Brown Bear Birthday Party

On Saturday we celebrated Jaylen’s first birthday. One of his favorite books over this past year has been Brown Bear by Eric Carle (even these past 3 days he’s been bringing it to me to read as his bedtime story). So I decided to use Brown Bear as the theme for the party. There are tons of great ideas on Pinterest, of course. We had Jaylen’s party at the Heller Nature Center with family and friends. It was a great venue with a little nature area kids could explore.

Here are some great photos that capture the day by Jake Preedin of Dirt Cheap Photography. If you ever need a photographer in the Chicago area, he’s very affordable and great to work with!

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Banner from The Banner Shoppe

Banner from The Banner Shoppe

The centerpieces were flowers in the animal colors from the book.

The centerpieces were flowers in the animal colors from the book.

My little baby model...look at that pose!

My little baby model…look at that pose!

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I made a banner with Jaylen’s monthly growth photos. We could only use painter’s tape to hang things so that’s why it doesn’t look as nice. I don’t have a picture of both strands of the banner, but you can see it behind the table in some pictures.

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Jaylen is one quarter Korean and first birthdays are a big deal in Korean culture. So my mother-in-law set up the traditional Korean first birthday table for Jaylen (my husband had a similar table on his first birthday). The objects on the front table represent different careers Jaylen might choose in the future (stethoscope – doctor, paintbrush – artist, tambourine – musician, Bible storybook – ministry, little basketball – athlete, apple – teacher, rope – long life, marker (which I added in after this picture was taken) – writer). We had guests vote for which career they thought Jaylen would pick.

Traditional Korean 1st Birthday Table

Traditional Korean 1st Birthday Table

Korean Rice Cake

Korean Rice Cake

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Love this one. :)

Love this one. :)

We lay all the career objects out on the floor and let Jaylen pick one out. He was definitely drawn to the book first–a boy after his momma’s heart! So maybe he will have a career in ministry. We let him choose a second object and he picked the tambourine. So we said he’ll be in music ministry. Then we drew a name from the people who said he’d pick ministry as his career and Jaylen’s Uncle Pearson (who is a pastor) won the prize! It was a little owl ornament because Jaylen loves owls too.

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I also got this great poster from Petite Lemon to hang on the wall. It’s available as a free download. I got it printed at Staples for less than $10, which is not bad consider how large the poster is! The photos are 8×8 printed from Mpix (the picture Jaylen’s blocking is one of his newborn photos). I plan on doing this every year, but next year I’ll probably print the poster and laminate it so I can reuse it instead of printing a new one each year. I just noticed Jaylen always seems to be standing with the same pose…haha.

Poster from Petite Lemon

Poster from Petite Lemon

Lovin Oven Cakery did a great job with the birthday cake. If you order a first birthday cake from them they also give you a complimentary smash cake. Pretty good deal!

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I made the “I am One” banner from some instructions I found on Pinterest. It’s really easy to do and I thought it turned out great.

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Jaylen loved all the attention. He smiled while everyone sang to him. :)

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Playing around the nature exhibit

Playing around the nature exhibit

One other thing we had guests do was write a letter to Jaylen that he will read on his 16th birthday. That’s something my mom did at my first birthday party (and subsequently did not do it for my younger siblings…that’s what happens when you’re the firstborn). I thought it was a really cool idea back when I was 16 and I hope Jaylen feels that same way in 2029!

This last picture isn’t from the party because the shirt arrived at our house while we were at the party, but it’s a personalized birthday shirt from Petite Lemon. It’s hard to get a one year old to sit still for photos so this is the best I could get. Love the shirt though!

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Although I was stressed the week of the party because my birthday was that Monday, Jaylen’s actual birthday was on Friday, and I had lots to do to get ready for the party on Saturday, everything turned out just the way I’d planned. Jaylen and everyone else had a great time and our parents did a lot too with getting the food (we catered Chinese and Gerald made some Korean food–kimchi fried rice–since Jaylen’s Chinese & Korean…and white), bringing things I forgot, and just helping out in general. Thanks to everyone who helped set up and clean up too. Jaylen won’t remember this party, but these pictures will help him relive it when he’s older!

