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!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Thoughts on Becoming a Marathoner

Here it is...6 days post Marine Corps Marathon...and I still can't wrap my head around it all.  I'm not sure I can find the words to do it justice.

Y'all!
I completed a marathon!

I completed a MARATHON!
My first marathon...
I did it!

I COMPLETED A MARATHON!

That means I am a marathoner.

Me...a marathon finisher...a marathoner.

Yeah...it's still sinking in...so I have to say it a bunch of times...

I.  Am.  A.  Marathon.  Finisher.

A Marathoner.
A Marathon Runner.
26.2 can adorn the back of my car.

I had 26.2 miles of spectator-lined streets...
fall foliage...
the pounding of feet in front of, next to, and behind me...
and the majesty of our nation's Capitol.

I ran, with 30,000 other people, in the streets of Washington, DC, along the banks of the Potomac River, among monuments to presidents and memorials to those who lost their lives defending our freedom and museums displaying artifacts of our history...talk about awe inspiring, motivating, incredible, take your breath away, unbelievable...

And what I discovered is that I should never say "never" ever again.

Quick review here...I figured I would never get married.  I figured I would never be somebody's Momma.  I am pretty sure I said I would never run...much less run a marathon...

Here I am...Momma to my love...and married to my other love...a runner...and now I have completed a marathon.

So, the word "never" should be stricken from my vocabulary.

Someone remind me of that the next time I say I will never do something.

Unless it involves eating liver...
because I will NEVER eat that.
Or be happy to see a legless lizard.
Yeah...that will NEVER happen either.

But other than that..."never" should be stricken from my vocabulary.  :)

And now for some shots of "The Hackers Go to Washington" for your viewing pleasure...

We toured the White House on Friday morning. 
(We also visited multiple monuments and memorials, as well as the National Cathedral...but I was not a good picture taker over the weekend.  Most of the memories from this trip will have to live in our heads.)

Friday night, we went to the MCM Pep Rally.
Got some "first timer" bling.
Listened to some speakers.
Ate some appetizers.
And took pictures with some mascots.
Because who can't resist mascots?  




Saturday was a quiet day for the two runners.  Gloria had fun in DC with my mom and my cousin.  They visited one of the Smithsonian museums and took a moonlight monuments tour.  Brian and I laid low at the hotel...I finished my report cards while he watched some football.  Then we headed over to VTS so he could see where I spent many summers taking classes.  An early dinner and the search for my gluten free Eggo waffles rounded out our evening before a relatively early bedtime.

Flat Merrill, ready for the 4:30 A.M. alarm.


Our usual pre-race selfie.  This became our tradition somewhere along the way.  We almost didn't get this one since the security lines were so long and we were making the mad dash to the starting line just a few minutes before the howitzer was fired to start the marathon.

One of the biggest highlights of my run was seeing Mom, Edie, and Gloria, as well as Brian's cousin, Natasha, out on the route.  To hear my name being called from the crowd and to look up and see familiar faces, get a hug and words of encouragement...it was incredible!

They were able to cheer on some of the 10k runners at the corner in front of our hotel before taking the metro into DC to cheer for us.

Around mile 13, I looked at my phone to discover texts from many of my friends who live in my phone (AKA Facebook) as well as Facebook messages and comments.  Y'all...those were amazing!  What a pick-me-up, keep on moving, "I can do this" feeling this gave me.  Some of those messages moved me to tears...which makes running a bit challenging...but I cannot begin to tell you how appreciated those messages were...from friends near and far, old and new...it took my breath away to see them all.

Around mile 17...our own personal cheerleaders were there...I knew they were out there somewhere, just didn't know when I might see them.




 And again around mile 23...




 What an emotional moment...to finish the Marine Corps Marathon, at the foot of the Iwo Jima Memorial, and be saluted by a young marine before he placed my medal around my neck...This is my "I'm going to cry and laugh and be a hot mess all at the same time because my emotions are a disaster right now because Oh. My. Goodness...I just finished a MARATHON!!!" picture.

Brian had finished just 12 minutes ahead of me and was still in the finisher's area when I got there.
More crying and then our finisher's picture


I had texted Gloria shortly after I crossed the finish line, to let her know I was finished.  Her reply made me laugh...


