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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

here they go again

"I just need someone to wipe my tears!" (Ella's response to my question of what would be helpful to her while she was crying her head off.)

"I happy." (Maya to Sandi when she had some solo snuggle time with Mommy.)

"I feed the kitchens!" (Maya regarding the chickens at the farm)

"Maya, can you ask me without whining?" (Ella to Maya in the back seat.)

"Here, Momma. Here's your water. You thirsty?" (Maya, dropping everything when I walked in the door from a long run to fetch and hand me my water bottle.)

"I just licked Coconut." (Ella- I guess she wanted to understand what all that feline self-cleaning was all about. Leave it to a 5 year old.)

"Maya please put your feet somewhere besides my face." (this one is obvious, no?)

Monday, April 26, 2010

the 5 week countdown begins...

The Burlington, VT marathon is 5 weeks from yesterday.

And something very strange it happening to me.

Suddenly, I am eating really, really healthy. I mean, I'm a healthy eater anyway, but this is ridiculous. Oatmeal, without any sweetener. Everyday. Happily.

Apples with peanut butter instead of graham crackers or handfuls of pretzels or leftover kids' meals. Smoothies instead of granola bars. Homemade granola with flax and plain yogurt instead of artificially sweetened "light" yogurt.

But the truly drastic part is that my sweet tooth is very quiet right now. Not a hankering for a cookie, cake or ice cream. Not even for chocolate.

(Ange, please don't get in your car and drive over. I know it sounds pathological but I will be ok.)

I look at food and think, "Will you make me run better, faster, stronger?" And so I eat oranges for dessert (2 or 3 at a time) instead of ice cream. And bananas like a monkey. Out with the sugar and simple carbs- in with the sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice and whole wheat pasta. Out with the Fiber 1 bars- in with the trail mix and protein shakes.

I'm falling to pieces.

But there's more.

My mind is playing tricks on me. The longer I have to run, the easier the shorter (but still really freaking long) runs seem. Now that I have completed the monster 18 miler, 12 or 14 doesn't seem so bad. (Emilie uses adjectives like "little" and "cute" to describe 12 mile runs. Funny, but kind of true when you're faced with 18 or 20.) I think this is the only way to actually accomplish such a lofty goal as running a marathon. You have to have pockets of your mind that assure you it isn't that bad, that difficult, that hard.

Advice #1 for anyone training for a marathon: train with marathon veterans, preferably women.

This pack of women I am lucky enough to have fallen into stride with are amazing and they have taught me everything- about the magical elixer called "Gu" that takes my body from the brink of exhaustion into overdrive, how many days before the marathon to cut my toenails (thank you Christine), how to deal with chaff, suggestions for training with a leg injury, compassion on all issues of parenting, childcare and training, info about running attire, cold weather, warm weather, hydration, sleep and they would probably even do my taxes if I asked. After I missed my 16 miler because Maya was so sick one of them even offered to take my sick child so I could make up my run.

But their biggest gift to me is that they have taught me that distance running has less to do with your body and more to do with your mind.

These running ninjas have figured out that the best way to attack a long run is to break it down into a series of short runs. Case in point, for yesterday's 18 miler, we had decided to do a 4 mile trail race (the Epic Sports Rabbit Run) in the Bangor City Forest and incorporate it into our mileage. So we parked our cars 7 miles from the forest, ran there, did the race (and they had thought ahead to leave a car there and we were able to refill our Camelbaks and refuel with bananas and Luna bars) and then ran 7 miles back to our cars. Voila! A 18 mile run that never really felt overwhelming or out of reach. And it was fun to run a race in the middle!

(Okay, I'll be honest. Part of what was fun about that was seeing people who were tired at the end of 4 and feeling so super proud that you had run 11 and were able, even excited to run the last 7 back.)

