Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

We went trick-or-treating on Sunday so, for us, the holiday is pretty much over. But to acknowledge the date, I share some trick-or-treating pictures of Madeleine the ice princess, Hank as Spiderman (he's the taller of the two) and Elisabeth as a dog.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Horse Racing Greats. Hank Style.

To call Hank meticulous might be somewhat of an understatement. He's thorough. He's methodical. He's legalistic in his thought process. And, above all else, he's completely literal.

When he received a new horse Webkinz as a birthday gift, he had to have a special name. A perfect name.

"How about Barbaro?" I suggested, knowing his love for that particular Kentucky Derby winner.

"OK!!" he enthused. Long pause. "But we'll have to look up his picture first to make sure he looks enough like my horse."

Off googling we went. We looked at Barbaro.

"Noooo, now quite close enough. See, Mom, not enough of a white blaze."

Oh. OK. Of course.

"How about Seabiscuit, Hank? You love Seabiscuit!"

Hank's disgust at my inability to grasp that this horse needed to look just like his was palatable.

I sighed. Clearly the memory of a great racehorse wasn't going to do it for Hanker. He didn't care how lame the name was, just that it physically resembled his new horse.

"How about I search for Man O' War, Hank?" I pleaded one last time.

"Does he have a thick white blaze, Mom?"

I gave up searching for the racing greats and instead googled "racehorse, white blaze." We finally settled on Northern Dancer who, while apparently well known in racing circles, doesn't quite conjure up the same feelings of greatness and majesty of some other previously named horses but does look quite a bit like Hank's Webkinz. And, to him, that was all that mattered.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Week Four, Days Two and Three

Yin and yang. Black and white. Whatever Friday's run was, Sunday's run wasn't.

Friday it was night. It was dark and cool. I was alone and had the streets to myself. Sunday was bright and sunny. It was pleasant and the sidewalks and yards of my town were teeming with people.

Friday I was energetic. I was fast. I was ready to run and run some more. Sunday I was slow. Lethargic. When my predetermined program was over, I was ready. Friday I was envisioning competitive 5k races while Sunday I was only contemplating getting home.

Running, I'm realizing, like life, can't always be great and even though I can feel my stamina increasing there are times when I'm just tired and don't feel like running. Learning to push through that is just as much a part of running as increasing stamina.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Birthday Wrap-Up, Part Two

I didn't take many pictures this past weekend. No, actually I did, but I took them all Saturday evening while out in the lobby opening presents and eating cake. I took pictures of nothing else. Pretty lame, right?

We got to Door County Friday night a lot later than we typically do since Hank wanted to attend his last soccer practice of the season and that didn't end until 5 p.m. I think we rolled into the Landmark's parking lot around 8:30 p.m. The big kids headed over to the big pool with Grandfather while Superdad and I (well, OK, Superdad mostly) unloaded the ridiculous amount of things we'd crammed into the van.

That pretty much summed out the rest of the weekend as well. Our agenda was to simply make the kids happy, and that involved lots and lots of swimming. The entire assembled group, however, equaled about twenty people, and as you might imagine not everyone wanted to swim, so in the mid-afternoon a cutthroat game of Sheepshead began, with different players rotating in and out, paused for dinner, cake and presents and then resumed until the wee hours of the morning. Shopping, napping and running took place as well, depending on whims.

The festivities for the kids took place Saturday evening in the lobby of our building, which I can't say enough great things about. It's spacious, the views are incredible and somehow, despite the vaulted ceilings, skylights and floor to ceiling windows, also manages to feel cozy and homey. As always, we chose a condo right off the lobby, so taking cake and presents to the lobby is an easy feat and makes for a completely relaxing, enjoyable time (as does the restaurant and its pizza delivery service).

First up, pizza, salad, Jello (a special request from the birthday boy which Super Grandma obliged) and Izzes.

After pizza it was present time. We followed birthday order and since Elisabeth's birthday is two days before Hank's birthday, she goes first. Here she is with all her loot.

And here she is when asked, "How old are you, Elisabeth?"

Elisabeth was way too cute opening her presents this year. Upon opening each new package she would loudly say, "Awwwww." Here she is opening her loot. As you can see, she had quite a few helpers.