Vendors I used:

Invitations/Favor tags/Food Tents // Bee Bee’s Dezigns

Photography // Dirt Cheap Photography

Venue // Heller Nature Center

Banner // The Banner Shoppe

Birthday Poster // Petite Lemon

Flowers // Mariano’s

Cake // Lovin Oven Cakery

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To My Son, On His First Birthday

One year photo by Alyssa McNally

One year photo by Alyssa McNally

Dear Jaylen,

One year ago today you made me a mother and I discovered another part of my heart that I never knew existed. You hadn’t done anything, but I loved you. Those first few days, weeks, and months were rough. Even though I was exhausted, as I gazed at you during those middle-of-the-night nursing sessions and when I felt frustrated because you wouldn’t sleep and nothing I did would soothe you, I would hold you in my arms and be overwhelmed with love for you. I chose to continue to give up sleep for you (I still do–you’ve never slept through the night)–really, I’d do anything for you–simply because you’re my son. Becoming your mother has given me a deeper understanding of God’s unconditional love for us as His children. One day I hope you’ll understand God’s love for you in this way too. I never want to see you get hurt–physically or emotionally. I don’t want to see you make bad choices. I know I can’t protect you from everything (nor should I), but I want you to know that no matter what you do or don’t do, I will always love you. God’s love is the same way. He loves us just because we are His children, not because of anything we’ve done. I love you because you’re my son. Nothing will ever change that.

It’s amazing how you changed in 12 months from a needy little baby to an active, increasingly independent toddler. It’s hard to believe a year ago at this time you could barely hold your neck up and now you’re walking around,

Jaylen & Chloe - Photo by Alyssa McNally

Jaylen & Chloe – Photo by Alyssa McNally

understanding what we tell you, and playing with cars. I love watching you explore and discover the world for the first time–like when you first felt sand on the beach in Door County. You just couldn’t get enough of it! Or when you realized Chloe is another living thing that you can play with and who loves to eat your food. I love your baby giggles,

your adorable smile, and your social personality (much like your daddy here), and your awesome bouncing dance moves. Most of all, I love how your eyes light up when you see me and how you give me the biggest bear hugs. You don’t really do that for anyone else right now.

I know there will be days in the future when we’ll get on each others’ nerves. You may even tell me you hate me and it’ll break my heart. Even in those moments, I hope you’ll remember that I still love you. And those big bear hugs? I hope you’ll still hug me like that when you’re a teenager–or at least once you go off to college.

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Photo by Alyssa McNally

 

Happy Birthday, dear Jaylen! May you always remember that Daddy and I love you because you’re our son. No other explanation is needed.

Love,

Mommy

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A New Decade

On Monday, I officially said goodbye to my 20’s and celebrated a milestone 30th birthday. It almost didn’t feel like my birthday because I’ve been so focused these past few months on preparing for Jaylen’s first birthday (which is tomorrow) that 30 kind of snuck up on me. It will probably be like that for the rest of my life since our birthdays are so close together, but isn’t that what parents do? Put their children before themselves?

Gerald did a nice job planning a party for me though. It wasn’t a surprise, but I didn’t know exactly what he was planning. We had a nice dinner at our house on Sunday night with family and some friends. The party was a coffee theme and he made a cute little coffee bar with my Keurig machine and a sign idea he found on Pinterest.

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I know Gerald had a lot going on over the weekend too with an observation from the assistant principal (he’s a teacher) on Monday morning. So I’m well aware of the prep time he sacrificed for his observation to prepare for my party instead! I think it all came together nicely though and he said he thinks his observation went well.

Baby's getting into Starbucks already

Baby’s getting into Starbucks already

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My small group asked me the other day if I had any goals for this new decade. I honestly haven’t taken the time to think about my goals for my 30’s. The 20’s are such transitive years. So much change happened in my 20’s–I graduated from college, got a job (that I still have…surprising for most millennials), got married, got a pug, bought a house, and had a baby. These were all goals or things I wanted to happen (or at least thought would happen) before I turned 30–and these are just the milestone things. So while it was a great decade full of joys, I also experienced some of my hardest, most devastating moments in those years. It was definitely a decade of growth and maturity, but I know God is using all those experiences to shape me to be more like Him and into the woman He wants me to be.

So if I had to think of some goals for my 30’s, so far I only have a few off the top of my head:

  • Complete a sprint triathlon
  • Have another baby
  • Invest more in my marriage
  • Spend quality time with the Lord daily (or at least on a more regular basis)
  • Learn how to better manage my money (you’d think I should know this by now)
  • Improve running times
  • Develop deeper friendships with other women

It’s interesting how a lot of these goals now involve more personal and spiritual development rather than achieving something. Of course, I also want to continue to learn how to be a good mother to Jaylen (and any future children), which will happen more in my 30’s.

