Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Things That Annoy Me Part 1

1. People Who Back Into Parking Spaces.
My thoughts on backing into parking spaces are these: The amount of time you "save" by pulling forward out of a spot when you leave the parking lot is completely obliterated by the extra time you spend parking in the first place. Plus, you are way, way more likely to park crappily (next-door-neighbor, I'm looking at you!), and be off-center between the white lines, probably making it difficult for some poor parent to get their heavy, squirmy, cranky child into or out of a carseat. And I think you are a show-off.

2. The Disappearance of My Favorite Meatless "Meat" Products.
Boca and Morningstar Farms, I'm looking directly at you!! Oh, my dismay at finding out that Boca Italian Sausages and Morningstar Farms Veggie Dogs are both discontinued. Don't they realize how hard it is to find a decently-textured, good-tasting replacement meat product is?? Most of them are pure crap. And you don't discover this until you've spend $5 on a package, and forced your entire family to eat flavored rubber or something that falls apart with a mere glance for dinner. Please, please let me know what your recommendations are, if you have any. I have tried Tofurkey and Morningstar Farms Italian sausage (both crap), as well as several types of veggie dogs (can't remember which ones, which in itself is a clue that none of them were winners). Halp!

3. People Who Send You an E-mail Just to Respond With a "Thank You".
I'm going to 'fess up here and admit that my organizational skillz are not A-1, at home or at work. This includes my e-mail inboxes, both work and personal. In fact, I currently have 752 messages in my Outlook inbox, waiting to be deleted or filed (and in a few cases, answered, though I try to stay on top of that at least). My sent box is far, far worse (I practically never file that stuff). I feel, though, that I must partially blame our e-mail hungry culture. The massive strings of e-mail communications I get copied on, message after message, one person answering, then another, then another - it drowns me. And often times, all these people aren't really saying anything inherently different from the last person, so it's all just white noise. But the worst, worst offender is the "Thank you" e-mail. I'm all for niceties when someone goes out of their way for you, but this is my job. I'm just doing what I'm supposed to do, what I'm paid to do. If someone asks me for information by e-mail, and I provide it to them the same way, I declare now that I DO NOT NEED TO BE THANKED. PLEASE. Don't thank me. It's just one more e-mail I have to delete.

4. Dieting.
Oh, the hunger. It may be making me a smidgen cranky, hmm?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Birthday Debrief and a Room Makeover

Finn's big birthday gift from us was a bedroom makeover. We absolutely love, love the pictures and curtains in his room, which he's had since he was a baby. We picked out the pictures ourselves (we went with a children's literature theme), and painstakingly stained plain wooden frames before he was born, sitting on our little apartment balcony in the hot summer. My mom made his curtains and a matching wall hanging herself, and when Finn was little we used to say goodnight to all the animals on them, one by one, as part of our bedtime routine. But apparently, fond memories don't cut it in the preschool room. Finn's been letting us know, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways (meaning saying things like "Mommy, my curtains are BABY curtains."), that he has outgrown his bedroom decor.

He wants a superhero room, with Spiderman curtains (ah, no - not doing theme curtains, curtains are far too expensive for that). Oh, wait, he wants a Lightening McQueen room. Or Transformers. Or no, wait, a Monster Truck room!

Regardless, it was clear that tasteful and subtle was OUT, and loud merchandise-themed stuff was IN.

Aside from some probing on our part, Finn didn't really have any input into his room's makeover. In fact, he didn't know that he was getting a new bedroom at all - it was a birthday surprise. I ordered and shopped and collected things ahead of time (goodness, look at how on top of things I was!), then M. and I took the day of Finn's birthday off from work so that we could transform the room while he was at daycare.

In true home improvement fashion, we did our best to capture the before and after of the process, for your viewing pleasure.

