Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Raising Cane

Last night, the boys and I decorated our Christmas tree. Steve and I were actually planning on doing it after Jack went to bed, but we decided to go for it and involve the wee maniac for the first time. I'm so glad we did.

For weeks, Jack has been fascinated by candy canes. He looks for them in decorations and keeps mentioning that he'd like Santa to bring him one in his stocking. So as you can imagine, he was psyched that his job was to put them on the tree.

He took his job very seriously. While Steve and I put up the rest of the ornaments, Jack concentrated on the canes.

The result was that our tree was covered in candy canes, but only as high as Jack can reach. In fact, he caned the utter hell out of a few patches, leaving the rest a bit more sparse.

When we were finally all done, I turned off the lights and moved Jack's table in front of the tree so we could all have a bedtime snack together. It looked beautiful.

I told several of my friends about this, and they all asked the same question: are we going to leave the tree as Jack decorated it, or wait until he's asleep and fix it? To me, there's no doubt - I'm leaving the candy canes where they are. If I spread them out around the tree, it would look more picture perfect. But it wouldn't make me smile the way it does now.

I am a (shiver) runner!

Without a doubt, the experience of training for, then running a marathon has changed me. In the past, even in my most devoted running times, the second the weather got cold, I'd go right ahead and slack off. I'd pretty much hibernate all winter.

Last night, it was freaking cold outside, but I bundled up and I went running. I hate the idea of running indoors (whether it's on a treadmill or indoor track), and if I have to buy a crazy amount of technical keep-you-warm gear, then that's what I will do, by Yoda!


Monday, November 26, 2007


Hi, Internet. I am back from a trip to visit my dad for Thanksgiving. It was a great mini vacation, and I am - you guessed it - thankful for a lot of things.

- That this year, we only had to drive six hours for Thanksgiving dinner. We did not have to spend two days driving like we did last year (apparently after having smoked a whole lot of crack). We also didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn, drive to the airport, lug the suitcase, car seat, stroller, and kid onto the shuttle bus, then wait in line at the ticket counter, then wait in line at security, then take a shuttle to our gate, then fly to one airport, then another because we couldn't get a direct flight. Then get our luggage, then go to the rental car counter, then lug all of our stuff to the shuttle bus to the rental car place, then install the car seat, then load up the rental car, then drive two hours to FINALLY get to my dad's house. I am really damned thankful I didn't have to do all of that crap.

- That, at the halfway point, there is an exit where you can find all in one parking lot, a Shell station, a McDonald's, and a Starbucks. I swear, that place is a little slice of heaven.

- That this year, unlike in years past, Jack was actually willing to sleep.

- That we live so much closer to my dad and Vickie that Jack actually knows them and is excited about visiting them. He did well in the car, but for the last 20 minutes, he got antsy. This he displayed by kicking the back of the seat and saying, "Where is Mawmaw and Papa's house?" It's slightly more charming than it sounds, really.

- That Jack was so excited about the prospect of spending an afternoon walking around the lake with my dad looking for snakes that Steve and I were able to spend an afternoon Christmas shopping.

- That Jack is now old enough to see a family movie. We saw Enchanted, and if you have a heart in your body and a brain in your head, get to the movie theater pronto and see it. It's fantastic.

- That this year, we do not have Jack's surgery looming in the near future like we did last year.

- That Jack is now old enough that we don't have to watch him every second for fear he will launch himself into the fireplace. And that he is happy to play with his cousins, giving us a moment's peace.

- That Jack can play independently for long enough that we could unload the car. Granted, this came at a price. In the short amount of time it took for Steve to take one load of stuff out of the car and for me to pee, Jack emptied every single toy out of his toy bins and onto the floor. It was an unholy mess. He then found our shopping bags and started shoving his toys in random order into them. Why? Because he was one of Santa's elves, and he was getting things ready for the sliegh. It should also be added that Jack should be thankful that he is so cute, or this would have been a lot more annoying than it was.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Santa, Baby

Santa Claus mania is reaching a fever pitch at Stately Wasser Manor.

We have visited three mall Santas so far - no pictures yet, just a quick chat for Jack to remind Santa that he has been a good boy and would like "some Star Wars guys" for Christmas.

He'll sing "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" to himself, looks for Santa decorations everywhere we go, and requests Christmas books just about every night before bed.

Jack also likes to pretend to be Santa Claus. Sometimes, I'm Mrs. Claus, and I read letters so he can guess who they are from. Such as:

Dear Santa,
I have been a very good boy. I rescued Princess Leia, then blew up the Death Star. I am working very hard at Jedi training with Yoda. For Christmas this year, I would like a spaceship and a new robot hand.

