Warrior Dash 2013

The Warrior Dash is a 5K race with various obstacles along the way including hurdling fire, crawling through mud and climbing ropes.  In Kansas City, this years race happened to fall on a weekend after a week with several inches of April showers so the track was extra muddy.  The weekend remained overcast and the temperatures unseasonably cold.  And while no running activity is ever appealing to me, a group of friends convinced me to do the dash last year.  It turned out to be a ridiculously messy adventure to which we all agreed we might need a little more conditioning to actually appear somewhat fit to do it again.

What was I thinking – I don’t run, I thought as my friend Jeanne tried to cheer me on and push me to not stop until we got to the next obstacle.  Never in my life did I think I would be pleased to fall into a pit of mud or go wading into a murky pond, yet on that day we were like pigs on a farm needing relief from the heat.  Toward the end I was so exhausted I could hardly push my body weight over the logs I was attempting to hurdle, just as the fit and fast people from the next wave time effortlessly leapt past me.  Jeanne pushed and pushed me until I finally convinced her to run ahead and I’d meet her at the end/ As soon as she was out of sight I pondered if anyone would notice if I laid down to take a nap on the side of the track.

This year my friends all signed up again, and my best intentions to learn to run and build muscle for climbing, I did not prepare at all.  Fortunately or unfortunately, I dropped my plans to participate after dealing with the flu days before hand.  This year I went as a cheerleader/photographer, maybe next year I will be trained and ready to run.
w13My fanatically clean friend called me up a few days before she was scheduled to run the Warrior Dash.  She planned to run it this year for the first time and had an important question needing an answer.

“Do you have to donate your shoes?” Crystal, asked.  While the answer is no, I explained most people do throw their shoes in the suggested piles after running.  The shoes are cleaned up and given to charity, while registration fees contribute to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.  “I just got rid of all my old tennis shoes,” she stressed.  Despite knowing the Warrior Dash was scheduled soon, she couldn’t control her compulsive decluttering.

“Well at least when it’s over you will have something to clean,” I optimistically suggested assuming this might appease someone who finds so much pleasure in cleaning.

“Oh no, that’d be too messy.”  She reported her husband will be responsible for washing her tennis shoes after the race.

Lost Without My Mom’s

I hear a lot of women complaining about conflicts with their mom’s or with their mother-in-laws, and while any two people can’t see eye to eye on all issues I have to say I am eternally indebted to these two women in my life.  I am continuously amazed and appreciative of the love and support of both my mom and my mother-in-law.  Last week was another reminder of how I would be drowning without their help.

nanajacksonParker and I both came down with stomach flu-like symptoms, except her illness came first and included some diarrhea and mild fever.  When my flu came it hit me hard like a bad hangover only without the fun drunken state before hand.  I actually had to run out of a wedding reception to get sick and thankfully crawled my way back into the hotel room we reserved in the same building to begin my flu coma.  My mother-in-law had planned to keep Parker for the night to let us enjoy our evening as an adult couple, and despite my reservation leaving her in a not so perfect health I also knew there would be no better place for her to be than with her Nana.

When we finally made it home Sunday I quickly realized I was in no shape to care for myself and continue to clean up the messes in my daughter’s pants.  On Monday morning I alternated between resting and preparing to go to my parents.  It took all of my strength to get Parker loaded up and drive over to my waiting mom.  She played with, toileted, washed and fed my girl for the next two days while I faded in and out of conciousness letting the illness pass.  On Tuesday the symptoms of flu were gone; weakness from days with no appetite and great appreciation for my mom’s who helped me through the storm were what remained.

It still is astonishing to me how my body and my daughter’s body reacted to the same germs so dramatically different.  Parker sang and danced through her flu, while I could barely stand.  Is it a testament to her young healthy immune system and doing our best to protecting her from toxins for two and a half years?  Or is it a sign of my emotional stress taking it’s toll on my physical self?  Either way, I would be lost without the support of my mother-in-law and my mom and I am so thankful for them both.

 

Our Country in Crisis

dalailamaAt a time our country is in crisis, another city stricken with terror and fear, I thought this quote stood out as a reminder not to take action from a place of fear and anger.  What happened in Boston is tragic and it’s effect will continue to ripple through our society shaping our view of safety, causing us to feel insecure and allowing us a false justification to judge others.

We cannot make determinations about individuals by looking at them.  We cannot view ourselves as better than, above or more noble than anyone else we encounter.  We cannot understand anyone else’s actions, connections, opinions or beliefs.  We cannot allow our fear and anger of situations we see publicized dictate how we engage with each other and with the world.

