i'm in love

I have been a runner off and on throughout my life since as far back as I can remember. It started when my dad found running, and got the family involved. I would guess it was probably 1st or 2nd grade that he had us running 5ks, and pretty soon we were doing a few 10ks. Dad was a marathon runner, and I have never really put much thought into it before recently.

At times, I felt very forced into running, and therefore never really liked it (well, because of that and the fact that I could be one hell of a lazy kid). In 2006 when Austen and I got engaged, I started working out and jogging to try to lose weight. While I have never appeared too terribly fat, there were times that I was indeed overweight, and I have really struggled with it since my teen years. Part of the problem was my love for alcohol. This is another one of the things that I can partially attribute to generations of alcohol dependence in various family members. I have no shame, and I will admit it-- I am just fortunate that I can look back and identify that there were times in my life where it had too much control over me. I am happy to say that I am past that point in my life. But back to the weight-- alcohol never helped.

Even when I took up running for weight loss, it didn't "stick" in my life and it was never consistent. The 10k mud run in 2007 helped me build a foundation, but I always ditched running when things got too chaotic in my life.

It feels damn good to say that running is now very much so a part of my life. I work full time, I have a 20 month old child and a husband that works 60-plus hours a week. More so than before, I have plenty of excuses not to be consistent, but it is part of my routine and has been for several months now. My thought pattern regarding running and any other type of workout used to be more like "I love running....I hate running.... I love running.... I hate running...." And ya know, I simply love running now. I am slow as hell and sometimes just running a couple miles is hard on my mind, but I love it. It is my meditation, my time to reflect. The things I think about when running... creation, love, death, nature, history. I am in a friggin beautiful place where my mind is free to wander! It is like a high that nothing else could give me. Maybe the effect it has on me has to do with my addictive personality.

I fully realize this post is strange and frank and maybe too honest. Obviously, I ran this morning and will feel good because of it all day. Some weeks I am unable to run as often as I would like. Anything less than three runs a week is not enough, and I am noticeably grumpy when I only get in that many runs.

I have done two half marathons and am not nearly as crazy as my father to be running full marathons. I don't think I could do it, but I also don't want to. However, I do want to run a few more halves, and I want to make improvements. I am still slow as molasses, but I want to get a little faster. I am already getting there, and that feels good. More than anything, it makes me a better person. More energized and more focused. It makes me a better wife, a better mom. I have a long way to go, but it is great to know I have found something that helps.

So there is no real reason for this post, other than to say thank you Dad for instilling this in me. To thank Austen for helping me have my 30 minutes to an hour of me-time every other day. And to shout from the rooftops, I LOVE RUNNING!

Until next time, aloha.

no more promises

Well, as always, I haven't blogged in forever and a day I will not make another empty promise to blogland not to take so long before posting again, because who knows when i will actually have time to do it again.

There have been enormous changes for the Drake household. I have been full-time at madd for quite some time now. Forest seems to love day care, and I still love my job. Austen is of course still at SSFM. I am so proud of him, as he passed his LEED exam a couple of months ago. He never ceases to amaze me, that man. Im a pretty lucky gal.

Speaking of which, Austen has been so patient and cooperative with my new found running obsession. After completing the Hilo half, I met my mom on Oahu and we finished the Run Like a Wahiine half together. Unfortunately, the race was a hell of a lot harder than we had both anticipated. My time was a few minutes slower than the Hilo half, but we had the best long-weekend together EVER. It was really great for my mom and I to spend time together just the two of us. We made the most out of our girl time in Waikiki. We shopped, we went hiking at Diamond Head, we exercised, we ate, we drank, we went to the beach... it was one of the most fun times I have ever had, seriously. I miss my mom so much, and I hope we can make somewhat of a tradition of that kind of thing (although she swears no more halves for her).

And speaking of my mom, today is her birthday. Probably not the happiest she has ever had, as Grandpa was in the hospital again and is now in a rehab facility (not the drug kind, haha). My mom also amazes me, with her tireless dedication to my grandpa who suffers from alzheimers. I cant imagine what it would be like to see my own father's mind deteriorate...my heart aches for my aunt Cathy and my mom, who care for him daily.

