Category Archives: Family

Mason 5k 2019

So Friday night was just us girls, as the boys had a baseball tournament (post to follow). It was Staci (pictured above, left), me, and my daughter, Natalie. She will kill me when she finds out I posted the picture below, with her goofy smile and scraggly teeth.

Now when we got to the race Natalie decided to be a major grump because she was going to have to wait for us to finish running, and she had no friends there (so she thought) and she couldn’t even partake in the bounce house because she was too big (so she said). I refused to let her attitude frustrate me, and I told her that she could be grumpy, as long as she stayed nearby so I could find her after the race. (This was a small town race and we knew a lot of the people there so I wasn’t worried with leaving her alone.)

I told her that as soon as the race started they would be setting up a snack table at the finish line for the runners, and that she was welcome to grab a snack while she waited. This perked her up quite a bit. Then, she asked me if she could run with me at the end, and I explained she could watch for me near the finish line, and when she saw me coming up the hill, she could join me in crossing the finish line. Then Staci asked her if she wanted to run the race, because it was probably still early enough to sign her up. And guess what? She said YES, she wanted to run it! I couldn’t believe it! So we rushed over and got her a bib.

My original plan with this race was to shoot for a new PR, but when Natalie decided she was running, I thought for sure she would poop out like she did with the one mile run two years ago. But I was just so thrilled she was running with us that I gave that up. I would walk if she needed to, just so we could stay together.

And then as we were waiting for the countdown, Natalie saw that a friend of hers was running, so they paired up. We counted down, the gun went off, and so did Natalie and her friend! They left us in the dust. I saw her one more time at the turnaround, and then again at the finish. She was smiling the biggest smile, and waving her medal proudly. She was a 5k finisher.

I did beat my original PR, which is exciting, but it paled in comparison to Natalie’s achievement. She turned her attitude around and stepped out of her comfort zone. She didn’t know if she would be able to run the whole way, let alone run it in 34:32! Not bad for a beginner. The best news is that she had such a great time, she says she wants to run another 5k in the future, perhaps with her brother and me! This one proud momma right here.

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20th Anniversary Trip

Today is our official anniversary! I woke up this morning and Mike said to me “you know what today is?” And I kid you not, I said “uuum, Wednesday?” Because I legitimately drew a blank when it came to the day. We celebrated last weekend so in my mind, I had already moved on.

So just a little about our trip. We went to Traverse City because that’s where we honeymooned. Twenty years ago we stayed in what was then my grandpa’s future retirement home on Old Mission Peninsula. He and my grandma built the house intending to retire there some day, but my grandma passed away from breast cancer before they could realize their dream. Grandpa since sold the property, and the new owners tore down the house and built something bigger and more extravagant. (They kept the garage though!) We were able to snap a selfie with the house in the background, but we didn’t dare step too far onto the property for fear they would see us and think we were a couple of creepers. (I don’t know what a creeper is, I’m just making that a term.)

Revisiting the site of our honeymoon, 20 years later.

I mentioned that my grandma passed away from breast cancer. She was someone very special to all of us, and I miss her dearly. We had a special connection, but I feel like she had a bit of a special connection with all of us in the family. She had a magical way of making you feel like you were the most important person in the room. She truly loved her family, and gave her heart and soul to each of us, every second she had the opportunity. I was in high school when she passed away and I always wished she could have met Mike. I feel like they would have gotten along well. He would have loved her spunk. Anyway, so I was able to visit her grave stone, and kind of say a little hello and let her know I still miss her. It’s kind of sad but kind of sweet that she and grandpa will be together again – “retired” – on the peninsula. Sort of like they planned, but not really. 

The entire weekend was very relaxing. We are a no frills kind of couple. Not much for romance. We just enjoy each other’s company and I suppose that’s how we’ve lasted this long. It was extremely refreshing to be able to have an entire weekend together, just the two of us. We ate good food, we saw beautiful sights, we took seriously solid naps, and we caught a beautiful sunrise over the West Bay. It was better than I could have hoped for, and I hope we don’t wait another 20 years to take another trip together.

