Monday, July 30, 2012


Canoeing was number one on Luke's summer to-do list. Early on this summer, we picked up a pamphlet for a place called Hodges Canoe Trips located only about an hour south of us and were excited to check it out. Only the weather kept getting hot and staying hot and let's be honest, who really wants to canoe when the heat index is over 100? Not me. But with a lower forecast this week, we planned on it for the end of the week. When I called, the owners warned me that the river was low due to drought and we would need to walk the canoe over the rocks. I assured them that was not a problem, as we had two little kids, one of whom is crazy and has absolutely no fear around water. My parents came with us and Luke rode in their canoe while Tommy rode with us.

As we found out, low meant REALLY low in some spots with huge exposed rocks. Where it was low, the water also tended to flow fast. You would get used to the gentle flow of higher water, then the depth of the water would drop and it would flow fast over rocks.
Although Tommy was not at all afraid to dive head first into the river, he was afraid of the noise the canoe made when it hit the rocks. This resulted in an incident where he jumped over the side of the canoe in the middle of a current and stated that he was going to walk the rest of the way. I lost a flip flop that was quickly pulled downstream, Shane went downstream with the canoe and I managed to bash a toe into a rock while convincing Tommy that, no, walking was NOT an option. Oh, Tommy.


It was a beautiful day, though. The boys had such a great time and aside from a brief crop up thunderstorm, we had perfect weather.

It was definitely an adventure. About halfway through, I remarked to Shane that our canoe had a lean to it. About ten minutes later, something happened and our canoe leaned in such a way that I ended up underwater. It happened so fast that I have no memory of the canoe leaning or being thrown out or anything. My first thought was opening my eyes underwater, looking up and thinking, "What am I doing underwater?" My next thought was, "I hope Shane has Tommy." I came up for air, grabbed my glasses which were floating downstream (yes, I'm STILL not allowed to wear contacts), waved to everyone that I was all right... then sat back down in the river when the adrenaline shakiness hit me. I was turned talking to my mom when it happened and she said I just flipped backwards over the side of the canoe. Shane thinks we clipped a rock underwater. Fortunately, he managed to grab Tommy and keep the canoe mostly upright. Who knew canoeing was such a high impact sport?

My soul could be happy living on a river, I think. The water was the perfect temperature, so cool and clear--aside from always trying to steal our shoes.
It definitely made for a fun day for all of us, although we were all exhausted by the end of the four mile canoe trip! It was a good workout. My favorite parts were watching the boys outside of the canoe, splashing in river and climbing on rocks.
I took this when we stopped on a little island to eat our lunch. We let the boys take off their life vests and splash around and climb on the boulders. I regretted letting Tommy remove his when he began cannoballing off this boulder.
I'm so glad Luke asked to do this.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

these boys, this joy

I'm trying not to look at the calendar, but I see you, August. I see you coming and I do not like it. I do not like it one bit. Still, I can't say that we haven't been living these summer days to our best.

We went to the beach last week after a storm. We couldn't swim because of the riptide, but there were waves that we don't usually see at our beaches. The boys loved jumping in the shallows.
And ducking beneath the crest of the waves as they'd roar over their heads.

We made it to the nursery as Luke wanted, but they were out of daisies. Instead he picked out this beautiful pink hibiscus. I think I like it better.

Monday, we went to the fair. We kind of love the fair, as evidenced by last year's post, and the year before that, and this year when Luke was only a year and a half and there was no Tommy! We also went when Tommy was a newborn, but I must not have blogged about it because I had a newborn. I remember because we saw the fireman who cut Tommy's cord and he was really excited to see us. Anyway, we've been fans of the fair since Luke was old enough to enjoy it.
This year was definitely the best, as we spent a record five hours--with a heat index of 100. We didn't intend to spend this much time at the fair, but the boys were having so much fun. Tommy is taller this year and could go on more rides and well, their smiles made the heat bearable.
Tommy rode his first roller coaster, right in front next to his big brother. We were worried that he might get scared, but he was anything but.
They were buds for most of the day at the fair.

When Tommy wasn't big enough for something, he was surprisingly understanding. The best part is that he was only three inches short for the ones Luke could go on but he couldn't, so next year... I'm certain they'll be on everything together.

On Friday, weather permitting, we plan on crossing off one more thing on Luke's summer to do list. Hopefully I can share with you next week!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

These Three Years

It's hard to believe that it's been three years since Tommy came rocketing into our lives. Three seems so big. No longer a baby. Not really a toddler, even. Heather wrote about her son's birthday and how it isn't any more special than her other children's birthdays, yet the gratitude for her son's health is overwhelming. That's how I felt at Tommy's birthday. As the candle was blown out, I knew he was too young to make a wish or to understand, so I wished for him. For no more seizures, for continued health, for the wish I hoped he'd make if he could. These three years haven't been the easiest of our lives. They definitely haven't been the easiest financially, not by a long shot. They've been sad and scary in a lot of places. Yet, they've been beautiful and happy in ways that I could never imagine before there were four of us.


