Friday, April 8, 2016

Crafty Lady

Anyone who knows me already knows this but I am a total "Pinterest mom."  You know, that mom that makes DIY toys for my kid and hand makes gifts and party decorations.   I mean, I made him an elevator out of a cardboard box last year (with The Pilot's help).  I'm secure enough to own up to all of my "labels," including Pinterest mom.  I don't apologize for it because I was a crafty lady before I had Megatron.  I've always been creative.  Opening a new box of Crayola crayons was pure heaven as a kid. Who am I kidding?  I still love a brand new box of crayons. I read this article that put into words who I feel about being a "Pinterest mom." I didn't make 20 feet of paper chains for Megatron's 1st birthday party because I thought he would like it or remember how festive his party was.  I made them because I like to do that kind of thing.  I don't think anything of it when I go to a party and someone hangs up store bought party decorations. I'm not judging anyone for not making random crafty things like I do because not everyone is crafty or has the desire to be.

Before I started my journey as a stay at home mom, I was an event planner.  I frequently used my crafty skills to add personal touches to the events that I planned.  I frequently would bring projects home with me at the end of the day so I could use my craft supplies to add some flair to board member gift bags or vendor thank you cards.  I didn't have to, I wanted to because that's just who I am.  So now that I don't have a professional outlet, I craft at home for my kid.  I give handmade gifts.  I make stuff just for myself.  I make stuff because it gives me an outlet from the monotony of staying home and raising an extra special kid.  Time spent crafting is "me" time.  It's no different than when I go for a run really.  Running and crafting helps clear my head and makes me feel whole again.  It's no secret that I've had a hard time adjusting to staying home with Megatron.  It wasn't part of the plan and I knew I wouldn't be completely fulfilled "just" staying home with him.  I'm making the most of it because I know it's the right thing, right now.  I'm finding a much better balance of getting "me" time and making sure Megatron isn't running with scissors and is happy and healthy.  That's because I'm making more time for running and crafting.

So now to where I do that crafty stuff...

When we first walked through the house we ended up buying four years ago, there was one bedroom that basically sold the house for me.  We liked the first floor but when we walked up the stairs, there was a bed room that screamed "craft room!"  Yes, it really did.  If you are at all creative, you know what I mean.  At my condo that I owned when I met The Pilot, I had a craft space but it was in the basement without any windows. Not very inspiring.  This house had an extra bedroom upstairs with a big, east facing window.  We knew we wouldn't need it as a bedroom and The Pilot was happy because I was happy (smart man!) so we bought the house and bam, I had my own craft space with a window!  The craft room is also my "Disney" room where I hide all my treasures so people don't walk into our living room and feel like they are in the middle of a Magic Kingdom gift shop.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I did marry someone who simply tolerates my love of Disney.  And if he let me have my Disney collection all over the house, I would have to agree to have model airplanes all over the house.  Marriage is all about compromise, is it not?  So my Disney collection decorates the walls and shelves of the craft room but the furniture itself was a random assortment of college particle board shelving and hand-me-downs.  It was all mostly functional but it didn't feel like a grown up, inspiring space.

In the fall, The Pilot and I borrowed a larger car and made a (kid-free) trip to Ikea (currently, the closest store is about 90 minutes away so it's a production to go there).  I was hoping to find a new craft table.  I figured I would end up with an inexpensive desk and that would be that.  Until we got to the kitchen section of the store and I saw a giant kitchen island.  I fell in love with it.  The Pilot knew it.  We went back to the desks and I sat at probably a dozen different desks but I kept thinking about that island.  It cost more than we had planned to spend and I was about ready to settle for a simple desk when The Pilot gave the thumbs up.  It was going to be both my Christmas and birthday present....for the next 3 years but I was so pumped.  That bad boy went home with us.  It took us awhile to put it together because it was a 2-person job and finding free time when The Pilot and I are both home was a challenge.  So we finally got it put together.  What we didn't realize when we bought it was that it was an unfinished butcher block work surface so it would need sealed first.  OK, no biggie.  Except once we got the sealant and read the instructions, we realized it was a couple months long process.  What??  I wanted to do crafty stuff NOW!  But if we spent that much on the table, it needed to be done right so the surface didn't warp. So every couple days, I lightly sanded and added another coat of sealant. Until finally, FINALLY! The table is assembled, sealed and ready for crafting!
Those bins under the table hold all my fabric.  The bottom shelf has all of Megatron's "quiet" activities.  The things we take on car tides, long doctor visits/procedures and restaurants.  :)

