Thanks for stopping by! We were a family of three, until we added one more (cat, that is), making us a family of four. In 2012, we added four more...one husband, two girls, and a dog. We have a full plate as a party of eight!

Adoption, blended families, pets, school, running...it's all here. Pull up a chair and read a while. After you do, please leave a little comment love! It makes me happy...and y'all know...if Momma is happy, then everyone is happy...at least at our house!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Redemption!

After last week's long run, to say I was a little worried about this week's even longer run would be an understatement.  Part of my worry was that IF things went wrong again, Brian was going to be two hours away, too far away to come rescue me.  Fortunately, two local friends offered to be on the other end of my phone if I needed them.  Thank you, Brandi and Lori for that!  And Lori also met me at 7:00 in the morning to run 4 miles with me...which I really enjoyed!  Thank you, Lori!  Those 4 miles went by so quickly and easily!

With that part of my worry taken away, I tried to "fix" other factors that might have played into the 15 mile train wreck from last week.

First, I made sure I had as much of a rest day as I could on Friday.  Instead of running errands between the end of serving lunch at Gloria's choir camp and the beginning of her closing Evensong and concert, I went home and relaxed took a nap.  

Second, instead of Chinese (sesame chicken) I had pasta (baked Ziti) for dinner on Friday night. Hello carb loading! 


Third, I made sure I was drinking enough water all day to be well hydrated.

Fourth, I went to bed at a fairly reasonable hour and got a pretty good night's sleep.

Finally, I started running almost four hours earlier than last week!

Right before I went to bed, Gloria gave me this...
I decided right then and there that I would succeed.

Saturday morning, I got dressed, pinned that turquoise flower in my hair, and set out to conquer the demon that I had allowed that bad run to become in my  mind.

Like I already said, my friend Lori ran the first four miles with me.  We chatted about our kids, races, the running watches we each use, back to school. work, and probably other things...and those four miles passed easily.  We circled back to the park where Lori was going to leave and I was going to continue on for another twelve miles...hey...that's less than a half marathon...and I can do a half marathon!  

As I prepared to head out for those remaining twelve miles, I discovered that my earbuds were dead. I only run with one earbud in my ear and had discovered a few weeks ago that the one I usually use (the left one) had quit working.  So, I had been using the right one...in my left ear...and now it wasn't working either.  Twelve miles with no music?!?  Yikes!

The first few miles...bits and pieces of some of the songs on my playlist were running through my head.  That gets annoying though.  Thankfully that phase passed pretty quickly.

Then I started trying to calculate how I was going to run twelve miles...what route would I take?  Did I dare venture down the roads of last week?  What if I reversed part of it...then I would have more downhills than uphills?  If I don't do that part of my route, what can I do to make up those miles?

About five miles into my remaining miles, so really nine miles into my sixteen miles, I started thinking about people I know who cannot run or do the things they want to do right now.  Those thoughts turned into prayers for them, as well as prayers of thanksgiving that I COULD do what I was out there doing.  

Then school crept into my mind.  I go back to work in just a few days so that I can prepare for a new group of five year old tiny humans to enter my life.  While I do not yet know their names or anything about them, I began to pray for them...for their hearts to be prepared for kindergarten, that they are eager for the start of school, and that I can be the best teacher each of them needs in order to grow into readers, writers, and "math-ers" (as one group called themselves a few years ago) and develop a love for learning.  From there, my thoughts turned to my babies that will be entering first grade in two weeks after a year in my kindergarten classroom last year and I prayed that they would continue to learn and be successful this year.

By then, I found myself at thirteen miles.  Just three miles to go.  My feet were hurting and the pesky blisters were coming back.  My run/walk intervals had already become fast walk/slow walk intervals with some downhill running.  Now it was just walking.  I ran one last downhill about a mile and a half before I was done before I couldn't even manage that much running any more.  My prayers changed again to "Just let me finish these last few miles."  And walking, I finished my long, slow run.

I finished my run upright.
I finished my run with a smile on my face.
I finished my run thankful that I had finished my run upright and with a smile on my face.
Redemption!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Water

Yesterday's run was an epic bomb...terrible, horrible, no good, very bad...all of that and then some. 
It was truly the Worst Run Ever...for me.

Now, I know those runs happen.
I've had some tough runs.
I've had runs where I have had to fight my legs, my lungs, my brain.
I've had runs I've struggled through.