The very best message I saw on television following the bombing at the Boston Marathon was a short clip from a late night TV news broadcaster I had never seen before.  When I heard his comments it was the reminder I was meant to hear and something I wish all Americans could have seen.  Following 9/11, many American’s condoned torture as revenge for the killing, injuring and terrorizing we all felt on that day.  Except 12 years later we can reflect on the torture which was carried out, the lack of insight gained from it and the knowledge that many tortured were simply as innocent as the Americans caught in the towers.  Out of fear and anger unthinkable actions were allowed to carry on in the sake of maintaining our safety and capturing “evil-doers”.  This time we must learn from our mistakes.  We have to rise above the devastating emotions and act with compassion or we will be turning our terror into terrorism.

Please watch this clip from Chris Hayes and spread the word. (here)

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Hits & Misses

Spending all day with my sweet little girl it’s impossible to give her undivided attention all the time.  It would be lovely to just get to play nanny and focus only on her, unfortunately I have to play housekeeper, cook, chauffeur, and house manager cohesively.  This conflict of roles lends it’s self to many hits and misses as far as connections we get to have as mother and daughter thoughout the day.

We both have times when we deny each other’s affections, when the opposite is fulfilled by a task.  Like this morning while she ate her breakfast I began preparing a crafting collage until she finished eating and promptly decided she needed to be sitting in my lap.  I held her off with distractions in her own chair as long as I could and somehow she ended up crawling her way back into my lap, blinding my efforts with scissors and paper with her curly brown locks.  Eventually I gave in and assumed the project would have to wait.  We pulled down the Play-Doh for her to roll and press shapes, this time it was her brushing mommy’s affection.  It’s just so hard for me to resist her enthusiastic smile and positive energy, I want to swoop in to her kissable cheeks and savor the moment.  And as if she suddenly incarnates a “too cool for parents” teenaged attitude her shoulder comes up to block her cheek – too busy for a kiss right now.

Those moments of craving attention are frequently coorelated with times of being tired or hungry, and when this is the case there is lot of whining involved.  My response to the whining is encouragement for her to use her words, and when that doesn’t seem to make an impact I tell her I think she might be tired and needing a nap.  This technique usually works since naps are the enemy and she would never volunteer herself for one.  Except since this has been my response to her whining, she has begun beating me to the punch.  She informs me: “I’m going to take a nap,” when I have repeatidly told her I can’t hold her while I am cooking.  She doesn’t actually take a nap though, she just leaves for a minute and usually brings back a toy from her room.

I have to learn to not be hard on myself about the misses.  I can’t entertain, hold, clean and fix everything for her and I have to be okay with her being upset about that sometimes.  It makes it easier to accept the rough parts of the days when there are so many hits of the days to look back on and appreciate.

The mornings we stay extra long in bed pulling the covers over our heads to play with a flashlight.  Dancing in our living room for hours on end stomping, twirling and shaking with laughter and songs.  And closing each day with reading books, snuggles and kisses.  There are so many moments when it’s just me and Parker, when I am completely present with her.  In those moments she heals me from the chaos of life, problems in the world and the grown up worries which consume my mind most other waking hours of the day.  For now though, I had better go finish my collage while she takes her nap.

Under The Covers

Under The Covers

Like Mother, Like Daughter and Daughter

“You have to slow down and watch what you are doing,” the words escaped my mouth echoing from my own childhood.  My mom would calmly and assertively interfere in careless actions or growing frustration with this statement.  Now decades later with my own child it seems an automatic response, my mom’s words filtering through my mouth.  When I first noticed this and other comments I have relayed to Parker, I couldn’t help to stop and think I am turning into my mom.

I know this thought evokes a comedic horror for many, the idea of resembling parents.  For me, the thought of turning into my mom carried a chuckle in a different sense, there is no way I can live up to who my mom is.  It would be a blessing if I could maintain a portion of her patience, an ounce of her generosity, or a sliver of her organization.  I envy her diligence and work ethic while I have mastered procrastination – efficiency under pressure.  She is the most dependable person you will encounter, and since she is a horrible liar you know you can trust exactly what she says she will do.  There are so many incredible characteristics my mom emulates, it wouldn’t be a burden to be more like her.  So I guess if I mimic some of her phrases, that’s just fine with me.

Nana & Parker

Nana & Parker

If I do my job right, decades from now, Parker won’t mind repeating my words either.  These days she is constantly cracking me up with the things I tell her for encouragement or warning which get reflected back to me.  Parker congratulates me with “Good job Mommy,” when I use the toilet.  She cautions me to “Be careful Mommy,” when I am mopping and the floor it wet.