Finn's Bedroom: The Before Video

Finn's Bedroom: The After Video

That same morning I frosted and decorated cupcakes I had made the night before. M. and I took them to Finn's preschool class in the afternoon, along with goody bags filled with the cheap stuff kids seem to love getting (tattoos, stickers, silly bands, lollipops, etc). Shh, don't tell him, but this was our way of getting out of throwing him an actual birthday party (eh, maybe he'll get one next year). Finn knew we were going to bring cupcakes, and apparently he was so excited that he didn't sleep during nap time. He was on cloud nine, acting like a hyper goofball and showing off for his friends while we were there. I think some of the excitement and anticipation stemmed from Finn's belief that he wouldn't actually turn 4 until he had his birthday cupcake. No amount of my explanations that the whole day was his birthday, or that technically he turned 4 at 12:30 pm since that's when he was born, shook that belief. He also managed to make a huge mess with his chocolate cupcake.

After the cupcake celebration, we headed back home with Lucy and Finn to open birthday presents. Predictably, every gift except anything clothing related was a big hit. Gotta work on those present-opening manners before Christmas rolls around, so I don't have to hear the whining when something isn't an actual toy, or feel embarrassed by his reaction. Then we brought Finn upstairs for his birthday surprise (he refused to close his eyes, though). And surprise it was - our efforts were rewarded by a very, very happy 4 year old. I guess we managed to pick the right theme after all.

Lucy entertained herself during the present-opening with a lollipop from a leftover goody bag

Wondering what his surprise might be

Seeing his new room for the first time

We capped the evening off by heading to Red Robin for an early birthday dinner - Finn's choice, he loves their kids' pizza. Yes, we went to a burger joint so he could get pizza. We let the waitstaff know it was his birthday, and they came by at the end of our meal with a team of singing servers and a big ice cream sundae. Finn hid his face into my arm and was as shy as I would have predicted, but I caught several little smiles despite the shyness - he loved it.

And, he loved the sundae (surprisingly, he was willing to share it with his sister)

Despite claiming to be too excited to go to sleep (see smile below), and avowing to look at his new room all night long, Finn managed to head off to dreamland within about 5 minutes of lights out. All in all, a pretty good day for all of us!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A New Challenge

I've finished my race, but I haven't finished with running. I'm going to do my best to fight the urge to stay indoors all winter long, and keep up with it. Rather than train for longer distances, though, I'm planning to just try and maintain the running ability I've already gained (though it would be nice if I could maybe run a smidgen faster). Instead, I'm going to try to focus on weight loss for a few months.

Back when I started training for the team relay in February, I was certain that by sheer virtue of being able to run 7 miles by October, I would naturally also lose several pounds and a couple of clothing sizes. Turns out, though, that you can run your ass off, but if you don't also restrict your calories, none of those extra pounds will budge. Go figure.

I did try dieting WHILE training, for a while, which for me means counting my calories. But I just got so darn HUNGRY! It's really hard to contemplate a 4 or 5 mile run when all you can think about is how much you'd like to have a third slice of pizza. So the dieting fell by the wayside in favor of training. Also, it's kind of a pain in the ass to count your calories (or WW points, if that's the method you use). I'm really good on weekdays, especially during the day. I eat pretty much the same thing for breakfast for an entire week, and I eat a lot of frozen entrees and simple snacks. Sitting at my desk at work, I can easily pop online at any time to look up calorie information. It's the evenings and weekends that make calorie-tracking a real chore. I eat what I serve the kids and M. for dinner, which means home-cooked meals (usually). Figuring out amounts of each ingredient, the corresponding number of calories, and how much of the dish I actually eat can involve a lot of math and hunting down information. When I'd really like to be sitting on my rear end watching Modern Family and eating ice cream instead. Then there are the weekends, where we tend to do at least a couple of meals out. Sometimes I can find nutritional information before or after we go to a restaurant online, but that only works for major chains. Everything else requires total guesswork on my part. And you KNOW they are sneaking fat in to places where you would never expect it!

The tracking of calories is important for me. It's like a way of being accountable to myself for everything I eat. Even though I know by now what an appropriate portion size or a poor food choice is, I don't listen to that voice if I'm not in tracking/dieting mode. I know, I know, I shouldn't really be dieting. I should be making a lifestyle change. But for me, for now and probably periodically for the rest of my life, I need to diet. And dieting means a change, a concerted effort into doing something different, something time consuming/habit changing that's really all about me.

