Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The First Signs of Spring

Our garden has sprung. About 10 or so days ago, we planted our first spring crops: spinach, mesclun mix and roquette (grace a Marie France).
Just yesterday we noticed the first sprouts. These are the roquette sprouts.


We haven't had any frost since we've planted the seeds, but we are protecting them just in case. Our last frost is supposed to occur sometime in mid-April. Then, we will plant all the other awesome goodies. Of course that means Nick is going to have to get going on that fence to keep the critters out!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Rodies and Birthday Parties

We had intended on spending our weekend entirely in the DC metro area. We owed Nick's mom a nice dinner out (at the very least) for taking care of the kids last weekend during our week. Unfortunately, Nick's mom got sick so we opted to save that for another weekend. Hopefully, we will have be able to make it up to her very soon. Instead of spending the entire weekend in DC, we spent just the day there for a friend's birthday party celebration.

The birthday party was a reunion of sorts. Three years ago at the very same location we were celebrating our engagements and Hilary was going away as were we (at least we were soon to follow). Three years later, we all have returned with all our families in tow. How quickly things change!


Have y'all ever heard of Rody horses? A friend's daughter got one for her birthday. Ladybug got a chance to give a go and she's pretty much hooked. These are great for hyper children. Maybe the Easter bunny will be bringing one for Ladybug??? We need to talk it over with the Easter bunny.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Goals

On the heals of the race, we are now shifting focus on running faster. Today we increased the intensity of our long run and lowered our mileage down to 10 miles. We will mostly likely only run 9-10 miles on long run days focusing on intensity instead of increasing mileage through the summer.

Today, we ran the 10 miles at 1:48:10. That translates to the same speed we did the half marathon in (10:48 minute miles). Though the time is the same, it does not compare at all in intensity thanks to the hills and kids. When we ran the half, it was an enjoyable fun pace. I think the hills add at least a minute a mile onto our time, not to mention it just isn't quite as fun or "easy" feeling. Hell is a better term but I'm getting used to them.

Before the race we were doing the hilly terrain at 12 minutes a mile, so the 10:48 minute miles we did today shows that already we are making progress and that we are stepping it up. My hope is to do 10 miles on flat terrain at 9:30 or less minutes a mile OR 10:00 minutes a mile on our crazy hilly terrain by the end of summer. That's shaving just 45 seconds a mile. I'd love to go even lower, but I'm no masochist. I think doing more tempo runs will allow me the opportunity of getting into that runner's high zone.

We are registering for next year's shamrock run already. It's walker friendly, so I highly recommend everyone register now if you think you'd be up for it!! They have a coupon for $10 off the application fee if you register by March 31st for next year. BEACH is the code and it expires March 31. We are so in!! We are welcoming family and friends to try this one out!!

Also, I will be on the sidelines next weekend when Nick runs the Charlottesville 10 miler on Saturday. He's going to be running in a team with folks from work, including the head of his entire building. I'm excited for this because finally Nick won't have me to slow him down. He's going to be hurtin'. Then, despite his soreness, I plan to make him run with me again on Sunday and I will get a chance to push him to move instead of the other way around. Payback, baby, payback!!!

He's smiling now, let's see about next week!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sister Deals

I got so many great deals I went back to Harris Teeter for more.

I got:
1 Motts natural Apple sauce
1 large Mahatma rice**
2 small mahatma rices**
2 wacky macs**
2 no yolks**
2 freezer pilsbury rolls
4 pilsbury biscuits
2 totinos rolls
2 GG steamers (vegetables)
4 GG vegetables
2 Clabber Girl Baking powders

Total OOP (out of pocket) 2.95
Coupons tendered 54.63
**I will be donating most of the rice and the carb stuff.

I was so ecstatic, I told my sister. Whoa, did she do an AMAZING job. She did way better then I did on my first trip. I'm so proud, I just had to post! She did all the work herself and did the break down below so I can't take credit for it in any way. In true couponer fashion, she even took a brag picture. Way to go!!!



