the fall! I can't wait to get out there and run!
The awesome race shirt!
The friendly sea turtle during our visit on Thursday.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Elise's 2nd Birthday

Elise's birthday fell on a Tuesday this year so Carter had school. I got up early in the morning to run so I'd have all morning to play with her. When I got back from my run Elise was still asleep. She had great timing as she woke up right before Ty left for work. Carter, Ty, and I all went into her room to tell her Happy Birthday and greet her with a marshmallow with a candle in it. She normally likes to lay and chat to herself for a while before getting out of her crib, but we were too excited to tell her Happy Birthday to wait. She wasn't interested in blowing out her candle or eating her marshmallow so Carter blew her candle out for her. Ty left and the kids decided they needed another round of hugs and kisses so we ran out to catch him before he got in the car. It was so cute to see Elise trailing after Carter parroting, "Hug and kisses!" Sis wasn't interested in eating breakfast which is quite unusual for her, normally she wants to eat first thing. I needed to shower so I went ahead and hopped in and she got in with me. I love how she stands right up against my legs in the shower with her arm wrapped around one of my legs, gently resting her hand on my leg. It is the absolute sweetest! When we got out it was picture time! I got some pictures of her in her special birthday shirt. She wasn't too thrilled about it but did pose in her chair for a couple.

I had told the kids we would go out for special birthday doughnuts for Elise's birthday so we left early to drop Carter off at school and stopped by the doughnut shop. Elise had finally gotten hungry so she ate two oranges in the car on the way there. We were super disappointed when we walked in at 9:00 and they were already out of doughnuts, they don't close until 11 so I'm not sure what the deal was there! We loaded back up in the car and headed to a grocery store on the way to Carter's school and stopped there for doughnuts. I was bummed until I realized while driving that the doughnuts there would be cheaper so it was actually kind of a win! I let the kids pick out special drinks and we sat outside at tables they have in front of the store. With the doughnut shenanigans we were running a little late to school. We got there after Carter's class had already walked to their room (which was a first for us). Carter was very excited to lead us to his classroom, telling everyone on the way that it was his sister's birthday. Then he opened his classroom door and proudly announced to his entire class that it was his sister's birthday. It was adorable to see him so proud! From there Elise and I were off to the Children's Museum because she absolutely loves the tape tunnel/slide there! As we pulled in one of my friends texted me to ask me if I could pick her daughter up because she was having issues and was at the hospital. We pulled back out and headed to pick up Elise's friend. Instead of the Children's Museum we headed to a nearby park once we had her friend in tow. Elise had an absolute blast at the park, swinging on the bar above the slide and going down the slide only to immediately go back up the ladder and do it all over again.

We headed out to pick Carter up just as it was starting to get super hot. He was excited to see we had an extra friend with us and jumped right into the car asking her questions. On our way home we stopped by the store so Elise could pick out the supplies for her birthday cake and some special stuff for lunch. She went with macaroni and cheese for lunch and some pear flavored apple sauce. For her cake she chose a pink velvet cake with funfetti frosting and pink candies for the top. She was so cute, wanting out of the cart for a better look when we got to the aisle with cake. We dropped my friend's daughter off at home with her dad when he got home and then had a late lunch once I made the macaroni and cheese. Elise ate like a little beast, constantly asking for more. She ate all of her broccoli, most of her apple sauce, and 4 helpings of mac and cheese!
