Thursday, November 25, 2010

In Case You Were Wondering...

...yes, I ran the marathon. And no, I didn't win. But I didn't die either, which, given the extreme heat on race day and my lack of training, I consider a win. Here's a little glimpse into what the experience was like.

“Only 24.7 more to go—it’s all down-hill from here!”
Miles 1-5: Feeling great, running great, looking great (what? my fuel belt was hot). Mandy (my running partner) needs a potty break—decides McDonald’s is a better choice than the port-a-potties. Take a leisurely stroll through the first aid station while she goes. Consume some Chomps and Gatorade. Continue running. Laughing and talking—oh, this is so easy. Am no longer worried about IT band or the fact that my training essentially ended at 14 miles. I am obviously a natural—maybe I'm part Kenyan?

“You are all crazy”
Miles 6-10: Still feeling good. Not too hot yet. Am vaguely aware of the tightening of my right IT band. Wait. It’s my left one that’s been flaring up for the last four weeks. Why is my right one so tight? Commence stretching. Mimic Mandy’s street light stretch (grab pole with both hands, plant feet on ground, lean back and lower booty towards ground). Try to ignore the guy who tells me not to pull the street light out of the ground. Need to potty. Mandy suggests going behind a fence. Explain that my southern upbringing makes it physically impossible for me to urinate in public. Really. Physically impossible. It’s not like I haven’t tried before. Sheesh. Will wait a little longer. More Gatorade. More water. More Chomps.

“Hey John, Braden and Dylan said it’s OK if you crap your pants”
Miles 11-13: Must pee. Veer off to a port-a-potty and lock myself inside. Make mistake of looking into potty. Instantly curse my southern upbringing and vow to try harder to urinate in public next time. More water, Gatorade and Chomps. Realize that the professionals are already done with their race and I haven’t hit the halfway point yet. Am not Kenyan, after all. Am hot. Run through some water hoses. Dump Gatorade in my shoe. Slip on the wet pavement. Am getting even hotter.

“Suck it Up”
Miles 14-20: Tell Mandy to go on without me. Turn on my ipod. Maybe Justin Beiber will motivate me to run. No. Maybe Led Zepplin. Nope. Maybe Pearl Jam. Uh-uh. Ice Ice Baby? Not even close. This is a very dark moment. Turn ipod off. Run through more hoses. Soak hat with water. WHAT IS UP WITH THIS WEATHER?! Double up on the Chomps. More is always better. Convince myself that after mile 17 I only have 6 more miles to go. Wonder if my math and statistics degrees should be revoked.

“Embrace the Suck”
Miles 21-25: Glance around and notice that everyone is walking. Begin to regret writing my name on my bib. Do not want to be encouraged. I am NOT almost there. Still have a long freaking way to go. Start to hate Chomps, Gatorade, water, water hoses, and everyone who didn’t try and stop me from running a marathon. Have an overwhelming desire to sit down and quit. Walk by an event photographer and glare at him as his camera captures me walking.

“You’re a rock star! Please don’t die!”
The last mile: Oooh, look! A jumbo-tron! That must be the finish line! Eyes fill with tears. I did it! Wait. That’s not the finish. What kind of sick joke is that? That’s just mean. Final little hill to the finish. IT flares and knee does not want to bend. AM NOT WALKING INTO FINISH LINE. Begin Lamaze breathing and am glad that those child birth classes finally got put to good use. Cross finish line. Want to lay down and die. Spot Jason just in time and am so happy. Eat some carbs and pose for a finisher's picture. Am slightly delirious but so glad I did it. Even if I did come in 28,354th place.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Round One Goes to the Monkey Bars

About two weeks ago, Claire fell off the monkey bars in our backyard.

We gave her an ice pack and a dose of motrin. Then we went out to eat.

About a week after the fall, Claire mentioned that her arm "kind of" hurt when she went to gymnastics a few days before. I noticed that she couldn't open the clasp on her backpack and that she wasn't able to put any weight on her right arm.

