let them be little

^^^ photo courtesy of Kindred Hearts Photography

A lot of what I've learned about motherhood has been trial and error - plain and simple. Nothing has come easy, and nothing was just "dumb luck." I read every book I could. I downloaded the apps. I followed the milestone markers and worried appropriately when my child didn't quite hit what he was supposed to hit at the exact time he was supposed to hit it. I comforted his colds, scolded his tantrums, and praised his good behavior, and I'm proud to say that I'm raising sweet, sensitive little boys who, yes, act up from time to time. 

That's okay. They're children. They're meant to.

Some of the biggest lessons I've learned about motherhood, however, are lessons about myself. They're about humility and patience. There's an age that our children reach where they suddenly become cognizant of what we're saying and how we say it. They sense our emotions and they react accordingly. I remember the day that Porter was kicked out of daycare shortly after Ryan deployed that I sat in the car at a stoplight and cried. I didn't think my boys would see me, but I heard Spencer's little voice pop up from the back..."You okay, mommy? You okay?"

I'd learned to stop the involuntary gag reflex at poop and vomit long ago, but I hadn't realized that my son understood tears, or that he knew that mommy was sad. There was genuine concern in his voice. I wiped my tears away quickly and reassured him..."It's okay, buddy. Momma's just a little sad. Let's go home and play."

It's important for my child to see emotion, but it's equally as important as a mother for me to assuage those worries and fears. Especially while Ryan is deployed, I'm the literal rock in my children's lives. I'm responsible for their well-being - physically and emotionally - and I take that duty very seriously.

Similarly, I've struggled with body image a lot of my life. I've been known to make errant comments about hating pudge, or "fat rolls," or how I wish I had my old body back. If there's one thing I've learned about my children, it's that they're always listening. They're little sponges. When a child looks at us, they look at us with pure, unadulterated innocence. They don't see flaws. They see mama, and mama is a life-bringer, a goddess, the protector. They reach an age though where, just like they understand emotions, they understand the criticism.

What am I teaching my boys if I belittle myself in front of them? 

All mothers will attest that motherhood is the epitome of selflessness, but I'd go further than saying it's solely by acts. It's in the little steps we take each day to preserve their innocence and keep them young. I make a conscious effort every day not to pollute my children's minds with negativity and the garbage that society likes to feed us and that we so often buy into. 

Let them be little, and love them with all your heart. They're watching.

I'm linked up today with Jessi's Design for What's Happening Wednesday :)

weekends at the beach

It was super hot and humid this past weekend here in Black River, but it really was pretty much perfect weather after a rainy Saturday morning. Despite not being sure it was going to turn completely around, some friends and I from the FRG decided to go ahead with our plans and meet up at Southwick Beach State Park in Henderson. It's about a 45 minute drive from here, so we left at about 10:30 to ensure we would get plenty of time.

For those unfamiliar with life up here in the North Country, we really don't have any real beach access. By that, I mean we don't have direct access to an ocean nearby. We do, however, have access to lakes, and Southwick is on Lake Ontario, which turned out to be just as amazing as the ocean.

If I didn't know any better, I honestly would have thought we were at the ocean. Because we've had some storms lately, the wind was quite strong, making it seem like there was an actual tide - and kicking up the waves. Spencer and I had a blast playing in the water, and Porter would have loved to join, but it was a little rough to manage two little ones while keeping them both safe.

Southwick also has a playground area, and when the kids were sufficiently cooled off, we had a picnic lunch, and they played for an hour on the slides. If I've learned one thing lately, it's that Spencer has no fear. That boy goes headfirst down the slides, climbs the ladders without assistance and generally goes wild. It makes my mama heart so happy to watch!

I made the decision to forgo naptime on Saturday because it would've meant leaving early, but both boys conked out in the car and slept for a good hour, guaranteeing a fairly happy late afternoon back at home, too. Honestly, there's so much to do here during the summer, and I'm so grateful for that. This week's mission? Figure out Porter's passport card. I want to take the boys to Canada!

5 on friday: the adulting edition

It's Friday again! Is it just me, or is this summer flying by way too fast? I should say it's too slow because I want the time to fly and for Ryan to come home...but that means winter is coming (insert GoT theme music), and I'm just not ready for winter yet. I digress. We're heading into another busy weekend starting with my longest run ever tomorrow morning, so here's hoping things go smoothly! And now, it's time for another Friday Five. Today, I'm linking up with Meet at the Barre and Smidge of This for Five on Friday and Friday Favorites. 

1 // In super adulting news. I started doing Financial Peace University again by myself last night. Ryan and I have been working with this Dave Ramsey program for a while now, and we've had amazing success. We got off track for a good bit though, and I find it a little disconcerting how good I am at spending money, so I really want to hold myself more accountable. This program is seriously life-changing, guys. Dave Ramsey says that we should "work like no one else now, so that we can live like no one else later." Yes, it means sacrificing some of the latest and greatest, but I've been reminding myself lately that I'd much rather be entirely debt-free and spending my money on travel in the future than living with a few extra things now. 

2 // Porter learned how to walk while we were at my parents' in New Hampshire last week. Like, he actually walked...again, and again, and again. Since then though, he hasn't tried at all. He's perfectly content to keep cruising around forever, and while I think it's adorable, I'm kind of at a loss as to why he just doesn't want to walk. Spencer walked early, and once he started, he never stopped. Mamas - any advice?

3 // I posted this on my instagram last night, and it appeared to really resonate with people, so I wanted to share it here, too, if only for my personal accountability. A lot of you know I chronicle my running journey here, but for those who don't, I'm not a fast runner. I'm envious of those who are, but that's just not me - and it'll probably never be me. I'm coming to terms with that though, and I'm just damn proud that I'm out there and moving.

