Thursday, May 31, 2012


At this time of year, I actually watch my posture decline. My shoulders slump inward and I pitch forward like I'm walking up a hill, with my head cast down. It's awful. I hate to be dramatic, but this time of year is difficult. I know what you're thinking--I'm a teacher. I get summer off. I should be dancing around, casting trails of confetti behind me as I celebrate. And I will, soon enough, but the weeks leading up to that are difficult. The kids are crazy. 8th graders go through their own version of senioritis. They figure out that punishments aren't as effective because they're heading to the high school next year. Hey, what can we really do when they won't be back in the fall? I mean, we can hold over a punishment for really serious infractions, but most of them aren't serious. Instead they're just upsetting on a minor level. Disrespectful. Frustrating. They stop doing work. They stop listening. They're immature and not quite capable of making rational decisions, so when you ask why they didn't turn in their homework, they might respond by flipping you off behind your back or being outright rude in response. Plus, the end of the year brings about standardized test results. These come with disappointments and pride. I had kids pass the test this year WHO HAVE NEVER PASSED IT and oh yes, I am proud of them. Then I had kids pull a low score when I know they could do better, when I know they must've just screwed around and not taken it seriously at all. That's a hard pill to swallow and it's hard to hold your shoulders up straight when thinking about this.

On top of this work-related slump, I've been going through a running slump. I'm not sure why. I've been having a difficult time acclimating to the warmer weather. I'm tired, just plain tired. I'm adjusting to the new migraine meds. Whatever the reason, I just haven't been feeling it. I've been feeling it so little that I've been needing to take an obscene amount of walk breaks, like before I even reach a mile. What is THAT garbage? Every time I'd go out, I'd think, "Okay, this is going to be different. This is going to be like it used to be." And then before I knew it, I'd be gasping for breath, even though I was running slower than I used to run and then I'd be walking and fighting back tears and angrily cursing myself. It's been frustrating, to say the least.

Last night, I went to bed early. I started to feel the beginnings of a migraine. The temperature dropped by about twenty degrees, which tends to bring on a headache. I had a run planned in the morning before work, so I didn't want to mess around. I took the new medicine my doctor prescribed and was passed out in bed by 8pm. I woke up at 1 and still had a migraine. I knew that if I had even an inkling of a migraine, I couldn't risk a run in the morning. I couldn't risk pushing myself over the edge. I woke up at a little after 4 and felt great. The medicine worked and I felt so peaceful. My alarm went off at 4:30 and I got up, dressed, stretched and headed out the door. It's so grey and quiet at this hour of the morning. I did a two minute warm up walk in the first mile... I'm sometimes really bad about warm up walks. I know they're important, but I usually just want to jump right in. This morning, I just enjoyed easing into it. And then at .2, I started a slow, easy run. I kept thinking, "I don't want to over think this. I know I just started, but this feels really good." It did. It felt right, for the first time in a long time. I hit the mile marker and smiled, because I didn't want to stop. I kept going. I had to stop briefly, for about 20 seconds, at 3 miles because of traffic and I panicked that I wouldn't be able to start again, but I did and kept going until I had to stop again for traffic after 6 miles. My middle 3 miles were all sub-10 minute miles. Every time I'd finish a mile and my watch would flash the average pace, I was in disbelief. I didn't feel like I was pushing that hard and yet, I was able to keep going, something I hadn't been able to do at a much slower pace just a few runs ago.
I finished so happy. I needed this. I took a quick shower, threw my hair into two wet braids because I didn't have time to dry it, and headed off to deal with a bunch of crazy 8th graders. In spite of this, I was smiling.

Because, here's the great thing about slumps... they don't last forever. They can't. What pushes you down must eventually let up--or you eventually find a way to push it up.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Our Broken Brains

Anyone who knows me, knows that I've dealt with migraines for a long time. For awhile, I just figured they were my lot in life. And really, they were okay. I got them once a month. I would take an Excedrin Migraine and pass out, then when I'd wake up, I'd feel better. It went on that way for awhile. I tried dietary and lifestyle changes Then Luke was born and they got worse, but not too much worse. Then Tommy was born and they got worse, way worse. I was missing work, left and right. Excedrin Migraine didn't even begin to touch them. Stupidly, I still figured it was my lot in life and soldiered through. I tried chiropractic care and that really did work for awhile, but then they came back, with a vengeance.

I'm stubborn to a fault, so it took awhile before I admitted that this shouldn't be my lot in life. It took a few bad incidents this fall, where I had migraines that lasted 48 hours before I admitted that something wasn't right. I was missing too much work. More importantly, I was missing too much of my childrens' lives.