I took her to the doctor. She ordered x-rays. The x-ray technician asked me if the doctor wanted me to wait at the lab or go back to the clinic while they read the x-rays. I told him the doctor said we should go home and she would call me if the bone was broken.

The tech said I might want to just wait there.

The next day, I took Claire to an orthopaedic surgeon. More x-rays. Talk of going to the OR. Verification that the bone was 80% broken through and was slightly displaced. Validation that, yes, it's completely common for a broken bone to go undiagnosed for a week or more. I suddenly felt nauseous as I pictured her doing cartwheels and swinging from the uneven bars just days before.

I kept saying, "I can't believe your arm is broken."

Claire kept asking, "Why do you keep saying that?"

Finally, a hot pink cast. The doctor pressed hard on Claire's arm as he casted her, trying to get the bone to line up as much as possible. Claire didn't even flinch while I practically broke a sweat just watching. More x-rays were ordered for later this week, to make sure the bone hasn't shifted anymore. If it has...possible surgery. Let's all pray it hasn't.

In the meantime, Claire is enjoying the celebrity that comes with being the only kid at school with a cast. And as for the monkey bars, let's just say their time with us is limited.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Once upon a time, there was a girl* who had a blog. One day, the girl and her good friend, B**, decided to run a marathon. The two friends decided to register for the race right away so they wouldn't change their minds. They even went so far as to post it on Facebook, which is the modern day equivalent of signing your name to a contract in blood.

The girl started training for the race in March, a mere two weeks after surgery to remove an internal organ or two***. She faithfully followed her "Novice Level Marathon Training Plan" all through what would turn out to be one of the hottest summers in recent years****.

Somewhere along the way, the girl's blog became neglected*****. Many, many events went unrecorded. Events that were definitely blog worthy. Events like: that time the girls fell off a horse and Claire got some teeth knocked out and her face all beaten up, and the time Arden may or may not have had viral meningitis but either way, ended up in the ER. And then there was a trip to Disneyworld, the end of Kindergarten, the end of preschool, the arrival of a new family member (a dog named Hootie) and an impromptu trip to the beach.

Sometimes, while the girl was running, she would compose blog entries in her head. This foolishly led her to believe that she was actually updating her blog, because HELLO? she totally wrote about that already. But then she would glance to her neglected blog and realize that she hadn't, in fact, updated it. She would briefly consider doing so, but would ultimately decide against. The running, man. It was so consuming.

Training was going just fine until one day, the girl felt a painful twinge in her knee during a long run. She instantly knew what it was. The dreaded IT Band******. Not wanting to admit it, she continued running until she couldn't take it anymore and ended up walking nearly six miles back to her car. The long, cold walk allowed her plenty of time to think about her neglected blog. She vowed then and there to sit down and update her blog*******.

Ultimately, the girl would recover enough to limp through a few runs and revise her marathon goal from a 4:30 finish to a 5:00 finish to a 6:00 finish*********. Although she was a little down about her injury, she realized that easing off the training would allow her ample time for other activities, including blogging.

And she blogged happily ever after.

*The girl realizes that at some point, she will have to stop referring to herself as a "girl". That time has not yet come.

**The girl would like to hold B, and her fun birthday weekend at Big Cedar Lodge, responsible for making her commit to running a marathon.

***The girl failed to mention her surgery on her blog because it contained words such as "ovary" and "fallopian tubes".

****Of course it was the hottest summer in recent years.

*****The girl would like to note that, while the blog may have been neglected, her children were not.

******In this story, the IT Band will play the part of the wicked stepmother.

*******She, of course, didn't update her blog but instead sought means to heal her injured knee. This included taking copious amounts of anti-immflamatories, lots of stretching, and a visit to a massage therapist who will from here on be referred to as "Patty Pain".
*********The girl now just hopes to finish the race before the streets open back up.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Think This Means I Should Cook More

As we were leaving the park yesterday afternoon, Claire asked me if we could order some Japanese food for dinner. She really meant Chinese food but I didn't bother to correct her because that would have led to a whole other conversation about the differences between the two cuisines, and frankly, after an hour and a half of chasing my wild one year old up and down the stairs to the slide, I wasn't up for that discussion. Instead, I just told her no, that we had eaten out the night before and we were going to eat at home.

