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Saturday, December 18, 2010

AN ABD PhD STUDENT'S PRAYER

Dear God,

My proposal defense is schedule for Monday at 1pm. That is approximately 30 hours from now. Between then and now, I need to make revisions to my slides, add references to said slides and get all of my slides reviewed/approved AGAIN by my adviser. Additionally, I need to buy new panty-hose and decide which necklace to wear - pearls or black beads. I also need to sit through my final class of the semester, host a dinner party at home and deliver 12 plates of cookies to neighbors.

God, I am busy.

I am stressed out.

I'm thinking maybe I should just quit now and go shopping (just kidding, sort of).

God, I have many requests related to my proposal defense. For efficiency's sake (mine, not yours, of course), I'm going to go with list, complete with bullet points.

Lord, please...

- help me to think clearly;
- help me to speak clearly;
- help me to not talk too fast;
- help me to answer questions with an ounce of intelligence;
- give my committee mercy and compassion towards me;
- do not let it snow or there be a snow delay on Monday;
- do not allow the lights to go off or the computer to freeze up during my presentation;
- have Professors MT, MB, and CA not show up - give them busy afternoons so they do not attend my proposal defense;
-help me to remember all the paperwork that needs to be signed by my committee;
- prevent me from spilling my coffee or lunch on my dress-up outfit;
- make sure I pronounce "POLYMORPHISMS" correctly every time I say it;
- ensure that my committee enjoys and appreciates all the homemade goodies I am bringing for them;

and, finally,

- be sure that I pass with flying colors and get approval to conduct my final defense in six month.

Thank you, God.

And it isn't too much to ask, please help me to sleep well the next two nights, not contract the nasty eye infection K had yesterday, keep my voice, and not get a huge zit on my nose or forehead.

Amen.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

CAN'T GET ENOUGH...

MUSIC.

This is my daughter last Friday night at D's office holiday party. There was a band. K just couldn't get enough. She was front and center most of the evening. The guitarist on the right even allowed her to play a few notes...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

ONCE AGAIN...

Once again, I am sick.

This time it is a nasty head cold. Complete with a severe case of laryngitis, a headache, and extremely low energy. I was asleep on the couch last night around 8:45. I also have been having some breathing troubles... I feel like I'm breathing through a straw - a fat one designed for drinking milkshakes. My breaths are shallow and I am winded after walking the 15 steps to our second floor. I don't have much of a cough. I have therefore decided I do not have something serious like bronchitis or pneumonia.

I have been washing my hands after every nose blow, sneeze, and cough. All the while praying that I do not spread my germs to D or K. We have a cookie decorating party, D's office holiday party, Zoo Lights, and other seasonal activities to attend in the coming week. I don't want to miss anything due to illness.

I had planned to get to bed early this evening, but the Steelers/Ravens game is on TV. Here. In my house. I am proud to say I am watching it on our 13 inch TV with rabbit ears. Thankfully our TV reception is good this evening.

Let's go Steelers!

I so rarely get to watch a game - not living in Pittsburgh and not have cable/satellite TV.

I'm going to take a little more advil and grab another cough drop and enjoy some football.

Here's to improved health and a Steelers victory tonight!

Monday, November 29, 2010

PHILADELPHIA MARATHON

I've needed the past week to recover and gain some perspective on my run in Philadelphia. The bottom-line is I had a great race. I enjoyed running with D; although at mile 17 I wasn't acting like it. At mile 16-ish I made a mental note to never run a marathon again. I decided that running 13.1 miles was good enough for me from that moment forward. However, as we closed in on the finish line, I knew that my days as a marathoner were far from over.

There is something so unforgettable about crossing the finish line of a marathon.

Words cannot explain it. You just have to experience it.

And to finish this race in an 8 minute PR. Well, that is just icing on the cake!

My official time at the Philadelphia Marathon:

4:14:57 

D finished in 4:14:58 - I had an awesome final kick! (Read: he totally let me cross the finish line first.)

The race started with some inspiration words from the Philadelphia Mayor, who was awesome. We then heard the horn officially start the race and Rocky Theme Song was soon playing. The first half of the race went wonderfully. We enjoyed the sights of Philadelphia - South Philly looks like a great neighborhood. I totally missed running past the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. We enjoyed the crowds on Chestnut Street and really enjoyed the Drexel University frat boys who cheered us on around mile 8. Most of them looked like they had yet to sleep that night. Their dedication to cheering on the runners was appreciated.

We then ran past the zoo and up a little hill (which did not compare to the monster hill on 13th Street I'm used to running). After the zoo we ran through Fairmont Park. It was a perfect fall day - perfect for running, perfect for being outdoors, perfect for spending time with your husband. At this point in the run, I was completely enjoying myself and was envisioning a great race.

After passing some of the most animated fans in the Park around mile 11, we were on pace to run a sub-4:10 marathon. I had dreams of having a killer second half and finishing under 4:05.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!?

At the half-way point, we were at 2:02 - my second fastest half marathon EVER.

By mile 17 I was not feeling so good. We were passed by the 4:00 pace team that had started after us. And the pace leader had the most annoying voice EVER and she wouldn't stop talking. I slowed down just to let her pass us. Around the same time, I felt the strong urge to use a portapotty. Seriously, I just needed to go to the bathroom and there wasn't a restroom in sight. I saw several women run into the woods to relieve themselves, and although I knew I would have felt better if I had done the same, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. So I held it for the remaining 9.2 miles.

The last miles of the race were hard. At one point, I was running 11 minute miles. It was pathetic.

When we finally reached the turn around point (it was an out and back for the final 13 miles), my legs were tired, my bladder was full, I was missing the crowds of NYC.

BUT... I knew that I was going to run my fastest marathon ever. I just had to keep one foot in front of the other. It wasn't pretty, but we kept on moving forward.

Finally we saw the "MILE 25" sign. With each stride forward the noise from the crowd grew louder. Strangers started cheering me on by name; telling me the end was so near; encouraging me to run with a smile on my face.

I knew we were close when I spotted the museum. D grabbed my hand and held it.

We had done it. Marathon #3 TOGETHER was nearly in the books.

As we came down the hill with the finish line in sight, a mom ran over to the sidelines and grabbed her three or four year old son and they crossed the finish line together. I got a little teary-eyed; wishing K was there and able to run across the finish line with us.

We finished strong.

We grabbed some food and drinks, a free moisturizer sample, and our gear and walked back to our hotel. D secured us late check-out and we made the most of it. I took the longest and hottest shower of my life. And then I enjoyed watching the Steelers game!

We grabbed some pizza before heading home to DC.

All in all, it was a great race. But I have to admit that after running NYC and experiencing the city and the crowds, nothing can compare to it.

Here's to getting a spot in the 2011 NYC Marathon...

NEW TOYS

At the top of tonight's "I'm thankful for..." list are our new toys. We have a very generous benefactor, whose children are outgrowing their toys just as K is old enough to play with them. This past week we became the proud owners of more Fisher Price Little People and puzzles than you could imagine. We've had to order one of these to keep things under control and out of sight.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

WINTER

The weather has turned cold, the smell of pine is in the air, wreaths are up, candles are lit, and we now read by the light of the Christmas tree.

She makes everything more joyful. A simple walk down the street is a memory that will not be forgotten.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

THE CHRISTMAS CARD

I love Christmas cards.

My parents made us take a picture each Christmas every year. There were times when I hated posing for the annual shot. There are some Christmas card pictures that I love and others (especially those during my awkward middle school days) that I'd like to forget. But I love the tradition. I love that I have a little photo album of just Christmas card photos from my childhood. I love looking back and seeing how my brother and I grew and changed from year to year. I love reflecting on what we were doing in the pictures --- there was the soccer year where we wore our soccer uniforms, the year with our dog Bandit, the years of swimming where we wore our Hampton Dolphins uniforms, and the unfortunate years where we tried to pose in our Sunday best. Our family Christmas cards tell the story of us as a family. And I love them.

So it is important to me that each year we take the time to design and send out Christmas cards to friends and family.

This year getting a family Christmas card together was a little bit harder than it has been in the past for several reasons. First, getting a quality family picture with a two year old is challenging - to say the least. And second, my camera was stolen when our house was robbed last month and we did lose some pictures from the computer that was stolen.