On the horizon for me is the Maui half in January and the Hilo again in March. Running is my saving grace. It is a stress reliever, a meditation session...it keeps me healthy and feeling alive. I want to be around to experience my child's life and that right there is my motivation. And from what I've seen so far, I realize I have a high energy child to keep up with.

Forest is doing great and of course growing like a weed. He is the purpose of both mine and Austen's lives, and we now know that. He is such a trip.

So instead of a promise, let me just say HOPEFULLY I CAN DO BETTER (especially now thta I have myself a cool little new gadget to type on).

Aloha for now.

a new year

Ughhh, long time no blog. My excuse is, as always, computer issues. I am ALWAYS thinking, "oh, I need to blog about this when I have access to a computer." Sometimes I even write it down, what I want to write about. But we happen to STILL have a dinosaur of a computer, which oftentimes keeps me from getting on a computer at all, since it is the only one I have access to. I don't even want to bother with it. We did, however, dump a lot of our photos on to an external hard drive the other day, so hopefully it can keep up long enough for me to post.
I haven't written in months, but a lot has gone on. I am still officially employed at the homeless shelter as a holiday/weekend reflief worker, but I haven't picked up any hours since January. Around that same time, I caught wind that MADD was hiring a part-time victim advocate. I was extremely interested, and over a month later, I got the job and began with MADD. I have been there a little over a month, and it is the first social work job I have had that I 100% believe in the mission and the work that is being done. I am so happy to be part of such a fantastic organization.
Forest now attends daycare three full days a week. Thanks to a friend that I made in the field a few years back, I found the most perfect in-home daycare. The provider's name is Cheryl, and she is a Godsend. She is wonderful with the kids, she has an extra lot allowing plenty of outside play, and she is conveniently located near mine and Austen's offices. It is ideal. Forest attends, along with the friend's child. They are the same age, and I love that he gets to be near other kids. At first, of course, he cried when I would drop him off. But I am happy to report that one month later, he now hardly notices when I drop him off. One day I even tried to give him a kiss and hug before leaving, and I got the cold shoulder! He loves it. And I couldn't be more pleased.
Work is going well, and I am definitely learning a lot. I sometimes feel out of my element, since we so often deal with the judicial system. I also have to present often, and public speaking is one of my lower abilities. But in this time of starting my career again, I have reminded myself that I will be tested and tried. I am often reminded of when Austen started at SSFM. When he left Texas, he was leaving a career of worker bee type civil engineering. Now I look at him, and he is leading projects. He is speaking at public meetings, he is moving up in his career. When he first came to Hawaii and began his new positions, there were times that I know he felt out of his element. There were times when I don't know that he wanted to go to work. But I think that putting yourself out there probably makes you stronger. I don't think that growing and making strides comes without challenges and effort.
So, I am challenging myself. I am reminding myself that even at times when I feel out of my element, I am growing and learning.
Speaking of challenges and growing, two weeks ago I completed my first half-marathon. I successfully surpassed my goal of just finishing a half-marathon--- I also ran the whole way. I have said a few times that I didn't know if I could do it, but I think I knew I could, it was just that I didn't know if I believed others thought I could. Does that make any sense? Probably not. But it does to me.
Running the Hilo half was amazing. I can try to put it into words, but it's difficult. I was so nervous, mostly because I felt like I didn't belong, like I wasn't elite enough. I was, afterall, just a 12-13 minute miler who simply wanted to finish something that I had never tried before. The race started at 6am, miles north of Hilo. I had to be at the bus stop by 4:45 am, which means I had to rise at 3:30 am. Austen got up with me and made me a breakfast sandwich. I drank as much water as I could (cus I sure love water) and then drove myself into town in the dark.
The race started, and I paced myself and reminded myself that it is just for fun, just to finish a goal. It was damp and drizzly, and dark for at least an hour. We were running out of Pepeekeo. I used my iPhone, listening to my Pandora Lady GaGa station, embarassingly enough. The hills were up, down, up down. Killer hills. My junky, high octane music kept me trucking. At one point, we ran by the Botanic Gardens. We ran through the scenic drive on the highway, which Austen and I drove through as tourists the year we got married. The year that we could do nothing other than dream about moving to Hawaii. The year that we almost missed a flight because we were driving in absolute awe, so slowly, that we lost track of time. And at this moment, running through the waterfalls and over the water flowing down from the mountains near the botanical gardens in the rainforest of Hawaii, Iz came on my Pandora Lady GaGa station. It was Somewhere Over the Rainbow. The song that we had the ukulele player play at our wedding on the beach. How Pandora gets that I might want to hear this song, when I usually "thumbs up" crap such as Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Queen, and Beyonce, it is beyond me. It was just....ugh, meant to be. I swear, at this moment, I told myself, this is where I am supposed to be at this very moment in time.
Before I knew it, I somehow arrived at mile the mile 11 marker. I had just finished 10 miles, and it had taken me precisely 2 hours. I turned around to see if anyone was near....nobody was too close. I called Austen on my phone, which was strapped to my arm, and told him that I would probably finishing sooner than we had thought, and that he and Forest should leave the house. We had estimated I would finish somewhere after three hours. Being that I had never run more than 8.3 miles, we thought I would be walking some of it.
The last few miles proved to be the most difficult, as I had indeed underprepared. However, it was one of the most fun experiences ever. I can't wait to do it again next year.
My mom and I are meeting on Oahu in less than two weeks to run the Run Like a Wahine Honolulu half. This one is also just about finishing, having fun, and spending time with just my mom--something I haven't done in as long as I can remember. I am thrilled to do it. And I can't wait till my next half after that, whatever it will be. That is going to be the one that I aim for under 2.5 hours.
This is what I have learned about myself. If I want to do it, I can do it. Here is another thing I have learned about myself, which is definitely most surprising: I am like my parents. Yup, it has become that time in my life where I see it, crystal clear. I am my mom. I am my dad. And you know what? I am pretty damn proud of that.
Yup, this is the only official pic I got. It is not pretty, but it is all I got. I also learned from my dad that I should smile when I see a photographer.
Until next time...which I swear will be SOON!!

