Monday, November 21, 2016

Half Marathon #5

Pre-race- fresh and full of energy. We hope.
On Saturday I ran my 5th half marathon.  Why? I don't know. But here is how it goes in my brain:

  • Run a race of any distance.  Feel triumphant and inspired, so sign up for a race of increased distance, preferably a half marathon.
  • Calculate how long I have to up my mileage. Immediately reconsider whether I want to do this.
  • Contemplate selling my bib and dropping out of the race altogether.
  • Begin training, adding a mile on to my long runs each weekend.  6 miles? Ok. 7 miles? Fine. 11 miles? WHAT WAS I THINKING?
  • Enter depression and negative self-talk. I can't do this, I am too slow, why can't I just feel good? Is that my knee hurting???
  • Week of the race: begin checking weather obsessively. Begin listing possible outs: bad weather, illness, fatigue. Also begin incessant complaining to all friends and family about what a bad idea it is to sign up for a race like this.
  • Night before: try to sleep. 
  • Day of: wake up early, in fear that I won't hear the alarm. I have my morning ritual of coffee and an English muffin with peanut butter, then I go pee about 6 times because I don't want to use a port-a-potty. 
  • Get to the race and still need to use the port-a-potty.
  • Start running. Run for 2+ hours, counting every mile and wondering why I paid money for this.
  • Finally cross the finish line.  There are then two possibilities:
    • I feel a sense of elation at a job well done, which leads to a desire to sign up for my next race, hopefully also a half marathon.
    • I feel disappointed at my performance, and decide I need to sign up for another race and seek retribution. 
  • Sign up for another race and start all over again.
Post-race glow. I am crusted over with salt from my sweat.
That said, I really had a good race.  The weather was unseasonably perfect. I drove in and out of town with two friends/running buddies, even though we didn't end up running together.  I ran 5 miles with my friend Lori before her foot started to hurt (she had a broken toe, she is amazing that she did it anyway!) and then ran by myself until around Mile 11, I noticed a man who looked quite similar to my OB, who had delivered all 3 kids... and so I decided I would say hello, and it was him!  We ran together for a little over half a mile and talked a little- he was encouraging and supportive (probably more than he was when I delivered my kids!) and it gave me the boost I needed to get through the end of the race.  He said I look like I am in great shape- not hard to accomplish when I probably weighed close to 200 lbs the last time he saw me! Then when I crossed the finish line, he was waiting for me to high-five me! It was really exciting. And then I checked my results and found out I had run my fastest half marathon yet!
With my OB- who is in better shape than I am
My friends finished after me and we sat and stretched and enjoyed the sunshine before heading out of town to our families.
Lori didn't like my taking her picture
When I got home, we had brunch with Eric's college friend from Maine and her husband, who had also run the half marathon. We spent a couple of hours out on our patio talking in the sun and relaxing. Now I have the long Thanksgiving weekend to look forward to, with family and lots of food!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Goodbye, Grandma Tenny

My Grandma Tenny- my last living grandparent- passed away Thursday two weeks ago.  I haven't written much about her in my blog because she wasn't a regular presence in my life, or my children's lives. But she gave birth to my dad, and she raised him, and for that I am grateful.

It is hard to write about Tenny.  I try to only say nice things about people in here, and it's hard for me to have many nice things to say.  Tenny showed her love through criticism- or at least that is how I have chosen to understand her criticism of me.  Although I cannot imagine that she didn't love me, it was hard to feel loved by her. My relationship with her, while not complicated, was distant.  She had a hard time showing love or sometimes even being kind.  If you know my dad, you would have a hard time believing that someone so demonstrative and affectionate came from Tenny.