I decided that a new table meant the entire room needed a mini make over.  One big thing that this bright room last lacking was lighting.  Even though the window is great, I often have to do my crafting once Megatron is down for the night.  I've been using 2 lamps but they cast all kinds of shadows so it wasn't ideal.  Luckily I come from a family of electricians.  My uncle and cousin came over and ran electricity through the attic and installed a ceiling light for me!  I am ridiculously excited about this!

I made a new window treatment because the old one was left over from the condo and really didn't do anything to jazz up the room so I bought a 1/2 yard of fabric and made a simple valance.  I also wanted to tie in the fact that it was a creative space and not just a Disney room with a craft table.  So I customized some cardboard letters from Hobby Lobby to spell the word 'Create' on the wall.  I used fabric scraps, buttons, washi tape, paint and paper to make each letter different. 

The closet is full of my craft supplies but was a little out of control so I purged a lot (that's a post for another day!) and re-used some storage containers from other parts of the house to get a little more organized.  I tend to hoard anything that I think I can make something out of so my stash gets out of control easily.  I had an entire box of scraps of ribbon...but you'd be surprised how often I end up using random pieces of ribbon!  So I wrapped the scraps around craft sticks, pinned them and placed them in a jar on the table. Now it's a pretty way to keep them organized.
 Any respectable type A human owns a label maker.  These are more for me but one can hope that clear, labeled bins will one day help Megatron put his own crap away.  One can hope....
If you are crafting with kids, I highly recommend a vinyl table cloth.  I bought one at Target last year on clearance after Easter and I cover our kitchen table whenever Megatron is painting (which I still do with him strapped into his booster seat.  I am type A after all, I can't have complete chaos when paint is involved.)

This over the door organizer was actually a wedding gift.  We got a gift certificate to the Container Store and I found this. It's  designed for a pantry but it's perfect for holding paints and glue!

For the most part, I like my supplies to be out of sight but there are certain things I like to have at my reach at all times (scissors, tape, tape measure, pens, my nicer paint brushes).  I found a tin to keep those things in on the table also.  It also keeps those things out of Megatron's reach (for now at least).

During a previous Ikea trip, I had fallen for a little metal cart but at the time, I couldn't think of a reason I needed it or a place to put it.  But this trip though, I got sucked in and realized it would be a perfect addition to the craft room.  I like to have access to supplies I need but don't want them on my actual work space so this teal cart is perfect.  The lower shelves have things for Megatron and I left the top shelf empty to use while I'm working on a project.

When we went to Ikea, we also wanted to find a small table and chair for Megatron.  I wanted him to have a space to sit at in the craft room too.  I had this fantasy that we could both be in the room, crafting together.  I wasn't sure if he would be into it but I figured a little table would have decent re-sale value if he didn't use it much. I'm soooo glad we did find a little table because it does work!  Megatron does sit and stand at the table and work on crafts and other "quiet" activities. Not for long but long enough for me to get organized for my next project.

Sitting at his table working on fine motor skills...pushing pipe cleaners through a dollar store colander.
We put his table together first so for awhile there was a mostly empty room with a tiny little table in it.  It was nice to put a few things on the table him though and work on the rest of the room.

So that's a good portion of the room.  The other side of the room is still a bit of a mess.  It's been acting as my purging staging area.  Anyone who has read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up will understand, but like I said, that's a post for another day. We also have plans for one more Ikea purchase to transform the space from "college mismatch" to "a creative grown up works here."  Gotta keep saving the pennies for that though.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

2016 Superhero Run

Megatron and I ran a local 5k last weekend.  It was only a couple miles from my house (if I was training for a long distance race right now, I probably would have run TO the race, done the race and then run back home) and it supported one of the local high schools...which I happened to graduate from a really really long time ago.  None of my usual crew was doing the race so I decided I was NOT going to make it a fun run, even though it was called the Superhero Run.  I was going to run all out and see what I could do, despite having to push the stroller.

