Monday, July 30, 2018

Easing Back into the School Year with Less Stress

August is just a few days away.  Summer is ending. I can't tell you how much I wish it wasn't true. Every year at this time I start to go through this. I'm so thankful it's not time too cool off the summer heat, or have it get dark earlier yet, but having the kids go back to school seems like such a final goodbye to summer to me.  Schedules become an important thing again and with that seems to come a lot of rushing and stress. Especially when there are toddlers involved, we all know that they are the real ones in charge of the schedules ;)

This time of year (Back to school time) can be really stressful for some moms, so today I wanted to share some of the things that I do to help me get ready and go into the school year less stressed so I don't get so overwhelmed.

I think the biggest help for me is getting everyone back on schedule. I'm not one who will sit down and plan out our day, but I do like structure to our day.  We have a bedtime, we have chores and errands that we do on certain days, we have a homework time... I know that if I set aside specific times/days for certain things they are more likely to get done. We don't always stick to our plan 100% but we try to make sure we are close.  As school approaches, we move the kids' bedtime up a little at a time until it's the bedtime they use for school, for my girls that's usually 8:30, for V it's 8.  I make sure to get my work done (be it errands, chores or blog stuff) as early as I can during the day, sometimes blogging happens during nap/quiet time, so that I can spend more time with my kids doing things we like to do for the rest of the day. Whatever we are doing, by this time in the summer we start to find more structure to our days to get back in the regular routine so that it's not quite as big of a shock to their systems when we have to be more structured.

I'm a big believer in spontaneous fun.  This doesn't always mean something huge and exciting, but I try to keep the schedule open enough (during summer and school) to allow for fun things. We go to the park or splash pads, or just play with cousins when we are invited. Sometimes we make a spontaneous afternoon trip to the cabin. Sometimes we go get a cheap treat. Sometimes we just make a treat or watch a movie. The idea here is that we try to keep room for fun things. I really think that when we do this, everyone is more willing to do what we have to do.

We write big/important things on our calendar so that everyone in our family is aware of what we have coming up. Campouts, birthdays, family plans and my races all go on there so we know what weeks are open and when we have plans. It helps the girls see that we are doing stuff together and it helps me see when we can sneak in some of those spontaneous plans I was talking about. Obviously, when school starts, those plans start to decrease a little bit until the holidays.

Once we get the girl's school schedules, I put them on the fridge, add them to my phone and let Trevon in on when things are going on. This helps me remember everything I need to remember! I don't want to forget when tuition is due or when a field trip is coming up!

We realize that even with schedules and plans, things happen. We try the best we can to go with the flow and not stress too much about things that fall through or plans that change. Life happens either way, it's better to make as much fun out of it as possible. And I'll be the first to admit that this is not my strongest area in life but it's a work in progress.

I make sure that I'm getting my workout in at some point during the day. I'm a much happier person when I've gotten some kind of exercise. I feel more accomplished and energetic all day when I get those endorphins.

I also make sure that I get some sleep. We try to go to bed around 10:30 every night because Trevon and I both function much better with 7-8 hours of sleep a night.  It doesn't always happen, and there are days that I feel tired and I just realize that not everything will get done. But we do what we can.

I wake up and get ready EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I am not a happy mom when I stay in pajamas or sweats, no make up with my hair in a ponytail all day. Nope. When I do that I feel sluggish and sick and grumpy. So I make sure to get myself dressed and ready so that I can tackle my day and feel good about myself. I could probably write a whole post on this. Maybe soon.

I also made a rule that my kids need to get ready for the day, at the beginning of the day. During the summer this is usually tricky and it usually means some kind of day clothes on with their hair at least brushed, although I'd love if they would hold still long enough for me to style their hair a little bit. But the main point here is to keep them in the habit of getting ready for the day right off the bat so we don't have to rush so much when we start catching the bus. We also do this so that when we get an invitation to go do something or when it's time to run some errands, we don't have to spend extra time getting ready beforehand.

