Monday, December 12, 2011

OUC Half Marathon: Race Report

My two biggest fans before the's awfully early !  

The official race report is .... I did it !  I completed my first Half Marathon and absolutely loved it !  The race was held on December 3rd.

 I had been paying close attention to my training splits and really figured I would finish in about 2:15.  Always having to set a "better" goal, I alerted my family that I would really be trying for 2:10.  At the starting line, my father (always pushing me just a tad more) suggests that he thinks I can do it in 2:05.

Final chip time:  2:02:17  I was thrilled !!

The race was great.  The weather was great.  It was really well organized.  Apparently, they have quite a bit of experience since this was the 35th annual race.

My husband, my children and I arrived the night before and picked up my packet.  That took one stress factor away because I would be arriving to the starting line with my family in tow and I didn't really want to have to get there any earlier than absolutely necessary.  My father even arrived to meet us at the hotel at O-Dark-thirty to drive to the race with us that morning.

I was surprised to find myself a little nervous (and definitely excited) the night before and the morning of the race.  I was really praying that my knee would not bother me too much (after an awful trip and fall on the sidewalk in November during an 11 mile training run).  After the fall, the pain had been quite intense but I had really decided that I only had a few weeks until the race and I was going to finish the training and run the race as long as I could tolerate it.  Glory to God for all things, I was able to get through those last few weeks.  I cut out all of my weights, my cross-training etc...and just did the running that I had scheduled each week.

I had planned to start out slow and easy.  I have not run races at this distance so I tried to read a bit about strategy -everything I read said to stay slow and steady.  That was my plan - not to burn out - so that I could finish strong.

A few weeks before the race, my sweet Aunt sent me an early Christmas present....a Garmin !  Oh, I love this thing.

The first few miles just flew by.  I didn't think about my knee, I didn't think about my breathing...I just felt like I was flying through the miles.  (I know, a 9:20 pace does not actually constitute "flying" in the world of running...but I never said I was a FAST runner).  For me, this was a pretty quick pace to stay with the whole time.  But I was feeling good.

I saw my family at the starting area, about 1/4 mile after the gun.  I figured I wouldn't see them again until the finish.

Lo and behold, at precisely the 6.5 mile mark I see the gang in the distance.  My husband, my kids in the BOB stroller and my Dad !  I was waving, giving the old "fist pump", yelling out my time for them...Oh, I cannot even tell you the joy that little visit gave me.  I can't lie, I ran to the side to kiss and squeeze my kids !

The next few miles continued to feel strong.  Then I hit mile 10 and I just felt like I hit a wall.  I had to start pushing myself to maintain my pace.  Mile 11 came and my iPod went DEAD.  Dead !  No music.  None of the last few energizing, motivating songs that I put on there for the last 3 miles???  I was SO mad I wanted to throw the whole thing to the curb !  But I looked at my watch and noticed I was on course for a sub 2:05.  Heck, if I pulled out some speed for the last two miles I could go below 2 hours.  Wow, my father would be shocked if I pulled that one off !  While logically, that wasn't possible....I tried anyway (sucker for a challenge).  I picked up the pace to where it needed to be for that time, but couldn't hold it.  I couldn't hold it for 2 minutes at that point, never mind 2 more miles.  I tried that twice.  I was done.  I pushed to maintain that sub 9:30 pace I had kept the whole race and next saw my dad at the 13 mile mark, with the finish line in sight.  He yelled out to me and I could honestly barely raise my arms to him.  My hubby and kids were a little bit before the finish line and the sight of my them brought tears to my eyes !

I am already planning on another one...I loved it !  Next time, I'm dragging my sister along with me.  Thirteen miles is a long way to go alone !

Mile 1  9:34
Mile 2  9:20
Mile 3  9:37
Mile 4  9:33
Mile 5  9:18
Mile 6  9:17
Mile 7  9:12
Mile 8  9:08
Mile 9  9:24
Mile 10  9:21
Mile 11  9:30
Mile 12  9:17
Mile 13  9:32
plus a smidge...

It's time to head home...Mama is TIRED !

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mother's Daybook Entry (modified)

Outside my window

My windows are open as I prepare the house for really is a beautiful night, I have no complaints.  Earlier today, I WAS complaining that it was too warm to be December weather - so I do hope the days cool back down the way they were a week ago !  

