Friday, October 3, 2014

Oh hey, 5k.



New hairs with 8 wk old new Bitsy. I haven’t given my hair any attention since last summer. I know. You’d think I was busy or something. Ell oh ell.


Tomorrow is the first 5k I have ran since March. The weather is a huge dumb exclamation mark: after a hot-ass week of high-80s, TWC predicts race time to be 43 degrees. I don’t know what to wear, jerks. I’m out of practice picking out things to wear for cooler outside running. So, high-waisted jean shorts it is! SOLVED.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Crunch time. Ish.

It's been a while, and I thought I was due to check in.  We have 6 wks left before we meet Miss Little #3 and I am stuck in the middle of "this is taking so long!" and "oh my goodness, this pregnancy flew!".

Running stopped about 8 weeks ago.  Too many (Toni) Braxton Hicks, even on treadmill setting 5.  I have been doing a lot of prenatal barre workouts with Suzanne Bowen's DVD.  It's somewhat challenging and all the workouts (3 to choose from) are 20 minutes long.  I typically do the Lower Body and Cardio Sculpt sessions, though I have done the Upper Body one a few times.  I think this DVD has been key for keeping my strength and cardio up enough so my butt hasn't gotten kicked too badly at the Prenatal Reformer classes I take on Saturdays.

However, this 2nd half of the 3rd trimester is rough.  I'm super tired.  Exhausted.  Moving around in a world that is not modified to be "prenatal" is difficult and at times painful.  My hips hate standing up from seated.  Sitting cross-legged is a terrible idea.  Keeping up with Bug and Bee is nearing impossible.  Last summer was so fun.  We hit all the parks in the area and were so busy every day.  Now, we are inside more than out.  More Netflix, less picnics.  I've been encouraging them to be more independent, to let them do things that they can safely and easily do on their own (pick out their own healthy snacks, outfits, find lost items).  Part off me is proud that they are seeing what they are capable of and hopefully gaining more confidence, and another part is sad that they are being ushered towards this new independence by an exhausted Mommy who just wants to sit down and not stand up again for 10minutesfortheloveofgodchristalmighty.

I had a dream last night that I was running with the group again.  I was at a water stop, it was freezing, and some older lady was fumbling with her Gu packet and I felt very grateful that I was able to be there and participate.  This is half of the motivation for staying active this pregnancy.  I hope to bounce back and work on strength and endurance so I can rejoin the group in January.  The other half, of course, is to have a healthy pregnancy, labor, birth, baby, and Momma.

Fingers crossed that these next few weeks are uneventful and that I am able to dig deep and find an energy reserve somewhere.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Broken streak like whoa.

I have been really tired so the running streak died.  Cue the fake tears.  I have started up again, just not daily.  I saw my midwife this week, who is a runner, and she gave me a pep talk so, rejuvenated, I pushed both girls in the single jogger up to the coffee shop today (we have a double but neither wanted to ride in it, since that just made too much sense).  We got stuck behind a couple wearing super fancy running gear who were also walking at the same pace as me for the entire time.  Whenever I would talk to the girls, the couple would step aside like I was going to pass and then notice it was still the slow pregnant lady pushing two kids in a jogger, and resume their walk.  So, I just never stopped talking.  I talked about the houses, and the trees, and the flowers, and Bug told me that I needed to be quiet because I was scaring away the birds. 

At the coffee shop, Bug ordered for herself and Bee.  They got "Magic Milk", which is flavored milk, whipped cream, sprinkles.  Total kid drinks.  I tried it and it just tasted like sprinkles and not a lot like magic.  I had an iced latte and it was heavenly!  Especially since today got up to 80!  HOORAY!!  WINTER REALLY IS DEAD!!!

So, here's to the next 6 months of summer!  ::clinks imaginary beer bottle::

Tell me about your future race plans!  I have none!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Mom's Guide to Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati Area Playgrounds 2014.