We don't always have stress free mornings, but I feel like when we stick to these things it makes life a little easier for us.  I'm not a terribly organized person (though I'd love to be better at that) but what we do helps ease the stress of school starting a little bit more.

When does school start for your kids?

What do you do to ease the daily stress?

Are you a summer mom or a school year mom? (I much prefer summer)

Friday, July 27, 2018

Fast Friday Camping Edition

Sometimes I wish this was a camping/adventrue/hiking blog haha.  We don't camp year round really, but when we do go camping I feel like I have so many things I want to share and not enough time or space to share it all.  So I'm not going to go into all the details of tips and how to's on this post. I'll leave it to what we did. But if anyone wants to know those tips I'd be happy to make a post about them, so let me know in the comments!

So when I was young, my family went on a yearly campout with my mom's family. I've gone on this camp out just about every year from the time I was 3 or 4...maybe even early. The only times we have missed were in my married years when we couldn't get work off or had babies and didn't want to tent camp with them.  But we got to go this year. Boy, I love our Kit! Thursday I started packing so that we could have everything ready to leave by Friday morning.

I took this picture a couple of days before because whenever we notice just how tall Trevon is, we stop and take a picture :)

We stopped for lunch at a little burger joint called Slackers. If you're in Torry Utah, stop there! It's yummy and they have license plates from all over the country that are fun to play I-spy with. 

They also have this funny sign in the bathrooms.

We got to camp and let the kids play while Trevon set up.

 My parents got there right after us and we made dinner right after they set up. While everyone finished setting camp up and Trevon got the beds made, I took the kids on a small hike to where we used to camp before they made the campsites. We call this place the meadow. And after we stopped camping there, we still went there to run around and take pictures.

The next morning, the kids had breakfast in the camper. One of my favorite things about having the camper is that we can do simple lunches and breakfast at the table before the kids get too busy playing.

We went down to Lower Bowns lake for a little bit while we waited for the rest of the group to get there. The lake was pretty low this year and made it so the kids could play on the beach. It was kind of gross sand as it got close to the water though, which is not normal, so hopefully next year it's a little fuller.

We spent the rest of that day just waiting for people to show up. They were all coming at different times. So we let the kids explore some more around camp and we helped set camp up when people started coming. Sitting around camp all day is one of my least favorite things to do. I'm such a get going person when it comes to camping, but that's ok. We visited with my aunt and her family while we waited. Once they all got there, it started pouring, as usual. And it didn't stop for a while. We were all pretty soggy by night time. So we decided to drive down to Capital Reef just to thaw out a little. We didn't end up doing any hikes there that night but it was fun to drive down.

Sunday morning we got up and had breakfast and left right after for our hike day. We went back down to Capital Reef and hiked Hickman Bridge.

The girls loved doing the lemons on our last camping trip and asked to do them again. So my sister brought the sticks and I brought the lemons.  If you're wondering what that's all about, you can read more about it HERE.

Hickman Bridge is a pretty easy hike. There's not a lot of shade so it can get hot, but it's only about 1.5 miles and it's not steep at all.

You loop around the arch and it takes you back to the trail you started on.

This handsome guy...

It was the first hike my whole family was together for since we were growing up! So it made it extra special.

Only Half of the group here. 

When we got done hiking we spent some time in Fruita. If you go at the right time to Fruita, you can pick some fruit in the orchards for free. If you take the fruit out of the orchards, you pay for it. When we went the peaches weren't quite on, which made me sad, but someday I'll go pick those fresh peaches!

We cooled down a little in the visitor center and let the kids do the Jr Rangers program. We learned about the Jr Ranger programs from our good friends Keri and Scott of Over Land For Good. Go check out their Instagram for all the camping goodness!

We went back to camp to help out with dinner, I should have taken a picture but I didn't think about it. Hamburgers and my Grandparent's famous onion rings! They are always a hit.