Jack excitedly yells, "LUKE!"

Dear Santa,
I have not been very good this year. I had Han Solo frozen in carbonite and I tried to feed Luke to the rancor. I dressed Princess Leia in a humiliating costume and licked her face. Then I tried to feed Luke, Han, and Chewbacca to the Sarlac. For Chrismtas this year, I would like a new sail barge.

Jack will then fill in, "Love, Jabba."

Jack also likes to be Santa while I am a little kid (often, I am assigned the role of Jack). I tell Santa I have been good, then ask for a toy. Santa-Jack goes over to his toy bins and brings me what I want, often adding addtional toys because I have been so good.

So, imagine my delight when I went to pick up Jack at my mom's house last night to discover him wearing a Santa Suit. He was so pleased with himself. He wanted to wear his outfit when we went to Lowe's, and I figured why not? If you're a little kid, you totally have license to leave the house looking batshit crazy. Of course, it being Jack, he had to crank the crazy up a couple of notches by deciding that he was not Santa, but rather Peter Pan. "My red suit can pretend to be green" was his logic.

The fun continued when Jack discovered that his Santa jacket was fastened only with velcro. He ripped that sucker off with the vigor of a stripper in a room full of singles and announced, "I'm dancing naked! Mommy, come watch!"

Monday, November 19, 2007

Race Report: Living History Farms

Oh, my gosh, Internet. That was so much fun!

The Living History Farms race is really not a race as it is a fun run. The atmosphere before the race could only be described as a party. Costumes abound: pirates, bees, Disney princesses, men in drag, a guy wearing nothing but a loincloth, superheroes, people wearing regular running clothes, but with a tutu, homemade Dunder Mifflin Fun Run shirts. Everyone was there to have a good time.

I'd also describe this as more of a fun run because, thanks to the number of people out there and some pretty small paths, there were parts where I couldn't have run if I wanted to. Any ideas about race pace were out the window; it was all about going out and having a good time.

I actually ran into a couple of people I knew while I was running - hi, Amy! Hi, Kent! That added to the festive air of the day.

Amy took a picture of me. It's before the first mile, so I'm looking fresh and clean:

The first few miles were pretty standard for a trail run. I was actually starting to feel a bit warm in my sweatshirt, pants, and hat. But then, jumping into the very first icy cold creek suddenly made me quite comfortable, albeit a bit swampy in my shoes. I crawled my way up the creek bed, looked down, and saw that my race number was completely covered in mud!

The rest of the race was a similar adventure. I climbed over giant piles of compost, leaped over logs, used trees for leverage, and jumped into creek after creek. There were hills that were so steep and so muddy that had it not been for the two ropes, I don't know how I would have climbed them.

At about the five mile mark, runners had to make a decision. One path was longer, but easier. The second was shorter, but harder. That's what she said. Anyway, I went with short and hard. I'd come all that way - might as well get my money's worth. I'm glad I did, because it was just so much fun.

I finished with a time of 1:33:46, a whopping 1,495th place, 162nd for my age group. I'm sure I could have run faster, since I had a ton of energy left when it was over, but that really wasn't the point.

Post race, there were piles and piles of doughnuts, the finest I have ever eaten, despite the fact that I discovered there was dirt in my mouth. There was also the entertainment that came in when it was time to change clothes. My sweatshirt was a muddy mess. My pants were caked in mud, especially the butt, since I found it effective to slide into some of the creeks. My formerly white socks are still grey, no matter how many times I've washed them. I wore my marathon shoes and threw them away after the race. They were shot anyway, and this allowed me to give them a warrior's funeral.

Without a doubt, I will run this non-race again. I hope there are pictures!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad

One of my big toes has spontaneously decided to start shedding its nail. What the hell, people? It's not like I've been running that much. It's really annoying.

Also, I hate to even talk about it, but my right knee is giving me a hard time. It's nothing I can't live with, but I'd hate for it to get worse.

My allergies are causing me to have ridiculous sneezing fits every single morning. Usually while I'm driving. It is totally hot.

Jack can be completely exasperating sometimes. Dude, I do not want to have ANOTHER lightsaber battle-fight. And can I please have my spatulas back? And on Saturday, he illustrated the fact that he was not hungry by throwing his exotic lunch of chicken nuggets and tater tots on the floor. Total dick move.

All of these running maladies are definitely not going to keep me from running the Living History Farms run, especially after Amy's post about it. Seriously, how awesome does that sound? I canont wait.

Steve and I are going out tomorrow night. Yes, on a Wednesday! Yes, without Jack! To an event that promises to be so much fun that I am willing to overlook the fact that it conflicts with the premiere of Project Runway.

