Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Amelia's Sight

So Amelia has gotten away from saying shocking and bizarre kinda makes me sad.  Not that her thoughts don't literally roll through her head and fall out of her mouth.  I know exactly every fear and every thought that she has, because it ALWAYS gets told.

But I still discovered two things this week...She SEES "past her nose".

She is very aware of how much she has.  When she asked to make a Christmas list, it included zero presents, it was all activities that she wanted to do over the holidays with her family.  She has asked for exactly 3 things for Christmas.  She wants a new doll, a Barbie, and a recorder.  And she has offered about 15 things out of her room that she doesn't play with "enough" and that I am to find someone who "needs" them for Christmas.  She has even offered dear things to her heart when she hears of those who don't have anything.  I am thankful and just a little proud of that.  I am touched by her generous spirit.

Also, she had a project for school this week that she was supposed to do for a "Shape Museum".  They could make, draw, or take pictures of things in their life, home, etc.  I assumed that she would want to do some kind of project.  I even saved up boxes and toilet paper rolls in that assumption.  She chose, rather, to take photographs.  I gave her my camera and told her she could take as many as she wanted and we would decide which ones to include.  She took over 100 pictures in our house of shapes.  And they were amazing.  The perspectives were unique.  Not just the sight line of a 6 year old, but a real eye to what to include.  And what shapes she saw where was striking.  She may not have an artist's hand for drawing, but she certainly does have an artist's eye for photographs.  Which makes me think that I should see if I can find a cheap digital camera somewhere...or even just our old one...I would love to encourage this strength.  Because she finds so much joy, it could provide for her future as a job, and because I always get so caught up in the moment that I forget to take photos!  I know that I would love more concrete memories!  We ended up chosing about 50 photos and making a book...and regardless of her grade, I am thankful that she had this opportunity to discover more about this amazing girl that lives with me! 

Lest you think that we never get any good Amelia-isms: 

Amelia, in the bath: "Would we explode if we didn't have a bottom?"

Me: "What do you mean?"

A: "You know. Like if you couldn't poot. Or poop. Or pee. If all that couldn't get out of your body. You'd explode!!"

My little scientist.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Musical Mulling, Crocodile Rock

Charlotte has not lost her taste in well done music.  She has become a giant fan of music in movies...and Elton John tops her list right now thanks to "Gnomeo and Juliet"...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why I Never Needed to be Empowered.

My Papa did slip away yesterday.  But not before my mama read my letter to him.  In the state he received it, did he hear it?  I'm not really sure.  I like to think so. 

Which brings me to today.  Why do we often wait until it's too late to realize that we should have said the things we wanted to?

I've decided to take that challenge today.  This letter is to my Anna.  My grandmother that is the match to my Papa I wrote to on Tuesday.

To My Dear Anna~

Let's start there, shall we?

My Anna (pronounced 'Ah-nah') chose her own grandmother name WAY before it was cool.  Now everybody is doing it.  And that is an excellent segway into her essence...

My Anna was an empowered woman before it was cool.  She was a missionary to Africa, she carried spears.  She had a baby in the middle of nowhere by the headlights of a car.  She knew insanely long patriotic poems by heart...and didn't just recite them by memory, she spoke them with passion and fire!

It never occurred to me that I couldn't do anything I wanted to do with my life, because she could do anything.  She was strong.  Physically, emotionally, and mentally.  She could manage any crisis.

If my Papa was the peaceful, cool waters of life, my Anna was the fire and passion in life.  They were a truly matched set.  They were the perfect balance.  My Papa knew what to say to soothe your soul.  My Anna always knows what to do to smooth your path.  She has the organization and the charisma to get ANYTHING done.  Her personality has always been an all encompassing force of nature. 

She knows how to appreciate the quality of something fine.  And yet, that woman knows how to find a deal.  She has always decorated a beautiful home, she plans a gorgeous gardens, she sets an amazing table.  She cooks beautifully and deliciously.  Her bread is still what I aspire to.

She taught a special needs, self-contained classroom for years, almost 40.  (Before everything was considered a syndrome.)  She expected...No...She DEMANDED their best.  She demanded that they perform past their disabilities.  There were no excuses.  They were NOT allowed to use their disabilities as an excuse to dodge out of anything.  They were expected to fight and use their abilities to show the world that they were the quality people she knew they were.

