October 21, 2015

My Worst Fear Came True

When you become a parent you fear everything - from the first time you put them in that big crib at night and close the door behind you, leaving them at daycare, injury and illness (just to name a few).

No parent wants to hear that there is something gravely wrong with their child.

I have spoken a few times about my Mackenzie's developmental delays and all of the things we are doing to get to the bottom of it.

After what seemed like an eternity, we were finally able to get Mackenzie's MRI scheduled and cleared for sedation. Having to be at Gillette Children's Hospital for any reason is not fun. My heart ached for every single parent there. Looking around, we actually felt fortunate that Mackenzie wasn't as dire as some of the other children we saw there and I felt horrible for even thinking it.

We were able to meet with her neurologist right away the following morning to discuss the results. Her first words were, "We finally have an answer to why Mackenzie is having delays, but I'm sorry that it isn't good news."

My worst fear has come true. There is something wrong with my baby.

Mackenzie has a number of issues - from right hemihypertrophy (one side of her body is longer/different than the other), myopia and a staphyloma in her left eye and the worst of it: she has hemimegalencephaly - the left side of her brain is larger than her right. If you are looking at these words with confusion, you are in the same boat as us. To tell you the truth - I don't think her neurologist knew exactly what all of it meant either. Telling us that she needs to do more research on her condition does not exude a lot of confidence for us. Our next steps is to work with genetics to determine if she has an underlying syndrome attached to all of these symptoms of hers. Of course, in order to work with genetics, our insurance needs to provide a pre-approval which from what we've been told is going to be an uphill battle.

For the most part, from our vague understanding of her conditions, she is at risk for seizures (and may have already been happening for all we know), gross motor delay and speech delays. Since it is her left brain that is not working right - it is her processing capabilities that are affected. On the fortunate side - her right brain is perfect which is where we get her beautiful personality from. Mackenzie goes to physical therapy regularly to help her with gross motor issues such as walking, we also see an occupational and speech therapist from the school district's early childhood intervention program. We figured out that she is able to communicate with us through sign language and have been stepping up our efforts with it so that we can better understand her needs.

Since receiving her high level diagnosis a month ago, I have been a mess of highs and lows. Most days, I go to work like a robot with my brave face on. I don't let anyone in to see how sad and scared I am. I try not to think about what went wrong when I was pregnant with her. Was it a fluke? Did I eat something? Take something? I want someone or something to blame - I am my own easy target. I would do just about ANYthing for her - to make her life easier and better.

Try as I may to cling to just getting by day-to-day, it is hard not to think about her future. About our family's future. Will she need brain surgery? What is her life expectancy? What will her life be like? Will she ever be able to be independent?

So many questions with very little answers.

The only thing I have to cling to is my faith and to ask for prayers from anyone and everyone who is willing to give them.

For regular updates and to offer up your support and prayers, please visit our Mighty Mackenzie's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mightymackie 



August 03, 2015

Half Marathon Recap: My First and Last

After 4+ months of pretty hard core training and a potentially running-career ending injury, I did it.

I finished a Half Marathon.

As of July 25, a week prior to the race, I ran 8 miles and felt pretty amazing. My pace was fantastic. I felt strong. Unstoppable.

After that day, I noticed that my hip was sore. Okay. Aches and pains. Kind of par for the course when you're pushing the amount of mileage I had been doing over the last month. On Wednesday, I went out for what was to be a 3-4 mile relaxed run. Again, I felt good. The hip was a little sore, but nothing I couldn't run through. I was running at a great pace until at mile 2, I felt a sharp pain soar through my hip, down my leg and through my back. It felt like someone knifed me and it stopped me in my tracks. After several failed attempts to try and run again, I limped the remaining 1.7 miles back home.

Much to my dismay, my husband's response was, "Don't start making excuses to not do the race on Saturday." Are you fucking kidding me? Excuses? 4+ months of busting my ass, getting up before dawn to make an excuse at the last minute? I don't think so. Upon seeing my face with that comment he quickly backpedaled as I entered into freak out mode. The next day, I called my PCP first thing in the morning to be seen by a doctor. They assumed Bursitis and referred me to the walk-in urgent care at Twin Cities Orthopedics. I was thinking, oh great, I am going to end up being here all day. To my surprise, I was seen almost immediately by their sports doctor, quickly got into an X-ray to ensure that I didn't have a stress fracture and got a diagnosis of: Hip Tendonitis of the IT Band at Point of Insertion (blah blah blah... I have tendonitis in my hip from all my crazy running). My options were:

A) Skip the race and start rehab/cross-training. Take pain meds for any immediate pain relief.
B) Go for the hail mary and get a cortisone shot to the hip. Oh and by the way, the worst case scenario is that the tendon will rip and you will need surgery to re-attach it.