I surprised Elise with a bunch of blown up balloons on the living room floor when she woke up from her nap. She and Carter had a blast playing with balloons and I added some sorting and learning into the mix as well. Then we used the streamers from her doorway to make confetti. We put the confetti in a sensory bin to play with and the kids had a blast with it. Then we made Elise's cake and put it in the oven to bake. While we waited on it, we played some more with the sensory bin and the wooden birthday cake. When Ty got home we all yelled "Happy Birthday" to Elise as I dropped the confetti out of the bin onto Elise's head. Carter and Elise had a blast with the confetti, throwing it up in the air while yelling "Happy Birthday!" It was adorable to hear Elise say happy birthday. After dinner Carter helped Elise decorate her cake. She had chosen a pink velvet cake with funfetti frosting that turned out to be marshmallow flavored which was delicious! She picked some round pink candies as decorations and was cracking me up because instead of sprinkling them over the cake, she kept poking them down in the cake. The next day when Uncie J ate some he asked if there was candy in the cake and I told him no before realizing he must've gotten a piece out of Elise's section. At her age, Carter pretty much just dumped the entire container of sprinkles on his cake so I was impressed when Elise very carefully picked up pinches of sprinkles and rubbed her fingers together to drop them on the cake. It took her much longer to decorate her cake than it ever took Carter! When it was time to blow out her candles, Elise did it all by herself! Then she opened her presents from me and Ty as well as from our neighbors who are awesome and always remember the kids' birthdays! It was just the best day and was a wonderful celebration of Elise. She really is the most wonderful and precious little girl!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

This week's post won't be quite as wordless and filled with pictures as usual. Sunday morning while I was in Elise's room picking out clothes for her to wear, she snatched my phone and then threw it in the toilet. I had a LifeProof case so I wasn't too worried. I removed my phone from the case, dried it off, and threw it in a Ziploc bag full of rice. Later when I went to check on it, assuming it was fine, it was really hot to the touch and wouldn't turn on. That was disconcerting, but so many people had told me they put their phones in rice and it worked like a charm. When it still wouldn't turn on Monday evening, Ty took it to work on Tuesday for their resident iphone expert to take a look at it. Apparently there was a small puncture in the plastic cover part of my LifeProof case where it covers the camera lens of my phone. Water got in there and pooled up around the processor, pretty much immediately frying it. I'm guessing that's why my phone felt warm. Thanks to Wordless Wednesday, I am in a great habit of uploading all my pictures every Wednesday, so I only lost my pictures from Thursday to Sunday and then had no way to take pictures on Monday and Tuesday (which was a bummer because Elise and I went to the aquarium on Tuesday while Carter was at school and the sea turtle came right over to see us). I did use our fancy camera when we were at home but didn't want to take it out and about. Most the time I missed the moment when I tried to use it because our autofocus is broken so I'd have to get focused before I could snap a picture and most the time, the kids had moved. I was the most bummed about losing pictures from our trip to the zoo on Saturday. Thankfully my mom saved the day, texting me the pictures I had sent her while we were there. Unfortunately I hadn't sent anyone the adorable video of Elise looking at the otters while holding her beloved otter and yelling, "Otta!!!!" while pointing at them snuggled together resting. But it could have been worse! I hadn't backed my phone up since October but really didn't seem to be missing much other than some games I had downloaded for Carter. So this post pretty much just has pictures from today other than the ones my mom sent me from the zoo.
Elise carrying Otter around at the zoo after running through a puddle and soaking her shoes!
We got to see the jaguar cub at the zoo for the first time!
It was so neat that they were right up against the glass!
Elise helping Carter with his chore of putting the silverware away.
I love it when she falls asleep on me. The best cuddles!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Weekly Learning Theme: Sea Turtles

I am super behind on posting about our learning themes. We did a St. Patrick's Day learning theme the week of St. Patrick's Day and a Birthday learning theme the week of Elise's birthday. I thought about skipping over this one and doing the other two so they could be posted closer to the actual holidays, but figured they were being posted after the fact anyway so why would it matter if it was another week.

We did our beach/ocean learning theme before our trip to Florida. While we were in Florida the new sea turtle exhibit at our aquarium opened up. We were super excited about it as the aquarium has had the sea turtles behind the scenes in holding tanks for years and they have been working on the exhibit for a long time now. I decided it would be perfect to segue into sea turtles right after our learning theme about beaches and the ocean. It worked out great because we'd already been playing in sand and the kids had seen beaches just like ones where sea turtles lay their eggs. We have since been to the sea turtle exhibit 3 more times and it's the kids' favorite exhibit at the aquarium. They usually spend about half of our trip there. It's so neat to hear Carter, the resident expert (as I jokingly call him because he's always sharing random facts with people we see there), rattle off information about the sea turtles as we observe them. My favorite is that an adult sea turtle can hold it's breath for hours at a time while it is sleeping underwater. Typically when we go one of the turtles is active and the other is sleeping. 