My Anna has always been a prolific letter writer.  She has a brilliant command of the English language.  She uses words like instruments to construct truly complex thoughts.  She uses words to their fullest capacity.  She loves them...and has passed that love affair with the words themselves to multiple generations.  My mother.  Myself.  My children.

My Anna is a beautiful musician.  She can make the music say things to your heart.  She showed me though her own passion that classical music could speak every language...and had the deepest of souls...  And the hymns....she always added depth to their music!  It wasn't until I was older that I appreciated how much musical orchestration she adds to their simple structures.

She does not sit by and allow life to happen.  She has always been involved and educated in politics.  She types with mind-numbing speed.  She joined the technological age with enthusiasm.  Unlike many of her peers, she embraced the internet for its information and its social opportunities.  She taught herself, she tutored her friends, she utilizes it for all its strengths...

Anna walked with gusto and power every night for years.  Even Hurricane Gloria wouldn't dare to stop her.  And even when it broke her arm, it certainly proved that it couldn't slow her down.

She has always taken it upon herself to make everyone the best they could be.  She expected, demanded, and encouraged everyone's best.  She has worked so hard for so long... 

I find myself hoping that now that she doesn't need to care for Papa that she will take a little bit of time to care for herself.  To smoothe out her own corners and needs. To maybe go back to writing, and books... To sit and talk to Jesus. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

to ticking clocks

My Papa is slipping away...we don't know how long...but he is going to successfully escape to his beloved Jesus...soon...

Dear Papa~

You come to mind every, every time I see the play, Our Town, by Thornton Wilder...there are so many phrases that speak to my memories of you...

“We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.

-stage manager, in the play OUR TOWN”
Thornton Wilder, Our Town

"Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover's Corners... Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking... and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths...and sleeping and waking up..."
-Emily, Our Town

When I was little, you somehow had charge of me when we went to your house, and when we met at the Clossers...I always somehow assumed that we fell in together because neither of us had any overwhelming purpose in the kitchen or preparing the house for visitors...but I LOVED the took me me on walks where plant names were like the names of friends I was introduced to...we would go berry picking for hours...we came back with less than half of what we helped me find all the pretty weeds for my "flower" bouquets...

You shared books...OH, THE BOOKS!!!  You read to me in your lilting voice for even more hours than I could say...  They smelled of adventure and rejoicing and simple years gone by!  They were full of stories of the same...maybe that is why that's how they smell to me.  I was fascinated by the fact that you wrote not only your name on the fly leaves of your books, but the dates on which you completed reading them...each time...who gave them to you was always also inscribed...

You made poetry beautiful and natural to was never stilted when you read it to made it soothing and a natural outpouring of your heart.  It was as beautiful as if you set your pen to paper and wrote it yourself.

Your clocks were beautiful.  You thrilled me with all the minuscule pieces that you magically crafted into technical works of art.  The hundreds of cubbies of ridiculously confusing, fairy wrought, and ultimately useful tools made time somehow more precious.  More mysterious.  More of a treasure.  We slept in your clock room whenever we came to your house...and the ticking became poetry and music in it's own right.  I still cannot hear a clock that actually ticks without being transported back to street-lights pouring through the stained glass and the thunderous sound of TIME...and how very fast it seemed to go...

You lived simply.  You lived appreciatively.  You lived peacefully.  You gave all of your attention to me whether I was 3 or 30.  You treated me no differently.  And I know this is why you were a good pastor.  You allowed God to flow through you simply.  It was never more complex than it needed to be.  You went to seminary and allowed it to color the reverence of the words you used to speak to the God of the Universe, but you believed like a child.  You treasured it like a child.  You shared it just as simply.  Full of wonder and questions.  And peace.

I am a blessed woman that I knew you and loved you.  That I have have your books, your clocks, and your peace with questions.  That I have the memories I do.

I assure you that if you knew it was me, nothing could keep me from coming to pet your hand, and stroke your forehead...but I feel that I said good-by back before you fell into the back of your mind...when I saw that was what had happened, my only comfort was that I knew you were in good company...between Jesus and the poetry...I knew that there would be no dark or fear, only peace...

I love you so very much.  And may your passing be just as simple and full of peace.

And may the ticking of your clocks remind me that the moments that are the treasures...until the end of time...

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Journey of the Orange Shoes

I am answering one of my best friends' post today.  I have been laughingly following along her Journey of the Orange Shoes...and realized that I have an oddly concurrent path...

