Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pass It On

The deadline for the Runners' Lounge book project is rapidly approaching. When Tom and Amy announced the project, everybody and her sister said, "Wow, cool! Count me in!"

I am pretty sure that not all of you have submitted yet.

It is time to get cracking. Write your submission. Come on, it's only 600 words, which is basically the literary equivalent to an easy three. Be part of something special.

But I'm going to ask you to do a little bit more.

Choose five friends and tell them about the project.

Let's get as many people as we can to contribute to the book!

And because I'm putting my money where my mouth is, I have already told five people about the project: my very talented writer friend, who ran her first marathon a few years ago because it was the hardest thing she could think of to do; my friend who I never in a million years thought could run a mile, yet just ran his first marathon; my writer/runner brother; one of my favorite bloggers; a friend who is a college student, humor writer, and runner; and a college friend that I recently reconnected with - and discovered was a runner.

I did it, and so can you! Pass it on!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Race Report: Freakishly Flexible 5K

Just like many of my friends across the Internet, I embarked last weekend on a 5K for someone very special: our friend Non-Runner Nancy.

Nancy, as you know, recently got the news that an injury may well prevent her from ever running again. US Jogger hosted a virtual 5K in her honor.

I kept my 5K simple - I ran my standard "easy three" course from home, throwing in that extra .1, of course. I put on my happiest running music, and thought of Nancy. I also thought of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs, and how Nancy must have felt upon hearing the bad news from her doctor.

Such a shame to throw it all away
The images grow darker still
Could I have been anyone other then me?

I know how sad she must feel, having to give up something she enjoyed so much... not just a hobby, but a lifestyle.

But I also know that Nancy has many, many other things in her life to be happy about. She has a husband who adores her, two fantastic little boys, and a legion of fans who will think of her as a runner even if she never runs another step. The words to that song go on:

And then I'll
Sing and dance and I'll play for you tonight
The thrill of it all
Dark clouds may hang on me sometimes
But I'll work it out

No matter how bad things may seem at any given moment, they will get better. The world we live in is full of beauty and love, even at the darkest times. I hope that Nancy can see that, if not now, then soon.

Distance: 3.1 miles
Time: 26:05
Lipstick: Red
Song: "Dancing Nancies," of course, by Dave Matthews Band

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Nightly Surprise

Every night, Steve and I peek in and check on Jack before we go to sleep. He's so cute cuddled up to his tigers, and it gives me an opportunity to give him and extra kiss.

Lately, this ritual has also been an unexpected source of entertainment.

A few nights ago, we checked on Jack, only to discover that this pajamas were crumpled at the foot of the bed and he was sleeping stark naked.

I have a four-year-old who sleeps in the nude, apparently.

I actually do know where he got the idea of sleeping naked. In Star Wars, Episode III, we see a shirtless Anakin sit up in bed after a nightmare. Jack wondered why he was naked; I explained that he just wasn't wearing a shirt and that sometimes grownups do that.

As would naturally follow, Jack did the same thing... in the dead of winter, on a night that I pretty much slept in a parka.

A few nights later, we heard some commotion up in his room, but since he stayed there and settled down pretty quickly, we let it go. Then, when we went to check on him, Jack was not in his bed. Instead, he had dragged his pillow and blanket onto the floor next to his bed, where he was sleeping, clutching a flashlight and surrounded by boys. The next morning, he explained that he went on a campout in his room.

Last night, again there was a lot of commotion (Jack does not have a future career as a ninja). It went on for so long, that Steve went upstairs to talk to him. Jack had locked his door and got very quiet when he heard Daddy's approach. He said in a wee, innocent voice that he was up to "No-sing" and agreed to settle down.

About an hour later, Steve said he wanted to go check on Jack - the suspense was killing him.

Jack was in his bed...


in his Santa Claus suit.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Future of the Academy

I never expected that this would happen so soon, but that ample free time I've had on my hands, due to circumstances not of my choosing? Is soon coming to an end.

I feel extremely grateful and fortunate. I am absolutely thrilled to move on to the next thing - and to get my normal life back.

I am also sad that I won't have as much time with Jack as I have had. Betsy-Jack Academy has been, as Jack would say, very special to me. We have one more week left, which will be spent focused on Valentine's Day and love, which seems appropriate.

