Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Find the Good

Thirty Days of Thankfulness, Day 30

Well, I made it. Thirty straight days of writing.  Thirty straight days of things past and present that I am thankful for. About seventy of you readers out there followed along, every day.  I thank you for your consistent support, motivation and comments.

I chose to write these thankful posts this year, because it's been a tough one.  I am not the person I was a year ago, and my family is not the same family.  If I'm being completely honest, there were days I didn't want to write about what I was thankful for-it seemed easier at the time to just chuck my computer across the room and give in to the bad.  Sometimes I think, if only for a moment, that I'd like to erase this past year.  But that thought is immediately drowned out by all of the good that has happened: we have grown together in our new home, we have cried happy tears, we have gone on amazing adventures.   I wanted to prove to myself that I really do have so much to be thankful for.  I have amazing family and friends in my life, my children are happy and healthy, and I've got a good man to go through life with.  The rest?  Well, the rest will have to be figured out in time.  And it will be figured out in time.  I know that the current struggles we are facing will come to pass.  After all, I've got a lot more living and loving to do, and as I look to the future, there is one thing that will always be with me: HOPE.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

This is Forty

Thirty Days of Thankfulness, Day 29

The internet is a strange thing, isn't it?  If you're missing someone, you can often access their life with a few clicks.  Of course, it's not their whole life.  You really only get to see what they choose to show you.  We are all made up of our past and our present.  Who we are, in the eyes of others, is how we are remembered.

How do you remember me?

Do you remember when I was the only child in my family?

Do you remember me as a shy toddler?

Do you remember me with goofy faces when I lived in Clio?

Do you remember me with fluffy curls and how I had to be forced to walk down that long driveway from our house to the bus stop when I lived in Muskegon?

Do you remember me with a toothless grin from when I first moved to Flushing?

Do you remember playing softball with me throughout our childhoods?

Do you remember piano recitals, where it was just a very big piano and a very small me on stage?

Do you remember me with permed hair and how much I loved my Flushing jacket?

Do you remember running up and down the court with me, playing basketball against other Big 9 teams?

Do you remember me when my antics earned me the Class Clown title?

Do you remember playing basketball and softball with me at Mott and in West Virginia?

Do you remember me as a bride?

Do you know me only from Twitter, or Facebook, or Instagram?  Or have we become real-life internet friends?

Do you know me as a mom from MOPS?

Do you know me as a mom?

Do you know me as a runner?

Maybe I fit into a few different categories in your memories.  I am a daughter, a granddaughter, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a parent, a friend, a teammate, a classmate, a coworker.

I am old enough to say that I remember when Pluto was a planet in our solar system.  I remember when the latest music was sold on cassette tapes.  I remember when telephones had cords, and not for charging.  I remember using encyclopedias to look up information.  I remember going to baseball games at Tiger Stadium.  I remember when watching television required turning a knob on a box to move the antenna on the roof of my house to find a channel.  I remember when the only thing to do on road trips was read, sleep or play the license plate game.  I remember playing outside all day and not returning home until the street lights came on.  I remember when the wait in a restaurant for a table in the smoking section was longer than the wait for a table in the non-smoking section.  I remember when making it across the street in Frogger was something to brag about.  I remember how the dog I grew up with used to smell. I remember my first kiss.  I remember singing on stage on Graduation Day.  I remember cutting the net down after we won the championship in college.  I remember the weekend I met my husband.  I remember those first pink lines on a pregnancy test.  I remember the big and small moments of being a parent.

Today is my 40th birthday.  I've got 40 years of memories stashed away.  If you're reading this, chances are, you are a part of those memories.  When I think back through the years, I can't tell you that all of my memories are good ones-highs and lows are a part of every life.  But what I can tell you, is that the good ones far outweigh the bad.  All of these past memories are a part of who I am now, in the present.   That shy toddler and that goofy teenager and that piano player and that first baseman are all parts that I continue to carry with me.  That's the best part about  life-all the things that you used to be stay with you and as you age you just keep adding more to the list.  I hope in another 40 years I can tell you all of the new things I have learned and all of the new people I have become.  Right now, though, I'm living life in the present.  I've got a hard-working husband, five amazing kids, a growing farm, and the support of family and friends who always seem to know just what I need, and for that, I am thankful.