Betty Crocker Cookie Mix 2.19 (.40/1)=.99
Betty Crocker Frosting 1.99 (.50/1)=.49cents
Mahatma Ric 1.79 (50/1)=.29cents
Frosted Mini Wheats 4.58 (VIC 2.29) (.75/1)=.04cents
Wet Ones 2.89 (.75/1)=.64 cents
2-Muir Glen Soup 2.29 (.75/1)=.04 cents
2-Pillsbury Dinner Rolls 3.65 (VIC 1.15) (.50/1)=1.00
Texas Garlic Toast 3.39 (VIC .70) (.75/1)=.44cents
2-Totino PizzRoll 4.38 (VIC 2.19) (.35/2) =.09cents
4-Green Giant Frozen Veg 8.00 (VIC 4.00) (.60/2) (.60/2)=.40cents
2-Allens Frozen Veg 4.00 (VIC 2.00) (.55/1) =.35cents
4-Pillsburgy flaky biscuits 6.76 (VIC 3.38) (.50/2) FREE

OOP = 2.80
Coupons Tendered = 49.51

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Yay for fresh produce!

I got a lot of FREEBIES today. I went to three stores. It took some energy but it was well worth it.

Store #1- TARGET

8.4 oz Gillette Bodywash ($2 retail)
FREE

Pledge Multi-surface Cleaner (3.50 retail)
FREE plus I made .25 to find out how, click here
*I've noticed today that they took off the $3 coupon, so this opportunity may have just expired! Dang it, I was going to go get two more when I go out tomorrow!)

Johnson's and Johnson's Shampoo
paid .50 cents ea. (regularly $3!)

Store #2- HARRIS TEETER

Free baby crackers
Free Tuna
Free Zatarains
.14 dinner rolls
Free Kashi entree
.34 deodorant
.13 corn bread mix

Store #3 - Kroger

So I rolled all that money I saved on the bad stuff at the other stores for the "good" stuff currently on sale at Kroger and picked up a whole bunch of fresh produce and fish. Broccoli, asparagus, salad, grapes, yams, apples, and squash. I'm so glad fresh produce is reasonably priced again. Though broccoli and yams are usually reasonable all year round, they aren't always and I was growing tired of the other frozen and canned stuff. Yuck!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Best RACE EVER!!

We had a BLAST at the Shamrock Half today. This event was a TON of fun. I have to recommend this race to every beginner runner or anyone just looking to have a blast. This race had it all... lots of fun runners (men in kilts), beer stops, live Bands and DJ's along the way, and even jokes along the side of the road (as if you'd get bored?!) Many runners/walkers do this race just for the beer.

As a part of your race fee you get a wicking t-shirt, running hat, reusable lunch bag, finisher's medal and most importantly 4 beer tickets for the finishers party. They also hand out plenty of beverages, snacks, irish stew, and thermal blankets. I admit, I was lame and didn't dare partake of any of the beer stops until the big final one. I'm not even sure the beer stops on the race course were legit. It seemed like a couple groups decided to hand out free beer to the runners to quench their thirst on their own. It was quite an act of good will!

Nick at Sunrise (We got up at 5:45 AM. The race started at 7 AM)

I'm looking forward to doing this again next year (God willing!) I finished in a time of 2:21:36, which puts my pace at 10:48 minutes a mile exceeding my expectations. I should have pushed harder, but I was a bit unsure of myself. At the beginning I didn't want to push too hard because I wanted to be sure I'd last the whole way. By the end of it, I realized I had more energy then I should have and was able to sprint to the end. If I had gone a proper pace, I shouldn't have been able to hit it so hard at the end.

A mile on the coast is simply not the same as a mile here. The easy flat miles were a welcome respite to arse kickin' hills we are accustomed. I'm simply thrilled with our progress.
I have to thank Nick for running with me. My guess is that he'd be comfortable doing 9 minute miles (he runs at an 8 minute mile pace when he's on his own doing 4 to 5 miles). I appreciate him sticking it out with me. I couldn't have done this had he not been so supportive. I also have to thank Linda for watching the kids so we could run this together. She sacrificed her weekend so we could do this and I'm ever so appreciative!

Me after the race.

