Break My Long Distance Run Record

Bucket lists were never really my thing, but at 18 I did have a few goals, one being that I would run a full marathon, all 26.2 grueling miles, before I turned 21.
I was living in Jamaica at the time, and started training for a half marathon that I was planning to run a few weeks after I moved back to the States. It wasn't safe to run the roads in the community I was living in, so instead I ran laps on the drive. From the top of the drive down to the gate and back up again was 1/5 of a mile. I was following a training schedule, and one of my last late-night runs, after the kids were all in bed, was eight miles. Looking back now, I don't know how I was mentally able to run 40 laps on the driveway.
But then I accidentally double booked that race weekend. Instead of canceling my registration, I gave my spot to my friend, Amanda. It was her first half marathon, and considering how little time she had to train, she did great! Since then she has ran in race after race, and qualified for Boston, which she is training for right now!
My goal of a full marathon by 21 never happened. In that span from 18 - 21, I met a man, fell in love, got married, got pregnant, and a few weeks after my 22nd birthday had a baby. I certainly don't feel like I got the bad end of the deal, and I know that someday I will complete that marathon goal, even if it means that it doesn't happen until I'm 31. But in the mean time, I will keep running, and keep breaking my personal records.
Which is exactly what happened today!
I met up with Amanda, and she pushed me through it. It's really nice to have a friend to run with, especially for distances that far. After I completed my 16 miles, she went on for a couple more. I would have loved to keep going, but felt like I couldn't. After I took my sneakers off and saw this blister, I knew why I needed to stop. Ouch.
12. Break My Long Distance Run Record | sarahesh.com
I feel tired and sore, but it's a good kind of tired and a good kind of soreness. (Well, the blister that I got from where my old pair of sneakers isn't exactly good...) There is something so rewarding about pushing yourself hard and crossing the finish line.
Here is to 16 miles, a new record for me!
Happy weekend, folks!


Chocolate + Peanut Butter Avocado Shake

I don't know about you, but I am always hungry. 
Lately it's become even worse than normal. I blame it on the fact that I am race training and nursing a child. To me, that sort of justifies all of the snacks I eat throughout the day. 
I always try to eat a clean and healthy diet, but it's especially crucial now, as I am training for the Seneca 7 and working hard to improve speed and performance. To me, that means eating a lot of fresh vegetables and protein, along with a small amount of fresh fruit every day. It also means that I avoid or drastically limit the amount of grain and sugar I consume. 
We've been eating a modified version of the Paleo diet for the past few weeks, and so far it has been amazing. 
However, sometimes all I want is something rich and thick and smooth and creamy and all of the other adjectives that would describe a chocolate peanut butter milkshake. 
Yesterday was one of those days. 
So, I threw a few ingredients in the blender and hoped for the best. And let me tell you, it was tasty. And I'm guessing if you would have had a sip, you wouldn't have been able to tell that what you were slurping on was avocado and dates and bananas. There was no ice cream or extra sugar involved. 
The original recipe comes from Danielle, of the blog Against all Grain. But in typical Sarah fashion, I glanced over the recipe and changed it up to fit the ingredients I had on hand. 
It was prefect for our snowy first day of spring!
Chocolate + Peanut Butter Avocado Shake
  • half an avocado
  • one ripe banana
  • three dates or a bit of honey
  • three ice cubes
  • two tablespoons peanut or almond butter
  • 8 oz whole milk or almond milk
  • two tablespoons cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa powder)
Throw all of the ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth and creamy.
If you try it, please let me know what you think of it.