november 26

One year ago today, my life changed in the best way possible. One month ahead of schedule, little Forest William made his way into this crazy world of ours.

The advice we received from all of the other parents in the world was varied. We learned to take it with a grain of salt. But there was one thing that we should have paid more attention to, and it was the only thing they all had to say in common: savor every single moment, as time flies by. As I sit here in Arlington, Texas one year later, I can't help but focus on how fast the year has come and gone.

From the beginning, I found myself looking back and thinking that it went by too fast. His arrival, being one month early, surprised us and we were unprepared. There were no pictures with the OBGYN, there was no video... why is it that I already forget parts of the experience?

Today we went to the Drake Thanksgiving at Austen's granddad's house in Forth Worth. Austen's cousin has a baby a few months younger than Forest. Forest was that size just a few months back, doing the same things (or I should say, they were both not doing things, as he's that age where babies can't roll over and hold their heads up well). Forest was that size, and he had that little newborn baby cry that is so different than the older baby's cry. But why did it feel so long ago? Why was it so hard to remember?

So as I find myself saying over and over, "I can't believe it's been a year" and "I can't believe he's one," I am trying to remind myself to savor these moments. To remember them, to soak them in. Especially this vacation. Spending Thanksgiving with my family and then Austen's, on Forest's first birthday-- it is so special.

two and a half drakes

Considering the weekends are the only times that we really get a chance to work on the house, it has come a long way. Sometimes I do what I can during the week while Forest naps. But lately I have been picking up extra shifts at work here and there, and working past midnight means needing to catch up with the houshold stuff (groceries, laundry, cleaning...). I really haven't been doing much in terms of house painting during the week. So what I'm trying to say here is that somehow we have managed to almost finish painting the house. Austen has been working on it every free second he gets, and we were able to hire someone to help us the past two weekends (we had to get someone to paint the roof).

Good thing, because the rainy season will be here any day. It is actually rainy today for the first time in a long while. That's a good thing, because the Big Island is in the midst of a drought.

Forest, as expected, continues to grow and and is quickly getting closer to becoming a toddler. He is standing up a lot and crawls with warp speed. He keeps me on my toes, and I love it. All of a sudden, over the past few months, he has really become a little person. No more baby that just lays there, needing only milk, a diaper change, or sleep. Now he is active and boisterous (even after having mono) and he really gets moving. I can't imagine our little household without him in it.