I have been feeling a little stressed about getting our card designed and the cards printed in time for the holidays.

Plus there are so many choices when it comes to designing and printing your Christmas cards. This year I decided to use Shutterfly for our Christmas cards. We've been using Shutterfly for several years now as our online photo album and I've always liked their services and products. Their Christmas card designs this year were fantastic (we spent considerable time deciding which one we liked best out of five or six choices) and I really like that the cards can be printed on cardstock. Shutterfly's prices were also reasonable and their holiday savings coupons and deals were unbeatable.

We have coupons for a free photo calendar if we spend $50 or more AND I am also participating in a promotion where you post a blog entry about your shutterfly card and you get 50 cards for free.

SWEET!!

Shutterfly is also offering 30 percent off all cards ordered before December 1st. And free shipping.

We hope to have our cards ordered in the next 24 hours and mailed to friends and family before December 20th. This also poses a huge challenge because my dissertation defense is scheduled for December 20th. We also need to bake and deliver more than 15 plates of Christmas cookies to neighbors and friends. And do some Christmas shopping.

Here's to getting into the Christmas spirit, checking everything off of my to-do list, and celebrating the creation of a wonderful Christmas card...

Monday, November 22, 2010

WE DID IT!!

We did it; we finished the Philadelphia Marathon.

It was a good race. We went out hard and held on for a strong finish.

It was beautiful, but I missed the crowds of NYC and DC.

There was plenty of water and food, but when I needed a port-a-potty there were none to be found.

When all was said and done, it was a great race. I finished 8 minutes faster than my previous best time.

Here's a shot of me and my running partner/husband the day before the race.


It was a great weekend in Philadelphia. More details to come...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

CONFIDENCE

I'm three days away from towing the line at the Philadelphia Marathon.

And I am CRAZY nervous. I've been fighting negative thoughts and self-doubt for nearly a week now. Getting a nasty stomach bug a week before the race has not helped.

Before the sun was up this morning, I was trying to imagine what it was going to feel like on Sunday morning... and I got super nervous again and started thinking I might not be ready for this race. I cannot remember what I felt like last year before NYC. But I'm sure I wasn't this nervous. I quickly spiraled into a lot of negative talk about my training, my preparation, my strength to run another marathon.

Then I jumped into a cold shower - literally.

Standing under the cold water (which was slowly heating up) I washed away all the negative thoughts.

I am SO ready to run this race.

Since training began on July 12, I have:

-- run 512.71 miles

-- run 3 x 20+ mile runs

-- run more than 10 runs of a least 10 miles

-- hit repeats consistently and even managed to descend sets

-- nursed a very sore heal, successfully, and have NO PAIN

-- maintained my weight and feel light on my feet

-- conquered the hill on 13th Street so many times (and to think in early spring I could barely reach the top without stopping to walk)

-- run to National Airport and back home again with D

I am ready for this race. Yes, I've skipped a couple of runs here and there. And this week, I've opted for sleep over running. But I've listened to my body. I've trained hard and smart.

And I'm freaking ready.

I've held a pace of under 10 min/mile on EVERY long run I've run. I've held a sub-9 min/mile pace on several 10 mile and 1/2 marathon runs.

I'm going to rock this marathon.

And I'm going to look good doing it.

photo credit

Monday, November 15, 2010

AN ORIGINAL BY MY HUSBAND

D has been contributing to the blog run by our CSA for the past couple of months.

This past weekend he came up with this yummy salad. Unfortunately, I was too sick to be anywhere near the kitchen while he was cooking. I'm hoping he makes it again SOON.

There are other original recipes by Triple D on the blog. Head over there and check it out.

And congratulations to my husband for creating such a great recipe and publishing it.

STOMACH BUG

photo credit
In case you've missed it, let me be the one to tell you.

THERE IS A NASTY STOMACH BUG GOING AROUND!

How do I know this? Well, it took down each member of our family one-by-one this weekend. K was off beginning Thursday. Her appetite was small and she was fussy about everything. She refused a fried rice and veggies dish - and she love her rice (she's a quarter Asian!!). On Friday she was a little fussier, much snottier, and her diapers were full of loose, loose, loose poop. It was almost more than I could handle.

She went to bed Friday exhausted. She didn't sleep soundly.

But it wasn't K that kept me up for more than half the night. It was D. He was hot; then cold. He wanted more blankets; then less. He was feeling dizzy and sick to his stomach. Around 3am he starting hypothesizing that he was hung-over from the single drink he had with dinner. He was convinced this was the case until around 11am when we determined that his temperature was 102.

I was able to get up and run early Saturday. Last long (8.3 miles) run before the marathon on Sunday. D had great plans to run on Saturday morning, too, but that didn't work out.

D slept most of Saturday. K and I read a lot of books, made some pumpkin muffins, and took a brief walk to the park. At dinner time, she seemed to be feeling better and had a huge bowl of rice, two pumpkin muffins, and some English muffin. I was convinced we were all on the mend and that quite possibly I had avoided the whole sickness all-together.

D gave K a bath on Saturday night. She got really fussy towards the end and bite him on the shoulder as he was taking her out of the water. As he was getter her jammies on, she started to cough. He picked her up and she threw up EVERYWHERE. All over herself; her jammies; the changing table; the floor; D. I came up and took her to the bathroom. She threw up on me and herself a little more. She took another shower to calm down and rinse off. Thankfully she slept through the night and did not throw up again.

I woke up yesterday feeling great, but by mid-morning wasn't feeling so good.

By noon, my temperature was 102 and I was ready to go back to bed.

No one slept well last night.

I'm working from home today nursing a headache and upset stomach.

My goal: start feeling better and rebuild my strength before the end of the week.

PHILADELPHIA MARATHON is just six days away!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

DETERMINED: OUTFIT FOR THE 2010 PHILLY MARATHON

Yesterday K and I hit up the local Fleet Feet store to see if they had one or all of the shirts I was considering for the marathon in stock. They did. And plenty of other cute tops. I tried on several and with a little bit of help from my fashion-conscious, girlie-girl daughter landed a great top to complete my marathon outfit.

Next Sunday (11/21) I'll be towing the start line at the Philadelphia Marathon wearing:

Lucy capri running pants

My trusted purple and black tanktop (to keep my core warm) - I have worn this top for every marathon and half marathon I've run; it is like my marathon security blankie.

Black BondiBand with a glittery star on the front

A plum-colored Nike long-sleeved running shirt with white accent stripes.

I went with the plum-colored shirt for two reasons. First, the color goes well with my skin tone, but is bold enough that I'll stick out in the crowd (plus I'll have my name plastered across my chest in WHITE). And second, I plan to run in my teal colored sports bra. As much as I liked the bright orange and green shirts I tried on, I didn't want my stripped tanktop or sports bra to show through my outer layer. Nothing can be seen through the plum-color. I love it; K does, too. I asked her to pick her favorite shirt from three different colors and she immediately was drawn to the plum.

I went with the Nike shirt over the Brooks because it just fit better. I have long arms for my height and the Nike size-medium had longer sleeves. It rested comfortably on my hips and was a little softer to the touch.

I really like my outfit and so excited.

Goal for this week and next: get my mind into the game and start believing I can run faster than I did in NYC last year. I also need to stretch more EVERY DAY. And probably should increase my stretching sessions to TWICE A DAY.

Pictures of my race attire will be forthcoming.

REASON 5,476 WHY I WON'T BE WINNING MOM OF THE YEAR AWARD

Once again this year, I am taking myself out of the running for the coveted Mom of the Year Award. So to the judges and committees who determine who is to win this award, here me now:

After the events of last night, I am officially out of the running.

Yesterday was an off day for K. She was up an hour early - coughing and complaining of being hungry. She did have a little cough and she was plenty hungry. She finished a cup of milk and banana before heading downstairs for breakfast.

The lost hour of sleep left her a little sluggish during the morning. She had a mini-breakdown at the park because another little girl was eating goldfish crackers and I did not have any crackers (of any kind) for her. To my credit, I did have sliced mango, grapes, and cheese for her. We left the park and headed home for lunch. She ate two bowls of broccoli-cheese pasta. (Maybe my little peanut is in the middle of a growth spurt!?!?) During lunch the man from the security company came to install our alarm system (an hour early). In addition to installing the hardware, which involved some drilling, he was all over our house. So K went down for a nap about an hour later than normal. Needless to say, by the time evening rolled around last night she was spent. She actually told me she was tired before we headed off to meet D at the metro around 6:30.