This new decade makes me think of the movie 13 Going on 30so here’s to being 30, flirty and thriving!

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My Little Monkey – Halloween 2014

We had quite the exciting Halloween here. For starters, we woke up with a light dusting of SNOW on the ground. It’s too early for snow in my mind. Anyway, this was Jaylen’s first Halloween and I was excited to dress him up even though he had no idea what was going on. I found a monkey costume for $5 at a consignment sale back in August, which was adorable on him. It was a little small on him because it was a 3-6 month size (he’s 10 months old), but it worked because he’s not very big for his age (takes after his mommy). The arms and legs were just a little too short. I also loved that the costume had a belly!

Baby Monkey Costume

 

Chunky Monkey

Chunky Monkey

Since we didn’t plan on taking Jaylen trick-or-treating (he can’t eat candy–it’d be more for us–and it was too cold), I needed a place for him to show off his costume. So I brought him to Gerald’s school for part of his class’s Halloween party and the school’s Halloween parade. The students loved meeting Jaylen and several of them came over to play with him. Jaylen seemed to be enjoying them too.

By the time of the parade, it was snowing/mini-hailing outside so they had the parade in the gym instead. Jaylen and I sat to watch (though he was getting more squirmy at this point). A few times he was waving at some of the kids. We enjoyed seeing Daddy and his class as they went by too.

Photo by John Middleton Staff

Photo by John Middleton Staff

I didn’t dress up, but Gerald and the 5th grade team were the seven dwarfs from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He’s Sleepy. I also have to show Chloe’s costume. I got her this race horse costume on sale from Target.

Race horse pug

That one’s fitting for me since I used to ride. :) I took her for a little walk as trick-or-treating started (and there was practically no one out there) but a few people saw her costume and they seemed to get a kick out of it. I think she’ll just wear this every year. Maybe next year we’ll actually go trick-or-treating with Jaylen and Chloe. We actually didn’t get too many trick-or-treaters this year, but our neighborhood is kind of tucked away by itself so I guess not many people would drive down to trick-or-treat there. Oh well…more candy for us!

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{Race Recap} Prairie State Half Marathon 2014

IMG_3480It was a great weekend to race in Chicago! The big event, of course, was the Chicago Marathon yesterday. My cousin, Sammy, rocked that one–her first marathon! She finished in 3:41:41 (only about 6 minutes away from qualifying for Boston!) I’m so impressed by her. :) She was nice enough to come out to cheer for me during my race, the Prairie State Half Marathon, on Saturday.

This was my second time running the Prairie State Half so I was familiar with the course. I ran it two years ago as my second half marathon. Last year I didn’t race at all because I was pregnant during fall racing season, so this race was always on my mind as a postpartum goal. This race was my big post-baby fitness goal. I didn’t really start training until the beginning of July once I got my jogging stroller. That made it easier for me to get out for more runs because I could take baby with me (he was 6 months old when I started running with him). I followed a half marathon plan I found online that required me to run 5 days a week, but I was generally only able to do 4 runs a week because the days I go in to the office were tough to fit a run in. I also didn’t get to go all the way up to the 12 mile long run because a 5k I did one Saturday made me skip the long run that week. Still, I knew I could finish the distance after doing my 11 mile long run a couple weeks ago. As much as the physical training is important for a big race like this, running really is mental too.

Race day came and I planned on getting up around 5:45 to have time to eat some breakfast, get ready, and maybe feed Jaylen if he woke up before leaving to catch the shuttle to the race site, but with a baby that still wakes up a few times in the middle of the night, I ended up turning off my alarm. Luckily I still woke up in time even if it was an hour later. That sure got the adrenaline going! It worked out though because Jaylen woke up and he and Gerald dropped me off and got to watch me start the race.