After I unloaded the stroller and Megatron and his breakfast and his meds (naturally the race started right at the time he needed his immunosuppressant, but we are both used to meds on the run these days),  I put on my superhero tutu... Back up!  I was also wearing socks with capes and wings, a Wonder Woman shirt and a crazy headband.  This was all part of my Halloween costume but Megatron ended up with a nasty cold and cough the night of the Halloween party we had been invited to so I never got to wear it.  So I was pretty excited to wear it for the race.  And I fit right in.  Lots of people, adults and kids alike, were wearing various superhero costumes.  I clearly take my running very seriously.
Yup, capes AND wings!
It's like a jazzed up Pope mobile.
Unfortunately though, when I did a warm up run, the tutu just wasn't working.  I knew it would drive me nuts, even if it was only 3 miles.  I decided to still keep things festive so I tied the tutu around the handle of the stroller.  Ultimately it still drove me nuts during the race but at least it was manageable while running. As we headed towards the start line, I realized I had left my Garmin at home!  Ack!  I've never ever forgotten my Garmin for a race!  I probably could have driven home to get it but I had a great parking space and I knew I would need it after the race because I had a feeling Megatron would throw a tantrum when it came time to leave.  And anyone with a tantrum-ing toddler knows you sometimes need a quick escape path! So I decided to just run based on feel (something I suck at) and do my best to not slow down.  

He was all snuggly and warm inside there.  He just chilled and enjoyed his breakfast while I worked my tail off!
The race was pretty small (around 200) and I could kind of tell who the "serious" runners were based on where they lined up at the start.  I decided to start pretty close to the line because one, there was still a gaggle of kids in front of me but there were tons more behind me.  And I knew that I did not want to get stuck behind too many kids, not because I didn't want them to slow me down but more because I was afraid I'd accidentally hit them with the stroller.  Kids tend to run super fast for 20 feet and then STOP.  Then they do that over and over again the entire race.  I'm short.  Kids are short.  When I'm pushing the stroller, I can't see the front wheel  so if someone stops or slows down suddenly in front of me, I can't always judge how much space I have. 

The first 100 yards were on a really narrow sidewalk and I was worried it was going to be a looooong race because I was already getting trapped behind slower people but it was too narrow for me to pass and I can't off road with the stroller (that sucker is super top heavy and tips easily).  Luckily the path widen so it got a lot easier to pass.  I tried not to go out too fast but I was anxious to spread out a little so I could focus on running and stop worrying about running over kids.  It was crazy windy that morning so I was just waiting for the course to turn into the wind.  That's when I realized that it wasn't the head on winds that I needed to worry about.  It wasn't constant wind, we were getting random, strong gusts and it was the gusts coming from the side that caused me all kinds of trouble.  The wind would gust at the side of the stroller and pull me right along with it.  There were quite a few times I had to push using both hands.  Have you ever tried running with your arms tied to your sides?  It's hard.  Your arms propel you forward so not being able to swing at least one of my arms made it extra difficult.  Luckily the course was winding around so we changed directions enough that I eventually would get a break from the gusts. 

It was an out and back course and that was something else that was a challenge with the stroller.  The path narrowed again but it wasn't an issue because the crowd and spaced out but the turn around was a cone in the middle of the sidewalk.  I had to do a complete U-turn with the stroller on a narrow sidewalk.  I had to slow to almost a walk so the stroller wouldn't tip and when I did, no one could go around me because it was so narrow.  I went as fast as I could without tipping the stroller and picked up the pace as soon as I made it around.  I don't think anyone was too bent out of shape about it because there were some kids right behind me and when I got a look at some of the adults who were behind me, they just seemed to be shooting the breeze with their friends and kids.  No one back there was there to "race."

