Sunday, August 24, 2014

Helping hands

The boys have a list of chores they have to complete daily in order to recieve their weekly allowance. Really tricky things, like "bring in the mail," "clean the toy room," and "finish your homework" (the latter, of course, being a cherished summer freebie). Yesterday Ethan proudly announced to Jonathan that he had made both beds, which is no small feat considering they use bunk beds and the top one is always somewhat tricksy. He insisted that Jonathan go look, and while we waited to hear his response, Ethan's excitement turned to worry. Like you have in that moment where you're super proud of something but suddenly realize it's subject to criticism or failure. Luckily, Jonathan returned a moment later and said it was awesome, and he loved it: Ethan beamed, they hugged- it was awesome.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Marathon, Round 2.

I set out this morning for a run I have been dreading for longer than a week. It was 17 miles of hills, and I had used a race predictor to pace out exactly what time I needed for this run. I have been dreaming of using my next marathon to qualify for Boston, but for a number of reasons (excuses, really) I haven't put the time and heart into training in order to do it safely. I finally registered for my next marathon 1 week ago today. It will be June 2nd. Since then I have been feeling the stress of adding too much mileage and too much speed. I have replaced the enjoyment I used to feel with frustration and stress, and instead of feeling like I am conquering something, I feel like I'm trying desperately not to get stomped on.

During my last long run, I started out thinking "I can because I have to." Then I realized I had it backwards. "I have to because I CAN. My strength doesn't come from my goal, it comes from my refusal to admit defeat. It comes from my fire, and and the time and talent I have spent already preparing that I refuse to waste." I somehow got through the miles, one step at a time. I wondered why I've always felt a compelling need to accomplish things that are beyond my preparation and ability. 

This  morning I got to my 2 mile point, 18 seconds behind schedule. I pressed on up the next hill, determined to make up the time. I didn't. I remembered a quote, somewhere around mile 5, that had gotten me through a tough spot in my first marathon. "Running is 90 percent mental and the rest is in your head." I queued up Daft Punk and practically sprinted to "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger." I had conquered the steepest hill on my run, my pace was awesome, and I felt incredible. I paused a moment to stretch- my poor legs were feeling a little worse for the wear- and as I tried to run again my left knee was screaming in pain. I wanted to cry. I tried again, 3 times, but this was a pain I didn't recognize. Everything I have read and heard about "overuse" injuries came crashing down on me. I remembered reading that if you under-train you might not finish, but if you over-train you might not start. I realized that this doesn't just apply to newbies, it applies to me. I also realized that even if it is possible for me to finish God's Country in 3:35, I will probably hate every second of the training and the marathon. It was apparent that I needed to refocus, and change my goal to "finish." I'm done punishing myself, and ready to enjoy running again. There are just 5 weeks between me and a marathon I am no longer afraid of- bring it!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

You're gonna want this back

Trace Adkins released a song 3 years ago; you might have heard it if you're familiar at all with Country music. The song followed what you presume are the stages in his daughter's life, from teenager to young adult, and expresses the angst of always longing for the next step in life. The chorus says: "You're gonna miss this, you're gonna want this back. You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast. These are some good times, so take a good look around, you may not know it now, but you're gonna miss this." The first time I heard this song, I was naturally reminded of how I felt growing up. I think the story line is ubiquitous to us all, perhaps more especially for girls. Please forgive me if that's too broad of an assumption. Anyway, when he comes to one of the final verses, and sings "Five years later there's a plumber workin' on the water heater, Dog's barkin', phone's ringin', One kid's cryin', one kid's screamin'" I remember thinking "this is it, this is where he says 'I told you so. I told you you would miss it." Embarrassingly enough, I was mildly shocked when he went into "I know it's hard to believe, but you're going to miss this."
A lot of my patients at work ask about my children. I generally tell them I have two toddler boys, and it's a nice break to come to work (in an ICU.)
The boys and I had to stay home from church today, mostly because I can't put my contacts in and am too stubborn to get glasses, and chances are I would kill someone if I tried to drive as my blinded self. I felt really sick for a little while this morning, probably because I spent 16 hours at work yesterday after only 3 hours of sleep (I can't do that as well as I used to), so I laid back down for an hour while the boys watched a show. When I woke up there were cookies everywhere (with the frosting licked off), a loaf of bread I just baked was destroyed (not half-eaten, just destroyed), and Jonathan dumped an entire bottle of light corn syrup down the drain (I had plans to use it in a pecan pie for my beautiful little niece's party today.) Also, they laid ruin to a container of baby wipes. Thankfully, no harm came to the computer or the TV (color with Sharpies day was Friday).
Anyone who's known the joy of children knows that they are two steps forward and one step back. We all know you spend half of your time re-doing things you just did, whether it's re-folding the laundry they tossed out of their drawers, vacuuming the dining room because they just finished their snack, or putting their socks and shoes back on at the end of the car trip.
They do come, however, with the sweetest cuddles and kisses, the sweetest "I love you's" in the whole wide world. I suppose if it has to come as a package deal, it is incredibly worth it. And I suppose, some day, I will be recovering from surgery and tell my nurse that she's going to miss it more than she could possibly know.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Be a good mom... you've got to try a little harder.