This morning, I told Jack that I needed to go upstairs to get dressed. He said, "Okay, but first, I need to whisper something in your ear. Just one second." He then clambered up onto the couch, pulled my head down to his, and whispered, "I love you."

Seriously, you can keep my toenail if this is the kind of thing I can get in return.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Race Report- Hawk Hustle

I think that, no matter how many road races I run, and no matter how much time I've spent on the track, my heart will always belong to cross country. So I was totally psyched to see that on a free Saturday morning I could run the Hawk Hustle, a 4 mile cross country race.

With just 123 runners, this was the smallest race I've been in (high school meets aside), and the atmosphere was really laid back. People milled around before the race started, and we all kind of made our way to the start in time. And rather than having a gun go off, one of the organizers just yelled, "Go!"

Before the race started, I'd thought about my goals. I like the way that Kent gives himself gold, silver, and bronze goals. So, I was thinking this:

Gold - 36:00
Bronze - 40:00
Silver - Anywhere in between!

But as soon as the race started, I ammended those goals. The course? Really freaking tough, people. Up hills, down hills, small ones, big ones. Tree branches to dodge. I was working my ass off. And I didn't get any splits, so I really had no idea how I was doing. I just decided to go as hard as I could and enjoy the effort.

Imagine my surprise when I crossed the finish line in 36:57! I'm going to call that a Gold finish, especially given that the course was a lot more difficult than I anticipated.

Oh, and the after-party featured free cookies and sandwiches. All in all, a great way to spend a Saturday. I'll definitely add this race into my annual calendar.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Woo hoo!

I just discovered a 4 mile cross country race tomorrow! It includes "rolling hills" and free sandwiches. Steve and Jack were going out tomorrow morning without me anyway, so I am so there!

Yay for an unexpected race!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I Laugh In the Face of Pain

For a long time, thanks to a bad experience, I was really afraid of needles. Just the idea of getting a shot or an IV or something had me feeling faint. Although I've watched the movie Pulp Fiction a billion times, I have never actually watched the scene where they give Uma Thurman the shot in her chest, because I was too busy cowering with my hands over my eyes.

But things change, and the idea of pain is really not something that scares me. Steve suggested that I get a flu shot this year, to help protect Jack. I didn't give it a second thought - called the doctor's office and had them book one for me. It did kind of hurt, and my arm is a bit sore. But so what?

I ran 26.2 miles. You think some little needle is going to scare me? It'll be over in a lot less time and will hurt a lot less when it's over.

And, before that, I found myself thinking, "A marathon? Eh, I could do that." After all, it'd be over a lot faster than the three days I spent with labor contractions. Recovery seems like it'd be easier than having my body cut in half to remove a giant kid. And after it was over, I was able to sleep like a rock right away, not after 13 months of interrupted sleep.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Not Just an Excuse to Post a Picture of My Boyfriend Ewan...

Jack: Draw Obi-Wan.
Me: Okay.
Jack: No! Draw Ben instead.
Me: Obi-Wan and Ben are the same guy.
Jack: No, I want Ben. Not Obi-Wan.
Me: They’re the same guy.
Jack: ….
Me: Okay, what’s your name?
Jack: Luke.
Me: Um, when you’re not being Luke, what’s your name?
Jack: Jack!
Me: But sometimes, I also call you Cub, right?
Jack: Yeah.
Me: So, your name is Jack, but sometimes you’re called Cub. It’s like that with him – his name is Obi-Wan, but he’s sometimes called Ben.
Jack: …
Me: I just blew your mind, didn’t I?
Jack: Yeah.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Marathon Mamas

Paula Radcliffe kicks so much heiner, you guys. She holds the women's world record in the marathon, and she just won the New York City Marathon... and she has a 9-month old baby.

That blows my mind. Yet another reason for me to feel proud when Paula is the one who talks to me on my Nike +. I like her so much better than Lance Armstrong. I mean, Lance is an elite athlete (oddly, dating an Olsen at the moment), but he's not a runner. If I were riding my bike, I'd be happy to hear from him, but since I'm not, he needs to pipe down so Paula can tell me that I've just completed another 500 kilometers or what have you.

I also have to admit a certain amount of pride in the fact that my marathon time was about half an hour faster than Katie Holmes'. Maybe it's because I wore a bra.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fun Runs

I'm still adjusting to my post-marathon running life. It seems really weird to be able to run whatever distance I feel like, to let my schedule and mood dictate.

Usually on weekends during training, I'd take Saturday off and do my long run on Sunday. This weekend, I opted to run on both days. Neither was a long distance, but both of them proved challenging.