She finished her bath around 8:40 last night. She pitched a fit over who-knows-what before I convinced her it was time to go upstairs to sleep. We went into her room like we always do. She turned on her "music" (the white noise machine) and turned off her lights. Then she hit the floor running for one last game of "hiding". This has become part of our bedtime routine... in the dark room she hides from me, I count to five, and then she runs up to me with a big, "Ahhhhhhhh... found you!"

Last night she decided to "hide" on top of her big pillows. She dove head first thinking she was going to land on her pillows and become invisible. Instead, she dove head first into the metal bars of her crib. I heard her hit a little spring before the crying began. And I knew it hurt.

I turned on the lights before picking her up.

I grabbed her and and encouraged her to breath (because she is notorious for holding her breath when beginning to cry). It was a relief when I heard her begin to cry. She cried and cried. I finally convinced her to pick her head up off of my shoulder and look at me. She had a bloody cut along the bottom of her nose and a brush-burn along the top of her nose.

We went downstairs to get some love from D and to calm down. We returned upstairs for Tylenol and some cream (read: Neosporin). She did sleep soundly and woke up with only a small scratch on her nose. I left home before she was awake. D called me so that K could say hi. When I asked her about her nose, she started to cry.

Hopefully this event will not scar her for life.

Once she was asleep last night, I talked with D at length about what had happened and we decided that I need to be the grown-up and not allow a game of hiding in the dark.

I need to IPDE - identify, predict, decide, and execute - activities at night that will not cause bodily harm to my sweet, tired little girl.

And with those events and a lesson learned, I hereby present yet another reason why I will not be winning the mom of the year award for 2010.

Friday, November 5, 2010

BEFORE AND AFTER

This is Bob, our Halloween pumpkin, on our front porch the Friday before Halloween.


This is Bob a few days after Halloween. He single-handly is feeding all of the squirrels in northwest DC.


Poor Bob.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

DECISIONS, DECISIONS

The Philadelphia Marathon is 2 weeks and 3 days away!

I'm so excited.

I've trained hard for this race... I've run 1,000 miles this year and close to 500 since July.

I'm looking forward to running a race in a new city, staying in a hotel for a night, running with D (we haven't run a marathon together since 2006), and finishing with a smile on my face!

I am ready. Sort of...

I have everything planned - travel to Philly, care for K, hotel in Philly, fuel for the race, hydration plans, cute capri running pants (black by Lucy), BodyGlide, shoes, socks, and a cute BondiBand. However, I need a shirt to wear during the race. I usually run in a sleeveless tank-top, but I'm going to need something more for a late-November race in Philadelphia.

I've narrowed my choices of race tops down to these three:

1. a long-sleeved Brooks Equibrium shirt in bright pink (to be worn with my "super mom" BondiBand)

2. a long-sleeved Brooks Equibrium shirt in purple (to be worn with either my purple lightening BondiBand or my glitter star band)

3. a short-sleeved Brooks "Girl Power" shirt in pink (to be worn with either my "super mom" or glitter star BondiBand and a black long-sleeved shirt underneath).

Thoughts? Preferences?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A BUSY MONTH FOR THIS MAMA

October came and went like a flash. It was month full of celebrations...

K turned two. We celebrated with two parties - one on her birthday with grandparents and our friends and the second the Saturday after with all of her little friends and their parents. It was a celebratory couple of days.

We are grateful that she is so happy and healthy. Her days are full of songs, dancing, piano playing, trips to the park, story hours, metro rides, and playing with her little friends. At her two year check-up, she got a clean bill of health and she gained four pounds (in six months). She's currently weighing in at 24 pounds and is 33 inches tall.

This month was also monumental for me... I completed my dissertation proposal and set a proposal defense date (Dec 20). Three cheers for being that much closer to being done with school. I'm currently working on a paper for publication and applying for jobs. I plan to defend my dissertation in June 2011.

On October 30 during a 20 mile run with D, I surpassed my goal of running 1,000 miles this year. I'm really proud of myself and really excited about the Philly Marathon. I've trained so stinking hard this year and am excited about running a great marathon (and enjoying running another with D). It is hard to believe that the marathon is less than three weeks away now. I only have two medium-long runs left in this training cycle. On Thanksgiving, D and I are planning to run a 5k Turkey Trot together and I'm toying with the idea of running another marathon or the half at Rohobeth Beach in mid-December. We'll see how I feel after Philly...

As fun-filled and celebratory as this past month has been, it has also been hard. Two weeks ago our house was broken into IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY. Thankfully no one was home and a neighbor was able to call the police as the "bad guys" were breaking in. We had some big ticket items stolen, but the police and our insurance company have been great. Post-break-in, I've been spending my time trying to be comfortable in our house, worrying about coming home at night, and researching security systems. We've also had to deal with our insurance company, order/buy items that were stolen, and have repairs made to the house. It's been hard, but we (read: I) am starting to feel better about being here.

Several lessons learned from our break-in to share:

1. be sure all of your pictures are backed-up - either online or on an external hard drive. Our laptop where I download all of our pictures was taken and we could have lost everything. We did lose a few pictures, but thankfully have most of the big moments from the past few years saved online and on a separate hard drive.

2. be sure your homeowners/renters insurance covers replacement costs for stolen items. We were lucky and found out after our break-in that we had replacement insurance. Our deductible was high, but we got new everything.

3. write down the serial numbers of all your home electronics and store them some place safe. If you are robbed, having this information will be invaluable.

All in all it was a great month. Halloween pictures are forthcoming. And we're looking forward to a great November - full of birthdays, marathons, Thanksgiving, and Advent.

Friday, October 15, 2010

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual started by SouleMama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

SELF-DIAGNONSIS and SELF-TREATMENT PLAN

This past week was a scheduled low-mileage week. Meaning my weekend run was a mere 12 miles.

Nice.and.easy.

My parents were in town for K's birthday parties (yes, there was more than one) so that meant 12 miles with D. We didn't get out of the house on Saturday until 3ish. We had to party, eat lunch, settle down before nap-time, goof-off, find clean running clothes.

It was a warm afternoon with temperature well into the 80s. We got off to a good start and ran solidly for 6 miles. At mile 6 I started regretting having french toast for breakfast and lunch.We walked for a quick 0.2 miles, ran to the boathouse, refilled our water bottles and set out for home. I struggled with an upset tummy, chaffing, and a sore left hip. There wasn't much I could do about my tummy or the chaffing. So I focused on my technique and form; hoping to reduce the pain in my hip. Much to my pleasure the focusing worked and by mile 9 or so I was feeling much better.

We finished strong with our last 1.1 miles right at marathon pace - 9:05.

We walked home and spent the evening recovering.

On Sunday morning I got out of bed and it felt like I was stepping on a nail.

And I know what stepping on a nail feels like because I did it in a cheap pair of flip-flops the summer before my senior year of college.

The nail pain stayed with my all day Sunday. I attempted a recovery run, but it was too painful. So I went home and iced. And iced some more.

By Monday the pain had subsided, but it was still there with me.

After a little bit of internet research and a couple of conversations, I'm diagnosing myself with plantar fasciitis; brought on by lots of running and my tight calf muscles.


Treatment for such an injury is ice and stretching.

So that is what I am doing. I'm also only running every other day at this point.

Running plans for the next four days include: a 10K this afternoon, an easy 3.6 miles tomorrow AM, 20+ miles on Saturday, and a brief recovery run on Sunday. Monday I plan to walk some hills (instead of running).

I plan to ice my foot each day and stretch my calves at least three times each day.

Hopefully this will keep things under control.

Philly Marathon is 5 WEEKS AWAY.

Monday, September 13, 2010

HOME

After...

1 high speed rail trip (1.5 hours);
1 taxi ride to a hotel;
1 night in a Taipei hotel (more on our swanky digs to come);
1 shuttle bus ride to the airport;
3 airplanes (Taipei to Tokyo to Detroit to DC);
2 metro trains; and
1 leisurely walk with two suitcases, a backpack, two carry-ons, a computer bag, and a stroller

we are HOME.