The SportsFest: Irish Stew, Beer, Music: What more could you ask for?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Our Idea of a Rockin' Friday Night

We went out "hiking" in our neighborhood with the kids. We walked along a stream bed down by our neighbor's house.

If there is ever a moment we question whether or not we belong here, we take a walk outside and we are reminded as to what drew us here. On an evening like tonight, there is no doubt where we belong. It's right here in the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains. This place is the first I've ever really wanted to put roots on. That is saying something because I've been somewhat mobile geographically speaking and have always had an itch to be somewhere else. Had I not met Nick I'd be in some remote part of Morocco with the Peace Corps.



I envision our children spending a lot of time along this creak bed.


Below is one of the cliffs along the stream edge. This is essentially what our house is built on.


A rockin' Friday night indeed (no pun intended).

Pre-race Jitters

Nick and I are leaving the kids with grandma and Nick and I are going to have some much needed alone time. We are so grateful. Time alone is few and far between these days. This is huge. I've never left my kids overnight, except Ladybug once in Wisconsin in December of '07 thanks to some very thoughtful relatives. Green Eyes has yet to be left overnight.

I've totally got the pre-race jitters. I usually don't get them, but with our unusual training schedule (i.e. infrequent, erratic, sometimes non-existent running schedule)... I'm just a little bit nervous about completing it well. Sure, I can complete it, but can I complete it well? As Nick said, I just need to focus on myself and not worry what others are doing and it will be a good experience.

On the Biggest Loser the other day the contestants did a half-marathon challenge. I think the top time was 2:25 or something. That's a pace of 11 minutes/mile. That's not at all unreasonable for me and the old me would have kicked that. BUT, as I haven't been able to train as well as I'd have liked (you may recall the 90 minutes on the elliptical on Monday). Realistically it may be more like 12 minute miles. That's about what we run right now with the kids in tow but it's hard to say how much the hills and kids slow us down here. This course is as flat (i.e. EASY) as they get and should help keep our speed up. :) The weather is looking beautiful, a sunny 60 degree high. That's pretty much pefect.

One factor that I'm hoping isn't an issue is wind. Being on the beach, coastal winds could prove to be a potential obstacle. Let's hope it's a calm day.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Too Much Soap?

This is my current kids' soap stash. I LOVE this stuff. The coupon marketing worked. I'd buy this product even if it wasn't free (though I won't have to buy it for a really, really, really long time). What I love about 'em is that there is no need for a wash cloth. It suds like a body wash but without the goop or special sponge. It also smells really good.

My current soap count is 29 bars. 29 free bars of soap!! BUT, that's not it. I still have coupons for 12 more bars of soap PLUS a never ending rolling coupon. Apparently when you buy exactly 3 soaps at Kroger, you get another coupon for exactly 3 more bars of soap. I'm going to do this deal to the end (i.e. when the stop offering the coupons at check out). Once the deal is done, I'll decide how much we can use over the coarse of 3 years and donate the rest to charity. Note: I do have to pay tax on the full retail, so "FREE" is actually 5 cents in sales tax.


On race day, they are having another SUPER doubles event at K-mart. Hmmm. If I plan it out well enough, we might just be able to work it in after the race before we get home and most importantly, before they are out of all the good deals.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Adrenalin Junkie

Ever since I've been distance training in lieu of speed training I haven't gotten a runner's high. It's been years. When I first started running a decade ago now I used to get them all the time. It's like this second wind that comes out of shear exhaustion. I get the goose bumps as adrenalin pumps through the veins. The surge is an amazing rush lasting for about 10 minutes where everything is allllllllllllright.

I've read several articles about it before, including some that label it as a myth. Having experienced it myself, I (of course) completely disagree.

Today, I read an article about it at runnersworld.com here. According to the article:

"...you're more likely to experience runner's high when you run just a little slower than your 10-K race pace, also called tempo pace. Slow down more than that, and you don't produce enough stress. Run faster, and you get overwhelmed by the effort."

