Thursday, October 29, 2009


Over lunch I was reading an issue of Oprah magazine, an article about change. In it, the writer talks about how "your sweet baby becomes a toddler, and before you know it she is celebrating her sweet 16, her acne clears up, she no longer talks to you, she falls in love with someone you wouldn't even allow into your house if you had a choice, she moves away and you hardly get to see your grandchildren."

It took every ounce of strength I had not to lay my head down on my desk and sob. Literally.

How do mothers survive it? Sure, it's slightly more gradual than that. When they are born you are EVERYTHING to them: comfort, food, safety, security, warmth, love. They develop and learn new skills, and soon they able to feed themselves and get themselves to sleep and for this you are grateful. But they still need your help in the bath, and when they fall or are sick you are all they want. And you are grateful for that, too. Before you know it, they are off at school, with friends you don't know, and you can feel it happening, her having a life that doesn't include you.

In the morning, when she is still sleepy, we snuggle in the big green chair, me stroking her hair as she relaxes and breathes deeply against my chest like when she was little, only now her legs are so long they dangle over the side. I know enough to be so grateful for these moments. I know that when I take her to school later in the morning, she won't hold my hand as we walk to her room, and I already know better than to try to kiss or hug her in front of her friends. I know that tonight when I come to sit next to her, she will pull away when I reach out for a hug. But if I sit quietly enough, not expecting anything, she will eventually stretch out her legs like a cat, her warm bare feet in my lap.

At the moment she still thinks that I am pretty, have good taste in music and that I am hilarious, most of the time. She still can't wait to tell me about her day at school, and the funny thing this one boy did at recess, most of the time.

Even as I can feel it happening, I am terrified of the disconnect. We are intertwined on such a deep, intimate, natural level that I can't wrap my brain around letting go of her. It would literally feel like an amputation. How do mothers do it?

And then I wonder: is this the reason teenage girls are so monstrous, so moody, so downright awful? So that mothers can, just a little bit, start to imagine life without the black rain cloud moving sullenly through the house? So that we let ourselves fantasize, every now and then, about what it might feel like to live without the eye-rolling, back-talk, slamming doors? So that a slight smile might actually form at the corner of our mouths as we envision the day they pack up and move away to college?

That is a genius bit of evolution, if you look at it that way.

Suddenly, I feel much better.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A few more Greenbluff photos

Look at this face! How could you ever say no to this face? Ice Cream for dinner? Sounds good! You need your own car? Sure! You want a pony? Why not two?!
I used the "cross process" editing tool on this photo and I love how it adds to the vintage feel of the image.

While Christina and I were at Home Depot, the girls formed a band named The Halloween Cats. It involved drumming and cowbells and singing earnestly about cats named "Blood" and "Thud".
And finally...
Piper, immediately after she informed me, "My mommy says we're getting rid of AAAALLL THE JUNK FOOD in our lives!" Notice the brownie mix all over her face. That will teach her mommy to leave Auntie Kate in charge. Bwwaaahhahhaaaa!!

I am so glad that Christina and her girls are part of our lives.
She might not feel the same about me.

Monday, October 26, 2009


This is my friend Christina.

She is the mother of two beautiful and charming little girls, Skylar and Piper. She is an artist and painter and gardener and handy-woman extra-ordinaire. On Saturday she and her girls came over for the weekend and we went out to Greenbluff to get pumpkins. This is our yearly tradition. Well, ok, we've only done it two years in a row, but it's our tradition now.

So we hunted, we gathered, and we carved. Then Sunday morning we woke up and had a brief conversation about my bathroom, specificly how the tiles are falling off the vanity because the dork who "remodeled" our house before we bought it ATTACHED THE TILES WITH A HOT GLUE GUN. And also? The vanity itself is butt-ugly, white with black trim and I honestly believe the guy found it at the dump, painted it and called it good. But not before he did some handy work with the hot glue gun, of course. Now, David has had A LOT of work done to make our house beautiful, and we love it. But the bathroom has been ignored because while ugly, it is functional. And we had other priorities, like getting rid of the approximately 40 tons of volcanic rock that was embeded in the living room wall in the form of a fireplace, for example. And room after room of shag carpet. And an upstairs to remodel. And walls to be painted. And a large yard to landscape. You get the picture. We agree that the bathroom will get a major over-haul one day, but probably not for a couple of years.

