Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat

+alternately titled: The lamest Halloween blog post title EVER.

I love Halloween. Really, really do. I trick or treated up through my senior year of high school, because you could not convince me that I was too old. I mean, really. Free candy. What's not to love about free candy? The answer to that obviously rhetorical question is that you should love everything about free candy. Even those crappy weird peanut butter-ish things that come in the orange or black wrappers. I mean, sure they taste like weird peanut flavored wax, but they're FREE.

My love for Halloween has multiplied since having kids (except for the part where they were so freaking hyper all day long because they could not wait for trick or treating--that part sucked). I love that Luke is old enough to choose his own costume and I love that instead of being a superhero or a monster, he chose.... well, you'll see that his costume is pretty obvious.
A UPS man. Yes, that's right. Of all the costumes in the world, my four year old chose to be a UPS man.
But isn't he the cutest UPS man you've ever seen? I think so (unless your child also dressed as a UPS man, then I will contend that it is a tie).

And Tommy who didn't really get to choose got to be a bird, because it's a nice warm costume. I realize that this is probably the last year that I'll get to choose for Tommy. I'm not really sad about that, instead I'm pretty excited to hear what he'll choose next Halloween.
His bag said bird seed on it. You can't see because he was busy practicing flapping his wings in this picture. Only Tommy.
We had such a great night trick or treating. Luke said thank you at every single house and Tommy perfected standing there sweetly smiling in such a way that he somehow got extra candy placed in his bag.
These guys. When did they get to be so big? Luke directed all of us to stand at the end of each driveway, while he held Tommy's hand and helped him up to the door. Last year, I had to walk both boys up to each door. What a difference a year makes.
(Shout out to my mom who made both boys' costumes.)
I hope your Halloween was full of smiles and candy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Brilliant Feet

For the first month or so of school, I ran every Tuesday and Thursday morning before work. I liked waking up a little eariler and getting my run over and done while the rest of my house was still sleeping (well, usually--often times, Tommy would be standing at his gate as I tried to slip downstairs to run). I liked being able to just go straight home after work and not have to worry about where and how to fit a run into my day.

But as it got darker and darker out in the mornings, it became more complicated. My runs were erratic because I ran the first half mile so fast, trying to get out of my dark neighborhood and onto the brightly lit, heavily trafficked main road. The last time I ran in the morning, I ended up freaked out because a van pulled into a side road directly in my running path. I am certain they were probably doing something completely normal, like delivering a paper or picking someone up for a carpool. But with it still so dark outside and no one else around, I ended up turning around and doubling back because, yes, I am quite paranoid.

After that, I started running on the bike trail near my work. I've learned a lot since I've started running this area. Only crossing the road once, two miles in, is great. I don't have to worry about traffic or a car coming up behind me. I can just run.

I've learned to tell the difference between twigs and snakes. It helps when the snake is moving or in a decidedly un-twiglike shape. Still, there are times when what I think is a twig will suddenly dart into my path and yes, it startles me.

I've learned that when a faster runner passes me, it's okay to acknowledge that they're much faster than I'll ever, but that doesn't make me any less of a runner. I've learned that I will almost always be jealous of bicyclists, with their easy ways to store water. Runners, suggestions for fuel belts or do I need to just suck it up and start carrying a water bottle in my hand? I really don't like to have extra things, but I was pretty parched after seven miles today.

I've learned that because the trail has slight inclines and many curves, I never quite know what's up ahead. Each further run takes me to new sights. The first time I went seven miles, I discovered this bridge just after the 3.5 mile mark. Because I run out and back, my feet haven't taken me beneath this bridge just yet, but I am certain they will.

I've learned that no matter how I run, the half mile between my car and this bridge always seems so short on the way out, but SO LONG on the way back.

I know my car is up there, but I always feel like the end of the trail is moving away from me as I'm running and no matter how fast I go, it keeps getting further away. It's like some sort of horrible optical illusion, until I finally round the corner and see my car. I probably look like some sort of deranged maniac when I come bursting out of the trees and leap into the waiting driver's seat of my car.

Mostly, I can't believe I'm saying this, but mostly, I've learned that I love running. There were times early on when I hated it. I hated every single second that my feet hit the pavement. And don't get me wrong, there's still a huge internal struggle between lazy Erin and running Erin every time I have to go for a run, but these last few weeks, I've noticed the slow drain of stress out of my body when my feet first hit the pavement. I never thought I'd feel this way, but I'm so glad I do.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Muddy Good Time

Saturday morning, Sarah and I ran the Monster Dash mud run and obstacle course.