After dinner, we split into groups. Some went to Upper Bowns lake (which is totally opposite of Lower Bowns. Instead of sand and red rock it's pine trees and boulders and very green) and the other group went to the teepee meadow.

The teepees aren't actual teepees, but there's been a group who recreated some that are fun for the kids to explore. We had a lot of fun visiting with my cousins and aunts while the kids played.

This meadow is one of my favorite picture taking places (a lot like the other meadow).  Last year we got one of my favorite family pictures taken in this meadow and if we hadn't looked so much like we were camping I would have printed it out for our wall...Maybe that shouldn't matter. We were having fun. Anyway, it's beautiful!

We got all the kids (my kids, my nieces and nephews, and my cousin's kids) and took a picture of them on this big log.

When we got back to camp, we had a fire and popcorn. Then we went to bed.
Monday morning we headed home. None of us were ready to, and tears were shed, but it was time. Trevon had to work on Tuesday and we wanted to get home in time to not feel so rushed getting ready for Tuesday.

Maggie's car entertainment

Some of our car treats

We will be back next year!

My training for the week was almost non-existent but here's what I got in:

Saturday: Rest day

Sunday: 3 miles of hiking

Monday: rest day

Tuesday: Easy run ----> 4.5 miles

Wednesday: Speed work ---> 2 mile warm up, 4x1 min sprints with 3 min recovery jog for about 3.5 miles

Thursday: Strength Training

Friday: Speed work ---> 4.5 ish miles

Total Miles --->12.5

Do you have a favorite camping spot?

Did you go camping as a kid?

Do you workout while on vacation?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Looking Strong on Your Run

During a run, do you ever wonder what you look like?  When I start to feel tired or weak on my run, I'm pretty sure I look tired and weak, so I check my form.  Good running form makes you look strong, why is that important? Well looking strong while you run has a lot of strong points to it (see what I did there?). Let's go through some of them.

  • First, if you look strong during a run, chances are that your form is really good. Having great form will help you save energy for your legs instead of wasting it on things like your arms swinging out instead of front and back.  The more energy you save with form, the more you have to use on speed and stamina.
  • When you look strong on a run, it helps you mentally feel stronger. You focus on something other than any discomfort you're having and your brain switches to a better mentality than "When can I stop".
  • Looking strong on a run, even if you don't feel it at the time, makes other people think you're feeling strong. That helps during a race. Have you ever been passed by someone and thought "there's no way I'm going to be able to catch them again"? In high school, we called this "siking people out" It messes with their mental game. If you're racing to place this comes in handy for passing people.
  • It boosts your confidence.  When someone comes up to you after a hard run and says that you looked really strong, it helps you feel stronger. It helps you think of all the hard work you did and helps you feel ready for the next one.
    I had this happen to me 3 different times last week. Twice on my long run and once on speed day.  All three times the people asked how fast/far I was going and if I was just starting. Both runs felt extremely challenging. I was super thankful for all the compliments and glad that when I had started to feel weak I reset my form and kept going.

So now that we know why, let's talk about how to look strong even if you're not feeling strong on your run. Most of this is form, (here's a little disclaimer that my form is not perfect. It never has been and it's taking me a lot of work to get it right. Everyone has something to work on with form). Checking your form from head to toe will help you reset your form and run stronger.

When you start feeling tired, notice where your eyes are at. A lot of times when you start to lose energy on your run, you'll look down at the ground instead of looking straight ahead.  So if that is the case, lift your chin a little and look straight ahead.

When you're running strong you have good posture. When you feel tired, you start to slouch your shoulders and back. While you should never tense your shoulders up while running, you want to be standing tall. To help you get that back, reach your hands above your head and link your arms pulling away from your body. This stretches your whole core. Roll your shoulders back and down and keep going.