Work is... well, it's going. A couple of times now, the person that comes in after me has not shown up, and I was left scrambling to find someone at last minute to come relieve me. I have no desire to work a midnight to 8am shift, and I never would have taken the job if I knew that would be expected if an unreliable coworker didn't show up. For this reason, I gave my notice today. I am pretty upset about it, because it is a great agency and I had hoped to transition into full-time with the place. However, I am a parent and my family comes first. I am still nursing and I do not get to just sleep in if I have to work later than expected. So, pretty soon I will be back to just being a mom again. I am even getting crazy hair-brained ideas of working on my master's again. Who knows. I feel kind of aimless when it comes to my future plan. But I am trying to live in the present, and right now I am a mom, that is my main job.

Austen and I celebrated our third anniversary. He was going to have to work from Kona on the Monday after, so I requested off work a month in advance, since I don't have childcare options on the weekend other than Austen. He ended up not needing to work, but we went to Kona anyway, and it was perfect. I enjoyed celebrating together and not having visitors for the first anniversary ever. Forest was a perfect angel-- he didn't fuss at all at our anniversary dinner and was happy to go swimming.

Austen had his 32nd birthday on Thursday. We kept it very low key, because we are sticking to a new budget. We want to be able to send Forest to college one day!

My birthday is next week. It's funny how little we care about our birthdays anymore...the baby is all that matters. Now, his birthday is another story-- I can't wait to have a baby luau for him here and another birthday party for him in Texas at my parents'. We are so looking forward to seeing all of our family-- and Austen hasn't seen most of his family in way too long. I know that he really looks forward to spending time with his dad.

Austen's mom is in the process of moving here. It will be totally different than what we are used to having family here. We are so used to kind of living in our own little world. Who knows, maybe we have become recluses! I'm not certain what her date of arrival is, but I know she is looking forward to her journey. It's a very exciting journey, especially before reality sets in ;)

That is the latest with our family...forgive me for my lack of writing well! I am brain dead from going to bed at 2am. I go back in today at 4 and will recover on Monday and be back to my old self on Tuesday. I've said it before, but I mean it this time! Next week I will get my ass in gear, as I really want to train for the Hilo half marathon.

I will leave you with an adorable video of Forest jammin to some reggae music. Here is a list of what I have noticed are his favorite things: Barney, Cheerios, poi mixed with applesauce, reggae music, Lambert, and swimming. He's quite the little character.


the subtleties of nature

When we first moved to Hawaii, I never would have believed that there were any noticeable differences in the seasons. Over two years later, I am finally noticing the subtle changes that occur here as fall approaches. Just as the heat in Texas would become overbearing by August and I couldn't wait for October where we would get a glimpse of what relief cooler weather brings, I find myself anticipating the "cooler" season of fall. It took two years to appreciate these subtle changes. The days are getting shorter. The flowers are all blooming one last time. Soon it will be the wet, rainy season of winter. It will get cool enough at night that the coqui frogs won't make a peep.

Slowing down and just being have been a slow process for me. How do you notice subtleties if you can't slow down? I'm quick to get angry; impatient. I have the Gilliland disease of perpetually running late. Anytime I have to be somewhere at a set time, I will get there on time, but it will take a small miracle for me to do it. I'm always rushing out the door, running around trying to grab the essentials that I had almost forgotten. I speed too much on the road. I am so very far from perfect. But I have come to realize that I would be even farther from perfect had we never made the move to Hawaii.

We have been spending a lot of time with home renovations. Spending hundreds of dollars at Home Depot to buy paint, screens, windows, doors... We did the same thing back at the home in North Richland Hills. What's different now is that Austen and I both say to eachother now, "how lucky are we that we can just go out and buy these things?" The same goes for when I go to the health food store and fill our home with good, wholesome, organic food. How fortunate are we? I don't think we ever stopped to think of it back in Texas. And we did a whole heck of a lot more buying back then.

As most of you probably know, I have been working at the homeless shelter for almost two months now. I typically work Saturdays and Sundays from 4pm to midnight. It's hard to stay up so late since we get up by 6, but it is perfect for me in that I don't have to put Forest in daycare and I still can bring home a little bit of extra income. I also like still being in the field of social work, as my fear is to lose all the contacts that I worked so hard to make as a newcomer. The job is going pretty good, and it is a constant reminder for me to be thankful for what I have.