Not running this race was not an option for me. I worked too hard and for too long to give up - I got the shot.

As the next two days went on I started to worry. The hip was feeling better but not great and I knew it would be a game day decision.

Little did I know it would end up being a starting-line decision. There is one thing I do that I'm sure annoys faster runners, but I always start out in a faster pace group than I should. It motivates me to get out of the gate at a good clip - and the truth is, even if I fall apart faster, having a solid 10k is critical for me in finishing with a decent time.

I was sore at first, but quickly got into my groove. At about mile 5 the song "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten came on. This song is my MANTRA for this year's running season. I actually got a little emotional when it came on my playlist. It was at this point that I knew I would go the distance. At around mile 9 I really started to fizzle. Beyond the pain, it was hot out and there was little relief from the sun along this course. I was sunburned. Dehydrated. I had to push away the voices telling me to quit. Towards the end, I was keeping pace with two ladies who were struggling. They were doing run/walk segments of about 30 seconds on 1 minute off. They invited me to join them and we trudged through the last 3 miles together.

I could see the finish line a quarter of a mile ahead and that is when I saw my best running friend standing there with my sweet little boy cheering me on. I finished my first ever Half Marathon with my best guy - he crossed the finish line with me and it was the best thing ever.

My running team greeted me when I got my medal and the first words out of my mouth were, "I never, ever want to do that again." My finishing time was atrocious (as in, I was that close to coming in very last). However, that doesn't matter. Embarrassed as I am to admit how poor my time was, I am proud to have even finished. It was a downright miracle. It would have been so easy to quit, but I didn't.

Me & Nordy

My amazing running team - Sole Sisters Running Crew

A lot of my friends and colleagues asked me why I felt the need to do this. I think I needed to prove to myself that the possibility existed and that yes, everybody is capable of accomplishing amazing things when you put your mind to it.

The reality is, I am injured in a way that will likely haunt me for distance running going forward. While my hip is in need of therapy and rehab, my time and attention really needs to be on my daughter. My hip can wait.

I still have two major races left this year: the Women Rock Starlet Challenge and the TC 10 Mile. While I don't want to let anyone down, I need to be realistic in what my body will allow me to do. If I don't listen to it, I may never be able to run again.

I'm ridiculously proud of what I accomplished on Saturday and definitely have the battle scars to prove it. Not only did I run this for myself, but I raised money for an amazing cause (and if you haven't donated, you still can!). Despite some of the agony- it was so worth it to do this for the kids. My pain is nothing compared to what they are going through.

With that, I leave you with, "Fight Song"
Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion

And all those things I didn't say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?

This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I'm alright song
My power's turned on
Starting right now I'll be strong
I'll play my fight song
And I don't really care if nobody else believes
'Cause I've still got a lot of fight left in me

Losing friends and I'm chasing sleep
Everybody's worried about me
In too deep
Say I'm in too deep (in too deep)
And it's been two years
I miss my home
But there's a fire burning in my bones
Still believe
Yeah, I still believe


July 13, 2015

Half Marathon Training - A Few Setbacks

I have less than 3 weeks until the Minnesota Half Marathon/RBC Race for the Kids and I'm starting to get nervous.

I encountered a few setbacks over the last week with my training.

Setback 1: Canadian Wildfires. 
You heard that right. The wildfires caused some problems here in Minnesota last Monday. The smoke was thick as was the smell - akin something to the tune of burnt plastic. Air quality warnings were up everywhere and those in "sensitive" categories were likely to experience issues. Although not in a "sensitive" category myself, going out to run 5 miles in the smoky haze was probably not the best plan. However, I did it. At about the 3rd mile, my chest had a strange burning sensation so I dialed it back a bit for the last 2 miles. Ha. Take that wildfires.