This puts me in a dilemma, because I really want my kids to have a healthy outlook on food and body image, to be accepting of all body types. I need to diet, but I don't want Finn and Lucy to KNOW that I'm dieting. I don't want to obsess about food in front of them, or remove all less-than-healthy food choices completely from our house (I try to provide healthy food, but we do allow treats). But it's hard to diet in secret. I think eventually they might start to notice that 5 minutes in to a meal, Mommy has already finished her dinner, but why is she staring fixedly at the uneaten food on our plates? Or that Mommy is sitting out the post-library trip ice cream run, even though she LOVES ice cream. Or that, oh look, it's almost dinner time and Mommy is super crabby, again. Maybe they won't realize that I'm denying myself, that I'm hungry, but maybe they will.

With Finn and Lucy, I emphasize the HEALTHY aspect of food and exercise. We do exercise because it's fun and it makes our bodies strong. We eat fruits and vegetables because they help us grow and keep us feeling good. We talk about how all foods are OK in moderation, but nothing is good for you if you eat a LOT of it. We don't talk about fat or thin, skinny or chubby. I want them to simultaneously pay absolutely no attention to the way other people look (in terms of opinions on what is good or bad), and to be self confident and content with the way they look, whatever that may be. Is that even possible? I hope so. Because I still struggle with my own body image issues, and I'd like to spare them that.

I'd like to not be chubby/overweight/fat/whatever adjective you prefer (see, I even have issues picking the right fat term!). I just don't really want to tell my kids that. Total hypocrite, right?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Enter Finn

I started this account of Finn’s birth back in April of 2009, a couple weeks after Lucy was born. I meant to finish it, then write Lucy’s birth story. Instead I wrote neither, and let my memories grow fuzzier, so forgive me if this accounting has some holes. It starts with some meandering that is meant to set the stage, of sorts.

October 12, 2006: A Thursday, and Finn’s due date. This day came and went just like all of the 279 days of my pregnancy that had preceded it, with no indication of impending labor. Sigh. Clearly my little boy was going to be late, but the question was, how late?

October 13, 2006: I had a doctor’s appointment, at which I was disappointed by my apparent lack of progress in anything birth related. I scheduled my next prenatal check-up for October 20th. The doctor and I discussed the idea that if the baby still hadn’t arrived at that point, we would set a date for an induction sometime the next week.

October 17, 2006: Feeling tired physically and mentally (from all those co-workers that kept asking me, every day, “Still here, eh?”), I stayed home from work and had a relaxing day with a nice long nap. This was the last time I would ever feel rested. Ever.

October 18, 2006: A Wednesday. I went to work in the morning, and left early for an ultrasound appointment for a bio physical profile (kind of like a non-stress test that just makes sure the baby is still doing OK). Finn did well and hit all the right milestones during the test. His weight was estimated at 8 pounds, 9 ounces – yikes! As scared as I was of a c-section, I was not looking forward to pushing that out of my girly bits.

Driving home from the appointment, I had what I thought might be my very first Braxton Hicks contraction, a vague tightening of my massive belly. Up until then, I had no detectable contractions; though I’m sure I probably had some that I couldn’t feel. I felt momentarily elated, but the contraction was not repeated (yet).

M. and I went to bed that night, probably sometime around 10:30. As I heard M.’s breathing even out and get deeper, I started having contractions. They were painless and pretty far apart (about 10 minutes or so), but they were distracting enough to keep me from getting any sleep. Wee hours of the morning found me surfing the internet out in the living room, tired of staring at my eyelids and not wanting to disturb M. as I tossed and turned. Don’t think me selfless, my rationale was that at least one of us should be somewhat rested for whatever lay ahead, and it sure as hell wasn’t going to be me.

October 19, 2006: I’d say I woke up, but I don’t recall getting any actual sleep the night before. I still wasn’t sure at this point whether I was in labor or not. I had done plenty of reading online of other women’s birth and labor experiences (you know, the scientist doing her research to be prepared for labor, AS IF THAT’S EVEN POSSIBLE), but still had no clue what I was really supposed to look for. Short of my water bursting all over the place (a scenario I was terrified of, and also prepared for, as I had been perching on waterproof pads on my mattress, on the couch, and in my car for the last few weeks juuust in case), I didn’t know what kind of “signs” to look for. But I had enough foresight to ask M. to work from home that day and avoid his hour-and-a-half (each way) commute into D.C.