"Oh man," she whined. "I don't want a sandwich."

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Saddest Note to the Tooth Fairy Ever Written

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In case you don't read kindergarten phonetic spelling, it says:
Dear Tooth Fairy,
I fell off a horse and lost my tooth. We couldn't find it. I am mad. I hope you give me some money and a prize. I am brave.
Love, Claire B.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Touched By An Angel

When you have a baby who wears glasses, you get a lot of attention from strangers. Most people comment on how cute Amelia is in her pink plastic glasses (can't argue with that one) and sometimes they ask how we knew she needed them. A lot of times they'll want to know how we keep them on her or how the doctor knows what her prescription should be. Occasionally, a person will tell me about their nephew/neighbor/grand-daughter/brother's best friend's cousin's baby, etc... who has a lazy eye and wears glasses. One time a waiter at TGI Friday's told me about the time he took a firework to the eye during a bottle rocket war and had to wear a patch for three months. He said he knew EXACTLY how Amelia feels. Because, clearly, a grown man getting injured during a fight with pyrotechnics is very similar to a baby being born blind in one eye.

Anyway. The point is, we get a lot of attention.

So today, when we were leaving a restaurant after lunch, I didn't think it was strange when a man got up from his table and stopped my mom, who was carrying Amelia. I paused, expecting him to ask one of the typical questions we get. But he didn't ask any questions. Instead, he laid his hands on Amelia's head and prayed for her vision to be restored in the name of Jesus.

So. Yeah. Did not see that one coming.

At first I was completely weirded out by the whole thing. A stranger touching my baby? And praying over her as if he knew her? It was just too much. But at the same time I was also deeply touched. Moved to tears, even.

You see, it was a Friday morning, exactly a year ago that we sat in Dr. H's office and heard the term "PHPV" for the first time. It was exactly a year ago that our fears that something was wrong with Amelia's vision were confirmed. And today, a year later, I found myself driving to Dr. H's office for yet another appointment for a contact that doesn't fit right. It was the last place I wanted to go today.

I mentioned previously that I had been growing anxious as this day approached. Anxious because it brings back to the surface all those feelings and emotions that we experienced that day and in the weeks that followed--shock, sadness, anger, confusion, disappointment, worry, grief. And lately, we've been coming to terms with the fact that Amelia's vision is just not improving. And, according to her doctor, most likely won't.

But today, a stranger reminded me that in spite of medical evidence that says otherwise, I can still hope for something better for Amelia. I can still pray for something better. I'm ashamed to say I had forgotten that.

So to the man who prayed over my baby in a crowded Mexican restaurant today: Thank you. But dude, seriously, next time give a little heads up before you touch a stranger's baby.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hello...Hello...Hello... Is There Anybody Out There?

Sooooo....It's been a while. I'd love to offer up all the usual reasons for a blogging lapse--busy, busy, oh so busy!, sick kids, school demands, Spring Break, marathon training, preschool teaching, soccer, tennis, gymnastics, teething baby, the final season of Lost, etc...--but the real reason is actually harder to pinpoint. It's just that...I haven't really wanted to write much lately. And it's not because of a lack of material (anyone interested in hearing about our two trips to the ER in two days? What about our family vacay at Disney World? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?). I think I've just been processing a lot of things lately.

Not to be dramatic (oh, who am I kidding, of course I'm being dramatic), but as the one year mark of Amelia's PHPV journey approaches, I find myself increasingly anxious and prone to the teary-eye. Just thinking about that day causes my heart to race. I can remember every detail, from what I was wearing to what the weather was like to what I said when I called Jason at work and told him to meet me at the eye doctor. I recall all the minute details of that day, yet I kept the hard stuff--the emotions--locked away.