I am thankful

For all of my family and friends who supported me on my quest to run my first half marathon !  I did it - full race report to follow !  
From the kitchen

We are smack in the middle of the Nativity Fast - so there is nothing extravagant going on in the kitchen right now.  I will say that breakfast is sometimes a challenge for my husband, since he often has to be able to eat something that can be eaten on the go and that does not really require any preparation. So during the Fasts, I usually try to prepare some kind of breakfast bar, smoothie, or muffin that he can take.  The problem is that the muffins I make in the typical cupcake pan are not filling enough and he takes about 4 of them !  I decided to go to Michael's armed with a 50% off coupon and get a larger muffin pan.  They had two big choices - KING and JUMBO.  I went with the biggest !  

Needless to say, these are gigantic !  They are MORE than a meal...they are more like a mini-cake !  I DARE him to say these did not fill him up.  I didn't even have anything to store them in so I had to use my soup containers that I use when I make broth !  One for each muffin !  I have to admit that I went back to the store and bought the jumbo size yesterday....I think they might work out a little better !  I just thought I would share a bit of kitchen  humor !!! 

I am thinking

I am eagerly awaiting this upcoming weekend when I will be so blessed to baptize a little boy, Gabriel !  What an honor.  I cannot wait for this to follow (with pics of course) !  
I am wearing

BOOTS !  I am wearing boots !  I don't actually NEED to be wearing boots, but I am.  I am wearing them because it is December and one should not be wearing flip-flops or sandals in December.  I just can't bring myself to do it anymore.  I decided I could forego the tights right now, but the boots have come out of the storage boxes !  

We are creating

The kids are always busy creating something.  Although I am truly the least crafty woman I know, I can google with the best of them !  I may not come up with the good ideas, but I can certainly follow directions !  The kids wanted to make a craft to bring to Yiayia and Popou's house for Thanksgiving, so we made these place card settings.  

A few plans for the rest of the week

Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas.  My children and I will attend Church services and then we are going to continue to make it a special day.  We plan to meet some friends and go to the Children's Museum !  It will be our first time there and we are really excited !  Of course, there are a lot of special activities going on right now during the Christmas season - so we are busy every single day !  As a matter of fact, sometimes we are so busy we fall asleep in the weirdest of places !  

on my iPod

Well, that thing went DEAD at the 10 mile mark of a 13.1 mile race....I was NOT a happy camper.  I am quite sure I charged it would think it would last 2 hours !  (hmm, perhaps I could justify a few minutes off of my final time if it had kept working)!  

Beauty in the home/Around the house

The home is decorated for Christmas. We put our tree and decorations up the day after Thanksgiving. The kids were so excited !  Usually we wait to decorate a little later in the season because with toddlers it can be a disaster...BUT we took a chance now that Demetri is 3 and so far he has only destroyed one ornament ! 

My little girl is really enjoying school.  She loves her gymnastics.  She can't wait for Church every week.  She wishes she had Greek dance every night.  She is just really loving and enjoying life right now and that makes for a very happy Mama !  Of course, she is five.  We have our arguments about clothes, hair, ice cream, cleaning her room. She whines, never wants to sleep, throws her clothes all over the floor constantly.  But to me, she is the BEST little girl in the world and I cannot imagine even a MINUTE without her in my life !  I just look at her smile and she lights up my whole day !  I am so thankful for the little Blessing that I am honored to call my daughter !  


I have a 3 year old who loves to watch the sun come up.  Literally.  He gets excited when he wakes up and it is still dark out because he anticipates the sun coming up.  He asks "is it morning yet"?  And if I tell him it is not, he will go back to sleep.  If I tell him "it is, but it is very early"....he asks me to open the blinds and watch the sun !  I love that.  I love that he even notices !  
He still loves riding his bike(s).  He now has two. He has his balance bike which Yiayia and Popou gave him last year for his birthday.  He also has a new "pedal bike" (as he calls it) which they got him this year.  He didn't actually NEED a new bike really, but they thought he was jealous that his big sister had a bike like that now.  He loves to ride the pedal bike in the street, the driveway etc.  BUT when it comes to all terrain riding, going up the bumpy hills in the yard, splashing through puddles - he still grabs his balance bike and off he goes !  He is my little adventurous one !  It is so much fun to watch him.  