Just goofing off at the playground like a couple of kids

Mike, I love you. You make me laugh, you make me cry, you make me stronger. These last 20 years have been quite a ride, but I wouldn’t have wanted to spend them with anyone else. You are my perfect partner in life, and I look forward to the next 20 years.

Sunrise over the West Bay. Traverse City, MI

Gazelle Girl 10k 2019

I’ll be honest, I’m not even sure where to start with this post. I had a lot of thoughts running through my head throughout the race and these couple days following.

I’ll start by setting the stage for this 10k race. It was cold and rainy, and by the end, snowy. Michigan weather at its finest. We had been watching the forecast so we knew what we were getting into, and none of us were swayed. We were committed to completing this race, no matter the weather.

I should back up. By “we” I mean myself, a friend from church, and two other friends of hers. So you could say this was kind of out of my comfort zone. I had asked Chris, my church friend, if I could tag along because it was an all female race, and it looked like a lot of fun. It was out of town and they already had plans to stay at a hotel the previous night and they welcomed me with open arms. The comradery among runners is incredible. I’m fairly new to running compared to a lot of others, but throughout this whole experience I was never tempted to feel like an outsider.

The race itself started out pretty smoothly. I was feeling strong and confident for the first few miles. However, about halfway through I was noticing my left foot dragging quite a bit. This “foot drop” is one of the symptoms of my MS. Running doesn’t cause new symptoms, but it can aggravate old nerve damage. I have been training for my half marathon this coming fall, and have done plenty of long runs with almost no foot drop, so the fact that it was happening so soon was disheartening. Maybe I was just being more affected because of the excitement and nerves for the race, I don’t know.

My friend Chris had agreed to run with me for the entire race, to be sure I was safe. She did a fabulous job pointing out all the potholes and manhole covers, and steering me away from other obstacles. Throughout the race I did not trip even one time! However, I would not have finished this race without her assistance.

I think it was around the end of mile 4 I was having serious trouble keeping my foot from dragging. I was also experiencing some side and shoulder pain, but I was afraid to slow down and walk. My balance is better when I’m running. Something about the motion, I guess. I have another friend with MS who says the same thing about running. Walking requires a different movement and different nerves, I suppose. I told Chris what I was experiencing and she urged me to walk to give my body a rest, and use her arm for balance. At this point I was pretty discouraged and frustrated with what was going on with my body. I had not expected this to happen so soon. When Chris explained to me that my pace at the beginning of the race was much faster than I had been training at, it all made sense. I had been training between a 14 and 15 minute mile, but I had been running closer to 12! So clearly I had made a mistake, and I was paying the consequences.

I tell myself I don’t care about times and personal records, but that’s a big fat lie. I do care. I am always competing with myself, and I feel a great sense of pride when I am able to see my pace improve. The problem is, I want it to happen sooner than is realistic. So now thanks to my prideful denial of my physical abilities, I hobbled the last two miles of the race mostly hanging for dear life on Chris’ arm. I felt ashamed, defeated. My ugly pride had taken a hit. I started off too fast and it hurt me in the end. This felt a lot like failure, because I feel like I should have known better.

But listen – this was NOT failure. I finished the race! And with a PR to boot! So I made it more challenging for myself by starting too fast, and I had to lean on a friend to accomplish my goal of finishing. So what? Can we all agree there’s nothing wrong with that? We all have challenges in our lives, and very often we have to lean on our friends for help. Friendships enrich our lives, make us stronger, make us better. This is good!