I am seeing a physcial therapist now for my scoliosis. The pain has become considerably worse since having a child, and I am working to strengthen my core and therefore my back. I am trying to keep up with yoga, although I don't do it as often as I would like. I'm happy to have a good doctor that referred me to get an x-ray and then to see the PT. Maybe my point is that I am also grateful to have good health care.

Forest is growing like a weed. He is over 9 months already, and healthy as can be. He is in the 77th percentile for height, and just over 20 pounds. Obviously, we are most thankful to be blessed with this little munchkin.

This Sunday is mine and Austen's third anniversary. It's unfortunate that our first anniversary without visitors is also our first anniversary to have a child, but that's ok, he will just have to join us!

So I guess that sums up the recent happenings of our little family. When I haven't posted in ages, it is almost overwhelming to decide where to begin. So please fortive the disorderly nature of this post. I will try to work on getting posts up more often.

Aloha for now.

thinking about trying cloth?

So I have had several friends ask me about cloth diapering. I thought that the blog would be a great avenue to share some knowledge on the topic. Afterall, making the commitment does involve quite an investment, and it would be a shame to get into it not knowing all the little tips that make it go more smoothly. The last thing I want is to tell someone, "yes, do it! It's great!" only to have that person feel overwhelmed and quit all together. (Below: my stash.)

I have been cloth diapering since Forest was about 7 pounds. It took him a while to get up to that weight, since he did get down to around 5 pounds after birth. But once he got some meat on his bones, CDs started to fit better. Since then, I have purchased throw-away diapers three times. There are some situations where CDs just aren't an option, and those are the only times I purchase throw-aways. FYI, Seventh Generation makes some great chlorine-free throw-aways.
There are several different kinds of CDs available. There are prefolds, pockets, hybrids, all-in-ones. So many options. We have tried them all. To describe them in general: Prefolds... ok, so you know those cloth diapers that everyone buys and uses as burp rags? Those are prefolds. They fold into thirds. The way these work is you fold them and place them inside a shell or diaper cover. The prefold placed inside is the absorbent part, and the cover is usually waterproof to keep the wet prefold cloth from getting baby wet. We used these a lot in the beginning, but I don't use them at all anymore. I find them to be difficult with a squirmy boy. Hybrids are systems that offer a disposable option as well. Examples are g diapers and GroBaby (which is now GroVia). I use GroBabys half the time. For use at home, there is the shell with a snap in soaker pad insert. For away from home (or in my case, a trip to Texas), there is a disposable insert option. It uses less absorbent chemical and plastic, and is oftentimes biodegradeable. As for pocket diapers, the diaper has absorbent pads that are stuffed into the diaper in a pocket. Fuzzi Bunz are pocket diapers, and that is what I use when I am not using GroBaby. Lastly, an all-in-one diaper is, well, all-in-one. I have one all-in-one that I use right now, and it is the GroVia all-in-one (see photo of Forest at about 6.5 months in a Gro Via all-in-one, which is also a great training diaper from what I hear).

Like I said, we use GroBaby (now GroVia) and Fuzzi Bunz. Both of these diapers are one size (although Fuzzi Bunz does make a perfect fit diaper-- this means you need to buy different sizes as baby grows, but they will be less bulky than the one-sizes). The GroBaby diapers snap down for when baby is tiny, and you can open them to the largest setting for a toddler. Fuzzi Bunz are different in that they have adjustible elastic leg and waist openings-- similar to those maternity pants that grow with you by using elastic.

GroBabys are the first diapers we used that fit Forest well. Austen really liked them as a new dad because they are similar to throw-aways in the way that they fasten on to baby. These were also the diapers that we used during the days Forest was in daycare when I tried going back to work (ha!) The fasteners are like velcro, but not as scratchy. The shells do a good job at keeping baby dry. GroBaby soaker pads are made of organic, unbleached cotton. Since they are unbleached, they repel moisture at first, naturally. They need to be washed and dried several times to increase absorbency. They will continue to repel moisture until they have been "prepped." I just threw them in with our regular clothes loads for the first 10-12 washes. After that, they begin to work best. But, since they are cotton and not synthetic, they are not the absolute most absorbent, and so I use them when I am at home with Forest or when I know I can change him every two hours or so. The good part about this system is you can buy more soaker pads than shells, and just change the soaker pads if baby has a diaper change in which no mess gets onto the shell. (Below is a pic of a gro-baby shell and the snap-in soaker pad.)