Sometimes it is difficult to find new parks and playgrounds.  Parks and Rec sites don't always include the smaller parks, so many of these were found by chance or word of mouth of friends.  These parks were visited by myself and two kiddos last spring through fall.  I hope that this helps someone find a new local park to take their kiddos and break out of a playground rut!  If there are any parks that aren't listed that I should check out, let me know!



Pride Park, Taylor Mill.

There are five main areas.  One with several rocking toys and other equipment mostly for shorter/younger kids.  One area with "big kid" swings and a tall-as-heck tube slide, standing all alone.  One area with things to climb on (but no slide).  There is another area down the hill (we did not go to it) that looked like metal and tetanus all rolled into one slide/swing combination.  And another area that looks newer that had two very tall slides and tubes, monkey bars, etc.  This section had the most promise, but fell flat mainly because a whole section of tubing was missing and plywood blocked the way.  Also, the plastic steps that led up to the platforms that eventually led to the slides had a big crack in the center that compromised the stability of the steps.

This was a pretty disappointing park.  Besides the older lady correcting me when I told Bug that she was too big for the baby swing (and then, yes, her legs are too long for the baby swing), it was pretty aggravating.  For one, the playground areas are so spread out that with two kiddos, you have to keep picking up the smaller/slower moving/less fussy child to move him/her to the better keep an eye on the bigger/faster/easily upset child.

The kids seemed happy enough, but we only stuck around for about an hour.  They probably would have enjoyed it even more if there were more slides and less creepy nosy grandmas.


Middleton-Mills Park, Latonia.

We attended a Wild Wednesday here and it was great.  The topic was was predator birds and the girls loved it.  They got to see two different breeds of owls up close and were in awe.  When the program was over, all the kids played on this nice unit of slides/platforms/rock wall equipment.  The poured rubber was awesome.  The kids had a blast.

We went back on a Monday morning and it was a ghost town.  Sometimes, it's nice to have the playground to yourself, but here I would not recommend it.  The playground is near Shelter #2 and is far away from the main road in the park and the main road leading into the park.  No one can see you.  Thick woods are not too far away from the playground.  It was far too isolated.

I recommend checking out Wild Wednesdays, but do not recommend going here unless you are meeting friends for a playdate or going to a program where there will be a lot of people!


President's Park, Edgewood

There are two sections in this park which are pretty far apart.  One is newer (closer to the entrance) and one is older.  The newer one is awesome.  New equipment, fun slides.  Perfect for a timid toddler and a busy, outgoing preschooler.  There are lots of benches and picnic tables and a shelter so close which would make for a perfect birthday party.  It's all pretty close together so you can keep an eye on everything going on.

The older section is not so hot.  Old equipment, mostly wooden.  Missing slats in the play set which is pretty dangerous, especially when crossing the bridge.  Splinter City.  The one plus is that it is very shady.  It also has a shelter very close.


South Fork, Florence

This park is a simply amazing hidden gem.  It's only a mile from where I live, but I just found it.  Nestled in the back of a nice subdivision, you would never find it if you didn't know what you were looking for.

Big, big playground with a nautical theme, this play area has three sections.  One is for toddlers, one is for big kids, and the middle section has plenty of swings.  A big covered shelter is perfect for picnics.  There are also basketball courts, volleyball courts, a huge open field, and a creek to explore.  The floor of the playground is poured rubber, and there are plenty of rocking toys, benches, and tables.  A family could easily spend all afternoon exploring this playground.  Nice parking lot.


Orleans Park, Union

A nice small park, also in a subdivision.  There is so much packed in a small place, you can easily see the whole play area wherever you stand.  The floor is poured rubber and there are tons of swings, slides, and things to climb and rock on.  Nice parking lot so close to the play area.


