Tuesday, August 31, 2010

thank you and I'm sorry

I really didn't intend to make so many people cry today. I really didn't. I mean, I didn't even whip out the "motherhood is like having your heart walk outside your body" line. I could have made it much, much worse. But thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the sweet comments and words of support. I felt the love today for sure.

So, let me tell you and show you how the day went.

In true Brand-woman form, I got her to school 30 minutes early. I just couldn't pace around the house anymore and we were all ready, so we just went and walked around the school until we were let into the classroom. She was nervous, and I could tell because she was sighing a lot (I do that too when I'm nervous), but she was putting on a brave face.

I, on the other hand, got really worked up and nervous as the time came for me to go.  I helped her settle in, helped her follow the very-organized 6-step morning routine (God bless Kindergarten teachers), and sat next to her at her table for a minute.  Once a few other kids were also settled around her, I stood up and said goodbye.  She gave me the "I'm about to lose it" face, and grabbed my arm.  I pulled away quickly, said "I love you" and walked out.  Didn't look back.

Once I pulled myself together out front, I may or may not have cupped my hand around my eyes and peered into her classroom window three separate times.  It cannot be confirmed.  But in the event that I had done that crazymother behavior, it might be true that Skyler was happily working with clay at her table and there was nary a tear.

I waited for Sandi and Suzanne who needed some hugs in the parking lot after leaving a teary Ella, and then I went about my intentionally very busy day.

Rushed to work, got everything ready for MY first day with students, tomorrow, including getting everything organized and copied for the week, classroom arranged, syllabus written.  Raced home, walked Jackson, changed into running clothes, went to the gym for a quick 3 miles and then all of a sudden it was time to go get her.

When I left the gym, it was this many degrees.
Is this not insane?

I went back to Skyler's school and joined the throngs of moms and dads waiting outside the doors, 3 layers deep, cameras at the ready.  We were the paparazzi and we were waiting for our star sightings.  Finally, after I had compared notes with every parent near me about what a big day this was, the doors opened and a hush fell among the crowd.  "They're coming!  They're coming!"

  I knew the whole day would be written on her face.  And it was.

She.  had.  a.  great.  day.

Soon came Ella.  This is how her day went.
Skyler was smiling and smiling and smiling, and all of a sudden I noticed that one her teeth looked crooked and I touched it.  Not only was this her very first day of Kindergarten, but she has her FIRST LOOSE TOOTH!  If that doesn't beat all.  This turn of events took all the attention, and I could not get her to tell me about school.  She was all about that loose tooth.

We found our friend Jason.  "I HAVE A LOOSE TOOTH!" 

When I got her in the car, I said:  "I really want you to tell me everything about school.  HOW was it?"

And then from the backseat, I heard this:
"There is a round mat for stories and calendar time and we are all in the green zone right now and we get green stars for being good and you know what?  if we are good and get a lot more green stars then we get a special prize and for lunch I wished I could get hot lunch but your lunch was good and in the winter we are only going out to the playground 2 times but right now we get to go out three times and on tuesdays we have gym and on fridays we have library but if your friend is climbing higher than you feel comfortable with on the playground then you don't have to go as high as them and I made two special friends but I can't remember their names and i can bring cupcakes in for my birthday and you know what?  you never want your clothespin to go down, you always want it to point up because that means you were good for the day."

She kept going, and it was like a really good story on NPR becasue I ended up sitting in the driveway listening to her still talking and talking and talking.

Soon, Sam and Reed got home.

"I have a LOOSE TOOTH!  And you know what?"  etc.  etc.  etc.

When she was done telling Sam, she called my mom.

Thanks for thinking of us today.  You've done good work.  Now, I have some Kindergartner snuggling and some tooth-wiggling to do.

Monday, August 30, 2010

there she goes.

The day after Skyler was born, I was lying in the hospital bed holding her, all bundled up in a white fleece sleeper, while Sam was taking a load of our stuff down to the car.