Listed below are the objectives I am focusing on for the themed weeks.  I have revised our objectives to really hone in and focus on specific skills Carter will need to master before kindergarten and are appropriate to his age and development right now. I plan to continue to implement activities to practice and reinforce our previous objectives while putting more emphasis on our new objectives.  Some of them won't necessarily be targeted with specific activities during our weeks, but I wanted to list them to help me remember to practice them continually. I have added working on his name as his teachers at school have asked us to work on it at home and I want to remember to include working on it in some form during each of our learning themes. I'm also adding in a section for Elise now that she is a year old. I don't considers her bullet points objectives, they are experiences I want to make sure to expose her to frequently. Her experiences are listed below Carter as bullet points rather than numbers.

The highlighted objectives below are ones Carter received exposure to during our theme this week:
  1. Begin to organize and focus on writing. (Dictate stories, plan out a story, draw pictures and scribbles to create a book).
  2. Understand same and different.
  3. Accurately tell stories as well as retell the story from a book. 
  4. Use age appropriate scissors.  (I'm moving on to looking for a thumb and forefinger grasp with writing tools and holding scissors appropriately)
  5. Develop a better understanding of time (for example, be able to describe when things happen using morning, afternoon, night)
  6. Group objects based on a category (sort by defining feature).
  7. Count with one-to-one correspondence, begin to identify numerals, being to use ordinal numbers (first, second, last). 
  8. Recognize the letters in name, arrange them to spell name, begin to write name.
Experiences Elise was exposed to during our theme this week are highlighted below:
  • Play make believe/Imitate the behaviors of others (adults and children).
  • Know the names of and be able to point out body parts.
  • Groups things together by size or color/matches like objects, understands hard and soft.
  • Names common objects and is able to point them out.
  • Begin to hold writing tools and scribble spontaneously. Can draw a line. Differentiates between a circle and square.
  • Follows simple instructions (focusing on words such as in, on, beside, under).
  • Others: counts to two, refers to self by name. These I want to start to expose her to, but she isn't quite ready to master them yet.
  • To start off our theme I wrote the words sea turtle on a sentence strip. I showed Carter the sentence strip and had him point out how many capital letters were on it and then count them. Then we counted to see how many lower case letters there were. When he was finished he pointed out the letters' names. I segmented the sounds in one word at a time and then asked him to blend them together. I also had him point out any letters that were on the sentence strip more than once. I pointed out the capital T and lowercase t because he didn't notice them since they looked different.
  • During our last visit to the aquarium before our Florida trip, I picked out a sea turtle life cycle figurine set to use during our sea turtle learning theme. We had read multiple books about sea turtles before doing the activity. I showed Carter the different pieces and asked him to put them in order to show a sea turtle's life cycle. When he was finished we counted the number of stages in a sea turtle's life. Elise helped us count. Carter loved pointing to the pieces and explaining them to me.
  • When we were finished with the life cycle toys I put them in a sensory bin. The base was made up of beans to look like sand. I added a couple of shovels. Carter loved burying the eggs and then pulling up a hatchling out of the beans and pretending the egg had hatched. Later I added some cotton balls and a clothespin to the bin. I would show Carter a number and have him count out that number of eggs (cotton balls) to put in a container. He used the clothespin to put the eggs into the container as a little fine motor skill practice. Elise also liked using the clothespin although every time she uses one, she ends up breaking it. So many things about her remind me of my struggles as a child!
  • When we played with our sea turtle life cycle toys we also discussed when sea turtles lay their eggs and when the eggs hatch. We talked about time of day and I asked Carter why they choose that time of day. When we were reading books I had him point out how he could tell it was nighttime in the pictures. 