A few weeks ago, she went shopping and was infatuated with a pair of orange shoes.  She posted them on Facebook but declined to buy them.  Then about a week ago, she bought them.  THEN, in the last few days, they have made a star showing on her blog, HERE and HERE.  While she loves them, she's having a hard time reconciling them with herself and is having a surprisingly hard time wearing them out...

I used to have some orange shoes.  They were REALLY ORANGE.  I had them dyed that color on purpose to wear with my prom dress.  Which was a fringed, beaded number in black.  Black was not a happy enough color, so I had to do something to OWN it, and it was a color in a swag of fabric that I made into a stole wrap.

My favorite outfit in high school was fluorescent lime green pants, a white turtle-neck, and a fluorescent and periwinkle sleeveless hoodie.  One of my best friends found a picture of me in it and sent me a copy with a smiley face sticky note stuck to it.

Instead of the traditional navy suit that all the professors at school assured us was THE INTERVIEW SUIT, I wore a sage suit in an unconventional cut.  I am fairly sure that I got 5 job offers in a week, because I was comfortable in it...and I was myself.    I firmly believe that I would not have done well in a navy suit, because I would have felt stifled.

I love color on a very primitive level.  It literally makes me happy to look at it.  I wear colors because they look like I want to feel.  I enjoy rather violent combinations.  Lime green and brick apple red.  Flame orange and golden yellow.  Cobalt and rust. 

Over the years, I have worn these colors.  I didn't really care if anyone else liked them or not.  Funny thing was that I learned that people handle you differently when you wear head-to-toe lime than if you wear lime shoes with a smart black dress...they handle you they handle crazy people.

I wore what are now affectionately called "Uglies" to work when I taught swim lessons and worked as a life-guard.  I loved them.

But now they are called Uglies.  Really??

I wear technical running shirts know, the kind that are for "high visibility in the dark".

But I am trying to limit myself to one outlandish color at a that people can make eye-contact with me...instead of trying to avoid eye contact and not threaten the wild animal...

So.  If you have to be the kind of person that would wear orange shoes, sometimes it is just as difficult to reign in the color impulse, too...sometimes you have to be the kind of person to wear brown...

Maybe we all should wear dazzling shoes with staid practice understanding the other gal...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day 2012

Taylor Swift - The Best Day

Once Upon a Time...

I was 5ish the first time my dad let me run with him.  We "ran" to the riding stables up the road...I remember it being horrifyingly my grown up eyes, it was certainly less than a mile.  I had begged and pleaded for forever.  And finally, he said yes.  He limped along at a painfully slow pace.  I know this, because I have allowed Amelia to be successful at her begging to run with me, and I have continued the tradition.  To keep pace with a 5 year old runner is like SLOW bouncy walking.  But, the brightness of pride in their eyes makes it worth it.

It was the beginning of an on again, off again love affair with running.  I ran all through my childhood with my daddy, every few months I would get a run.  Then in middle school, I was allowed more freedom to run more often.  In high school, I took up track, and while I was running more, I think I ran with him, only once or twice.  In college, I would run in the winter...and bask in the bite of the air...but those excursions were alone...

I took up running again recently as a grab at health felt remarkably like running when I was five...absolutely overwhelming in the effort that it took...the trees looked bigger, the road rougher, the distance further...  My running group of friends and I decided to run a half marathon to wrap up our successful running group for the summer.  And while we ran together, it was an intensely independent experience.  We each ran together, and yet alone.  All at our own pace. 

We ran at our local recreation path.  It was overcast and damp, it was cool and the greenery was lush and spectacular...and I felt small and exhilarated to be running...I ran to my usual music, and about the time they started to feel tired, I busted out all the songs that I downloaded that I remember my dad running to on the stereo while on the treadmill in our basement.  And I felt like I was running with him again.  While Alan Parson's Project, Mason Williams, and Steppenwolf pounded in my ears, I felt his laughing encouragements at my side, from 30 something years ago...and I felt like we were bonding once again.

My daddy was the first person I called after my first 5K, just before Christmas. I called to break down my good choices and my "next time" changes.  I called my daddy after this, my first half marathon.  And about cried over the pride in his voice.  It was, somehow, a powerfully bonding feeling to share it with him.  Running was something that was always inherently *him*.  Some of my earliest memories of my dad was watching him lace up his 1970's yellow running shoes...and his returning to drink insanely watered down orange juice...with his beet red face smiling and peaceful, post run. 