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 ESV “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”

There was a point in the race that I was feeling particularly angry. Not angry at myself, but angry at the multiple sclerosis that makes things so difficult. On most days I am able to function like a normal person and can almost forget I have this affliction. But then you run 6.2 miles and you are reminded. And that sucks, Big Time. So yes, I was angry. But then I was reminded that I hated running for most of my life. I didn’t start running until 2015, six years after I was diagnosed with MS. I run because I have MS. To show myself and others that it’s possible. MS doesn’t have to mean life in a wheelchair. This is what I believed when they first diagnosed me, and I know now that’s not the case.

I watched the following day as Worknesh Degefa dominated the Women’s Elite Race in the Boston Marathon. She ran the last 20 miles alone. Way ahead of the pack. Yes, it was cool that she was in the lead, but what was even cooler was that she was doing her thing. It didn’t seem to bother her one bit that she was surrounded by absolutely no one. The mental fortitude that must have taken is something I aspire to. If I can run these races and just zone out Degefa-style, then perhaps I can keep a steady pace and finish strong.

So I learned a few lessons with this race. I learned that you can’t rush the process. You have to pace yourself, and that requires patience and humility. There may be people zooming by you, but pay no attention. As Chris encouraged me I think during mile six – “you do you”. Forget about the other runners. Just keep moving toward the finish line. You’ll get there. Lesson #2: You want to change your pace? Do it in training. Don’t switch that up during a race. Sorry, I don’t know how that applies to life. It might pretty much just be applicable to running 😉 And lesson #3 was that friendships are invaluable gifts and not to be taken lightly.

My dad was able to join us to spectate this race, and it meant a lot to have family there rooting me on. He called me the following day and asked how I was feeling. He specifically asked if I was still planning on running a half marathon and I answered without hesitation – YES. No question. At this point in time I have no idea how I’ll physically manage it, but I’m choosing to trust in the training process. Four years ago I was barely walking, three years ago I ran my first 5k, and just 6 months ago I ran my first 10k. This body just keeps getting stronger. The more I push, little by little, the farther I can go. I don’t know how far MS will let me go with this running stuff, but I’m gonna keep pushing the line until she forces me to stop. And with God’s grace, I have hope that day will never come.



Raising monkeys might actually be easier

I’m constantly having to remind myself that it’s not my responsibility to ensure my kids are happy. My responsibility is to teach and train. I guide, I offer consequences and discipline, but I am not here to make them feel happy or entertained. So when it breaks my heart to see them upset, I need to put my big girl pants on and remind myself that I AM THE MOTHER.

I need this confidence more than ever as my son is a preteen and is questioning everything. EVERYTHING. Like, “Why do you set limits for us on screen time? And why do I have a bedtime even on the weekends or during spring break? NONE of my friends have these rules at home.”

Today I answered these questions for my son with renewed and miraculous confidence. “Because your brains are still developing and we believe, as your parents, that those limits are good for you. I can’t speak for your friends or even begin to explain why they might not have limits at home, but in our home, this is what we do.” (Also, I’m sure he’s exaggerating or hopefully mistaken, but whatever.)

My husband and I are the people in charge around here. “In charge” is not a role I’m all that great at or comfortable with, but I know I can do it. God allowed us to be parents and He cares about our children way more than we do, so I trust that He will give us the wisdom necessary to train them up right.  I have to trust Him, stand firm in this role, and never stop seeking more wisdom. I must, or the monkeys will take over and then I’ll have no one to feed me or change my diapers when I’m 90.

Family

Okay, I’ll be honest, I’ve been fighting a respiratory gunk all this week – spring break week for my kiddos – but I’m managing to not let it keep me down. I’ve been able to really enjoy some memorable times with my family that I think are worth mentioning.

Like the other night, when I chatted through Facebook messenger with my little brother. He was up late, per his usual, and he saw I was up too so he started a conversation. This is my dear brother who is 13 years younger, and yet we have a special sort of bond. He came to be part of our family as a 9 month old baby when I was still in school. I don’t remember how old he was when we adopted him, but it doesn’t matter because he was family long before it was court official.