Pay attention to your glutes. Some people are really good at using their glutes when they run. I am not. This is one of the first things to go when I'm feeling tired. My hip drop is pretty terrible. But if I'm thinking about engaging my glutes, it's easier for me to keep that form and not waste energy and risk injury with a hip drop.

If you're heel striking a lot, shorten your stride a little bit. Heel striking puts more pounding on your joints and wastes a lot of energy. This is something I had to work hard to train myself and fix. Sometimes I still catch myself heel striking but when I notice it, I change it immediately. 

Fixing your form will help you look and feel stronger when you feel like you're getting tired.  It will also help you run with good form, to begin with.

What runs do you seem to struggle with the most?

What is the first thing to go with your form when you start feeling tired?

Friday, July 20, 2018

Fast Friday

It's time for our fast Friday update! Here are some of the things we've done in the last week.

Saturday morning I went on my long run. And it was a beast. I slept in a little bit and got a later start than normal, it was 68% humidity and it rained a little at the start. My route had lots of stop lights, even though I hate running with stoplights, it gets a little tricky to avoid some when you're going 11 miles solo. I was soaked through and had a blister by the time I was done with the run, but I was happy I got it done.

I ran through a park for part of my run and saw hundreds of baby ducks everywhere.

Later, on Saturday we met up with some friends at a splash pad and played there for a couple of hours before dinner.

Monday night we decided to pick the apricots from our tree. We waited too long to do it this year. Our tree didn't produce much and it's been kind of a pain in the butt this year. And we don't love apricots (if I could choose what kind of tree that was, it would be a peach, but it was there when we moved in). So most of the apricots were overly ripe and Trevon threw them down to me and I caught them in this bucket, and then we threw them away.

Then we decided maybe we should just take the tree down. So we started cutting the branches all down. Then Trevon got a wasp sting on his lip while throwing the branches away. So we stopped for the night and we haven't started back up since. As we started thinking about it again, we realized that there's not going to be an easy way to take that stump out with the fence right there. And we live in an HOA community (never again!) that would just really be unhappy if we ripped the fence down.

Tuesday was a hot day so the kids played with their cousins and squirt guns. 

Also on Tuesday, I got a morning run in. It was another killer and super humid again. I had a terrible side ache the whole time. I'm thinking it might have something to do with this black cat that kept rubbing up against my legs while I was trying to run. 

I'm not really superstitious...

This summer there has been a lot of sleeping in the same bed going on. It doesn't bother me, it just makes me wonder why we bought a bunk bed sometimes instead of a full-size bed for them to share. I know this probably won't last forever though, so I'm going to enjoy them wanting to spend every second together while I can.

Wednesday was a swimming day for the kids. We love that we can spend a lot of time in the pool during the summer.

It was my niece's birthday party so they got to play and have pizza too.

While the kids were partying, Trevon and I went on a date. We went up to SLC and had dinner. Turns out that most restaurants had an hour wait because of several events going on. So we settled for a super fancy meal in the food court. It was just OK, but we still enjoyed ourselves. They did give us each our own chips and salsa, so that was cool.

And then we crossed another thing off of my bucket list by going to Phantom of the Opera. And it was amazing. I've seemed to cross several things off my bucket list in the last few years so I asked Trevon on the way home what was on his list and he said "do stuff that makes my wife happy" (awww). I know, he's pretty cute.

Thursday was a busy day getting ready to go camping! The girls went to my sister's to play for a while and V and I went to get a few things we needed at the store. He was pretty heartbroken that he didn't get to stay and play with "deff" (what he calls my sister) so I got him some ice cream to eat while we shopped. He was really good to share some bites with me :)

My workouts weren't super great this week but this is what they looked like:

Saturday: Long run ----> 11 miles

Sunday: Rest day

Monday: 5 easy miles with my sister in law

Tuesday: Tempo run ---> 6 miles. I ended up walking for at least a full mile somewhere in there.

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Speed work ----> 2.5 miles

What is something on your bucket list?

How were your runs this week?

Are you superstitious?