  • I found a sea turtle outline here. I printed the original size for the kids to decorate. Then shrunk it down and printed a bunch on one page for the kids to spell out their names using sea turtles. I colored the sea turtles green and then wrote the letters of their names on the turtles. I set the project out on the table to do later in the day and when I came back into the room Carter had already arranged and glued the turtles down by himself! I guess he knows the drill. I wrote Elise's name on a piece of paper and tried a couple times to get her to sit with me and match the letters on the turtles to the letters on the page and glue them down, but she refused. The second time I tried she actually threw the turtles all over the floor, so I didn't try again.
  • I used the same sea turtle outline pattern which I found here for the kids to decorate a sea turtle. I was really impressed that Carter actually drew scutes for the turtle's shell and attempted to make his look like a real sea turtle. Elise also worked really hard decorating hers.
  • We found a page in one of our books that showed the seven different species of sea turtles. We looked at their pictures and compared the different kinds of sea turtles. I asked Carter to describe how all the sea turtles looked the same, they all had flippers and shells. Then I asked him how they looked different and he pointed out their colors and sizes.
  • I had a Scholastic News that talked about trash and discussed sea turtles and how they mistake plastic bags floating in the ocean for jellyfish. Carter was quite fascinated by it. We put a plastic bag in water to see what it looked like and could understand how a sea turtle could mistake it for a jellyfish.
  • My aunt got Carter a subscription to Ranger Rick magazine. One of his more recent magazines had a very good article about Ridley Sea Turtles in it. First Carter looked through the article and we discussed the pictures. Then we went through and read more about sea turtles.
  •  I planned to have Carter draw a sea turtle's life cycle but when he saw Elise make a sea turtle out of circles he really wanted to make a sea turtle like hers. I told him he would do the same thing Elise did, but I would make it a little more complicated since he is older than her. I cut out a white circle for an egg, one of our extra copies of the small sea turtle cut out, a small sea turtle cut out with half a circle to glue on to make a hatchling, and then the pieces to make a large sea turtle. I asked him to arrange the pieces to create the sea turtle's life cycle. He was really proud that he started drawing the arrows without me because he remembered how we put arrows on the page when we did our life cycle learning theme. I showed him how the arrows needed to point to the next stage in the animal's life. He decided it was hard enough work to draw one arrow and he asked me to draw the rest.
  • Elise glued circles to paper to create a sea turtle. I really talked about the word circle and asked her to repeat it after me as we worked. I pointed out that one of the circles was small and the other one was large. Then I drew flippers and a face to complete her turtle.
  • I had saved the back page of a magazine we had that had a picture of a sea turtle on it. I showed the sea turtle to Carter and had him tell me it's body parts. We glued the turtle down to paper, then we labeled the sea turtle's body parts. Carter wanted to write so I spelled out the word for him to write. Then I showed him how we draw a line to show what we are naming so it labels the part. He still wanted to write but was having a hard time so I wrote the words and then he traced them. He really loves to write and works hard to make letters!
  • We found a few different videos on Youtube showing sea turtles hatching and heading toward the ocean. Carter loved watching them and a few times was concerned about why the babies would be crawling out of the sand during the day when the sun was up. He was worried predators would eat them!  
  • I found a cute printable for making a sea turtle puppet here. Both the kids colored their turtles and then we glued the pieces onto a paper bag for them to use as puppets. Carter colored the scutes on the sea turtle's shell different colors which I thought was cool. When they were finished with their puppets we played with them. Elise eventually ripped her bag out of frustration one of the times she was trying to put it on and couldn't quite get it on her hand the way she wanted.
  • Carter made an adorable paper plate turtle at school which could easily be made into a sea turtle as well. I thought it was wild he made this craft at school during our sea turtle learning theme. They were talking about life cycles at school and must have covered a turtle's life cycle during their learning.