In the last year, I don't think I have fully let myself grieve over the enormity of what Amelia is facing. I think I have denied myself that because, as so many well-meaning people have pointed out, at least it's not cancer! She still has one good eye! What's the big deal?? To some extent (maybe a great extent), they're right. But the fact of the matter is, pain is pain. And if "is it cancer?" is the litmus test by which we allow ourselves to feel pain, most of us would fall short. Thankfully. But that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.

Trust me when I tell you that nothing will shake you to the core like hearing your child has been given a "challenge". Your mind will go places you don't want it to go. You will google the same thing over and over looking for more, better, different, information. You will constantly question whether you are doing enough, whether you have the right doctors, the right treatment, the right plan, and, if you are a mother, if you somehow caused it. You will ask hard questions. You will look for answers that don't exist. You will worry. You will wonder...

But then you will look at your child, and you will forget. You will see only her joyful spirit and not her "challenge". You will see the way she adapts to her surroundings. You will note that she doesn't consider herself "challenged". You will be thankful.

And you will finally decide it's no longer time to grieve.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


My first baby is six now. SIX. Not to be dramatic, but this fact astounds me. I see her growing and changing every day but I can't seem to get my mind around the idea that just the other day I was rocking her to sleep and now she's rocking out to Hannah Montana. Excuse me, make that Selena Gomez.

Claire has changed so much this year, toeing the line between "little kid" and "big kid," that nearly every day she surprises me with some new trick or mannerism that she's picked up. Just this morning, she came running into my room to tell me she learned to tie her shoes. And she had. After trying to master this task for months, she finally picked it up by watching a bigger kid tie her shoes the night before. If that's all it takes for Claire to learn something new, please remind me of that when it's time for driving lessons.

She has recently discovered sponge rollers and asks me to roll her hair every night. Every night. Every. Single. Night. And I do it, because it makes her happy and confident to see herself with curly hair and if I can relate to anything, it's having good-hair-induced self esteem.

She wants to pick her own clothes and is a big fan of any article of clothing that bears a peace sign. She has turned her back on the beautiful smocked dresses I love so dearly and instead wants to wear leggings and scarves and zebra striped tennis shoes. She has a very clear sense of who she is and I love that.

She is a reader. Junie B Jones is a particular favorite, but she loves all books, preferring them to toys and games. She has always been this way. Even as a toddler, she would gather a huge pile of books, find a quiet spot and "read" to herself. Now she can actually read the words, instead of just making up a story to go with the pictures. I find this, in particular, to be one of the most bittersweet parts of watching her grow up this year.

She is a writer. If we are leaving the house, even for just a quick errand, she makes sure she has a tote filled with notebooks, pens and books (these, in addition to all the other random things she fills her bags with--magic 8 ball, McDonald's toys, playdoh). She writes sentences that aren't quite stories. She writes apologies after she has misbehaved. She writes notes to an imaginary classroom of students and signs them "Mrs. Claire". She sounds out her words, pressing her pen heavily on the paper as she phonetically spells what's on her mind. I will grieve when this stage of haphazard spelling and misshapen letters passes.

She is growing up, no doubt about it, but at night, after the last prayer has been said, she always asks me to tickle her back and tell her a princess story. It's my favorite time of the day with her, and you can be sure, long after she stops asking for the stories, I'll still be telling them to her. That's one stage I'm not willing to let go.

Happy birthday, Claire Bear!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday is gymnastics day. I hate gymnastics day. Not because I don't love watching my girls do crooked cartwheels and swing from the uneven bars, but because it means that I spend an hour corralling at least one of my kids while another one gets to have fun on the gym floor. Now that my big girls are in the same class, that hour is so much better since I only have to keep up with Amelia. She's starting to become a handful, but yesterday she was happy to sit in my lap and stuff herself with yogurt puffs and stare at the little girl sitting next to us who kept saying "Mama...that yittle babe-ee has glassessss..." (her mom, by the way, pretended not to hear her daughter, which just made her say it again and again and louder and louder which totally cracked me up, because how many times have I done that very thing when Arden has said something completely inappropriate to a stranger?). I took the opportunity of a content baby to send a few text messages when the next thing I knew, Amelia had dumped my hot tea all over the floor.