The contractions began to grow in intensity – I was starting to feel a little pain. I called my doctor’s office, and went in to get checked at around 10 am. The doctor measured me at about a centimeter and a half – apparently I was making a little progress from my last appointment, but it was slow. She thought it was probably “the real thing,” but that it could take a long time. Her advice was to go home and wait it out until the contractions were 5 minutes apart, 1 minute… etc, the standard stuff. On the way home we stopped for bagels – I remember that I stuck to a plain bagel with plain cream cheese, a rarity for this everything bagel lover. Apparently I was in no mood for flavor.

We wiled away the afternoon, periodically timing contractions, I’m sure, which, though getting very painful, were not getting very regular. I don’t think we went on a walk. It was a gray, humid, sprinkle-y kind of day, not very inspiring of outdoor activity. Plus, the contractions were really doing a number on my back, making walking (and lying down, and sitting) pretty hard to do.

At around 5, I sent M. out to get us some dinner – I figured we needed the energy. While he was out, I hopped in the shower (as much as a hugely pregnant, contracting woman can hop), then spent some time bouncing on my exercise ball. We ate egg salad sandwiches and French fries (the last of my excused-by-pregnancy junk food eating), and caught our last episode of Jeopardy as non-parents. I’m sure I still managed to rock the answers through the pain . Though still a little erratic, by this time the contractions were more clearly a minute long and five minutes or so apart. So at around 8:30 pm, I called the on-call doc to check in with him, and he advised us to head in to the hospital.

I’m sure the car ride to the hospital was painful, but I’ve blocked that memory out. I do know that when we arrived at the there, I was sent to an L&D room without triage – must have been a slow night. I changed into my hospital gown, got checked (4 cm? maybe? Not sure), and got hooked up to all the various monitors/IVs/blood pressure cuffs they like to strap you down with.

I need to stop for a moment here and note that by this time, I was absolutely positive I was having back labor. Every single contraction was like a knife twisting in my back. I have never, ever felt pain like that before or since. It was later established that Finn was, indeed, turned to the side, which undoubtedly made my labor longer and harder. Back labor sucky suck sucks. And I can say that, because I’ve now had the regular kind of labor, and can verify that it is not quite as full of suckitude.

So, yes, strapped down with monitors and such, in back labor, and forced to lie in a bed. At this point, I was not a happy camper (see below).

I begged the nurse to let me get off the bed and walk around, and she promised to come back after the baby had been monitored for an hour to let me up.

And then she promptly forgot about me. For, like, ever.

I remember at one point writhing on my side, clawing at the bed rail and telling M. that I couldn’t do this, that it hurt too much. I cried. I pleaded with him to go find someone, anyone, who could get me out of the frickin’ bed.

He took off down the hall and found someone, I think just in time for a shift change. But it was not exactly the salvation I had hoped for, which I suppose could only have come in the form of the epidural guy. Instead, he found my new nurse.

Oh, how I came to dislike my new nurse. For clarification, I shall call her Evil Nurse.

Evil Nurse did let me walk around for a bit, though it did not provide the relief I had hoped for. I’ll give her that. But in no other way was I happy with her. We disagreed, she and I, about whether I was in labor. This is the crux of why I thought her evil. After 24 hours of contractions and searing pain, I was 100% certain (!) that I was in labor. She, however, looked at the monitors that had been printing out a record of my contractions, and told me that I was not really in labor. My contractions weren’t strong enough, or regular enough. She didn’t check me to see if I had dilated more. She didn’t wonder whether the contractions weren’t registering well on the monitor because the monitor was on my BELLY, and the contractions were in my BACK. She just declared me “not in labor.”

October 20, 2010: Sometime after midnight, I begged for an epidural (hmm, notice how many times I’ve used the word “beg” or “plead” in this narrative?) so I could get some rest. So my body could relax and finish doing what it needed to do. Evil Nurse did not want to give me one. She even made vague noises about sending me home. She tried to give me a shot of narcotic instead, which I refused. I demanded the epidural and the epidural only. She finally called the doctor (I don’t believe he actually came to the hospital that night), and he OK’d the epidural. Good thing he was safe at home, otherwise he would have had a smelly crying sweaty pregnant lady trying to french him.