So, I finally, FINALLY shut up with all of my "lot in life" crap and called a specialist. Only the specialist I called was so very special that I had to apply to be his patient. Luckily for me my head was busted enough that he totally wanted me for a patient, but unluckily for me, there are apparently a lot of busted heads out there because although I called in January, the earliest they could get me in was... June. I know. But hey, I've been having migraines since I was 15. The wait from January to June seemed like NOTHING.

The office called last week and said they had a cancellation and could get me in a week early, if I was interested. Unbroken head a week early? Sign me up! Anyone who follows me on twitter knows that I was 800 kinds of nervous for about 800 stupid reasons, first and foremost being that I was absolutely terrified that the doctor was going to make me have an MRI. Remember a year and a half ago when I had to go in the MRI with Tommy? And I kind of alluded to the fact that, oh hey, this was awful? Well, it was AWFUL. So awful that I hope to never, ever have an MRI. In fact, if something should happen that I need an MRI, maybe just take me out back and shoot me instead. And yes, I'm aware that having an MRI done by yourself is probably very different than going into an MRI on your stomach while trying to calm down your panicked 15 month old who you really, really hope doesn't have a brain tumor. Logically, I get this. Illogically, I want nothing to do with an MRI ever again.

Luckily, the doctor put me through a series of physical tests that determined that it's not a tumah, so I don't need an MRI. EXHALE. Anyway, long story short, this neurologist was awesome. We had a great discussion on the genetic connections between migraines and epilepsy and he explained that the brain at the start of a seizure is the same as the brain at the start of a migraine, which I find very interesting. He also brought to light some connections between distance running and migraines, which explains why I've had some nasty migraines after running longer (for me) distances. This doesn't mean that I have to stop running, he just wants me to ease off the distance for awhile. He put me on a daily preventative and gave me a prescription abortive for any breakthrough migraines. There is, of course, no guarantee that it will work or that I won't have a whole slew of side effects that make it not worthwhile, but I have hope and faith that if this doesn't work, we will find something that will. I can't tell you how amazing that makes me feel. For a long time now, I've woken up every morning, every SINGLE morning, and immediately ran through the way I felt to see if I had any signs of an impending migraine looming. Do you know how awful it is to have that on your mind first thing every morning? I look forward to a day when I can just wake up and greet the day.

Don't be stubborn like me. If you're dealing with some sort of chronic issue, don't suffer. It's not worth it. If you have migraines, you don't have to deal with them. You shouldn't have to deal with them. When the doctor asked me to rate the pain of a my migraines, I went the English teacher route and told him that I've had two kids without any pain meds and would much rather go through childbirth than have a migraine. That is absolutely true--that's how bad they are for me. How ridiculous to suffer through that on a sometimes weekly basis. Here's hoping for a less painful future!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Summer Preview

Summer is so close I can taste it. So close that today we dipped our feet in,


and smelled the roses,


while we searched for trains


and frogs (can you see him?).


I already have some tentative plans for how I want to spend our first day of summer, but after that, I just want to be. To play outside, splash in the water, run, play, shout, and live the most in every moment. I cannot wait.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I have pretty amazing family and friends. I already knew this, but it was even more solidified when Shane, Julie, and Donya managed to throw off a surprise party for my 30th birthday.

This is amazing for so many reasons. One, it's beyond humbling to know that a group of busy people took their time and energy to put together something just for you. Two, Shane doesn't have a cell phone, so the fact that he managed to coordinate this without texting anyone is amazing. Three, everyone managed to pull it off in a way that I just thought they were busy my birthday weekend. And four, Luke knew about it and managed to keep it a secret for three weeks straight.

Shane got me out of the house Sunday morning under the guise of taking me to breakfast. He said his mom was going to watch the kids all day so we could go out to breakfast and dinner. Before we left for breakfast, I took all the sheets off the bed, washed them, and had them in the dryer, because I was definitely planning on taking a nap after breakfast. I also wasn't planning on eating lunch after breakfast, so I definitely ate a huge serving of french toast stuffed with bananas, peanut butter, and bacon. It was, in a word, amazing.

While I was making a glutton of myself, my house was being transformed.
And filled with desserts.

After breakfast, we went to CVS because I needed to pick up a prescription. This worked out for Shane, who needed to kill more time before we went home. Walking into CVS, we ran into one of my coworkers. I thought he was being really rude because he walked off while I was talking to him and didn't wish me a happy birthday. It turns out he was headed to our house and was panicked that he was going to ruin the whole thing. Ha!