When I was in high school, he was learning to walk and talk and play and the two of us were best buddies. We lost touch over the years but have recently been able to reconnect and it really is a miracle to me that it feels like no time has passed. We still seem to have that connection. So while it wasn’t anything unusual or extraordinary, chatting online with him, it was a memory I’ll cherish. I’m hoping and praying that there are many more opportunities like that for us down the road.

So that was happy family memory #1. Happy family memory #2 is that my mom came to visit from Oklahoma! She flew all the way out here and split her time between her three children: first my younger sister, then me, then my older brother. She was with us for three days and it was really great to have her here sharing life with us. We went roller skating with the kids. I don’t skate, as a rule because my balance is nonexistent, but she went for one round before she discovered it was a lot harder than she remembered. Skating is hard for us old folks, you know.

We also went on a ridiculously long walk to the Mediterranean restaurant up the road, and enjoyed some delicious chicken shawarma and falafel. (I’m sorry Mom, I honestly thought it was only a mile. I should have known better.) I’m just glad we survived the walk and it was still really nice to have that time to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.

Oh, and lastly was some bowling. We all pretty much suck at bowling except for my mom so of course she kicked our tails. We also did a lot of lounging around in between activities, and that was nice to have her sort of blend into our rhythms. We never know when we’ll be able to visit again so we like to make the most of the time we do get.

We had such a full week it’s hard to believe it’s only Friday and the weekend is just beginning! My big plan for tomorrow is to go for a long run first thing in the morning (so I don’t spend all day making excuses like I did today) and then I don’t know. Kids are still technically on spring break so maybe we’ll find something fun to do. I kicked my son’s tail in Monopoly today, so maybe tomorrow I’ll give him a rematch. Or not. Monopoly is an exhausting game.

Anyhoo, I hope y’all enjoyed your week and have a fabulous weekend! Love on your family today, will you?

February is almost over?

I know, I know. It’s been soooo long since I last posted. Almost a full month, can you believe that? It’s not that I have nothing going on that I could be writing about, or thoughts to share. It’s more of a quiet rebellion, the not sharing. I guess. But then I’m reading Anne Lamott recently and she inspires me to write. So I’m back again. For now.

At the end of last year I was feeling like I had this disability thing down, and then of course I realized I didn’t. Because I never will, entirely. I think what I was hoping for, striving for, was perfection in living. And I seem to remember learning that perfectionism is a curse. But how quickly we forget the most important lessons.

So how has it been? I have been tired. Continually tired and fatigued. I have my good days, or my good portions of days, but mostly they are clouded by the ever-present need for sleep and rest. This is tough for a reforming overachiever to accept, because there is so much to DO, and I can’t do it all the way I want, or when I want. I’m pretty sure I’m the only soul who really cares about that, so I could probably let that go, right?

I’m trying to learn how to relax, which as I type this I see that’s paradoxical. Trying to relax is absurd. Futile. There has to be a better way. So then I stop trying so hard, and I wait to see if it just happens, and it does! I start to relax! And then I remember there is so much left to DO, and the guilt creeps in. Back to square one. It’s a vicious and annoying cycle.

But! I have coping mechanisms for exiting the cycle. I crochet, I read, I make soup, I pray. Soup is nice, but prayer works best.

Do you know what I think it is? What’s so hard for me? I worked for so long, so many years at jobs where you got up every morning and went to work, that it’s a complete paradigm shift to be home. No one expects me to be anywhere at a certain time. I went from a full schedule to no schedule, and five years later I still haven’t got the hang of it. But I will, eventually.

All this time I’ve been quiet on the blog I’ve been busy in real life spending time with family and friends. Good, quality time, and it’s been really nice. We had some awful winter weather here in Michigan and the kids missed a lot of school, so it was fun to have them home with me even if it messed up my daily routines a little.

So that’s all I have for now, folks. Just a partially muddled brain dump. I hope you’re all having a great day today. It’s Friday! For most of you working people that means the weekend is almost here! Hurray!

