Friday, August 31, 2007


Hey, Internet!

On Sunday, give a great big cheeer for Sandy, who will be running her very first half marathon in Virginia Beach.

Sandy is one of my partners in crime at RNO, and a few months ago, one of her friends somehow convinced her to run a half marathon with her. Sandy had never been a runner before, but she decided to give it a shot. She's been working hard, and now her big day is coming.

I think it's incredibly cool that she went from blogging about how she was able to complete most of her run that day with only a few breaks to walk and is now ready to go a 13.1 mile race.

So, good luck, Sandy! I will be cheering for you in spirit!

The Color Game

Jack and I were in the car this morning when this went down...

Jack: I know! Let's play The Color Game!
Me: Okay, sounds good. What color should we do first.
Jack (looking pointedly at Roary): NOT orange.
Me: How about blue?
Jack: No, my want to do yellow.
Me: Okay, what's something that's yellow?
Jack: Shrek candy!
Me: Hey, yeah! There's yellow Shrek candy. Good one, Jack.
Roary: Shrek candy!
Me: Can you think of anything else that's yellow, Jack?
Jack: No, Mommy. I did my job. It not my turn anymore. You do your job.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How *you* doin?

One of the things about Jack that makes me most proud is that he is a very outgoing little guy. Jack pretty much assumes that everyone around him is friendly and approachable. He is not afraid to march his little diapered (or Pull Up'ed, I guess) butt right over to them to say hello.

The challenge is the opening line. Jack's favorite way to kick off a conversation right now is to say, "I have a new house." If that seems to generate some interest, Jack will then tell them that he has a big boy bed and that it has Elmo on it. He might then let them know that, "Him a tiger. Him name Roary."

Sometimes, he begins by seeking common ground. Jack saw a man the other day whose arms were covered by tattoos. Jack excitedly pointed to the Mickey Mouse stamp on his hand (which he got after tumbling class) and said, "My got it stamp, too! You got lots of stamps!" Luckily, the guy seemed to find it funny.

With other kids, Jack often just asks for their name. It is pretty much a given in Jack's mind that they will want to play with him. Last week at the Family Museum, he tried a different tactic. Jack was, at the time, completely obsessed with The Incredibles. He was wearing a vest that he'd decided was a cape, so he was Syndrome for a change instead of his usual pick of Mr. Incredible. Jack kept saying, "My Syndrome! My bad guy! My got cape!" all in his gruff little "bad guy" voice. The girl tried her best to ignore him. I pointed out that maybe she doesn't like to play Incredibles (also, maybe isn't into bad boys yet), and perhaps would prefer a she's Cinderella, you're the mean kitty cat kind of scenario. Finally, he gave up on being Syndrome and just told her his name.

The best, though, was when he was playing with a little girl at the zoo. He went so far as to also chat up her mom. I saw him pointing to Steve and me and saying, "That my mommydaddy. Her name Betsy, Him name Steve."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Running Report

Remember two weeks ago when the half marathon kicked my ass?

Well yesterday, I ran 15 miles, and I rocked it out!

My plan was to run a six mile loop to and from my house, grab some water and pee if necessary, then do another six mile loop, water/pee break again, then three. I felt so strong after loop two that I opted to just keep going and finish out the fifteen. At several points when the Nike+ lady told me how far I'd gone, I just felt giddy. I knew I could keep going, and I knew I'd finish strong.

I then got home, guzzled some Gatorade, and took an ice bath. My friend Cindy says that I must have "brass ovaries" to even consider an ice bath, and I have to say, the first time was quite the leap of faith. But yesterday, I was actually looking forward to it. I even thought it felt good. I didn't even need my post-run nap! Instead, I took Jack to Starbucks and the pet store.

I feel amazing.

In other news, I had a check-up last Thursday. The doctor immediately asked if I feel tired often or if I am having trouble with my endurance levels. No, I told him, and added that I'm running a marathon in a few months.

He was very surprised, because my blood tests indicate that I'm anemic! He told me to take some iron supplements, which I started today. I suspect that once that extra iron is coarsing through my veins, I will be a superhero.

Like maybe Iron Man?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Boogie Nights Situation

This scene from Boogie Nights makes me incredibly tense. The drug deal is going horribly bad, Alfred Molina is batshit crazy, and that kid keeps making firecrackers go off. When I watch it, I want to knaw all of my fingernails off, because you just know that any second, something is going to go wrong, wrong, wrong.