Setback 2: Blood Donation
For the past 3 years at my job (not counting the year I was pregnant and on maternity leave), I sign up to donate blood at the blood drive here in my office. Seems like a relatively simple thing I can do with my universal blood type to do some good. Save a life. Last Tuesday, I donated my blood. They told me no vigorous exercise for 24-48 hours. Of course I shrugged it off. I didn't run that night, but I did run the next day. Guess what? I should have heeded their advice. Barely two miles into my 5 mile run, I started feeling incredibly ill - dizzy, short of breath, heart racing, nausea. For the first time ever, I thought I might have to call someone to get me home. I took a breather and continued on with walking - I cut my run short at 3.7 miles. In fear of making this situation worse, I took the following night off. Friday night I had plans so no running. Saturday I decided not to run in lieu of my long run planned for Sunday. As I hit up the Google for more information on donating blood while training for a half marathon, I came across a LOT of information. What did I find? That everyone reacts differently when donating blood. Some bounce back immediately where others will encounter decreased performance for weeks. WEEKS??? I'm trying desperately not to let my mind tell me that this is my reason for my performance issues so I'm going to continue to follow my training plan for the next 2.5 weeks and pray that things start to get better.

Setback 3: Mother Nature
I'm not going to get all TMI on you all here, but personal mother nature decided to pay me a visit early. I know women don't like to talk about this business - but aunt flo shuts me down. As an endometriosis sufferer, I endure a lot of pain at her hand and despite all attempts to ignore her, I usually lose that battle. Nonetheless, on the hottest day of the year yesterday, I embarked on my long run with my two teammates starting at the beautiful Hidden Falls Regional Park in St. Paul along the Mississippi River. 12 miles was the goal. At mile 6, I called it and knew there was no way I would be able to make it that far. If I learned anything from Setback 2, it is that you must listen to your body. You must slow down if you don't feel good or something isn't right. I survived 9.1 miles which, you know, hey, it is not a anything to shrug off. Still... I felt like a failure.

I wasn't sure what this structure was at Hidden Falls Regional Park,
but I do know that after running 9.1 miles it was fantastically cold to sit down on. 

Will I ever run another Half after all of this? I want the dorky 13.1 sticker. I want to cross it off my bucket list. I confessed to my teammates that after this year, I will not run another distance greater than a 10k. I want to get back to a place where running is fun. If I'm being honest - this is not fun. I am hurting. I am tired. I feel like I don't have time for anything else. I miss going to Zumba and group fitness classes. Heck, I even miss just getting on an elliptical. All this energy and training focused around JUST this one thing is just sucking all the life out of me and I'm over it.

However... I'm not done after this. While 13.1 will be all but a memory after August 1st I still have 2 major distances to tackle yet this season:

August 28 - 29: Women Rock Starlet Challenge - The great thing about this challenge is that it splits up a bunch of miles into 2 days. Friday night is a 2.5k, Saturday morning is a 10k, a 45 minute break (give or take) followed by the 5k. 4 medals, a necklace and a whole shitload of swag. It's a lot of running in a short time, but I think I've got this one and I'm looking forward to it.

September 12: Mill City Suds Run - Finally a fun run! I'm looking forward to kicking out a 5k, grabbing a quick beer and getting home to celebrate my son's 7th birthday and still be able to walk! Score!

October 4: TC 10 Mile - This is the one race that is a maybe for me - and only because I have entered into a lottery for the chance to run. Two of my teammates and I signed up for the lottery as a team, so we are hoping (well... kind of hoping) that it buys us into the race. Again, kind of a check off on the bucket list to be a part of the TC Marathon Weekend which is a huge deal for runners in my hood. FYI - the lottery for this race closes THIS FRIDAY!!! If you want to do this and need a team to run with - go ahead and choose "Sole Sisters Running Crew" from the team dropdown in your registration and I will welcome you with open arms!

I'm far from giving up on this goal - I will conquer 13.1 miles!


July 10, 2015

Nothing Else Matters

I am guilty in getting caught up in the little things. I'm sure you know what I mean here- sweating the small stuff. Getting worked up over things that truly do not matter. Wasting time on things that suck the good energy out of my life.

My husband and I have been told that we are selfish and don't care enough about other people outside of our sphere. I've been passive-aggressively memed on Facebook for it.

However, I know my truth.