Stringtown Park, Florence

This playground is huge.  There is so much to do.  Poured rubber flooring, swings, slides, lots of equipment to climb on.  It's almost too big.  It's difficult to keep an eye on everything from all areas of the playground.  It would be perfect if you have one child, or two or more children that stick together, or an adult for every kid.  Multiple kids going in multiple directions with one adult in charge would easily give me a panic attack.  While at this park, I was helping my toddler into the swing and lost sight of my preschooler for a second.  The next thing I knew, she was on this climbing wall 7 feet in the air.  Holy smokes.

It's located right off of Rt. 18 and could not be easier to get to.  You can barely see the playground from the street, but the signage is hard to miss.  While on the playground, you don't feel like you are on display for all of the traffic driving by because you can't even see the street thanks to the mature trees, but you don't also feel isolated in case some creep in a trench coat appears out of nowhere.


Lincoln Woods, Florence

Nice new playground with poured rubber floor.  Great section for toddlers, great section for older kids. It is somewhat tricky to find and this is made even more tricky considering there are two entrances that lead to different areas of the park.

This area is pretty big, so it can be somewhat difficult to keep an eye on everything going on while being in one spot.  Nice shelter nearby, so bring a lunch!


Oakbrook Park, Florence

Small park with some fun equipment to climb on.  Swings, slides, teeter totter.  Picnic table.  It's off of a fairly busy main street in Oakbrook and has a very large field.  It's far away from the road, but I still feel so exposed to oncoming traffic as this park is right next to a stop sign.  This park also has a volleyball court.


General Ornsby Mitchel Park, Ft. Mitchell

I never knew this park existed until recently.  It has a lot of pretend cars to play in (train cars and fire trucks) and big playsets with lots of slides and a lot of swings.  Fairly shady, with lots of benches.  My toddler and preschooler both loved the rocking toys and playing house under the playsets (built-in benches made for a shady place to rest while pretending to make mulch lattes).


Central Park, Union

This is a great park with a fenced-in playground.  Only a couple "big kid" swings, mostly big red reclining swings which are hard for the kids to go very high in.  Three playsets with slides, ladders, platforms, tubes, and monkeybars.  There is also a teeter totter, a sandbox (dirt box?) and baby swings.  Mulch covers that ground and is the most perfect size to sneak into your shoes.  Plenty of space to run around and the fence makes for a less-stress afternoon considering how fast people sometimes drive in the park.  Lots of shaded benches and picnic tables.

The playground has a gate that leads to a Children's Garden.  Lots of flowers and a playhouse for the kiddos to explore.


Giles Conrad Park, Hebron

I was very excited about this park.  It is located 21 minutes away from our home, and most of the driving is over windy, country roads, but the promise of a river view lured me in.

On a Tuesday morning in June, my girls and I arrived at around 10a.  We parked in a nice, big lot and walked along the path to the river.  There was a 20 ft steep drop to a narrow little "beach" and the river was right there.  It's probably the closest to the Ohio River that I have ever been on the Kentucky side.  It was pretty amazing and very beautiful, though unnerving was the remnants of a fire on that narrow little beach.  I'm still trying to figure that one out.

To the playground we went!  A crew of construction guys were laying down mulch, but I had driven almost a half hour to see this park and wasn't going to let that deter me.  Too bad, the construction guys said that they "were working, sorry."  Already sweaty and testy in the high humidity, we left for another new park.  On the way out, we passed an old diaper, and it matched my mood.  We will return later to check out the playground.

***

We returned a few days later as a stop on the "Story Time in the Park" series that the Boone County Public Library does during the warmer months.  It was a drizzly day and the shelter was perfect.  Nice and new, it kept everyone dry with plenty of room to spread out.  As we were able to inspect it that day, the playground unit was great.  Kind of like old row houses, it was very narrow but tall with a lot to do from top to bottom.  The girls loved it.

We also explored more of the trail.  It's really beautiful.  It's not so long that you get a "workout" from walking it, but it passes under some nice wooded areas with a carpet of clover and runs along the river for some spectacular views.  We even saw a turkey vulture, and I'd be lying if I said that I didn't get a little creeped out by its black silhouette on a bough above us.