I had the radio on, and this song was playing. I started to cry, and when one of the nurses came in and asked me what was wrong, I said that I was listening to this song and imagining my baby going to Kindergarten. If you want the full effect of this post, you can play the song while you read.

Yes, Skyler has gone to school for two years, but tomorrow she starts Kindergarten at the big public school, and it feels really different. There are hundreds of kids, a big playground, a cafeteria, a gym. All of her good friends ended up with a different teacher, so she knows that she is going to have to be a big, brave girl tomorrow. I'm really excited for her, but accounting for the fact that she has gotten more sensitive about goodbyes over the past year, and that she does not easily separate from me, tomorrow might be a bit rough.

She's 5, almost 6.  She's brave and sassy, and scared and shy.  She's right on the cusp of big-kid, illustrated by the thoughtful and articulate conversations we have. And yet, she still carries around a stuffed animal and cries when I leave her at bedtime.

Tonight we went to the Kindergarten orientation and the all-school barbecue.

Heading in to her new school, she held tightly to her family,

and to her best friend Ella.

Part of the program involved the kids going for a practice bus ride and Suzanne and I were so proud that our girls got right in line together.  But does this photo just not say it all?  Skyler's back still fresh with summer's tan lines, Ella looking back for one more quick connection to her mom. 

I know that every mom says this, but it actually was just yesterday that Skyler and Ella were both tucked in infant car seats batting at rattles. 

When the buses came back from their ride, I just about died when I looked up at all the huge eyes just barely able to see out the window, scanning the crowd for the right mom or dad.

That's my girl.  This expressions says to me:  "I want to love this. I'm trying to love this."

Next we were invited to walk to the classrooms to meet their teachers.  I hadn't met her teacher and hadn't heard much about her before tonight, so I was nervous.  All that I wanted was for the following scene to occur:  When Skyler met her new teacher, I wanted that teacher to get down on her level, look her warmly in the eye, and to say hello in a voice that was both gentle and energetic.  I knew that if the intro went well, we'd have a better chance at a good first day.

When we walked in, I actually and literally had my fingers crossed.  Skyler was the second one in the room.  It was bright, cheerful, organized, and full of books and great stuff.  Skyler walked up to her teacher and I held my breath.

She put her hands on her knees, bent down low to make eye contact with Skyler, and asked her name:  "Skyler!  What a beautiful name!  It is so nice to meet you!  I can't wait for tomorrow, can you?"  Skyler's eyes sparkled.  Yes.  I wiped my tears while Skyler checked out her name tag neatly placed on one of the tables.

Backpack is packed, lunch packed, pencil box organized, outfit laid out.  Good grief:  I've been so emotional this week, I was even convinced to buy the princess sandwich container.
And if all this isn't enough to undo me, look what her teacher gave all the parents tonight.

Tomorrow I'll be armed with my camera and some tissues, and because I'll be doing this next to Sandi and Suzanne, I know I won't be the only weepy one in the parking lot.  Wish us luck!

What's for Dinner?

We're back to work over here, so weeknight dinners need to be quick and easy. This dinner was a last-minute throw-together based on what I had in the fridge, but it was so flavorful that I'll make it again for sure. 

Cheater Barbeque Chicken "Pizza"

 3 whole wheat pita breads
Barbeque sauce
1/2 of a red onion, sliced and sauteed
2 chicken breasts, diced and browned
Handful of fresh mozzarella cubes

Spread the pita breads with about 2 tbs of barbeque sauce ("Sweet Baby Ray's Sweet and Spicy" is really good), then arrange the chicken, onions and fresh mozzarella.  Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes.

Serve it with a big ol' salad, of course.  The photo shows my portion.  Sam had two.  Delish.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

a date with my mom.

I went on a date with my mom and some of her friends for her birthday on Friday.  We went out to dinner in Blue Hill at Table.

