Saturday, August 31, 2013

My breastfeeding story : twin preemie breastfeeding

Y'all might want to know, my friend who wrote a guest post about being on bedrest during her pregnancy, gave birth to two healthy girls at 33 weeks.

That's like, monumental to me. I was just so so SOOO happy she made it to 32 weeks.

And then not a week later I get a message from her about breastfeeding. LOL!

So here we go again...I've told this story before.

But not on the blog. So now you get it. And hopefully it will help some little someone somewhere.

Quick & Dirty
  • preemies born at 29 weeks, 5 days
  • boy in NICU for 6 weeks; girl for 8 weeks [yes those two weeks in between were awful]
  • had to double pump with the hospital grade pumps while they were in NICU 
  • had A LOT of milk to spare when they came home
  • took SIX WEEKS EACH to train both me and them how to breastfeed
  • almost gave up a gzillion times
  • the boy ended most days with a formula bottle; she had a breastmilk bottle and I pumped the last of the day for hubby to do a nighttime feeding
  • by four months of age we had managed to get a four-feeding-a-day going
  • by six months they started solids
  • by seven months he started to wean [probably was just an ear infection in retrospect]
  • by eight 1/2 months I weaned her
  • not a day went by in my bf'ing life that I didn't PUMP, and sometimes I miss it
  • barely a day went by in my bf'ing life that I didn't use a bit of formula
Slow & Painful

I was both lucky and unlucky that our kiddos ended up in the NICU.

The night of their birth, the nurses looked at me, asked if I was planning on breastfeeding, and when I said yes, they mercifully, let me rest. They said we could work on it in the morning.

The next day they wheeled in the double hospital grade pump, and I awkwardly tried it with several family members in the room. DON'T DO THAT! I feel that pumping is even more private than breastfeeding. It's almost like going to the bathroom in a weird way.

Anyways, I got into the rhythm of pumping every three hours and after two or three times I produced something.

After two or three days, I was producing A LOT. I started to fill up their fridge with my labeled milk for my babies, who, sadly, could not partake just yet.

Over their six and and eight week NICU stays I stored up a lot of milk, even as we started to feed it to them via tube, and then via bottle, and towards the end of the two months, trying, via breast. Many of the different nurses gave me tips and tried to help, but it was all very frustrating. I needed to be alone with my babies to really give it a go.

I rented a hospital-grade pump and got into the rhythm of pumping at home every 3-4 hours, and pumping at the hospital in their pumping room while I was there, after I had visited with my babies for each 3 hour feeding. After seeing them, usually, I was bursting. At home, I taped photos of them to the wall near the pump to inspire me. And then, in what seems like a blink now, but seemed like forever then, we were all home. And the real work started.