And then it was Hank's turn. Poor boy, it's hard to practice patience at your own birthday party, for Pete's sake and not be able to open your presents right away and then, when it is your turn, have your mother direct you to just sit still so she can take a few pictures. It's brutal. But he did it. He forced a smile and everything.

And finally opening his presents...

Then cake. Elisabeth first, again, with her mocha torte. In our family we have always, always put one extra candle on the birthday cake for good luck. I can't believe it, but I forgot to do it for Elisabeth this year so here she is with one candle for each year and no good luck. Bad, bad mommy. She doesn't seem to notice though.

And then it's Hank turn with a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting made by Diana. She did not forget the extra candle for good luck. Look what the punk did though. After we sang "Happy Birthday" Superdad's family-- the Ukrainian side-- always sings a Ukrainian birthday song and then "Sto Lat," a Polish birthday song (Superdad's Ukrainian grandmother spent most of her childhood living in Poland) immediately following, a fact Hank is well aware of. Apparently he just had quite enough of being patient because one second into the Ukrainian version (which I can't link because Ukrainian uses a Cyrillic alphabet) he blew out his candles. But ha ha, Hank, you missed one!

The weekend was perfect in almost every possible way. I always have a great time in Door County, but I think this may have been my favorite time yet.

We capped of our visit with a night with just the five of us and Sunday night and Monday morning we had the Landmark to ourselves, it seemed. The pool temperature had been cranked up and we just had the best time playing in the pool for a few hours, all by ourselves, Monday morning. Even Elisabeth, usually not a huge fan of swimming, was floating around and splashing and playing in the warm pool water. Leaving Monday afternoon was sad, as it always is but is the sadness is somewhat tempered with the knowledge that we'll go back again. Soon, I hope!

Week Three, Day Three and Week Four, Day One

Week Three, Day Three

Door County and, I guess, the Landmark specifically, is perfect for a lot of things, but Saturday's run showed me that running isn't one of them. It's not that I had a bad run, exactly, it was just that there weren't really a lot of options road-wise. And there were a lot of hills. And wide open farm fields. And a gusty wind.

So what I'm saying, essentially, is that it was a hard run. Not a bad run, but a hard run. But I did it, and I handled it with no problem. I noticed something interesting on this run though, that I've noticed on other runs but brushed off as an anomaly instead of the norm I now think it is, it's easier to run the longer into your run that you are.

Week Four, Day One

I'm not going to lie. Before I left for my run last night I was nervous. Very nervous. Cool Runnings Couch to 5K Running Plan was now telling me that I'd be running more than walking. Significantly more so, in fact. The week four breakdown is run three minutes, walk ninety second, run five minutes, walk two and a half minutes, run three minutes, walk ninety seconds, run five minutes. Now, all you experienced runners out there might think that sounds like cake, but to me last night it sounded like a heck of a lot of running-- possibly more than I could handle.

What actually happened far exceeded my own expectations: I kicked that runs butt and had a fantastic time doing it! I got so into my groove and although I felt tired when I got home, I also felt great. I pushed myself, but I could have easily been talking throughout and didn't feel like I was gasping to keep up. Want to know something else? I even passed two other runners!

A few months ago (heck, a month ago!) running for a minute tired me out and now I'm starting to really feel like I've built up some endurance and might actually be able to make it through to the end of this program. I'm so excited and I can't say enough good things about this walk/run regimen. Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can do it!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Week Three, Day Two

Lovely run last night. Temperate weather, a nice breeze, who could ask for more?

I made it through last night with no trouble. Bring on week four, I say. I still have one week three run left, which is good. These manageable runs are not only building up my stamina, but my confidence as well.

It may sound ridiculous to you accomplished runners out there, but a month ago I couldn't have run a solid three minutes without feeling ridiculously winded and exhausted. And now I can not only do it, but I can do it again and, even though I haven't, I could probably do it again. I can't say enough good things about this run/walk program and how great it's been for me in building stamina.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Birthday Wrap-Up, Part One

I survived the first half of birthday week.

Monday, a small dinner and, of course, birthday cake for the two-year-old (!) honoree (a mocha cake with penuche frosting; delicious!).

Wednesday we hosted a lot of kids for Hank's circus party: corn dogs for lunch, circus music blaring in the background and circus game after circus game (thanks to my cousin, Sixty-Five's daughter, for the idea!). It was loud. It was chaotic. And it was really, really fun.