I've always felt an enormous amount of pressure to be as good as everyone else. And in my mind, everyone else has always been ahead of me in everything. Somewhere around my sophomore year, I decided that I had basically failed at being popular or worthwhile during school, and if I wanted to be happy, I had better start learning what I needed to know to be a good wife and mother some day. I bought yeast and learned to make bread. I scoured tips from the Queen of Clean and cleaned my entire kitchen with Borax. I learned to sew buttons and do a simple ladder stitch. I made lemonade from fresh lemons and practiced piping frosting with the cute little tips. I studied a website on french braiding hair, because I figured that was important too. I remember someone showing this link to me, incredulously, and I thought it was perfect:
Even with all of my dedication to preparing and planning and practicing, I've considered most of my performance to be sub par. I've never quite achieved the "put together" standard I've been striving for. I don't even have a cookie jar, let alone one that is always stocked. I have a hard time remembering to even refill our Brita pitcher, so having fresh slices of lemon and lime for it is out of the question. Dinner sneaks up on me 6 nights out of 7, and I consider laundry to be in a good place if my clean pile is bigger than my dirty pile.
The longer I live, the more I realize that my life is more ordinary than I give myself credit for. Expanding my social network, and watching a little TV, I've come to see that I'm not the only one who scrambles to throw clutter into laundry baskets and hide them before company comes over. I'm not the only one who uses breakfast food for lunch or puts the children to bed in mismatched pajamas. I'm not even the only one to send them out in public with mismatched socks. At first, I wasn't sure if this was more a relief ("at least I'm not so far behind") or more of a devastation ("I'll NEVER be a completely put together person, jut like everyone else isn't either"). But don't worry about me, I haven't given up. I still have every intention of buying a cookie jar.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Adventures in Marathon Training

A short while after Jonathan was born, James bought me a book to help me train for a marathon. It was a goal I'd always thought was fantastic, and horribly out of reach. The book gave me hope, and motivation. I decided to go out for a run that day. When my 1 month old little man was happily asleep, I put on my sneakers, probably made it 3/4 of a mile, and went home feeling excited to be running again. I retired my running shoes, just for for a couple of days, and put them back on early this July.
This time I was serious about running, and about committing to my first marathon. I've been running 4 days a week, and loving and hating every minute of it.
Yesterday, for my long run, I set my alarm for 4:30. That way I had plenty of time to get lost on the roundabout my route would take me through, and still make it to work for 7am. I didn't open my eyes until 6, and I spent most of the day wondering how on earth I would run 7 miles after working 12 hours in SICU.
When I got home, James and I decided to have the chicken Kiev we'd been craving for most of the week, along with fettuccine and an amazing cream cheese sauce. After dinner, and 2 full episodes of Cake Boss, I laced up my Asics and asked James to help me with my Ipod (last time I started it myself, I ended up listening to the same A.C. Newman song for 3 1/2 miles). I left at 11:20 wondering if I was taking crazy too far. It reminded me of the times my brother and I had gone out running late at night, when we were in high school and needed a break from the world. It was nice to be out, in the peaceful dark, even if I did throw up in several people's lawns. Sorry, neighbors.
When I got to the roundabout, I studied my directions and diagrams and ran in a complete circle before calling James. About the time he answered, a sheriff pulled over and turned on his lights. I was grateful I hadn't been speeding. He was actually quite helpful; I told him where I was trying to go and he pointed me in the right direction. I also noticed that he circled the roundabout a handful of times afterwords; I suppose he worried I would get lost again.
Finally, I got to the end of my run. And realized that a few wrong turns left a diner where my house ought to be. Before I got home, I ran close to 9 miles and hurt everywhere. Maybe it's time to retire my shoes again, just for a couple of days.

Monday, September 27, 2010

To each his own.