I thought I would be more thrown off by not knowing my pace since I didn't have my Garmin but that didn't bother me so much.  What I really wanted to know was how much further I had!  The course had a 1 mile marker but that was the only one I saw and to be honest, it didn't seem like it was accurately placed.  I couldn't quite judge how far I had left to know if I should slow down so I could make it to the finish without a break or if I was close enough to give it the gas.  I just kept hanging on and hanging on until I saw the finish.  One benefit of it being a small race was the fact that I started so close to the front.  I knew that I would only be a couple seconds off the clock time.  So when I came hauling into the finish line and saw the clock, I knew I had a PR.  I wasn't sure how much of one exactly but I knew I had done it!  I beat my Band on the Run time!

I really gave it the gas when I could see the finish so when I did cross, I was super winded and felt a little sick.  I walked a little but by then, Megatron knew we had finished and was starting to whine about getting out.  I had promised him he could get out when I finished running.  Luckily they had set up a bounce house at the finish so I took him out of the stroller, shoved him inside the bounce house and tried to catch my breath and not puke.  Funny thing about the bounce house was that there weren't any other kids inside and Megatron is too small to actually make it bounce. He's still a little too uncoordinated/weak to stand up to bounce but he likes to just sit down and let the bigger kids bounce him.  So he just sat in the middle looking around, waiting for another kid to come in.  Luckily one finally did so he was happy.  I recovered and he surprisingly, came out of the bounce house without me threatening him like I usually do (home boy LOVES to bounce!).  Probably because he knew that meant he could do to the playground next.  The race was at a local park that has one of his favorite playgrounds.  I promised we could play after the race and I was quickly regretting that promise.  The wind was picking up and it was COLD.  I was starting to freeze after getting sweaty during the race.  After only 10 minutes, I was shivering so bad I had to haul Megatron away to the car.  He was not very happy.  Oh well, mama couldn't feel her hands!
Standing...not bouncing. 
Once in the car, I cranked the heat and pulled up the race web site on my phone.  I love race technology/chip timing these days!  Instant race results! "Back in the day, I remember when 5ks weren't time an if they were, you had to rip a tag off your bib at the finish line and they recorded the time that way," said in an old lady voice!  I was able to see my results while still sitting in the parking lot.  33:33 was my finish time...over 4 minutes faster than my previous PR!!  I was pretty damn surprised.  So surprised that I questioned the accuracy of the course.  I thought for sure it had to have been shorter than 3.1 miles for me to have been that much faster.  But someone else who did the race said that their Garmin showed 3.09 miles.  That's close enough to accurate in my book and I probably did go further because I passed quite a few people.  Maybe it was the wings on my socks.... My strategy of going fast and hanging on for as long as I could paid off.  Naturally thought I'm curious how fast I can run a 5k without the stroller!

I doubt I've ever placed that high in my age group!!

It's like riding a water

I went swimming this morning.  At 5:30 am.  Because in a little over 4 months, I will be doing the swim leg of a 1/2 Ironman.  That's a 1.2 mile swim in open water.  Oh, and did I mention that the last time I swam laps was 3 years ago?  I even blogged about it because I was 22 weeks pregnant at the time. 

I was pleasantly surprised again (like I was back then) at how things went in the pool.  I thought for sure I wouldn't even be able to make it one length of the pool before I tried to inhale while underwater or needed to hang onto the side of the pool.  But that didn't happen.  It really is like riding a bike, you don't really forget how.  It all came back to me and all the running has certainly helped my cardio because I was even able to do 200 yards before I needed a break.  Don't get me wrong, I was crazy winded and I definitely wasn't going fast.  I was even using my open water trick of rolling to look at the ceiling to take an extra second to inhale (that is much more calming in open water because looking at the sky has a different effect than looking up at an old natatorium ceiling).

Overall, it was a great swim.  I have the opportunity to swim with my team two days a week but because it's at 5:30 am, I'll only be able to attend when The Pilot is home.  I doubt I'll find a babysitter willing to come over at 5 am to stay with Megatron.  If only the baby monitor worked 18 miles away...I was back home before he even woke.   Hopefully I'll still be able to go a couple times a month until the weather warms up and we start doing more open water swims.  I know I won't win. I know I won't place.  I doubt I'll be the last one out of the water, but even if I am, that's ok.  My only two goals are to not drown and to finish the 1.2 mile course under one hour.  That's the time cut off.  If I don't finish, I'll be disqualified and my teammates can't even start their legs of the race.  And that's not gonna happen!