With a second visit, this park is a keeper.  Shady, nice views, and a large, nice shelter makes this a nice stop for lunches or play dates where the kids may all want to do something a little different but everyone can still stay in sight of each other.


Tower Park, Ft. Thomas

This park has great reviews.  It's probably pretty awesome if you want to run around fields and etc., but if you are like me and are just interested in an awesome playground, don't even bother.  There is a single play unit that has stairs, a ladder, and two slides.  The entire thing would fit in my kids' bedroom.  So small.  There wasn't a bench close enough for me to be comfortable using while my girls played.  There was zero shade at the time we visited (around 11a) and the slides were hot, hot.  So hot.  Bug climbed up and slid down a few times and then said, "Can we find a new park, now?"  So we did.


Ault Park, Cincinnati

This playground has it all.  It's big, has slides, a play unit for the smaller kiddos and a big unit for the biggies.  Plenty of benches near all the action and picnic tables, too.  There is ample shade around the small swings and smaller play unit which is great.  The "big kid" swings and play set was in full sun.  Parking is free, on-street, and there were so many spaces at the time that we went (12p) that we were able to get a really close spot.  The views in Ault Park are amazing.  It's an overall beautiful park with a great play area for all ages of children.


Battery Park, Ft. Wright

Located off of Highland Avenue, this park is tucked away in the hills with a slightly hard-to-find drive.  It's right next to the James A. Ramage Civil War Museum, so the structures in the park have a vintage, war theme, enhanced by the pyramid of "cannon balls" to the side.  Plenty of shade, lots of trees and benches.  There's a neat sand box and landscaping, a small play house, and a play unit with tons to climb on.  The girls had a great time.

It started to rain, so we visited the museum.  It's small and free (accepts donations) and is full of Civil War artifacts, historic newspaper clippings and photographs of Ft. Wright's history, with a preserved 1960s kitchen of the home which houses the museum.  Both girls seemed to enjoy looking through the kitchen and the cannon balls on display.


Flagship Park, Erlanger

This was a surprising find!  I am pretty much a moron when it comes to directions and getting around town.  I had no idea that there were country roads in Erlanger.  This gem of a park is located off of Richardson Road in a nice neighborhood.

With my two kiddos, we arrived at the park and I stared in disbelief at the beige ground around the play units.  There is no way, I thought, that these ridiculous people built a playground over concrete!  Turns out, I am a ridiculous person because the ground was actually beige-colored poured rubber that matched the surrounding concrete.

I was just joking with my husband that I wish that they made playgrounds big enough for adults to use, and this one, oddly, fit the bill.  There are two separate play units:  one is huge and one is not.  The smaller one is meant for smaller kids and the big one is so tall that an adult could really have a fun time on this. I'm not kidding.

The big unit:  lots of slides, and several are very steep!  Probably very fast, but my girls were too intimidated to try them.  There are also monkeybars and climbing walls.  I saw a young teen actually get stuck on a climbing wall and have to get coaxed down by his mother.  He, like, totally got so embarrassed, OMG.  The bigger play unit is pretty tall, as mentioned, and I actually felt a little woozy as I walked around with the girls on top of it.  A hole in the very top platform leads to a straight up-and-down ladder.  The hole is enclosed with a metal cage 75% of the way around it.  That 25% left open was enough to send me into a panic attack.  "What if I hadn't gone up here with my girls and they discovered this on my own?!  Bug would have tried to do the ladder!!"

Regardless, Bug was super fast and the play area was so big that I could not keep an eye on the girls myself.  So, much to Bug's dismay, I ushered her over to the toddler area.

The small unit:  compact and perfect for the two kids to one adult ratio.  There was plenty to do there.  Slides, monkeybars that were low enough to the ground that Bug could jump up and grab them (which means less of a distance to fall).  Bee, having just celebrated her 2nd birthday, thought the small climbing wall on the smaller play unit was superb.