The little guys have created have some very definite ideas about how they like to spend their days. Some are funny, some irritating, some just make more work for us, and some are downright adorable. Jonathan, at 3 1/2, is starting to be less "toddler" and more "little boy." He likes to emulate his 2 favorite characters (Diego and Dora) by wearing a backpack around most of the time. By most of the time, I mean all of the time. He sleeps with it, even. Usually he keeps only the essentials inside-- a book on firetrucks and another one on animals, and several handfuls of cars.
He also likes to be the boss. When he thinks Ethan is misbehaving, we usually know because he gets out his sternest voice and exclaims, "baby, go sit a chair!" or, "baby- go bed!" He is very keen on the idea that everyone must obey the rules, including the grownups. "Mommy, get out of the refrigerator!" He even follows me into the bathroom sometimes, congratulates me on a job well done, then stands there and reminds me to flush the toilet and wash my hands. I don't know where I'd be without him.
Jonathan is fascinated with shapes, and wants to know what everything is. I've learned that giving him fruit snacks no longer buys me the few moments of silence that it used to. He studies every shape intently, then asks me what it is. He wants to make sure I get it right, and when I don't, he teaches me what it really is.
Jonathan is every bit as stubborn as mommy when it comes to his recollection of the facts. He is never wrong. He will not budge, for example, on the exact name of a napkin. He always asks for "my face," which is probably my fault ("here Jonathan, wash your face"). Speaking of which, the kid can't stand to be messy. When he is finger painting, he will dip one little finger in, and can't wait to wash it off when he's done. A little bit of milk spills and he loses composure. "What a mess! You spilled it!" He then runs to get "my face" and cleans up the floor. Gutting his pumpkin last night almost reduced him to tears. He reminds me of Danny Tanner, to the extent that I wouldn't be surprised if I saw him trying to vacuum the vacuum cleaner.
Ethan, while nothing like his older brother, is just as talented at making me laugh. His newest activities include pulling off his left sock and shoe as soon as we get in the car (the right one is left untouched), watching you watch him throw something on the floor, then adamantly proclaiming that it fell, dragging a gallon of milk to you as a way of asking for some, and occasionally using the potty chair (which he insists on emptying himself-- I wish he wouldn't). Ethan also has a talent for pretend-sleeping. He turns his head to the side, squeezes his little eyes shut, and snores obnoxiously. When he's certain he has your attention, he throws his hands in the air, opens his eyes so they are as wide as his smile, and shouts, "hooray! It's me!"
Sometimes I worry I'm going to forget all the silly things they do. Like when Ethan randomly bursts into song (I'm the MAP!!" or Twinkle Twinkle, little Tar) or does a silly rendition of Little Bunny Foo Foo. Or when I get all dressed up and Jonathan gives me his best compliment ("You handsome, mommy, you so handsome!") Or the way Ethan plays "teek-a-boo" and Jonathan calls everyone he meets "friends." Or the way they both call each other baby. I find some consolation in the firm belief that part of being a good mom is forgetting things. Because honestly, if we remembered everything they broke and every time they embarrassed us, we might somtimes forget to love them to pieces. And really, that's the only part that matters.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Adventures in escaping the heat.

A few weeks ago, when the temperature started climbing into the 90's inside, James and I spent a day taking the kids out and avoiding our apartment. We were in the middle of an adventure at Verizon when Ethan started repeating the phrase "yucky, yucky poopy." He says that whenever he needs a diaper change, regardless of the nature of said diaper. It had been so hot that we had been pushing fluids into them, and Ethan's diaper was a little worse for the wear. I got to the car and discovered there were no diapers in sight. Ethan and I trooped over to the neighboring gas station, where they stocked size 3 diapers and nothing else. That might have covered one of Ethan's butt cheeks. Maybe. We wandered over to Kmart, which was just a little further, and decided to call James. Except that his phone was being serviced. So here we are, hurrying through the store, over in the pharmacy section. We find all sorts of baby wipes, but no diapers. I did glance briefly at the small adult diapers, but only because I felt *so* bad for my little squishy butt. I can't even imagine how awful it would be to be swimming in your own pants.
We finally asked an employee, who directed us to the infant clothes section. Who'da thunk it.
I selected my little package of Luvs, and decided to tuck away into the back corner to change him there. When I crouched down and pulled off Ethan's little pants, I discovered his diaper had already fallen off. Seeing as we had walked through half of the store, and James was certainly worried about where we were, we had to forgo an extensive search. We did give it a half-hearted look-around, and vowed never to show our faces there again. I still feel bad for the poor person who ended up discovering the aftermath of 3 hours worth of forced beverages.