I so appreciate the statements from both my mom and my daughter.  It’s a small reminder of the beautiful generations of women in my family, strong influences who have shaped who we are and how we think.

Rainbows After The Storm

This week started out with heavy storms, both literally and figuratively.  Last Saturday I woke up with a horrific headache and no pain medication in the house to take besides some heavy post-operative pharmaceuticals I didn’t think my ailment called for.  With my husband gone to an appointment I did my best to prepare a suitable breakfast for Parker and then sit as still as possible at the table while she ate.  It seemed any movement would send a shooting pain and bending over was agony.  I rushed my daughter, as much as a two-year old can be rushed, to hurry her eating so that I could get back to bed.  I sadly denied her requests to be picked up or to sit on my lap because it hurt too much.  She cooperated with my ailment, as children mysteriously do in times of need.  We finished in the kitchen and retreated to my bed where she sat quietly watching Elmo while I lay, eyes closed hoping my husband would be home soon.  The throbbing got to be too much at one point and I rushed to the bathroom to get sick, Parker calling on the other side of the door to see if Mommy was okay.  I crawled back to bed and text Reggie to get home as soon as possible.

I didn’t leave my bed much during the weekend, hurting and frustrated at having to cancel all of our weekend plans.  The anger I felt from the wasted time of having to lay there, when I had so many things on my to-do list not getting accomplished, probably made my head even worse.  By the time my migraine was subsiding on Sunday afternoon my body was achy and weak.  Despite having to suffer through the weekend the bright side was it happened on the weekend and would have been more difficult to interfere with Reggie’s schedule during the week to have to take care of Parker.  He did do a great job taking care of Parker too, even utilizing ‘phone a friend’ to find out how to take the day old french braid out of her hair.

With the week starting out so rough I didn’t have high expectations there would be much happening this week.  I was pleasantly surprised to have three big rainbows after the storm.

On Monday, back in touch with life and people, I learned my cousin had passed her test to begin an instructorship path recognized by the Thai Boxing Association of the USA.  She first told me of this test back in December painting a picture of a long examination of strikes, kicks and grappling lasting hours.  Had I been present to observe, the violence would have left me cowering in a corner rocking with my head between my knees.  Surrounded by peers, valued instructors and  the founder/director of Thai Boxing Association she was honored with the title of Khru meaning teacher.  I am so proud of her for this achievement, not only because she honestly has the strength in her tiny frame to kick ass, this accomplishment means so much more about her endurance to overcome obstacles she has in her life.  Truly amazing!

My second rainbow came from a friend sharing some bun in the oven news.  She and her husband are expecting and I have been trusted in her closest circle to hear before it’s made public (so shh, this is a secret.)  I’m ecstatic for her to begin the adventure into parenthood and to help her as much as I can (with advice from long distance) dealing with the pregnancy ailments.  Feeling sick , feeling tired, back pain, side pain, urgency to pee, loss of sleep, loss of appetite, increase in appetite, swelling, sweating, being easily irritated and no glass of wine to fix it – I don’t know how women can love it!?  The enjoyment I found in being pregnant came with the movement, first just tiny flutters, then kicks, somersaults and finally and obvious cramped space where neither of us could move much.  Although I wasn’t a woman who loved being pregnant, I wasn’t in a rush to deliver her because I knew for that time only she was all mine before I would have to share her with the world.

heather&kyleAnd finally the third rainbow came last night in the form of a proposal.  My little sister, Heather, and her long-time boyfriend, Kyle, are officially getting hitched.  I happened to be at my parent’s house when she called to share the news.  When my mom began shouting into the phone “Really?  Really?”  I immediately assumed my brother had hit it big calling from Vegas.  She put it on speaker phone and we all celebrated with cheers and tears.  When my mom continued the jumping and cheering after the phone call Parker looked at her shaking her head “Silly Nana,” she said before joining in with “Hooray” and dancing.

Ironically I had just been thinking of Kyle earlier in the day counting my brothers and sisters.  Biologically I only have 2 siblings, all together I calculated six wonderful brothers and five beautiful sisters I recognize as my family.  Kyle has been my brother already for years, it never mattered what their legal status was.  We always knew they would live a happily ever after together, now there will just be a party to celebrate it.

So with the start of the week wrecked, I am ending it with a smile.  Life is beautiful.