And a really special thank you to Extraordinary Ordinary, who did such a beautiful job painting all those little faces, despite the substandard materials I provided her. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Tomorrow we leave for Door County, where we'll have a family celebration for both Elisabeth and Hank on Saturday. For me though, when I pull out of my driveway, I'll not only be leaving home, but I'll be leaving all accountability behind. While in Door County we will only eat out, the presents will have been wrapped previously and the cakes will have already been made. I already know from past birthday celebrations there, that only fun and relaxation await us. I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Happy Birthday, Hank!

I am sitting in my living room surrounded by gobs of helium-filled balloons in a rainbow of colors. In just a few hours fourteen children besides my own will join us for lunch, games and cake to celebrate Hank's birthday. Today Hank turns five.

Hank was born on October 17, 2002. I had expected his birth to be earlier. Much earlier. I was only five days late with Madeleine, and subsequent pregnancies were supposed to get shorter. I was convinced throughout my entire pregnancy that Hank (or Hannah; the name we probably would have chosen if he'd been a girl) would arrive pretty close to his October seventh due date.

October seventh came and went... and went... and went... and there I was. Still pregnant. By October seventeenth I was convinced I would be pregnant forever. We were still in Janesville at the time. Superdad was still in law school and I was finally staying home full-time. I remember taking Madeleine to the library that Thursday morning. It was rainy, dreary day and yet I felt at peace. When I said I felt like I'd be pregnant forever, I meant it. I really almost believed it and just accepted it.

Later that afternoon I remember Madeleine taking a nap, not as common an event as you might think of a girl who'd just turned two-years-old. I sat upstairs and paid bills and wrote some thank-you notes and cursed the Braxton-Hicks contractions I kept feeling.

Later that evening Diana came over to watch Madeleine. I was meeting Superdad in Johnson Creek, about thirty minutes north of Janesville, and there we'd drive to Milwaukee together for our last Bradly Birth class. I left around five p.m. and during the drive up to Johnson Creek my contractions started to get pretty intense and I started to realize it maybe was labor. But, like I said, I was going to be pregnant forever so I sort of just ignored them and did some shopping until I met up with Superdad.

It took Joe, like, half a second after seeing me to realize that I wasn't just sort of in labor. I told him I was fine and that we should just go to Milwaukee (a good sixty minutes east of where we were; a solid ninety minutes from Janesville). Superdad put his foot down. Home he said. I insisted I was fine and that there was no need to leave a car there. I could drive.

Once I started driving it started to rain. And then I realized that my contractions were only about four minutes apart. I think we made it back to Janesville in record time. We dashed home to pick up my hospital bag and tell Diana what was going on and this I remember vividly: Madeleine was watching Sleeping Beauty and I leaned over to kiss her good-bye and a felt a sudden pop and gush. Yep, my water broke all over my living room floor. Lovely.

I forget how dilated I was once we got to the hospital, nor do I remember the time (8 p.m.? 9 p.m.?). What I do remember is being monitored for a very short amount of time before a doctor came in whom I'd never met, and wasn't part of my obstetrician's group, and told me we were going down for a c-section, and that we were going now. Apparently there was something wrong with Hank's heart rate and he was dipping far lower than anyone was comfortable with. I don't remember what we said, but I do remember somehow asking how necessary it was and the doctor made it clear we didn't really have a choice.

And then, only fuzzy memories: drinking some awful, awful liquid, having a spinal put in and being told to hold still even though I was contracting constantly, it seemed. I remember bright lights and a ride in the elevator. I remember Joe being taken somewhere and telling them (the nurses? Doctors?) to go and bring him back. And then I remember getting into the operating room and Joe was waiting there. I remember my anthesologist asking me if I could feel him poking my stomach. I could. He looked at the obstetrician on-call (whose name I can't remember) and him shaking his head and saying, "There's no time." I remember feeling pulling and pressure and, finally, relief. I remember looking at Joe and seeing his face turn white and staring over the sheet that blocked my view. I remember being aware-- very aware-- that I couldn't hear any crying. I asked over and over, "What's going on?" I received no answer. I remember doctors rushing in and doing things on the other side of the room where I knew my baby was. I remember asking if the baby was a boy or a girl. No answer.

