420410_10150791505528496_512653495_12356731_691033376_n

My Snuggle Bunny

This kid…THIS KID…is SUCH a snuggle bunny. If he knows you at all, no matter how casually, and if you’re female and ask for a hug? He’ll give it to you. He’ll wrap his tiny arms around your neck, his legs around your waist, he’ll lay his head on your shoulder and he’ll stay there FOREVER.

I’m not exaggerating. When there’s a hug-off between Wes and any adult female? She caves first, just because she inevitably has to be somewhere OTHER than holding my son. But he’s usually there for an extended period of time.

At least once a day I find myself demanding a hug from Wes. Of all three of my kids, he’s the only real snuggle buddy I’ve had and I take FULL ADVANTAGE of it. If I feel like I’m running around too stressed, I force myself to sit down and demand a hug. And then I sit there until the anxiety wanes because – I’m telling you – those arms? Better than 10 Xanax.

Do you have a snuggle bunny? If not…you can borrow mine any time. As long as I’m not using him.

3433412488_869bb3a883_z

That Time Of Year

3 years ago, I was spending a lot of time in Knoxville dealing with my (suddenly) dying father. This time of year is still hard on me because I spend a lot of moments thinking, “This time three years ago I was…” It all happened so suddenly that those weeks in February and March 2009 etched a permanent spot of anxiety in my heart and it’s hard not to look at the calendar and think about those days. The days in the hospital finding out his body was ravaged with cancer, the days at home as he came to the conclusion that he couldn’t continue with dialysis or chemotherapy. Then the weeks in hospice, everyone just…waiting.

I still miss him so much. I called my brother a few weeks ago and said, “I just did something I really wish I could call and tell Dad about, so you’re getting the call instead…” I do that often. At first I thought it was because I knew he would understand that need, as he would call Dad to tell him certain things too. But then I realized it’s because he’s a lot like Dad in that he’s sincerely interested in hearing about these new adventures, but he’s BETTER than Dad because he’ll actually talk back on the phone. As much as I loved my Dad, he was a DREADFUL phone person.

But those weeks in February and March, especially the ones he spent in hospice, were so hard that I often look back and wonder: HOW DID I SURVIVE?

But most of the times I think about my present and wonder: HOW AM I SURVIVING?

Because, while the pain of his death is not as raw or as fresh, the pain of missing him is still so strong. And it’s a different type of pain. The pain of losing him is the one that has faded over the last 3 years, but the pain of missing him? That pain seems to grow stronger. As the list of things he is missing grows, my agony over not sharing those things with him strengthens. And while it’s not a debilitating pain like the initial loss, it’s one that seems ever-present. It is always a part of me.

So, yes, time does heal that raw pain that death brings. But there’s another pain that strengthens…the pain of absence. The pain of knowing that another musical is coming and going without being witnessed by my Dad. The momentous achievements of my family are building up and will soon outweigh the achievements that he was alive to witness. He’ll never see E on stage. He’ll never get to feel the glory of a Wes hug. He’ll never get to see Nikki dork out over learning addition. I’ll never call him to tell him about trail running. This is the pain that will never fade. And certain times of year, or certain moments in life, I’m acutely aware of how the pain is growing.

And when all of those moments he’s missing occur during the 2 months I think of him and his death the most? Then that pain outlines every moment of every day. I close my eyes and fight back tears. Not the same tears of loss that I cried when he died, but the tears of longing that I cry when the hole in my heart that he left behind is aching to be filled.

photo

Damn Flaky Tooth Fairies.

Nikki lost a tooth this week and I received the DREADED text message on my way home from boot camp the next morning: “Nikki woke up and found her tooth under her pillow :/”

SHIT.

SHIT. SHIT. SHIT. SHIT. SHIT.

That’s verbatim, if you’re wondering.

I didn’t even forget entirely! I had the dollar in my PJ pants ready to sneak under the pillow! It’s just that the previous night was one of those “Wesley is screaming and I’m tired so I’ll just lay down with him” kind of nights. He woke up crying before I was even in bed, so I just opted to lay down with him since I couldn’t soothe him. That made me forget ENTIRELY about the damn tooth fairy.

I resisted the urge to point out that The Tooth Fairy has been very busy lately with work and 3 kids in one play that just wrapped and 1 kid in a musical that she is producing and that MAYBE instead of focusing on her FAILURES the Tooth Fairy needs everyone to take a moment to tell her how AMAZING she is for being able to juggle all the balls with just the periodic drop. GIVE HER A BREAK, DAMMIT.

But – like I said – I resisted.

Luckily, Nikki is used to disappointment from fatastical beings. The Elf on the Shelf didn’t move one night either. So, we told her we had NO IDEA why the tooth fairy didn’t come, but we did propose hypotheses. Which she joined in on.

  • Maybe she’s sick?
  • Maybe it fell out too late?
  • TRAFFIC!
  • Maybe she got lost?
  • Maybe your head was too heavy…you do have a melon head like your mother.

I finally told her that the tooth fairy hasn’t met me for lunch for WEEKS (Spoken with my most sarcastic tone, which cracked her up.) so I had no idea what would keep her from doing her DAMN JOB ALREADY. But, Nikki insisted we write her a note DEMANDING an explanation for her slacktitude.

So we did.

And she did.

And the tooth fairy explained that a LOT of teeth were lost that day so some of her Fairies In Training were taking responsibility to deliver some of the money. Evidently the Fairy In Training who came to our house? Is scared of dogs. And she panicked when ours barked. The Tooth Fairy was very sorry and even left FIVE dollars instead of the usual: ONE dollar. (The tooth fairy has a guilt complex.)

So…tell me: What did you do when the Tooth Fairy slacked at your house?

photo

Faster.