My new goal is to keep the Academy alive, with weekend sessions. I will plan out different activities for the two of us to do together. We both love it, and it beats the heck out of spending my Sundays doing lightsaber battle-fights.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Are You Freakishly Flexible?

There are running heroes all around us. There's Usain Bolt, who can run at superhuman speeds and make it look easy. Paula Radcliffe is a kick-ass marathon mama. Lance Armstrong decided to ditch that silly bike and try his hand at a real sport.

But then, there are ordinary runners who are just as worthy of our admiration. Without a doubt,
Non-Runner Nancy is one of those people. Nancy may not be the fastest runner out there, but she has more heart than anyone I know. She works hard at her running - and has inspired countless other runners with her virtual races. She's also not afraid to slide on some lipstick and have a good time with a race.

But our girl Nancy just got some bad news. Thanks to freakishly flexible hips, she has an injury that may keep her from ever running again. My heart breaks for her, though I know that she'll be okay and will find another sport she loves just as much.

To honor Nancy, Jog America has created a virtual race in her honor: The Freakishly Flexible 5K. I will join Nancy's legion of fans in running 3.1 on Valentine's Day.

I ask you, my devoted and sexy readers, to join us on the road. Lace up your shoes and give up the love for someone whose dedication and love of running is bar none. Run 3.1 for Nancy, who wishes she could. Let her know how much we care.

Betsy-Jack Academy

Due to circumstances not of my choosing, I suddenly find myself with a lot of time on my hands. I've been working hard to use that time wisely - taking care of Stately Wasser Manor, running, but above all, spending more time with Jack.

Instead of going to school on Wednesdays, he now spends the day with me. I know that if I left things to chance, Jack and I would wile away the entire day having lightsaber battle-fights and I would completely lose my mind.

This was the inspiration for Betsy-Jack Academy. He may not be going to school on Wednesdays with his friends, but he is spending the day with me learning. I choose a theme for each week and pull together activities, projects, and books to go with that theme. So far we have studied snow, the five senses, and yesterday's huge hit, Fairy Tales.

We start the day with a trip to the Family Museum, where they have an exercise class for kids Jack's age that is completely free. Unfortunately for me, the activity mainly focuses on dance. I suspect that I am objectively the most athletic mom there, but you sure wouldn't know it to look at me when I struggle to touch my toes and repeat my one dance move over and over again. I kept wanting to ask when we were going to do the 400 meter track repeats. To make matters worse, I actually strained my left calf galloping like a horse. But no matter - it's fun to get out of the house and do something active.

After the museum, Jack and I made lunch together. He is very interested in learning how to cook, which is excellent, because as far as I'm concerned one of my main duties as a parent is to make sure I don't raise some dumbass college student who doesn't know how to fold laundry or make anything other than spaghetti and ramen noodles.

Next, we read books. With the fairy tale theme, it was really easy to find great reading material. I was impressed by how quickly Jack understood fairy tales as a literary genre - he came up with the fact that most end with "and they lived happily ever after" all on his own. He also understood that they include elements of magic and often feature princes and princesses and was able to come up with several examples. Future English major? We also talked about how these stories have been told and re-told for a very long time, so there are often different versions of the same story. Again, Jack got the concept right away, giving the example of how, sometimes the Big Bad Wolf eats the first two pigs and sometimes they escape to the third pig's house.

We took a movie break, but that too was within our theme. I rented a DVD of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse stories with a fairy tale bent, which gave us another opportunity to talk about different ways of telling these stories.

The most fun part of our day was Art. First, we made piggy noses for The Three Little Pigs. I cut out pieces of egg carton, then we colored them, added pig nostrils, and I attached elastic to them so they'd go around your head. Jack decided we should make them in all different colors, not just pink, so Jack made a red one for himself, orange for Roary, and so on. Garfield (Roary's daddy) was the Big Bad Wolf.

Then we made puppets. Jack has really enjoyed The Frog Prince, so we made the frog, the princess, and the prince.

Finally, no Betsy-Jack Academy is complete without some baking. We made sugar cookies in the shape of frog princes (I have a tremendous collection of cookie cutters).

When Steve got home, we presented The Three Little Pigs as a play, starring Emmy as the Mommy pig, Nicey, Roary, and Jack as the three little pigs, and Garfield as the Big Bad Wolf. I was the narrator, but I wore a pig nose of my own. Jack did a fantastic job, and Steve was really impressed.

It was a great day at Betsy-Jack Academy.