I know that we are dealing with the hardest thing a parent should ever have to deal with - the waiting game. Mackenzie's neurologist called us in for a follow-up with her - 3 months earlier than we had scheduled. She had reviewed her physical therapy notes and felt that she should be walking right now and wanted to see for herself what kind of progress she had made. The end result is more tests. MRI, audiology and genetic tests have been ordered. She wants to make sure there are no tumors on her spine, brain or in her abdomen. I don't think there is a single word that could elicit more fear in the heart of a parent: tumor.

Mackenzie continues to knock all of these tests out of the park - they have yet to find the definitive reason for her delays. She is smart - she listens to our commands and despite the fact she is not talking, she uses sign language to communicate - food/hungry, more, thank you, please... it is kind of crazy how the signing has exploded. Although slow to physically progress, she is indeed progressing. She crawls on all fours over the army crawl/rolling she had done previously, she pulls to stand on anything and everything and has started to regularly cruise along every piece of furniture in our house. She is kicking ass. I just know she will come out amazing on the other end of this.

I refuse to accept anyone in my life at this point that cannot even possibly comprehend the stress and worry that we are under. I will not apologize for putting my kids and their happiness first. That sometimes means making unpopular decisions. Our choices are selfish on purpose. Our choice is to surround ourselves with only the positive - if anyone is to stand in judgement of us and our choices then you don't deserve to be around us at all. I don't have room in my heart for ugly, mean behavior.

With that said, in the spirit of positivity, we refuse at this point to accept that... that... WORD (*whispers* tumor) in our vocabulary at this point. I can't even think about it or comprehend it. I don't want to. If the time comes and it is a reality, I will deal with it then.

But not now. Not today.

Today, my heart has no place for bitterness - only forgiveness. Today, every moment spent with my beautiful kids will be treasured. Today, I will surround myself with laughter and beauty.

Today, I know that miracles do and will continue to exist - I get the great honor of witnessing it every day in my children.











 Nothing. Else. Matters.


July 02, 2015

Half Marathon Training: 1 Month to Race Day

In all my frenzy over Mackenzie's issues this year, I haven't gotten much of a chance to talk about one of my biggest running goals and challenges to date:

Running my first half marathon.

I am now more than halfway through my training program (I am using the Nike+ App Coach) and am about to head into my peak week. That means, my short runs are about 5 miles and my long runs are reaching the 11-13 mile range.

It is beast. It is hard. Sometimes, it even seems impossible.

My colleagues poked some fun at me when I told them that I share my runs and training via social media. I got the "Oh really Jo, you are that person? The person who shares their workouts?"

Yup. I am THAT person. I am keenly aware that there are people out there who are annoyed by this. I don't post it to show off (I don't even post my pace... which is still embarrassingly slow in my mind). There are a handful of people who always, ALWAYS hit the like button on my post. And when they hit the like button and I am out on my run? My Nike app sends a cheer to me. Getting a cheer at mile 9 when I feel like I want to die and crawl back home is about the BEST thing ever. So go ahead and be annoyed, but to those who are supporting me and cheering me on... THANK YOU.

There are many times when I admit that I might have bitten off more than I can chew. The training is rigorous and you cannot let up on it (unless you want to be injured, unable to walk for a week or in extreme measures DIE after the actual race). At this point, I am tired. I am sore. Most nights it takes every ounce of motivation to get me out the door and run for an hour or more. And my long runs? I honestly dread them and the mental anguish I have to put myself through to do them.

Yet despite the naysayer in my head, I am determined to do this.

Thankfully, I am not doing this alone. Two others from my running group are also running the half marathon with me - and for us of us this is our first. Words cannot express how grateful I am for their support and for keeping me going. I honestly don't think I would do it if I had to do it alone.

Kathy - My Sole Sister

Then there is the question of WHY.

This, my friends, is a very good question.

The answer is two-fold:
1) For me. I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone but myself. I want to know that I can set a goal and keep it. For months, I have been starting and quitting Beachbody and DailyBurn programs, but I have not yet quit running. It is my time. Time out of the house. Time to exercise. Sweat. Work out daily frustration. Enjoy the beautiful Minnesota summer. I want to prove to myself that at nearly 40 years old, my body is capable of doing amazing things.