Hey Soul

I run to a beat.
Not to the tempo of a song, but to the constant, always there, yet always changing, sound of nature. To the wind whipping through my hair and the sun kissing my sweaty face, to the rain splattering down my back and the mud splashing at my feet, to the birds chirping in the distance and the deer watching silently, hidden among the trees.
Lately though, I've been running to the rhythm of my heart, to joy and the laughter, to the sorrow and the pain, to the anger and frustration -- so often anger and frustration.
I feel it welling in my soul, accumulating, slowly at first, then faster and faster.
Some days I'm drowning in it.
Follow your heart, they said, when you are unsure and filled with questions unanswered. 
But I argue, do you really want to follow your heart, with its ups and downs and unsteady beat?
Mine has been pulled a thousand different directions. If I used that as a guide, I would most certainly be lost.
Instead, when the doubts and fears and questions flood my soul, when all hope seems lost, I cling to what I know is true.
That He is good.
That He is merciful.
That He is loving.
That He is sovereign.
As I'm out training, running for Ev, my heart is so raw.
He should be coming to our 'carb loading night' the evening before the race as an honorary team member, just like last year. He should be at the finish line this year, cheering us on, just like last year. Instead, his memory is what will push us harder, faster, throughout the day. It's what will cheer us across the finish line.
Yes, my heart is raw and broken and so very unstable, so instead of following it, I cling to the Truth.
Today and every day my soul needs reminded - that He is good, that He is faithful, that He is loving, that He is sovereign over us.


Preconceived Parenting

Preconceived Parenting | sarahesh.com
Last night I had a 'This is one of those things I said would never happen' moment.
Let me back up a little bit and explain.
I had this whole parenting thing figured out before I actually became a mom. I knew what I would allow, and certainly what I would not. I watched other parents with their children, and embarrassingly, I was a harsh, silent judge. It is so easy to form an opinion when you aren't the one in the thick of it.
Yes would always mean yes, and the same goes for the word no. Veggies and fruit would be the main food groups, and I would make all of my own baby food. Screen time, including phones, computers and movies, wouldn't happen until my child was two years old, and then it would be limited to only Saturday mornings when I wanted to sleep in. My child wouldn't be on a strict schedule, but we would have a daily routine established... and so on.
I soon discovered, however, that children aren't little robots that you program and run as you please; they are small human beings with minds of their own. (And my little man has a will just as strong as his momma's.) I also realized how awesome and exhausting the responsibility of raising a human being is. And how sometimes I like a bit of time off too... even if that means screen time for the little man.
This all brings us back to last night.
We went out to a local place for dinner with a friend. The restaurant was busy and the service was slow. Even before our order came out, Carson was whining and complaining and trying to escape my grasp to go explore the building. Finally, in desperation, I asked Herm to please search Youtube for a movie, something that might entertain Carson while we waited. He found Jay Jay the Jet Plane, which, to my delight, worked! Carson was content to watch the show, and we were able to relax and enjoy our meal.
As a perfect mom, in my pre-parenting days, I most likely would have judged someone who did this. That's screen time before two, after all, and not even on a Saturday morning. Lazy parenting at its finest.
I laugh now at all of my preconceived notions. Yes, we did stick to a few of them, the ones that really were important to us, but we've relaxed too, and I'm so grateful we did.
I am learning that parenting is a journey, where you learn as you go. You will get lots of advice from books and even more from complete strangers, but none of them know your situation. I am learning just how undone I am, how the life I thought I lived, so neat and clean and put together, was snagged and unraveling all along. And I am learning to give grace to Carson, and to those parents, the ones I so harshly judged, because I so desperately need grace myself.
Were you the best parent ever, before you had kids too? Tell me about it in the comments below!