But this run was more than all of that.
I can't pinpoint any one reason why.
Late start?
Chinese for dinner the night before?
Humidity?
The daunting 15 miles I needed to run?
Not enough pre-run fuel?
Friday late morning/afternoon instead of Saturday early morning?
Who knows?!?

All I know is it was THE terrible, horrible, no good, very bad run...that I don't ever hope to top!!

And this run was characterized by the very essence of life...water.

Water can be peaceful...
I was feeling anxious about the 15 miles ahead of me before I ever started running.  I spent a few minutes by the pond at the park before I started running and finally found enough peace to put one foot in front of the other and get started.

Water can be cooling...
Raindrops began to fall about a mile into my run.  The cold drops falling on my skin felt good.  It make me laugh.  It briefly made me consider turning around and heading back to my car after the storm I got caught in on Tuesday evening!  Fortunately, this was just a little passing shower.  

Water can be refreshing...
My long run route is carefully planned so that there are sources of water along the way where I can refill my water bottle.

My first refill...really just topping off...was at almost three miles...at a place that is full of memories for me. I spent four years here, and it is the reason I am still in Charlotte.  Even after moving to Nashville for grad school, I moved back to Charlotte as soon as I was finished.  So much has changed on the campus since I graduated almost 25 years ago, but the memories remain!  Friends, professors, classes, roommates, January terms, a summer term, Hurricane Hugo, late nights, study sessions, student teaching...a lot is packed into those four years of memories!

Another water fountain along my way...about 7.25 miles into my run...there is a water fountain that sits in front of Christ Church on Providence Road...with Matthew 11:28 inscribed on a plaque near by...Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 

At this point, I was really struggling to keep running more than walking.  I was weary.  I needed rest. I refilled my water bottle, told myself to "suck it up," and plodded on...remembering so many people from my many years at Christ Church...youth group, EFM, the small Tuesday evening Eucharist I used to attend, friends, my Charlotte "family"...those memories flooded my mind as I pushed myself forward.

Water can be salt-filled...
As are sweat and tears...

By 8.5 miles, the phrase "everything hurts and I'm dying" seemed to apply to this long run, which by this point had turned into a long walk.  I sat down on the wall next to this water fountain.
Water, in the form of sweat, poured off the brim of my visor,
Water, in the form of tears, streamed from my eyes.
I was miserable.
I was ready to quit.
I texted Brian and told him "There's no run left..."
I cried.
I ate some fruit snacks.
I drank some water.
I asked Brain to meet me at the park and join me for my last few miles.
I refilled my water bottle once more and trudged off...I'm pretty sure a turtle would have been faster than me at that point!

Water can be frozen...
Three miles later, I made it back to the park to this smiling face, my husband, my hero!
And he brought ICE!
Which I immediately stuffed down the front of my shirt...
Ahhhhh....sweet relief!

And he brought COLD water!
Which I drank...

And he brought his support and encouragement and willingness to go those last miles with me.
They weren't pretty miles.
In fact, they were pretty ugly miles.
They weren't fast miles.
In fact, they were pretty slow miles.
And in the end, they were painful miles.
But the miles were done.

Water can be painful...
in the form of the blisters that covered my feet...  (Note to self...we need new running socks!)
And when it hits those small spots of chaffing that occur when you least expect it!

And now, a day after that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad run, I'm letting it go...
...like water that runs off a duck's back.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

My First Triathlon

If you read Brian's blog, then you know we were planning to participate in a triathlon this past weekend.

And...if you read his blog...you know he broke his arm almost three weeks ago when he had a bike crash.

And...if you read his blog...you already know that we went to Chapel Hill anyway, and I participated in and completed my first triathlon this past weekend.  The UNC Wellness Super Sprint Triathlon, to be specific. 250 yard pool swim, 9.35 mile bike ride, and a 5k run.

And...if you read his blog...the pictures that follow might look familiar...

But here is how my first triathlon went...from my perspective.

The alarm went off at 4:30 A.M. Sunday morning.
Now that is early on any given day!
But add to that a super lousy night's sleep...tossing and turning...too hot...too cold...more tossing and turning...and that was just me!
UGH!
A little coffee helped get us over that slump though.
A quick bite of "breakfast," (which was more like a snack) and off we went.

Upon arriving, we took my bike and my bag full of "stuff" to the transition area, where I attempted to set it up in a somewhat usable order. This being my first triathlon, I really wasn't sure where I wanted things or how I wanted them to be.  But it was all there...along with some things I didn't use too!

