Friday, February 26, 2010


Several of the women who have committed to the Tall Mom 1000+ mile Challenge have been blogging about the three things they want to accomplish before they die. Since reading the first response, I've been thinking about what is so important that I want to be sure I do it before I die. After much thought, here it is... my list of three things I want to accomplish or do before I die:

1. Grow slowly old together with D. Included in this is building our family, enhancing our relationship, and having a lot of fun together. I hope to cross the finish line of several marathons with him, cross the finish line of a marathon with him and K someday, enjoy many multi-course dinners and fine wines, and travel with him. I envision us being in our 90s sitting on a porch swing, sipping lemonade and still enjoying each others presence.

2. I want to complete an Ironman and qualify for the Boston Marathon. I want to put on my resume that I qualified for Boston and am an Ironman.

3. I want to become a college professor. I would really like to teach environmental science at a small liberal arts college.

That's it.

Anyone else want to share what they'd like to accomplish before you die?

Thursday, February 25, 2010


During my sophomore year of college I took a class.


It was hard. I read more in ES210 than I did in any other class. I spent SO MUCH TIME in the library that semester. (Note: to English majors/minors, my definition of a lot of reading is probably not the same as yours, but I read a lot for this class. Seriously.) In addition to reading so much, I also was required to keep a reading journal. My professor collected said journal numerous times during the semester and then proceeded to grade it. It was a painful experience for me. At the time, I hated it. Hated writing in my journal. Hated it; hated it; hated it.

But the hatred and pain ended up being so worth it.

During my junior year of college, I was starting to think about my senior comprehensive college (commonly known as my "comp") and I had no idea what I wanted to do. The professor that taught my ES210 class and made me keep my reading journal encouraged me to re-read my journal and see if any articles or areas of research were of particular interest to me.

A single chapter of a book jumped off the pages of my journal. I had a direction... I didn't know what the future held, but I had an idea of which direction I wanted to go.

The chapter was from the book Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber. In short the book is looks at how environmental toxics impact human health. It is an eye-opening book and Dr. Steingraber is a wonderful story-teller. It was a page-turner. Seriously. The book interweaves Dr. Steingraber's own story as a bladder cancer surviver with the story of toxics in the environment and their impact on human health.

The book introduced me to the field of environmental health.

I was in love.

First it was the book.

Then a comp looking at the direct and indirect health hazards posed by intravenous bags used by hospitals. (Check out Healthcare Without Harm.)

Then an award for best comp in the department (yeah, me!!).

Next it was off to Emory for a masters in environmental health.

Then it was a move to DC to work on numerous environmental health issues at the national level.

I loved it.

And I wanted to learn more.

I got accepted into a PhD program to further study epidemiology.

Which brings us to the present day (more or less)... this past summer I accepted a position on a research team at school that would provide me with the research experience I needed, but wasn't focused on environmental health. I thought it was more important to build skills than to pick a project based on subject matter. This is all part of the give-and-take of grad school, right? Sacrifices have to be made in order for you to get through the program, right?

I thought so.

I went with skill building.

Ignoring my passion. Ignoring the subject that I love. Ignoring what I believe was my calling.


During the winter break 2009-2010, I started to ask myself what I was thinking. I was regretting my decision BIG TIME. I wanted to focus my dissertation on an environmental health issue.

So I dropped my dissertation project. I canned my general research plan. Deleted all documents related to the project.

And then I started looking for a new mentor and new project.

Two steps backwards to get one forward, right? I hoped so.

The process of dropping a dissertation project, being removed from my research team, and searching for a new project and funding was not without problems. I was scared being without a mentor or project. I felt like I was drowning. But then I had a heart-to-heart with the head of my department. Then I got introduced to an environmental and occupational health doctor in our department. And she told me about data she had from a case-control study looking at the environmental-gene risk factors related to bladder cancer.

Icing on the cake... there was funding to do the research.

So I'm out of the gates and running.

My dissertation will look at environment and genetic risk factors for bladder cancer.

I'm so excited. And feeling really blessed to have a wonderful mentor, great guidance from the head of the department, and a research project related to environmental health.