My point (and I do have one) is that Christina said "We can do something about your bathroom that will make it more tolerable until you can really remodel it, you know." This sounded like she actually meant WE and I was having none of that. I whined, and claimed to be helpless and might have suggested that anything involving power tools was man's work. But Christina rolled her terrible eyes and gnashed her terrible teeth. And then she took measurements, drew some diagrams, and plotted and planned. As soon as David walked in the door from the grocery store, we threw 3 children at him and said "We're going to the hardware store! See you later!"

So Christina and I went and bought supplies and she went to work on our bathroom. She hammered, she drilled, she painted and those fugly falling-off tiles are no more! She even installed a hand-towel rack. I'm officially a grown up with a real hand-towel rack! And all it took was a pencil and a little drill and about .05 seconds! It was quite impressive. The vanity still needs to be painted, and we got the supplies to do so, but it is extremely smelly paint and we had people coming over later that night, so we decided to hold off on that project. But I can't tell you how impressed I am with her carpentry skills and her ability to ignore a whining 44 year old. I guess she's had practice, what with her 3 and 5 year olds. She is a serious stud and I love her. Now we can tolerate our bathroom for another couple of years. Woohoo!

Tomorrow I'll tell you about the AMAZING dinner we made yesterday and the brilliant plan behind it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

hurts so good

From my new favorite website, Akward Family Photos.

Soulmates? Somebody isn't so sure.

I had to look at this one for awhile before I saw it:

The photographer didn't dare ask them to look at the camera.


"Even against a grey wall, Gerry refused to blend in."

The archives of this site will keep me entertained for awhile.

Friday, October 9, 2009

pictures from portland

The first time I saw my family, about mile 1, which explains why I look so fresh and happy. And poor little Anna looks half asleep.

An unexpected visit with my support group; David pulled a banana and a bagel out of his pocket.

This was about mile 18; those hugs kept me going...

The home stretch! Still on two legs!

I did it!! Every finisher gets a t-shirt, a medal, a rose (Portland is the "rose city") and a tree seedling. Anna named ours "Mary", for mary-thon, of course, and we're going to plant it in the yard this weekend. It will be fun to remember that this little tree joined our family on her 9th birthday.

Aaaahhh. Post marathon, after a cold bath and warm shower and on our way to get food and BEER!!

What an unforgettable experience. Thank you Rod and Julie for the photos and for being part of my awesome support team!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I DID IT!!!!!

I ran a marathon, people! A year ago I remember telling someone "I literally can not wrap my brain around how you could run 26 miles." And then, one night over dinner and drinks with friends, I made an announcement that shocked even myself: "I want to run a marathon." The next day, before I came to my senses, I signed up (and paid $90 to register for) the Portland Marathon. I really had no idea if I could (or would) actually do it. At the time I hadn't been running for a couple of years. But I wanted to start again and I needed a goal. A big goal. So I chose the Portland marathon.

My mom wants the blow-by-blow, so here it is.

I was so anxious and grouchy the few days leading up to the marathon. Poor David and Anna got their heads bitten off several times as we packed and got ready for the trip to Portland. Our wonderful friends Rod and Julie joined us there, and we had a great Italian dinner the night before to celebrate Anna's birthday. I was so nervous that I allowed myself one glass of wine with dinner, which was probably not the best idea. I got to bed a couple of hours later than I'd meant to, and when the alarm went off at 5:30 it felt like I hadn't slept at all. I got ready, ate something, drank lots of water and we headed for the starting line. David and Anna and Julie wished me luck and I was off, on my own in a sea of thousands and thousands of marathon participants.

I stood around eves-dropping on people, trying to focus on others instead of my own anxiety. There was one woman near me, she must have been in her late 70 or early 80s, with a sign on her back that said "This is my 42nd marathon! How about you?" Many people were having their photos taken with her and she obviously was in her element. Me? I was terrified.

Finally the race began and we were off. I honestly didn't expect to see my family and friends until the finish line; they were all tired and I fully expected them to go back to bed. I wouldn't have blamed them a bit. But within the first mile or so, I heard my name and there they were, David, Anna, Julie, and somehow, in the 20 minutes or so since they'd dropped me off, they raced back to the condo and got Rod out of bed. It made me feel so loved and supported that I ran the next couple of miles with a grin on my face. I saw them again as we ran back by the same spot; I could see David (thank god I married a very tall man with a propensity for goofy hats; it makes him easy to spot in a crowd); Julie and Anna were so busy looking for me that they didn't notice me until I grabbed Anna and gave her a big hug and a kiss. A few miles later, in an industrial district, they appeared out of nowhere, David offering me a banana and water and a bagel. Again, I had no idea they would be anywhere along the route, but somehow, despite my being "in the zone" I got the feeling that they were there, and they were. Each time it was a wonderful surprise to see them.