And then, finally, after three excruciating minutes, a cry. A loud, full-throttle new baby cry. I remember crying with happiness. So was Joe. And then, finally, someone told me the baby was a boy, and that he was going to be fine. A few minutes later another doctor I'd never seen or met before, a pediatrician, walked Hank over and stuck him a few inches from my face. I remember my first thought so, so clearly, and it was shock. For some reason I'd expected him to look just like Madeleine and I remember being surprised that he didn't. That silly thought still makes me laugh today.

There you have it. Hank's harrowing birth tale. Both older kids love the story. "Tell us about when Hank was limp and blue again, please Daddy?" they often ask.

But my favorite memory of his birth was a few hours after his 10:16 p.m. arrival into this world. After spending an hour or so by myself in recovery (Hank was taken for observation and Joe went along) I was wheeled down to the post-partum floor. As I was wheeled down the hallway Joe was pushing Hank out of the nursery towards our room. I met him there and even though I didn't get to see him for awhile after his birth, besides the doctors, I got to be the first person to hold him. There, in the still of the night on that quiet hospital floor I held and nursed my new son. And it was heavenly.

It's hard to believe that was five years ago. It seems overdone to say it but, it's true, the time has just flown by.

Happy birthday, dear Hanker-buddy. We love you!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Week Three, Day One

I did not want to run last night. After finishing up a roast chicken dinner, birthday cake and a glass of wine all I wanted to do lie down and enjoy the memories of all the yummy food. And cake. And wine.

But this is birthday week. Tomorrow is Hank's birthday and this weekend we celebrate both Elisabeth's and Hank's again, with family. That's four cakes in one week. How in the world can I not run with one cake behind me and three in my future?

Both weeks one and two were heavier on walking times than running times. But not week three. Now the running is equal with the walking portions. It requires ninety seconds of running, ninety seconds of walking, three minutes of running and three minutes of walking. Repeat.

I'll admit it, I had trouble with the first three minute running stretch. I was going uphill and I think I ran too fast during the ninety second run. I was winded by the end. But during the second three minute stretch I found my groove. I experimented with my stride quite a bit and discovered that by intentionally lengthening my stride I could still cover a lot of ground without having to run very quickly. I admit this sounds obvious, but my natural inclination is to take short, easy strides. Those long strides strain muscles I didn't know I had, but in a good way.

In any event, I made it. I easily ran a half-mile last night, no small feat for a non-runner like me!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Happy Birthday, Elisabeth!

Today is my baby's second birthday. My youngest-- my baby-- is two-years-old today. I can't quite believe it.

Many of you know that Elisabeth's birthday also coincides with my mom's unexpected death. Every aspect of her birth corresponds with some awful phone call or tense conversation with a neurologist. So, I don't want to share her birth story. Births are happy. Joyous. And hers was too, but it never seems so when writing it out, thinking about the events leading up to it and putting it all into context.

Here's the birthday girl at just three days old.

To see what the little cutie looked like at one-year-old, check out her birthday celebration last year.

And here she is just a few weeks ago (the photo credit belongs to Madeleine for this shot).

Happy Birthday, sweet Elisabeth Jane! We love you!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Week Two, Day Four

I know, I know. I'm only "supposed" to run three times a week. But it's been a stressful week; I needed to get out.

I figured since I am almost to week three anyway I would incorporate one of the longer running stretches prescribed there into my final week two run. I was wrong though; next week I'm up to three minutes stretches of running, but I thought it was five. Those two minutes made a big difference to a beginner like me and by the time I got home I was tired.

I did it though, so I'm confident conquering week three and its three minute stretches of running will easily be within my grasp.

Zoo Trip

I have warned you that all I've been doing lately is either home schooling Madeleine, reading books in preparation for schooling Madeleine or running. Well, and of course, cleaning, laundry, cooking, et cetera, but what's less exciting than that? Perhaps running, which Superdad has called the subject of "the most boring blog posts ever?"

Yesterday, just to notch up the excitement level around here, the kids and I took a field trip to the zoo. Dad, freshly back from a week long sojourn to Germany and the Netherlands, decided to tag along since he'd missed us all ever so much.

The kids and I spent the past month studying various large cats; tigers, cheetahs, leopards, you get the idea. Considering themselves now experts in all things feline, the kids decided to observe their subjects in their natural habitats. Or, at least as close as you can get to their natural habitats when not living or frequently vacationing halfway across the globe.