2) For charity. The half marathon I am running is the Minnesota Half Marathon - RBC Race for the Kids. I have run a lot of races in my short running career, and all my high cost fees usually go to charity, but this is one that I truly take to heart. The charity is Ronald McDonald House. Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest provides a home-away-from-home for families with children facing critical medical crisis.  They are founded on the belief that a child and family heal best when they are together. I am a mom. My daughter has special needs and my family could very well need these services someday. I want to know they are available not only to me, but other families who want to stay together when their kids are critically ill.

With that said, I am passionate about this cause and about running. So much so, that I am fundraising for the cause. Will you consider a donation? Even $5 will help me in reaching my fundraising goals. More importantly. Do it for the kids!!

http://rbc.kintera.org/raceforthekids/joannekoenig

Those of you who know me know that I never do this kind of thing, so I am hoping JUST THIS ONCE you will consider helping me in raising money for a really great cause.

I promise to start blogging on the regular too and keep you all posted on my journey to the Half as well as my sweet Mackenzie's progress.

Mackenzie - 18 months


June 01, 2015

When Your Child is Different

I have been mostly open about my sweet, little Mackenzie. About her... differences.

I am a part of a Facebook mom's group for babies born in December 2013. They are the most supporting, amazing and wonderful women and moms on the planet. All of our kids are wonderfully unique in their own way, but for the most part, all of their babies did MOST developmental things around the same time.

That's when I started to worry. Why isn't Mackenzie doing these things?

Since the time she was about 3 months old, we knew that Mackenzie was likely to have some challenges. We discovered vision issues in her left eye very early on (which is a rare discovery in a baby). However, it was unknown what the impact of these issues would imply. There was also the discovery of her skull ridge, lipoma in her tummy, a small hip joint and one leg longer than the other.

Put ALL of these things together and what do you get?

Overwhelmed, emotional parents of an 18 month old who is severely developmentally delayed.

But Mackenzie... she is special. She is happy. She is blissfully unaware that there is anything wrong with her. Of course, being parents, we want only the best care for her. We don't want to keep her in the older infant room at her daycare anymore as she belongs with her toddler friends, learning toddler things.

I am sensitive to the fact that she isn't doing what he is "supposed" to be doing at this age. I don't go around doing the usual bragging that pretty much all mommies do, so most of my "friends" (speaking of those specifically on social media) are unaware that my daughter has any issues. My husband and I have chosen to keep Mackenzie's developmental struggles in the family. It just feels too personal to make it a social "thing". On the other hand - am I not giving my social media friends enough credit? Is the truth that I am worried about being judged?

For the most part, I have brilliant, smart, supportive and mostly Christian social media friends. They would pray for and cheer on Mackenzie as she learns at a year and half to crawl, sit up and pull herself to stand - most things that that the "average" 10-12 month old is already doing.

Mackenzie is very quickly practicing her mastery of pulling to stand. SO much so, that she did it last night from about 2:30 - 5am. With 2 paci's over the side of the crib, 2 parents who are tired as hell, we finally gave up and let her "figure" it out. She fell asleep around 5am sitting up.

Quickly we learned that just because Mackenzie is delayed, doesn't mean we aren't going to go through ALL of the same things every other parent to a baby went through about 6 months earlier.

Yet - I kind of want to scream to the universe that she did this all night long. I'm so proud of her. Physical therapy is hard work for her - they push her to the baby brink and it is sometimes hard to watch. But nights like last night tell me that the hard work is paying off. She's definitely doing what she's supposed to be doing - even if she's giving it her best go in the middle of the night.

I don't think any parent ever anticipates having a child with special needs. I struggle with work-life balance. I struggle with my desire to succeed and provide as well as my deep need to be with her at therapy every week. I struggle with trusting her daycare to work with her on the exercises she needs to work on. I should be there.

Despite our struggles and setbacks, I love her with the fire of a thousand suns. I love her in a way that is different from anything I have ever known. Of course I love my son to the moon and back, because well... mama's boy, but Mackenzie... oh Mackenzie and all of her special, unique qualities makes me love her and want to protect her in way that only I, her mama, can understand.





March 11, 2015

I judge other parents - and so do you

Judge Judge Judge

We moms, we judge all the time. We judge others (even when we don't mean to). We judge ourselves.

All of that judgment equates to a whole lot of guilt.

I will be the first to admit that I question and judge other's parenting choices. Vaccinations and putting the car seat in the wrong place in a shopping cart at Target top my list of judginess.