I feel like I have come full circle.

It was the spring of 1998 when I first read Sandra Steingraber's book. Now eight years later I'm focusing my dissertation on bladder cancer, which is the focus of one of the two main stories in her book. It feels like a homecoming. In celebration of this, I'm rereading Living Downstream. And enjoying it more than the I did the first, second, and third times I read it.

It feels so good to be headed in the right direction.

Monday, February 15, 2010


We had meatloaf for dinner last night.

Vegetarian meatloaf, that is.

And wine. A white bubbly.

The meatloaf would have paired better with a deep red wine, but we finished that bottle the night before while enjoying a curry dish with tofu, red bell peppers, and scallions over rice.

It was a quiet night at home.

Quiet all around... no screaming baby (in fact, she slept peacefully for 10 hours), no water dripping - not from the windows or ceiling, quiet neighbors, no wind blowing, very few sirens.

It was delightful.

We even baked a loaf a bread and enjoyed the wonderful, irreplaceable smell of fresh bread throughout our house for the evening.

It was your run-of-the-mill night at home, but a night that I hope to not forget.

(And for those of you who don't remember... T.L.A stands for "true love always", duh)


Make your own Valentine's Day conversation heart!

Or use the Goth Mode and make an anti-Valentine's Day heart.

Preview of what's to come on the blog:

1. dissertation: take 2
2. leaking ceilings/ice-dam
3. virtual Ironman
4. list of three things I want to accomplish before I die

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I am in desperate need of a new pair of running shoes. I've been wearing my current sneakers (two pairs - one yellow, one blue) since Christmas 2008. I have been good about alternating pairs, but after marathon training, training with D for his triathlon last summer, and just the normal wear and tear (trips to Target and the grocery store with a baby strapped to me) they have come to the end of their life.

They've been good shoes to me. I'm particularly fond of the yellow pair, which I wore for the NYC Marathon. In some ways I consider them my lucky sneakers.

I was thinking the beginning of February would be a good time to get a new pair of shoes. I'm still two months away from my first race of the season (The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler). There is plenty of time to break in a new pair or two and be comfortable during the race.

Unfortunately due to the TWO blizzards we've experienced during the past week, I haven't been out of the house. I haven't run since last Friday. We did venture out for the Superbowl, but that's it. I've been home-bound. No running and no new shoes. Boo-hoo.

Since I can't get my new shoes, I decided that K should get a pair. She got some awesome PINK Converse All-Star high top sneakers for Christmas from her uncle. They are still a little big, but they are too cute. I love them. So glad someone around here is in a new pair of shoes.

After the snow melts and the leaking in our sunroom subsides and I can get my car dug out, I'll get out to the store for some new sneakers. I'm thinking that I need to run (or else go batty). I'm thinking of running early tomorrow morning down the middle of the street before rush hour kicks into high gear (this is assuming that the Federal Government is open tomorrow in which case I can go running when I please because there will be no rush hour traffic).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


of CHAI Vanilla Soy Latte Extra Hot No Whip.

D's dear kitty, Chai, passed away last night. He spent his final months at a retirement center in rural Pennsylvania with our dear friend Andrea and her beautiful kitty. Unfortunately Chai suffered a tremmor/seizure and then passed away peacefully sometime yesterday evening.

Chai will be remembered for...

his love of boxes and bags,

drinking out of the toilet,

and being D's loyal friend for 15 years.

Chai was adopted from the DC Humane Society by D in the mid-90s. They shared many happy years together in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of DC. Chai was known for loving tuna juice and turning his nose at salmon. In his 15 years, he successfully killed a bird at two mice during his lifetime. He also partially killed a third, but did not finish the job. He loved sitting on window ledges and hated being bathed.

D wishes he could give him one last hug.

Memorial services are being planned. More than likely he'll be buried in rural Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Months that is...

A friend of ours once told us that with kids the days are long, but the years go by fast.