Good thing I had lots of backup. This is hubby about to transport the precious cargo across state lines.
Home at last
It was incredibly frustrating to try and get them to latch and drink. The boy was not quite strong enough latch-wise, endurance-wise, and I'm afraid I may have been producing too much and choking him. I started to pump before I saw him in the NICU to just get practice. Also, my breasts being on the larger side, his mouth was just too small. My key to him was patience with his slow, lazy, rhythm and finding a comfortable hold for him so that his nose wasn't blocked. I had many practice sessions where I fed him with my pre-pumped breast, and then switched to a bottle of my breastmilk, and then I had to pump again. Sometimes this would make me miss my daughter's feeding, because they were scheduled 30 minutes after one another with the nurses. So many feedings I had to 'pick a baby.' This was incredibly heartbreaking.
I just wanted to go straight to pages of my breastfeeding books and take them both in my arms and tandem feed. But this beautiful picture was becoming increasingly further out of my reach. Little did I know, I would be successful within six weeks of this drama.
The main issue with my girl was also the latch, but she was too strong! It hurt like hell; it was like pinching. And I was getting incredibly chafed. I needed to find the right angle for her and me so that we were both comfortable. In retrospect, with the drugs she was taking and her being required to be off milk for several days at a time, she was probably just incredibly hungry in the NICU. Sniff. When I got her home, I just couldn't get it together with her. The boy was really getting it, and I seemed to have endless supply of breastmilk bottles from the NICU in the freezer. I thought I could last two months with this stuff! I started feeding her the bottle more and just enjoying my 'special' time with my boy. But after two weeks, my supply was waning, both in my breast and in the freezer. I told my husband I was just going to feed her formula. We panicked and called the doctors and got the name of the special preemie formula we needed. He got home from the store and said to me,
You need to try. Not for you, not for the girl, but for all the women who can't do it for one reason or another.
Now, as you can see, my husband knows me very well. I simply could not let my fellow mommies down. I certainly produced enough milk, there is no reason I couldn't feed it to my baby. I told my little girl, "One more week, I'm giving you. Let's get it together, girl." And lo and behold, she did. My father happened to be visiting for a week so he was able to take care of one child while I went about the routine of baby-to-breast, baby-to-bottle, and pumping with the other.
baby-to-breast ; baby-to-bottle ; breast-to-pumping; repeat 2762 times
It was time-consuming, exhausting, and just when you think you are done with the routine, you have to do it all over again. We started making little two-ounce bottles for 'bridge' feedings if it seemed like one of them was super hungry and mama was worn out. And, because they both had that all-too-well-known-preemie-thing acid reflux, we read somewhere that sometimes cold bottles helped. So we didn't warm up any bottles for them. I think this also provided the side-benefit of motivating them to latch onto the breast if they wanted 'warm' milk.
Thus, the two-ounce fridge bottle became a mainstay of our twyn household throughout their entire infancy. 
We had plenty of those little bottles because we also needed to feed them many medications this way.
In these early days, in a 24 hour period I calculated I spent 4-5 hours breastfeeding or pumping, and gave out 27 doses of medications. I did not count the diapers!!
I read many books in the NICU [I didn't have the stamina to read them during bedrest.] One such manual, 12 hours sleep by 12 weeks old from, was my Bible. I was determined to achieve this magical promise of the title, and as they were preemies, did not expect to reach 12 hours of sleep by 12 weeks old. But I did achieve it by 5 months of age! And I made great strides at 4 months of age.

I completely recognize that I was lucky enough to be home and in control of all of these aspects of child-training at this young age, but if you are as well, I highly recommend it!

By this point I was able to tandem feed. Completely through trial and error, I discovered that sitting on the floor with my back against the couch, and with a child each on large pillows that were angled up on my thighs was my best method. I also very much liked EZ-to-nurse breastfeeding pillow as they got a little bigger. And then when they got too big, I had to go back to couch pillows and sometimes just put them straight on the floor with their heads on my thighs. I was lucky enough during my pregnancy to watch a friend-of-a-friend tandem breastfeed her 8-month-old twins at her invitation. I kept that image in my mind and her words that she never thought she'd be successful either.

By this point, I had a feeding down to 15 minutes! The kids got stronger and more efficient, and between all the feeding and double pumping, I was able to produce enough.

By this point, I had it down to four feedings a day. And, if you count in the fact that I was tandem feeding, you realize that that is less than 60 minutes of breastfeeding in a day!! 4-5 hours down to 1 hour. Amazing. Now my little boy still loved to wake up at 5 am for a night feeding, and I slowly worked on weaning him off of that, but that was the last bit of nighttime feeding I had for awhile. They, of course, had 'breakthrough' feedings occasionally, and that's when I used the two-ounce fridge bottles of breastmilk or formula I mention above.

By this point, we had a system for the end of day. I always pumped the end of my day away. It was actually a stress relief, I think. I did my three feedings for the day and for the fourth, I would pump while my husband would feed the kids bottles. One bottle, for my daughter who had a more sensitive stomach, was usually the breastmilk I pumped the night before. One bottle, for my son who was a little more hungry, was preemie formula. That allowed us to use the extra that I pumped at night for the next day's breakthrough feedings. We learned her stomach couldn't handle the formula at that time because she would wake up at night vomiting it up whenever she had it. It took a couple of nights to discover she needed to be 100% on breastmilk. Trial and error, folks. Trial. and error. [With what types of bottles and nipples and what times of holds, etc...everything!] And we suspected that little dude was a little bit hungrier because a) he was growing faster and b) I pumped more out of 'his' breast.
Oh yeah - that reminds me - upon struggling and reading up a bit - I made the choice to assign each child a breast. It was particularly helpful when we had our rounds of thrush. That was fun.
Oh my gosh I feel like there is SO much more to say - but this post is already WAY too long. The upping the ounces, the stretching the feedings, and the pumping. Oh! The pumping. If I had a little sister and she was having twins, I would buy her the most powerful and best pump on the market, and let her know that if she is going to breastfeed twins - and particularly preemie twins - she was going to need to pump. At least once a day. For the duration of her breastfeeding efforts. As the babies get older and bigger, it was actually somewhat of a stress relief for me at the end of the day. And it kept up my supply for when I was no longer nighttime feeding, and for when they started drinking less at the beginning of solid foods, and when the boy started to wean at 7 months, and then I started to wean the girl six weeks later [logistically, I was struggling with a bottle-fed child and a breastfed child. And I was starting to need to get out of the house more.]