As for Fuzzi Bunz, they are my go-to diaper for longer outings and overnights. Forest sleeps in these all night and does not need to be changed in the middle of the night. He stays dry in FuzziBunz. They are the most absorbent and they fit great since you can customize the legs and waist. They don't need "prepping" since they are not cotton (they are synthetic). They run for about $20 a diaper. (Below is a pic of my favorite brands of diapers: fuzzi bunz is on the left, gro-baby on the right.)

Something that is helpful with cloth diapering is a diaper sprayer or a mini shower. It is something that attaches to your toilet (or to a mess sink if you have an option outside or in the garage or laundry room) that you use to spray off solids when baby has a BM. Several people don't go this route, but I find it to work best for me. When a diaper gets solids on it, it isn't necessary to completely clean the diaper before storing it for wash, but it is necessary to get the diaper wet with water to keep the solid from setting on the diaper. I don't have staining issues, and I believe it is because I use the diaper sprayer. I am at my parents' house right now visiting, and I just wet BMs with water from the bathroom sink. That works just fine. Some people dunk the diaper in toilet water (I can't handle that idea). Whatever works for you...

When I am storing my diapers in between wash days, I use a dry bag-- my favorite is Planet Wise. They make small ones to keep in your diaper bag, or large ones that you can hang on a door knob or hook. They are lined on the inside and cloth on the outside, and the zip closed to COMPLETELY keep smells and leaks out. They are great. No need for a diaper pail like the old days-- just throw in your urine-soaked diapers, or spray your BM diapers after spraying or wetting them and keep them here till laundry day. I do laundry every second to third day.

How many diapers do you need? I would suggest approximately fifteen to last two days. I am in Texas right now, but when I return to Hawaii, I will count how many we have. Yes, it is an initial investment, but it is so great never needing to run to Walmart to get diapers.

Your last necessity would be special detergent. I have tried Charlie's and Tiny Bubbles. Both can be ordered from CD websites. You don't need to use very much, as you do NOT want build-up (it will affect your diaper's absorbency). Almost all washing detergent is made to repel stains, and you do not want your diapers repelling liquid. So it is crucial to use the correct detergent. You don't want scents and additives. Remember, the wrong detergents cause build up and will make your diapers leak due to build-up. This is BAD! All of the CD detergents out there last a long time yet come in a tiny little package. Like I said, you don't need much.

These are the CD essentials. Check out these websites for further advice and to see products available: http://www.kellyscloset.com/ and http://www.jilliansdrawers.com/ and http://gro-via.com/ These are great places to order from if you don't have a natural parenting store in your area. Some of the sites give you a trial period, too. They often run free shipping specials, as well. Join their mailing lists or fan them on facebook for access to coupons and specials. Also, their customer service is EXCELLENT. I have dealt with all three a lot.

CDing is not that difficult. The difference is you carry your soiled diapers with you when you are on an outing instead of tossing them. You wash your diapers at home instead of creating more waste for the trashman to pick up. Yeah, so if your baby poops once or twice a day, you have to do a little bit more work than just tossing it in the diaper genie. The key is to stop thinking of everything as disposable. If we all always used paper plates and paper forks, it would seem like a lot of work to all of a sudden start washing glass dishes.

The benefits are several. Less waste, better for our earth. It is estimated that 27.4 billion disposible diapers are used every year. Furthermore, it is estimated that single-use diapers take up to 500 years to biodegrade. Baby will have less exposure to harmful chemicals such as Dioxin (a by-product of the bleaching process in trash diapers) and super absorbent polymer (SAP), which has been linked to toxic shock syndrome when it was allowed in tampons in the 80s. See http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/ for more facts on cloth diapers. Yes, you are using more water with cloth diapers since you have to wash them every 2-3 days. But energy efficient washers help with this issue. And you can line dry the diapers on dry days. I lay our's out in the house since we live in Hawaii in a moist environment. And for us, since we are on a rainwater catchment system, washing more often doesn't affect our water usage, rather just our electricity.

I have pictures that I took of my diaper sprayer and diapers and bags-- I will post them when I am back in Hawaii, just so you can get a visual on what I am talking about.

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions-- I love talking cloth diapers!