First of all, can I just say that we rocked our Team Sparkle skirts?

I learned a few things about mud runs. One, the walls were just as difficult as I thought. I made it over one, but not without quite a few bruises and scrapes. I counted one as a victory and skipped the other two.

Two, swinging across a creek via rope is actually not as easy as it may seem. In fact, my train of thought went something like this, Whee! I got this, I got--uh oh. SPLASH. I also learned that rope burn on the inside of your thighs is maybe not ideal.

Climbing a cargo net was pretty easy, but getting to the top and realizing that the way down involved a steep board with two small planks stretched across? That was a little terrifying. But I did it!

And last, I learned that if you crawl through a water-filled tunnel, it will be cold and disgusting. So cold that I got down in it, felt the water go into my shirt and up and around my back and froze, thinking, What am I doing here!? Then my common sense kicked in and I realized that sitting there questioning what choice in life led me here was not going to get me out of the cold, wet tunnel any faster. Not surprisingly, the majority of the mud on my body came from this obstacle.

After the tunnel, the next mile was pretty much all running in mud. It was fun. And squishy. Sarah and I both ended up with trashed shoes.

Mostly, though, I learned how much fun this is compared to a regular 5k. It wasn't about the time it took or keeping a steady pace, it was just about being there, doing the obstacles, and having fun in the meantime. I can't ever see myself doing Tough Mudder because that scares me, but maybe something like the Down & Dirty Mud Run will be on my calendar for the next year?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

He is, I am, We are

I hate being repetitive. Thematic. I tell my students, Vary your writing. Don’t get stuck on one topic. Don’t be afraid to explore.
Yet here I am, stuck on one topic. Predictable. Boring. Thematic. Blogging about seizures again. Still, epilepsy in its nature is not predictable and maybe that’s what makes it so hard. That a child can be just fine one second, playing with a ridiculously huge collection of Thomas trains and in the blink of eye that same child can fall and start seizing in the middle of his trains.

Because of course, this was my evening last night. The same as other evenings. Did you know that his seizures almost always happen at the exact same time of night? We could set a clock to them. But different, because it’d been so long since he’d had a true grand mal seizure that those little seeds of hope starting to sprout.

Last night was more painful than other nights because Luke was the one who found Tommy seizing. Shane and I were in the kitchen. Luke was on the couch with his Leapster, Tommy on the floor with his trains. A four year old can be often dramatic, yelling and hollering like his hair is on fire when really he only wants to get my attention to ask me why clouds are white. But last night, as he came running into the kitchen, shouting my name, I knew. The fear in his voice was so real, so tangible, so much more than I ever wanted to hear in my four year old’s voice. He drug me into the living room and I had that horrible moment that always happens during seizures, where my brain forgets itself for just a split second and I feel like I’m above my body and I think, What is happening? Why is his face like that? Why are his arms twisted and his lips blue? And then I zoom back into my body, scoop him up, and talk to him. Tell Shane to look at the clock. Comfort Luke. Praise Luke. Calm myself internally. Hold my shaking child, exhale when the tremors stop, when he sighs, his eyes flutter open, then close and he drifts into that post-seizure state of unconscious, pale-faced sleep.

He’s so verbal these days, so aware of what words mean and how to answer questions. Last night I held him and said, Were you scared?

He nodded his head two times. Yes. Yes, mama.

linking with Just Write

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall(ing) In Love

I really do not like autumn. I try, because it is pretty, but all I can think about is how winter is coming and I hate, hate winter. Still, I can’t help but have a little soft spot in my heart for this time of year, because it all seems so vivid. The air is crisp, the leaves are beautiful and everything seems to have a sharper quality.

This weekend was very much an autumn type of weekend. Friday, we went to a hayride put on by Luke’s school.

We thought Tommy would go crazy for the hayride, but in typical Tommy style, he panicked last minute and refused to go anywhere near it. Of course! So, he and Shane stayed behind by the bonfire, while Luke and I went on a long, dark hayride. The sky was clear that night and we could see so many beautiful stars.

You can have bonfires in the summer or spring, but doesn’t it seem like the wood smoke always smells a certain, different way at this time of year than it would in July?

