Thursday, April 06, 2017

Lessons from a Runner

I'm not sure if I mentioned it around this corner of the Internet, but I am running the Boston marathon in less than two weeks. This has meant that for the past four months my Saturdays have consisted of a long run, a constant analyization of my splits and hamburgers for dinner. 
Running the Boston Marathon has been a decade long goal. I ran my first marathon (almost on a whim) in San Diego in 2003. On my way down south J and I stopped in Playa Del Rey to visit my cousin Andy. I wanted to meet his new girlfriend, Jen, and I never passed up an opportunity for one of Andy's margaritas on his second-floor patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean (if you crained your neck just right). 
On the patio, soaking in the early June sun, Andy asked if I was going to run Boston if I qualified. I was fairly confident that I would qualify, but pretty sure I wasn't going to be running Boston. "I have plenty of time to do Boston," I claimed. He persisted. I'll fly out and watch you. You'll have a place to stay - and a cheering squad. A few weeks after the marathon I talked to my Uncle, he reminded me - anytime you want to run Boston, we're here. 
Over these fifteen years I have learned many things, but the most important thing I learned is that life is short. Andy and I never got to do another Boston trip. We never got to take our families on a narrowboat trip in England. We never got to go to another Red Sox game together. It's because of this I am running this marathon for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. 
This isn't the first marathon I have run for Andy, but this time I'm not running just for Andy. I'm running for my Uncle, Andy's dad, who passed away (and was also treated at DFCI) from prostate cancer a few short years after Andy. But, during these sixteen weeks I learned that I'm not just running for those two, but I'm running for the high school girl from my childhood church who is battling Luekemia. I'm running for a friend whose two year old daughter fought and victorious emerged from a Wilms Tumor last year. I'm running for the stranger who cried on my shoulder about losing his best friend three years ago after a four year fight with lung cancer. But, the fact that I'm running for others, and not myself isn't the only lesson I've learned through this training process. And so, I present to you twenty lessons I've learned while training for this marathon:  
  • I have learned that, for me, running is how I deal with life. Through running I can turn everything off and meditate. I can think, and many times I cannot think. 
  • I have learned that people are generous. I have met people in my community who have reached out donated generous amounts of time and money to help me reach my goals. 
  • I have learned that training for a marathon takes a community. I am grateful for the grandparents and friends and babysitters that I have utlized to get in all my training runs. 
  • I have learned that a long-distance training partner is just as effective as someone down the street. 
  • I have learned that I enjoy running solo, but I also like running with certain friends and music can really help out a speed workout.  
  • I have learned that Runners DO LOVE Yoga. Stretching is vital to running. And the stillness of yoga is crucial to finding my own centering as a runner. 
  • I have learned that a strong core makes hill repeats seem easier. 
  • I have learned that running gives me a chance to find reflection - reflection in both the big and little things in life. 
  • I have learned that my girls love me uncondionally. I am always greeted with big hugs and lots of kisses the minute I walk into the door after a run. No matter how sweaty and stinky or how long I've been gone. 
  • I have learned that a good massage is worth every penny after a long 21 mile training run. 
  • I have learned that children love gatorade. 
  • I have learned that Andy and my Uncle Bob touched so many people. Their memory is still so strong and for this I am forever grateful. 
  • I have learned that I do not take my health for granted. I have strong legs and full lung capacity. I am thankful for this each and everytime I head out the door for a run.  
  • I have learned that a fun recovery run is to run alongside Daisy while she rides her bike and belt out Britney Spears songs acapella. 
  • I have learned (once again) that J is an amazing partner in life. He holds down the fort every Saturday morning for my training runs and gives me plenty of grace every Saturday evening when my legs ache. 
  • I have learned that Tacos and Wine and a crafting project can be a fun way to spend a Sunday night. 
  • I have learned that while cancer sucks I can choose to celebrate the positives. I love hearing positive outcomes DFCI and other cancer research centers are doing to combat this disease. I love hearing the sweet memories of others who have passed on. Being part of the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge is more emotionally difficult than I expected, but I love being part of something bigger than me. I love being part of a group of people committed to the ultimate finish line: a world without cancer.  
  • I have learned that pizza is a fantastic pre-long-run dinner choice. 
  • I have learned that private funding will make a difference, and through the Barr Program exciting clinical trials are exploring opportunities to use targeted drugs for people with brain cancers. This has the potential to signifcantly improve survival for this devastating type of cancer. 
  • I have learned that 100% of the money I have raised support Barr Program research initiatives. To date, DFMC has raised more than $80 million, and more than 200 innovative scientific investigations have recieved critical funding. 
If you feel called to contribute to the cause follow this link: dollar counts. Thank you. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Seven Years

Hi Muscles! 