Before this conversation strays into a vaccination debate or whether or not to breastfeed, I will say this, WE PARENTS ARE ALL GUILTY. If you have a stance on any of these subjects you are guilty. GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY. Of course, as I stand here on my soapbox, I will say that I keep these judgments mostly internal. So, I shall use my blog in the passive aggressive way that I always do. But this brings me to another point: go ahead and have your opinions. We all have them. We have the right to them. But can you just keep them to yourselves? It's hard enough being a mom without someone shoving reports, studies and other bullshit in my face.

I read a post this morning on the Scary Mommy blog which is one of my favorite blogs on the entire planet. It was titled, "Why Developmental Milestones are Bullshit." I was so happy that someone finally told me to stop worrying and start living.

I haven't been the most verbal in publicly discussing my 15 month old daughter Mackenzie's slow development. Those close friends, family and colleagues that I have spoken with about my worries all echo the sentiments of the above blog post. Stop worrying. Trust your pediatrician.

But you see, that is hard. I am one of many new mommies out of my 300+ Facebook friends who had babies over the last year or two not to mention the private Facebook Group I am a part of who all had December 2013 babies. I see them posting videos and pictures of their babies already walking and talking. I see them being toddlers. Suddenly, I am afraid to post things about my baby. Afraid to admit that my daughter doesn't seem to be like the rest of them. Afraid that all of my mom friends will suddenly stand in judgment. Judging whether I did something wrong. It's as if I can see in their faces with that look of pity or suddenly get a slew of PMs saying "You should really get that checked out."

While I do agree that developmental milestones are a little bit of BS, I also do believe that they stand as markers for pediatricians to determine if there is a larger problem at play.

Mackenzie hasn't "technically" missed any milestones. She is still well within the range of when her expected first steps should be (she has up to 18 months before they will considered her truly delayed). We have had a number of red flags with her though. She has a football shaped eye which is causing extreme nearsightedness in her left eye and she will wear glasses for the rest of her life (and yes, getting a 1 year old to wear glasses is as hard as you might imagine it to be). Around 6 months we discovered mass in her belly - it turned out to be a lipoma; however we are slowly learning it could be the result of a bigger problem. She had mild hip displaysia as an infant which thankfully resolved itself. She also has one leg longer than the other. We don't know if any of these issues are contributing to her slow to develop major motor skills like pulling up and walking. We have now been referred to a neurologist and likely a geneticist. There have been million letter named syndromes that I can barely pronounce thrown at us - most with scary repercussions such as a heightened risk of cancer. All we really want to hear is "She is fine." If it costs me thousands of dollars to hear those words, then so be it.

My husband thinks our little girl is just a little diva - that she is going to determine when she wants to do these things. Not when the "developmental milestone" markers are telling her to do them. Despite some of the bigger things, such as walking, she is a champion eater and sleeper. Her language is developing just fine and we've heard her verbalizing mama, dada and even Jack Jack (which is often confused with dada). She also uses her sign language to tell us "more", "food" and "milk". Her "delays" should definitely not be confused with stupidity.

All of this to worry about and I'm worried about what others will think? My daughter is flipping gorgeous and funny. She is an absolute joy to be around. I should be sharing all of her beauty with the world.

Those who stand in judgment can suck it.

Look at how beautiful she is!

She's ridiculously happy most of the time

She falls asleep sitting up. 

She's going to be a champion texter someday. Also... those CURLS! 

She adores her brother. 

Works on her computing skills daily. 

She is insanely curious about everything we are doing. 


February 12, 2015

Accepting the Inevitable

I have had a busy and not so great start to 2015.

I was feeling as if I was finally getting on top of everything on my must-do list:

  • I signed up for the MN Running Series and was ready to start training. 
  • Got my kids back to being healthy after a rocky December.
  • Chopped my email down to under 3,000 in my Inbox (believe me... even that was a stretch). 
  • Writing this blog. 