My anesthesiologist arrived, and as I saw on the hospital bill later, his name was, fittingly, Dr. Paine. He made M. leave the room, and I had to hug Evil Nurse while he administered the epidural. I shivered and felt nauseous and tried not to cry, but somehow managed to not have a contraction during the placement of the catheter. I contemplated throwing up on Evil Nurse, out of spite or necessity, not sure which. But the process was smooth, and in no time I was lying much more comfortably in my bed. Dr. Paine must have hit the sweet spot, because this epidural really, really worked.

From about 2:30 to 5:30 am, I tried to sleep, I really did. But my lower body was so numb and heavy that I was kind of freaked out by it, and kept worrying that I would forget to breathe. I think being pain-free probably also let me finally be a little excited about the fact that I was going to meet my baby soon. M. had no problem sleeping, of course.

At 5:30 the jackhammering started. Hmm, what’s that again? Your hospital didn’t have the dulcet sounds of jackhammering in the wee hours of the morning? You’re jealous that mine did? Or maybe you’re wondering who the frick would think it’s a good idea to jackhammer in the pitch dark and rattle the walls and beds of SICK PEOPLE!! (And angry tired laboring women)! Look, I know hospitals occasionally have to expand, to renovate, whatever. But couldn’t the really loud construction-y stuff happen when people aren’t normally still sleeping?

So I officially got no sleep, for the second night in a row. I was really going to start this motherhood thing with a bang!

There was another shift change at 7 am, and I got a new set of nurses (yay!). I also found out that I was about 7-8 cm dilated (take that, Evil Nurse!!). We were really getting somewhere. I hung out for a while, and eventually the doctor came in to check on me. He broke my water to try and speed up the last bit of progress. At some point, I was given pitocin for the same reason. I was still pleasantly numb, so this was all really just background movement for me.

At 11:30 am, I was deemed “complete,” and told that I could start pushing. M. and the nursing intern that was shadowing my nurse each grabbed a leg, a leg that felt like a block of underwater concrete to me. I was completely unable to move any part of my lower body at all. I felt certain that M. and the intern must have been breaking their backs holding my legs up, so heavy did they feel. The sun was shining, we had Gypsy Kings music playing in the background, and we all joked around in between pushes. I felt no pain – in fact, the nurse had to keep telling me when I was having a contraction, so I’d know when to push. It was the most fun and relaxing part of my entire hospital stay.

Eventually, Finn began having decelerations every time I pushed. I was given oxygen, rolled onto my side a bit more, and an internal monitor was placed on Finn’s head. Things became a bit more serious. The nurse seemed certain that the doctor would recommend a c-section, and she had M. gown up in some scrubs. Because meconium was found in my amniotic fluid, a team from the NICU was assembled “just in case.” I was half resigned to getting a c-section, despite an intense fear of the procedure (Abdomen cut open! Recovery time! Probability of forever having c-sections if we have more babies!). Thankfully, the doctor was a bit less reactionary than that. He let me keep pushing since Finn’s heart rate was recovering in between every push. He did cut me to get him out faster, though. I managed to ask the doctor if the baby had any hair – for some reason it was very important to me that my baby have hair. I think they look more “done” that way. Fully cooked. He seemed puzzled that I asked, but I felt as though this was a perfectly natural question. I was assured that he did, indeed, have hair.

And then finally, at 12:30 pm, Finn William was born!

My predicted giant of a baby weighed in at only 7 lbs 3 oz (love the accuracy of modern medicine). The umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck, so M. wasn’t able to cut the cord. This probably also explains why Finn’s heart rate kept decelerating with every push. But he was checked over by the NICU team, and deemed perfectly healthy. Perfectly healthy, and with a crapload of hair (with highlights! WTF!) that all the nurses oohed and aahed over for our entire hospital stay.

I don’t think I have ever recovered from the sleep deficit of those 40 hours of labor. And I am quite positive that I shall throw many of those details back in Finn’s face when he is a teenager and aggravating me. And he will roll his eyes, and blow off all the pain and effort it took me to get him in to this world. As he should. Because who dwells on stuff like that, when they could instead focus on the after? The part where a couple was made a family by the cutest little boy you will ever see. For real.