And now...I drink watered down orange juice, while unlacing my teal running beet red face smiling and at peace.  I hope to share the same memories with my daughter that seems to be enchanted by the sneakers to the road moments...someday, her beet red face will smile with peace over another 5 year old...and it will all be thanks to my daddy...and his yellow shoes...and his willingness to walk slowly and bouncily with his 5 year old runner...

Thank you, Daddy.  I had some of the Best Days with you...  Happy Father's Day...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Another Goal, Checked Off - Rat 5-14-2012

Remember my goals?

You can mark off #4.

After having not trained for about 4 weeks due to illness, it was less a test of training and more a test of determination.  But you can mark off a half marathon.

First 1/2 Marathon
Ave pace 12:13
Not dang bad.
Lost 2-3 minutes stretching a cramp out...but NO walking.  None.

My running group/Bible study (that I inadvertantly started at church) wanted to run a half marathon to celebrate our accomplishment.  We couldn't find one nearby on a date we could all make so we set up a page on Facebook and did a Make-Your-Own-Half.  We went down to the local exercise path and ball-parked the map for our needs, and then just ran.  It was awesome.  And we ate at Cracker Barrel after, to celebrate.  Yum!


I'm taking the summer quasi-off.  I plan to run about 4-5 miles once a week, and then bike or do a Beachbody workout video, or I don't get burned out or lose what I've fought so hard to gain. 

I've signed up for The Battlefield 1/2, too.  And I really can't wait!!!!!

Happy Mother's Day ~ 2012

I have expressed some sentiments about how much I adore my mother over the last couple of years. (HERE and HERE)...Please re-read, so you don't think I took "the easy way out" this year...frankly, the opposite is true...  BUT this is a little more private, but a no less heartfelt thank you.

Mama, thank you for all the memories...The hundreds and hundreds of hours spent making these (and many more!!) books magic...

This year, I reiterate the anthem of one of my favorite books, Proverbs:

"...She is clothed in fine linen and purple...
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
 Her children arise and call her blessed.."

Because indeed they do.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Disney-Universal Part 2

Okay.  So the good parts.  I have finally recovered. 
The funny part of this is that everyone else recovered the first day having returned home.  I wrote the Part 1 post and 2 days later Ethan read it.  His response:  "Wow.  That was pretty harsh.  It was pretty fun."

My first reaction was:  "Did you go on the same vacation I did?" or "Did I invent the conversations that included 'we will never come back'?"

At first this really upset me. 

And now I've decided that if he forgot the bad parts that quickly, then the kids probably did, too.  And if they forgot all the bad parts which reduced them to crying and complaining, then they only remember the good parts.  Which as we all know as parents, that is the best part of memories...the good stuff.

So.  The good stuff.

As I had mentioned previously, the Universal Studios really went out of their way to help us out.  They had us go through different lines, let us sit in areas and put us in a "time queue" kind of situation so we didn't have to stand for a million hours with an emotionally distraught Elise.  Before we went, we were told that Universal did not have a special needs pass or support system.  Half the park believed this too, but then we ran into someone who knew that they did, and got us hooked up..2 days into it...but this was after they had already proved that they didn't need a piece of paper to make a difference in someone's vacation. 

The most special part was when we were in the Marvel Superheroes downtown area and Captain America, Wolverine, Cyclops, Spiderman, Storm, and Rogue roared up on motorcycles and 4-wheelers leapt off right next to us and proceeded to greet some of the bystanders...Elise positively glowed with excitement...they were supposed to fight Dr. Doom and his minions, triumph, and race off to a back lot...Ethan noticed a employee standing near us, and asked approximately where the fight would result, so we could position Elise and the rest of the kids so that they could see it...and she proceeds to tell us that she can do one better...and takes us to the back lot where they would end up.  And we got pictures and got to talk to all of the heroes and take pictures...for at least 20 minutes...alone with them.  Seriously cool.  Gabriel grew up on these guys, so even at 13, he wasn't too cool to be visibly thrilled with this VIP treatment.  Amelia had never seen any of them, but was so taken with Storm and Rogue that she can't get enough of X-men since then...and is planning to be Storm for Halloween.  These were the ONLY characters on the entire trip that did not give Charlotte an ulcer and produce a conniption fit.  And Elise was so very ecstatic with meeting these characters.  I did not realize that she was so taken with of the flaws with being non-verbal...and it was probably her high point of the week...