Here are the good things I can say: She was fiercely independent. She was never bound by other people's expectations or rules. In a time where many women married, stayed home, and had children, she got a college degree, married, had children, and worked.  I think she tried to stay home and be a "wife" to my grandpa, but she never felt fulfilled by that. She traveled the world, sometimes for work and sometimes for pleasure. She raised 3 children to be productive members of society, and they went on to marry and have children of their own. She never thought of herself as "old," and up until the end she found ways to get out and keep busy. She liked to shop, and would buy my kids little treats when she could- we have a huge collection of crazy hats that mean I don't have to do any planning or shopping when "crazy hat day" comes at camp.
Charlotte talking to Alexandra. My grandparents' wedding picture is next to them.
Today, on what would have been her 96th birthday, I took Charlotte and Asher to DC for her memorial (originally planned as her birthday party). Asher got a kick out of exploring the cupboards, finding unopened packages of paper plates and napkins, trinkets, and birthday candles.  My cousin Alexandra brought out some of Tenny's costume jewelry, and Charlotte channeled Tenny and beautified. Asher would have loved exploring my grandparents' house the way it was when I was a kid- he loves a good treasure hunt and is always able to find something.
Charlotte channeling her inner Tenny. She later sashayed across the room making the jewelry rattle.
Gray Kitty got in on the action
We reminisced about Tenny- unfortunately it seemed like the most fond memories were held by the people she knew in the final years of her life, who saw her as an eccentric and amusing grandmother-type. For those who knew her longer, relationships weren't nearly so easy.  Unlike when I lost my mom's parents. I haven't experienced sadness or grief.  My only sense of sadness is that we could never be close, that she kept me at such a distance that I can't feel her loss.  She lived a good and full life, always on her terms, and that is what I will focus on now that she has passed.  Happy Birthday, Grandma Tenny.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween 2016

The benefit to Halloween on a Monday- the whole weekend is Halloween events, and then you have an extra day after that!

All month, between Eric's bike riding, my training for the half marathon, the kids' Hebrew school, bad weather, we hadn't managed to do any Halloween events.  My feelings of guilt overtook me, and I attempted to make up for everything at once by cramming a full day of fun into Saturday.

I began by taking the three kids to the zoo, by myself, for Boo at the Zoo.  It was a perfectly beautiful day, and the place was mobbed.  It's a testament to how well my children are growing up that they were on perfect behavior, stuck by my side, and said "thank you" for all their treats. We lasted two good hours, and then left as the crowds continued to flow in.

Queen Elsa and the polar bear

Queen Elsa is upset because Asher touched her
Notice the kids' costumes. Only Benjamin is wearing the costume he chose the month before- Asher was supposed to be a SWAT team member, and Charlotte was going to be Tinkerbell. But that morning, Asher said he wouldn't wear his SWAT costume because he'd misplaced all the weapons when he had taken the costume out to play with it when the babysitter was here (because we'd told them no costumes until Halloween).  Charlotte decided her costume was too small. I had no energy or time to argue.

We had lunch at the zoo, then came home. Asher had a date with his friend, Leila. We'd tried a play date with 6 kids, but the mob mentality took over and it ended in disaster, so I took Asher and his friend out for one-on-one time. We went into Narberth for a witch scavenger hunt, and I treated them to rainbow ice cream cones.

 After our time in Narberth, the kids played together some more, and then we had a Halloween party at our friends' house. We ate pizza and played mummies.
Benjamin and Asher mummies

All the kid mummies
Then the spouses wrapped each other up.  I am not posting pictures of our friends, but I have one friend who I would describe as Type A+++ and she wrapped her husband quite neatly!
Sent this picture to my mom and said, "How much for orthodontia for this girl?"
Sunday we took it easy- the boys went to Hebrew school and I ran 11 miles, and then Eric and I went to a grown-up party in the evening.

Today, Halloween, I went to the school as room parent for Benjamin's class. I had planned a small craft, and brought 36 cupcakes. Other parents contributed other snacks, and the other room mom and I helped the kids put on their costumes and get ready for the parade.  Eric and Charlotte met us outside- I had asked Eric to bring our big camera, and he did, but I took a bunch of pictures before I realized it said, "NO CARD." Argh! None of the pictures were actually captured. So frustrating, and on top of it, now we can't find the card. I hope there wasn't anything on there I really wanted. Fortunately our friends had a working camera (the Type A+++ friends, in case you were wondering. That Type A+++ thing definitely pays off, too bad I can't achieve it myself) and got some good pictures for us.