I believe the reason I haven't experienced a runner's high in so long is because I'm simply not pushing myself hard enough. Instead of running at a hard core tempo pace for a shorter time, I'm training at a "happy" fun pace for a longer time. While painful (especially in the beginning of the run), I may just have to push myself a little harder to get to that "high" place again. I think my body needs the jolt and could really benefit from both types of training. When this race is over, that is where I'll be shifting focus.

Elliptical Lies

So far our luck with racing weather has been dicey at best. Even in Albuquerque where it rarely rains, it sleeted on our last race day. Mind you it's sunny 360 days out of the year there, so that's some pretty bad luck. Then, during my last Charlottesville 10K run itpoured the entire time. The race is normally a picturesque, lovely fall run. Not so in my case. I'd say we are well OVERDUE for perfect race day conditions come Sunday. Right now they are calling for sunny, highs in the upper 60's-low 70's. Let's hope it stays that way.

Last night, I did 90 minutes on the elliptical even though it didn't really equate to what I should have done for our weekend run. It takes some mental power (OK, maybe not so much mental power as TV watching) to make it through. I took a picture of the elliptical to show how insane the calorie calculators on the ellipticals are. I hate how those things always over-calculate. It says I burned 1121 calories. Whatever. I'm guessing 800 or 900 is more like it for the 7.56 miles it says I accomplished. I did it at an easy resistance level of 8 out of 16. Usually, I do the elliptical at a resistance of 12 out of 16 at a quicker pace, but I can only last an hour or so at that level. I've read articles that have shown that these calculators over estimate and the best exercise burn for your time is running or the treadmill followed by the elliptical and walking. Don't get me wrong, the calorie estimators are good motivators, but they aren't realistic.

Monday, March 16, 2009

You Win Some and You Lose Some

We were shut in all weekend long with the rain. There wasn't so much as a 2 hour window rain free during waking hours so we never got our long easy recovery run in as planned. Not to be discouraged, we checked the weather for Monday and it looked better so I told Nick; "Hey, take off an hour early on Monday. We will go running after work and get it in then." So, Nick reschedules some of his meetings at work and I rearranged the kid's nap schedule and my personal schedule to accommodate an unusual Monday afternoon run. All day it was cloudy, but there was no rain. Things were looking up. The forecast said there was a possibility of it starting to rain again around 6. Perfect. We just had 8 miles to do, we can fit it in.

Of course, when we go to drive out to the running spot, it starts to rain. Our hopes were squashed. There'd be no run for us with the kids. I can't have my kiddos out there 50 degrees in the rain getting soaked to the bone. The whole ordeal just has me feeling completely beat down at the moment. It takes a lot of energy just to get out there in the first place (bottles, snacks... you've heard that all before and then stow them in the car and the mental energy it takes to change my schedule, etc). Further, there is no hope of getting a long run in tomorrow as Nick will be out of town for a bit this week. This was our last chance. So, I guess it's me and the flippin' elliptical for 80 minutes tonight. Another option I have is to leave Nick with the kids while I do the same killer 1/2 mile of crazy hills over and over and over by myself in the rain. As these hills aren't "easy" and they don't fit the recovery bill this run is supposed to be, I won't be choosing that option. I hate the road we live on with a fiery passion, that's how insanely difficult it is.

I suppose the lesson here is that we need to invest in a rain shield for the kids. Obviously, we never needed one in Albuquerque. And during our 10 weeks of training this go round so far we have been able to successfully avoid precipitation with little impact on the training schedule until now. As we approach Spring on the East Coast, I guess we'd best get used to the rain.

OK, well, now that I've vented. I'm going to go get dinner done and then hop on the elliptical. D-day is just 6 days.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Free Stuff: Is it worth it?

It seems that the FREE TP deal is DEAD!!! Kroger took the stuff off of the shelves this weekend. Alas, all great deals must come to an end eventually. But, as we couponers lament, we take solace in knowing that there are other deals to be had and we, gosh darn it, will find them.

Today we ate dinner for $1.20 TOTAL. I got a free coupon for a crock pot meal writing Banquet. Honestly, I'd never buy that stuff if it wasn't free. It just doesn't take much effort to do it yourself and fresh is best. BUT, I can't deny free and it's easy enough that Nick made this meal himself. In fact, I've had a weekend reprieve from meal making... that's right, ALL WEEKEND LONG. Nick did it all. Lovely!