We had a lot of fun in Harry Potter World.  Gabriel's high point by far.  He got a wand.  The Elder Wand in case you know what that means.  ;)  The food was delicious.  Charlotte didn't break out from any of it.  The rides were great, and the girls all enjoyed it, too.  Their only disappointment was not getting to meet Harry in person...which despite me telling them for a week wouldn't happen, was still a let-down.

Hollywood Studios at Disney was cool, the rides were great.  While Gabriel and I got monsoon-ed, Ethan and the girls got to see Beauty and the Beast.  They were entranced, and even Ethan was pretty taken with it...

Animal Kingdom at Disney is like the zoo on crack.  I'd been told not to go, that it was no fun, by many sources, but it turned out to be the best experience of the batch at Disney.  The Nemo musical show was spectacular, and the kids all loved it.  (I knew at that point just how jipped Gabriel and I were to have missed Beauty and the Beast!!)  And the Simba's Musical Safari was absolutely stupendous.  Absolutely amazing.  Amelia got to be in the little procession and looooved that, but refused to smile.  The actual safari was so very cool...and Charlotte got to show off and lecture the girls next to us that "That's an OKAPI!!"..and was right, blowing their little tweeny bopper minds.

I think the funniest part was that we were forced to ride on every teacup ride there was.  In every park.  Multiple times.  Elise looved it, Amelia LOOOved it, and Charlotte LOOOOOOVED it!!!  Ethan, Gabriel, and I mostly just got sick and took turns.  :)

We also discovered that Amelia is a rollercoaster junkie.  Her FIRST rollercoaster, before even the little kid training rollercoasters was Space Mountain.  I was terrified that she would have a kitten and be reduced to petrified jelly of fear...but when I looked into her seat at the completion of the ride, she looked up with shining eyes with dandelion hair on staticky end and says "That was FANTASTIC!!!  I LOVED that!!!  I want to ride another!!!!"  And so we rode everything she was tall enough for.

SO, while there was a lot that went badly, there were some really cool parts, too.  Not that I'll go back before Charlotte is tall enough to ride everything...and requests to go...but I have some really fond memories, too.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Disney to Do or not to Do...What I Learned

Things that I learned from Disney and Universal:

1)  Don't go.

Seriously, I really don't think that people realize that it isn't magical until you are an adult.  I recommend waiting until your kids are at LEAST 10-20 years old.  That way they can ride the rides and won't be miserable

2)  If Chuck E. Cheese freaks your kid out, it won't be any more magical if they are meeting Mickey, Pooh, or Cinderella.

I don't care how much your kid loves Stitch.  I don't care if they have the whole dang movie memorized.  If giant fuzzy costumes are scary to them, they won't see any more than the giant walking nightmare...and 7 days won't change that either.  Charlotte screamed the.whole.week.  Flippy Dippy.

3)  Do take your kids to Six Flags or Kings Island or your local amusement park before you buy a week's worth of passes to Disney or Universal. 

Because they are AMUSEMENT PARKS.  They are full of rides, people, walking, noise, standing, public restrooms, and auto-flushing toilets.

4)  Auto-flushing toilets are scarier than the giant fuzzy characters. 

If your child is scared of auto-flushing toilets, buy a small packet of sticky notes to put over the sensors.  If your kid is not scared of auto-flushing toilets, bring a packet of sticky notes to put over the sensors.  Your kid is short and apparently moves more while on the potty then you are supposed to, and the auto-flush will flush while your child is sitting on the toilet.  If I had one kid leap off the toilet mid-pee once, it happened 20 times.  I was lucky that I didn't have to change anyone's clothes due to this...but it wasn't from lack of attempts.

5)  Do a dry run on sunscreen. 

Slather your kids up about a week before and make sure they aren't allergic.  Because if they are they will be itchy and hacked off about walking at an amusement park.  Bring Benedryll and band-aids.  Because it's easier to carry it, than find it if you need it.

6)  If you cannot re-plan having kids closer together, or take them in shifts, plan your day in shifts.

Go on x-number of rides with the Big Kid and then x-number of rides with Little Kid...this way the misery gets spread out a little.  And don't lie to yourself, there will be misery.

7)  The Fast Pass is worth the money. 