I popped in to visit Asher during his party
We hosted an early dinner at our house before trick or treating around our neighborhood. In just over an hour, the kids entirely filled their candy buckets!  
At our neighbors'. They had no candy.
Our group of friends
The most beautiful girls in Wynnewood. Charlotte finally wore Tinkerbell, but the wings fell off.

My handiwork this year. The pumpkin on the right was Asher's design

Our group on our porch
We met up with many neighborhood friends as we wandered the streets. Now that the kids are in the elementary school, we know many more neighbors and kids.  It is fun to run into friends- I have almost as much fun as a grown up as I did as a kid. The kids are all independent now, and I can hang back on the sidewalk while they walk up and get their candy.

Notes for next year- No costumes from Target. Charlotte's costume fell apart, Benjamin's costume split at the seam despite being too big, and Charlotte's bucket broke, dumping her candy all over the ground. I have to up my game. No homemade costumes, because that is pushing it, but better than the polyester crap we had this year!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Catching up

I commented to Eric that I haven't posted in a while. He asked why.  I said, because there isn't anything to write about.  He suggested that I write about a little trip that we took last weekend. I know I used to write about our everyday activities all the time, and now I don't. I'm really not sure why, because I love to look back in my blog and remember what our lives were like at different points in time.

Here is what I have been doing in lieu of blogging:

  • Watching all 3 presidential debates
  • Watching episodes of Shameless on Netflix
  • Looking at Facebook
A constructive use of my time, if I do say so myself!  I have also been working some more hours- after a very sluggish summer, my private practice has continued to grow, so I am working two different jobs and running between the two of them, plus home. Plus I am a room parent in Benjamin's class this year.  And I am again preparing to run the Philly Half Marathon, at my usual "tortoise" pace.

Last weekend we took a trip to Virginia to see our friends and go to Cox Farms, which we did last year while the Pope was in Philadelphia.  This year, though, the boys had a full day of school, and we didn't get on the road until almost 4 pm on Friday.  Is anything worse than rush hour on a Friday? No.  the drive took us 3.5 hours!  Eric was glowering the whole way. 

Our friends had a hot and delicious dinner waiting for us, which was a warm welcome. We ate, put the kids in bed, and my friend Alissa and I sat and caught up while the husbands played video games and drank beer (their past time together since we all started dating our now-spouses back in 2004).  

In the morning we made pancakes (chocolate chip!) and packed up again in order to get to Cox Farms as soon as they opened.  Surprisingly, even with 5 kids between us, we did it! The day before, Charlotte had started to get hoarse and get a cough.  She said she felt fine and wanted to go, but once we were at the farm, she seemed to go downhill.  This definitely tempered our enjoyment, but we made the most of it.

Here is what we did in our time there before we fled with a lethargic Charlotte:
Family selfie on the hayride. Benjamin refused to look at the camera
  • Hayride through various randomly-themed (UFOs and former presidents, witches, Wild West Town, cartoon characters) areas
  • Big slides with burlap sacks

    Eric with Charlotte. She was fading fast.
    • Drank apple cider
    • Ate kettle corn
    • Corn maze
    • Various photo ops
    Possibly going on our holiday card!
    Asher flying on the rope swing
    We stopped for lunch and Charlotte refused to eat and just lay down with her head in Eric's lap.  We left pretty quickly and drove home. Charlotte napped and seemed a little better, but had started a low fever, so we didn't go to the birthday party she had been invited to, and then Eric and the boys went out to dinner while I stayed home with my sad girl.

    Sunday she wasn't much better, but she and Asher had their running series race that night, and I doped her up with Advil and took her.  She had a great race- she has finished 1st for 3 weeks in a row!  Then she fell apart and went to bed without dinner.
    The leader of the pack
    She STILL wasn't better on Monday, but her fever broke Monday night and she has improved every day since.  She's still a little hoarse, but is eating more and has more energy.