That's still one of my favorite photos. They don't always treat each other so lovingly these days, but at the end of the day... they still love each other a lot.

Being his mom isn't easy. It doesn't involve a lot of sleep, as many of you know. It involves a lot of patience. It involves temper tantrums and things that your older brother never did. It involves carrying you out of stores with your back arched and sitting in the car at restaurants while everyone else finishes their meals because you wouldn't sit in your chair any longer or because you threw a fork. Things that I was smug about with your older brother, because he never did those things.
005 (3)
You've thrown me for a lot of loops, buddy. Precipitous labor. Two overnight hospital stays before your third birthday. But you've also pushed me to do things I would never have done without you, like raise almost $4000 for the epilepsy foundation. You don't know the people you've touched with your story and what you've taught them about this disease. I wish it wasn't a part of our lives, but you've taught me to never back down. I'm so glad I get to be your mom. Keep the adventures coming.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Somehow, we celebrated a third birthday this weekend. Three. I can hardly believe it. His actual birthday is Wednesday, but it didn't matter to him. All that mattered is that there was cake, a piñata, friends, and a park. As always, I didn't pick up my camera nearly enough, but also as always, it was a truly beautiful day surrounded by friends and family who we love so very much.


There was playing


And piñata hitting

Candy pile!

Present unwrapping
Tommy didn't entirely understand how this worked and kept saying, "Can I take this home?" or "Is this mine?"

There were cute babies


And cute big kids


And one seriously tired birthday boy... we live four miles from the park where we had his party. He was asleep before we reached our driveway.

Every year on his birthday, I count our blessings for all the love and happiness we have surrounding us. This year, I felt like I counted more than ever. We are so very blessed.

Tommy's 2nd birthday
Tommy's 1st birthday

Monday, July 9, 2012

makin' a list, checkin' it twice

At the start of summer, Luke and I sat down together and made a summer to-do list of all his hopes for our summer vacation. I explained to him that we might not be able to do everything on the list, but we sure would try.


Yesterday, we went back and revisited his list now that summer is half over (SOB). This summer hasn't been the most cooperative or the happiest summer in the history, yet we've still managed to do quite a few things on his list. Luckily, some of them were pretty easy, like go past his sitter's house. She lives right down the street, so we've done that quite a few times. Of course, now that his training wheels are gone, he's on his bike every single day, even during the recent heat wave. We've been to the beach many times and took my mom on a picnic to Taltree, not to mention kicking off the summer with a hole in one.
After going through the list, we realized that we've done all but four things--and we'll be celebrating Tommy's birthday this weekend. So of course, we needed to make a new list!


This one was a little bit more simple. Luke wants to go play at friends' houses and have friends over to play. He wants to go to a local greenhouse and buy daisies to plant. We're still going to go canoeing and to the zoo. If finances allow, we'll go to the waterpark. He wants to go to Toys 'R Us once this summer and play at an indoor educational center and we all want to take our bikes to a nearby bike trail, so we can enjoy a family bike ride without worrying about cars.

Although I want the rest of summer to drag by very slowly, I can't wait to see where his list takes us.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Run Around Revisited

A year ago, I ran my first ever 5k on July 4th. At that point, I'd only ever run for time, not distance. Three miles was a new length for me, so my only goal was to finish without walking.

I remember that I ran in a Champion tank, my old Asics and a pair of cotton capris. I know. The horror. Cotton! What was going to wick away my sweat?! I remember looking around at the runners and realizing that people didn't wear cotton and feeling slightly embarrassed and thinking that I needed to go shopping after the 5k. I was so unsure about whether I'd stick with this running thing that I wanted to actually run a 5k before I put money into it. I met my goal and finished in 31:33 without walking a single step. With it being my first race, I remember being surprised at the kick I was able to give when the finish line was in sight. I thought I had nothing left, yet I was able to dig in and sprint across the finish line. It was the first of many times I'd feel that and I loved it.

Yesterday, I ran the same course. What a difference a year makes. I wore an Adidas tank, lululemon shorts (which are amazing and worth every penny), Brooks and my Garmin watch (which decided to lose the satellite halfway through). I was ready. I trained for this. Not the type of training that just gets you across the finish line, but the type of training that gets you across the finish line harder, faster. For the last ten weeks, I've been following the own it training plan in the Train Like a Mother book. I've been doing speed work and tempo runs and all manner of things that make me feel like I'm dying, but they actually work. I've felt my legs get speedier and my lungs push through the burn. And then. The weather. Of course, the one element you can't control. I remember last year's 5k. It was sunny, but it was in the 70s with a breeze. It was perfect. Of course, I got hot while I was running, but it wasn't unbearable. Yesterday, however, was unbearable. Yesterday was the kind of race where they warn you about the heat at the start. By 8AM, it was mid-80s with 85% humidity. As Sarah put it, it was a lovely day for running through a swamp. I knew I wouldn't be able to push like I wanted and I knew I might very well see my official PR go out the window, so I faced that if it happened, I would find a cool weather 5k and push hard then. Still, I was disappointed.