Monday, November 28, 2016

My Parents

Thirty Days of Thankfulness, Day 28

Forty years ago on this very day, a couple awaited the birth of their firstborn child.

Would it be a boy or a girl?  Would the baby be healthy?  They didn't know it yet. but this night would be their last night as just a couple.

And then there were three.

The first few months their daughter lounged in front of the television with her dad...

and giggled with her mom...

and of course she made her first visit to the lake when the weather warmed up!

Life moved quickly, and soon enough, there was another daughter, and then a son.  They spent the next twenty years parenting these three children, taking them on outdoor adventures, up to the cabin, camping, and even to Disney World.  While the dad worked at General Motors and helped out coaching various sports for his kids, the mom sewed beautiful clothes for her children and made sure everything was running smoothly at home, even when the kids had her running in every direction.

In barely the blink of an eye, their children were grown.  Their daughters soon married and their son set out to chase his dream job in computers. Even after retirement, their kids and grandkids were their life.  They would do anything for them.  They attended the births of all of their daughters' children and watched them grow.  They attended dance recitals, and choir concerts, and softball, baseball and basketball games, and taught those kids how to build things and bake things.  Their children and grandchildren knew they were loved.

These parents are my parents.  They have taught me so much in my life.  It's hard to comprehend how much your parents influence your life until you are a parent yourself.  Only then do you realize the magnitude of the task of parenting.  I know it isn't easy.  You make mistakes and you get back up and you find a different way, a better way the next time.  My parents have guided me through my life with love and support and have taught me the true meaning of what those marriage vows we recite on our wedding day really mean.  I am thankful for the way they have raised me and for their endless guidance in my life and hope that I have made them proud.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Nash is Four

Thirty Days of Thankfulness, Day 27

Guess who's four today!!  This kid!

It has been four years since Nash came into this world in a BIG hurry.  You can read about his birth and beyond by clicking HERE. 

Last year I wrote about how challenging and stubborn Nash was.  Well, I'm here to tell you that not much has changed in that department.  Maybe it's because he's the youngest, or maybe it's just him, but this boy always seems to get his way in the end.  *Sigh*

He started school this year-a montessori program here in our town-and although he protests going every single morning, his teachers assure me that he's happy and playful and completely fine once I leave him.  Whew!

Aside from school, Nash has had some other "firsts" in the last year.  Of course, one of his favorite things was raising our chicks.  And of course, HIS chick who was supposed to be a hen turned out to be a rooster, but Nash named him Rosie, so Rosie is his name.

Also on his list of firsts were holding a frog,

Crossing the Mackinaw Bridge and handing out high-fives to the soldiers,

Using his brother, Greyson, as a chair,

Making wishes while trick-or-treating,

Jumping into enormous piles of leaves,

Pumping his legs on the swing to go extra high,

And sleeping at the dinner table.

Three years ago, we learned that Nash has a variety of allergies, including dairy, egg, and many nuts.

Even small exposure to any of these things causes a reaction which often leads to a full-blown respiratory issue.

These events occur more often than I'd like and take Nash out for three to four days at a time.  Watching your child struggle to breathe is a very helpless situation.  But when he's healthy, he's happy and we take the good as long as we have it.  One thing Nash loves (almost as much as his beloved almond milk) is oatmeal.  Even when nothing sounds good to my picky little boy, he's usually up for a bowl of oatmeal, on a tv tray, with a magazine, watching Paw Patrol.  I am almost entirely convinced that he's an old man trapped in a little boy's body, by the way.

Today, there was no party, but grandparents stopped over to wish him a Happy Birthday and to bring gifts.  He received a robot, money, and legos-a current love of his.

This year he also discovered that he loves Mint Oreos.  Did you know that Oreos make many flavors that are completely vegan? That's great news for Nash with his dairy allergy and it's a great substitute for cake at parties. But I do have one recipe of cake he can eat, so when he requested cake for his birthday, with blue frosting, I made him chocolate cake with mint-flavored blue frosting-just like a minty Oreo.

His big gift this year was this super cool ride-on toy.  He needs a little help figuring out that steering, though, or he might end up in the ditch!