3 Days Old

8 Months Old

Happy 4th Birthday, Finny!!!! XOXOXOXO

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Race Day

My day today started at 4:30 am. I managed to recognize my alarm as something other than a dream, and rolled myself out of bed. Brush teeth, wash face, throw on clothes, fashion a pony tail. I made it to my friend's house by 5:30 as planned, and we set off for Baltimore.

The sky was just changing from pitch black as we found parking in a lot behind the Raven's stadium. We met up with one of our other teammates, and huddled in the bathroom for a little while, chatting, fastening on our bibs with safety pins, and avoiding the chilly morning air. Finally it was time for me to catch the bus to my relay point, half an hour before the start of the race. I sat on a warm school bus, listening to nervous chattering all around me, as we zipped through downtown Baltimore and up north to our start point. I looked at our line of buses, at least 10 buses long, and the crew of police cars and policeman escorting us, blocking traffic. And I couldn't help tearing up, feeling emotional. Somebody thought what we were about to do was important enough for this, for the hoopla. I inwardly laughed at myself, and wondered about how emotional I'd be at the end, if I was already crying (spoiler alert: I was far too exhausted to cry).

Our route through Baltimore took me through so many familiar areas, places I had seen many times, places I had been, places I had lived. Our buses drove right past the driveway to the Department of Biology building at Hopkins, the place where I devoted many hours and made many friends. Right past the new-ish building where M. worked, toward the end of his grad school experience, after his department moved out of their old, rusty, cranky headquarters. I saw the Stieff Silver building, the Maryland College Institute of Art, the Belvedere building. We almost, almost made it up to my old apartment building, a beloved brick building built in the 1920's with few amenities but lots of charm, until each bus, one by one, made a 3-point turn to back track and drop us at the exchange point.

My first thought, upon emerging from the bus, was to find a port-a-potty to pee... and maybe, ahem, do more (nerves, what can I say?). Some busmates and I looked around for the facilities and saw... a line. A very long line, leading up to ONE port-a-potty. One port-a-potty, for hundreds of people. Pretty sure someone screwed up there. Perhaps some of the 100 or so port-a-potties at the finish line were meant to be delivered to Relay Point #2? Maybe at least one or two were wrongly directed? Figuring out how to handle this situation took up a good chunk of the time I would have otherwise spent hanging around pacing and fiddling with my iPod. Never fear - someone managed to get in to one of the locked Hopkins academic buildings, and a steady stream of runners (including myself) made good use of their very nice (read: far superior to a port-a-potty) facilities.

By then it was about 8:30, and the race had been underway for half an hour. The relay teams started at the same time as the full marathon runners. I was expecting my teammate right around 9:00 based on her predicted pace. I spent some time stretching, talked a bit with a friend who happened to be running the relay as well (this was nice, as I wasn't expecting to know anyone), and then watched the front runners for the marathon pass by. The wheelchair participants were crossing by us (at mile 5.7) by 8:30 or so, and the leaders of the runners began showing up by 8:45. I was blown away by how fast they were running - not only was it uphill at that point (and a steep hill at that), but they still had over 20 miles to go!

I nervously alternated keeping watch for my teammate and checking my cell phone to see what time it was. The race transponder would only record one time for our whole team, so the only way to know my own pace was to figure out what time I started, and what time I ended. I glanced at my phone at 9:01, and about a minute and a half later, I spotted my friend. She ran uphill for most of her 5.7 miles, and looked DONE. I'm pretty sure she was happy to see me :-). I grabbed the transponder from her, tossed her my sweatshirt and bag, and took off.

The race itself was a) fun, and b) exhausting. The fun part was the beginning. After a slight uphill, it was downhill for about 3 miles straight. And not a steep, bone-rattling/knee-jarring downhill. It was fairly gentle, just the kind of hill I like to be running down. As I neared the Inner Harbor, I began to wonder when I would see M. and the kids. He had gotten them up and out of the house by 7 am, drove to a light rail station south of the city (think above-ground subway), and took the train in so they could all cheer me on. Luckily, my leg of the race circled down close to the finish line, so he could pretty easily see me at about my halfway point AND at the end of my leg, and we were still positioned pretty well to get to the finish line to cheer on my last teammate.