Oh yeah, then there's engorgement at the beginning. And end. Another post for another day...

And formula. Again, if I had a little sister and she was having twins, I would get her that super strong breast pump that I mentioned, and then I would get her some premixed formula bottles. Tell her, in emergency, break glass! You're going to be pumping and your going to need formula in the house, even if it's just to supplement, or for a sitter, or for a few times a day. Or, in our case, every day, at bedtime.

You're having twins. Don't be a hero. Believe in yourself. You can do it. We all know the benefits of breastfeeding for both mama and child. But we also know the benefits of a happy, sane, mama. And you need to use ALL the tools at your disposal. I told myself during my pregnancy:
Six days - is my absolute minimum. I have to try.
Six weeks - is my goal. I have to try.
Six months - is my fantasy. I have to try. 
And I made it. To 8 1/2 months! And it's one of my greatest sources of pride. But it was not without the support of my husband, family (my mom especially of course), books, friends, twin mommies, and armaments in my arsenal.

Feel free to email me at twynmawrmom [at] gmail [dot] com or post a question in the comments here! There are more resources than you know, including your friendly twyn mommy blogger ;).

And you? Anything you learned about breastfeeding 
[perhaps twins] that you must share?


Friday, August 30, 2013

Wolfie the cat

I was in charge of feeding the neighbors' cat this week.

So I go over to their back patio, leave his food, and the deal is done. I know the drill. I've done this before.

However, this week, Wolfie decided to come visit us on our back patio, perhaps he was just lonely.

So of course the twyns gave him some luv.
And he wasn't budging.

So I was afraid the local fox ate his food, so I gave him a can of tuna.

Whoopsie, Wolfie....[you dawg heh heh]

Cuz he came back everyday since.

And I ran out of tuna!

But he's still hanging on.

See...this is why I can't have pets! I treat them like people.

When my brother and I used to both live in NYC, I would sometimes cat-sit in my little studio apartment. And when Althea the cat wanted to sleep, she would circle the bed until I turned off all the lights and fell asleep with her.

What can I say? I'm a sucker. A softie. I'll feed anything that comes to my back patio...


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thwarted! How I ended up in my own personal spin class know I've been struggling with motivation.

I thought : this last week before the kids go back to preschool, let me get a sitter one more time to get that one last long bike in. Because next week, the week before the race, I'm not going to want it. So I scheduled it.

And then it rained.


So...well you know what? I've been meaning to get in another long swim, too, since I was mad at myself for taking it for granted before my sprint tri a few weeks ago.
Yep; totally wearing my triathlon mami shirt for inspiration.
And...then I'll run and/or strength and/or stretch...see what the gym has to offer me.

And then I get to the gym and see:

Thwarted. again!!

Ok so...treadmill for 10 miles? That sounds absolutely dreadful. Stationary bike? Can't stand those. Actually have one of those awful things in my basement so what was the point of coming here...

But...the spin room is open and no one's in there...hmmm....Let it be said, in my three years of spinning, I have never once stepped into the spin room on my own. But why be intimidated by a room of empty spin cycles?
I no longer am.

I went for it. And I rocked it. I was super into it. I'm surprised I didn't yell out orders to myself. I was pretty tough! I decided to use each song that came up in the shuffle as the basis of my structure for 50 minutes of sprint, climb, stand, and driving in aero position.