(as a side note:  I don't know why my pictures are not uploading correctly to the blog.  Most of them have a weird hue, or lines going through them.  If anyone knows why this is, or how to fix it...feel free to leave me a note).  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Little Man is getting "So Big" !

Although I'm a little behind on the posting..the thought has not escaped my mind.  Not even for a minute.  My little guy is 3 years old !  How can I forget that ?  THREE !!!  And he is very happy to show you on his fingers !  He had a wonderful birthday party - actually a pretty awesome birthday week !  After a few very stressful weeks of being Mama's partner in taking care of my Yiayia (grandmother) who was in the hospital (another post)...we all deserved a nice break in the action.  My inlaws came in for their Fall visit.  A friend of ours let us stay at his beach house for a few days and it was beautiful.  The adults were very relaxed and the kids had a blast in the sand.  It was a bit too cool and windy to go in the water this time (which is fine by Sophia), so there were a lot of sand buildings around our area !

While we were in the area, we received some great tickets from a friend to go to the aquarium.  We got to see Winter the dolphin. Winter is the dolphin from the movie Dolphin Tale.  We haven't seen the movie yet, but now I think we just might have to put it on our list.  The kids loved seeing her and all the other dolphins and sea life !

"Winter" swimming without her prosthetic tail

We held a fun double birthday party - because my son was born on my sister's birthday !!  FUN TIMES !  Even though we kept it simple, I did manage to create the illusion of two separate themes/parties for each of them...cakes and all!

Birthday BOY 

Birthday GIRL

Demetri got some great presents from everyone of course!  Toys, clothes..a new bike !  A baseball glove (of course)!  

But one of the favorites of his was his "vestments' for when he "plays altar".  Yiayia made them for him and he loves them.  He used to use my headscarves, but has been getting too big for them and was getting very annoyed if they didn't lay right or tie all the way around his waist, etc.  

Trying it on for the first time !

Demetrios was born on the eve of his Name day, so we had another celebration in honor of his special day !  Sophia took the day off of school to attend the Divine Liturgy with us and we had a wonderful day afterwards together.  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Run Mama, Run !

One-third of the way through on my training....for my first Half Marathon !  (Last year, I posted enthusiastically about training for the same race but never had the chance to run the race.  I was a few weeks into my training when we found out that we were pregnant and stopped training competitively.  A few weeks after that we lost our precious baby and running was really far from my mind).  

So, here I am again...another year older and trying to accomplish this goal !  I waited until this week to post because this weeks long run was 8 miles.  That is the longest run I've ever done - even as a youngster.  I feel like I've gotten over a big hurdle with this weeks progress.  I love setting goals and having something to work really helps overcome "some" of the monotony and loneliness of running. 

Exercising and keeping fit is something I have always tried to keep as a constant in my life.  My father instilled a great value of HEALTH in me from a very young age - and I really hope to do the same for my own children.  I try to involve them in our meal prep, exercise time, and other good habits.  Healthy living really is a lifestyle choice for us - and so much easier instilled in us when we are young.  I try to emphasize how exercise keeps our heart healthy and the benefits of healthy eating.  I don't want my children growing up with an issues with their body image or obsessively looking at the scale. God gave us these amazing bodies and we should know how to care for them in a very respectable way.  We should be more amazed at the things our body can DO rather than how perfect it looks to others.  

I've made a few changes to the "official" training program that I am following, to accommodate for some traveling, family visits and a few other races that I am interested in doing in the next month.  Hopefully, it will still work out in a positive way !  I have added a training widget to the sidebar - to add some accountability to this post :) !  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Many years, little one !

September 11, 2006

I can still remember how afraid I was that day at the hospital hearing the nurse utter the words "You'll be having this baby today".  My sweet husband smiled ear to ear in joyful anticipation...but all I could think was it was too early.  We had been in and out of the hospital, bed rest, meds....all to try to keep this precious baby in my womb just a little while longer.  She was my first...and I had no idea what was really happening.   I was so afraid...all I could do was pray that this little blessing would be strong.  They made me even more fearful as the delivery became imminent with NICU team waiting for her...waiting to take my little baby away from me.  That's how I saw it, anyway.