Then I got hit with the flu the beginning of January. Honestly folks, it is no joke. I didn't physically leave my bed for 4 days. When you are a full-time working mom - it is detrimental to life as you know it. My husband quarantined me nearly the entire time which was lovely for about 2 hours and then all I wanted to do was to hug and kiss my babies. I was too sick to work - so saying I was "working from home" wasn't an option. It hurt to move. I couldn't breathe. I mean, honestly, after getting the flu, I can understand why people die from it. I am thankful for Tamiflu which got me back to the land of the living, but I was then plagued shortly after with my 2nd sinus infection of the season which subsequently NEVER went away. After a month of misery, I crawled back to the doctor and begged for something, ANYthing that would ease my aching sinuses. I now seem to be on the tail end of this illness season of horror. I might have even become one of those freaks that applies hand sanitizer to avoid getting hit with any of this nastiness again.

Of course, now that I am on the path back to wellness, my oldest decides that this should happen:

Yes, he broke his arm on the playground at school. The worst part isn't even the pain of it for him- it is the fact that he broke his DOMINANT arm. I totally feel his pain with that struggle. If I didn't have access to use my right hand as normal, I would flounder as well. To be 6 and struggling? My heart just breaks for him. We are doing our best to help him, but also need him to learn how to make the best of it. I told him his left hand/arm were going to have superhero powers once his cast comes off in 6 weeks.

Thankfully, my sassy 14 month old has been on a healthy streak. She even decided to start sleeping through the night again (thank god). Her other developmental concerns (particularly as it relates to standing and walking) are being tabled for a month while we bask in the glow of having a healthy, happy baby. Did I mention she is ridiculously adorable? Being the ultimate daddy's girl, every once in awhile, she cuddles with me so I had to capture the moment. And to answer your question... yes, it drives me crazy that my baby wants nothing to do with her mama most of the time.



As for my wellness quest, I've succumbed to the Medifast life again. Only this time, I am back to weekly weigh ins at the center. I am not discounting anything I accomplished over the last year by any means. I lost 50 pounds without anybody asking or telling me to step on the scale, but I have been stuck at the same plateau for nearly 5 months now. I have half a closet of clothes that I can't fit into since before I got preggers with Mackenzie and I want my wardrobe back. The program is definitely harder when you don't have as much to lose. It's also harder when life happens. Between weekly Monday team meeting scones, happy hours and travel for work not to mention a busy, active family it will be a challenge for me to lose 20 pounds in 10 weeks. However, as I learned the first time I successfully completed the program, 10 weeks is a small blip in time to have to make a few sacrifices. The first couple weeks of the program were a difficult transition for me - I only lost 4 pounds which is nothing to sneeze at, but I honestly thought I'd see better results from the start. I'm still on track, but it's time to settle in. 16 pounds to go. No more excuses.

It's also time to start training. My first race, the Hot Dash 5k is less than a month away and I haven't ran in... a really long time. My running partner and I decided to do this first race in an effort to light a fire under our asses to start training again. It's amazing how having to be away from it (illness... winter...) has absolutely killed my motivation. Pretty sure this first race will be a rude awakening to the work I have ahead of me to get back into race shape.

With all of this said, I have accepted the inevitable:

  • My entire family will get sick or injured every winter and it's time I learn how to cope.
  • I never, ever want to do another weight lost program again once I am able to button my old pants. 
  • Starting over with running training sucks. 
Here's to looking ahead to spring and a happier, healthier family! 


January 02, 2015

2014: A Crazy Good Year

2014 has been crazy.

Crazy good.
Crazy busy.
Just... Crazy.

Since my last post, on my birthday back in May, life became utter chaos. I had only been back at work for a month and a half following my maternity leave and there was no rest for the weary. Between travel, a new baby, a demanding 6 year old and my running training, there was very little time left for my little blog. In the list of things that had to be cut to make more time in a demanding life, my blog had to be one of them. Oh, how I have missed it! Writing, sharing, chatting about my healthy life victories and epic mom fails is something that I enjoyed.

Let me catch you up on what you may have missed...

Kids: 
My son, Jack, turned SIX in September. SIX!! He started first grade (which is a whole other controversy to be discussed at a later date). It started out a little shaky - new school, new teacher, new friends to make and all. Thankfully he has things figured out and is doing beautifully - no question we made the right choice in sending him forward instead of holding him behind. He continues to be ridiculously smart which forces us to stay on our toes and sassy to the point where I wonder if he suddenly went from 5 to 12 years old. He ADORES his little sister and is a great big brother to her. We also discovered through his having a sibling that his heart truly belongs to his mama - this boy is a mama's boy and this mama is not complaining!