The scene has inspired us to coin the phrase Boogie Nights Situation at Stately Wasser Manor. There are times when Jack is just the wrong combination of tired/overstimulated/hungry/randomly pissy that we just know that we are seconds away from something bad. Any second, Jack is going to rear back with a kickass tantrum, or he's going to hit me, or he's going to break something, or he's simply going to wack the hell out of his head on a sharp corner.

Sometimes, we can prevent disaster, but other times, we're just waiting out the clock, hoping that the scene will not end too badly.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dios mio!

Can I tell you a secret, Internet?

Dora The Explorer is kind of growing on me.

The pace of the show is still excruciatingly slow. "Who do we ask for help when we don't know which way to go?" For the love of Yoda, Dora, it's the map, just like it is in every single episode. The loooong pauses are undoubtedly great if you're a preschooler, but if you're not, they are painful.

And sure, Boots is cool, but what about her creepy squirrel friend Tico, he of the multicolored vest and flying/floating/rocket ship car?

I'd hate to meet that dude in a jungle.

But Jack loves the show so much that I have to admit, his enthusiasm is contagious. I love hearing him answering Dora, telling her, "Swiper right there, Dora! No more swiping!" He also pays very close attention to the show and can tell you all about it. The stories as told by Jack are always more amusing.

"Mommy, Boots thought he saw bear, but Isa was being bear! That funny! Dora and Boots thought the bear was in the cave, but him no was in the cave. Bear was in the grass!"

At the end of the show, when Dora asks which part of the adventure you liked best, I always want to tell her that my favorite part was watching Jack.

I know that after a painfully long pause, she'd nod sagely and say, "I liked that part, too."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Extreme Cuteness

Steve: Achoo! Oh, excuse me.
Jack: No, Daddy. Excuse me is for burps. I say "bless you" for sneeze. Bless you, Daddy.


Yesterday was my longest "long run" yet. Granted, I'll be able to repeat this sentence pretty much every Monday until my marathon, but it's still satisfying to say it.

My goal was to run 13 miles, but I figured I might as well make it 13.1 and call it a half-marathon, because that sounds so much more kickass.

Sadly, it ended up kicking my ass.

For starters, I got a lousy night's sleep on Saturday. For whatever reason, I woke up at 4:00 and was wide awake. I didn't get as early of a start as I would have liked because once I finally did fall asleep, I was dead to the world until Jack woke me up. And when Jack woke me up, Steve was then dead to the world for another hour. Once I finally got going, it was 9:00 and blazing ass hot, not to mention swampy humid. I could not catch a breeze to save my life, even though I stayed as close to the river as possible in hopes that it'd be a bit cooler.

The heat made what would have been a challenging run an absolute slog. I had to make all kinds of bargains with myself - if I gutted it out and didn't take another walking/water break for a couple more miles, I could walk up the killer steep hill at mile 10, for example. And if I needed to slow my pace? Hey, no problem.

Even still, by the time I got to the last mile, I was hurting. I have a mantra that I say in my head to encourage me: I am strong. I am tough. I can do this. I am a marathoner. I went from saying it in my head to muttering it out loud. Even that wasn't enough, so I spent much of that final mile saying, "Come on already. It's just one stupid mile, and you'll be done soon. Suck it up and keep going. Don't be such a fucking wimp."

Finally, it was over. Instead of feeling strong and triumphant, I was absolutely exhausted. I decided to cut through the grocery store on my way home to soak up a little air conditioning (which was heaven).

On my way in, a man stopped me. "Hey," he said, "I saw you running all the way in downtown Rock Island. Did you run all that way?" I told him yes, and then some. "Damn, girl! That's some running!"

With that, my mindset completely changed. Yeah, it was tough, and no, there was nothing pretty about that run. It was really hard - and you know what? I did it.

The Non-Runner's Guide to Marathons refers to "running angels." They are people who come along at just the right minute to somehow save you with a gel, a drink of water, or just a few words of encouragement. That man was my very first running angel.

I headed back home to survey the damages. My outfit was completely soaked in sweat. I downed two huge bottles of Gatorade in about 30 seconds. Then I took an ice bath. If you're not crazy enough to run 13.1 miles in ridiculous heat and humidity, then surely you're not crazy enough to be familiar with an ice bath, so here's the deal. You fill your tub with freezing cold water deep enough to cover your legs and stay in it for as long as you can. The cold water causes your blood vessels to tighten and drains the blood out of your legs. The new blood then sends more oxygen to your muscles and aids in your recovery.