I've started dreaming about the marathon. In one dream, I couldn't find my bib number and there was only 5 minutes to the start. Everyone around me chipped in frantically to help me and it was found with seconds to spare. The night before long runs I sleep a restless, wakeful night as I have repeated dreams about my alarm not going off and waking up at 11am and realizing the run was already over. (As if THAT would ever happen in our house.)

I also had a dream that I ate slice after slice of red velvet cake the other night and I have NO idea how that fits into any of this.

Best of all, I feel ready. I feel like I could do the marathon now if I had to.

For as much time as all of this takes, I am a little bit overwhelmed and saddened by the idea of not having a training schedule or a big event that I will be working toward when the marathon is over. I'm not sure if I am afraid I will turn into a couch-sitting, TV-obsessed, french-fry-eating and soda-drinking slouch or what but I feel like I will be a bit lost when I wake up on May 31st.

I want to know how I am going to secure a weekly nightly sleep like the one I have after a long run when training is over. It is like the sleep of a baby (but not of the restless, frequently waking baby that we have), a sleep no drug could produce and I don't want to be without it.

I love to know there I shoes I have run into the ground, waistbands that have lost their stretch from miles upon miles and a camelbak so smelly with sweat it had to be laundered. I have so much to show for this 13 weeks so far, beyond an inflamed thigh muscle, scars from sweat and friction on my skin and some serious power in my lower extremities. I have experience. I have pride. I have belief in my abilities.

I pulled up to our meeting place for our Saturday long run, beeping my horn and waving madly. The women waved back and Christine said to Emilie, "What a geek."

Yup, that's me.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

the lamb antidote

Maya was in a TERRIBLE mood today.

If Maya's mood was a picture, this would be it.

Sandi has been working an extra shift a week at the hospital for the past 5 weeks and we all miss her badly. The strain on all of us is palpable. Couple missing mommy with having an overworked, single-duty Momma and not enough sleep and you get one bitchy Maya.

Today I was so grateful to have a sister. One that came yesterday to sleep over and spent this whole, sometimes hellish sometimes wonderful, day with me.

I don't know if it's maturity or what, but I am beginning to surrender to the fact that my life is supposed to be like this- periods of great joy (yesterday, full of contentment sitting in the sun with kids playing in our yard having run so long and far and being so happy to see all of them, going to sleep last night not having to make certain my phone was audible because the person I care most if she needed me in the middle of the night was sleeping just one floor down) punctuated with moments, sometimes several moments strung together, of frustration, heartbreak and even anguish. Maya cried and hit so much today I just wanted to set her out on the steps in a permanent time out. Better yet, I wanted to give myself a time out.

Is it wrong to look at your very challenging child sometimes and feel strong appreciation and longing, and even preference, for your other, easier child? Is it wrong if which child is on which side of this equation changes from day to day, moment to moment?

At 1:30, Kathryn looked at me, sitting in the chair with two crying children on my lap and said, "I think we need a change of scenery."

Emilie had told me that the baby lambs had been born at Fisher Farm, our CSA (community supported agriculture) farm where we have been members going on 7 years. Come the first week of June, we get to pick up freshly picked, organic fruits, veggies and flowers for FIVE WHOLE MONTHS!

We were all content and happy on the drive there (our kids are always happy in the car with a snack- a nice, but not such an ecofriendly solution to bad moods). Braeden feel asleep and had a hard time waking up. So he didn't.

Oh, my were the lambies cute. They really did save the day.

Farmer Beth (I don't know is she dislikes us calling her that, but Emilie started it and now it has just stuck. Do you Beth? It is completely a term of endearment to me.) came out to chat for a while and fed the chickens...

much to Braeden and Maya's delight.

It put us all in a better mood.

Then on to the hay bails. I just LOVE these pictures and these girls.

Are your kids in a bad mood? If so, go find some baby animals right away. And some sunshine and gaping blue sky doesn't hurt either.
All I know is, I would have struggled as a mom today. I am so grateful to at least have done it with my sister by my side. Thanks for sharing my load, sis. It made it not quite so heavy. I love you so very much.

easter egg in seriously, look hard for the eggs you won't find them

There are a lot of things that are really cool about our life.