It assures you that you will stand in line long enough that your feet hurt, but not long enough that you feel like committing hari-kari.  I don't care how financially tight you are, it's worth the money.

8)  Bring several pairs of shoes.  And a light wind-breaker/rain jacket.

If you are wrong and the shoes do rub...which they will if you are wearing them for 6-12 hours...then you at least can have rotating rub spots.  And they can dry out in shifts for the next day if the weather man is wrong.  And you will be glad to not have to buy a $8 rain poncho that doesn't really fit.

9)  If you do go on a holiday weekend, do not lie to yourself. 

It will be busy.  There will be long lines.  Just don't be all shocked.  I wanted to slap the person complaining, 50 whiney idiots you seriously think you are the only person who took advantage of the days out of school to go??  Really???

10)  Do pay attention to the bus pick-up times. 

And do be exponential in what your kids will feel like in 2 more hours...just because they are having fun now and only a little tired doesn't mean that they won't bow up and decided that fun is all done in 30 minutes.

11)  If your child has special needs ask what accommodations can be made on a special needs discussion board before going to Disney, because they won't volunteer ANYTHING.

Seriously, Disney was very tight-lipped about helping us.   They volunteered nothing.  It wasn't until I got on a sensory discussion board that I got any information at all....we had to ask for every specific intervention.

12)  Universal was amazing. 

They intervened and gave Elise special treatment at every turn.  We had to ask for virtually nothing.  I cannot compliment them enough.  It made a truly hellish vacation magical.  And that's not even their MO.

13)  If your kid has sensory issues, physical disabilites, and can't take it anymore, you will not get an award for not getting a wheelchair. 

That $12 rental fee will be worth every single penny.  And purchasing one for yourself for long-term may not be a bad investment, because there won't be snagging plactic that will tear up the back of your kid's legs...and the foot rests will actually fit and not be too long.

14)  Just because your child is in a wheelchair, doesn't mean people will be any less rude.

Seriously.  I have never been so aware of rudeness.  I got cut off so many times I lost count.  I started out terrified that I would drive Elise into someone's ankles...I finished off the week figuring that if I destroyed their Achilles' tendon, it would pretty much serve them right.

15)  Go to Disney's shows. 

They are amazing.  They allow you to sit and rest in A/C.  And they are incredibly well done.

16)  Universal's food is really good.

Way yummier than Disney's.  Although Disney can dish out some pretty great ice cream bars...I would pack food to Disney and get treats.  At Universal, they actually have some really good food plans that you can get there, day of, even.  And make sure that you buy some fudge at Honeydukes!  It was crazy cheap and DELICIOUS!!

Rat 2-27-12 and Ruminations

So I dreamed last night that my brother and his wife had their baby.  It was a 9 pound baby boy, named Ed.  I'm hoping that I'm wrong, and that she is not subjected to having a 9 pound baby as she is planning on doing it naturally, at home...but I do hope that she has a boy.  I know that neither my brother nor his wife are comfortable having a boy...but I didn't want girls, either.  And I have never been so thankful that my plans were totally tweaked.  It is a completely amazing to be stretched and be given a new perspective.  So, Ed, Edmund, or Kipling...or whatever, I am still hoping for a boy...for them and me...  :)

We went on vacation to Disney and Universal Studios.  And despite walking parks for 6-12 hour stretches, I still managed to run 5 miles on the treadmill Sunday and 4.5 on the elliptical Tuesday...  I had found myself regretting selling my treadmill until halfway through my first run...and suddenly, all my regrets were gone.  I felt trapped like a hamster on a, angry, and miserable.  And last night I ran 7 miles in my neighborhood and I felt amazing.  I felt free and whole.  And so I do believe I am a runner...officially.  I run for the pleasure of the run...not just for the exercise...

My next post is on the vacation itself...and all the things that I learned...the good, the bad, the ugly...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rat 2-12-2012

Update on my 2nd 5K.  It's official! I ran yesterday's Valentine 5K in 32:45. I shaved 1.71 minutes off my December 5K!! And I DID NOT WALK. NOT A STEP!! 2012 Goal #1. Check. This year is lookin' GOOD!!! :)

And so Goal #2: CHECK!!  :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rat 2-8-2012

Yesterday I weighed myself for the first time in almost 2 weeks.  Lo and Behold I saw a number I've not seen in more than 10 years.  I weighed in at my summer weight pre-Elise.  I would always lose about 5 pounds over each summer when I was teaching.  I completely attribute that to the fact that I was eating my weight in melons and tomatoes and squash and cucumbers and.....well, you get it...  Yum!!  Summer produce has a comfort food factor that cannot be touched by any other food...  Interestingly, that reinforces my current belief that "whole" and natural food is significantly better for you.  This also marked 29 pounds lost since January 2011.  Wow.  Over the last 9 years, I had completely despaired of ever seeing that number again.  No lie.