Today, I did a run I've been itching to do for a while. I drove to Blackhawk State Park and found some trails to run on. It was a beautiful fall day, cool but not too cold, with a perfect breeze to rustle the leaves in the trees. It was quiet, and hardly anyone was out on the trails.

It sounds idyllic, doesn't it? Well, it was, but holy Yoda in the swamp, was it tough! I was constantly up and down steep hills, racing over rickety wooden footbridges, dodging big rocks, and hurdling over fallen tree branches. It was not easy... but it was fun!

Yesterday's run should have been an easy one. I did one of my simple, flat, neighborhood three miles. A great recovery run, one I could probably do in my sleep. The difference is that this time around, I took Jack with me in the jogging stroller. I believe I was pushing at least 40 pounds of Cub and stroller, which made me realize that there are inclines on that route that I'd never noticed before!

But again, it was cool. Jack kept up a steady stream of chatter, noting houses with pumpkins in front of them, remembering where we went trick or treating, and occasionally singing "Pupmky Pumpkin" to me. Every once in a while, he'd also just turn around and grin at me.

Jack informed Steve before we took off, "I going running with Mommy in stroller. And later, I get out of stroller and run with Mommy." Okay, I figured. I can accomodate that. So, we ran as far as the neighborhood park, and I let him out of the stroller so we could run around the baseball diamond together. You can see a huge dip on my Nike + where my pace slowed for that part of my workout.

I hope that I can instill in Jack a love of running. I can't think of a better activity for a fall day like we've had the past few days. When we got home last night, I had to think that he was on that track. He walked into the house, grinned at Steve and said, "That was good run," just like I've done so many times before.

And it was. It was a good run.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dear Santa...

Jack wrote his very first letter to Santa Claus (I took dictation). Here it is:

Dear Santa,
I have a table. I have some Star Wars guys. I want Ackbar. I don't have Grand Moff Tarkin. I want to get another Rancor. A green one. I want a pen. A necklace - black. I want Mommy in a castle. I want a castle with Mommy. Daddy will get all of the house. I want a bat. Now I want a wall. I have been a good boy. I want a reindeer and an elf and Mrs. Claus and some elves.


I am happy to report that Jack later decided that Daddy can live in the castle with us. And Roary. This is good, as I suspect we'd miss Daddy and Roary before too long, castle or no.

Friday, November 02, 2007

No More Pop-Ups

Jack developed a bad habit in the last few weeks of getting up eighty gazillion times during the night. We called them "pop-ups." He'd pop up out of bed, we'd drag him emotionlessly back to bed, Supernanny-style, and he'd stay there for about four seconds, then pop-up again.


I could tell he was tired, and I knew that if he'd just stay in his room, he'd go to sleep. And I'd be able to relax and watch Survivor.

Finally, Steve and I concocted a plan to keep him in his room. We'd give him his big bucket of Star Wars action figures, point out the books in his room, and tell him to just stay there. It worked. No more pop-ups, and although we'd find books and action figures in his bed, he would go to sleep at a fairly reasonable time.

Last night, we heard him moving around upstairs. Then, we heard his door open. But no pop-up. What was that little scamp up to?

Steve went upstairs and discovered Jack sitting in the hallway, reading one of his picture books. Jack explained that he wanted to read, but, "It was dark in my eyes," so he left his room. Steve escorted him back to his room.

On one hand, my feeling about that was, "Go the hell to sleep, Jackson. It's 9:30." On the other hand, I have many memories of reading in bed well past when I was supposed to go to sleep. I'd sneak a flashlight under my pillow, or even just read by the tiny crack of light under my bedroom door.

But you know what? I didn't do that when I was just two years old. My boy is obviously a genius.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

How Crazy Am I?

It's funny how my perspective has shifted over the past few months. Our calendar for this week has a really good amount of fun - last night was trick-or-treating, of course, and on Friday night, Steve and I are going on a date. We are going to watch the Quad City Symphony's rehearsal, then go out for dinner (margaritas? tbd).

A few months ago, I would have thought, "Yay, Halloween! Yay, fun date with the husband!"

Now, I still think that, but I also think, "Guess I'm not going running on either of those nights."

The good thing is, this is the time of what Tom at Runner's Lounge has dubbed "ordinary running." That is, I'm not really training for anything specific, just running for the sake of running. Because of that, I am not now thinking, "But if I get up at 5:00, I will have time to get in a medium length run before Jack wakes up and it's time to get ready for work."

I may be crazy, but at least right now, I'm not that crazy.

Also, I am not as crazy as a certain little boy who set up a detailed Jabba's Throne Room diorama on the coffee table this morning and proceeded to dance for Jabba.