A Spin Class All my Own (50 mins)
[disclaimer: there is a heavy dose of Black Eyed Peas] 
  • Sprint = you are mostly out of breath, high rpms, low resistance
  • Climb = increase resistance til your pace is slowed down
  • Aero = resting your elbows and forearms on the handlebars to focus on legs
  • Off your seat = either in running position (straight up), in position "3", which is leaning over the handlebars and holding them lightly; or a combo of both
  • One foot should be hitting the (down) beat of the music for best pace
1. Warm up that feels like sprinting. 
"Treasure" by Bruno Mars
2. Steady Climb.
 "Tunnel Vision" by Justin Timberlake
3. Sprint
"Wild Ones" by Flo Rida
4. Off your seat, alternating positions during phrases in choruses
"Yeah Yeah" by Willy Moon
5. Aero position, a medium amount of resistance and focusing on legs, driving
"You're the Voice" by David Archuleta
6. Sprint
"Move Along" by All American Rejects
7. Off your seat, climbing, alternating positions during phrases in choruses
"Boom Boom Pow" by Black Eyed Peas
8. Sprint
"Pump it" by Black Eyed Peas
9. Aero, a medium amount of resistance and focusing on legs, driving (recovery if you need)
"If my Heart Had Wings" by Faith Hill
10. ONE LAST PUSH! Combo a bit of climb out of seat & sprint the choruses to finish 
"Crazy on You" by Heart
11. Cool down, easy ride, easy resistance
"Leather & Lace" by Stevie Nicks

Then I ran. Some sprint intervals. Niiiice. 

All this, even though I picked up the headphones in the house that only work on one side.


Some abs, back & stretching, and I'm hitting the showers. But then this:
Thwarted, thwarted, thwarted.

Boy, that is hard to say three times fast. Would be a good theatre warm up.

Well I don't hate a cold shower in the summertime, gotta be honest...

This is why I tri, people...always an option at the gym! 

And because I wasn't fitting in a long bike, I managed to reward myself with "I have a Herring problem" pedi:

Do you lead your own personal classes? 
Do you judge/age me by my music choices?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

sUn-edited: I want it to be over- final weeks of half iron training

If you have hung out with me any bit in the last two-three weeks you know that I'm ready for September 8th to be here and gone.

I'm ready for my half-iron training to be over.

I guess it started around March 1st, when I set my sights on kick-starting my season with logging 140.6 in a month. Not super ambitious, but just a warm up to the season. And it worked. I was fired up!

I set about prepping for my three big single-sport races in succession: Broad Street 10 miler run May 5th; Tour de Cure Bike 64.5 mile bike ride June 1st; and Steelman Open Water Swim 5k July 14th. I think having a singular focus, while keeping tabs on the other two disciplines was a pretty good method for me mentally.

Then I broke the single sport seal with a sprint tri last weekend, IronGirl reunion with my first tri buddy [you never forget your first ;)], and I felt really good about my pace and performance.

But now I'm just done. I'm just so over it. I'm just nervous and resigned, anxious and lazy, moody and twitchy. I don't want to do any more training. I don't think I've done enough training. But there's not much I can do at this point.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I haven't actually trained that hard, but I've trained harder than I ever have in my life. I'm more well trained this year than ever before. I'm more fit than I've ever been. I'm more ready for the half-iron distance than I ever have been, but I'm certainly not as ready as the last gal who did one, and the next gal who will.

My friend's husband who is a competitive triathlete advised me yesterday: 
"Don't go too hard out on the first half of the bike." 
I responded: 
"Don't worry; I don't do anything too hard."
I'm just not that good at this! I know now I could never do an Ironman. At least not in my current lifestyle. Not in my current body. Not by myself [without a coach, a club, or at least a fellow racer.] And not without some more money spent on gear, nutrition, and possibly travel. And that's ok. As I've recently read here, it's not the 'pinnacle' of our sport; it doesn't have to be my endgame for me to call myself a triathlete.

I can just be me, doing my favorite race distance, as often as I like. Maybe even getting a little faster at it year after year.

Enjoying myself.

I'm not enjoying myself now. I did a 10 mile run with my friend yesterday. Thank goodness for racing friends! I hope to do another long run in the coming week, a speed run or two, and maybe a speed bike/spin class and another long bike. But five/six months was too long. I'd like to say I train year-round, but I don't. I like a few months off. This is the longest season I've had.