More than 25 hours of travel (thankfully broken up by a glorious night in a swanky hotel).

All of this with a toddler, who did NOT have her own seat on the airplane.

We had a wonderful time in Taiwan visiting family and enjoying everything there is to enjoy about Taiwan (highlight: all the yummy food). Many stories and pictures to come.

But for now... bed. I haven't slept in 25 hours and more than likely K will be up around 3am.

Here's to getting over jetlag quickly....

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Will you marry M?"

Wedding flipflops created by Becky L.
Five years ago TODAY D asked me to marry him.

We dated for nine months before getting engaged.

We each have a specific "Ah-ha" moment, in which we knew the other was the one.

For D the moment he knew I was the one came after a long and stressful week of work. We had made plans to spend Friday evening together, but he was exhausted and in need of some downtime. Knowing that an evening of activities was out of the question, I suggested that we order pizza, drink a beer, and watch TV or a movie together (at the time I was living in a Capitol Hill apartment with FREE cable - a total luxury for both of us). D was excited about my plans. More importantly he felt like I understood what he needed after a long week of work, and he was appreciative of my willingness to just be and relax with him.

For me the moment I knew he was the one came about two months after we started dating in March 2005. I mentioned to D that I was thinking about running a marathon. He quickly responded with, "then let's train and run the Marine Corps Marathon together in October." I was thrilled that he thought we'd be together some seven months later and that he wanted to do something crazy like run a marathon together.

In September 2005 we traveled to South Carolina to spend a long weekend at the beach with my parents and aunt and uncle. On Sunday morning we headed out of a medium-long run on the beach. It was a hot morning and about 1/2 hour into the run we were both hot and tired and in need of some rest. We started to walk. D went ahead and told me not to look until he said so. When instructed I walked over to where he was and there written in the sand was the message:

Will you marry M?

M? Who the heck is M?

D quickly moved in and changed M to ME.

In the heat of the moment he made a grave spelling error. I quickly answered yes to his proposal. He quickly slipped a blinkie ring - costing $0.50 at the Capitol Hill Safeway - on my finger. My actual engagement ring did not ship in time for D to get it before we left for South Carolina. I, however, was thrilled to be engaged and was in love with my blinkie ring. It blinks, for goodness sake.

We spent nearly an hour just enjoying our engagement by ourselves. We then went back to our beach house to share the news with my parents. My father knew about D's plans, as D had talked to him earlier in the week. My mother, however, was totally caught off guard. She quickly switched modes and began planning and baking cookies with much joy.

The night of our engagement, my aunt and uncle prepared a wonderful meal for us - complete with pecan-encrusted salmon. We shared champagne and wedding/marriage stories/advice with each other. The evening ended with my uncle putting on a wonderful fireworks display for us on the beach.

Five months after our engagement, we were married...

Friday, September 10, 2010

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual started by SouleMama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

GUILTY PRESSURES

I cannot get enough. I'm totally addicted to Whale Wars.

And if we're being completely honest, I'm also watching Make It or Break It and Covert Affairs. Covert Affairs (though not as good as ALIAS) is quit enjoyable and was picked up for a second season.

I'm also enjoying the fact that K is napping for three hours most afternoons.

And that I've taken a nap nearly EVERY afternoon this week.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

SCHEDULING

My life is basically one big schedule. We schedule pretty much everything around here. From meals to naps to grocery store trips to playdates with friends. Bedtime, bathtime, dinner-time, wake up times are all all scheduled. And when we're marathon training, all runs are scheduled.

Case and point: yesterday we were scheduled to run 16 miles. The plan was simple... I'd get up early and get out the door before 7am. This would get me home by 10 and D could run in the later afternoon. This schedule has worked for us in the past.

K woke up 11 minutes before my alarm went off. To some this might sound upsetting, but she slept from 8:30-5:45. This is a HUGE success for us. I woke up feeling rested. She joined me for some breakfast and several glasses of water. We then went upstairs together. I passed her off to D and headed out for my run.

I was ON SCHEDULE.

My run took me through Rock Creek Park and down towards The Mall. As I approached mile 5 the path along RCP got really crowded. It was full of college students. At 7:30 IN THE MORNING.

What the heck?

As I passed them and asked each group to walk single-file (they were monopolizing the path and really making me and the other runners/bikers mad), I remember thinking to myself wow Georgetown is serious about orientation events. They have their freshman out here with box lunches before 8am on their first Saturday of college.

What a crazy thought!

As I passed the Watergate Hotel, traffic along the sidewalks really increased. There were individuals walking around with crazy big cameras and press passes.

What the heck?

That's when I realized that there was a protest/rally going on. There was no orientation event. It was the big event on The Mall.

Freaking Glenn Beck.

I proudly ran AGAINST the flow of participants across the Memorial Bridge. And I kindly gave directions to a father and son hopelessly lost along the Mt Vernon Trial. I then had to detour my run because running along The Mall was out of the question. I back-tracked near the site of the MLK Jr Museum and the FDR Memorial. And then I headed home.

As I was running home, I realized that not only do I need to create and adhere to my own schedules, but in DC I need to be aware of what is going on when because these types of big events can mess with my scheduled running routes.

AH... one more thing to consider each week while scheduling everything.

I'm freaking exhausted. Time to schedule a nap.

Friday, August 27, 2010

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual started by SouleMama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

ROLLER COASTER WEEK

This week has been full of highs and lows. Nothing has been ordinary or part of the status-quo.

The week's lows include:

1. K face planting on the sidewalk in front of our house on Sunday afternoon. She has a scratched up nose to show for the fall.

2. three nights of terrible sleeping. K was up most of Sunday night - crying, whining, sweating, screaming, being all around grumpy. Turns out three of her molars (2 year) are coming in.

3. rushing to school Monday morning after a night of very little sleep only to find out my 9am class was canceled.

4. a failed attempt to make chick-pea mushroom burgers last night. The recipe (which I couldn't find online and therefore tried to remember) ended up producing a chick-pea mushroom cake. I tried to make burgers, but they burned terribly and I burned my finger. D ended up baking all of the batter in the oven. It looked terrible. It was a dense, protein-filled bake. D said it is our own version of Lembas bread.

5. two failed running attempts - Monday evening and Tuesday morning. I have really slacked on my marathon training this week.

On the flip-side, this week has had some GREAT moments:

1. my new camera (new-to-me) arrived. I am so excited to start using it - if only I could find my SD card (K has hidden it).

2. I made homemade gnocchi this week and it was great. Definitely makes up for the burgers disaster.

3. K and I secured passports for ourselves and they will arrive before our trip abroad.

4. I submitted my general research plan for my dissertation. Here's hoping it is approved on September 9th.

5. ran a stellar 4 mile race yesterday. Finished running up a huge hill. Final time: 33:06 (8:15 per mile) and it felt SO GOOD!

6. K slept until 6 this morning and I forgot to set my alarm. I slept for 7.5 glorious hours with little interruption!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

THE 14th STREET BRIDGE

Anyone who has run the Marine Corps Marathon knows a thing or two about the 14th Street Bridge.

First and foremost, this is the bridge that runners have to be across before the six hour mark or else they will not be allowed to finish the race. That's right, the bridge is re-opened to traffic six hours after the start of the race. If you don't "beat the bridge", they taxi you across the bridge by car and allow you to finish. But in fact you do not actually finish the marathon - you come up about 1.5 miles short.

I was worried we might not beat the bridge the first time I ran the MCM; however, we crossed it with time to spare.

Other important things to know about the 14th Street Bridge:

1. usually there is a great food stop around mile 22 right after you cross the bridge. In 2005 there were Subway cookies and in 2006 there were Sport Beans. I have always looked forward to the mile 22 food during the MCM. It, along with fresh oranges at mile 6, is my favorite part of the race.

2. shortly after exiting the bridge, runners enter Crystal City. The fans in CC are great. And there is free beer for all runners. That's right a group (mostly guys) sits on the side of the course with a keg and they offer dixie cups of beer to all runners. During my first MCM, I started to hear rumors of beer at mile 22 around mile 19. Really? Beer for runners? It was crazy entering CC only to see that there was beer and that runners were drinking it - with 4.2 miles to go.