With that done, we picked up my timing chip.  On the advice of other triathletes, I had my own ankle strap for my timing chip rather than the plastic surgical-grade strap they provided.  I had worn the strap a few times while running or riding, just to get used to it being around my ankle.  I am happy to report that I honestly didn't even notice it throughout the morning.

Next was "body marking."
Your number goes down both arms and on the front of both legs, above the knees.
Your age or the group you are competing in goes on the back of your left calf.  I was in the "female novice masters" group...or as I call it...newbie girls over 40.

The event started at 7:00, but since it was a pool swim, I wasn't scheduled to start until 8:01:15.  They start swimmers every 15 seconds and you are scheduled based on self-reported 100 yard swim times. I'm a pretty slow swimmer, so I was near the back of the pack.  I think there were only less than 10 people starting after me.  The overall winner of the event finished long before I ever put my little baby pinkie toe in the water.  We were near the finish line when he came in.  He wished me luck and reminded me to hydrate while on the bike.

Observations about the swim, 250 yards in the pool or 10 lengths of the pool...
*I was NOT the only on swimming the breast stroke!  Whew!
*It is hard to swim the first and last length of the pool when you are trying to stay to the right-hand side of the lane because those lanes have the pool wall right next to you.
*It is hard to swim in a pool that is less than 4 feet deep when you are used to swimming in a pool that is no less than 6'9" deep!
*It is hard to swim when you are sharing the lane with 4-6 other swimmers, swimming behind some of them and therefore in their wake and also trying not to run into anyone who is coming back down the opposite side of the lane.  Especially when you usually have a lane to yourself when you are swimming at the aquatic center!  And then multiply that by 5 lanes!  Talk about some choppy pool water!

Overall, I swam a little bit slower than I usually do when I am swimming at the aquatic center.  I was also really struggling by the last 50 yards, which is unusual for me.  I'm chalking that up to this being a totally different environment and the pressure of an actual event instead of must me swimming by myself.

Out of the pool!
Headed from the pool to the transition area.
I managed to remember to drink some water, get my socks and shoes on, throw a headband in my hair to keep it out of my face, grab my sunglasses, buckle my helmet, and unrack my bike before heading out for that 9.35 mile ride.

I managed to forget my TomTom, my fitbit, and my inspirational bracelet that I ALWAYS wear when running or riding.

Oh well.  I had the important stuff...my helmet and my bike!
Leaving transition
Out on the course
Observations from the bike portion of the event, 9.35 miles of rolling hills...
*They weren't kidding when they said rolling hills.
*I was really scared about this part after we drove the course on Saturday afternoon...because of the hills!  The area where I generally ride is flat.
*This was my first time to ride my bike on the road.  I usually ride on the greenway.  No cars out there!  Just runners and other bike riders.  Fortunately, there were very few cars on the road early on Sunday morning.
*I was passed by all those swimmers who started after me in the pool.
*I did manage to pass on girl.  I felt so bad for her because she was really struggling with the hills.  
*I might have cursed the hills under my breath while riding uphill.  I might have cursed them a LOT.
*But the downhills!  Oh my goodness!  I wanted to be like a little kid and squeal and let my legs spread out like wings as I flew down those hills!  
*But then there was always another uphill.  Curse you, hills!
*I am pretty sure I decided I hated every minute of the triathlon somewhere along the bike course.  And that I would NEVER do another one...ever again!
Arriving back in the transition area
How I had that smile on my face, I'm not really sure!
I found out later that I completed the bike course in almost the time I had kind of predicted...even with all those hills!  Thank you, downhills!

Back in transition, I racked my bike, took off my helmet, and grabbed my visor and my belt with my race number attached...and a bottle of water.  Time to head out for the 5k run.

It took me a few minutes to get it in gear and start running.
Remember those hills I told you about from the bike ride?
Yeah.  There were hills on the run too.
I decided I would run the downhills and do the best I could, even if it meant walking, on the uphills.

Observations from the run, 3.1 miles...
*It took a few minutes, but my legs remembered how to run.
*I knew I was one of the last runners to head out of the course.  There were a LOT of people coming BACK as I was headed out.
*I usually run with a fuel belt so I don't have to hold a water bottle.  I didn't have that with me and wasn't sure about taking a water bottle with me when I was leaving transition.  But I was SO glad I did.  I'm used to drinking water when I want it instead of where a race director determines water stops should be.
*Funny thing about carrying a water bottle though:  When I was walking, I could carry the bottle in my left hand.  But when I started running...I HAD to put it back in my right hand.  I COULD NOT RUN while carrying that bottle in my left hand!  Weird!