We can look forward to the Banquet meal every three months (when I'm able to write the company again and request more coupons.) Add in the $.20 Pilsbury biscuits deal I got and $1 for romaine lettuce and you've got a meal for a family of four for $1.20 (with just two adults and one child not even really eating much there is a ton left over for several lunches this week... this could easy serve 5 adults). Not bad at all.


Which gets me to coupons and shopping fever. This meal was an exception. There are a lot of things I simply will not purchase, free or not. It's hard to resist shopping fever when I can get Betty Crocker Warm Delights and Resses Whips for nothing at all. But none of that kind of sugary crud belongs in the house. There's a reason some of the stuff is free.

But when you fine that gem of deal, of a product worthy of much more, it makes me quiver with delight. Take this deal for example, I got 16 bars of children's soap this weekend at several places for free. I was careful as to not draw attention to myself and do it in one place. The soap is great stuff. Check out this blog on how to do it:

http://www.dealseekingmom.com/free-johnson%E2%80%99s-buddies-soap-coupons-reset/
(NOTE: I did have a little trouble at Wal-mart when purchasing my first batch of soap. The cashier refused to take the IP's, but I called for the manager and told them this wasn't their corporate policy and that I'd be reporting them to corporate. They quickly apologized and took my coupons.)

On a separate note:, I'd also like to send a shout out to my step-dad Mike who printed out a bunch of extra Huggies coupons for us. Thank you!! As Nick said, he is helping to feed my habit. He's an enabler. Thanks to him, I won't be paying over 5 bucks for diapers for a very long time. If that wasn't enough I discovered how to get an additional .75 cents of rebate on every pack of diapers here on top of my already great deals! I'm getting nice quality diapers for less then generic. (For my Albuquerque readers, you can do this at Smith's. Even if you are a cloth diaper person, you can always use one or two sets for when you are in a pinch!)

Huggies on sale for 9.99x2=19.98
-(2) $5 IPs on gentle care
-$3 cellfire/2
-1.50/1 u-promise for college
-.75x2 caretakers rebate
=3.98 for 2 packs of diapers or 1.99 each.... that's right two bucks for diapers!!!

At this point, I'm considering getting free (or close to free) pantry staples, diapers, and other hygienic products I don't really need together for a food pantry and/or homeless shelter. It's so easy to give back that way, it's a shame not to. The money I'm not spending in toiletries, diapers, and the occasional processed food item I can now roll into our garden or farmer's market in summer. I don't know why I didn't do this sooner.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Good Running Week

Some things we just can't control. Heredity is one of them. Other things, like running your butt off... well that is something we can control.

I've had an interesting week. My runs went really well and I worked really hard. I may have pushed running buddy #2 a little too hard because she didn't want to go out again a second time this week. It was cool, because I went out on my own which allowed me to push harder. I burned approximately 3300 calories this week (I log everything in at SparkPeople). I'm sure that's a high estimate, but even if it was high, it's still pretty darn good.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Running Buddies

This week is going to be an interesting running week. I've got two new running buddies.

Buddy #1- used to do cross-country in high school. She wants to run one (maybe eventually two times a week). She will be good as far as pushing me to get faster.

Buddy #2- is a novice who wants to learn how to run so I thought I might help her. These will be light days for me exercise wise, but with the stroller and hills even walking is great exercise. It's important to just get out there.

After a week of no exercise, I feels good to really jump in again this week.

-M

Sunday, March 8, 2009

In the Garden

I don't think we spent a moment inside this weekend. It was beautiful. Temps were in the mid-70's so we decided to go ahead and put in our garden. We scrapped off the grass on Saturday and tilled it today.

We may end up deciding to expand the garden based on what we want to plant. We will see. We are also planning on adding an electric fence. Right now we have it hugging a slope on the front side of our property. It is the only place that gets a decent amount of southern sun without putting it in the middle of our driveway. It will get a little less sun in its current location but it will also be less visually obtrusive. I would love for it to be an ornamental vegetable garden, but we simply aren't there yet.