But did you know that one of them is that we know the Easter Bunny?

The Bridge Alliance ( ) is a really cool local group whose main mission (I think) is to bridge the gay and straight community, or host events for gay people and straight allies or something like that. All I know is that everything they do is super fun from rocking dances, to an awesome Pride event, to hosting Santa and the Easter Bunny at the Maine Discovery Museum for kids.
Let me go on record to say that our friend Katie was the cutest Easter Bunny ever in existence. I'm pretty sure her partner Alex (pictured below) who was in charge roped her into it. The really funny part was that we had dropped Katie off at the museum with her makeup bag in hand for her big bunny debut. She rode in the back of the car with Ella the whole time discussing bunny logistics and when Ella sat her lap she gave not a clue that she recognized Katie. She did inform us, however, that she was fairly sure it was an Easter Bunny representative and not the "real" one.

They even used child labor in the form of their daughter, aka the bunny assistant.

The great part, and the raise-the-level-of-difficulty part was that there were about 100 more kids this year than last so it really was a hunt for eggs because they ran out. Our friend Jeanne had to run to the store to buy more!
Mindy snagged one from somewhere and hid it in the beaver dam for a very pleased Maya.

She was quite impressed with her sugary find.

Then our friend Jeanine (as in Jeanine my most faithful commenter on the blog!) did some artistry on our girls' faces.

Our own little rodents. How cute.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wait, who am I again?

I was a chaperon for Ella's preschool field trip last week to the wastewater treatment plant, a.k.a. the sewer plant, to go along with the Earth Day theme of the month. Now, before you scoff and plug your nose, let me tell you it was really interesting. I had heard that they "treat" the wastewater so it is clean enough that they release it back into the river. Ewww. There was a fish tank in the lobby with sizable, silvery salmon swimming to and fro which are allegedly living in a tank of this "cleaned" water. Double ewww.

Until I went downstairs to the lab.

All this time, I figured they dumped a bunch of chemicals in there like a mad scientists lab. Turns out these guys are onto an eco-friendly system. They introduce micro-organisms to the filtered out waste water which eat up all the bacteria and re-establish a new ecosystem to the water. We could see the microscopic critters on a projector, magnified thousands of time and there they were eating away. It's like the symbiotic relationship where the plants take in our carbon dioxide and give off oxygen which we in turn take in and exhale carbon dioxide for them. I'm not entirely sure how these things are set up in the grand scheme of the universe, but suffice it to say it's a win-win down there at the wastewater treatment plant.

Anyway, as we were getting ready to load the kids into the cars the teacher said something like:"Josh, Heidi and Joseph you will be riding with Joseph's mom." She then raises her hand. "Fiona, Casper and Ziegfried, you will be riding with Zeigfried's mom." (Names have been changed to protect child identity.) "Bonnie, Cisco and Ella you will be riding with Ella's mom."

At which point, I just couldn't help myself.

"Or Suzanne. You can call me Suzanne. I have gone by that in the past."

Oh my goodness! When did I become only some one's mom???

Thursday, April 15, 2010



Ella and I had a battle of the wills tonight at supper. I was tired and overstimulated from 3 days on with the girls (picture it: me getting ultrasound at PT with Maya straddling my abdomen and jumping up and coming down hard, forcing all the air from my lungs and Ella trying to snuggle into my neck while I try to relax my jittery muscle) and I didn't have a lot of reserve to remember one simple thing (the thing my friend Emilie had to remind me of tonight):

Don't try to argue with a five-year-old.

When I am going to remember that me entering into a full on duel of reason, justice and respect with my child can only end badly?

Better question: when I am going to realize that dueling of any kind almost always ends badly for me?