Looking back, a year ago Nash seemed so tiny.  He's turning into a big boy, though, and time is starting to whiz by.  Sometimes I snap a picture of him, and when I look at it later I can hardly believe that's my little baby boy.

But sometimes, just when I need it, Nash delivers.  These days, when I hear, "Mom.  Mommy.  Mom.  Mom.  Mommy.  MOM!!" it's usually followed with an "I love you" or "I need a hug-a lot of hugs!" and sometimes when I snap a quick picture of him and look back on it, he is still my little baby boy.

Happy 4th Birthday, Nashypoo.  Mommy loves you.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Just Keep Running

Thirty Days of Thankfulness, Day 26

Have you ever driven past someone running down the road and thought, "That looks completely terrible!"?  You are not alone; I used to think like that, too.  These days, when I see someone running, though, I get a little jealous-even if I've already run that day.

When I started running, I couldn't even run one mile without stopping to gasp for air several times, even at a very slow pace.  But then I tried again the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that.  I'd like to tell you that every day got a little bit easier, but that wasn't the case.  If anything, I felt a little bit worse every day.  But I was determined to teach myself to be a runner, if only for a little while.  Every day, I'd lace up my shoes and hit the road.  I'd set goals to make this run faster or to go just a little bit farther than the day before.  The first time I ran three miles without stopping was amazing-I had done it!  But I didn't love it.  I didn't even like it.  But I had committed to run a five mile race in a couple months and I was going to complete it, even if it killed me.  (And I kind of thought it might!)  So, I kept on running.  Further, faster, eye on the prize.  When the race was over I could quit.

And then I ran that race.  And I didn't die.  In fact, it was kind of fun.  And then I wanted to run ALL the races.  I think that summer I raced almost every weekend.  A 5k here, a 10k there, nothing too big.  But then I wanted more.  So I trained for a half marathon and again, I didn't die.  So I ran another one.  And another.  And then I heard rumors of a twenty mile race in Ohio that started to call my name.  So I did that, too.  And then I figured, since I ran twenty miles, I might as well go for the whole enchilada and run a full marathon.  So I did.  And that marathon was hard.   I learned so much in that race.  There's a saying about marathons: "Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart."  And it's true-if you go out too fast, you'll never finish, if you can't get over the boredom of the middle, you'll never make it to the final push.  And that final push?  You have to want it.  Whether you run a 14 minute mile or a 6 minute mile, the end will have you reaching deep inside for everything you've got.  But when I crossed that finish line, all those feelings were behind me. I had done it.  26.2 miles.  I was a marathoner.  My first thought?  I want to do another one.

I'm not sure when it happened, but sometime between my first half marathon and my first full marathon, I fell in love with running.  I found that through running, I could clear even the crappiest day from my mind.  I could think through problems and come up with solutions.  I could get lost in a book and think about absolutely nothing.

Every run is an adventure.  I always plan my runs ahead of time, and I'm always looking for new routes to explore.  Sometimes I start out on a trail like this:

And then see a trail like this that I just have to follow:

Sometimes the trails take me to places like this:

And sometimes I get completely turned around and lost and find myself in the middle of a forest:

But I have discovered the secret:  Just keep running.

I started running on March 24, 2013. In the three and a half years since, I have run 6,784 miles, including 12 half marathons, 4 marathons, 2 50k ultramarathons, and countless smaller races.  I have run in rain and sleet and snow and wind and bright sunshine and sweltering humidity, and in temperatures ranging from -5 degrees to 95 degrees.

I guess at this point you could call me an experienced runner.  I know what to eat and drink and how much and when, I know how to dress for any kind of weather, I know when to push it and when to back off.  Does this mean my runs are easy?  No.  Does this mean I enjoy every run?  Definitely not.  I am very tough on myself, and I know my only real competition is me, but I always want more.  I have bigger dreams and goals than what I've already accomplished, but I am taking them one step at a time.  I am thankful that I have the ability and the health to run.  I am thankful I can be a positive role model for my children. I am thankful for the countless friends I have made through running, near and far.  And I am thankful that Jason gets it, and when I need to run, he tells me to go!

A wise man once said, "Run often, run long, but never outrun your joy of running."