  • I saw a picture of an adorable sea turtle handprint craft on pinterest. I would link to a page but it was an etsy page without the picture. I had the kids do their handprints and then I drew a face on their thumbs and added some details to make their handprints look like turtles. Once I glued the handprints down onto the blue paper I felt like they looked like they were flying in the sky rather than floating in the ocean so I added some seaweed at the bottom of the page to hopefully make it look more like the ocean. I've found it works best to do our handprints on white paper and then glue them down to whatever color construction paper I want for the background. That way the paint color stands out on the white and if one of the handprints doesn't work out, it doesn't ruin our picture.
Special Snack:
  • I made the kids a sea turtle snack using kiwi and grapes. I cut the kiwi and used it for the shells. Then I cut the grapes to look like heads and flippers. The green grapes we got were really long and oval rather than circular which worked great for the flippers but not the heads so I just cut the tips off for the head. Then I used seeds from the kiwi to make their eyes.
Make Believe:
  • We had so much fun pretending to be sea turtles. We used white balls from our ball pit as eggs and pretended to lay eggs in the sand (our carpet). We then carefully covered the eggs up using sand (a blanket). Carter's favorite part was pretending to be a sea turtle hatchling. He would crawl out from under the blanket and I would hold a flashlight, shining it at him. He would then crawl as fast as he could to the flashlight which we were pretending was the moon. He would pretend Elise and Harper were predators and tried to crawl as fast as he could to avoid them. He played it over and over until he got tired of crawling.
  • I made up a 5 Little Sea Turtles song to the tune of 5 Little Ducks. I used the small sea turtle cut outs to act out the song as I sang it. I randomly made it up as we were playing and didn't like my version very much. Mine started out with 5 sea turtle hatchlings and described the different ways they were snatched up by predators, not making it to the sea. Then that night in bed Carter started singing a 5 Little Sea Turtles song that he made up and it was so much better than my version, I loved it! So we used that one instead. It goes like this:
5 little eggs laying in the sand. 
One turtle hatched and crawled to the sea.
He switched it up from sea and beach. He kept going until all the eggs had hatched and made it to the sea.
  • I made up a Sea Turtle Hokey Pokey. We talked about our body parts and which parts of our body are similar to turtle body parts. I had Elise point out different body parts on herself and then we played along. We put in our front flippers (arms folded), back flippers (legs), shell (back), heads, and tails (bottoms).
  • I found a Tuga the Sea Turtle game here. Your job was to make it though the sea and to eat jellyfish, not trash. Toward the end more trash popped up and it was harder to eat jellyfish without accidentally eating trash which was a good talking point for us and Carter was able to connect back to the Scholastic News we read about sea turtles eating plastic bags on accident. Carter really enjoyed the game. He was able to use the touchscreen to play which is always easier for him. We talked about what color the jellyfish were when they popped up and we counted to see how many jellyfish he ate as he went.
 Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • The highlight of this learning theme was heading to the aquarium to see the sea turtle exhibit for the first time. They have an awesome little pod you can get inside of that is under the water so you can see the fish swim by. We found the sea turtles and counted to find there were 2 sea turtles in the exhibit. We talked about what we had learned about sea turtles while we observed them.
  • Follow the Moon Home by Philippe Cousteau
  • Turtle Tide: The Ways of Sea Turtles by Stephen Swinburne
  • One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies
  • Turtle in the Sea by Jim Arnosky
  • Guess What: Flying Flippers by Felicia Macheske
  • Sea Turtles by Melissa Gish (this one was long but we ended up reading the whole thing because Carter was so interested)
  • Sea Turtles by Gail Gibbons
  • Sea Turtles by Mary Jo Rhodes and David Hall
  • A Day in the Life: Sea Turtles by Louise Spilsbury
  • Deep Deep Sea by Fran Preston-Gannon
  • Toby by Stacy A. Nyikos
  • Sea Turtles by Ann Herriges
  • Saving Turtles: A Kid's Guide to Helping Endangered Creatures by Sue Carstairs
  • Sea Turtles by Kari Schuetz
  • Baby Animals in the Sea by Kingfisher Books