For me, personally, the 14th Street Bridge has some running significance. During my first MCM I tripped running up the on-ramp and really hurt my toe. I was so tired and had never run more than 20 miles. Running up the on-ramp I simply lost focus and fell. It hurt. I hate that bridge! A nice, slightly drunk spectator sitting on the bridge offered me Advil and gatorade after falling. I was surprised by his kindness, but passed. I'm not one to take drugs from a stranger. In 2006, I had a great run until I reached the bridge. With less than five miles to go, I considered not finishing the marathon while running across the bridge. I had no motivation left inside of me. D was thankfully running with me. He encouraged me across the bridge and once we were in CC I was spurred on by the crowd. Truth be told, that bridge was nearly the end of my 2006 race.

My reason for talking about the 14th Street Bridge is because the bridge played a major part in my 15 mile run today. I set out from home this morning about an hour later than planned. I totally forgot to set my alarm. I hit the road around 7:15am. My first 8.25 miles were raced as part of the Mama Goes Masters virtual race (yes, I ran two of the three distances in a 72 hour period). First 8.25 miles was at a 9:52 pace - not as fast as I'd hoped, but not bad. I'll take it.

I finished my 8.25 miles at the on-ramp to the 14th Street Bridge in Virginia. I was ready to head back into the District and home. My plan was to walk the on-ramp to the bridge. I had fears of falling again and I also needed some slower speeds to break open my power bar. I was chomping away on my mid-run snack and gearing up to run again when I stumbled upon a pile of puke.

And when I see puke it makes me want to puke.

Fighting the need to puke I kept walking. Several minutes later I thought I was ready to run again; stomach was settling. That's when the smell hit me; the smell of crap (literally I'm talking about poop). DC has an old sewage system and when it rains too hard the sewage system overflows into the stormwater drainage system (the two systems are in fact combined). We had crazy hard rains earlier this week. The rains caused the sewage to drain into the Potomac. And the big barges underneath the 14th Street Bridge served as a dam for all the poop. So running over the bridge one smelled several days old raw sewage. The smell made me want to throw up AGAIN.

So I continued to walk.

I ended up walking the entire length of the bridge.

I went back to running at the off-ramp. I refilled my water bottle at the Jefferson Memorial and ran home from there. It was a long, uphill run home.

I did walk one steep incline knowing I wouldn't finish the rest of the run if I ran that specific hill.

I wanted to quit about 1000 times between the Jefferson Memorial and home, but I kept plugging along. When I was about three miles from the end of my run I started to feel really good. I stopped for a water refill and chugged along until my desired end.

I walked about a mile home from there.

Post-run I snacked on granola bars and scrambled eggs. I've had two bottles of gatorade and too many glasses to count of water. For lunch we had carmelized onions and sauteed cabbage with fresh lemon squeezed on top. It was wonderful.

I have a headache from dehydration, which I typically get after any run longer than 10 miles.

All in all, it was a good run except for the 14th Street Bridge.

Friday, August 20, 2010

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual started by SouleMama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A NEW DAY

And today I am getting stuff done.

  • Got to school early this morning - no traffic complications - and got a parking spot on the ground floor of the garage. Score.
  • Finished a statistical analysis for my advisor that has been hanging over my head for a couple of days. Made some nice looking tables to summarize my results.
  • Completed my General Research Plan for my dissertation and sent it to my committee members. Assuming no major problems, the plan will be submitted for approval in September.
  • Registered for my last class EVER. Yes, I posted in the spring that I was ABD, but I was NER (not exactly right). Turns out I am a class short. So I am taking a cancer epidemiology class this semester. Nothing beats a class at 9am EVERY Monday morning for the next 15 weeks.
  • Several weeks ago I registered for a virtual race - Mama Goes Masters. A local marathon-running mama is getting ready to celebrate her 40th birthday. In honor of this big event, she's hosting a virtual race of varying distances - 4.0 miles, 8.25 miles (her b-day is 8/25), or 40K (which can be broken into two runs). Technically, the race should take place between August 20-25, but I have a free afternoon ahead of me and all of my running gear in my backpack. I'm going to head home and run two loops of my 4.13 mile course. That will be 8.26 miles for me (I'm going to cut it short by 0.01 miles and make it EXACTLY 8.25 - promise). Looking forward to racing this afternoon.
-----------------------------------------------------

Yesterday I left school a few minutes early anticipating a long drive home (it was still raining). To my surprise, I made it home in record time. K and I went to pick up our CSA share - she wore her new rain boots (pictured here). We rushed home and had dinner at our house with friends. D made three pizzas: 1) roasted bell pepper; 2) shrimp; and 3) corn. Each was also topped with roasted tomatoes and onions and fresh cheese. The pizzas were paired nicely with a Rose' wine.



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

IS IT THURSDAY YET?

I woke up this morning to a crying TODDLER at 3am. She needed a diaper change and some milk.

As I climbed back into bed (less than an hour before my alarm was to go off) it was pouring outside. When my alarm did go off it was still pouring outside, and there was thunder and lightening. I'm pretty hard-core when it comes to running in not-so-good weather, but this was out of the question. So I skipped my morning run. Instead I grabbed an extra half hour of sleep, got up and dressed and headed off to school a full 10 minutes earlier than I normally do.

Each morning when I head out I have a cup of tea or coffee in tow. This morning was no different.

I rushed out of the house umbrella and coffee in-hand. I manged to stay relatively dry despite the crazy rain. I headed off on my normal route to school. About 15 minutes into the drive traffic started to back up. Ten minutes later things were so bad I found myself in some suburban neighborhood navigating myself north/northeast; hoping to find the beltway or 95 North. I managed to do so only to discover that I haven't avoided the cause of the delay. I was STILL stuck in traffic. Half an hour later I arrived at the scene of the accident only to be detoured through yet another suburban neighborhood. Thankfully I was closer to 95 now. I had dreams of being at school in half an hour; 45 minutes tops (with the rain and all).

I realized as I merged onto the highway that I had finished my morning coffee already.

I was bored in traffic so I drank.

One travel mug of coffee with skim milk in the car plus two glasses of water with breakfast.

Combine this with more than an hour sitting in traffic and you have the PERFECT STORM...

I had to go to the bathroom. HARD.

I passed the only rest stop along the highway thinking it would be smooth sailing into Baltimore. I could not have been more wrong. Traffic was backed up onto the highway entering the city. And once I got into the city I believe I hit EVERY.SINGLE.REDLIGHT.KNOWN.TO.HUMANKIND.

I thought my bladder was going to burst.

I got out of the car and felt like I was pregnant again. My center of gravity was all off.

Things were so bad I couldn't walk the three or so blocks to school. I ducked into a local eatery and used one NASTY public restroom. And I couldn't have been happier.

In short, my trip to school was about an hour and 20 minutes longer than normal. I do believe there was a fatality at the accident that caused the traffic delay. I nearly wet myself coming into work.

And when I finally arrive at my desk, I find out my advisor could not make it in today. I totally could have worked from home as we've communicated all day via email.

I did get a free lunch from the grad school this afternoon - it's orientation for the new students - and the lemon bars they had for dessert were delightful.

On top of all of this, I forgot my running shoes at home. So I cannot run at the gym today. Cross-training is even out because my Danskos will not cut it at the gym.

And it is still raining outside.

Is it Thursday yet?!?!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

DOUBLES

In high school and college, DOUBLES were a way of life.

And by doubles I mean two swim practices a day. During high school I would arrive at school before the sun was up several mornings a week and not leave until after sunset. I had a severe vitamin D deficiency. In college on days where we had double practices, my hair would not dry. I'd throw it into a ponytail after morning practice and it would still be wet when I went to put on my cap for afternoon practice.

Doubles are hard. Getting up at 5am to practice only to return to the pool six or seven hours later to practice AGAIN is crazy. And I think I was crazy because I did doubles for eight years.

When I finished swimming in college, I swore off double practices.

I was fine with getting up early to exercise before work or school OR working out at the end of the day. BUT NOT BOTH.