Currently | sarahesh.com
Reading: Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe, by Max Lucado.
I chose this book because I wanted something light and easy. After reading only non-fiction for the past few months, and currently in the middle of a difficult book about child survivors of the Holocaust, I was certainly ready for a weekend read that wouldn't leave me feeling heartbroken and outraged all at the same time.
Two chapters in and I was about ready to put the book down and not finish it; it almost seemed like the author had watched the movie It's a Wonderful Life and decided to rewrite it, or at least copy the plot. I was annoyed.
But I kept on going, and believe it or not, I'm glad I did! The story is of love and family, forgiveness and redemption, and, in a way that only Max Lucado can write without it seeming quirky and odd, it's also about guardian angels here on earth.
It takes place in Texas, where Chelsea Chamber, recently separated from her husband, NFL star, Sawyer Chambers, is trying to figure out what normal life looks like as a single mom of two kids. She is struggling to keep the cafe, inherited from her mom, open for business. When it seems like her entire world is falling apart, miracles keep happening, making her wonder if God really is real. Her cafe and the 'heavenly' employees there, influence the community, and most of all her family, bringing them all back together again.
The story definitely was not my pick for fiction, but it was heartwarming. I would give this book 3 stars out of 5.
Note: This book was courtesy of BookLookBloggers.com in exchange for an honest review.
Loving: The warm weather! I went for a run, and it was so enjoyable. And hearing birds chirping, and listening to the sound of water trickling as the snow melted away was music to my ears. It's a muddy mess outside, but if that means spring is almost here, the 'mud season' that always precedes it isn't going to bother me.
Dreaming: About this recipe that I made the other night for dinner. It was so good that even after we were finished with the meal Herm kept picking at the leftovers. I was getting concerned that all I would have left for my lunch the following day would be the three oven roasted carrots that were left from our side dish of maple glazed carrots.
Wishing: That California bordered New York. My friend since childhood, Gina, gave birth to her first, a handsome little boy, this week, and it's about killing me that I can swing by with a meal for her and her husband. I want to hold that precious child and love on him before he loses his newborn-ness.
Thinking About: How fun is was to find at shirt at a consignment store that was the exact brand, color, and size of a shirt I was planning to buy new for my sister-in-law's upcoming wedding, for a fraction of the price I thought I would probably end up paying for it. It truly is the little things that make life so wonderful!
Listening: To the constant chatting of my little man. He is becoming quite the story-teller, although I really don't have a clue what he is saying, so must of the time I just smile and nod.
Watching: The Voice.
Trying: My hand at some experimental cooking - I think that the most basic ingredients can be made into the vastly different meals if the right spices and seasonings are used. I want to learn how to cook with less ingredients and still have more flavor. I even picked up cookbooks at the library (and ordered one from Barnes and Noble too) in order to grow my knowledge, and, hopefully, our weekly menu too.
What is 'Currently' happening in your life? Feel free to write your own post and link to it in the comments below!


14. Hand Write a Note to Someone Who Inspires You

!4. Hand Write a Note | sarahesh.com
There are so many women who have spoken into my life in one way or another, shaping me into who I am and chiseling me into who I am becoming.
We are fluid beings, always changing, influenced, more than we realize, by those who we surround ourselves with.
I feel so blessed by the crowd that surrounds me -- the grandmothers and mothers and aunts and sisters and friends --  those who are open and honest with me, who encourage and inspire me, who make me think about who I am, what my purpose in life is, and how I am fulfilling it. They are the ones I will laugh with in seasons of joy, and they are also the ones who I will turn to when life is hard and joy seems hard to find.
These dear ladies are precious to me, but all too often I don't take the time to thank them and let them know just how they have influenced me.
I should buy a box of note cards and each week write a thank you to someone who impacted me, and maybe I will. (That would be a good thing to add to the next list, the 24 before 25 list.) But in order to cross number 14 off of the list, I just wrote one.
If you, too, have friends in your life who are shaping you into a better version of yourself, why don't you let them know? Maybe buy some truffles, the coco-dusted kind from Ghirardelli, and package the goodies in a pretty box with a ribbon. Gift that, along with a card that explains just why you so appreciate the friendship, to the person(s) who impacted you for the better.
Life is too short to leave important words unsaid. Seize the moment and say thank you.