All in all, this park was a great find, and is out of the way enough that it is probably never crowded.  Other good things:  parking spaces near the play area, big shelter with multiple picnic tables, lots of benches. The only major downside, besides being too big to really keep track of the kiddos easily, is that there is zero shade.  We were out at 10 in the morning and the sun was intense.


Richardson Road Park, Independence

We found this park while driving on our way to another park and decided to check it out.  There is a single play unit over mulch that seems to be a smaller scale model of the play units at Flagship Park: they are the exact same.  It was very nice, lots of shade.  It was just a little small to keep their attention for too long.  Bug announced that she had to use the restroom, and I did not feel safe taking her up to use the restrooms in the brick building since there were men hanging out up there in an otherwise (practically) empty park.  Instead, I took her back up this giant hill to the car to use the training potty we keep in there.

Pros: shaded playground; lots of nice tennis courts and basketball courts; brick shelter with walls

Cons: Low-visibility of playground from the street; from the playground, there is low-visibility of what's going on under the shelter; very small play unit; no benches within the fence that surrounds play unit; parking lot is up a very steep hill that is hard to navigate while holding the hands of a 2 yr old who wants to pick flowers and a preschooler who has to pee.


Washington Park, Over-the-Rhine

On a hot, hot day, this sounds like the perfect place to visit.  Lots of fountains to play in for kids of all ages, a dog park, a playground, a huge field, and a gazebo used for concerts.  Over-the-Rhine is struggling to become a better part of town, but is still in its infancy of making this transition.  The park is nice, but the drop-in center across the street may make people a little uneasy.  A really nice parking garage is under the park and is only $1 an hour, which is amazing considering I would pay $10 or more for such an easy, safe place to keep my car.

The playground, itself, is pretty interesting but not "traditional".  There's a huge wall/castle that the kids love, but limits visibility.  There was very little shade.  A real sandbox ensures that everyone ends up with sand in their clothes, even if you are twenty feet away from it.  Sand finds a way.

To be honest, water parks kind of turn my stomach.  I saw a girl with a scabby foot playing in the water that is then recirculated and sprayed from the fountains over everyone.  I really thought I was going to vomit.  Ugh.  So that combined with the "meh" playground means that I probably won't return unless it is to attend an event there in the future.


Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens

I'm throwing this one in there because it was totally unexpected to come across this nice little playground in the zoo.  This is the first year that we bought a pass and I was amazed at how awesome this place is for the little ones.  The flowers, the animals (even though most were sleeping and/or hiding), the 10% off of food and drinks, the free parking made for an inexpensive day for us.  We needed a little break from walking and ta-da! this park appeared.  It was a great way to refocus.  Since playgrounds are "free" and the zoo is not, I am including this on the list because with a pass, we only spent $3 the whole day and that was just on the ice cream.  If you pack a snack and drinks and have a pass, you can easily get by without spending any money.


Coney Island

I'm including this one, as well, even though it's not a "traditional" playground.  Coney Island is relatively inexpensive for a day (even cheaper rates after 4:30pm), and you only have to pay for a ticket if you are planning on riding any rides.  You still have to pay for parking, but you can wander the park for free and bring a picnic.  There is a lot of playground equipment scattered throughout the park and it's a great day to spend an afternoon.  Mostly, it's gravel, so it's definitely going to get into your shoes, but whatever.  Lots of shade.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wexley Checking In

Lately, I have thought it was really funny to pretend like I hated my harness. If you want to be funny and do this too, you have to make your face look crazy and then try to bite everything you can. It's hilarious. Casey gets so mad. Unfortunately, my teeth aren't too sharp so she didn't need stitches or a band-aid. I didn't see any blood but I'm sure it was there. She told Dad that it was like having her fingers slammed in a binder. 

Casey bought me a new harness and I bit her a lot, still. She got it on me. I let her win.