We both ordered the fish special,
a fluke fillet stuffed with goat cheese and spinach and served with mashed potatoes and KALE.

Next we went to Kneisel Hall where my dear, dear friend Jae and his chamber music group, A Far Cry, were playing a concert.  Jae and I have been friends since college/ NELP, he played at my wedding,  and I get to see him every year because his group comes to Kneisel.  They played a wide variety of pieces but my favorite was the Dvorak: Notturno in B, Op. 40, a piece I did not know but would now like to own.  So beautiful.

 The concert hall at Kneisel is like a cozy house with a wide wrap-around porch, and there are seats on the porch, so you have the music and the fresh Maine air.

And this was my view of A Far Cry, Jae on the far left.  BRAVO, Jae.  I could write a series of blog posts about my very talented friends and their incredible accomplishments, and Jae would be at the top of that list.  He helped to start A Far Cry which is a unique and nationally acclaimed chamber music group that has 18 players and no conducter. Watch out for them in the future.

In summation, I love my mom, I love Maine, I love Jae, I love live chamber music on a breezy Maine evening, and I love it when my mom takes me out for dinner to celebrate her birthday.

Rockland Breakwater Ocean Race

Sam had a race yesterday at the Rockland Breakwater (stolen photo).  The course was an out-and-back two times for a total of 3.2 miles.  Sam wore the wetsuit I got him for Christmas and swam the race in one hour and twelve minutes.  Be impressed.  Be very impressed.

And I had decided not to drive down with the kids, but if he had told me he was going to WIN we would have all driven down together.  Geez.
That's his first open-water win.  I really wish we had all been there to watch him coming in and get his award.  I just didn't know if I could have kept Reed from jumping off of the breakwater into the cold ocean.  Next year, we'll make a family day of it.  We are very proud.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Run like a mother.

 I'm friends with Hal Higdon on facebook, (who is Hal?  The runner/coach who is responsible for all of the great on-line training plans that I've always used for half and full marathons), and he had a fun thread going last week where people were writing the funniest shirts they had seen on runners in marathons.  I thought some of them were really clever, and they helped me get out of my running funk last week.  Here are the best ones.

90% of running is half mental.
My sport is your sport's punishment.
This seemed like a good idea 16 weeks ago. 
Why didn't Phidippides die at mile 20?
I'm faster than you because I run more.
Why are all you people following me?
Does this shirt make my butt look fast?
I will do today what you won't, so tomorrow I can do what you can't.
In my mind, I am a Kenyan.
Every race has a winner, sadly it's not going to be you
You just got passed by a girl, at least the view isn't so bad 
I'm the fast girl your mother warned you about.
I can go for hours. 

When I was running in the Nike Women's Marathon in SF, the race at which every finisher gets a Tiffany's necklace as a finisher's medal, I laughed out loud when I saw this shirt:

"Next year I'm just buying the freaking necklace."

And this one was written on a sign at that weird Mud Run we did in July.
 Truer words have never been spoken.

Any other good running slogans/ t-shirts that you have seen?   I really want to buy the one that says:  "Run like a mother"  and on the back it says "26.2 miles of peace and quiet."

I ran 10.5 miles this morning with Susan and Suzanne that was overall great, but hilly, challenging and hot.  I've been loving that familiar tightness in my legs today and I'm getting excited for the cooler weather that should be coming soon. 

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

inspiration received.

Okay, so I snapped out of my running funk today.  That was quick, huh?  I think I just needed to vent, and your comments were very helpful and kind.  Thank you very, very much. 

Even after a long day, my first day back to work, having been up since 4:45 am, forgetting my ipod, and being a little hungry, I had a great, strong run this evening.  I'd even say it felt effortless, after all my griping.  Go figure.