This all changed when I trained for my first triathlon. I trained with Team In Training and the workout schedule was intense. In order to get into triathlon shape, I did doubles a couple of times a week. I'd scoot off to the gym at 5:30am and then go out for a run with a co-worker at the end of the day. It was intense, but I was single, lived 15 minutes from work, didn't have homework or a dissertation, didn't have a baby, and had nice salary (so I could join the gym close to work).

Now-a-days double workouts seem out of the question. I feel like I'm juggling too many things as it is. I've said "no" to several people recently who wanted me to do this or help out with that. How on earth could I fit in a double?

Well, yesterday I did just that. My father asked if I wanted to do a morning bike ride. It sounded like a good idea. And I knew we'd have a good time together. I also knew that I had an 8 mile training run to fit in. And I want to stick to my training schedule as much as possible.

So I did the 10 miles on the bike with my dad in the morning. Then before dinner time I went out for a 4+ mile run. The second practice on a double day is always hard. My muscles were sore; I was tired; and it would have been easy enough to sit at home and do nothing. But I knew I needed to run.

So I downed 15 ounces of water, strapped on my new iPod armband (thank you, Dad) and hit the road. Four miles later I was done with my first double in nearly six years. Today I am sore. I skipped my recovery run and instead went for a walk with K and then walked to the grocery store.

Tomorrow I run hills.

Saturday I have a 14 miler planned.

After a successful double yesterday, I feel confident about both.

I'm also feeling confident about my sub-4 hour marathon goal.

GO ME!

Friday, August 13, 2010

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual started by SouleMama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

THANK YOU

Dear Service Staff at Sendell Motors,

On Sunday we were driving along the PA Turnpike when all of a sudden our car's temperature gauge went off the charts and the alarm sounded. We pulled over only to find a coolant leak; it sounded like a sprinkler inside our engine. A very nice mechanic in Donegal PA took a look at our car and towed us to your garage.

On Monday at noon you had fixed what we thought was the problem - a cracked housing and faulty sensor. A simple test drive later, you diagnosed a broken water pump and recommended that we replace the timing belt and some other parts while repairing the pump. You also told us that the technician who test-drove our car thought our transmission might shot, too, as the car seemed to have trouble going into third gear. We agreed to all of your repairs and replacements and then waited. We hoped fixing the cooling system would fix all of our problems and that there was no a problem with the transmission.

We waited one day; and then a second.

This morning you called to let me know everything was fixed and replaced. A test-drive was driven and there was NOT a problem with our transmision. The technician recommended cleaning the engine that was coated in coolant (as a result of the leak). We agreed to the cleaning.

$1100, four days, and a little bit of stress later, our car is drivable.

Thank you. Thank you for your hard, FAST work. Thank you for caring for our old car. Thank you for answering all of my questions and understanding when I changed my mind about what I wanted to do and when.

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

STRETCHING and CORE STRENGTH

Since marathon training began, I have had few days of true rest. And by true rest I mean no mile long walks to the fountains with K in the jogging stroller; no back-and-forth to the stray park, library, and grocery store with my 21 pound toddler in a stroller; no walks back-and-forth to the grocery store with several bags of groceries. My rest day (Friday) has turned into a 2-3 mile day. Add those miles to the 30+ I'm running each week as part of my training and you get...

One tired, sore marathon training mama.

That's right folks. I'm sore and tired.

After last Thursdays 5am five-miler, I realized that something needed to change. I need to mix things up and add some rest into my routine or I wouldn't survive marathon training.

That day I received an email from a woman at church who teaches yoga and pilates. I responded to her email and asked her for suggestions on ways to improve flexibility and core strength. On Sunday after church, we had a wonderful conversation about stretching. Since then I've done some research into stretching and am putting together a 5 days a week 10 minutes per day stretching plan for myself. Once implemented I am going to add a 5 days a week 10 minutes per day core strengthening plan.

Now, one might think:

Hey stupid, you're adding more training/exercising to your plan. How is this going to help you combat your soreness and tiredness?

Yes, it is more time exercising, BUT from everything I'm reading I think it will be worthwhile. I know I need to stretch more. My hamstrings and achilles tendons tell me this each time I run. And core strength should help my posture to improve; not to mention make my tummy a little tighter. I'm also hoping it will help me release all of the stress that I carry around in the middle of my back.

Stretching 101 kicks off tonight around 8pm in the basement of my house. I'm planning to follow some of the stretching exercises highlighted by the folks at Yoga Body Naturals. I'm also skipping my cross training workout today to allow my body to rest a bit before running 6 miles at race pace tomorrow and a 15 miler on Saturday.

In addition to starting my new stretching and strengthening routines, I'm thinking about cutting two things I love out of my diet: 1) caffeine - yes, that means both coffee and coke zero; and 2) starchy snack foods. I might have to ease into giving up both - no need to induce a week of caffeine withdrawl headaches. And I'm definitely not planning to give up coffee days before I hang out with my father, who loves his coffee!

Plans and milestones related to stretching, core strengthening, and cutting back/giving up will be forthcoming...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

CITY LIVING: PROS and CONS

If you've had a conversation with me in-person or over the phone in the past six months, you've probably heard me stressing out about living in the city. Specifically, living in Washington DC and having a child. A child who will need to go to school some day.

The process of enrolling/applying to DC public schools and public charter schools begins in the spring right around or before a child's third birthday. The city offers FREE preschool to all residents. Nice perk, yes? Unfortunately it is not a clear-cut/black and white yes.

We cannot send K to her public neighborhood elementary school. Although I do not know a single thing about the teachers, curriculum, or other students, I will not send her there because the building itself is a disaster. We've had several neighborhood meetings there and I've seen serious water damage, mold, and (yes, shudder) a rat (inside). So it is not an option. That means we have two options in terms of school - charter or private.

It kills me to think I'm going to have to apply for my baby to go to preschool. It kills me a little bit more to think we could end up paying upwards of $18,000 for preschool. These are the CONS of living in the city and trying to raise a family.

I was discussing these cons with a good friend the other day. I was frustrated with the process; upset over the thought of having to "get into" preschool; terrified by large pricetags for elementary school; disheartened to think my daughter's school could be more than an hour long commute from our house.

Now I understand why so many people move to the suburbs!

The list of CONS for raising a family in the city is long.

If we lived in the town where I grew up, we'd send our daughter to the local public elementary school and our biggest troubles would be do we let her walk to the bus stop alone? or does she have time to do piano, dance and soccer this fall?

This sounds nice. Maybe the city isn't the place for us. Maybe I'm not cut out to deal with all the CONS of living in a city with a child.

But then I spent Tuesday with K in our neighborhood. We went to FREE story hour at the library, which is a five minute walk from our house. We then walked over to the FREE spray park where K played in the water for hours. We met up with a bunch of K's little friends. On our street alone there are six kids three and under. After lunch and a nap, K and I walked to two grocery stores where we bought everything we need for the week. We then went outside and visited with our neighbors until D got home.

We've made a really big effort to get to know our neighbors and it has been wonderful. We live on a diverse block with wonderful, loving people from all walks of life. There are two widowed black women, who greet us with a warm smile and hugs and kisses whenever we see them. We have a single mom with FIVE boys across the street. She LOVES K and recently bought her a little sundress and matching shoes. And she hemmed the dress, too. She speaks Spanish to K (our nanny does, too) and it is fun watching to see if K picks up on what she is saying. We also have neighbors willing to share produce from their little gardens or stop by with their dogs so K can get some doggy kisses.

We walk to the metro most evenings and meet D after work. We walk home as a family - visiting with neighbors and meeting new people along the way. Some nights we meet D at the local spray park and enjoy some time in the water before walking home. We are surrounded by construction sites that provide hours of entertainment. We've had the opportunity to meet policemen and the guys who drive the trash trucks.

We rarely drive our car. We walk or take the metro everywhere. There are FREE activities at many of the museums that we can take advantage of. There is Rock Creek Park a little over a mile away, which is a great place to run. And let's not forget about the zoo. We can walk there, too, and it's free.

There are PROS to living in the city with a family, too.

Sure, choosing and getting into the right school is a process and will require a lot of hard work. And we may have to travel a little bit to ensure that K goes to the best school for her. But we can make these things work.