Glory to God for all things...our little girl was bigger than they thought, strong, healthy....and looking quite full-term to all of us.  We spent every second with each other after her vitals, they never had to even take her out of the room.  Thanks be to God.

When momentous occasions occur, like this birthday....I always seem to say the same thing to my husband.  "I can still SMELL the day she was born".  Sounds so silly...but I really can. I am transported back to that moment of inexplicable joy...and choke back the tears.  Just like now.

So, here we are....and she turned FIVE this month.   She has had quite the celebration too.  We surprised my inlaws (and our children) with an unannounced visit to their home in the Berkshires.  It is not easy to travel as a family of four...but it is MOST difficult to plan a trip like that in secret.  We video chat with them quite often and it was hard for my hubby to talk to his parents without slipping (which is exactly why it had to be a surprise for the kids too)!

Her actual birthday landed during this visit, so not only did we show up unannounced but they gave their granddaughter a little birthday party as well.  She was thrilled and loved celebrating her birthday at her Noni and Granddad's house !

Upon our return home, we had a very special tea party and invited her two closest friends.  We celebrated her Name Day and her birthday with her friends.  We had such a great time...and turns out, I actually like throwing tea parties for little girls!

The next night we had Yiayia, Popou, Nouna, Nouna, Thea and her favorite Big Cousins over for gyros and (yes, again) birthday cake.  She got a brand new bike and we've been riding it at least twice a day since she first got on it. (Thanks to Popou for the very loud horn on the handlebars)!  

I finally popped all the balloons and yanked all the streamers down today !  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mother's Daybook

Outside my window

It is cloudy, windy and warm.  While I am thankful that it appears we are being spared the wrath of Hurricane Irene, I am praying for those that are evacuating, preparing and planning for the storm. 
Currently reading

RE-reading The Spiritual Life - and How to be Attuned to It. (St. Theophan the Recluse).  Also, lots of children's books !  
I am thankful

I am so Blessed that the Lord has blessed our marriage and our family.  As we celebrated 7 years this past week, I was reflecting on our spiritual journey...and through it's ups, and especially downs, how God gives us such opportunities to seek His Grace.  

From the kitchen

Nothing out of the ordinary.  Having just finished the Fast, we stocked up on some chicken breasts and a steak this week - just in time to feast for our wedding anniversary !  
I am thinking

It has been 2 months today since my sweet uncle fell asleep in the Lord.  As with any loss, it was so painful for our family, my mother, his wife, his daughter.  But I continue to think about the effect he had on so many people.  The night we were at the funeral home for the viewing, it was extremely emotional for everyone.  As family, we were sitting up front and were being greeted by all who entered.  At one point, I turned to the back of the room and noticed there were a line of people waiting to approach the casket.  A little while later, I needed to go on the porch for some air..and I will never forget the overwhelming feeling I had as I exited the room.  I cried...but smiled so big inside.  There was a line of people extending outside of the funeral home into the parking lot.  People were parking blocks away to come to pay their respects to my dear Uncle and his family.  I had never seen anything like it and I I felt so much love right then.  I thought about how much love he had given to all of these people and that they had those same sentiments for him.   His memory would live on in all of them.  May his memory be eternal !  

A few plans for the rest of the week

Apparently, I need to start sitting down to write these Daybook entries earlier in the week if this is going to be a topic.  As I sit here tonight typing, I am thinking of NO PLANS !  One more day of this week and then NO PLANS !  But over the weekend and earlier in the week, I am PLANNING to "make a plan" !  HA !  No, really I am.  I need to re-visit our daily routines now that Sophia has started spending a few hours at school.  This week, I have really just kept most things out of the routine so that we can get adjusted to things and see how it all fits together.  We usually spend a little time in the morning doing our own homeschool stuff.  We do some reading lessons, writing, workbooks, crafts...and spiritual reading and lessons.  We say our morning prayers together, breakfast/cleanup, wash/dress, and we usually go to the YMCA a few mornings per week.  I've never actually set any kind of "schedule", so to speak, but I am feeling a little unorganized as of late and I think I need a little structure for the kids.  Lately, it seems that if given too much "free" time, things turn to chaos real quick !  Maybe just a little more routine will calm the waters.  Any experienced moms out there feel like chiming in ??? 

