First off – shout out to fall. I love this time of year when the leaves paint the town with colors of yellow, orange, and red, and all of my favorite holidays are right around the corner. We’ve had some stormy weather lately, which has been a nice change from the warm summer days. I’m definitely a 4-seasons kind of girl, though I prefer an extended summer and fall.
Justin is already gearing up for our Halloween extravaganza and is pulling out boxes of Halloween décor this weekend. Like last year, we plan to pull out all the stops to decorate our house and make it a spoooooooky place for trick-or-treaters and their parents. Plus, we give away full size candy bars, so if you like candy it’s a good reason to make a trip to Bend. ☺
A little background story. After moving into our new home over a year ago, everyone in the neighborhood started warning us about how people would travel near and far to trick-or-treat at our house. We didn’t think much of it at first, but after six or seven neighbors asked us what our plans were for Halloween decorating, we knew the bar had been sight high. Apparently, the previous owners went ALL OUT for Halloween, turning the house into a haunted house. Justin and I felt like we did not want to disappoint or let any trick-or-treaters down, so we upheld the responsibly of making it an experience, and maybe even raised the bar a little. Right down to the 20-foot spider web across the front of the house, and the full size casket on an embalming table next to the front door.
I thought life would slow down a little after the Ironman, but it really hasn’t. Time always has a way of getting filled, whether it’s work, training, family, friends, or day-to-day activities. There are little moments of down time, but they are few and far between. The other day, Justin came home from work and decided to take Axel to the grocery store so I could have some quiet time in the house. For those 45 minutes I literally felt like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone…. Freedom!!! Of course, like Kevin, after some time I would much prefer to be surrounded by family.
I’ve been doing a lot of fall cleaning and de-cluttering, going through old clothing items that no longer fit or have use. We donated bags of baby clothing and items to the church for a family in need who is expecting a baby boy in the upcoming month, and I also took a couple huge bags to Goodwill. It feels good to purge the old and make way for a few fun new fall/winter items. I already splurged on a new pair of boots and pair of Fidelity Jeans that I absolutely had to have. I may spend a majority of my life in workout gear, but I do enjoy my fashionable moments as well. ☺
Work has picked back up this past week with the start of the fall term at Oregon State. I had a few weeks of down time in between summer and fall terms, which was really nice. Though I was prepping my two classes, there was no pressure or schedule I had to adhere to, other than making sure my classes were ready to go by the start of the term. I am teaching my two favorite classes this term, Motivation and Psychology of Close Relationships, and always enjoy the energy students bring to a new school year.
Earlier this month our little guy turned 1 year old. It has literally been one of the most challenging, beautiful, life-changing years of my life. Axel is truly the most incredible human being I have ever met and has developed a personality and charm unlike any other. I love watching him explore the world and pick up new behaviors and quirks each and every day. He knows a few words including mama, dada, and book. The kid absolutely loves books.
It seems like every day now brings something new. Axel has gone from army crawling on his belly to crawling on his hands and knees (though he still prefers darting around using his speedy army crawling skills), and uses his feet to grab and play with objects almost as much as his hands. He loves dancing to music, watching us cook, and playing with things we tell him not to (hello remote control, electrical cords, stereo receiver, and our phones). If mom and dad use these things, they must be cool. It’s amazing how quickly they catch on. Just a couple days ago Axel pulled himself up to a standing position, so we are thinking that a few steps might be in his near future. Part of me really hopes he is walking by the time we go to Hawaii in early November. Then again, everyone says to cherish the pre-walking days. I’m not sure what would be better come vacation.
We were definitely blessed with a little sleeper. Axel has always been a great sleeper, and after going through a two-week regression around 6-7 months, has since settled in to a pretty consistent routine (with a very occasional early morning exception). Justin and I have always been very adamant about keeping the little guy on a schedule, which in turn has cultivated a very happy and predictable baby. After going through his bedtime routine (bath, food, brush teeth, read story, sing wheels on the bus) we typically put him down between 7:30-8pm and expect him to sleep until 6am. This of course varies from time to time. He takes two naps, typically from 9-11 and 3-4:30, though lately he has been really fighting his afternoon nap. Given the advice of our pediatrician, we hope to keep him on the two nap schedule until he is 18 months (unless Axel tells us otherwise). If he misses an afternoon nap it typically means he will go to bed early, which is actually nice for an extended evening of quiet.
For Axel’s first birthday we celebrated with family at my mother-in-law’s cabin on Camano Island about an hour north of Seattle, and had a Seahawks themed birthday party. Of course, this first birthday is more for the parents than the child, so we went with a football theme in honor of the opening weekend of football.
Axel soaked up the extra attention he received on his birthday weekend and just loved having all eyes on him. I was really curious to see how he would react to cake, given his mother’s super sweet tooth, but instead of digging right in he took his time and slowly scooped up a tiny piece after fully analyzing the situation. The face he made after putting it into his mouth? Disgust combined with uncertainty. Not a fan of cake apparently. You’ll come around little guy! Or, you can just give your piece to me!
Food right now probably gives me the most anxiety. Not because Axel is a picky eater or struggles to eat. The kid EATS. It’s figuring out how much to feed him, giving him variety, and avoiding any bad habits. Currently we are transitioning him from formula to cow’s milk, which has been an interesting process. He doesn’t like cold milk, and so far, he doesn’t like milk without a little formula mixed in. We are also still using a bottle and figuring out how to transition him to a cup. I tried to give him warm milk in a sippy cup, but he just threw it across the floor. How the heck are you supposed to wean a baby off the bottle!? Help!
I admit this hasn’t been the easiest year for me, though I’m pretty good at putting on a face and dealing with the odds and ends that life throws my way. It’s not that Axel was a difficult baby or that I didn’t enjoy caring for him during his infant months, but more the fact that I admittedly struggle around babies and was out of my comfort zone. Having a baby of my own forced me to let go of many insecurities. I’m still a work in progress, but am definitely getting better at being a mom. I do find that the challenges of parenthood are getting easier (for me) as Axel develops and gets older. I have never been a real baby person – even after having one – so I grow more excited as Axel becomes more interactive and able to do things. Each month has been more fun than the one before and watching Axel develop so quickly is quite amazing. I can’t imagine what human beings would be like if we kept developing and learning at the rate babies do.
Justin and I have started to find more time for “us” and plan little date nights and dinners from time to time. It’s nice that Axel’s nana and grandpa live only a mile away, as we can drop him off for loads of fun while enjoying some adult time. One of my goals this upcoming year is to spend more time with Justin and really nourish our relationship, which for obvious reasons has taken a little bit of a back seat over the past year. More date nights, please!
I’m looking forward to sharing some updates on the training front and am currently working on a blog post highlighting what life has been like after the Ironman. The down time has really allowed me to reflect on my goals for the next season and put together a race schedule that will be both challenging and fun. More to come soon…