I’m not sure why that is, but it just seems like the smoky smell that might be annoying at any other time of year actually smells good in October.

Saturday night, we went to a Halloween party. I was too lazy to get the boys costumed up, but I was able to break out this awesome monster hoodie that we’ve had since Luke was a little guy. My friend Ashlee made it and we still get so many compliments on it.

The boys loved the bounce house and okay, I did too. I’m not the only adult who still loves bounce houses, am I? Bounce houses were not really a huge thing when I was a kid. In fact, I only ever remember one called the Moon Walk that was always at my town’s Octoberfest. Otherwise, there weren’t bounce places and certainly no one rented them for parties. I had such a deprived childhood, clearly!

Sunday morning, I snuggled on the couch with my two favorites boys. All three of us had hair that smelled like a bonfire. I tried to breathe in their scent, holding onto it before the cold winter months that will make me hate fall again. But right now? I kind of like it. If only we could just skip the snow and go straight to spring.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Love Notes

On Luke's first day of preschool, I wrote a note and put it in his lunch bag. Feeling sad that unlike some kids, he'd have to stay four hours after preschool, I wrote a note on an index card telling him how I loved him and how I couldn't wait to hear all about his big day.

He can't read, of course. I was worried that he'd be too shy to ask someone to read it for him, but I was wrong. In the car that afternoon, he told me that he asked his teacher to read it and she did.

I kept sending him notes, but somedays, I'd be in a rush and forget. Somedays I'd be too tired at the end of the night to even think about it. One day, I picked him up early after a doctor's appointment and his extended care teacher told me how the notes I send are so sweet. She said every day after washing his hands, he retrieves his lunch bag and very shyly brings the note to her. She told me she reads it to him and he smiles. She said often times, he puts it in his pocket, then removes it during quiet time and looks at it. Once, she said, he kissed it and laid it next to his head. She said, "You can tell he really loves you."

I haven't missed a note since then. The other night, I asked Luke what he wanted me to pack in his lunch. He said, "A turkey and cheese sandwich, carrot sticks, and a note."

Always, buddy.

Linking up with Just Write

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In A Year

I don't remember what I had for dinner two nights ago. I might be able to tell you what I wore two nights ago, but only if I dig through the laundry pile. Even then, it's iffy.

But I can tell you what I ate a year ago. I can tell you what I wore a year ago. I was wearing black yoga pants, an orange top, and a black sports bra. My customary post-work comfy clothes. We had spaghetti for dinner. We ate the spaghetti on yellow plates. Vividly, I remember this, yoga pants, uneaten spaghetti, yellow plates. The way the fork scraped across the plate as I cleared the remainders of dinner from the yellow plates into the garbage. The weather, eerily like today. Indian summer, blue skies, changing leaves and sunshine. Those stunning moments of clarity, broken by my husband shouting my name from the other room.

In six years of marriage and two kids, we don't use each other's names as much as we should. Him shouting my name should have been the tip off that something was wrong. My even-keeled husband raising his voice. I'm the shouter, the one who gasps with excitement, yells when startled, when I see a big spider. That's me, not him. Then there was the sound of his voice. Fear. And beneath it, an undercurrent of grief, of helplessness.

I froze for a minute, blinking like it was a dream. "I think he's choking!" And on the floor, a silent child with closed eyes, blue lips, and a pale face. On the floor, the scariest sight I've ever seen. Holding him, yelling for my husband to please call 911. Holding him, looking out the window like help would come dashing through at that minute. Holding him, in that one terrible moment actually thinking he was dying and wondering, wondering how on earth I could possibly go on. Then as teeth clamp down on my shaking finger, my finger trying to clear an already clear airway, the sudden smashing flashback to a red class cross, the instructor saying, "Never put your finger in the mouth of someone having a seizure. They'll snap their mouth shut on you." The purple-red angry teeth marks on my finger as I pried it out, "I think he's having a seizure, he's breathing, he's breathing, thank God, stay with me."

And he keeps breathing. Sometimes seizing. Mostly untroubled by being an epileptic two and a half year old. He'll never remember that night. Still, our lives changed, maybe just because we've never been so scared. Maybe we'll tell him about it. Maybe he'll outgrow all of this and we'll never have to tell him. But in my heart, I know that no matter how old I am, no matter how many troubles and losses I live, I'll never forget spaghetti on yellow plates.

Linked with Heather of the EO's Just Write