I have my second 5K scheduled for this Saturday morning.  And, per this year's goal, I shall not walk.  Not one step.  I have promised myself!!  I have pushed myself pretty hard recently, and I am trying to hold back so I am pretty fresh for Saturday.  I would like to put up a faster time, but I am not familiar with the race I cannot commit...but a PR would certainly be welcome...I'll be pushing for it.

I have been struggling with enough energy to successfully maintain my running pace.  The funny thing is, that I discovered that I would not have enough staying power if I ate protein for breakfast, and that in general, I was craving complex carbs.  Not in keeping with my Chalean Extreme diet plan...but I simply was running (no pun intended) out of steam.  And so I slowly started adding a little bit more carbs to may day.  Recently, I read this great book on women's running and in the nutrition chapter it specified that I should have 50% carbs, 25% protein, and 25% fat for optimal energy...and yesterday, I stumbled on a tool on my nutrition/exercise app that would put in a pie graph for me...and guess what?  Almost smack on for my own discovery of my optimal nutrition.  Crazy cool, huh?  Sometimes, your body really does know better...

I am really enjoying a running devotional that I found on accident and cannot recommend highly enough, along with a blog...and a book:
Running with God
Running with Horses (which, ironically, I thought was by the same author as the's not, it's just based on the same verse!  But both are excellent!!)
Run with the Horses

And I have Runner's World headed my way...

You think I'm addicted?  :)

Perhaps...but I feel better than I have in a long I'm thinking it's okay for now!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Charlotte's Musical Moment: Classical Gas

I know that I may over do my joy in Charlotte's musical taste, but for someone so little, she has such sophisticated taste in music!  Recently, I've been noticing that she also has perfect pitch.  A first in my household of Littles, although Elise certainly has a good ear.

Today's musical moment came because I went on a bit on an iTunes bender and bought myself 3 new songs for running.  All were ones from my own childhood, which makes Charlotte's reaction even more precious to me.

Classical Gas came on and Charlotte literally sat up straight in her carseat and yelps, "Is this MY song???"  I said, "Sure, Baby!  If you like it, it can be yours."

And she sat back and hummed corresponding notes that harmonized nicely with the piece.  Grinning very broadly.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Valentines to the Man-Child

Because I wander around in my Bible and verse search app during the sermon, sometimes...shhhhh....I was broad-sided with a cool idea today...and as I am not the only one with a child in this age bracket, so I thought I'd share...

My project of Valentine's Day for the Man-Child this whole month:

Proverbs is such an intimate book. A concrete, every day use book...a love letter to a child on the brink of adulthood...and so I'm addressing it to my boy.

This month, I am hand-writing Proverbs, chapter by chapter, to him. I have decided on The Message, because it it is so conversational, like a true letter...

I've also decided to stick it to his mirror, in an envelope...If I trusted the post service, and had thought of this earlier, I might have sent it in the mail...but, you to work with where you start sometimes...maybe next year.  :)

Let me know if you decide to Biblically call out on the streets to your man-child or woman-child....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rat 1-25-12

I am still running...and on track to pull off a scheduled 10K in March...and on my way to a 1/2 marathon...I have one that is fairly local and low-key that I am stalking.  A friend Knows-a-Guy, that knows there is a 1/2 in Dawsonville...I am sure to become a pest...  I have signed up for two more 5Ks and I will sign up for the 10K next week...Now I just need to stay healthy, right?  YAY!

I also found a sprint distance triathlon between me and my folks (baby-sitters?) that "may" not have thought to ban ipods...and I am trying to decide if I should call and ask, or just sign up for it and stick my shuffle in the back of my bike and smuggle it out for the's cheap and close...which is also a selling point.

I am slowly, but surely wrestling off a little more weight...especially as I have added some more activities to my week...weights and biking on top of the lost since this time last year?  27lbs. just 2 more and I will have fought back to post Gabriel/pre Elise weight, which I consider my ideal "fighting weight".