Ladybug needed a good washing from playing in all that dirt. She's mad here because of all the noise the tiller made.


Here's Nick workin' the tiller.


You can see Nick working while GreenEyes and I watched. I did some work too... I couldn't leave it all on Nick's shoulders. But someone did have to take care of the kids, so we took turns.



Good times.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sheer Misery

After two weeks of not building on mileage and a bout of the flu (i.e. no exercise at all for the last week), this week's run posed to be a monumental obstacle to hurdle. We set out to do 12 miles and we did it, but let me tell you, this run really sucked the life out of me. The drudgery went on and on for what seemed like forever (two and half hours to be exact).

I was nauseous just about the entire time and had a constant pain in my mid back. It felt like someone was trying to wedge their knuckle as hard as they could into my back. I blame my back problems on having babies. I never had back issues until I had babies. The nauseous part I think was just me getting used to running in the heat again and maybe some left over queasiness from the flu. The temps are in the mid 70's this weekend, a drastic change from the 50's we've been experiencing. Anyway, it was agony.


Thank goodness it is OVER. I hope we can report that the half is much more fun... because there was NOTHING fun about this run. But sometimes you just have to suck it up and do it.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bedroom Makeover

I think at one point I promised to post after pics of our bedroom "makeover". Makeover is sort of an exaggeration in that the makeover only involved adding paint color to the walls.

White walls are OK, but I love a little color to make the architectural details stand out. Our new wall color is neutral and calming. The walls are still barren and in need of some artwork.

You may note that Nick has twenty receipts on his night stand, I need to dust, and the bed isn't perfectly made, but to remove the receipts, dust, and make the bed properly would well, be a lie of sorts. Truth is, most days the bed never even gets made, and if it does, it looks like this. This was how I made it this morning before I thought I should take a picture of it.

One other minor thing we did do for the makeover was move some furniture into the bedroom. Our bedroom is unnecessarily large. Honestly, it's the biggest waste of space in the house. To make the best of it Nick and I put a chair-and-a-half in the space to cozy it up a little bit and make it not seem so darn large and empty. I've always preferred small and cozy to a big empty void but I suppose this will do. With this new cozy spot we've incorporated, I'm looking forward to many nights snuggling up together on our comfy chair just big enough for the two of us in our little sanctuary.

-M

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Deals and More Deals

So I'm getting so good at this coupon thing that I'm actually finding my own deals and spreading the word. I learned that Target will let you stack a manufacturer (MFG) coupon with a store coupon. With two kids two and under I go through a lot of Shout Laundry Stain Remover. I use it for their clothes and my own (when their muck transfers inevitably onto my own.) The stuff has saved many pieces of clothing.

Retail is $2.29 for the Shout stain remover at Target. Well today I matched an internet printable (IP) for .75 off with a store printable for $1.00 off. Total paid was $0.54!!! And I did it on my own! Holla. I did this twice. Then I did a similar transaction on lunch meat. I also bought a massive amount of Huggies 184 count sensitive wipes for .99 (regular 5.99) using a $5 off IP. I got 3 of those babies. You just can't beat that kind of savings.

Note: On Target Store Coupons (should you decide to do this yourself) you will need to make multiple transactions if you want to use more than one of an identical store coupon because you can only use one store coupon per offer per transaction. You can make as many transactions as you like but not more than one kind per transaction. As far as I know there is no limit on identical IP's. That is to say, I didn't need to do separate transactions for the baby wipes because I had no store coupons associated with them. I hope that makes sense.


Then at the grocery store I scored free vegetables, free lunch meat, and more free TP. We've gone through about a third of our free TP stash. Here's a pic to show you how our stash is looking today. Not bad, eh? How long can we get away with it?

Grandma R.

Well, I just can't leave the last post as-is without leaving something positive out there. The best babysitter I ever had was my grandma. She'd occasionally take us out for an ice cream sundae, spoiled us with undivided attention, conversation, and card games. She used to babysit us on Wednesday nights when my parents went bowling. She was a spunky gal with a wicked sharp memory. I loved her to pieces.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mindless Baby Babble

Nick was so sweet to stay home with me today and help me take care of the kids. As of 8 PM tonight I'm happy to report that the kiddos are in better spirits though they aren't 100 percent yet. Today we discovered that GreenEyes is getting his first tooth. He hasn't shown any extra fussiness despite his new tooth and having the flu.