4 // On a more somber note, in the wake of NYS Trooper Joel Davis' death, Fort Drum and the US Army have been under intense scrutiny lately. It saddens me to see such death and destruction, and I urge people to remember that these are not the norm. I hope that people remember that the Army and our military are not defined by radical individuals with tainted histories and, instead, simply honor the memory of a policeman who served honorably through to the end of his watch.

5 // On a much happier note...we're going to Southwick Beach State Park on Lake Ontario tomorrow, and I'm excited to get my boys back to the beach! We haven't been since South Carolina, and I'm ready for some sun and sand - even if it's on a lake. These little men are water babies, which makes my mama heart so, so happy, and I can't wait to dip my toes in the water and splash around!

thursday thoughts

I've been making a conscious effort lately to blog, even when the blogging slump is real. Please tell me I'm not the only one who really actually wants to blog, but is fairly certain nobody wants to read it?! Regardless, I wanted to get some thoughts down because I swear the days are flying now, and we're full-speed ahead with our summer happenings. 

// Porter has been doing this grinch smile, snarly face thing lately when he's super happy, and it's one of the funniest things I've ever seen. He has four teeth now, so he looks like such a goon, and it makes me so happy to be able to send these pictures to Ryan overseas. See exhibit A:

// I've discovered if I write my to-do list down every morning for both work and housework, I get so much more done. I find myself getting flustered before I do it because making long mental lists is basically not going to happen these days. I find it super cathartic to cross things off daily.

// I'm becoming braver as a mother. I remember when Spencer was little, we lived our lives routinely around nap time. If something fell too close, we couldn't do it. Now, I'm a lot more willing to stretch the bounds. Yes, there are meltdowns with missed naps, but sometimes a 45 minute nap in the car after a day at the beach is totally worth it.

// I'm getting antsy waiting for our PCS orders. We're waiting anyway since Ryan dropped his packet for a specific unit, but so many of our friends in the company know where they're going, and I'm jealous! I'll miss Black River, our home, neighbors and daycare, but I'm not so sure I'll miss Watertown or Fort Drum.

// Running is going well! I'm a huge head case, and it's one of the hardest things I have to deal with, honestly. When I think too much about the fact that I have a 15-mile run to do on Saturday morning, I psych myself out. I need to remember to celebrate finish lines, not finish times. I'm never going to be the fastest runner, but damn it...I'm going to run!

// I've discovered that I'm stronger than I thought I was going into this deployment. Ryan is my rock, and he's the missing piece to this family, but I've learned a lot about us, what makes me tick, what makes our marriage work, and it's actually been good for us.

// Budgeting is a dirty word right now, and it's frustrating. Every time I turn around, something new is breaking, or it's on the fritz. I'm working to be patient and remembering to do the baby steps above all else. The plus side? We never ever touch credit cards, and we haven't dipped into our savings at all :)

I could keep writing my endless musings, but those are the biggest thoughts swirling around today, and it feels good to get them down in words! Deployment is a journey, but it's one that can be truly transformative if you let it be, and I'm determined to do so.

the week of the fourth

We got back last evening after a whirlwind trip to NH and Maine to visit family. Last Sunday, I realized at the 11th hour that I actually had both Monday and Tuesday off, so we packed up the car, the boys and the dog, and I hit the road - all 8 hours of it - to NH to visit Oma and Opa. My cousins, whom I haven't seen since my uncle passed in 2005, followed me there, and though it was just me and the boys in the car, it was nice to have people to talk to at the rest stops.

On Monday and Tuesday, went went to Kokosing in Maine. It's a tiny old girls' campground that was later turned into sort of off-the-grid cabins that have only the basics - running water, rustic beds, etc. There are no dishwashers or TVs...it's really like unplugging, and we used to go there every year when we were children. Taking my boys this first time was like coming full circle. They loved it! Spencer would've played in the lake until his limbs froze off, and even Porter enjoyed a dip in the chilly water. We ate lobster with family on Tuesday and enjoyed time just being alive and with good people.

The real reason for my trip was that I needed to go into the office for work on Thursday, but while we were in NH, the boys and I ate it up. We had river days in Albany, where my parents live, and we picked strawberries - joined by a mama and baby black bear. We even had ice cream in town, which later gave us food poisoning...totally worth it? The jury is still out on that one...

Leaving is always hard. We packed up again yesterday morning, and we drove back to NNY, hoping that Oma and Opa will come visit us soon! It was a long drive for all of us, but we're settling back into a new week here, and I have some big goals this week. 

I hope you all had the very best of 4ths with your loved ones and friends!

I'm linking up today with B Loved Boston for Weekending. Join in the fun!

running wrap-up: june

June was definitely a better running month for me than May. It still wasn't particularly my best, but I got more miles in, I was actually finding a rhythm for a change - despite the fact that several of our long runs were rained out. I also got my second half marathon of the year done in Lake Placid, and I saw some significant gains in speed and stamina. I have a long way to go, but I'm pleased that at least things are moving in the right direction. 

We tackled a long run this past Sunday, just into July, and this month is sure to be a huge mileage-building month for us - starting with a 15-miler on Saturday before I head home. We'll be averaging about 30+ miles a week in July, so here's hoping we can only go up from here.

Here are some of my June stats for my records:

Longest run: 13.26 miles
Shortest run: 2 miles
Fastest pace: 8:57
Slowest pace: 11:26
Miles this month: 59.64
Miles this year: 274.17

I did about 20 more miles this month than last month, and I did my fastest 5k thus far this year. My long run speed isn't there yet, but I'm working to get the miles more than I am working to get the speed right now. It's kind of a constant mental battle to convince myself that the latter is most important. So, here's to a great month in July! Fellow runners - how did you do?