About a mile from the finish, I saw the girl I had passed on the bike course.  She was the only person behind me.  I could tell she was struggling, but determined.  I offered a smile, and encouraging word, and a high five for perseverance.

I was also thanking every volunteer who was still out on the course, cheering the final few runners on towards the finish.

I began to hear the awards being announced and I knew I was nearing the finish.  That always puts a little extra pep in my step.  I was tired, but I was going to finish strong and with a smile on my face. They actually paused the awards to announce me as I crossed the finish line, which was kind of cool.


And so ended my first triathlon.
I was tired.
I was hot.
I was sweaty.
My feet felt like prunes...thank goodness for flipflops!
And I was...I am...a triathlete.

I ended up being glad I forgot to put on my TomTom.  I would have been to worried about time and distance and pace and all of that stuff.  Instead, I was able to concentrate on where I was at the moment.

And you know how I swore I would never do another triathlon ever again while I was out on my bike, fighting those hills?

That was crazy talk.
Heat of the moment.

I'm pretty sure I will do one again.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Bye Bye Braces!

Today was a big day in the life of the resident teen-ager.

She got her braces off!

Here is a "then and now" to show the progression of the change in her teeth...

About two weeks before she got her braces.
Notice the "fangs."

The day she got her braces put on.
November, 2014

This morning, in the elevator on the way up to the orthodontist's office.
Rubber bands, braces, and straight teeth.

And...VOILA!!!

Momma made a goody bag full of many of the forbidden treats of the last 20 months...

"Yes!  Twizzlers!"

"I LOVE Tootsie Rolls!"
(And after eating one..."I forgot how long it takes to chew one of these!)

"Real caramel I can CHEW!?!"  
"I don't have to stick to the caramel sauce when we get frozen yougurt!!!"

"You got me REAL bubble gum too?!?  Yes, yes, yes!"

"Starburst and Skittles too!
This is the BEST.  Day.  Ever!"

 And then lunch at her favorite restaurant for her favorite meal.

I've got a pretty happy teen-ager on my hands right now.
And that makes for a pretty happy Momma right now.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fear, Hope, and Faith

As I watched the events of last week unfold, I experienced a range of emotions...

Sadness
Anger
Disbelief

Sadness, anger, and disbelief that these things--the violence, the hatred, the murder--were taking place.

And then there is the feeling of fear.

Yes, fear.

Not fear for myself.
And I don't mean that in the arrogant "It won't happen to me" sense.

But fear for my daughter and what she is facing as she continues to grow up in this world. because of the color of her skin...her beautiful brown skin.

Because sadly, assumptions will be made about her...because of the color of her skin.

Things like
She's "Mexican."  
But she's not.  She is Guatemalan born.

Things like
She's "illegal."
She's not.  She has been a citizen since that day (March 4, 2004, to be exact) that we landed in Houston and came through immigration.  And we have all the necessary "proof"...adoption decrees from Guatemala and North Carolina, birth certificates, her Certificate of Citizenship, a US passport.

Things like
She doesn't speak English.
She does.  In fact, she has a vocabulary that far outshines many adults I know.

She is wicked smart, passionate, sensitive, talented, musical, funny, loyal, dedicated.

But those things are not visible.
What is visible is her brown skin, her black hair, her dark eyes.
And she will be judged, categorized, stereotyped, and labeled based on her outward, visible appearance.

So yes, I carry that fear with me.

And yet,
I have hope.

And yet...
I.  Have.  Hope.

Because I have faith.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

I hope for the day that we all see each other as equal.
That is the way that we were created...as equal.
Male and female...
The many tones and colors of skin that make up the human race...
We were created as equal.

And as I listen to and watch my daughter and her friends from school, and church, and choir...
My hope is strengthened.
My faith is strengthened.
Because these young people treat each other with respect and caring and compassion and love the way all of God's people were intended to do.

I find myself turning to my prayer book more often these days than ever before. I find hope, and strength, and comfort in the many prayers contained in that book.

In particular, I find myself praying the prayer "For Young Persons" on a daily basis because they are growing up in challenging, difficult times and will face a challenging, difficult future.

God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world:  Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals.  Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start.  Give them strength to hold their faith in you, and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. (BCP, p. 829)

And I have also added the prayer "For the Human Family" after we prayed it together in church this past Sunday.

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son:  Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen (BCP, p. 815)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Swimming

I grew up swimming.