I managed to spot M. and the kids - M. tried to video me, but apparently didn't actually have the camera ON. At that point I looked perky still. The kids saw me, but looked a bit confused and didn't really get excited.

Then I continued on, excited to end the race and hang out with them. I had figured that seeing M. would be about the mid-point of my leg, but as I continued running on a road that was supposed to loop back around, and I still hadn't looped around yet, I began to realize that M. probably hadn't been waiting at the midpoint, he'd been earlier than that. And I couldn't find a mile marker for the life of me (through the entire race I never saw one, though I imagine they must have had them) to know how much further I had to go. AND, I was suddenly tired. My legs were numb - they had been from the start (the cold, maybe?). But now they were also tired. I was slowing down, in the face of what I was sure was a lot longer to go. And we were no longer running downhill. There were some uphills, though they were pretty gentle (and I really can't complain about them, as I have seen a map of the course elevation and I know my teammates had some hills that were doozies). I kept grabbing cups of water and trying to gulp some down, though I wasn't terribly thirsty. I would have preferred food, I think - at that point, my Cliff bar and Cliff gels that I had gulped down earlier were no longer giving me energy.

We finally cut across and started back toward our relay point. I tried my best to find a couple of bursts of energy, to move my legs faster. Sometimes it's easier to run faster - if you run too slowly, your mind focuses on just how slow you're going and tries to convince you to just stop. So I pushed on, intermittently, running a bit slower in between. I never walked.

After the loop around, I wasn't sure how much further I had to go. My perspective was completely confused. But then I saw one of my teammates, the one who had run the first leg of the race. I saw her, cheering for me and smiling, and asked her how much more I had left. She told me I was almost done (still wasn't sure what that meant), and that my next teammate was all set to take over. She ran with me for a little bit, then ran ahead to let our teammate know I was headed her way. I realized, then, finally, that I truly was almost done. I saw the Relay banner, and the crowds of runners waiting to take over. And I saw M. and the kids again, cheering for me, waving at me, encouraging me. I picked up my speed for the last little bit, suddenly renewed, and made it to my teammate. I shoved the transponder at her, gave her a hug, and looked at my cell phone: 10:21 am.

78 minutes to run 7 miles. Boo-Yah!

Just before the end, when I passed by M. and the kids the second time. You can see my friend running just ahead of me, getting ready to alert our teammate that I was coming. Excuse the lengthy rear-end footage, please :-)

The kids waiting for me to run by

Me and two of my teammates, after the race (our fearless fourth had to leave just before this was taken)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Babies and Dancing

This week was the first week I felt that pang - the one that I think I'll occasionally feel when someone announces a new pregnancy, or introduces a brand new family member. It was the first time I really thought "Am I sure I'm done having babies?"

I am sure, of course (I think) (definitely). I love babies. I love my babies. But I don't feel like there's a baby missing from this family. Lucy doesn't feel like a middle child to me. And if I'm really honest, I think some of those pangs are born of selfishness. Of me thinking that if I did it again, brought home a newborn that turns into infant that turns into a toddler that becomes an infuriating/lovable pre-schooler and so on... (not sure, still look ahead to/dreading whatever comes after preschool), I would do it better. I would handle it better. I would be more patient, less emotional, happier, better able to live in each moment. Less regretful when things don't go as planned (do they ever, with a baby?).

A new baby would be like a competition, a chance for a do-over.

That is not a reason to have a baby. So those pangs - I know they'll show up, every now and then. But they will be set aside.

And really, aren't these two enough for anyone? This family of four, we make a pretty good dance party.

The Awesome Robot

Perhaps a Hint of Classical Training?

A Father-Son Dance

Monday, October 4, 2010

Different guilt, same distraction

I should be jogging/running tonight, not sitting on my rear end, drinking an Octoberfest beer (M.'s family may be interested to know it's a Leinenkugel's) catching up on Facebook and blogs. In my defense, it's cooooooold. Sure, 46 degrees won't feel cold in February, but it feels damn cold now. And it's daaaaaaaaaark. And the treadmill is broken, so there's that.

But I am running out of time, folks. The race I have been training for is less than two weeks away, and I'm maybe a leetle bit panicky about it. I should really, really be running right now.

