Thursday, March 29, 2012

I ran. I did run. I will run. Always.

No, this isn't me.
Instead, this is someone clearly here in Alaska (or in a place like Alaska) that is a runner.
I'm a runner.  Well, maybe that is a stretch.  Let me start again... I like to run.  Wait... that really isn't entirely true.  I like the empowering & freeing feeling I have when I run.  I like how it is the ONLY form of exercise that I truly feel like I got a great workout in.  I like what the results are after getting on a routine schedule - firmer muscles, more endurance, weight loss, & feeling so much stronger and confident.  However, I dislike the early morning wake ups to go log some miles.  I dislike the sore knees, legs and feet the following day(s).  Lastly, I don't like that I haven't committed to any kind of schedule in the last 1.5 years.  Not since the the summer of 2010 have I been on a regular running routine (granted I was pregnant for some of this time... I'm NOT now and the snow is melting).

So... I have very few excuses left.
Brian made my running shoes into studded running shoes like his and they are AMAZING on any slick surface like packed snow or ice (no slipping at all).
Matter of fact, early this week I laced my shoes up and went out for a few short miles. 
It was such a great feeling to be running.  It was the first time since October that I had run outside and also logged any type of considerable run in the last few months. 
I ran by myself without pushing a jogging stroller) or having to be concerned with Thomas riding his bike next to me.  It was just me.  Me and my music.  Me and the fresh air.  I know this sounds so cliche and corny... but it was almost emotional.
I say emotional because I really want to get back on the horse and be a runner.  I want to make running a part of my schedule.  So... I'm going to do just that.  Michelle is going to run again.  Several times a week - be it with a stroller of kids & a bike rider with me or all alone with just myself - I'm going to get my butt back in gear so that I can feel the best I possibly can.

May 2010
A family affair

On a selfish note, I know that running helps me lose weight.  I'm only about 10 lbs off my pre-pregnancy Marilyn weight (but already I'm lighter than my weight before Thomas & Abbigail were each born).  The breastfeeding for the last 10 months has certainly helped suck the pregnancy weight off... but if I expect to look like I did here in Key West (May 2010) with my sexy husband... I need to get running again so my body is reminded of what it can accomplish when it works hard.  Make no mistake about it, after having 3 children, and chasing and playing with them everyday...I'm in good shape and fairly strong.  But I want to be in the best shape I can be (summer of 2010 was the best since high school)... and for me... that takes running.
Alaska runner - rain, snow or shine
October 2011

Silver Lining

As I've been mentioning the last 2 weeks or so, the kiddos and I have been planning a trip down to California via a military Space-A flight.  Because the projected flights are only announced 72 hours in advance, and are subject to change without notice, one can imagine that you must be flexible with your travel plans as well as time on your hands to make any such trip.  The trade off is the flight is free and most often a direct flight.  With me not teaching this year and Thomas not in kindergarten yet, our schedule is far more flexible than it ever has been, or frankly, ever will be again.

With all that said, earlier this week, there was an announced flight to Travis AFB (just outside of Sacramento/Oakland/San Francisco) for this morning.  I immediately made the call that this was the flight we were going to try and get on.  I told my Aunts/Uncles/cousins that the Hecks were heading their way and we would be there by Thursday afternoon.  I got to packing the bags, Brian made rental car reservations for me, trying to finish up another M.Ed paper that is due next week potentially when I will  still be gone, and making last minute arrangements for our departure.  I made sure that Thomas, Abby and I talked about flying on a military plane (they dubbed it a "soldier plane") and how it might be a little different than a regular passenger plane.  I let them pack their own backpacks (although I had final say on what went in them) and pick out their clothes. 

With all of this done, I made ONE final phone call last night around 10:15pm to the passenger terminal (aka: military airport for you civilians) to double check the showtime and availability.  And wouldn't you know... they shifted the flight time from Thursday morning to Friday morning. *sigh*  Figures.  It's the nature of the beast.  Whether its Space-A flights or your hubby leaving on/returning home from a deployment... military flights change all the time.  You just have to go with the flow and expect that and try to look on the bright side and find the silver lining:
  • we slept in
  • the kids & I went by the passenger terminal and got to check out the amenities... inside play area, mother/nursing rooms, huge snack areas, nice TV common areas, Alaska wildlife displays, etc.
  • realized that I would have forgotten a few essential kid items (and have since packed them) - baby monitor, nightlight for where the kids sleep, lullaby music, and jacket for myself.
  • went to the post office to pick up a package that we missed being delivered yesterday - and then opened it up to find lots of goodies from Grannie & Pop!  Thank you!!!!!
  • enjoying a sunny Alaskan spring day where temperatures are in the mid-40s... can you say beautiful?
  • one more evening with Daddy before we go!
There is no doubt we are looking forward to our flight (fingers crossed) tomorrow - it will not only be Marilyn's first airplane ride but every one's first C-5 military aircraft ride.  Needless to say, we are all excited.  But what we are much more excited about is seeing family.  So, Brennans & Fieberlings & Sullivans... we will be there soon... promise!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: 3 Amigos