GreenEyes is very close to 9 months and I realize that my baby won't be a baby for much longer. I've got five month tops until this guy is an active toddler. At this stage I'm highly sentimental. I'd have a million of the little buggers if they weren't such figure killers. Really, I would. Realizing just how fleeting these days are, I'm spending every single moment I can really enjoying all the goo goos and gah gahs. I know I'm one lucky woman in that I get to spend these days at home with my kiddos and really take it all in.

My mother didn't have that opportunity. My parents simply didn't have the means and I grew up with babysitters. While I think this is a good option for some, it's just not for me. While I would trust my children to a family member, or even organized care, I have a lot of difficulty handing the care of my children on a daily basis to another stranger.

Just the other day I met a woman at a playground. She was a babysitter and had four kids with her all around the age of Ladybug (i.e. about 2 years), but one was younger around 12 months. While the kids went a muck on the playground, crawling up the big kid ladders and slide (for kids 5-12 years of age mind you), she talked on the cell phone and was pretty much completely disengaged the entire time. Perhaps I'm overprotective, but those are two year old's on the big kid equipment and you aren't at least going to spot them a little?

While she was on the phone she just let the little one sit in the same place until she'd fall over and whine and then she'd go over and help her sit back up. She'd yell, "Stop Whining!" Then, after a half an hour, I had a chance to speak with her. Come to find out she was a seasoned babysitter/daycare provider of 20 years and she offered me her services. Ha! With that kind of neglect? Are you serious?

If that wasn't enough, here's more. I decided to leave, and at that moment so did she. It was getting to be lunch time. I headed out to my car before her. I had two kids to strap in. Well, I'll be darned if it didn't take her half as long to get all four of her kids strapped in. I'm sure she's a seasoned veteran but do you really think those kiddos were strapped in properly? Why in the heck would I ever put my most precious possessions in those hands?

Personally, I have some of my own bad experiences with babysitters. I'm sure all of my babysitters looked great on paper... but paper and reality can be two very different things.

Once, I had a babysitter that had me sit in the hatchback/trunk of a car. I complained about it being really hot and I cried. I was in the second grade. I was told I was being a baby and to shut up. I ended up with a nasty burn on my butt. My mother confronted the babysitter about it and I wasn't put in the trunk of the car again. That same babysitter used to take her kids to McDonald's for lunch and then told us that we would get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when we got back home. Boy I was glad when that babysitter was out of my life.

I had another babysitter that just locked us in the basement every morning until lunch and again the rest of the day. Honestly, that was just fine by me. There was a TV. I just wished the cartoons would have lasted all morning long. Inevitably, at some point it would convert to the dreaded soaps or talk shows.

We had another babysitter whom I liked for the most part though I do remember that she used to make us clean a lot, dust, vacuum, etc. My parents knew her through church and she was a nice lady. All of a sudden her items started to "break" (due to my clumsy nature) and she didn't make us do that much anymore. My parents used to wake us at 5:30 or 6 in the morning to get dressed and get to her house. Then, all groggy, we'd sit and watch cartoons or cat nap until the bus came a few hours later. I couldn't wait until my sister was old enough that we could be latch key kids and be rid of babysitters all together.

Really, all in all, I just remember being really bored a lot. I felt short changed. Children know when they are a paycheck. I wanted to be engaged by someone who really cared about me. All I really wanted was my mother around. But really, in many ways, I was lucky. I was lucky that this was my biggest torment. After all, I always knew I was loved when I did eventually get home. Sadly, for many children, they don't even have that.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Scratch That


OK, well forget about any work outs at all this weekend. Now, I have the stomach bug. I knew we should have hit the pavement hard last week instead of taking a recovery week.

Oh well, hind sight is 20/20. I'm begging Nick to stay home tomorrow so he can help with the kiddos while I recover. Right now, I'm a walking zombie.