It's a marathon relay, as I may have mentioned before. 26.2 miles, split up between 4 people. I'm running leg 2 (I think), a 7 mile distance. Not so bad, when you compare it to 26.2 miles. But I started out barely able to run a mile this past January, so it seems like a lot to me. I've worked myself up to regular runs (I aim for 3 times a week but don't always make that goal) that are between 3.5 and 4.5 miles long, and I've done a couple of "long" runs that are around 5.5 miles. I was hoping to be a little more comfortable in the 5.5 to 6 mile range before this race came around, just to have a little more confidence that 7 miles won't kill me. No doubt I will have major butterflies the morning of the race. Not just the distance (though mostly that) or the idea that my 12-minute mile pace will look like molasses in January compared to just about everyone else. Also the logistics (packet pick-up! parking! road closures! catching the bus to the relay point on time! figuring out how M. and the kids can cheer me on without leaving the house as the crack of dawn, but also so that I don't have to drive myself home on exhausted legs!). Except the carb loading. I think I have that covered.

So, to distract myself from my guilt, I give you... more cute photos of my kids!! These are from our adventures this past weekend, which included the family's first apple-picking outing.

Pumpkin painting


Someone is SUPER excited about his brand new Halloween costume, and may have even insisted on playing outside and going to the grocery store in it...

Look, a spider!

Ew! (she's actually saying "ew" here, if you can catch the slight nose wrinkle - a girl after her mother's heart...)


Professional apple-picker

Professional observer (I had visions of Lucy scurrying around eating all the rotten apples on the ground, so we did not let her participate much in this part of the outing. She is not controllable/directable in the slightest bit yet.)

Look, apples!

Overly large piles of hay

Overly large tractor tires

Too much fun (as if there is such thing)

Creepy impaled witch (who now has the dubious honor of serving as masthead photo for the fall season)

Goats in the air!

Watching the goats on the ground (and picking up a few germs to boost the ol' immune system)

Feeding the goats in the air

Little piggies!

My attempt to get a picture of the kids (clear failure, as with all other previous attempts). Perhaps Finn is just smelling nature?

Back on the road tomorrow for some more running!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


There's an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond that I've been thinking of lately (yes, I like sit-coms, can't help myself, won't apologize for it). In this episode, Ray's brother Robert comes over to Ray and Debra's house, sees a suitcase sitting in the stairwell between the living room and bedrooms, and asks if he can borrow it for a trip (not relevant, but it's his honeymoon). Ray informs Robert that the suitcase is actually the subject of a silent fight he has been having with Debra for 2 weeks. The two of them came back from a trip, and the suitcase has been sitting there in the stairwell because neither one of them wants to be the one to carry it upstairs. They don't talk about it, they just tacitly ignore the suitcase in silent battle of wills, walking past it every day. Of course, since it's a half hour comedy show, Ray's family gets involved, humor ensues, and things are eventually resolved.

Instead of a suitcase, this is our (M. and me) battle of wills:

Not sure what I mean? That's just a tube of toothpaste, eh? Maybe this angle will explain a bit better:

M. and I battle every few months over who finally gives in and opens a new tube of toothpaste. We both painstakingly work toothpaste up from the bottom of the old tube, squeeze until our thumbs protest, and do our best to eek out one more brushing's worth of toothpaste. Just so the other person has to be the one to give in, cry uncle, and open a new tube. It's absolutely ridiculous. He knows it, I know it. And yet this weird sense of competition takes over every time the toothpaste tube starts looking a little thin.

It's funny, when we first started doing this (God knows how many years ago), neither one of us talked about it. I remember thinking "Does HE know this is a competition? Or is he completely ignorant of what is going on here?" And weirdly enough (in what I can only assume is some proof that the two of us were meant for each other), he DID know, and he WAS competing.

Usually, as the one with stronger thumbs, M. is "the winner." I've managed to come out on top a few times, but he likely has the better record (we don't really "keep track").

Strange, I know. What can I say, marriage is a mysterious institution at times. But at least we get our money's worth out of each tube of toothpaste!

How about you? Any strange, recurring "fights" that you have with your significant other that you think no one else can probably appreciate or share?