Sentimentally Adorable

prairieback“Dressing her in ‘Little House on the Prairie’ again?” my husband remarked at the sight of our daughter dressed on Easter morning.  Without clear intention to find this dress I stumbled upon it the night before in a box my mom had given to me.  The box contains my three decade old baby book, a kindergarten t-shirt, a hideous beaded shirt friends signed at my 9th birthday party, and countless school and girl scout projects.  The real treasures of the time capsule are the clothes my mom made for me when I was little including a lavender dress with white smocked pinafore.  It may be slightly home on the prairie, still it is too sentimentally adorable not to have my daughter wear it too.

We had a family celebration on Saturday at my parent’s house where Parker wore a new, very cute, brightly colored, springy dress.  Then Sunday our plan was to go back again for dinner with more family.  Despite there being plenty of dresses to choose from in her closet; I opted to take it back to 1986 or 1886 depending on how you look at it.  I knew no one else cared what she looked like on Easter and my mom would appreciate and love it.

prairieprofile

Finally with spring weather arriving we were able to play out in the yard on Sunday morning.  Her Easter basket from Nana contained some fun outdoor activities like bubbles and chalk.  Parker also got her first glimpse of flying a kite, though with trees and power lines constricting the yard it wasn’t as entertaining as I remember from my childhood.    She was delighted watching me run back and forth across the yard to get it up a few feet, and when it was her turn she was thoroughly disappointed when she didn’t get the same result.  Perhaps another try in a park or open prairie would be worthwhile.

prairiekite

prairie1

           Out of curiosity…

                 Would you dress up your child in

                            something you wore at their age?

Not Quite Ready To Grow Up

My Bye Bye Bye Baby post (here) may have been a little too premature to celebrate. I boosted about Parker’s progress in potty training, going without a pacifier and abandoning her crib all in one week. Turns out she is not exactly ready to shed her baby skin completely. Maybe it was too much too soon and once the thrill of it all was gone she decided growing up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be… At least I feel that way sometimes.

PJ did well in her toddler bed for several nights, maybe even a full week, with no problems. And amazingly she still called in the morning, from her room, to let me know she was up instead of charging through the door. Taking naps in the new bed became a challenge, as predicted, she petifully looked at me with her head tilted to the side reporting “I’m not tired mommy, I don’t want to take a nap.” Then as I told her she could just lay down for some quiet time then (hoping a change in the name might change her attitude), this frequently ignited a brief crockadile teared tantrum clearly insinuating the need for a nap. For days Parker was able to escape taking naps just for the simple fact of not being able to keep her horizontal long enough to doze off.

Eventually Parker began leaving her room in the morning too, discovering she could hop right into mommy and daddy’s bed when she wakes up. It was fun at first, a little bit of snuggle time before breakfast. Then morning after morning she came in earlier and earlier until our usually late sleeper was now rousing each morning at 6AM. Too tired to even calculate how we were going to curb this new behavior and determine who was going to have to adjust – her or us – then the night of doom happened.

The day was normal, the nighttime routine was normal, by all accounts she appeared healthy and content when I put her down to bed. Then two hours after she had been sound asleep she woke up crying. Daddy addressed her crying and she went back to sleep, two hours later the same thing only this time we had gone to bed and she met me at my bedside. The rest of the night was more up and down, screaming at my bedside and exhausting any idea of what could be wrong. It felt like I was back to having a newborn to care for again except this newborn sprung from bed and hopped into my face to let me know she wasn’t sleeping. We took her temperature, rocked, changed pull-ups, drank milk, laid in her bed, and tried for about an hour of the night to see if she would sleep in my bed. The night was a blur of activities, screaming, scattered sleep and no clear idea of why it was all happening.

sleepThe next day when she continued to plead for no nap she was not tired, I knew she had to be exhausted. Again, she was not cooperating with the need to stay in bed so I offered her the option of sleeping in her big girl bed or a pack and play. I offer her choices a lot of times to try to employ her to make the positive choice, she often chooses the other option to see if I will carry through with the consequence. So, out the pack and play came since the crib has been disassembled and stored away. The afternoon after the night of doom she slept a good nap in her pack and play. And since then the pack and play has remained set up in her room, next to her toddler bed and she continues to choose to sleep there for night time and naps.

Maybe it’s more comfortable to be enclosed? I don’t know why it’s her preference for now, as long as we don’t end up shipping the pack and play away to college later on I suppose we are okay.

Red Hope

Yesterday I was thrilled to find a sea of unity on my Facebook wall in the form of a simple red equality sign.  In case you’re one of the few without a Facebook or Twitter account, the equality sign has been promoted by the Human Rights Campaign in the wake of the congressional hearing on same-sex marriage.  The HRC released a statement stating “the original image has been shared more than 100,000 times and created upwards of 10 million impressions in all 50 states – not including countless user-created versions.”