When we got home, I was pretty excited to take my nap. Until we walked in and a bunch of people in my living room started yelling surprise at me. I don't remember what I said, but I think I called Shane a jerk.

The neatest part of this whole thing was looking around the room and taking in who was there... it was incredible to look from person to person and register that they were there for me.
Next I went around the room and hugged everyone and laughed at whatever excuse they'd given me. I was super surprised to see my bestie Leah there because she lives 2ish hours away... and she'd told me she had a baptism to attend!

Someone took my purse and told me to go downstairs and look at the decorations and then someone else handed me a mimosa, which was like my third of the day. It was all kind of a blur...I really couldn't believe it was happening, how incredible everything was.
(To read more about this amazing cake, visit Julie's blog.)

I blew out candles and everyone sang while I was holding Tommy. Then Luke realized that he missed out on cake and was sad, so we decided that the first time was just a dry run. Julie lit the candles again and this time, I held Luke while everyone sang and I blew out the candles.

I didn't really know what to wish for because I couldn't think of anything else I could possibly need, you know? I felt like I had it all. It's amazing to get to a point in your life where your family and friends throw you a surprise party with the perfect decorations and the perfect desserts because they know just what you'd want. And then you unwrap gifts and every single gift is something you would've purchased for yourself because, again, they know you so well. There were even presents from people like Ryley and Cameron and Adam, who couldn't make it because they live a million miles away or because their wife just had a baby... yet they still took the time to do something special for me. That is humbling.

I was and still am so overwhelmed at all that these two did to throw this together. And my husband, with whom I apparently didn't take a picture? Oops!

I wasn't dreading turning thirty. Age is just a number and I'm probably in better health now than I was ten years ago, but I was worried that my thirties would not top my twenties. I can't think of a more fitting way to ease that worry than to start my thirties off with one of the best days of my life. I'm sure that I've forgotten details or people to thank, but what is overwhelmingly with me--reflecting back on this and on our Tommy's Team walk--is how incredibly, amazingly blessed I am to have such love and support in my life. You guys? I am really, really lucky.

Thank you to Donya for these incredible photos. You can see all of them here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Down and Dirty

At my party a few weeks ago (I am going to blog about this very soon, I promise, I just need to get pictures in order!), there was a sign welcoming to the dirty thirties. This turned out to be very literal, as Bari and I did the Down and Dirty Mud Run yesterday morning. When I did a mud run last October, I loved it and wanted to find another. Unfortunately, winter doesn't make for a good mud run season. I found this run pretty quickly and convinced Bari that she needed to do this with me and yes, she would love it. Because this run is partnered with Operation Gratitude, the course was staffed with service men and women who definitely provided motivation on some of the more difficult obstacles.

Being girly girls, we wore our Team Sparkle skirts, of course!

Because Bari is recovering from an injury, we didn't run it. I was completely fine with that, because a mud run, to me, is more about having fun and enjoying yourself and less about setting some fabulous time goal. Besides, I can barely run fast on a regular day, let alone with 18 pounds of mud caking my shoes! Even without the obstacles, this was a tough course. It was VERY hilly--and I don't mean little hills, I mean the type of monsters that you're not sure how to walk down without killing yourself.
That said, despite recovering from an injury, Bari was a beast at the obstacles requiring upper body strength. I was, uhh, not. Despite that, I managed to successfully complete all but one of the obstacles. This one got me!
In my defense, I wanted to go on the short wall, but a very stern woman in fatigues yelled at me to not wuss out and that the short wall was for little kids. So I took the big wall. By some grace of God, I made it all the way to the top, put my hand on the ledge to pull up... and the mud coating my hand did not make for good leverage. At which point, I went WHOOSH straight to the bottom, where some buff eye candy in a uniform broke my fall by grabbing me under my arms. In all honesty, getting caught by this guy wasn't half bad, so you could say that failing to climb over the wall was a good strategy. I could've tried again, but I also managed to gash my knee on the way down and you know what? I'm a wuss. Bari, however, owned that wall!

As if we weren't already muddy enough, this was the last obstacle. I only captured about half of the mud pit! When we went to go in, a guy in uniform yelled that no part of our bodies was to touch the net and then yelled and laughed that I was going to get my hair wet.
I didn't mind getting yelled at, because most of the guys in uniform were serious eye candy. I could actually use them running next to me yelling at me every day.

And this was us after the race...

I definitely got my hair wet. After the race, they handed us a Powerade. I drank it, then asked Bari if I had mud on my face because I wasn't sure if it was mud or if I managed to spill Powerade all over my chin. She confirmed that, as you'll see, it was most definitely mud.

The race was an absolute blast. Spending time with Bari? Also a blast. I can't wait for next year's mud run!