I cannot even believe that you are seven. SEVEN! It's an odd thing to have a seven year old in my house. You get dressed, teeth brushed, hair combed, bed made and ready for school without my prompting. You set the table and help wash dishes. You vacuum and help your sisters. You have becomg strong, not just in the physical sense by participating on soccer and swim team and playing tennis and bike ridiing, but also developing a moral and intellectual strength that continues to amaze me daily. We have conversations about politics and books and history and science. You ask insightful questions and make thoughtful observations about the world you live in. 
Waiting for your first ski lesson. You love every aspect of it. Except finishing. 

At night, I stand at your bed to tuck you in. We snuggle and giggle and talk about leprechauns and fairies and magic. We talk about your favorite books and you ask if you can buy lunch the next day. We discuss your preference for leggings over jeans and how exactly the tooth fairy knows how to get to our house. Although I know I’ll forget many of these highlights, I also know I won’t forget the ones I need to carry with me.
You had a "late-over" birthday party that included pizza, cupcakes and the watching of Moana with a few of your favorite friends. 
Last night we sat together flipping through a new book you received from your birthday: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. You wanted us to pick out a story together for you to read independently. As we flipped through the book we talked about feminism and what is means to be a rebel. We talked about having courage and being brave. We talked how feminism doesn’t look like any one thing but to support and encourage women and we defined rebel as someone who exhibits independence in both thought and action. You looked me straight in the eye and said that you were going to grow up to be a rebel girl. I asked you how you knew that, and you just simply responded: My gut knows.

And Daisy, here is what my gut knows about you: You’re sweet and kind and charming and smart and fierce. Since you were a baby you have always been one to observe first. And still now, you make sense of your world and the environment around you, quietly, until you see something that isn’t quite right. And when you notice it, you speak. You act.

It’s easy in this world to remain silent. I don’t know why injustice happens, but I know it breaks hearts and strangles spirits. And I know that we are meant for more. My gut knows.

Becoming a mother – your mother – a mother of daughters – has created a fire in me to speak to what I see. I know that I alone cannot restore the injustices in this world. I know I don’t have the power or the capability or the persistence to change the story, but as a believer in God. I believe He can. My gut knows.

And as His children I believe our job is to encourage. To speak the truths and to come alongside the broken and bruised and offer what we know; whether it’s a lasagna in a casserole dish or a slew of prayers or a tear-stain shoulder and always, always, with an open hand.
On your actual birthday I came down with a stomach virus, so we had a "make-up" birthday a few days later complete iwth a six-mile bike ride and a frozen yogurt outing. 
There are many people who will see this as an empty, optimistic view. And without faith, it looks that way. But faith is something you have in spades sweetheart. You are a watcher and a thinker and a kind-hearted soul, and you’ve been filled with a never-ending supply of faith.

May your gut always speak loudly, and may your faith never remain silent.

I love you more than all the waters in the ocean and all the stars in the sky.

Xo, Momma

Sunday, March 05, 2017

My Girl is 7

Last week was Daisy's birthday. In lieu of a babybook, I ask the following 20 questions to my birthday girl (starting with the third birthday). You can see Daisy's previous answers, here, here, here and here. 

  1. What is your favorite color: purple, red & blue
  2. What is your favorite toy: the wave (it's just like the simon says memory game, but you wave your hand instead. It's a birthday gift from her Grandma Jo & Papa) and lego's 
  3. What is your favorite fruit: watermelon & kiwi
  4. What is your favorite movie: Hook 
  5. What is your favorite thing to wear: leggings with skirts over them (Momma's Note: Now, this is what she is wearing today as she went to church. Normally she just wears leggings and a t-shirt. Also, she specifically asked for workout leggings and shirts with thumb holes for her birthday.) 
  6. What is your favorite animal: zebra, elephant, owl & giraffe 
  7. What is your favorite song: all songs (Mom's Note: she have never been one to latch on to one particular song. But, she happens to be partial to Britney Spears. She has also recently learned This Land is Your Land on the piano, so we are constantly playing it and humming it)
  8.  What is your favorite book: Rainbow Magic series and The Kingdom of Wrenly series 
  9. Who is your best friend: Adell, Sadie & Violet
  10. What is your favorite breakfast: ceral
  11. What is your favorite lunch: peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Luke's cheddar clouds, fruit 
  12. What is your favorite dinner: soup
  13. What is your favorite snack: crackers and grapes 
  14. What is your favorite dessert: soft chocolate chip cookies
  15. What do you sleep with at night: blankie  
  16. What is your favorite thing to play outside: ride my bike 
  17. What do you want for your birthday dinner: fish tacos (Mom's note: I came down with a violent stomach virus the afternoon of Daisy's birthday. So J cooked up fish tacos and made the chocolate syrup for her cake while I hid in the upstairs bathroom.) 
  18. What do you want to be when you grow-up: I don’t know because I want to be everything. (Mom's note: My money is on a school principle)   
  19. Where is your favorite place to go: grandma and grandpa’s house (in the summer when we swim)
  20. What is your favorite game: clue jr. 