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Yay!  It makes my heart smile to see people empowered to express their stance on a hot subject.  The equality sign posted on a Facebook wall or replacing a profile picture is not a means to ignite an argument with non-supporters or demand a high level of activism which can often dissuade people from becoming involved.  The equality sign was an awakening and measurable shock to congress, though more importantly an encouraging message to the gay community.  The LGBT community faces discrimination and hate in ways most of us cannot relate.  I hope the sea of red yesterday was a sign of support, progress and love. I also hope the volume of equality signs visible yesterday was an inspiration to non-supporters to reconsider their position.

I know I have many conservative friends on Facebook who don’t support gay marriage, and sometimes it’s bewildering to me why they don’t talk about it publicly.  It’s like they want to keep their narrow-mindedness a secret, maybe deep down they know they are wrong for trying to impose their religious beliefs to control others.  In stark contrast, I see so many ignorant insults being flung anonymously on forums and posts.  Here is what I know for sure: The change is going to happen.  So the faster the non-supporters work their way into acceptance the easier it will be for them to make the adjustment.  Even better, their children can grow up accepting and loving rather than fearing and hating.

Dollhouse Foreshadowing

My sister and I spent endless hours playing with dollhouses when we were little, I’m talking NASA astronaut training hours.  Our first dollhouse was constructed by my mom from a wooden craft kit.  The four room house was decorated and redecorated by painting the interior, gluing felt for carpeting and paper on the walls.  We bought furniture and accessories down to potted plants, tiny picture frames, dishes and tea cups.  Later we planned to add to our dollhouse neighborhood and each bought our own craft kits for additional houses.  My house, like many of my master-minded projects, never got completed.  I lost the directions and the beginnings of a large three-story house remained untouched in my parent’s basement for nearly 20 years.  Call it divine intervention interrupting either mom’s hoarding reservation in throwing things out or my inability to follow-through with projects; the remaining contents in the doll house kit got wet in a minor leak in their basement and the house was finally set out on the curb.

The clean up effort lead my mom and I to rediscovering the remaining dollhouses last week.  I assumed at some point I would introduce my daughter to the houses, thinking maybe when she is a little older.  Two years old is too young for the fragile old wood, it doesn’t light up or make sounds like other plastic houses she’s seen, and all of the itsy-bitsy accessories to keep track of is enough to cause me an aneurism.  In a few years I figured she would love the houses.  Then as quickly as the dollhouses were at table level and within reach, a childhood wave of sentiment rushed over me and I couldn’t wait for her to wake up from her nap to come and play.

My mom and I sorted through the miniature time capsule of our youth, cleaning up, dusting off and discarding what was broken or not worth keeping.  My sister was mighty pleased, back in the day, to use some creative skill in making her own dollhouse furniture.  Foam haphazardly covered in fabric as the bed would have been fit for a dollhouse equivalent to a crack house.  There were a few surprises in the excavation of the houses which ironically seemed accurate in our lives today.  My sister’s house was filled with pets, including two tigers.  This spring she will be completing her vet tech degree and the journey to get her there was inspired by her time working with the tigers at Endangered Animal Rescue in Citra, Florida.  (Click HERE for more on that story.)  My sister plans to work with a zoo veterinary department and continue her passion with big cats.

The other foreshadowing shock from our childhood houses, we found a black family.  In our suburban caucasian home I can’t remember or imagine why we had purchased a black family.  Perhaps my sister and I needed a way to distinguish who’s dolls belonged to each other?  Were we impatient with a store who ran out of white families?  Could it be my sister and I wisely saw a value in increasing the diversity in our dollhouse community?  Whatever the reasoning was back then it has long since been forgotten and I’m sure my twelve-year-old self would have never been able to know she would one day fall in love and marry a black man.

dollWith the components freshly sanitized, small accessories stored away and rooms reconfigured the houses were ready.  I barely withheld my desire to wake my daughter up to come and play…  Finally she arose and joined us downstairs to get her first glimpse of the hand crafted childhood treasure.  Parker jumped right into investigating the pieces of furniture, opening the refrigerator, rearranging the living room, and pointing out the bird-cage.  She opened the toilet seat and promptly put the little girl on it, holding the “mommy doll” near by to applaud her when she finished.  Dollhouses may predict the future and when a two-year old plays it replicates her present life with plenty of potty practice.

If you are interested in having your own fun with this creative and playful hobby you can find doll house kits online or at craft stores like Hobby Lobby or Jo Ann ETC.  In the Kansas City area you can check out Mini Temptations at 3633 West 95th in Overland Park, KS for a greater variety of houses, decorations, furniture and accessories you can see first hand.