All along the route there were people cheering, playing instruments, waving signs, banging cowbells. It's amazing how all that energy really does carry you along. There was a woman dressed, inexplicably, like a blueberry, and she was just cheering everyone on, yelling "You are my heroes!" "You're doing great!" and "You're looking good!" There was another guy, all by himself, standing on the side of the road saying "Good job Kim!" "Looking good Steve!" "Way to go, Jennifer!" "You can do it, Meagan!" I wondered "How does he know all these people??" Then it occurred to me he was reading our names off our bibs. I loved that! Just to know that these people got up at 6:00 in the morning for the sole purpose of cheering on complete strangers as we attempted something we weren't sure we were capable of doing. Also along the way, there were bands playing, so you didn't run more than a mile or two without coming across a group of people playing everything from pan-flutes to punk to jazz and even hand-bells. There was one woman sitting in an otherwise empty parking lot, playing a harp. I was so busy watching the crowds and enjoying the entertainment that it didn't even occur to me to use my IPod until about mile 13. At that point we (I was running alone, but it's a steady stream of people running so it feels like you're part of a group) were headed into a long, boring straight stretch on a fairly busy road with no room for supporters, along-side big old ugly industrial buildings. It was the only part of the entire route without supporters, and it was by far the least interesting to look at. Also? At the end of that stretch was a big-ass hill that we had to climb. So I started listening to podcasts to keep my mind occupied. Thank you, Terry Gross, for getting me through that stretch. I walked up that killer hill (mile 17) as I'd been told to do by many Portland marathon veterans. At the top was the long St. John's bridge across the Willamette river; the view was amazing and I almost cried as I ran across it because at that point, I knew I was going to do it.

At mile 18 or so, I saw my sweet family again; Anna said "Guess what! Your mom is tracking you on-line and she and Davie are talking on the phone about how you are doing. Grandma says you're keeping your pace up!" That made me feel great, to know that my mom, in Boise, was rooting for me too.

Throughout my long training runs, my right knee, foot and hip would begin to really bother me at about mile 14. Every time. So I fully expected to be in serious pain the last 12 miles of the marathon and frankly, I didn't know if I would be able to go that long in the kind of pain I was expecting. Luckily, I didn't notice the pain until about mile 19 or 20. I stopped and did some stretching. By mile 21 or so, I was in pretty much constant pain, but I was mostly able to ignore it. I saw my family one more time, unexpectedly, at about mile 22. I didn't even stop to hug them that time for fear I might not start running again. I smiled weakly and said "I'm fading..." to David. But just then we rounded a corner and it was all downhill, literally, from there. Mile 23 and 24 were brutal; my entire right leg was throbbing and my pelvis felt like it had been stomped on by a rampaging elephant. It became impossible to ignore and I briefly considered walking the last couple of miles, but at that point I just wanted to get the damn thing over with. Also, oddly enough, it hurt less to run than to walk.

The route was a bit weird at the end; you couldn't see the finish line. I knew was was within a mile or so, but didn't know exactly how close. So I just kept my pace until I was fairly certain I was within half a mile or so and then I finished strong. There were people at the end who were in bad shape, barely walking; one teenager had his shoes off and his father was supporting him as he limped across the line.

David, Anna, Rod and Julie were of course there at the finish line, giving me big hugs. I can't even begin to explain the sense of accomplishment I felt when I finished. People who know me know that setting goals and completing tasks is not a strong point of mine. I'm full of brilliant ideas, almost always meant for other people to carry out. So for me to set this goal (back when I literally could not run a mile without having to stop and walk) and to stick with it? I have to say, I am quite proud of myself.

I now know that I am capable of running a marathon. In fact, I'm already planning to run another one in the spring. Despite running off and on most of my life, I've never felt that elusive "runners' high" that they talk about. But now that I've finished my first marathon? I think I understand that the high doesn't come as you're running, but after. Now that's the kind of high I can spend a lifetime chasing.