Ella made two grave errors to get on my bad side tonight. First, after I had served she and Maya the start of their meal and was trying to get some salad made for myself and Ella, she asked, huffily, "Where is my salad?"

I commence to talk to her about getting outside herself enough to realize what is going on, that I haven't even sat down yet and that am in fact, MAKING THE SALAD!

Error #2: complain about the peanuts I put in her snack today. While she is complaining about the speed with which I am feeding her supper.

I launched into some tirade/monologue about previously stated themes of respect, justice and some more about respect. Oh, and about watching the tone of one's voice. I said this through clenched teeth and fists. I imagine it was highly effective.

We hugged it out before supper and both calmed down and managed to eat. There was another episode which ended in significant crying for her and the urgent need to get her to sleep as a cure for her grouchy overtiredness. As I was brushing her teeth, easily because her mouth was open to let the sobs out, she said, "Can we snuggle??"

Can you pause with me to feel what that feels like. My little girl, angry and hurt with me, wants nothing more than to turn to me, ME, mother who should retire for the evening-better luck tomorrow, for comfort.

We went upstairs and I held her while she cried- cried about the loss of her fish, the fact that her beloved cat had been the one to kill her special fish and the complications of love and loyalty therein, cried about her puppy being taken by "the boys" at school yesterday and ending up the coveted object in a mean game of keep away. She cried like her heart was breaking because this is what Ella does. She holds things to her, so deep and tight and then they come oozing out as cranky complaining, impatience, feverish anger and the inability to see outside herself for even a second.

This all sounds frighteningly like your's truly.

Tears dried, heart poured out, she lay still in my arms, like the quiet after a storm, and I thought about the complexities of love and especially of family. These are my four people. These are the people who know me when my breath smells bad, I am in a poisonous mood, I yell at bad drivers, I complain about paying an extra dollar for something, I eat too much chocolate, I whine about the laundry, I can't sit still during meals, or I say something with my quick tongue that breaks one of their hearts, even if just a little bit. These are the people that I can fight with and be disgusted by because I get too caught up in righteousness or justice or equality and still find my way back to at night to curl around and be loved by.

And, blessedly, they take me every time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

oh, what a beautiful morning

as a continuation of the previous post...

Allow me to tell you a few of the things that occurred in our house this morning. First, Ella's 2 day old to us sucker fish went missing. He was found belly up and in full rigor mortis on the floor, likely plucked from his marine safety from our crafty feline. The dog ran away. I found out that $80 had been taken our of checking account for a trial thingy that was supposed to be cancelled before we were charged. I started supper before 7 a.m. (I know, insanity, but it helps if I plan ahead!), made a hair appointment for Sandi, an appointment to have the brakes done on the car, balanced the checkbook, had the fish funeral, made and cleaned up supper, unloaded the dishwasher, did a few loads of laundry and got ready for Ella's pre-school field trip.

If I were a super-hero (which I secretly think I might be) what would my name be?

near misses

I'm not sure what's up with all of us, but I can tell you that we have some freaky moments in the last couple of weeks.

First, 2 weeks ago when our mailman was helping us unload our new refrigerator off of the trailer in the driveway, he accidentally lowered it (on the dolly) right into Sandi who had no choice but to fall backwards off the trailer, skull-first toward the concrete. I had just walked down the front steps from propping the door open and was taking the corner around the trailer to check on the road-darting Maya just as Sandi was falling into the air. In true super-hero style (ok, more like with my arms flailing too) I caught her. (She also sort of caught me but the story isn't as good that way.) One cringes to think of the injuries to the noggin to hit from a high point with the force of refrigerator weight helping gravity downward. And the timing of it...we couldn't have coordinated that with stopwatches, a plan and a walk-through rehersal!

Second, Sandi and I were loading some other stuff into the trailer (damn that trailer) and Maya was playing in the car with the door open. She was sitting down in Ella's booster seat playing with seat belt when, defying most of the laws of physics and torque, she fell out of the car onto the pavement and landed on her forehead and then flat on her back. She had roadrash on her forehead.