The weather was perfect for running. It was chilly to start, but I’m glad I didn’t overdress because I definitely warmed up quickly. I felt great for the first 8 miles of the race and kept a fairly consistent pace. Then the exhaustion began to set in a little bit and I ended up taking a few walking breaks until the last mile, where I pushed through to the end (that ended up being my fastest mile). I was using my RunKeeper app to keep track of my miles and pacing, but it didn’t quite match up with the mile markers on the course. According to RunKeeper I reached the mile markers slightly ahead of the course markers, but then somehow at mile 6, I reached the mile marker quite a bit after I passed that mile on the course. Not sure what happened there, but here are my splits according to RunKeeper:

Mile 1 – 9:30
Mile 2 – 9:31
Mile 3 – 9:38
Mile 4 – 9:54
Mile 5 – 9:32
Mile 6 – 9:53
Mile 7 – 9:33
Mile 8 – 9:52
Mile 9 – 10:12
Mile 10 – 11:03
Mile 11 – 10:31
Mile 12 – 10:39
Mile 13 – 9:29

My pace picked up a little bit between miles 6 and 7 because that was where a lot of the spectators (including Sammy and my Uncle Lary) were waiting to cheer us on as we ran by. They almost missed me the first time I ran by (this was right before the turnaround) so I had to wave them down. Encouragement really helps in these endurance races. In the last mile this man and woman ran past me. He was obviously pacing and helping her finish the race and he was so excited and yelling encouraging things to other runners that it helped me pick up my pace as I finished too even though he wasn’t specifically encouraging me.

It felt so good to finish the race, and Gerald was right there at the finish line waiting for me (he had taken Jaylen to his parents’ house). My official finish time was 2:09:35 (an average pace of 9:54). It’s not a PR, but my goal was just to finish this time and I’m pleasantly surprised that I kept an average pace under 10 minute miles. On my training runs I always ran 10-11 minute miles. Almost exactly 10 months ago, I gave birth to Jaylen and now I finished a half marathon. So to me, that’s quite an accomplishment!

I really love the half marathon distance because it’s challenging, but doesn’t seem as daunting to me as a marathon (plus I don’t have time to train for a marathon…I know there are some moms who can do it, but right now I’m not one of them). This was my last race for the year, but with my race and with the marathon this past weekend, it makes me excited for the next one! :)

Third half marathon complete!

Third marathon complete!

Post-race with my baby. He's biting the medal like a champ.

Post-race with my baby. He’s biting the medal like a champ.

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Advice I Would’ve Given Myself Before the Baby was Born

I’m nearly ten months into this motherhood journey. I know I still have lots to learn and I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in parenting an infant by any means (though how can you really be a parenting expert? All kids are different!). However, I have several friends who are expecting their first baby this year and as I think back to where I was a year ago (7 months pregnant), I keep thinking of advice or things I would’ve told myself back then as I was just enjoying the excitement and anticipation of being pregnant and preparing for birth. People always give unsolicited advice to new parents (and particularly new moms), so whoever may read this can take what they want from it, but more than just advice, I think it’s just an honest reminder of the reality of motherhood (and parenting in general).

So what would I have told my pregnant self?

1. Babies have their own schedules, so go with the flow.
I felt this reality more as I waited anxiously for my due date to approach. Starting from 3 weeks before, I was constantly wondering when I would go into labor. I was born three weeks early so I didn’t know if Baby J would follow my lead or if he’d be “late.” Babies will come when they’re ready and there’s no sense in trying to rush it or in putting your life on hold in expectation. It’s better for baby to stay inside longer (at least 39 weeks) since baby grows best inside his mother. I learned the most predictable thing about labor is it’s unpredictable.

Once the baby’s born, the baby’s schedule seems to dictate your day (particularly if you’re a new mom and only have one child to worry about). He eats, sleeps, eats, sleeps, eats, sleeps…all day long. It’s best to just accept it for what it is and do what your baby needs. As Jaylen has gotten older, he does have a more predictable schedule, but even then there’s variation. Sometimes he’ll take long naps, sometimes he won’t. Sometimes his nap schedule will get messed up or he’ll end up having a later bedtime, but it’s okay. {To further prove this point, I should mention that I started this blog post just before Jaylen turned 6 months old. I’m now publishing it when he’s almost 10 months. PRIORITIES.}

2. Babies don’t go by the book.
I was so excited for Jaylen to turn 6 months old so I could start giving him solid food. Part of me hoped this would help him sleep longer at night (which it does not necessarily help with that) and part of me just couldn’t wait to see him try new things and be a little less dependent on me for food. I was looking into the baby-led weaning process for introducing solids and was anxious to offer Jaylen regular food so he could feed himself and eat with us at meal times.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to try baby-led weaning much because Jaylen wasn’t that interested in solid food at 6 months! I would put food in front of him and he wouldn’t even try to pick it up. Then I put a toy in front of him and it instantly goes into his mouth (go figure). So I ended up giving him baby cereal and purees (but not chunky ones because those would make him gag and throw up). Now he’s great about feeding himself and loves food, but he still doesn’t have any teeth yet so we’re still waiting on those.