What's In My Bag

When I was pregnant with Carson, I was determined to do this baby thing with the basics and not a lot more.
I am a minimalist at heart. I look at homes with open spaces and white walls and next to nothing in them, and I feel inspired and relaxed. Clutter literally makes me feel like I am suffocating.
I approached motherhood with that in mind. If you read parenting magazines or blog posts on the baby must-have's, the lists are long and overwhelming. No wonder people think that starting a family is so expensive! Our house is small, and I wasn't willing to give up every nook and cranny to store those must-have's -- so, for the most part, we just did without.
A few of the things that were important to me, other than the obvious of diapers and clothes, were: A good stroller for running, an infant wrap or carrier, a car seat, natural baby soap and oil, and a diaper bag.
A diaper bag, that is, until I started shopping around for one and saw the options. I could either spend a small fortune on a beautiful leather designer bag, or I could carry around something that had stripes and chevron and small bows on it. Not happening.
Herm's sister, Lyd, knew that I had my eye on a certain bag at a shop in Lancaster, so she convinced his family to go together and purchase it for me.
It was perfect.
It wasn't overly large, but it was filled with pockets, which I was able to organize well, and it had a cross-body strap, which I loved. But as Carson grew, and I started taking snacks and water and toys along for him, that bag just wasn't big enough any more.
Which is when I discovered this bag.
The price was high, but behind the price was a story of a lady in Ethiopia who was working hard to support her family. She had created this bag, and with every purchase, she, along with others who helped make the bags, got a percentage of that money. I knew this was the one. I started to save up for it, but before I purchased it, my birthday came along, and with it came the bag -- a gift from Herm! When I opened the box, I kissed him with delight and told him I would never purchase another bag again. He laughed and said, Yeah, not until next year. He doesn't realize that I mean what I say. This bag is a classic, it'll never go out of style, and it is very durable. I'm sure if I care for it well, it will last me for many, many years.
The bag doesn't have any pockets inside, so I bought a purse organizer on Amazon to keep everything neat and clean. The cool thing about this, compared to a traditional diaper bag, is that when I drop Carson off at my mom's for the day, or when I get the rare chance to go for groceries by myself, I can pull out the organizer, which holds all of Carson's stuff, and still have my wallet and personal necessities with me. And when I'm ready to turn it in to a diaper bag again, all I do is set the organizer inside and tada! Done.

So, if you are like me and don't like what is available for mainstream diaper bags, shop around for a bit. You might just be delighted with what you find!
What about you: What is on your list of baby must-have's?


A Mid-Winter Break

A lot has happened in the past week. It almost feels as though I skipped several weeks of blogging, because there as been so much going on, and I really haven't had time to record my thoughts or keep up with comments coming in.
A Mid-Winter Break | sarahesh.com
We took a mid-winter vacation, but instead of going south, like most folks do, we decided to head even further north, into the Adirondack Mountains of New York. We rented a small cabin near Saranac Lake, and cozied in.

Our goal for this trip was to spend quality time together as a family, before our lives get busy, like always is the case when spring arrives. We figured that the best place to just relax and be, is somewhere where it is too cold to do much. If we would have went south, we (we being me) would have felt like we should make the most of every waking moment, hiking and swimming and running, from sun up to sun down.
I am a northern girl, but even I didn't know quite how to prepare for the drastic temperatures -- other than layering almost every article of clothing I brought along before going outside. It got down to -24* the one night, but our little cabin was so cozy and enjoyable.
A Mid-Winter Break | sarahesh.com
We stayed in most of the time, reading and sleeping and watching movies, but we did venture out to the lake several times, and explored Lake Placid, where the 1932 and 1980 Olympics were held, one afternoon. And of course, when you are that close to a good mountain, you might as well snowboard for a few hours, which is what Herm did while Carson and I hung out in the lodge.  Maybe next year all three of us can go boarding. They start lessons for children as young as two years old!
Our time came to an end all too soon. We all agreed another day or two would have been nice -- but it was time to get back home, and finish remodeling our bathroom before our weekend guests arrive.
We had stopped mid-way before we left, which basically means the sink was no longer existent, and that just doesn't work when you have a house filled with twelve people, and only one bathroom.
So as soon as we arrived home we got to work, and kept at it, painting, sanding, installing, painting again, and running into town who-knows-how-many-times for things we needed. And guess what?! We did it! Less than thirty minutes before our guest arrived the bathroom was done (enough) to be used again.
But that's another blog post for another day.