I looked awesome.

Today, I finally let her take me on a big dumb walk. I pooped in the yard of a mansion (note from big dumb Casey: it was a school. I told him it was a mansion to make it more exciting). Casey tried to pick it up with a silly bag but I saw she just smashed it into the grass on accident. Hahaha. 

I guess I had a good time. My harness is pretty tough-looking. I scared a big boxer by being so tough. 


I'll probably bite her again when we go on a walk tomorrow. 

(Wex walked 1 mile today in 20 minutes)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Ballies

After a year or so of trying to stretch the kiddos taste buds away from Mac n cheese and bread, we are making progress.  Bee loves hummus, Bug loves carrots. Both have switched to natural cereals, we've increased their water-drinking, cut out (mostly) lunch meat. Broccoli is a welcome friend, as is spinach. Slow progress is still progress.

This week, Bug asked for granola bars. We had bought a box of organic chewy chocolate chip bars at the grocery that lasted about 18 hours.  I scoured the information super highway, mashed together a bunch of recipes, and came up with my own homemade solution for chewy granola bars.

Introducing:

Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Ballies

You will need: 
2 cups quick oats
2 cups puffed rice
1/2 cup coconut (or raisins, nuts, any dried fruit, flax, etc. or omit!)
1/2 cup agave (or any liquid sweetener: honey, maple syrup, etc.)
1/4 cup sugar (brown, white, beet sugar, whatever)
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/2-1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup Choc chips

1) mix oats, rice, coconut in a bowl.
2) heat sweeteners in saucepan over medium-low til boiling. Boil for 1 min and remove from heat.
3) stir into saucepan the peanut butter and vanilla til smooth.
4) pour over oat mix and stir til evenly mixed.
5) let cool and then pour onto a greased/oiled/parchment-papered cookie sheet. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Smash down well and place in refrigerator til cold, 20 min.
6) cut into 2-3" sections and roll, roll, roll. Put in Tupperware and keep in fridge.


These are quick to make (15 min hands-on for about 15 servings) and the girls love them. Good fiber, good fats, good protein, and chocolate! They each had two for breakfast. I have had few too! Nice chewy texture with a crisp crunch. Next time, I may try these with some powdered greens.

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think/changes you made!

Monday, March 31, 2014

70 miles and some change//Day 59 of Run/Walk Streak

March.  You came in like a big jerkface and left like a nice little angel kiss.

Your Jerkface Moments:
1) that weather.  Seriously?  What kind of infraction did the people of the Ohio River Valley do to deserve all that cold? and ice? and snow? Yeah.  I bet you feel pretty dumb about that.

2) Our unsold house.  Such anx.  Much run.
3) Bug's awful allergies = weeks of interrupted sleep.

Your Awesome Moments:
1) The last few days of March had some great weather.  It looks like April is going to be rad.  Maybe you should think about being more like April from now on.

2) Our house is pending.  Right now.  It could fall through at any moment, but for now we are cautiously hopeful that this could be the real deal.

3) O and I had a date!  We had time to get burgers while my parents watched the kiddos!  We got to talk in complete sentences and eat our meal sitting down and not a single person in the entire dining room insisted on wearing socks on their hands while screaming the alphabet and no one was wearing a baby-sized bathing suit that they can't imagine parting with, but still shrilly shrieks because it's a one-piece and creates a huge wedgie but can't take off out of fear that her big sister will take it. So relaxing.  P.S.: we talked about the kids, mostly.

4) Last, but not least (def the highlight):  we found out we are having another girl!  Hooray!  (Also, if anyone else mentions how sorry they are for Oliver that he is having another girl, I'm going to lose it.  He's thrilled. Go focus on something that is actually tragic, like that poor foreign prince that you were emailed about that just needs you to send $10,000 in unmarked bills so he can save the orphanage).

Running/walking miles for March: 70.something.  60 of those were on the treadmill; 10, outside.