I’ve also learned that just because a website or a book says your baby should do something by a certain age (like sleep 4-5 hour stretches by the time he’s 5 months…Jaylen would do 1.5-2 hours instead), doesn’t mean your child will do it. Once you accept that each child is unique and will reach those milestones in his own time, your life will be so much easier. This leads into point #3.

3. Babies aren’t meant to sleep through the night.
I know parents can have very strong opinions on this one, but after reading various articles about this topic (mostly because I still haven’t gotten a decent night’s sleep in nearly 10 months), I believe that babies are not meant to sleep through the night. They’re supposed to wake up every couple hours to eat (especially when they’re newborns). They may still even wake up once or twice even after 6 months. Yes, there are some lucky parents whose babies start to sleep through the night (however you want to define it–some say 5-6 hrs straight, others say 11-12 hrs straight) at an early age. My baby is not one of those. On average he still wakes up about 2-3 times a night (although last night he woke up once…yay!). I’m still waiting for that day when he’ll sleep 11-12 hours straight at night. People have told us to let him cry it out, but we are not completely comfortable with that. This doesn’t mean that we don’t let him cry at all, but we just don’t let him cry hysterically for long periods of time. I am also not completely willing to night wean him because he doesn’t drink much milk during the day even when I nurse him so I think he may be reverse cycling. I’m concerned too about my milk supply, which seems to be dwindling (since I don’t pump as much when I’m at work anymore) and the stash I once had in the freezer is now gone as of today. As tired as I am, I do cherish those night feedings (sometimes) when I look at my son in my arms. I love that bond I have with him. And when I think I can’t take this phase anymore, I reread this KellyMom article and it reminds me that I’m still doing okay by doing what I think is best for my baby and me.

4. Don’t forget to pursue your husband and your marriage.
This is probably the most important thing I would’ve told myself before having a baby. I admit I still need to do a better job of this. It’s so easy as a mom, especially a new mom, to spend all your time and energy on the baby. When Jaylen was a newborn, it seemed like all I had time for was caring for him round the clock. Even now when Jaylen goes to sleep around 7 or 7:30, it’s easy for me to feel like I’m too tired to do anything–including invest in some quality time with my husband. It’s not a good excuse and a healthy marriage is one of the greatest gifts parents can give their children. So all you moms out there, no matter how tired or overwhelmed you are, make a commitment to try and love your husband well in spite of how you feel.

There are plenty of other things I’m still learning as a new mom. With Jaylen’s one year birthday around the corner, I can tell those brand new moms that it does get easier (even if I’m still not sleeping well). So I know the stage I’m at with the sleepless nights will also get easier eventually. Then I know I’ll probably be dealing with something else, but there’s no greater joy than having Jaylen in my life. Sure, we may not stay out late anymore and right now our days may revolve around Jaylen’s nap schedule, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world. Life wouldn’t be the same without seeing this smiling face. :)

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Baby Boy Style

Before I found out Jaylen was going to be a boy, part of me wanted to have a little girl so I could dress her up in adorable outfits. There are a TON more clothing options out there for baby girls, but there are some pretty stylish clothes out there for all those boy moms to dress up their little guys too. I like to dress my son (now nine months old) in clothes that make him look like a little man. Of course I dress him in more babyish clothes too since people have given me their hand-me-downs or bought me clothes for my baby showers, but if we’re going out somewhere, sometimes I like to make him look a little more stylish.

Last weekend I realized Jaylen’s six month clothes were getting a little snug on him, so I was excited for him to wear one of the new outfits I bought him months ago.

StylishBabyBoy

The weather was a little more fall-like, so Jaylen wore a chambray shirt and camo fleece sweatpants from Carter’s. . The pants are still a little long on him since he’s on the shorter side, so I had to roll them up a little bit. Daddy loved this outfit when he saw it.

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BabyBoy

 

It started to warm up before we left for church, so I changed his camo pants to camo shorts (from Kohl’s). I’ve gotten other stylish boy clothes from consignment sales (you just really have to look through the racks to find good stuff) and H&M Kids. You can get cute clothes at fairly reasonable prices, which is great when your child is growing so quickly.