    And finally, a picture of Asher doing his homework while I cooked dinner on Monday night.  I fondly remember doing my homework at the kitchen table while my mom cooked, and now my own children are keeping me company while they do theirs.  Asher got his first homework assignment- a packet that he has all week to do- and sat down and did all of it immediately.  He and his teacher are two peas in a pod and I think he is in heaven this year!

    Friday, September 30, 2016

    Cat Party, continued

    The cat party as imagined never materialized.  Which, in a way, is good, because I didn't know how I was going to procure mouse popsicles.

    We did, however, take in 2 gray kittens to foster.  They came with the names "Taylor" and "Trudi" (which is funny because the kids have cousins named Taylor and Trudi), but we couldn't figure out which was which at any given point. We eventually settled into calling them Bitey and Snuggly, based on their behavior.

    They were quickly adored.  They tolerated the kids' affections, and at night when the kids were in bed, they would snuggle up with me on the couch while I watched the Olympics, and often snuggled with each other.
    evening snuggles
    Laundry snuggles
    Kindly tolerating affection
    More evening snuggles
    Find the real kitty!
    They became party of our family.  But of course we knew we couldn't keep them- 3 kids and 2 cats already puts me over the edge.  So my mom found them a home through her synagogue listserv, and one day the family came over to visit, and a couple of days later, they came back and took the kittens.  The house felt strangely quiet without them.  The worst was when Asher got home from camp and Eric told him the kittens were gone.  He broke down crying, sobbing that his heart was broken into pieces.  It broke my heart.  Then we agreed that the fostering thing wasn't such a good idea, because we all got so attached.

    Following the kittens' departure, we found out that our cats had fleas. (Ugh.)  Then we went to the Cape, and when we got home, Trouble was acting strangely- he wasn't spending time with us, didn't seem to be eating or drinking regularly.  After a week of this behavior, we took him to the vet, who found nothing wrong. Trouble improved almost instantly.  We think he was just depressed because we'd left him for so long.

    So we decided to devote our attentions to our own cats, who are boring now that they are old and sedentary and pee in our shower when they are mad at us.  That lasted until two weeks ago, when we broke down and agreed to foster a little kitten named Walnut.

    He wasn't quite as affectionate as Bitey and Snuggly, but he was sweet and super tiny and had a funny short tail.  He was also very energetic and would fly around the house and take everyone off guard.  Of course we grew to love him, too, and he would sit with me while I did laundry or on my chest in the evenings.  
    Helping me with laundry
    Then we found ear mites in Peanut, and he had to go to the vet.  So even though the cat fostering cost us nothing, we were out a few hundred in vet bills and vaccinations.  Not my favorite.  We decided Walnut needed a new home.

    On his last night with us, Walnut figured out how to climb up to our bed, and in the morning I woke up with him snuggled up to my back.  I went to work, and while I was at work and the kids were at school, a family came to meet him and they loved him so much that they took him.  We didn't get to say goodbye!

    When the kids got home, it was more hysteria, from Asher and Charlotte.  Big, fat tears.  Questions from Charlotte about why Walnut's forever home can't be with us.  I miss him, too.  Again we have agreed no more fostering- the cat party is certainly over for the time being!

    Friday, September 23, 2016

    Charlotte's 1st day of school + end of summer

    Excited to go to school. Picked out her own outfit!
     Charlotte had her first day of school on Tuesday the 13th. She is in Miss Tammy's 4 year-old class with many of her friends from the year before. We went to the open house the Friday before and she knew what was coming.  That morning, she cheered and ran to her brothers and said, "I'm going to school today!" She happily dressed herself in her pretty outfit, posed for photos, and then got in the car. Her school is about .5 miles away. As we drove, she got quiet and then said, "I'm worried.  What if no one in my class is happy to see me?" She kept feeling worried the rest of the way, and then cried when we got there. Oh, no! The first time she has cried on the first day of school.