My first month of boot camp in September 2010, my coach timed me in the mile. It was on a track and we were supposed to run “as fast as we could” and by the time I was done I wanted to die. I was SO exhausted but I was also SO PROUD because I did it in 10:30. Since my long distance pace was always around 12-minute/miles, A 10:30 single mile seemed great. When we measured again in 3 weeks I cut about 15-30 seconds off, if I recall. And I’ve just been getting faster since.

Tuesday night my training required me to do a 2-mile Tempo Run. This article describes that as a bit slower than a 5K race pace.

Exercise physiologist and coach Pete Pfitzinger adds: “For very fit runners, the pace is between 15K and half-marathon race pace.” For those fond of using heart rate monitors, Daniels notes that tempo runs are done at 90% of maximum. However, most runners seem to find it easier to use running speed as a guide.

For me? It’s just my 5K pace. I don’t have that much of a differentiation in my speeds yet. I have a solid 5K pace that I can kinda feel, and I’m getting to the point where I can kinda feel my “easy” or “long run” pace. I extrapolate everything else. So, I did 1 warm-up mile and then my 2-mile Tempo using my 5K race pace and DO YOU SEE HOW FAST I DID IT? That picture is a screen shot. I did my first mile in UNDER 8 MINUTES. I might have done the second one that fast but I had to wait for a car so that slowed me by about 6-10 seconds at least. Seeing that blew my MIND.

Last night, my coach wanted me and a few others to do a time trial because we didn’t do the local 2-mile race this weekend. He wanted us to “race” it. I’m still not sure how to extrapolate the 2-mile race pace from the 5K, so I started with that. Since we were doing laps on the track and he was calling our times each time around (Those are “splits”) then I figured I could make adjustments.

The first lap was 1:57. They stayed right around there the entire time. It was tough during the first lap to find my pace. I didn’t think I could sustain a “Huffing and Puffing” pace for 8 laps, so I wanted to avoid that. I ran where my breathing was heavy, but I was able to control it. I finished those 8 laps, those 2 miles, in 15:39. That means I did each mile in 7:50. That’s 2 minutes and 40 seconds faster than that first mile at boot camp a year-and-a-half ago.

I owe this to a combination of 2 things.

1) Exercises like burpees and jump squats in boot camp – moves that train me to get used to that heavy breathing sensation you get when you run fast;
2) Speed work with these Fleet Feet training groups. Things like repeats, but also hills, and tempo runs.

I mean, I’m not going to be invited to join a racing team any time soon, but DAMN if I’m not proud of myself. My goal is to race a 5K in under 25 minutes. I hit 25 minutes even on New Years Eve, so I should be able to come in under, especially with that 2-mile time. I’m just super proud. I never knew you could get that much faster. It teaches me to never trust my instinctive limitations. If I did that, I would have never been able to feel this AMAZING at something I accomplished.

15:39!

photo

Why I Think Everyone Should Use Gmail

I do a LOT of emailing in my life. Sometimes from work, sometimes through my blog, and a LOT of times with my volunteering gigs. I have decided that everyone should use Gmail, thereby making their own lives easier. I’ve come to this conclusion due to how many times I’ve thought, “I’m SO glad I have Gmail!” and to how many times I’ve thought, “I wish that person had Gmail.”

  • ARCHIVES. Gmail does not delete your emails. It archives them. So, no matter how unimportant you thought that email was 3 years ago, it’s still there in case you one day need it. You have NO idea how many times I avoid harassing someone for information, or for a file they’ve already sent me, all because of the archives. Especially when someone emails me a file and I download it on my desktop mac, but then a few weeks later I need it again but I’m on my laptop at Panera. What do I do? Search the archives and download it again. And I’m always searching my archives for stuff from over a year ago and it’s always relatively easy to find.
  • FREEDOM TO CHANGE YOUR INTERNET PROVIDER. If you are using Comcast or Knology as your email, you will always hesitate switching services, EVEN IF THE OTHER SERVICE IS BETTER. Over the last 8 or so years that I’ve been using Gmail, I’ve had to switch internet a few times. Either to save money, or to adapt to a changing infrastructure or a move. I never had to worry about my email.
  • FEWER LIMITATIONS. Without a drastic inbox limit, you don’t have to fret about attachments people mail you. But even if you do, Gmail is fairly reasonable. Gmail also allows you to send emails to 500 addresses at one time. This comes in handy for someone like me who might periodically send emails to teachers from an entire school system. Whenever I’m trying to receive or send a larger attachment, Gmail is NEVER the weakest link in the equation. It’s always PERSON X’s email.
  • IT’S GOOGLE, IT WILL BE HERE AWHILE. If you have your email at a random domain, or even at your job you may not be at in 2 years, you always have to worry about what happens IF you change jobs, or IF you stop using that website you get your email through. I see very rare situations where someone uses an email at a domain more stable than Google. If you do a lot of email, you need to do it somewhere that has a very long lifespan, especially if you need to search the archives from years ago.
  • FOR BLOGGERS: YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE YOUR COMMENTS. Because of the archive function (I know! It all goes back to that!), and because most blogging systems email you your comments, you will always have record of all of your comments. You may just want to search an email to see if someone has commented before, you may want to keep track of jerks, either way – it’s all there and you don’t have to think about it.
  • IT’S FREE. Not much else needed there.

Yes. You may have to go through a bit of a headache while you switch, but if you switch NOW, while it’s your CHOICE, then you don’t have to fret about losing contacts should you be forced to switch in 6 months when Comcast ticks you off, or when you change jobs. Seriously. Do it. For my sake AND yours. It may take some time getting used to it, but knowing you might not have to switch emails until Google collapses? Is a very secure feeling.

Also – did I mention the archives?