Want Jaylen’s style for your baby boy (or your toddler)? It looks like Carter’s doesn’t sell this particular chambray shirt anymore, but I’ve linked similar products below:

Chambray Shirt (similar)

Camo Fleece Pull-On Pants (Carter’s)

This is not a sponsored post. 

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Race Recap: Long Grove Heritage Run

All the people running/walking for the Mothers' Milk Bank

All the people running/walking for the Mothers’ Milk Bank

This morning we had the perfect running weather (temps in the 50s and sunny). I’ve been running the Long Grove Heritage Run every year since 2009 (with the exception of last year because I was pregnant). It was my first running race ever so it holds a special place in my heart. This is a great local race where lots of charities participate. So when you register, you choose which charity you want to donate to and run (or walk) for. Afterwards they provide a free pancake breakfast for all the participants and this is the only race I know that does age group awards 5 deep…so that’s why the first time I ran it I got an award! It was shocking, but this particular race sure helped to build my self esteem and confidence in running since I’ve won an age group award every time I’ve done it except for this year.

The last time I ran this race in 2011, I won my age group and was definitely a lot faster than I am right now. So I didn’t go into today’s race expecting to set any new personal records or to win an award. My main goal though was to push myself to run faster (trying to keep my pace between 8-9 minutes per mile) so I might have the potential to win an award (based off last year’s results). I also haven’t run that fast consistently for a longer duration since I started running regularly again postpartum.

I ran this race for the Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes. As a new nursing mom, I wanted to support an organization that works to provide breast milk for mothers and babies that need it. I know how challenging and rewarding breastfeeding can be so for babies and mothers who can’t nurse for some reason, this is a great way for them to get the wonderful benefits of breast milk. I’m sure you can probably still make a donation on my fundraising page if you’d like to support this organization as well. I loved that they even had a little “nursing nook” in their tent. :)

Jaylen came with me to the race, but since strollers aren’t allowed on the run, my mom walked with him in the 3k walk while I ran. It was actually nice to do a race without pushing the jogging stroller though. I started out near the front of the starting line and got off to a nice start. I was going a little fast (between 7-8 min/mile), but I felt pretty good. I knew I had to conserve energy though and tried to slow down a little bit. So here are my splits for the race:

Mile 1: 8:10
Mile 2: 8:37
Mile 3: 8:21
Mile 4: 6:27 (for the .1 part…I was pushing it at the end)
Average pace: 8:17

My RunKeeper app was a little off with the race’s mile markers maybe because I started it a little early when I crossed the finish line. So according to the race results, I finished in 26:07 and 9th in my age group. I’m very happy with this result because I proved to myself that I can push myself to run faster longer. Lately on my runs I’ve just been so much slower (like 10-11 minute miles) so it’s encouraging to me. There’s definitely still more room for improvement and hopefully in the future I’ll be able to set some new running personal records.

My little cheerleader!

My little cheerleader!

My next and last race for the year will hopefully be the Prairie State Half Marathon on October 11. I’m training for it and missed my long run today, but I’ll just make it up next weekend and only end up going up to 11 miles as my longest run (which is what I did for my first half anyway and I was fine). No turkey trot this year since we’ll be traveling for Thanksgiving. Happy fall racing season, everyone!

 

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Grayslake 5k Race Recap

Grayslake5k

 

On Saturday I completed my first postpartum race and my first race with my jogging stroller (the BOB Ironman). I didn’t race at all last year when I was pregnant, so I was excited to get back into it. I didn’t have to worry about setting an alarm for this race because Jaylen woke up on race morning at 6:30 a.m. The race was held in our local downtown area so Gerald and I planned on walking over (about a mile from our house). I also thought it would be a good warm up.

Pre-race

Pre-race

Saturday morning was rainy, but thankfully the rain cleared up before we headed out the door around 7:15. The rain held off until after the race, which was a blessing. We could’ve had a soaking baby otherwise!

My cousin was also running the race (and it happened to be her birthday) so we saw her briefly before the start and then she went up to the front because she’s super fast. I had to start near the back anyway because I was running with the stroller. I know they do that so strollers don’t get in the way, but it’s a lot more challenging to pass people at the beginning of the race when you’re running with a stroller. I was getting stuck behind people a little bit even though I tried to run on the side of the road to pass.