When I came home, I also got to read the blog post I'd been waiting for since Sunday.  My friend Lloyd, the husband of my best friend Adrienne, ran the Leadville 100-mile trail race on Saturday in Colorado.  Because of the distance, the altitude, the terrain, and the amount of climbing, this race is the big daddy of endurance events, the superbowl of running.  I know some of you read Born to Run recently and loved it like I did.  The Leadville 100 is featured significantly in this excellent book about endurance running and the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico.  It is a wonderful story, and a compelling read for runners and non-runners alike and I highly recommend it.  Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

When I was reading about the Leadville 100 in Born to Run, I had to keep reminding myself that I KNEW someone training for this race because of the descriptions of how greuling of an event it is.

Well, Lloyd started running at 4 am this past Saturday, and finished running just about 10 minutes before 4 am on Sunday.  That means that starting from before I woke up on Saturday, while I was showering, eating, packing, driving to Schoodic Lake, swimming all day, celebrating, eating, driving home, hanging out, eating dinner, and then sleeping for the rest of the next night, LLOYD WAS RUNNING THE ENTIRE TIME.  He also claims that his legs did not hurt after running for 100 miles.

Here are some amazing stats:  650 runners STARTED the race, and only 360 FINISHED.  Lloyd finished in an impressive 56th place, and because he got in under 25 hours, he got the coveted belt buckle too. 

Like me, Lloyd lost his father, and like me, he thinks about his dad a lot when he runs, so when I was reading this post and got to the parts when Lloyd was talking to his dad in his head to get him through a tough stretch, I was a blubbering mess.  And I cried all the way to the end of the report when he finished.  It was inspiring, to say the least.  I so wish I had been there with Adrienne at the finish line.

As a point of contrast, Lloyd is humble and understated, for sure.  The same weekend that I ran the Vermont City Marathon (remember the pain?  the misery?), Lloyd ran a "Double Marathon" (as in two marathons, yes) up and back down a mountain, and his race report said something about having a "relative low point around mile 30" but overall, feeling strong.  And when I read that, I thought that Lloyd must think I'm a pathetic histrionic psychopath after reading my marathon post.  Except that Lloyd would never say that.

Lloyd says in his post:  "I love running but I try not to overstate its significance."  Which is funny to me because when I read that I thought, "Hmmm.  I hate running, but I tend to overstate its significance."

Anyway, here is Lloyd's excellent post. Even though it is long, it is well worth the read.  I know you guys are shy about commenting (why is that?  we need to talk about that some time), but don't you think that when a guy runs the hardest trail run in the country, 100 freaking miles, that he deserves a virtual high-five?  I think so. 

Thanks to all of you and to Lloyd for helping me put my whining about running into perspective.   Fine, I don't hate running anymore.  I'll keep doing it and overstating its significance for you all.  There.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

maybe I should try naked running.

I need to be re-inspired about running.  I'm bored with all of the routes that I run.  I have to work so hard to get myself out the door to run.  I have run every possible road to run around here, to the right, to the left, out and backs, loops, weaving in and out of side streets, busy roads, neighborhoods, country roads, trails.  Boring.  Done them all so many times.  I'm sick of all the music on my ipod.  I'm even sick of running to "This American Life" and "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" podcasts.  I'm sick of the treadmill and of that very particular smell of the gym (rubber + sweat= gross).

The only thing keeping me moving lately is that I'm signed up for 4 races this fall, and I'm excited about those, that time with my friends, and the thrill of the racing scene.  Other than that, I've been thinking this week of finding something else to do for a while.  But nothing will do the same job that running does in terms of working my body and quieting my mind.  By the way, like everyone, I never ever regret going for a run once it's over.  I always feel great.  Right now it's the before and during that are getting me down.

One problem is that after the last 3 years of running and reaching all of these goals, I'm really proud of myself and my accomplishments, but I can't honestly tell you that running is any easier.  My pace may be a tiny bit faster, which shows that I'm more efficient, but I still have to slog through most of my miles.  Except for a rare exception, every run is still hard.