I couldn't agree more. Last night was L-O-N-G. K was up for several hours whining, screaming, using every word in her vocabulary to get our attention. D finally got her to sleep around 5am. He slept on her floor until 8:15 this morning. We woke up tired and impatient. Honestly, frustrated and angry that our little girl decided to throw a I'm not sleeping party in the wee hours of the morning. Then I changed her diaper and realized that she is constipated. Sweet little girl just started enjoying bananas. Obviously they are a little hard to digest. And so we move forward - trying to forgive ourselves for being impatient parents and knowing full-well that our little girl cannot handle a whole banana at this point in time.

All our frustrations and sleep deprivation aside. I am loving the early toddler stage. I love the little person K is becoming. Change and development is seen on a daily basis. I feel like I should write it all down every day less I forget one of the milestones or little moments when my heart grows just a little bit more.

My little special K is getting so big. She's still petite. Last week at her ear infection appointment she weighed in at 18 pounds 6 oz. Sweet little girl is right there in the 5th percentile for weight. Gotta' love my little peanut. She is in desperate need of another haircut. And we once again need to go through her clothes and get rid of the 9-12 month pieces that just do not fit anymore.

Over the past couple of weeks, her vocabulary has grown by leaps and bounds. She says "more" while signing now; she also can say dog, duck, book, rice, lights, dark, snow (sounds more like no), down and up. Her favorite phrase is still "nonononono". Yesterday she brought me a pair of pants that belong to her little friend she shares a nanny with. While handing them to me she said, "Amee", which is pretty close to her little buddy's name. I love to see her little mind at work - making associations between words and people, places, and things. I love that when she hears a dog outside she says, "woof, woof, woof." Love that she baaaas like a sheep, whoo-whoos like an owl and moos like a cow on command. Simply melts my heart and makes me so proud.

She loves her books; and her stacking blocks; and balls. She's also really taken with mopping.


We spend our days together walking up and down the sidewalk, building block towers, having tea parties, running through obstacle courses and jumping on the couch downstairs. We also listen to a lot of music and dance often. It is a lot of fun. On Tuesdays her little buddy comes over (its my day for the mommy-share). It is wonderful watching her interact with her little friend. I love watching them chase each other, hide from each other, and help each other out when one takes a tumble. 

It is hard to believe that she is sixteen months old.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


We are digging out. Out from under two FEET of snow. TWO-freaking-FEET.

I'm more sore from shoveling snow yesterday than I was after the NYC marathon. Seriously I have back muscles hurting that I didn't know I had. My shoulders hurt as if I were swimming 10,000 yards a day again. Sore muscles aside, we are living in a winter wonderland. It is beautiful here. And it is like a block party along our street. All the neighbors are out chatting with each other, sharing shovels, and lending a hand to get cars out. It is so nice.

K is loving it. We got her all dressed up in her snow-clothes to brave the elements yesterday as the last few inches were piling up. Here's what it looked like...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010


As a parent, I believe you learn (at least) a little something about unconditional love each day from your child. Take yesterday for example...

K woke up early with a nasty cough. D changed her diaper while I hurried downstairs to get her some milk. As usual, K joined us in bed for her morning milk. When she was finished she coughed. Then she coughed again; and again; and again. Before we knew it she was coughing uncontrollably - eyes closed and watering, face pink, whole body (all 18 pounds 6 oz) shaking. It was a nasty coughing fit. And what follows a nasty coughing fit?

The pukes.

Yup, my baby puked milk all over me.

And I didn't dry heave or puke myself.

I tried desperately not to focus on the warm, stank milk running down my chest and pulling along the elastic of my favorite purple sweat pants.

She puked down my shirt and in my hair.

But I focused on her. Tried desperately to calm her down (nothing like coughing, puking, and crying all at once). We took a bubble bath together to wash the puke off both of us. D rushed the nasty clothing articles to the laundry room.

And I love both of the more today than I did yesterday.

That's some unconditional love in my book.


Health: obviously K has a cold. She slept terribly last night. We took her to the doctor today, and low and behold she has infections in both ears. That's ear infection number 3 & 4 for this winter. Lovely.

Me: I also have a cold. Lost my voice sometime last week, but it is slowly returning. Sinus pressure sucks. I am thankful for theraflu and advil cold and sinus.

Sleep: have not had enough. Going to bed as soon as I hit *publish*.