    My sad, sweet pumpkin
    Fortunately, she was fine by the time Eric picked her up at noon. She told him, "I was sad for a little, and maybe I even cried, but then I decided not to be sad anymore, and I had a great day!"  Smart girl! She has been happy there every day since.

    In my usual make-summer-last-until-I-can't-pretend-anymore way, we have been doing as much as we can outside, even swimming, until we can't.

    First, we went apple-picking on a 90 degree day.  The Honeycrisps were ready and I didn't want to miss them!
    Hot, sweaty, and squinting into the sun
     Then, swimming- the last day for swimming at the JCC pool, and swimming at Jane and Ed's until the pool is too cold to be comfortable.  All 3 kids just love to swim, and they are all getting good at it.  I will really miss our swim outings this winter!
    Lunchtime swim at Jane & Ed's

    Last weekend I took Asher and Charlotte to Sesame Place for the last day of water rides.  They are both equally adventurous and we got to do a lot of rides twice.  Charlotte adores Asher, and he adores her.
    Love bugs
    Happy roller-coaster lovebugs
     In the past few weeks, Charlotte has developed all kinds of new skills. One- she can now pump her legs and swing herself on the swings without any help. On the one hand, I am thrilled at her strength and independence. On the other hand, the baby swing has come down from our swing set, and won't go back up.
    Swinging all by herself
    She has also suddenly begun coloring and drawing in a much more advanced way. Even a couple of months ago, all her drawings were what we called, "scribble scrabble." Then on Monday, this:
    A drawing of Mommy
    and coloring in the lines, with great pride at her attention to detail. My baby, growing up too fast, as usual.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2016

    First Grade

    One week ago, the boys started first grade.  They are at the same school that they attended last year, but instead of going half-days each day, they now go from 9-3:30 each day.  They eat lunch at school, and have the option to buy lunch at the cafeteria if they would like.

    We wait all summer to hear who their teachers are- the school doesn't send emails until 5 pm on Friday the weekend before Labor Day.  All day long, I anxiously anticipated the email. 5 pm came, I checked my email, and only one email- no teacher for Benjamin! I panicked, because at 5 on Friday, there isn't anyone to ask.  Meanwhile, I was receiving nonstop texts from friends wanting to know which teachers the boys have to see if the boys will be with any of their friends.  I emailed the principal, assuming that I would hear back from him on Monday morning, but to my surprise, he emailed me about an hour later and said that the email system had a glitch and only sent one email per family.

    Asher's teacher this year is Mrs. Radbill, and Benjamin has Mrs. Lord.  I heard from another mom that they are the two "best" teachers in the 1st grade, whatever that means. I hope they are kind, patient, and loving. And I hope my boys continue to love learning and being with their friends.  Asher seems to like his teacher a lot because she is pretty. She has long, bleached blonde hair, is super skinny, and wears clothing that shows off her excellent body (not inappropriate, but it is clear she is in great shape!). My son is a lookist already.  I haven't met Mrs. Lord yet, but haven't heard a word of complaint from Benjamin.

    The boys also started Hebrew school on Sunday. This did not meet with rave reviews- they came home with "Ask me where God lives" on a sticker (Eric was thrilled, since he is an atheist). I asked them about it, and Asher answered, "We read a book, and God lives everywhere," and Benjamin said, "GOD LIVES NOWHERE."

    Benjamin hasn't seemed particularly pleased with 1st grade- he hates having homework every night, even though it takes him a total of 2 minutes to do, he hates being told what to do, and he says he isn't good at anything. He has enjoyed buying lunch, though.  I feel heartbroken when I think about his unhappiness, and I hope that it is temporary, and an adjustment to the new schedule and rules. He is so sweet and so smart, and for the past week he's been nothing but angry.

    I miss the boys when they are at school- for the first time, they're in school from 9-3:30, no lunches together, no afternoon play dates. It feels like a long stretch of a day without them.  I love my time with Charlotte, but I miss those big boys.
    With our neighbors after school