Armed with paper, clipboards, colored pencils and crayons, we spent our afternoon parked in Big Cat Country at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Our first stop was the cheetahs, who were outside staring over a small ravine at a herd of impalas (something both Madeleine and Hank noted as being exceptionally cruel; Don't they want to jump over there and eat them, Mom?!) We observed through a sheet of glass the two cheetahs who playfully ran just an inch from our noses (Elisabeth jumped back in fright!) time and time again. We learned the two cheetahs were both males, and we surmised that they must be brothers that since, like other large cats, cheetahs do live on their own but, unlike other large cats, brother cheetahs are often the exception to that rule, staying together for life.

Here is Madeleine's drawing.

I have to say, I'm pretty impressed by it, and here's why. First off, she noted the cheetah's tear marks, the distinctive black line running from their inner eyes down their noses, which all cheetahs have and make differentiating them from, say, leopards, extremely easy. Secondly, unlike all other cats, cheetahs are unable to retract their claws; they need them to dig into the ground to help them run as quickly as they're able. Clearly Madeleine remembered, and noted, that interesting fact.

Hank's picture... well his was a bit less anatomically correct, but at least he got the spots. And hey, he's only four.

Next up, the lions, who were inside. They were slightly active, if you categorize yawning, preening and an occasional stretch as active. Still though, there was a wide rock ledge right in front of the lion and lioness in which to park art supplies and child-sized derrières, so the little artists got right to work.

We also saw a jaguar, a sleeping tiger (that lazy tiger has never once been awake in all our trips to the zoo) and a snow leopard.

Madeleine's tiger.

Hank's tiger, who looks very happy and awake for such tired cat, does he not?

And, finally, the full sheet, the pièce de résistance, the cumulative product of all the kids' laborious efforts. First Madeleine's masterpiece is shown. Hank's work follows immediately.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Week Two, Day Three

I'm sorry for all the running entries, but this and home schooling is about all I've got. And anyway, I want to track my progress, so I apologize for all the boring talk about running.

Last night of week two--whew. Next week some much longer running intervals get thrown in, but I feel ready.

I chose a different route tonight. North, instead of east. I never realized how few people pull their blinds in their brightly lit front rooms. Came you blame me, slowly jogging by covered in darkness that I looked (OK, stared) in? Interesting to see how others decorate their homes, the furniture they choose, the paint colors they use.

Anyway. The ninety seconds of running with two minutes of walking was easy. Easy, I tell you. So easy, in fact, that I went out for almost forty minutes instead of the prescribed twenty. I am ready for week three.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Week Two, Day Two

I told myself all day that I was going to go running after our evening bible study at church. I looked forward to it all day long and then, right before we left for church, my soup just didn't sit right with me and I got a stomachache that just wouldn't go away.

I decided to run anyway. Who knew when I'd get another chance this week.

It was a fine run. Not great, but fine. The running, once again, felt like it was plenty easy enough and the two minute walking reprieves felt a bit too long.

The highlight though, was the weather. Last night was our first fall night. The temperature was in the fifties and there was a strong wind blowing crisp, fallen leaves across my path. The smell of fireplaces, probably enjoying their first use this season, permeated the air.

A beautiful night and an OK run/walk. That about sums it up.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Hank's School Picture

Ah, school pictures. Some of the worst pictures I've ever had taken of me have appeared in yearbooks for hundreds to see and for generations to come. I've always hated school pictures.

Until this year. Did you ever see a more photogenic little boy?

Monday, October 08, 2007

First Concert

It was this past Thursday, I believe, while driving to the bank that I heard the ad. The Milwaukee Symphony was going to be performing Franz Liszt's Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major for piano and orchestra and Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor. I pressed number two on my cell phone, my speed dial short cut to Superdad's office, and said we should go. After all, the Milwaukee Symphony, while a good symphony, is not known for its excellent discernment in musical selections; they're a bit too fond of newer composers and infusing a choral component into all of their concerts to please my purest palette. But this-- well, this sounded good!

So Superdad snagged us two tickets. All I had to do was snag us a babysitter. No problem. Thumbing through our church directory, teeming with child-loving teenagers, I began making my calls. No. No again. An no again. And again and again and again... local homecoming festivities, it appeared, were robbing me of all possible babysitters.