Speech Update - the List

When Abby was first evaluated for a speech delay last Fall, her expressive launguage only included 15-20 words at most (average range is 200-300 words).  No 2-word phrases were being used.  She used many gestures/signs and communicated via pointing, physical manipulation (ie: taking me by the hand to the desired object or vice versa), gestures, and facial expressions.  That was it.  We are so happy to report that Abby is making huge learning gains and is so much more confident in her speech today.  She still has some catching up to do for her age, but what and how she expresses her self is like night & day from a few months ago.

As of today, Abby's word list includes:

Purple, pink, orange, blue, yellow, green, black, red
Up, down, high, big , small, hard, one, two, three, open, dot, back, new, hot, off, on, hole, top, bottom, in, out, old, sticky

Juice, pizza, banana, apple, pea, water, snack

Function/Action words
Please, more, help, eat, done, blow, pour, roll, hop, go, no, boo, open, need, move, yeah

Body Parts
Toe, feet, eye, mouth, knee, nose, pee-pee, poo-poo
Mom, dad, boy, baby, me, my, Nana, Pop-Pop, Dora, Elmo, Amy, Abby, mine, Meh-Meh, I

Bib, bag, book, bike, hat, door, dog, bee, bow, boat, pop, house, bubble, bone, home, shoes, bed, spoon, moose, moo, ball, backpack

Approximately 100 words!  Not only is Abby's word repetoire much bigger, she is also using so many more 2 & 3 word phrases in her everyday.  We are amazed each and every day at what she puts together and how much more she is able to express herself with her words.  Way to go Abby!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Digging out the man toy

It was another absolutely beautiful day today (other than the usual winter temperatures of the mid-20s... but we are very used to that now).  Before we left base this morning to go exploring to see some new places, we went by the storage lot where people keep all their recreational toys (ie: RV campers, boats, ATVs, & snowmachines).  Brian wanted to see what the "damage" was with our 4-wheeler and to assess how much work it was going to be to dig her out.
This is what we found:
 Please, please, please notice how deep the snow is on the RV camper that is parked to the right of our 4-wheeler & trailor.  And of course, all you can see of ours is the spare tire which is mounted on the front of the trailor.  Crazy deep, right?

No.  This is crazy.
Brian deciding that it needed to be dug out today.
I'm not sure how long it took him... but I know he was gone awhile.
 Now all we need is the rest of the snow to melt (or OutDoor Rec to come and plow the inlet to our parking space) and the snowmachines to get off the trails and we can have us some FUN!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Snow... so many ways to have fun!

I realize that I post a lot of "playing in the snow" pictures... but to those of you who are nay-sayers... it's better than getting cabin fever and the Hecks never enjoying the beautiful Alaskan winter that is upon us.  Besides, if the kids are enjoying it, I don't really care that getting 3 young kids dressed in winter gear is a pain in the a$$ and takes awhile.  Their smiles and laughter are totally worth it.
So... the other day on the hill was more than just sledding.  I'm starting to think that if there is snow, my kids will find so many ways to have fun with it:

Abby decided she wanted to collect snow "boulders" and then bring the entire sled of them home with us.  Who were we to argue with her?
As per usual, the boys commenced in some good snowball throwing.
I kept my distance because I knew if I started in with the throwing, Brian would turn against me and probably try and white-wash me just to get a good laugh.  No thank you.
Baby girl enjoyed some cold snow on her gums... it does wonder for a teething aches.