Third, Maya was super sick last weekend with fevers of almost 105 and moments of respiratory distress. Now see, Maya has paved the way for her mommies of dealing with sickness and various physical difficulties in parenting (wheezy nights in our bed, previous high fevers with delirium, nebulizers, missing teeth, biting, falling off something almost daily, and the aforementioned car incident) but this was one of the most scary parenting moments I had had (rivaled only by when Ella had some sort of freaky viral meningitis and was drooling and barely speaking for a whole day.) I sat in the exam room at the doctor's office with fat tears falling, despite my continuous, mad swiping with my sleeve-covered hand to discourage their fall.

(Thank you so very much to such dear friends who took Ella for the day on Saturday and Sunday so that 100% of my focus could be on Ms. Sickness. Sandi was at work all three days Maya was really sick and it was hard on everyone- probably mostly on Sandi.)

Fourth, on Sunday when I was still on convalescent duty (having not gone running in 4 long days and feeling a bit krispy around the edges) I fell really hard on my bathroom floor, fearful I had broken my hand where I tried to break my fall on the edge of the shower. As I fell, and slip and bumped across my bathroom floor all I could think was, "PLEASE! Not my legs! Not my back! I NEED TO RUN THIS MARATHON!" Forget my spinal cord or brain stem, I was only concerned with my ability to run. Even when I assessed the damage, I was only a little worried about being able to massage with a potentially broken or badly sprained hand. Lots of ice and tlc and it was better in 24 hours, minus a pretty purple bruise down my wrist.

As if that wasn't enough, yesterday I was backing out of babysitter's driveway (with plenty of room to spare) and when I righted myself in my lane I looked and there was a pick-up truck heading straight for me. He was passing a car (and had apparently made the choice to pass at the same time I was pulling into my lane- a horrible case of bad timing) and was bearing down toward our van. Now I know this isn't the time to judge my response time, but I'm pretty sure I froze. I think I even said out loud, "Get out of my lane!" (Not a time for righteousness indignation, though, is it?) Luckily the car that was being passed slowed almost a stop so that the truck could pass and get back in the correct lane, but I have to say I was really disturbed that I didn't at the very least pull off the road to the right. I'm sure that it was only a nano-second in reality and I probably hadn't even shifted the van into drive yet, but I keep replaying it in my head thinking, "When push comes to shove and our kids are in the back, I FREEZE?! Where is my momma bear response?"

I did lay on the horn (again with the righteous indignation) and in truth if I had pulled off the road but not reached safety quickly enough, the girls would have been the ones hit from the side. So there.

So enough is enough I say!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

a tisket a tasket

Ah, Easter morning. When easter baskets (or plastic buckets for the girls to play outside with and fill with water and mud) overflow with goodies,

and cute little bunnies...
are sacraficed with gumption. (Look at Ella's wrinkled nose. She must be learning how to eat chocolate from a pro.)

Maya, of course, spared no rabbit anatomy either.

Luckily, this bunny could not hear his fate and the sounds of the children laughing amidst the chocolate carnage.

Maya performed her egg trick. Who knew she had one?

And then we headed to my sister's house for Easter afternoon, happy to see my mom who just returned from a month is (sometimes) sunny Florida. Ella and our niece Michaela posing with Gramma- apparently purple was the color of the day. No one bothered to tell me. I was wearing blue.

Maya set right to the back yard in search of water and mud. Our 22-month-old nephew, Braeden, heard mud pies were on the menu and followered her out.

First course: moss soup served in mud broth. (See the easter baskets in use? I'm telling you, the Easter bunny is a genius.)

They tried to look like they weren't up to anything...

but we knew better.

Then, out came the hose.

Michaela reminds me of a golden retriever we used to have in this shot. He loved to eat water out of a hose.

LOVE this big sister/little brother shot.

In the end, isn't this what it's all about?

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