What I am eternally grateful for is all the wonderful people and great activities we are surrounded by. I love that K is growing up in such a diverse community. I love that people of different races and people speaking different languages are part of her normal life. I love that we walk everywhere together. I love that the parks and spray parks are her favorite places to go.

I don't know if we'll stay in DC for the long-term or if we'll end up moving in a year. But for now, I'm trying not to focus on all the CONS of living in the city. Instead I am going to focus on the pros and really enjoy our life, our neighborhood, and all the wonderful people surrounding us.

Friday, July 23, 2010

DEAR DR. FRIEDEN,

To: Dr. Thomas Frieden, MD MPH
Director, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta GA 30333

Dr. Frieden,

About three weeks ago our home phone number was selected at random for participation in the National Immunization Survey. An avid fan of surveys, I was excited when the interviewer called last night. And as an epidemiologist myself, I was happy to provide valuable information to the CDC and other public health researchers.

Several minutes into the call, I told the interviewer that I did not have the exact date of each of my daughter's vaccinations on hand. The interviewer assured me that this was fine and we proceeded with the interview. I answered each of the questions asked.

After answering all of the survey questions, the interviewer asked me to provide the name(s) of each of the physicians who have vaccinated my daughter. I provided this information and helped the interviewer spell words such as associates and washington. Additionally, I had to explain to her that U.S. zipcodes only contain five digits after she pressed me for a six digit code. Then I was asked by the interviewer to provide my daughter's full name so that she (the interviewer) could contact my daughter's doctor and obtain her immunization records.

At this point in the interview, I told the interviewer that I would not provide the information she requested nor did I believe she had the authority to access my daughter's records if I provided the CDC with her full name and her doctor's name. The interviewer then persisted three separate times that I provide my daughter's name. I told her that I was under no obligation to provide an answer to any question she asked. I quickly told her the interview was over.

As a mother and epidemiologist, I am really disappointed by my experience during the National Immunization Survey interview. In addition to being pressured by the interviewer to provide information I was not comfortable providing, I also felt like she rushed me through the survey. She failed to speak slowly or clearly and I had trouble understanding her. Repeatedly I asked her to repeat a question because she was speaking so fast I could not understand her.

I failed to get the name of the interviewer.

I would like to issue a formal complaint to you. I was disappointed by the quality of the interview and was angered by her persistence to get me to provide information I did not want to provide. I am confident that she broke from the outlined survey script and am sure you realize that such a mistake will lead to decreased internal and external validity of the study results.

I would also like a formal explanation of how the CDC is able to obtain immunization records of children whose parent's give up their name during the interview. Are you telling me that my interviewer could have called my child's doctor today and obtain all of her immunization records without my written authority? How is that legal? How does this not violate HIPAA?

As much as I value and support the work of the CDC and other organizations conducting national health surveys, I believe that protecting private health information, respecting the wishes of the survey participant, and conducting the survey in a clear and easy to understand manner is of the utmost importance. Last night, I felt threatened by an interviewer worker for your agency and I hold you and your staff responsible.

You are never going to conduct valid and reliable surveys unless the participants feel protected, cared for, and respected. I do hope things will change.

Sincerely,
The mom at Slowly Growing Old Together

Sunday, July 18, 2010

COMMENCE TRAINING

EIGHTEEN WEEKS UNTIL THE PHILADELPHIA MARATHON.

In the past, when we (D and I) did not get into the NYC Marathon, we ran the Marine Corps Marathon. The MCM is a great race - great fans, great course, great location. However, we needed/wanted to mix it up this year. Philadelphia is close enough to home that travel isn't too complicated. And, in terms of scheduling care for K, my parents are available that weekend. Childcare: check.

So Philadelphia it is. And this year I am running with D. It will be our third marathon together.

For one glorious weekend, D and I will be together sans baby with three simple goals to achieve:

1. enjoy traveling to and staying in Philadelphia - have a couple of great meals while there, tour some historical sites, and run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art just like Rocky;

2. finish the race injury-free and with smiles on our faces;

3. finish a marathon in less than 4 hours.

This is my fourth marathon (I've done MCM twice and NYC last year). Never before have I trained with a goal time in mind. I've always trained to finish the race and remain injury free. Before NYC last year, my dad asked what would my perfect race look like in terms of time. Without much hesitation, I replied, "Finishing under 4:30." I thought I had trained to maintain a 10 minute per mile pace. And I had. I was crazy consistent in NYC last year. Aside from my last mile, each mile of my marathon was within 10 seconds of each other. My pace ranged from 9:55 to 10:05 for 25 miles. I finished my last mile in 9 minutes. I felt SO good at the end of the race.

With all of this in mind, I decided to set a reach goal for my 2010 marathon.

Why not go out there and try to achieve something that 
seemed impossible to me just a couple of years ago? 

So... my goals are simple: enjoy Philly, finish with a smile on my face, remain injury free, and run a sub-4 hour marathon.

Monday, July 19th is the first day of my 18 week marathon training program.


This training program is intense.

On Mondays I'll do short runs on HILLS (yes, the 13th Street Hill and I will be getting extremely close this summer/fall). I'm also going to work in some running steps workouts.

Tuesdays will be my medium long run (MLR) days. Mileage will build up to 10 per day (I may have to break these up into two x 5 mile runs b/c I am home with K on Tuesdays and cannot imagine her sitting in the stroller for 10 consecutive miles.)

Wednesdays are cross training days. Here's hoping there's a spinning class at the gym this fall on Wednesdays.

Thursdays will be pace days.

Fridays will be rest days. I'll spend my time going for walks with K and walking to/from local stores and parks.

Saturdays will be the day for L-O-N-G runs. The schedule includes 3 x 20 mile runs. I'll probably do 2 at 22 miles. I have a great 22 mile loop and the extra mileage is a real boost to my confidence come race day (this is what I did last year while preparing for NYC).

Sunday will be short recovery run days.

Modifications to the schedule will be made while we are traveling abroad this summer (visiting family). I need to think through some realistic training goals for the 10+ days we are in SE Asia.

I'm most looking forward to long runs with D. We have secured childcare to do at least one long run per month together. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm also looking forward to putting together a new running mix, getting some new running gear and a cute outfit for race day, and, most of all, challenging myself to do something that most people would think to be impossible.


It is official: marathon training 2010 is about to begin.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A HOT, HOT SUMMER

Yesterday I had three little girls in my charge. A soon-to-be 10 year old, a soon-to-be 7 year old, and my little one year old. The older girls belong to a good friend of mine who was in town for some physical, occupational, and recreational therapy. I volunteered to take her kids for the day. The older girl made a list at the beginning of the summer outlining the things she wanted to do. On the list was:

Visit Washington DC.

How could I not take her and her sister and my K into the city for the day. Fortunately, my friend Angie joined us and provided an extra set of adult hands. Unfortunately, it was HOT. The heat index was well over 100 degrees by mid-morning.

So what does one do on a sweltering day in DC? Tourists hit up the museums or take tours of the Capitol or White House. We locals opt for some of the off-the-beaten-path activities.

First stop was the observation deck at the Old Post Office.

This is K looking out over the EPA. In the background behind the wires, you can see the Washington Monument. (Note K's crazy hair. Little girl sweats A LOT. And when she's hot she refuses to wear a ponytail. Her hair was crazy out of control yesterday.)

After taking in the city views, we "picnicked" in the food court of the Old Post Office. Nothing beats eating indoors and enjoying a free lunch-time concert when it is sweltering outside.



We enjoyed our picnic food and the cool temperatures.

After lunch we ventured down Pennsylvania Ave to the Navy Memorial.

Nothing beats playing in the fountains.















We spent the remainder of the afternoon inside baking brownies. The early evening hours were spent swimming and making a pizza dinner together.

Friday, July 16, 2010

MY VERY FIRST EARTHQUAKE

This morning a little after 5am I woke up to the sound/feel of a loud rumble.

What the heck?

Was it low-flying military aircraft? Loud base from a car outside? The collapse of one of the many construction cranes in the city? A bombing?

NO.

It was a freaking earthquake. AN EARTHQUAKE.

Technically, this is my second earthquake. We experienced a 4.7 in Meadville my senior year of college. But I was at swim practice during that earthquake and quakes cannot be felt in the water. I totally missed out.