We had a pool in our backyard for almost for ever.
Pool #1 on Lake Elbert
Pool #2 on Lowell Road
Pool #3 in Auburndale

Most of my friends had pools in their backyards too.

Summers were for pool hopping.
(And bike riding around and around and around our neighborhoods...
but that's a different post for a different day.)

Swimming lessons were a given, and I was a pretty good swimmer.
Races back and forth across the pool...
Endless games of "Marco Polo"...
Swim "shows"...
Made up games...
Raft races...
Swimming piggy back rides...
How could one NOT be a good swimmer?
I even had some kind of personal rescue certification at one point from camp.

And then...
I went to college.
Beyond a water exercise class I took for a PE credit, I didn't swim much any more.

And then...
I became an "adult."
I hated putting on a bathing suit.
And when I did, "swimming" meant hanging out by the pool, hoping not to get sunburned...
Not actually moving through the water with any purpose.
And when I was in the water, certainly not moving with any "real" swim stroke.
I still did an occasional water exercise class at the Y.

And then...
Even that stopped.

And then...
At age 33 1/2, I became Momma to my sweet baby (now teen aged) girl.
And swimming changed again.
Swimming meant bouncing around in the pool with a splashing, squealing toddler.
Or pushing her around in her yellow floaty boat.
After she learned to swim on her own, swimming meant standing a few feet from the wall with my arms outstretched to scoop her up after "swim to Momma," before turning her around to swim back to the wall.

And then...
She was older,
a better swimmer,
and had friends at the pool.
My place was sitting on the side of the pool,
feet dangling in the water,
watching.
But not swimming.

Over the years,
My brain remembered how to swim.
But my body has forgotten.

Over the years,
I have developed a deep dislike for getting my face wet
(even in the shower).

Over the years,
I have developed a "fear" of swimming in any kind of open water.

And now...
Well...
We joined the aquatic center a few weeks ago.
"It's good cross training for running," we said.
My first swim...
I kept my head up the entire time I was "swimming" laps...in a way that Gloria says made me look like a frog.

So I bought some goggles.
And I went swimming again.
And I STILL kept my head above the water.
And I STILL looked like a frog.

And then...
I screwed up my courage and forced myself to put my face in the water...
And promptly closed my eyes...WITH MY GOGGLES ON!
It took several tries to actually keep my eyes open while putting my face in the water.

And then...
I resorted to holding my nose.
Did you know that it's kinda hard to swim and hold your nose at the same time?

So now, I want a nose holder thingamabob.

Or maybe some swimming lessons.

Or maybe both.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Goals Met...At Least for This Week

I've been quiet for a few weeks, trying to process all the hard stuff going on in the world around us.

Running has been my escape from it all.
And even that has been hard.

Mileage is beginning to creep upwards as I move farther into this training cycle.
Temperatures are soaring upwards as we move farther into this summer.
My body has been perfectly happy with a few short runs each week in the pleasantness of spring temperatures.
And now I'm telling it we have to run 6, 7, 9 miles...in the 90*+ temperatures.

I've made stupid mistakes,
like not hydrating well,
not taking my water with me,
not taking my fuel with me,
not sticking to my intervals that I KNOW work for me,
pausing for too long for a break.

All of those have dogged me for the past few weeks.

Thursdays have dogged me too, for one reason or another.
All Most A few of those were mostly legitimate.
The last time I ran on a Thursday was May 19th.
Prior to that, it was April 7th.
Thank you to my running journal for sharing that little tidbit with me.

So this week, I had two goals:
Goal 1 was to conquer Thursday.  It is, after all, the "speed work" day in my training plan.  It's important.
Goal 2 was to get the hydrating/fueling/interval thing all back on track.

I accomplished goal 1 on Thursday.
Can I tell you how excited I was that Thursday did NOT take me down this week?
Even with a babysitting job and a runner safety presentation also on the calendar, I got that run in.
I was just a little excited about that!

But I missed Goal 2 on all of my runs this week...
until today!
Today I had 9 miles on the schedule.
It almost got derailed by ants in the kitchen!
But Brian sent me out on my own, while he stayed home playing Ant Man
(with me making him promise he would go out later).
So off I went...to my favorite greenway.
I stuck to my hydrating/fueling/interval routine that I KNOW works for me.
And I finished those 9 miles strong and feeling good.

And now...Brian is out on a bike ride and run...
because he is straying from our beaten path of running onto a new path into the world of triathlons.