Friday, May 18, 2012


It's hard to believe, but this guy had his last day of preschool today.
As in, he's so big that he'll be going full-time to Kindergarten in August.

I'm not going to lie, my heart was a little bit heavy as we walked into school this morning. Don't get me wrong. I'm so excited to see him grow and see where life takes him.
Watching his sense of style and being emerge has been an amazing journey for me. This year, he's really come into his own. We weren't worried about him on an intelligence level, because hey, we're both teachers. We'd already been working with him at home before he started preschool. Although I try not to be one of those people who brags about my kids all the time, I am super proud of him for receiving an above average score on his Kindergarten readiness testing. He scored in the 96th percentile for verbal skills! Socially, he's grown so much this year. He can still be shy sometimes, but he's much more outgoing and sure of himself. It's been great to see.
(He picked out that outfit all by himself.)

His teachers gave us a portfolio with all sorts of work he did throughout the year, plus a photo they took each month. My favorite was this series of self portraits that he did. The upper left was from September, the right from January, and the bottom left was done this month. I love how they've changed and become more person like as the year progressed!

Last year at this time, we were torn over what to do with preschool. There were so many choices, so many different programs. And then there was the option of not sending him. I mean, we certainly would've saved money. I spent a lot of nights fretting over it, but I'm so glad we made the choice we did. He ended up at an amazing preschool and I'm really going to miss his school and his teachers next year!

But something tells me that his Kindergarten journey is going to be pretty cool.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

For Hope

"Lord save us all from a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms." ~ Mark Twain

When the boys were babies, I used to watch the rise and fall of their chests sometimes. I'd stand nearby and place my hand on them to feel the steady rise and fall, the assurance that they were okay. The first time Luke slept through the night, my heart panicked when I opened my eyes to the sunlight. I rolled over, placed my hand in the bassinet and was reassured that yes, he was still breathing. The thought that a baby could just stop breathing while sleeping was so scary and when they passed that stage, I was so grateful. It was one less thing to worry me.

And then Tommy was diagnosed with epilepsy and I learned about sudden unexplained death in epilepsy... and you know what? That's just not fair. Suddenly I was back to tiptoeing into his room every night, multiple times, placing my hand on his chest and waiting for that reassuring rise and fall. Only this was different than when I had infants, because I wasn't able to hope so much, because it might be something that he'd never outgrow. I wrote about feeling like hope was dragging around behind me, like a lead balloon. It was so hard and heavy, for a long time. I kept it inside of me mostly, but it was such a crushing weight. Somehow, the loss of hope is heavier than anything in this world. For awhile, I thought hope might never return. It's so hard to hope when all you see when you close is your eyes is the image of your child with twisted blue lips and a pale face.

But it did... it always does, and I found the sweet hopeful, happiness that we had before his diagnosis.
Yesterday, we walked and ran for people who might not have that hope. We walked and ran because epilepsy is not stronger than us. It's not. It might be big and scary, but it won't beat us. We walked and ran because maybe someday, there will be a cure and maybe someday, parents won't have to go through what we did. As I ran yesterday, I studied the faces of the people I passed. Some wearing team tshirts, some not, and I wondered how they were connected. I wondered what they went through to lead them to this place.

On the way home, Shane asked me what connections the people on our team had to epilepsy, if their children were epileptic. I said, "No. Their connection is Tommy," and that's it. Some of the people on our team are friends of friends. Some of them, I didn't meet until yesterday. Some of them held my hand through his diagnosis and cried with us.
And those who couldn't walk with us because of time or distance or commitments or illnesses were there in spirit, through donations and support. As of today, Tommy's Team has raised $3345. This amount far surpasses my wildest thoughts on what we could do--and we did it all because we aren't going to let epilepsy win. Because, no matter what, this disease is not stronger than our hope.


Huge thanks go out to the sponsor of our tshirts, Caribbean Pools & Spas

Monday, May 7, 2012


So, a party happened and I was invited, but I didn't know it until we arrived, thanks to the trickery of Julie, Donya, my husband and everyone else who knew about it but kept it a secret (including Luke, who knew for three weeks that this was happening!).

I want to tell you all about it, but I'm busy and tired today (hello, long night of thunderstorm after thunderstorm) so that will have to wait until later this week, when I will hopefully have lots of fun pictures to share (including me covering my mouth and pointing at Shane and calling him a jerk). What I do want to tell you is that if the first day of my 30s is any indication of how the rest of this decade will be, it's going to be pretty amazing and full of blessings.


Thanks, Tommy, for the awkward hand placement. You know how to help your mom take a good photo.