Eventually the pack thinned out. My Garmin watch wouldn’t turn on even though I charged it up (I haven’t used it in a while since for some reason it stopped uploading my runs to my computer…apparently it’s messed up now). So I used my RunKeeper app and had my phone tucked into a pocket on the stroller. So I couldn’t see what my pace or distance was. I know I started slowing down though as the race went on. I haven’t run at that intensity for that long in a while.

Jaylen was great during the whole race. I’m impressed with how content he seemed staying in the stroller for so long. He sat quietly on our walk over to the starting line from home. Then I took him out for a few minutes before the race started. He was awake for the beginning part of the race but then fell asleep about halfway through. It was his nap time, after all. If you zoomed in to the photo at the top of this post you can see Jaylen knocked out in the stroller. Haha.

It was humid and I definitely had to keep pushing myself during the race, but I was trying to save some energy for the last stretch.

Me, Jaylen & cousin Sammy

Me, Jaylen & cousin Sammy

Once I turned the final corner and saw the finish line, I really dug deep and pushed toward that finish line (literally). There was another woman I’d been following during the race who got behind me at one point but then was now catching up, so I was just trying to beat her to the finish, which I did. She told me good job afterwards, but she was probably just impressed that I did that while pushing the stroller. Jaylen woke up right after we crossed the finish line. Apparently 5ks are exhausting! :)

My official finish time was 28:40. That’s not close to any kind of personal record for me, but I’m pleased with it considering all my

runs lately (with and without the stroller) have been in the 10 or even 11 min/mile range. This run was my fastest stroller run to date. Not bad for running while pushing about 35 extra pounds in front of me (stroller + baby)!

My cousin Sammy won her age group (no surprise there!) and I actually placed 5th out of 18 in my age group, which isn’t too bad, actually. This little race gave me a confidence boost knowing that I can only improve from here. I plan to do more 5ks in the next few months (both with and without the stroller) through the fall and I’d still like to do the Prairie State Half Marathon in October again, but I need to ramp up my training to be ready for that.

This was the perfect way to celebrate Jaylen’s 7 month birthday. I’m glad we could finish our first race together–hopefully the first of many!

 

Mommy & baby post-race

Mommy & baby post-race

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Door County Vacation + CMJ Reunion

Ice cream at Wilson's

Ice cream at Wilson’s

Last week we spent a nice few days up in Door County with my family. This was Jaylen’s first vacation and I was looking forward to seeing him experience new things and mostly to be able to spend over a week giving him my full attention without having to worry about work. Jaylen was good on the drive up there (about 4 hours) except for the beginning where he started screaming just as we got on the highway for a while before falling asleep.

We stayed in Ephraim, which is a nice little town. It’s interesting too because it’s a dry town so they don’t sell alcohol there. You don’t find many places like that these days. We took a trolley tour and also learned that Ephraim only allows buildings to be white but more recently allowed buildings to be painted off-white and gray.

Some of our highlights were the trolley tour, Nicolet Beach in Peninsula State Park (which Jaylen loved. He couldn’t get enough of the sand), going out on the pontoon boat, the fish boil, and just enjoying some family time. Gerald, Jaylen and I even got out on our own one morning to visit Sister Bay for smoothies, coffee, and lunch.

Vacationing is definitely different with an infant. It’s not as relaxing. Jaylen’s sleep schedule was and still is all messed up. He somehow is usually still in a good mood despite not getting good naps and being overtired. The first morning in Door County Jaylen woke up at 6 am after going to bed around 10 pm. I can’t say I was too excited about that, but he seemed pretty happy. I loved being able to see Jaylen experience new things and he got a ton of attention wherever we went. I think we’ll definitely come back to Door County in the future.

We came home right before the 4th of July, which was good so we could beat the holiday crowds in Door County. My cousin Justine was visiting from Toronto so it was nice to be able to spend some time with her and for her to meet Jaylen for the first time.

Here are a few snapshots from our week!

Family in Peninsula State Park during the trolley tour

Family in Peninsula State Park during the trolley tour

Can't get enough of that sand

Can’t get enough of that sand

Fishing on Anderson Dock

Fishing on Anderson Dock

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Jaylen taking a turn at driving the pontoon boat

Jaylen taking a turn at driving the pontoon boat

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Fish Boil at the Old Post Office Restaurant

Fish Boil at the Old Post Office Restaurant

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

CMJ + Little J at the Botanic Garden

CMJ + Little J at the Botanic Garden

CMJ Reunion

CMJ Reunion

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It was good to see you, Justine!

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend!

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