One more mascot picture

And back at the hotel...I think we look pretty damn good for just finishing a marathon!



Here it is, a week later, and it all seems so surreal.  We trained for this, it was the focus of most of our free time, and something we talked about often over the last six months.  I ran in the heat of the summer and slogged through the rain, all in the name of the ever longer "long runs" each weekend.  My vocabulary included things like "easy run" and "speed run" and "intervals," "fueling" and "hydrating."  I learned where water fountains and restrooms are located along my city running route as well as along the greenways we frequent.  

And I learned about myself...

That I CAN achieve a goal, even when it seems daunting and scary and I am tempted to give up.

That bumps in the road might be rough, but they can be overcome.

That being a marathoner is really for me.
Not anyone else.
Just me.
No one can take that away from me.
Because I did it.

And it was freaking AWESOME!!!!
(And it makes me a "very awesome, marathon running mom.")

And I might have said I would do one again....


Sunday, October 18, 2015

My Challenge to You

I've written so many blog posts in the last four months...in my head...while pounding out the many miles I have put in, training for the Marine Corps Marathon (which is in 7 days, if you're wondering!).  None of those posts ever made it here, which makes me sad because I've lost those thoughts somewhere out there on the greenways of our city.

There was the fact that my computer completely died and I chose not to do anything about it until mid July.  And what a saga that was.  I'll spare you the details.  But by the end of July, all of that was resolved.

Then it was August.  And we all know what August means...back to school time.  I moved my 20+ years of teaching materials into yet ANOTHER room (that makes 9 times in the last 6 years) and went back to kindergarten after a year of third grade.  I can't tell y'all how happy I am to be back in kindergarten!  Anyone who thinks it's easy...come spend a day with me...you'll change your tune, I guarantee it!  But I love it!

And now it's October.

I've run hundreds of training miles.  My computer is fixed.  I've settled into the new school year, new classroom, and new grade level once again.  And I'm facing one of the biggest challenges I've ever faced next Sunday...completing a marathon...26.2 miles...on the streets of Washington, D.C.  And I can't wait!  Isn't that nuts?

The Husband, Brian, has been out there training for the same marathon.  He has put in as many miles as I have  And suffered through the moving of my classroom and the start of another school year with me.  But he has been working towards another goal, too...raising money for Mayan Families.

Mayan Families is a non-profit organization in Guatemala, the country where G was born.  Their mission, as you can read on their web site is:  "to facilitate enduring, sustainable programs that promote community development. Our objective is to stimulate long-term progress through school sponsorships, health initiatives, vocational training and microfinance while providing emergency services to those in critical need. We aim to empower and collaborate with each community we work with to create lasting positive growth."

Also from their website..."Did you know that Guatemala has one of the highest illiteracy and lowest school enrollment rates in Latin America? This is primarily due to the high cost of attending school which prevents many indigenous families from receiving an education."

The school year in Guatemala runs from January through October, unlike our August/September through May/June.  I recently saw photographs from a preschool "graduation" from one of Mayan Family's preschools.  Y'all...one of those precious little ones could have been my sweet girl when she was four or five!  And, as a kindergarten teacher in a Title 1 school that has a high ESL population, I see the benefits of early intervention/preschool/early learning initiatives Every. Single. Day.

So here is my challenge to you, my friends far and wide...will you join me in supporting my husband's fund raising efforts for Mayan Families?  Do it in memory of one of your favorite teachers.  Do it in honor of a loved one.  Do it because your kiddos are warm and safe at home with nutritious food to eat.  Do it in thanksgiving for that special teacher that has touched your child's life in a meaningful way.

I'm starting the donations with $26.20...one dollar for each mile I will complete in the Marine Corps Marathon next Sunday.

For each of my friends that donates, I will carry you with me along the 26.2 mile route.  I am planning to print out and laminate everyone's names, and affix them my fuel belt.

You can donate by visiting Brian's Everyday Hero site...1,560 Miles for Mayan Families.  If each of our friends gave just $10, we would surpass his goal and support the education of 14 children for a year...that's a whole preschool classroom full of giggles and learning and smiles!