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Two point five

Dear Violet, 

Two and a half is cracker crumbs and puzzle pieces and crayon wrappers strewn around the playroom floor. Two and a half is singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" loudly from the car seat. It's cut-up grapes and whole apples and Minnie Mouse songs at any opportunity.  
Two and a half is - day after day -  negotiation of which shirt to wear and which shoes to put on. It's blanket forts and telling elaborate stories about the hungry monster who accidentally ate your boot or how you lost a tooth at ballet class. Two and a half is a parade around the living room ribbon streamers in one hand, a baby doll in the other. It's potty training and sleep regression and bubble baths. It's early mornings, before dawn has broken, whispering in my ear, "snuggles, peas, Momma, peas." 
Two and a half is a dinner-time prayer, chubby toddler hands clasped, eyes tight shut "Thank you God for Daddy, and Momma's milk and Madeline and Reagan and Casey, my blue balloon and oh! my sisters." Two and a half is balls and playgrounds and finger puppets and books. It's Biscuit and Ollie and Peter Pan. It's scooter rides and chalk drawings.  It's helping to mix the pancakes for breakfast and hot cocoa dates. Two and a half is exhausting and endearing. A bridge between a baby and a big girl.

It's another pan dirtied by home-made play-doh and another masterpiece to hang on the wall, another pair of mismatched socks in the laundry. Two and half is collecting every rock and stick and leaf along the half mile walk to pick sister up from school. It's nap-time snuggles and and kisses sprinkled throughout the day. 
It's a hidden confidence. An unspoken independence. A holy ordinary. Two and a half is my heart melting with every post-slide giggle. 

My dearest Violet, I love you more than all the waters in the oceans and all the stars in the sky. 

Love, Momma 

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Five Rotations of the Sun

Monday was Lily's birthday. In lieu of a babybook, I ask the following the following 20 questions to my birthday girl (starting with the third birthday). You can see previous here's answers here and here. So, this morning on our weekly hot cocoa date, I fired away: 
  1. What is your favorite color: hot pink
  2. What is your favorite toy:  jewelry make-up doll and my dress-up clothes 
  3. What is your favorite fruit: avocado (She reminded me that avocado is a fruit because the seed is on the inside. She is waaay too smart.) 
  4. What is your favorite movie: Cinderella, Princess & the Frog, Aladdin, and Beauty & the Beast (She really had a hard time narrowing this one down). 
  5. What is your favorite thing to wear: fancy dresses or regular dresses with leggings  
  6. What is your favorite animal: ostrich, elephant and giraffe 
  7. What is your favorite song: Stories Podcast: Songs, Volume 1 (She is still rather obsessed with Stories Podcast and just recently they came out with an album of all their songs & poems. It was love at first listen)
  8.  What is your favorite book: All of them. (Note: She hasn't met a book that she hasn't loved. But, if as her Mom I was to answer this for her I would say anything Angelina Ballerina or James Mayhew as those are always ones she request when we hit up our local library or used book store.) 
  9. Who is your best friend: Simone and my sisters 
  10. What is your favorite breakfast: daddy's pancakes (Note: this tradition started during my last marathon training. Daddy makes pancakes on Saturday morning while I go on my long run. As a child who thrives on routine, this cannot be deviated from and I am okay with that.)
  11. What is your favorite lunch: peanut butter and jelly 
  12. What is your favorite dinner: hamburgers or anything with a loaf of bread that she can dip into olive oil and vinegar 
  13. What is your favorite snack: cheddar bunnies 
  14. What is your favorite dessert: cake or brownies  
  15. What do you sleep with at night: rainbow brite starlight pillow pet and a stuffed Minnie Mouse
  16. What is your favorite thing to play outside: ride my scooter or to make potions in the playhouse. 
  17. What do you want for your birthday dinner: She had four birthday dinners: Pineapple & Pepperoni Pizza, Hamburgers and French Fries, Mac & Cheese and Fish Tacos (This year her birthday fell on a Monday night, a night I teach. So we kicked off the weekend with her choice for Pizza Movie Night, and finished it off last night with her choice of Taco's and the last of her homemade five-layer rainbow birthday cake. 
  18. What do you want to be when you grow-up: a famous ballerina space artist (She has stayed firm on her professional ambitions. If anyone can do this, it will be she). 
  19. Where is your favorite place to go: Rockin' Jump 
  20. What is your favorite game: Who Shook Hook (Honestly, she's not a huge fan of games, as she really doesn't like to lose. BUT, she has recently become interested in puzzles which makes this puzzle loving family really happy.)