Then there is my sweet Mackenzie. Can you even believe she turned 1 a few weeks ago? I still continue to stare at her in awe that she is even here in this world. She is seriously the easiest baby ever (or perhaps it is from our years of practice with Jack that she SEEMS so easy). From the moment we brought her in to her first day of daycare, she has been known as the "Smiling Baby." This year has not been without drama with her - she has issues with one of her eyes and will be wearing glasses for a lifetime because of it. We discovered a mass in her belly over the summer - thankfully, it turned out to be nothing but a lipoma but a trip to Children's Hospital for testing is not something I really want to do again anytime soon. She has also been slow to hit developmental milestones. While in part, we think this may be the way she is - she does things in her time. Her way. (Not sure what this means for the teenage years...). She doesn't crawl, but she gets from point A to point B one way or another. Her pediatrician isn't concerned just yet. We are patiently waiting for her to take her first steps and praying we do not have to see yet another specialist. She's a champion eater. Girlfriend loves her food. All of it. Whatever we put in front of her so far she devours. Hmmmm.... like mother like daughter?


These kids are my everything. Despite my busy schedule, I rearrange everything to ensure they come first.


Health
For the most part, my 2014 health journey has been good. As you know if you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, I am incredibly hard on myself. I have managed to lose 50 of the 70 (holy crap) pounds gained during my pregnancy.

This year was also a pinnacle year for running. For those that have had a baby, you know that bouncing back is not easy. I had a high-risk pregnancy which meant no heavy duty exercise for 9 long months in addition to postpartum complications. Getting back in the game was not easy and not fun. It hurt. I struggled. I CONQUERED.
April - Get in Gear 5k: This was my first post-baby race. I had a sprained ankle. I was slow. But I did it.


July 17- Esprit de She 5k: I completed this 3 minutes faster than the Get in Gear, but it was not without struggle. It was HOT. The course was challenging. But I did it.

August 2 - Race for the Kids 5k: 2 minutes faster than the Esprit de She - I felt great about this race. The race was sponsored by my company so I was surrounded by many colleagues and cheerleaders. My husband also participated in the Inline Half Marathon so it was amazing to have him at the finish line.
My partner in life. I loved having him racing with me!

August 30 - Women Rock 10k: This was my next big challenge. I committed to it and halfway through my training wanted to kick myself in the ass for making this choice. How on earth was I going to run 6 miles when I could barely survive 3? I pushed through it  - running in the rain, the heat... I trained hard and gave myself a goal of completing it in under 1:20:00. I finished at 1:15:00.

October 25 - Monster Dash 10 Mile: Inspired and motivated by my superhero finish at the 10k, I convinced myself to take on the extra 4 miles and do the Monster Dash 10 mile. With the help of my running buddy and weeks of training, I actually did it. My goal was to finish in  2 hours or under, which was a bit aggressive for where I was at training-wise, and I finished at EXACTLY 2 hours. I PR'd both my 5k and 10k times and admittedly fell apart in mile 9. I discovered exactly which body parts need additional help in my future training and learned what runner's toe is (not sure what runner's toe is? Google it.).
My running buddy, Kathy. I could not have completed 10 miles without her. 

My sweet boy was at the finish line to cheer me through to the last, painful step!


I ran a 10 miler less than a year after having my baby. Surreal. I may not have lost all the baby weight, but I blew away my running goals for the year. Surprised that I didn't lose all the weight running those distances? I hit a plateau and because I was so focused on my run training, I wasn't able to cross-train to bust through it. Kind of an excuse, but, not really. I was focused on healthy eating and held my weight very steady.

Then the holidays arrived... and I jumped ship...

Work
Probably the biggest opportunity of my professional life was presented to me this year. I was given the opportunity to head up the launch of my company's field social media program. It was no easy feat - with hours of demanding work and many challenges I had to be 110% dedicated to the project. I am insanely proud of what I was able to accomplish in 2014 - fitting a full 12 months of work into a modified year because of maternity leave was not easy.

I am so thankful for an amazing team and for the opportunity to travel and meet so many awesome new people along the way.

In Summary...
2014 was GREAT. Despite having to work more and harder professionally than I ever have in my adult life and the struggle for work/life balance, I have zero complaints.

My family is complete. I have a job that I love. I ran faster and further than I thought I ever could.

I am so, so blessed.


 
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