This is sounding really whiny, so I'll start talking myself out of this now with the following thoughts and ideas.
1.  It's cooling down and the leaves are starting to change a bit, so I'll be more comfortable and everything will start to get even prettier around here very soon.
2.  My weekend long runs with my running group faded away because of summer vacations, but we are starting again next weekend.
3.  Sometimes just buying new socks or a new running shirt really cheers me up.  I'll do that.
4.  I am not putting any pressure on myself for times of my upcoming races; I'm just out to enjoy myself.  Hope my marathon relay team is okay with this attitude.
5.  I need to get some new music to run to.  Suggestions are very welcome.

Anything else I can do?  Besides switch to biking or zumba?  I know I'll snap out of it soon.  Sometimes I just go through a rough patch and then come out of it naturally, but still.  I need some inspiration.

In the meantime, I'm going to the beach.  Happy end of summer to each and every one one of you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What's for Dinner? And Dessert!?

Frozen Mojitos, Fish Tacos, and Grilled Fruit with Ice Cream.

Dinner AND dessert AND a cocktail too.   My sister Liesel made these for us while she was here, and they were deeeeelicious.  Amazing.  I'm not a cocktail drinker, in fact, I'm not a drinker at all.  We talked about the fact that I honestly can't remember the last time I had more than one drink.  I do like to have a drink a few times a week, but that's as far as it ever goes.  {I'm a cheap date.}

Annnnnyway.  This Frozen Mojito is so, so good.  I know I always say that, but really.  You need to try this.
Combine in a blender:  1 cup rum, 1/2 cup lime juice, 1/3 cup sugar, 4-5 cups ice and 12 mint leaves.  Blend.  Garnish with mint and sugar the glass.  Liesel said she was light on the rum in our version, which explained why I was able to drink the whole thing.  This made 4, by the way.

Next up, Fish Tacos! I was cooking for 6, and thought an assemble-your-own kind of meal would be good. 

I squeezed lime juice, drizzled olive oil and a little salt on a bunch of tilapia fillets, and grilled them.  (The red peppers were grilled and then saved for another recipe).

I also made guacamole, heated up regular and whole wheat tortillas, grated some monteray jack cheese,  warmed up some black beans and roasted some corn, and made a cabbage salad (pre-chopped cole slaw mix tossed with lime juice, olive oil, slivered red onion and cilantro).  Offered salsa and sour cream and everyone assembled their own.

 While we were eating, I scraped off the grill, let the coals die down a little, and then grilled up some peaches and apricots for dessert.

I just drizzle them in some honey and sprayed them with cooking spray first, and they were on the grill for about 25 minutes (but that's only because the grill had cooled... no more flames).

Pulled from the grill.  They were soft and sweet and fragrant.

Serve with ice cream, drizzle with honey, garnish with mint, if you're fancy.

Yes, yes, yes.  And coffee, too. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

fresh water, sunshine, happiness, etc. etc.

Summer is basically over, but we did have this day to help us round the corner.

This is Schoodic Lake.
This is Skyler at Schoodic Lake.  Quiet.  Happy.  Calm.

And Reed.  Spiderman.  Shooting a web at me.

I love my little Spiderman.

This costume has only come off a handful of times since he borrowed it.  I love him in it, actually.  It's kind of slippery material and Spidey is fun to snuggle with.

Sandi and Suzanne's camp is on Schoodic Lake and we are lucky enough to go there a few times a summer, and always for Suzanne's birthday.  This year it was named "Soozapalooza" and we discussed live music, t-shirts and mandatory costumes for next summer.

All the Soozapaloozas.  Not Losers.  Loozas.

Beautiful girls.

Amazing spread for lunch.

Delicious Cake.

Dock jumping.

And many hours later, exhausted kids.

This is the best side of Skyler:  lovingly holding Reed's Spidey's head while he slept.

For a little while, anyway.  Sleeping and holding hands.  Love.