I'm not signing up for another race before or after the half-iron. I keep talking about a few, but I'm making myself NOT. I'd just like to take some fitness classes, do some more strength training and weight-loss focused exercises, and enjoy myself. I'd like to lose some more weight; I was doing well. I can't lose any more weight while training. It's called runger, Mr. Scale. Deal with it.

I want it to be DONE. Please let me make it through. Please let me not lose my breath during the swim. Please let me find my path. Please let me not bonk on the .4 mile transition out of the water to the bike. Please let me make it up that bridge on the bike. Please let me not slip down the bridge. Please let me start the run running. Please let me be able to run the majority of the 13.1 so I'm not the last person on the course. Please let me not stumble and fall on the gravel. Please let me be able to text my husband and please let him be able to show up with the kids so that I can actually meet them at the finish line. Please let the finish line still be up when I reach it. Please don't let it take me 8 hours. Please let there be one photo of me that doesn't look like Oprah when she ran the MCM.

I love Oprah; but I don't really think my tits and thighs look like hers in real life, do they??

Please let me get that sticker. And then please let it be over. And I will never make you do another one again, I promise, twynmawrmom. I promise.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fun Photos Friday #funforFriday

The summer sure has gone by in a Flash...
New games were invented...
Bathrooms were re-decorated...
People on the jumbo-tron were laughed at...
Race medals were stolen...
Superheroes came to visit...
Pink fluffy things were devoured...
Home runs were too loud...
Music concerts were not...
And there was dancing...
Kisses were almost exchanged...
And an occasional nap was enjoyed by all...
Monkeys were spotted...
Princesses, too...
And, just like that, gone in a Flash again...
Oh wait, that was just this week...


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Yup, I'm calling you a liar

Everyone SAYS "Today I marry my best friend..."; 
"I've been married to my best friend for..."; 
"My husband is my best friend..."

Guess what. 

Y'all are a bunch of lying liars!! 

On my wedding day, one of our best friends, 
presented me a beautiful card that contained this photo in it: 
As proof of times to come.

And, he really was my best friend.

And lucky for me, he still is. 

And lucky for him, I still fit into my wedding dress!

In case you haven't guessed, today is our wedding anniversary. 

That's 9 years of marriage, 13 years together, and 18 years of friendship. 

*BEST* friendship.

Now don't you feel like a lying liar now??

Monday, August 19, 2013

Irongirl Sprint Tri 2013 recap: Don't forget your strength

Quick & Dirty
  • my second time doing this race with my first tri buddy; 2007 & 2013
  • we plan on a rematch 2016 [our 40th's]
  • lost a minute each on swim [crowded] & run [wrong music choice]
  • smashed the bike, even in the scary rain [16 mph versus 14 mph]
  • improved transition times
  • overall placement & time HUGE WIN [finished top 30%; usually finish in the bottom 30%]

Slow & Painful & lessons learned

NUTRITION: my first race away from the comforts of home, & ack! my coffee!
So this was my first race away from home - as payment for my hubby's guilt over his post-race-nap-streak over the previous 6 years. In case you haven't been paying attention, he takes a nap after every single one of my races. Whether he's spectating or at home watching the kids, apparently my efforts render him sleepy. So after the last race he had said, "I owe you one." And not a few weeks later my friend suggested the race and I got to say to him, "Actually, sweetheart..." 
So that's how we got a weekend away ;)
Well the upside to this, was, of course, shopping, girl time, and sitting outside on a Saturday afternoon drinking unlimited iced teas and engaging in the often unobtainable holy grail of motherhood: uninterrupted conversation.

The downside was that I was not in control of my race morning nutrition. I didn't have my raisin bread. No worry. Sub a luna bar, no prob.

BUT...but...I frantically call down to the front desk at our hotel when I realize there are only decaf packets of coffee in the auto-drip machine they have in our room and he assures me that they will bring some by...and...and...they never do!!! 

No prob. I'll just drink this decaf and have my caffeinated Gu's and they will take over and it will all be ok. 

Nope. Two hours before race time, just as the first elite racers are finishing up, we still have yet to hit our swim wave time and I'm just about to puke. And not in a pre-race-jitters kind of way.

You see, there were these lovely Presbyterians there who were offering FREE COFFEE to everyone and I thought they were indeed in a higher order of being. So I partook.