Saturday came and we still didn't have a babysitter. I then suggested to Superdad that he take Madeleine to her first symphony concert. We had a few concerns, namely the late hour of the concert (it began at bedtime) but we assured ourselves that if she hated it or was too tired they could always just leave at intermission.

Madeleine happily dressed in her fanciest attire and even more happily posed for pictures.

Madeleine arrived home at 10:30 p.m., bright eyed and brimming with excitement.

"Did you like it, Madeleine?" I asked as she raced into my arms.

"Oh, yes, Mom, I loved it!"

Superdad would tell me later that other concert goers kept smiling at her and telling Superdad how good she was throughout the evening. He did confess he witnessed a bit of impatience during the second half, but overall his impression was that she was very interested in everything, especially the conductor practically jumping off his podium at different moments.

I'm still sorry I missed it, but am thrilled for Madeleine having seen, and loved, her first symphony.

If you're curious, here's a You Tube clip of the Liszt piece.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Week Two, Day One

Yay, a new week and a new running challenge!

This week's running plan is to alternate between ninety seconds of running and two minutes of walking. Sound easy? It was.

Thankfully, though, I figured beforehand that it would be, so when I took off around four this afternoon I invited Madeleine to come with me. She gleefully raced upstairs to change since she'd been asking me just a few days ago if she could come sometime.

She made it the whole twenty-five minutes too, only stopping to walk instead of run on the final two runs. I did a lot of circling back, but it was fun to have company, especially a cute, talkative seven-year-old girl.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Week One, Day Three

My last Week One run. My last run with sixty second runs and ninety second walking reprieves.

I went out last night, after 8 p.m. I'm starting to realize my visions of running at sunrise will probably never happen. And why should they? Running in the evening brings its own beauty. And certainly in this ridiculously hot October, it brings cooler temperatures.

There were people everywhere. Teenagers, mostly. Last night was our high school's homecoming football game and there were swarms of people all over town.

And the run? Fantastic. I felt the ninety second walking intervals were too long and I just wanted to run already. But I didn't; I followed the Cool Running's plan to the letter.

My reward? Today I treated myself to a new pair of running shoes.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Christmas in September

I know everyone says that every year it gets more ridiculous with Christmas decorations being put out out earlier and earlier and every year people always complain and roll their eyes without, in fact, really knowing if it's starting any earlier this year than it did last year.

Well, I have proof. The other day I was in my least favorite store in the entire universe but, hey, I needed inexpensive diapers, and while roaming through Hell Walmart I noticed that, a month before Halloween they were setting up red bows, Christmas CDs and snowy villages.

Sick, I tell you. Sick.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Week One, Days One and Two

According to Cool Running's website, a great way to transform yourself into a runner is to follow their Couch-to-5K Running Plan. Ah, who knows. There might be better plans out there but to me, a novice, a walk/run program seems like a good, non-intimidating way to get started.

According to this plan, during the first week I am supposed to commit to three runs lasting about twenty minutes and I am supposed to alternate between walking and running, with an emphasis on walking.

Day 1, Monday

I went out at 8:15 p.m. and a cool, foggy night greeted me. I followed the Cool Running's plan as closely as I could considering I only had my cell phone with me, which doesn't display second increments, only minutes. I probably ended up walking for two minutes between runs instead of the recommended ninety seconds, but I also stayed out for thirty minutes instead of the recommended twenty.

I wound about our village, exploring different blocks but not enjoying myself quite as much as I thought I might since I was preoccupied with timing myself. Not good for the introspective, peaceful run I'd hoped to have.

Towards the end of my time out, I found myself running (OK, and walking, too) across the street from the narrow park that separates our peaceful, relatively crime-free 'burb from one of the more dangerous parts of the city next door. Hm. Not such a good idea in the pitch black night.

All in all though, I felt great afterwards. I felt challenged, but not overly so, and knew what aspects I wanted to change.

Day 2, Tuesday

I didn't really want to run two days in a row, but since I've been very, very not self-disciplined about getting up in the morning, I knew Tuesday would be my last chance for an evening run for a few days.

I felt like a bit of a tool, but I took my loud, beeping, digital kitchen timer with me and ran straight through the most well-lit, busiest road in our village.