It was painful, yet awesome.

I also discovered that I had sunburn on my face and shoulders and some chafing on my chest from my shirt. And that taking a post-run nap is even better if Jack joins me.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What Do I Know?

Sunday night, I was chatting with Steve and said, "You know what? Screw potty training for the time being." After all, we're going to Disney World in a little over a month, and it's not like Jack's going to figure it all out before then. We might as well just forget about the whole thing until after we get back. It was agreed, and it was a sound policy.

Then, I picked Jack up from my mom's house last night. Little man was lounging around in his t-shirt and a pair of underwear. My mom reported that he was interested in using the potty, did a fantastic job, and insisted on wearing his new (and awesome) Spider-Man underwear like a big boy.

So, yeah - what do I know?

On the way home, I told Jack how proud of him I was. I asked him if he wanted to go to Target after dinner to buy more big boy underwear, and he was all over that idea. I told him I'd get him whatever kind he wanted, and I don't think I'd even finished the sentence when he requested Thomas. Upon further thought, he decided he'd also like Elmo. And at the store, he put a pack of Cinderella underwear in the cart, which I removed when he wasn't looking. I'm a liberal mom, but I draw the line at cross dressing.

Is he really interested? Who knows. But in case he is, we are stocked up on Thomas and Elmo underwear - and carpet cleaner.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Hills Are Alive

Last weekend, Steve, my brother, and I ran the Bix 7. The Bix is a long-standing Quad City tradition: a seven mile road race that attracts elite runners from around the world, as well as apparently everyone who lives anywhere remotely nearby who has the faintest interest in running. This was my third Bix, and now that I live here again, I can't imagine missing one.

The race is, in short, a blast. The course is really difficult. Not only is the distance tough (though decreasingly so for me, as my training miles have gone up), but the course itself is really challenging. The race starts almost immediately with a run up a very steep hill that goes on for about half a mile. And there are yet more hills, some rolling, and others that aren't very steep, but are long - the kind that kind of sneaks up on you.

It turns out that running hills is a really good idea for me. At the pre-race expo, I picked up some information about the marathon in Des Moines that I'm training for. There are hills at miles 3 and 7, and the literature advises, "If you haven't already incorporated hills into your training program, please do so now."

Message received!

Luckily, I live in a really hilly area. If I'm running more than three miles, it actually takes some doing to avoid hills completely. So hey, why not be prepared? I have a three-mile course that includes a really steep hill at around the midpoint, so that will be the run that I begin my week with every week from now on. And I'll definitely make sure my long runs are not flat and easy.

Thanks to four years of high school cross country, I am no stranger to running hills. They're definitely challenging, but the key to tackling them successfully is the mental game. The book The Non-Marathoner's Guide to Running suggests that you embrace the hills. The book advises that you say, "Hello, hill. Come run with me."

I take a slightly different tactic. When I hit a hill, I'm more likely to say, "Hill? I'm not scared of you, bitch. You're not that tough. I'm much stronger than you are, and I am almost done. You are a tiny part of this workout for me." And before you know it, I'm at the top, feeling triumphant.

Oh, and by the way, it wasn't just us grown-ups who ran the Bix. Jack was able to compete in the Junior Bix, a grueling 70 yard dash. Once he convinced me that he would literally die if he had to wear his race number, he was all smiles, running down the street, holding my hand, and taunting his fellow two-year olds with a "Neener, neener, neener!"

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Get The Lead Out

Fisher Price announced yesterday that they are recalling more than one million toys because they may contain lead-based paint. The toys in question are all Sesame Street, Diego, and Dora toys - pretty much Jack's favorite stuff. I just reviewed the LONG list of stuff, and it's like looking into Jack's toy box, he has so much of it. Luckily for me, the recall only affects toys sold after May 1, 2007, and all of Jack's are older than that. But that's honestly just luck.

This story has me in fits of Protective Mama Bear Rage. Lead paint? Are you fucking kidding me? A few months ago, there was a safety recall on a toy chair that Jack had. That was a case that I'm not upset about. They tested the toy, but some kid got creative and found a way to hurt himself with it. Grownups can test things like crazy and still not have the ingenuity of a toddler bent on destruction. That's understandable. But lead paint is pretty damned easy to avoid- and to test for. Things like this are completely avoidable and simply should not happen.