However, I had already had my large cup of decaf. And two large cups of coffee, regardless of the caffeine content, was still going to eat away at my stomach without some eggs and grits to go along with it. 


THE SWIM: .6 mile lake swim; weedy, reedy & warm

So...I'm mad at myself.

[What else is new.]

This race was the first triathlon for me this year! It was always a part of my half-ironman race plan: to hit some single-sport endurance races, then hit this sprint race as I round out my training and prepare the mother of all three sports combined on September 8th.

So far, so good. I'm feeling like my mental training, as well as my physical training, in this stepwise single-focus manner, has actually worked. So far...

The one thing I will say, is that it highlighted an issue: I've neglected my swimming!

Um, I rely on my swimming. I count on my swimming. My swimming is there for me, no matter what I do to it.

I can do sprints. I can do the backstroke. I can lift weights. 

My swim time. Will never. change. 

So why try? Why train? Why get the cap on, hit the cesspool and put in my time? 

Well, TwynMawrMom, now you know why. 

I have not swum since the 5k on July 14th. 
[unless you count scuba and six-year-old birthday parties]

Bad girl. Bad, bad, BAD girl!! 

And I remembered the last time I swam in IronGirl Columbia, I got kicked in the head.

So I was not feeling like jockeying up to position, and elbow-ing out my fellow ladies for a chance to PR my measly little .6 mile swim. I'll stay to the side, take my time making a wide angle around the buoys, and drive this bitch home when everyone else gets tired.

Well, this strategy did not work. I should have jockeyed. I should have elbowed [a little] [I literally heard ladies apologizing to each other, such a nice folk, these tri ladies with no fear of zombie men appearing out of the depths], and I should have started out in my spot so that I could have cleared my way a bit and swam at my pace.

Instead, I spent the first .4 miles behind a lot of breast-strokers and newbies who wanted to stay close to the buoys for their own safety and I could not, for the life of me, clear a path for myself.

And I was getting a little bit winded!! And frustrated. I wound around the little island, sighted the finish, and got aggressive. I could have played this differently. This is not just a triathlon for me; this is now what they refer to as a sprint, and more importantly what *I* refer to as a sprint, so I should have been able to sprint. it.

So, to beat myself up, and get myself on my way, I BOOKED it to my bike. Can't wait to see that awful pic. I must've passed ten ladies just out of the lake. LOL. Who are you? Rinny? Give me a break.

My friend also felt this title of the post; because, as a ten-time-marathon-veteran, she neglected her run training and suffered thusly. Silly girls.


THE BIKE: 16 miles; hilly, rainy & wet

They changed the bike course; it is not just a little bit changed from 6 years ago but mostly changed. There is still the last big climb but now there are also many smaller little climbs. I would hazard to say it is all up and down. It's not unlike Bucks County. It has some doozies. And it was raining. 

I told my friend it would keep me from 'taking the hills'. But it didn't. I still hit a max 32 mph on some; and it was good. And I wept on one of the downs it was so good. And I was thinking of my family troubles and it was therapeutic. I was free. 

But then there were the up's and I passed a few people. And I was feeling my training and it was good. And I was happy girl. And I was going to make under an hour and I did. I got back to the rack and was one of the first in my group to re-rack and it felt fan-freakin-tastic.

And women are super polite as they pass you, and as you pass them. And we all yelled "Go." And if you are training for this course, prepare for a hilly spin class. 

THE RUN: 3.4 miles; around the lake with one nice climb & lots of high fives

Peeking through the trees here, you can see up ahead the ladies running across the last bit of the race course
This is a typical 'around the lake' run. The transition is pretty short and you get started right away. The path is typically narrow but the swim waves are so spread out you will not be that crowded. Right around the mile 2 marker is the 'big up' and back down. If you train on hills you can't call it hilly; but if you are on the treadmill most of the time you will want to prepare for it. A lot of women were walking the uphills. It is hard to face after all the bike hills for your first triathlon.

I don't know how this race is so great for beginners, but also so challenging!! I guess because it is truly so well organized. I can't find a better organization than TriColumbia. Wished I still lived closer to the area.
This is the little walking area surrounding several restaurants next to the Sheraton
In fact, we stayed at the Sheraton Columbia, the 'race' hotel, and they had a shuttle bus system to/from the race 2.2 miles away and that worked out great. We got a late checkout (1 pm instead of 12 pm), and were able to come home on the bus, shower and change, and then drive up to get our bikes. We then headed straight back to where the Sheraton is located because that is also where the mall is located, and ate lunch before heading our separate ways.  

