Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Time to Make the Donuts

Fall is in the air, people. I know this for several reasons, the main ones being that the calendar told me that my favorite season has officially started, and the fact that my mind has been consumed with thoughts of cider, cider mill donuts, anything pumpkin, more cider mill donuts, and Halloween costumes for Anna. Oh yes, and cider mill donuts.

Also, adventures to the apple orchard.

And baseball games.

In less exciting fall news, it seems as though my body has realized it is about to turn thirty (Ahhh! Less than a month!!) and decided to start acting like a little punk. With a little under three weeks until the Detroit Half Marathon, I have a pesky IT band injury to deal with. I have been spending lots of quality time with my foam roller, and getting some extra help from a physical therapist, and hoping that come race day all those donuts I've been eating will provide the extra oomphf I'll need to cross the finish line. Because donuts are an essential part of all training programs, right?

What is your favorite thing about fall?

Okay...off to bake some pumpkin bread!
Happy Monday!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Secret Garden

Well, I guess it's not so secret...

On Thursday, Anna and I hit up the Michigan State Children's Garden with Alexia and Cedella. And while this little corner of MSU may be open to the public, for a couple of hours it belonged to two little girls smelling flowers, navigating through tree mazes, and plucking off ogling over green tomatoes.

It was on the ground. I swear.

From one of my favorite books as a kid.


Sorry, Mike - Anna is the best kisser I know.

How sweet are these girls?

It was a beautiful morning, although chilly, a definite reminder that fall is on its way. And a definite reminder that our little girls are just that - girls. Gone are the babies we strapped to our chests when Alexia and I first met about a year ago on a mom's group hike, and I couldn't help but recall our first meeting as we were chasing Anna and Cedella around that garden. There is no denying it now: I am the mother to a toddler. Sigh.

Here is something to make you chuckle: Last Sunday evening, Mike and I decided to take Anna and the dogs out for a stroll. As we were making small talk about the week ahead, we somehow got on the topic of Anna and her age and her behavior. Me: "You know, I think that Anna pretty much understands everything we say to her. And I think that she's not really going to have too many tantrums, because I can just calmly explain to her what's going on, she'll understand, and we'll move on." Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, right? (I'm pretty sure I can hear you laughing right now. Go ahead, laugh. I don't blame you.)

Fast forward to the very next day, and you will see me trying to explain to Anna why I have to buckle her into her car seat ("Mama is going running. We are going to the park. You can go on the swings!") and then you will see Anna throwing a tantrum of the grandest proportions, throwing my smugness right back in my face.

Toddler: One. Silly Mama: Zero.

When I was teaching, one of the most poignant moments in my short career came when a group of my students were driving me up a wall, as most seventh graders seem pretty capable of doing. And in a moment of frustration, I threw my hands in the air, rolled my eyeballs for the millionth time, and said, "Ugh, what are you, twelve?" I will never forget the look on one girl's face as she smiled back at me. "Yeah! I am twelve! But I'll be thirteen next month!"

Oh. Right.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I should get used to the fact that Anna is going to probably tell me "No!" a hundred times a day, and there will be moments I think I will absolutely not be able to handle one more reading of "Elmo's Potty Book", and some days, she will have tantrums, no matter how calmly I explain to her what's going on.

Luckily, we have days like Thursday to make it all worth it.

Happy Monday!

Special thanks to Alexia for exposing me to the awesome photo-editing tricks from the Pioneer Woman! As you can tell, I am now having a little too much fun trying to make all the pictures I take look extra fancy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Today, I Am Grateful

When  I head out for my long runs on Saturday mornings, there's one piece of advice that I always remember. I think it came from one of the coaches in the running group I'm a part of, and for some reason, the message resonated. Basically, she said that when she starts out her runs, instead of focusing on the freezing temperatures or blazing heat, instead of dreading the miles ahead, she thinks about all the people that would love to be able to be out there hitting the pavement, but can't. Like single mothers who maybe can't get a babysitter. Or the people with injuries, or worse, that prevent them from doing physical activity. Or the soldiers in far-off places who are busy defending our country.

This past Saturday morning was no different. Twelve long miles were stretched out in front of me, with the temperatures creeping and the humidity levels hovering somewhere around thick and soupy. Even though I was thisclose to making a detour into the bakery we were running right by (a cruel joke played by whoever mapped out our run that morning, if you ask me), I forced myself to keep going, and to think about the fact that even though I was tired and fantasizing about donuts, there were a lot of people who would do almost anything to trade places with me, to have the freedom and the time and the support to be out doing something they love.

And then I remembered that this Saturday morning was different. Because the "people" - the general picture I always had in my head of those wanting to run but couldn't - was a little more specific, a little bit closer to home.

Mike's brother T.J. broke his neck last weekend.  In four places.

I should tell you right away that he is going to be fine, because, more often than not, when you hear the words "broken neck", your mind doesn't go to a very good place. I know mine didn't. But he is - miraculously, he's going to be fine. Some mighty fine doctors down in Florida performed surgery (and told him, by the way, that he was the luckiest patient they had ever seen) and Mike and his dad drove down there to bring him back to Michigan so he could heal and recover with his family.

Even though T.J. probably hasn't been dying to train for a half marathon, I think I can safely assume that spending the next three months stuck in a recliner in his parents' family room wasn't exactly what he had in mind for the fall.

But when you think about the "what-ifs" and the "could-a-beens", it can take your breath away.

In a world where it's hard not to focus on the negatives -- the fancy cars we're not driving, the swanky vacations we don't get to take, the seemingly endless miles we have to run -- I'm trying extra hard to be grateful for what I do have.  A roof over my head. A husband I adore. A baby girl that brings more laughter and light into my life than I ever thought possible. Strong legs to get me through the miles, as tough as they might seem. And a healthy brother-in-law, who is still smiling despite that brace wrapped around his neck.

This wasn't exactly the way we thought we'd get him back to Michigan, but there is one little girl who is especially thrilled to have her uncle home.

Not a great picture, but the best one I had of the sweet hugs Anna kept giving T.J. from behind.

Happy Tuesday! Enjoy the miles - and be safe!