on my iPod

New behind-the-neck earphones for running !  Thanks Mom and Dad !  
Toward a living education

For my birthday, my sweet sister and her family took all of us camping !  We went to St. Augustine and it was our first time there.  We decided to go up a day early so that we could enjoy the town a bit before we started to rough it.  Our children are a little young to understand the history of the place, but did enjoy the trip immensely.  For us, there was so much history there and I am so glad that we got to spend a little time walking around and learning a bit too.  Of course, our favorite stop was the St. Photios Greek Orthodox Shrine.  What a blessing to be able to see it !  

Beauty in the home/Around the house

This is definitely NOT the week to write about this.  With the challenges of a new schedule, very tired and cranky kids, tired Mama....I have barely been able to keep up with the basic house chores.  Right now, folded laundry is beautiful - because it's not all clumped in a basket.  We need to lower our standards every once in a while !  
The Domestic Church

Focused this week on more examples of how we call upon God in prayer during our daily lives..particularly with Sophia starting school.  Little reminders to pray before starting school, during school when she feels anxious (i.e.. during afternoon storms), praying for a classmate who is misbehaving.  As mothers we are never sure how much they can grasp at each stage, especially our first time around, but it continues to be our duty to teach them each step they take.  
I am hoping/I am praying

I am praying for the people in the Northeast who are preparing for the Hurricane to hit this weekend.  
In the garden

Peppers !  I think they may have been the only productive thing we planted this summer.  It's ok by me, I LOVE peppers - and we have a lot of them.  I planted 3 different varieties and they are all doing well.  I think the garlic and carrots are something we need to try again in the Fall.  I think it was just too hot for them here.  The beans did somewhat ok, but didn't produce enough to actually incorporate into a meal.  My kids mainly enjoyed running out and picking them off of the vine and eating them raw.  The tomatoes never made a big comeback after the leaf miner episode. The plants themselves grew very tall and flowered but never really fruited much.  We are looking forward to cleaning out the boxes and trying some new things for Fall.  
One of my favorite things

A really great workout !  Love feeling physically exhausted when I hit that pillow at night !  

Started her first year at Pre-K this week.  So far, it is going well.  I can't lie - it is very bittersweet for me.  It's only a few hours a day, but feels like forever.  We chose the afternoon session because we felt it fit better into our schedule.  We would be able to continue our normal morning routine, attend church services, go to the Y, etc.  It also seems to have worked out for the best because the afternoon class is much smaller, which is a little less overwhelming for our shy little girl.  She says she likes it. It is odd to see my very bubbly energetic little girl CRASHING at the end of the day !  She has also still been going to her gymnastics class 2 nights a week and that has really added to her exhaustion.  


The poor little man.  He is NOT happy about Sophia leaving for school.  He has cried every day on the way home after dropping her off.  He says things (between the sobs) like "I am sad", "my bear is sad", "I don't want to leave Sophia at school", "I miss Sophia".  It is heart-wrenching ..but cute in a way.  I am glad that they have such a bond.  Plus, it is adorable to see them run to each other and hug when we pick her up in the afternoon.  
Picture though to share

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Our "perfect" house

I am not a perfect housekeeper.  Not even close.  Now, don't get me house is not a cyclone.  Well, not ALL the time.  It's clean, it's tidy, it's "kinda" organized...but not perfect.  I am confident enough that if I had an unexpected knock at the door that my guest would not think my house was a complete mess.  You can usually find one or two baskets full of clean laundry sitting around waiting to be folded and put away.  I don't dry the dishes and put them away right after washing them, I let them sit in the strainer until there is not a drop of water on them (or until I need to wash more dishes).  I should mop the floors more often and dust the bookshelf.  I don't make my bed every single day (gasp)!  There are a lot of times that I don't make the children's put away their crayons and coloring books before starting to play with their train set.  There are nights we even go to sleep with the train set pieces still strewn all over my sons rug. (double-gasp)! sorta get the picture of our everyday world.  