Today's earthquake, I definitely felt.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

RIDDLE ME THIS

Riddle me this... is a phrase D and I say to each other when we need some explanation; specifically when something is mind-boggling.

In the spirit of mind-bogglingly puzzled, I say to YOU,  riddle me this:

Our backyard is fenced in. There is a gate at the far end to allow entrance/exit. We keep this gate shut at all times. Yesterday I closed it myself. In spite of a fenced in backyard, we have dog poop in our backyard all the freaking time.

RIDDLE ME THAT!

How can we have dog poop in our backyard? Does someone open our back gate and allow their dog entrance while we're sleeping? Is it possible that it is not dog poop? Could it be a cat? or raccoon?

Is there any other hypothesis to explain the dog poop in my fenced in yard?

I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

THE HILL

If you've been paying attention to my DailyMile account, you've seen that I've been doing battle with a hill on my normal running route. This is the hill.



It is a full city block long and it is steep. Several times this past week while running with K, I've had to stop and walk to the top of the hill. After 3.5 miles of running in hot and humid temperatures, this hill has gotten the best of me. In fact, prior to this evening, I hadn't made it to the top of the hill without walking with K. I was a complete failure. Prior to this evening, the only time I made it to the top without running was at the end of my 5 miler on Saturday when I was child-free.

Anyways, I made my mind up this afternoon that I wasn't going to give up during my afternoon run. I was going to run the whole way to the top of the hill.

And I did.

At the top, K and I clapped and yelled.

We even took a few pictures. What a great view! One of the best in the city.































That is the Capitol in the distance in the bottom photo and the Washington Monument and Bell Tower in the picture in the top photo. I'm so glad we stopped to take some pictures and to celebrate conquering the hill.

Next goal: running to the top of the hill and then continuing running until we reach home.

Tomorrow I'm going to aim to run the hill and then continue running for another couple of blocks. I'll then add blocks a couple at a time with the goal of making it home after the hill all the while running.

This hill is going to play a large role in my marathon training this summer/fall. More on this to come...

As for K, today she rocked an outfit only a toddler could pick out --- piggy tails, black and purple bondi-band, and bright pink mary janes. And no run is complete without a sippy cup full of ice-water and a container full of Cheeries, whole wheat crackers, and a few goldfish crackers.

This was my view of her during this afternoon's run...

Monday, July 12, 2010

TALBOT PRIDE

Yes, my high school mascot was a Talbot. And, yes, it is an extinct dog at that.

Anyways, the source of my pride today has nothing to do with our mascot, the four time state champion swim team, the WPIAL champion girls swim team, or our Blue Ribbon School status. Although I am proud of each of these things.

Today's pride swells from the fact that the new Taylor Lautner movie Abduction is being filmed at my alma mater. Camera crews are onsite TODAY.

According to some reliable Hampton gossip, the high school marching band will be featured in the film (for all of 3 seconds). Additionally it is rumored that while touring the high school the director was shocked by the fact that there are no locks on the lockers in the school (never have been). Supposedly the director opened one of the lockers during the tour and it was littered with pictures of Taylor Lautner and the rest of the cast from the Twilight series. The director supposedly set up a meeting/lunch between Taylor Lautner and the girl whose locker was opened. (These rumors are unconfirmed at the present time.)

Details about filming are available here.

The school district's web site confirms that the school will be closed today and tomorrow for a facilities rental. I'm hoping the rental fee is made public. I'd love to know how much money a school can make for hosting a movie...

I'm thinking about going to see the movie when it is released (or several month later when it is available for rent on iTunes) just to see my alma mater in all its lock-less glory.

Friday, July 9, 2010

HOT

It has been a crazy hot week here in the Nation's Capital.

We haven't seen temperatures below 80 degrees all week - even at night. I went out for a run on Tuesday evening at 7:00 and the heat index/real feel was 105. This morning I ran at 10 and it was a balmy 85 degrees with about 90 percent humidity.

It is hot.

In an effort to stay cool, hydrated, and comfortable during a heat wave, this is what we do EVERY DAY.



We love the spray park! 

This morning K and I went out for a run, stopped at home to refill water bottles and then hit the spray park. I ran through the water and stood underneath some of the taller sprays in an effort to cool down from my run. It was the perfect end to a hot one.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

PLANS

I'm working from home today.

I have mixed feelings about working from home. On the up side, there is no commute, no need to pack a lunch, gym clothes or travel mug. No public restrooms. Two computers to work on at once. There is an window beside my desk, which is open this morning because temperatures are in the 60s with little humidity.

On the downside, while at home I cannot stop thinking about the mounds of dirty laundry or dirty mixing bowls in our kitchen sink. I also need to schedule my runs around the kids' schedule. They are at our house with their nanny today and I cannot let them know that I'm here (K is going through a HUGE mommy phase right now). I have to plan to sneak out while they're out this morning at the museum or this afternoon while they're napping.

I also have A LOT of school work to finish before the week is over (READ: before COB today).

So, here is my plan:

This morning -

1. finish the first chapter of my dissertation.
2. finish laundry - move wet clothes to dryer, put in second load, and fold and put away both.

This afternoon -

1. get out for a run while the kids are napping - included in this activity is taking clean clothes and shower items downstairs so I can return from my run and enter through our basement. I will then shower downstairs and finish working from there - as to not interrupt the kids' day with our nanny.
2. run - without walking - at least 5 miles. I have no excuses today re: running. The weather is perfect, air is fresh, and there is no humidity. 
3. post-run: stop at the store to buy a few key items we need for dinner. This means, carrying a shopping bag while running b/c plastic bags at the grocery store (or any store for that matter) cost a nickel in DC.

It is now 9:25am.

Ready, set, go --- first chapter, you are mine.

Laundry... I'll see you as soon as the kids head out the door for the Building Museum.

Monday, June 28, 2010

500

In January, I set out to run 1000 miles before the year was over.

Each Monday I go to the google document tracking my miles and add the previous week's mileage. Last week I realized I'm over 500 miles. I'm half-way there. And I haven't even begun marathon training yet. I've run (a little walking from time to time) more than 500 miles this year.

500 miles.

That's...

880,000 yards
2,640,000 feet
1,056,00 steps.

That's a lot of running.

Thankfully some time spent cross-training and running on the treadmill this spring resulted in a healed knee.

Marathon training commences in 2.5 weeks.

I feel confident that I will achieve my goal of running 1000 miles this year.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

FIVE vs. SIX

I've had the luxury of working from home this week.

No commute. Endless coffee and ice water. No public restrooms. Two computers - one for lit reviews and articles the other for the word document that contains the first chapter of my dissertation. A window to look out (I work from a closet at school - great to have my own room and computer, but I miss seeing sunlight during the day).

There is also the perk of running at 6am instead of 5ish. To get a run in and get to school on time means I have to run around 5am. This translates into a run from about 5:15-6am. When I eliminate my commute, I can run around 6am and still get to work on time. It is such a luxury!

This morning K and I headed out for a short four mile run. We left the house at 6:01. It was hot and humid out and I was sweating before we reached the first traffic light (a block and a half from home). We set out on a normal running route and it was crowded with walkers and runners. And they were ALL so friendly. Even the college kid, who looked like he hadn't run or exercised in ages. He was all waving to my baby and wishing me a good morning. It was a delightful run; full of smiles, good-mornings, waves, and have a nice days.

It was SO different from the 5am running crowd. For whatever reason, the 5am runners are a little more serious/tired and a lot less friendly. Rarely on my early morning runs to I get any pleasantries. Sometimes a passing runner will nod in response to my friendly morning smile.

The 6am crowd was great this morning and I'm looking forward to more 6am runs this summer as I'm planning to work from home on Tuesdays starting in July.

Also on our run this morning, we watched the sun rise over our little corner of the city. We had to navigate around an enormous goose who was monopolizing the sidewalk. We saw several BIG backhoes. Unfortunately they were not running yet. We also bumped into several of our neighbors who were off to the metro early in the morning.

This morning's run ended with two big glasses of icewater and a cool shower.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Today's goal: complete a full first draft of the first chapter of my dissertation.

Tomorrow's goal: edit said draft and email it to my advisor.

Tomorrow: spinning class at noon!