And then Lana del ray came on my radio on my drive home and I almost fell asleep.

Seriously, she can suck it.

So have you done races away from home? 
Have you met a friend for a race weekend away?? 
Do you neglect your strength? 
Do you hate Lana del ray too? 
Proud, two-time-IronGirls

Friday, August 16, 2013

Disney Cruise Videos #funforFriday

Take your pick - short - medium - long - 
All Mickey Mouse, all the time on the TwynMawrMom radio network...
[til it's not ;)]




Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Disney Cruise: the second time around

We managed to capture this lucky moment at the goodbye party!
There are sooo many things to say. Not the least of which, is that I am [poor me] tired from the trip home. Not good, Disney. Port out of NYC again, or Baltimore. Come on!

Last August, 2012, we sailed for 8 nights from NYC to the Bahamas on the Disney Magic.
This August, 2013, we sailed for 7 nights from Port Canaveral to the Western Caribbean on the Disney Fantasy.

Anyhoo, here's what was different, this second time around:

1. The boat was twice as big
On our first cruise one of our fellow, more experienced passengers informed us he liked all of the Disney ships and that even with the bigger ones, where there are twice the people, there is twice the space, so you don't feel all the extra people. I'd say: WRONG. Hubby felt more of the 'banquet-style' seating & feeding process, and the pools were more crowded, and it was actually quite a bit more walking around to get to where you were going. Twice the shopping: good. Twice the people vying for seats at the show: not good. We would definitely choose the Disney Magic or Wonder in future sailings, as opposed to the Dream and Fantasy. The classic ocean liner charm and intimacy [however much intimacy you can have with 2000 people] was lost with 4000 people. You know those elevator conversations you have with people, and it gives you a little smile in your day? Well you might see those people again on the Magic, and continue your conversation. You would not likely see them again on the Fantasy.

2. Fitness
I did it! I did the 5k! I did a yoga class! I ran on the treadmill! It was dumb. I wouldn't have done it, except I have a race coming up this weekend. I just about fell off the treadmill because of the boat movement. The yoga class was actually quite difficult and kept my hamstrings tight the first two days, and the 5k was hot as h-e-double-l. I totally admired the people in the gym who were just there to work off their buffet, but I could have totally passed on the whole thing. Don't get me wrong, the gym was lovely. But walking around the boat, even up and down the stairs, and at all the excursions, including scuba, which does burn quite a few calories, would have been enough to me to justify the extra weight I'd need to scrub after disembarkation. I didn't need to flex my abs for my fellow passengers like some people. Just sayin'.

3. Togetherness
Last year my extended family was pleasantly surprised at all there was to do on the cruise, and we all seemed to find our perfect little vacay-within-a-vacay. This year it may have been a little too much togetherness. I know my brother's family, with the third child being only 15 months, struggled with the lack of the activities for the little one and the sleeping arrangements with five in a cabin. We, on the other hand, found our kids were more capable of some of the activities on board this time, like the scavenger hunts around the ship, the character parties, the slides at the pool, the pirate night party, and, naturally, of course, we hit all the shows this time around [and stayed for the entire duration of each.] Their age group may have just been perfect for this go-around. Which, conversely, kept us from finding times to link up with the rest of our family members in between their chosen activities.

The club on the Fantasy includes a Toy Story room

Little dude learning how to navigate the ship!
Geared up for Castaway Cay day
The pools and slides were even more a hit this time
Castaway Cay

The Scavenger hunt led us to every corner of the ship, including this painting in the art museum that winked at us!

4. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Pirates' League experience
I have tried my best to encourage my little princess to be a - well - princess, but alas, she has passed on several occasions to get the toddlers-and-tiara-level disney boutique experience. Getting done up like a pirate, however, was never a doubt in her mind and she and her brother got the full treatment. The golden doubloon, the tattoos, the eye patch...the works. The Disney Fantasy has a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on board the ship, like the one in Downtown Disney and the one near Cinderella's Castle in Disney World. It is hard to get an appointment on one of the days that there is a "princess gathering", which entails the majority of Disney Princess characters standing in the lobby of the boat for about an hour while you get an opportunity to go down the line and take a pic with each one. I totally heart the princess gathering. My daughter, not so much. She just wanted a pic with the ladies in the 'background.' She totally changed her tune on the last night, perhaps realizing she was running out of time to be dramatically bashful, and we snapped a pic with her and Aurora and Tiana (and Donald.)
Anyways, back to pirate-ing. On 'pirate night' day, the ship does a little transforming and everything is pirate-themed, including the Boutique. It is now the Pirates' League. We got appointments for the kids at 4 pm and 4:45 pm, right before dinner so they didn't have time to mess up their beards before dinner. They loved it!! They got really into their 'pirate oath', and each had chosen a catch-phrase as they encountered maties aboard the ship. The little guy's was "Ahoy!" and the little girl's was "Argh!" There are cute backdrops to get professional photos done in the lobby before dinner, and afterwards, of course, there are two pirate parties. There is one after the 5:45 dinner seating for younger kids, and then there is one starting at around 10:15 after the 8:30 dinner seating, during which Captain Jack Sparrow does something dramatic and fireworks go off. We actually got to both parties this year, a total score, as we missed both last year: one with the kids and one just the two of us. We watched the fireworks go off as the kids played in the club downstairs happily. They were done with swashbuckling.
Getting his little beard on...
Totally into it
Little girl seeing little guy pirate for the first time
Proud to take her oath
Navigating rough [virtual, in the portrait/game] seas
Pirate party: check!
Everyone gets in on the pirate action
Be wary of pirates on deck!

5. A chance to reminisce
One of the ports-of-call was Cozumel, Mexico. This is where hubby and I got engaged. We bravely led the group to the main square in town in search of our favorite restaurant of the trip. In the heat and with five kids in tow, we had doubts. The port terminal is a huge outdoor maze of a mall, and they honestly do not want you to find your way out of it! But we made it out of the mall, north a few blocks, and into the square. And our restaurant, and our Mexican platter for two, was still there. And it tasted just as good. If you ever have a chance to go, hit up Casa Denis in the southeast corner of the square opposite the ferry terminal. It's self-proclaimed the oldest restaurant in Cozumel. We're going to venture, it's at least the tastiest.

6. Oh la la! Remy!
Enjoying the champagne cocktail at Oh La La bar in the adult lounge area.
There is one adults-only restaurant aboard the Magic: Palo, a fine Italian dining experience with an added fee. You make a reservation and hope the kids don't call you out to pick them up at the club downstairs that night. I heard a rumor they do their best knowing big-brother-style that you are at Palo and try to steer the kids in another direction. On the Disney Fantasy there is another Palo, and there is also: Remy. Remy is the French adults-only restaurant and we just about drank the strongest kool-aid this joint had to offer because we were drooling all the way back to Philly. It is named after the rat in Ratatouille, and they even show you the wine bottles from the movie in their cabinets on your way in. They started us off with a champagne-and-pear-vodka cocktail (yes, please!) and we shared two tasting menus as they suggested, and we found everything to be magnifique. In the effort of full disclosure my parents went on another night and found it to be too modern for their taste, and too many people serving them. It was not the traditional French restaurant they were hoping for. Indeed we were visited by our head waiter, a bread person, a separate water person, the sommelier, the amuse-bouche person, the in-between-courses-sorbet person, the manager, and the cheese person. You know, all those people wanting to serve me while there were probably an equal number of people entertaining my children downstairs didn't really bother moi!!!
Hubby's dessert at Remy

7. And...more togetherness...
As anyone who has traveled with extended family knows, it is not easy getting everyone on the same schedule, the same page, and under the same roof. But it is worth it. These are the times of our lives and our children's lives that we will never get back. I think back on the special times I shared in my youth with my cousins and grandparents and think about how I could have had even more. I don't look back on the fights, the meltdowns, and the disparities. I think about the love, the meals, the celebrations, and shared history. To share more of those times, while we are all healthy and able, is truly priceless. Mickey may be magical, but he is not all-powerful, unfortunately.

But he sure is cute!

Thanks for reading, 
tuning into my guest posts last week, 
and I promise I'll catch you up on 'real life' soon enough!

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