The race started and I was sweating standing still. I went out pretty hard in the first mile and did that in 8:59. I felt hot but strong. I don't normally do water stops in 5ks, but I felt like I needed it. Not to drink, but to dump on my head. Unfortunately, the kids manning the water stop were not too swift, so I had to stop and wait. The guy with them was yelling at them to get with it and get back out there, so I wasn't grumpy about it, but in a 5k, even a few seconds can count. Still, I was happy to have the cup of water that ended up on my head. With the water stop and a hill at the halfway point, mile 2 took me about 9:30. My Garmin decided to quit, but there was a guy at the mile 2 split yelling out times and I hit mile two at 18:56. I was feeling hot and heavy but still pretty good at this point, to be honest. And then mile 2.5 came and I was DONE. They don't close down the streets for the 5k, but they do stop traffic for the runners. Traffic was stopped for about a half mile stretch and the heat and exhaust from the idling cars created a really bad situation. It was like hitting a wall. I wasn't the only runner struggling. Just about every runner around me stopped at this point and started doing intervals. Between the smell of the fumes and the intense heat, it was brutal. Then I noticed that I had goosebumps on my arms and my forehead was no longer sweating, which is never a good sign so I reeled myself way in. I still ran bits and pieces of the last half mile, but I'll be honest in that I'm certain I walked more than I ran. I just couldn't do it. I kept thinking, I'm a half-marathoner. How am I not finishing this strong? The simple answer is: I couldn't. The heat created by the cars with the heat already in the atmosphere got scary. My body was sending out some scary signals and I was terrified of what would happen if I pushed it. And I simply couldn't push it. I started running when I knew the finish line was around the corner. As the finish line was in sight, I saw that the clock said 29:30 and I knew that I would finish with a sub-30 result, but just barely... and for the first time in my running career, I could not find that final push. I tried, believe me, but my body coasted across as the clock said 29:45. The final sprint is my favorite part. Even in the half marathon, I pushed myself across the finish line at a 7:30 pace--after 13 miles, but I couldn't do it after running 3 miles yesterday.

Still, I achieved my goal, in horrible conditions. I shaved almost two minutes off of last year's time! I know that a sub-30 is attainable and I know that in better conditions, I can probably get an even better PR. All in all, I'm happy with it.
Even better, Luke ran in the kids' race afterward yesterday. He had a blast! He ran with a smile on his face the entire time (something I am sure I did not do). They split the kids so that he was with 5 and up, meaning he was in the younger group. He ended up being on of the littlest in his racing group, but he still beat five kids. Watching him run and love it was way more fun than my PR!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Golden Brown

I've lived in this house for seven years. We have a field behind us, which is kind of a blessing for this girl who grew up in the country and really, really doesn't belong in suburbia (really is an understatement--just ask my neighbors).

For the first time since I've lived here, the farmer planted winter wheat. It's been wonderful. It was green in the winter when everything was brown and as everything turned green in the spring, it turned a beautiful shade of gold. When the wind would blow, it would wave and honestly, I would be so happy if he planted only winter wheat for the rest of forever. I much prefer this to corn because when there's corn, I spend every night thinking, "OH GOD WHAT IF THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE CORN FIELD WHEN I GO OUTSIDE IN THE DARK AND IT COMES RUNNING OUT AND EATS ME?!?!" I am not exaggerating.

Anyway, my own issues aside, I knew that the wheat would be gone soon because such is the life of winter wheat. I wanted to get a nice photo of the boys before it was harvested, so I took them outside at golden hour and spent about another hour trying to get a shot where both kids were smiling and looking at the camera. Poor Luke, my good picture taker, lost his smile near the end after smiling brilliantly only to hear that Tommy was, of course, not looking at the camera or was glaring at the camera. Oh, Tommy.

I finally got it, though. And just a few days later, the wheat was harvested and now we have an empty field (which is still much preferable to corn because, again, I know nothing lurks within the dark).


Happy 4th of July from Snoopy and our boys!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Two Wheels

Luke learned to ride his bike with no training wheels. It happened suddenly, as these things do. One day he asked to take his training wheels off. We told him he could try, figuring we'd put them back on at the end of the night. He took off shakily across the grass. To our surprise and joy, he balanced for about five feet before he fell. He got back on again and again, going further each time before we let him try the sidewalk.

It wasn't the TV bike riding moment I'd always envisioned, where I would hold on to the back of the bike, then let go before he knew it and watch him ride away without him realizing he was doing it all on his own.

Instead, he yelled at me to let go of his bike because he was ready to go without me. Only, I wasn't ready to let go.

Now he rides like he never even had training wheels. He took one really bad spill where there's a patch of gravel. He had gravel in his arms, legs, even his mouth. I walked him crying into the house, washed out his cuts and scrapes with hydrogen peroxide, picked out the gravel, bandaged him up and as soon as I was finished, he sniffed away the tears and said, "Can I get back on my bike?"

There's a lot of lessons to learn in two little wheels.