“My first job was working in an orange juice factory, but I got canned…couldn’t concentrate.”

Hack hack, ahem ahem, cough cough

You guys. I’ve been sick for all of two and a half days and I’m trying sooo hard not to be a baby about it, but geesh. I don’t get sick very often, but when I do, I just want to snuggle up in a cozy blanket and let people wait on me. The first part works alright but the second one, not so much. Because folks, I’m the mom. And mom doesn’t take sick days. Which is only kind of true. My family is really great about helping out and giving me my space. No one’s even complained that the laundry is piling up while I’m downstairs nursing myself back to health.  It’ll get done, eventually.

Anyhoo. Since I’ve been out of commission all I can do is sit around thinking about how little I’ve blogged lately. Not cuz my life is boring (though it is a little) but because I just haven’t been in the mood for blogging. It happens every now and then. Whatevs.

What’s going on lately, you ask? Well, the son has been busy wrestling, both for the local club and the middle school. This is exciting stuff folks. Now that he’s on the middle school team he practices every day right after school. He does not seem to be tired out by this, thankfully, and it’s been a huge load off for our resident chauffeur, my hubby. Now he doesn’t have to drop him off, then go back and pick him up. Just one trip per day, and he’s home by dinnertime. Which means we all get to eat as a family again. Every day!

The daughter is not in sports. Has no interest really, at least for now. That could change down the road but I don’t think that’s likely. Her two loves right now are art and animals. Since it’s -38 degrees outside these days, she did not want to go for more horseback riding lessons, so we found her an outlet for her art. A gentleman from our church is willing to give her weekly lessons and teach her whatever she wants to know. Right now she’s on a big Bob Ross nature scene kick, and it’s friggin’ amazing what she is able to create just after watching a few YouTube videos. I know I’m a tad biased because I’m her mother, but there’s no denying that she has some serious talent that will only get better with more training and practice.

It’s kind of weird but I’ve had zero motivation to write that book I had been talking about. I still want to tell my stories, just maybe not in that format. Maybe we’ll just keep them here on the blog for now. I could do some kind of kooky flashback series where I tell short stories about what happened to me five years ago. Or maybe I’ll get the hankering again to write the book. Who knows?

I’m just really happy doing the things I’m doing now that I don’t really feel like going back to that time. It feels too heavy. Right now good things are happening. My kids are growing and changing, and I’m able to be a part of that. I’m slowing down and trying to be more focused on the most important things. Spending time with God, family, friends. It’s been a good change.

And speaking of slow, I set myself a new goal: to run a half marathon in the fall (it’s speaking of slow cuz I’m a slow runner, get it?). I have a race picked out and a friend to run it with me. I have a training plan picked out on my Runkeeper app, and it doesn’t start until March 5th. So I have time to warm up to running regularly again. I’ve not been running since before the holidays so my legs are a little rusty.

I even spoke to my neurologist about how to train safely, and was reassured that this was not too big a goal for someone with MS. If I take it slow and am careful, it’s totally possible. In fact, she said regular exercise is just as crucial to my health as is my disease-modifying therapy. So as far as priorities, I need to bump it way back up to the top. She said that running will not cause me to relapse, but will only help to keep me from relapsing. When I run, certain symptoms flare up, like foot drop and difficulty seeing, but she said that’s because those are nerves that are already damaged. As long as I’m being safe about it, I should be fine. Which is why I always run these races with friends who can be a good set of eyes and ears for me and keep me safe. So that’s on the docket. 13.1 miles. In a row!

And that folks, is all I have for an update right now. I had a funny thought earlier and I was going to post it, but now I can’t remember it. So I apologize for my foggy memory keeping me from leaving you on a humorous note. Oh wait! I can leave you with a pun… this one I choose because we bought new winter gloves for my son today…

“I got a new pair of gloves today, but they’re both ‘lefts’ which, on the one hand, is great, but on the other, it’s just not right.”