But this weekend, we were having company.  Well, it's not really "company" per se.  My mother-in-law is coming.  We love when she visits !  When both of my inlaws come together, they stay in a hotel.  When she comes by herself, she stays with us and sleeps in my daughter's room.  This, of course, means that she needs to actually SEE my daughter's bed in order to sleep in it.  Of course, we had to clean.  Clean, as in "better than usual clean".   Honestly, she could care less what the house looks like - she just wants to see her grandchildren.  But you ALL know how it is.  Someone comes to stay at your house and you feel the need to clean behind the toilet !

We had a busy week but we tried to keep our normal schedule the first half of the days and then do some extra cleaning and chores during the afternoons if possible.   Everything got cleaned, pretty well.  But I started to get crazy.  I would get the kitchen looking perfect - and then my children would ask me to bake something with them.  I would have to clean it all over again from top to bottom.  I would vacuum every speck of dirt off the floor and we would go work in the garden (only to trek even more dirt back in).  Wash, Rinse, Repeat.  I kept looking at things from a different perspective.  "That looked PERFECT an hour ago and now it's atrocious" !  Then came Friday - "crunch day".  Last ditch effort to get it right.

My kids spent the morning with Popou (my dad) and their cousins because I had errands and a pitching lesson to give.  By the time we got home around midday, I had the afternoon to get it all done before it was time to get them to bed.  (No cleaning or other somewhat noisy activities in this small house after bedtimes with our light sleepers).  I thought about locking the kids in the bathroom so I could conquer one room at a time...but instead I just barked and yelled orders.  "Don't take out any toys".  "How many books are you going to take out".  "Can you just sit and rest a bit". "Don't take out any snacks, you'll make crumbs". "No crafts today".  "Watch me from the window while I garden because I don't need another single thing to clean and wash" "I cannot play that with you until this house is ALL clean"  "No, no, no"....

Jump to the end of the day -  My house was clean.  All of the laundry was done, sheets all changed, bathrooms scrubbed and disinfected, dishes clean and dried, toys all in proper places, every crayon and colored pencil in it's proper section, shelves were dusted, garden was watered and weeded, furniture dusted, floors vacuumed...etc.   Whew !

When I snuggled with my two little munchkins at the very end of the night to go to little man leaned on my chest with a great big hug and said "I love you mama".  Now, he says he loves me a million times a day and gives lots of hugs.  But last night, it made me cry.  It was more like "I missed you all day Mama and I'm so glad you're back".  Of course, that could be my pitiful, guilty translation of his affection...but that's how I was feeling too.

Yesterday, we didn't sit on the couch together and read any books.  We didn't play house.  We didn't do any crafts together.  I didn't take them out WITH me to do the gardening.  We didn't go to the Y or for a run.  We didn't cook together. We didn't even eat together at the table.  We didn't draw or color together.  We didn't build anything or play cars and trains.  We didn't talk much about anything. We didn't learn anything together.  We didn't dance and sing like we do every afternoon.   We didn't do much of anything.  It was a yucky day....but at least my house was clean.  

My grandmother gave my mom a cute little plaque that hung in our dining room in the house where I grew up:

"This house is clean enough to be healthy...
But messy enough to be happy".  

I used to laugh at this really because my mother has had an immaculate house for as long as I can remember.  But today I remembered this little plaque for the first time in many years.  (Maybe our house was so clean for as long as I can REMEMBER..but maybe not so clean for my younger toddler years...hmmm?) I just can't imagine that I am the ONLY mother of young children that finds it hard to keep a perfect-looking house, while at the same time nurturing my children and being a part of their day.  Am I ?  (Please, DON'T leave a comment indicating that I am).

I might not be the most perfect housekeeper...but I know that I am doing my best to balance it all and more importantly to be the best mother and wife that I can be right NOW.  Maybe there will come a time in the not-so-distant future that I will be able to fold the laundry as soon as I take it out of the dryer without being interrupted by things like:   "Mama, can you read me this book first"?  or "Can you help me make this beaded bracelet" or "How do you spell Demetri's name so I can make him a surprise"?  

Maybe one day I won't hear those interruptions and I can get everything done in a very expeditious and efficient manner.  Maybe one day my house will look perfect....but God-willing, that won't be anytime soon.  I think our house is just perfect the way it is right now.