Now I understand how people can get addicted to running. Unconcerned with the clock or my safety, I was free to enjoy the crunching leaves beneath my feet and observe the lives being lived in the houses I walked or ran past. The night was gorgeous; a storm was rolling in and I could enjoy the cool breeze, the somewhat scary winds as they blew tree branches beyond their comfort zone and feel the preview of a few, errant raindrops. I also felt I was developing a peaceful, easy rhythm during my running times and was actually enjoying myself, something I never have done before while running!

I probably didn't feel completely challenged, running-wise, but I followed the program exactly and didn't try to run more than was instructed even though I believe I could have. I have tried running too much in the past and gotten burned out very, very quickly, so I feel that, for me, erring on the side of not pushing myself enough is better than doing it too much.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

New Look

I bet you all think I rearrange my house all the time too, based on how often I change the look of my blog. Well, you'd be right. I like change.

That said, I really didn't mean to change how it looked this time. All I wanted to do was add the third column, which I did, obviously (which, I did with the assistance of this incredibly helpful and wonderful blog). But, while doing so I erased everything else, format-wise, and had to start over with colors, spacing, et cetera.

I like it but I may continue to futz with it. Until, of course, I re-vamp it completely once I get sick of it.

UPDATE: I just asked Hank what he thought of the new look of my blog and he said, "I hate it." So there you have it. Lovely.


I've always been an active person. I love to bike, take long hikes and I walk for a purpose or for pleasure at least once daily, usually more.

That said, I've never been one who "works out." The drama of a gym bothers me: the noise, the TVs, people strutting around in ridiculously expensive workout attire. To me it misses the point. Shouldn't exercising be about more than toning and shaping your body; shouldn't it also be about exercising and toning your mind? A rare chance to be alone with yourself and let yourself think the thoughts you're too busy to think at any other time?

Eschewing traditional gyms and resting on the idea that I have always been active I've sort of just always assured myself that I was in fine physical shape and needn't worry.

And then, last month, while in New York, I climbed Hadley. I was fine, and even climbed it in a reasonable amount of time. What I took issue with was just how I felt while climbing. I felt more winded than I felt I ought and during that climb I realized that something was going to have to change.

But what? Should I dash out and gather all the newest, trendiest workout gear, buy an iPod and start watching Orange County so I could fit in at the gym? No, besides disliking all the things about gyms that I've already mentioned, what I hate more the most is being inside. Exercise is about moving and, to me, there seems no better place to do that than outside in a vast expanse of space and fresh air.

Running? Running has always appealed to me; the movement and the solitude, but the idea scared me. In the past when I've tried running I'd be exhausted before a reasonable person would and I'd give up, dejected, figuring I'd never be able to do it as well as other people. As well as real runners.

Still though, I have decided to try. I'm going to start out with an easy running regimen and make reasonable, attainable goals for myself. My first goal is simply to make it through week one. And you, my lucky blog readers, get to read all about my trials and successes.

Why? Well, one thing that has always intimidated me about running is people who talk (or blog!) about running are already good. They're already running marathons and are totally in shape and never, ever talk about when they were starting out and felt like their lungs would explode after just a few blocks and when they just felt like they couldn't possibly run another inch well before reaching the half mile mark.

But I will. I'll tell you just how pathetic I am and, hopefully, how non-pathetic I become.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Move Review, X

Superdad and I were lucky enough to watch two great movies this past weekend. Saturday night we watched The Aviator. Since this movie has been out on video for eight million years and anyone who wanted to see it has already seen it, I'll spare you my thoughts and simply say that if you're as lame as Superdad and I are about seeing movies promptly and missed this, go see it. It's good.

Oh, and if you're wondering, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio before he visibly hits puberty; in fact, I think it was his last role where he looked bizarrely adolescent despite his adult age.

Friday night we watched another moving starring the lovely Leo (post-adolescence-- look at that-- real facial hair!) and Superdad and I both loved it.

I went into the movie knowing very little about diamond mining or the civil war in Sierra Leone in the nineties and I came out knowing very little more, but feeling like I did and I was ready to swear off all future diamond purchases (not like I'm in the market very frequently anyway). I've since learned a lot more and was happy to realize a lot of the problems shown in the movie have been addressed and some even dealt with.

But oh, such a well acted, moving film. I was absolutely engrossed in every second of it.