As I was mopping up the floor with the most NON-absorbent paper towels in the history of man, I had a flashback to a day just over a year ago...

Claire was at dance class and I was doing the Arden-rodeo outside the studio, one eye on my twirling four year old and one on my wild two year old. I somehow managed to convince Arden to sit still for a few minutes (I'm pretty sure there were smarties involved) on an ancient wood pew underneath the window to the studio. All of a sudden I was aware of a dripping noise and looked down to see liquid falling through a crack in the pew and onto the concrete floor below.

Weird. Arden doesn't have a drink. Wonder what that is....


After the initial shock wore off and I realized that there was actual urine falling on the ground, I sprang to action and ran to the bathroom for paper towels. Unfortunately, the paper towel dispenser was one of those automatic motion-sensor ones and only spewed out a tiny square of recycled paper at a time. I must have spent fifteen minutes in the bathroom, waving my hands like a mad woman in front of the sensor, before I gathered enough towels to mop up the puddle underneath Arden.

Once I had the floor and bench cleaned, I had to deal with the toddler. Her clothes were soaked and I, of course, had brought no spare clothes with us since she had been potty-trained FOR FIVE MONTHS. Claire's dance class still had forty-five minutes left and I hated to make her leave early just because her little sister didn't want to quit eating Smarties long enough to go to the bathroom. I'll admit that I briefly considered letting her go pantless since her shirt was on the longish side, but it was 20 degrees outside and that seemed like a good way to get a call from DHS. Instead, I walked into the dancewear store located next to the studio. I picked up the smallest pair of dance pants they had and took them to register, never looking at the price tag.


They were forty dollars. FORTY DOLLARS. And I paid it because 1) my two year old was naked from the waist down and 2) I was too embarrassed to admit I hadn't looked at the price tag. I would like to tell you we've gotten a lot of use out of those forty dollar jazz pants, but, sadly, they haven't been worn since. Forty dollars down the drain because my kid chose Smarties over personal hygiene.

And the moral of the story is: never give your two year old five packages of Smarties and expect her to make sound potty-related decisions. Or maybe it's: always bring a change of clothes for any child under the age of three. But most likely, it's: the hour spent at gymnastics/dance will, without a doubt, be the longest hour of the week.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Party Pics

The birthday girl. With a fresh bruise smack dab in the middle of her forehead. The hazards of walking....

Opening presents...

The smash cake

The smashed cake.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Amelia is one today, and I'll be honest, I'm a little sad about it. "One" marks the end of infancy. "One" is the beginning of toddlerhood, which, as you may know, inevitably turns children into preschoolers and then grade schoolers and then before you know it, my last baby is packing her bags for her study abroad at Oxford before she completes her fellowship in rocket science at MIT. And then goes on tour with her sisters a la The Partridge Family. Only a LOT cooler. But still with a van.


It's hard to believe we've had Amelia for 12 months. Those 12 months have flown by at an unbelievable rate, but still, I'm shocked at how slow some of the moments have been. Today, I was flipping through last year's calendar (looking for the number of our heater repair guy--don't get me started) and came across three phone numbers for our beloved Dr. J on April 17. That's the day we found out about Amelia's PHPV. That's the day we sat across from a man we'd never met and he told us our daughter had been given a challenge. That's the day we sat in frozen fear, Jason asking for more information, me motionless in a brown leather chair, clutching Amelia, too scared, too shocked to move. That's the day we cried a thousand tears, unsure of what our baby's future held.

And now look at her. She's walking EVERYWHERE. She gets into EVERYTHING. She says "Mama" and "Baa" and "Ah boo!". She giggles at her sisters and loves to be tickled. She has a certain fondness for grilled cheese, chocolate, and strangely, Arden's flip flops. She stops and dances whenever she hears music and she has recently discovered the joy of screaming.

She is doing exactly what she should be doing and you have no idea how grateful we are for that.

Happy birthday, my sweet, sweet baby girl!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010