Interestingly, last year's goal of sleeping more has fallen into place, out of necessity...because my body is tired...and I simply cannot stay awake...even to watch some of my favorite shows...

I am also managing to back off my internet usage, which is something I am proud of.

I am reading running books and magazines.  I am reading books with the pure intent to watch a movie with friends.  I am reading with my girls and enjoying that they like stories that interest my mind...even as I memorizing "Mimi" which is Charlotte's beloved.

Amelia requested to read "Nah-nia" this week.  Read or listen to audio dramatization of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe???  Twist my little arm!!!!  :)

Charlotte's Muscial Moment: The Band Perry

I cannot lie, I love my girl crooning in her carseat.  LOVE it.  This was the most recent song that I heard her belting out...The Band Perry:  All Your Life.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

MPT - Your REAL Happy Birthday Call

It was my brother's birthday yesterday.  I called him in the 5 minutes I had where I didn't have a sick child laying on resulted in me hiding in my pantry holding the door shut while my sick children howled outside of it...It was a stinker of a phone this is my real phone call:

Happy Birthday, Michael Paulis!  I am thankful that you were my very best friend for my entire childhood...until I was 15, you were my very dearest friend and my competitor, my boxing opponent and my partner in crime, thank you for all of my very dearest memories...And since then I like and respect you...and enjoy any of the time we get to snatch together!!

Thank you for the hours spent playing with our Sears Outlet Stars Wars figures...

And their occasional girlfriends, the Glamour Gals...

Thank you for playing house with families of gummy fishing lure worms that I compiled...even though they ate the finish off of everything we played with them on...

Thank you for eating Sour Cream and Onion chips and pink hot dogs with me on the San Juan while we played with the aforementioned rubber worm families...

And the Wheaties balls we were SUPPOSED to be fishing with...

Thank you for the hours spent in the damp and cool basement playing cowboys and indians while listening to Alan Parsons Project...

Thank you for being my friend.

Happy Birthday!!!  I love you!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Rats

Hmmm.  As I haven't put up my Goals for 2012, I suppose a week into the new year, I should get on that...right?  But as they are not "New Year's Resolutions" I'm still good.  Totally.

My new herd of rats?  It's a mixed bag this year.
1.  My cousin has proposed a memory verse challenge.  I'm in.  And pretty excited.
2.  I've signed up for another 5K.  I WILL NOT WALK.  Not a hair's breadth. 
3.  I'm planning on a 10K this spring.
4.  I'm planning on a 1/2 marathon before the end of the year.
5.  I'm hoping to ditch another 5-10 pounds.  It's not for health or looks this year (unlike last year!), this year it is about dragging around a few less pounds while running. 
6.  I want to make moments for friends.  After an impromptu friend date with my girl, Lynn, I discovered how much I miss them and need them.  And so, my goal is to run away with a friend once a month.  Even if it's just to lunch.
7.  I want to learn how to knit.  Just simple stuff.  I love to crochet.  I taught myself how to crochet.  I seriously make it up as I go.  I do okay for myself. 

But I'd love to learn something that I understand the properties enough that I can follow actual patterns.  I read several novels based on knitting, and was enchanted.  And so....I'm in love, with the wool, the colors, the smell, and the tradition of it.  Like tea, for the hands.
8.  I WILL learn how to utilize my new pressure cooker (Christmas and Birthday from my aunt!) and my new dehydrater (my brother and his wife got it for me for my birthday!).  I can barely stand it for excitement!!  I will post the new (and successful!) recipes of course!

As for reflections on this last year, I will tell you something cool.  I was not in a terribly good place emotionally last year.  Obviously physical lack of health is more visible.  You are overweight?  You have a spare tire.  You are depressed?  No real sign. 

I have known that exercise shakes the dust bunnies from my mind, but I have been very thankful to discover that they really are out right now.  They have not just sublet their space.  Running has opened the sunshades in my mind.  I am pleased to report that running, aside from helping me ditch a few pounds has helped me beat back a pretty heavy depression...and the funny thing was that I didn't even realize I was depressed until I got rid of it...and I am so thankful that God blessed me with that surprise gift.  So, I leave you with one of my favorite verses:  "I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free."  Psalm 119:32 

Now?  I run.  Figuratively and concretely.  Thankfully.