If you look closer at this playground picture, you will notice the tire swing laying on the snow ground.  It's not broken.  The snow is just that high.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Night Leftovers (the "NO! Me!" edition)

  • Marilyn is growing up so fast.  It really seems like overnight she has gone from army crawling to speed crawling; pulling up on furniture to cruising around & in between furniture pieces; pushing her cart with help to doing laps around the playroom by herself. 
  • Marilyn finally got to have some fun outside this week - we hit one of our neighborhood playgrounds and she absolutely loved the swing.
  • Why is it that little boys (mine in particular) loves words like, "pee, poop, and butt," and will somehow try and fit them in in any and all conversations?
  • If I had a penny for every time I heard Abby say, "NO!  Me!"... I would be a freak'in millionaire.  The girl wants it her way all of the time.  She wants to get her snow clothes on by herself, to be first in line, to open the door before anyone else, to go to the bathroom first, to play with any and all toys first, etc.  And dare she be confronted with any opposition (Thomas) or authority (Mommy or Daddy)... she breaks out in full whining, tears, and pushing & hitting.  Yep... we have a full blown case of the Terrible Twos folks.
  • Thomas needs another little boy around so that he can run, play sword fight, wrestle, roll around and just be rough with.  I don't think the girls and I are making the cut.
  • After 20.5 years in the Air Force, Brian has stepped out of his comfort zone and accepted a special duty position as the Superintendent of Airmen Dorm Leaders.  For the first time in his career, Brian is now in a non-deployable position for the next two years (while we are here).  Needless to say... this wifey is super excited!
  • We seem to be experiencing a warming trend here in the Anchorage area... we are steadily climbing into the upper 20s and lower 30s each afternoon.  We have had a streak of sun & clear blue skys this week which is causing quite a bit of melting of our record breaking amount of snow.  I'm actually starting to see the pavement and sidewalks.  Amen!
  • I have the AMC passenger terminal (the military airport for those of you civilians) on speed dial (which I call everyday) so that I can hear what and when flights are for the next 72 hours.  California or Bust, people!
TGIF peeps... enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Groceries out the wha-zoo!

I knew there would many changes in the Heck household when we moved up here to Alaska late last summer.  Essentially, we were going from a 4 person household up to a 5 person household (Marilyn had just been born and was only 8 weeks old when we moved).  We were eliminating a huge commute for both Brian and I and thus saving on gas money.  We were losing my income as a teacher (for at least this first year).  Thomas was going to preschool 3x a week which would now be an additional bill (whereas in Florida VPK is a state funded program).  Finally, and extremely important, Brian would not only be home for lunch each day, but all of us would be home for breakfast, lunch and dinner each and everyday.  May I point out that I underestimated what that would do for the grocery bill and the amount of food that is consumed in our house each week.

To give you a glimpse of the most consumable items by all of us in the house on a weekly basis... take a look:

4 gallons of milk in 7 days
2 loaves of bread in 7 days
1 lb of cheese slices in 7 days
3 lbs of grapes in 7 days
1 bunch of bananas in 7 days
5-6 apples in 7 days
2 lbs of deli meat in 7 days
5-6 tomatoes in 7 days
2 lbs of yogurt in 7 days

People!  This is crazy.  The kids aren't even teenagers yet... they are not even 5 and 3-years old respectively.  And for Pete's sake, Marilyn isn't even a major player yet with eating a lot of table food at just 10 months old.  But the reality is we eat at home almost all of the time.  We eat fresh foods, we cook good food and frankly, like to be at home enjoying our family meals.

It really is a trade off.  The kids used to eat 2 out of their 3 meals each day at daycare - and instead, we now get to enjoy it with them.  While Brian and I usually skipped out on breakfast altogether, he ate out each day for lunch with the guys and I brought a packed lunch to school.  We have always enjoyed cooking dinner at home, but truthfully when we were back in Florida, we would sometimes scoot over to my in-laws for dinner or head out to eat more often than we do now.  The bottom line is we are home more, and thus eat more at home.  And with that... we need groceries out the wha-zoo!   

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Not what you think

This morning "conversation" is not what you think.
Although it looks like an argument shortly after waking up... it really is just a Q&A session about which cartoon show to watch.
Most of the time they agree.
Some of the time they snuggle together on the couch.
Almost always the mornings start with these two waiting patiently (not really) for me to make them each a hot chocolate.
I wouldn't want to start my day any other way!

Wordless Wednesday: Swings

Doesn't everyone need a big sister?

Monday, March 19, 2012

She might be the youngest...

... but she is certainly trying to keep up with the gang. 
Have I mentioned that she is into EVERYTHING?  Long gone are the passive & stagnant stage she was in from 6-9 months; instead, she is cruising, crawling, pulling up, walking while holding on to your fingers and figuring out how life in general is working.  

 Oh to be able to be big like her brother!
 Here is Marilyn joining in an impromptu folding session of clean laundry.  By the way... they did this while I was in the other room.  Thanks - I think?
 Here she is supervising Daddy & Abby while they lower her mattress one more notch!