Monday, October 17, 2016

13 Miles to the Old Me

I ran a half-marathon yesterday in Detroit. It was raining, and it was exhausting, and I was sick and unprepared, and had to stop and catch my breath and decide if I was going to keep going around mile nine. But it was also the best thing I've done in years.

It's no secret I've been feeling a bit lost with my kids getting older and busier, and me working and worrying and, ahhhhh. Not to mention all the hormonal hell I've been experiencing from my stupid perimenopause. The past couple years have been full of so much good stuff for my family and I am still a half-full kind of person, BUT I've been lost and frustrated and anxious and not sure who I am or where I fit into everyone's/anyone's lives, even my own.

I started running a decade ago. After my third baby, JT, was born I decided to get healthier and running seemed like a good idea. I ran in the dark because I was embarrassed by my weight and my form. Eventually I worked my way up to running in the daylight, to running a 5K and then a 10K and a couple half-marathons and the ultimate, a marathon in 2010. I was a runner.

Running alone was my therapy, my escape, my joy. After the marathon I was convinced that I was a runner for life. But then life got busier and messier. I gained weight. I went back to work. Did I mention busier? Because holy shit did life get busier (older kids and activities and all their sports and choir concerts and ahhh!!!!). I stopped running regularly and promptly started losing my identity at the same time.

I still craved alone time and would go for short runs here and there. I always felt better when I went for a run. It is the only cure I've found for my anxiety and scattered brain. I just never found or made the time for regular runs. Until last summer, when I decided to train for a race, a half marathon.

I fit my runs into our hectic life and to be honest wasn't as prepared for the race this Sunday because it was really, really hard to find the time for longer runs.

Over the last six months, running gave me a feeling of control. I decided how many miles to run and where to run. If I ran the entire distance great, if not nobody cared. Running didn't impact my job, my kids, my bills, my marriage, my dogs. It was all mine.

Yesterday, running over 13 miles in the pouring rain through Detroit made me feel like myself again. A slower, sweatier, achier me, but still a bit like the old me. After the race I felt so proud and happy. "I am happier than I've been in six months," I told Tim. "Oh my god, I'm nicer when I'm happier, aren't I?" He nodded emphatically.

I was so happy that Tim and the kids were at the finish line to cheer me on and congratulate me. It felt good for them to see this side of me, not just the tired, overprotective mom who tells them to get off their phone all day.

I feel a little bit like me again and it feels good.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Turning 7

My baby turned 7 last Friday. It seems crazy to me. How can time go so fast? How can my baby not be a baby anymore? I feel confused.

Poor Wade is just as confused as I am. Somedays we treat him like a toddler and other days we act as if he is a teenager. He likes hip-hop music and talks about who is taking who to homecoming like his teenage brother. He also likes me to read him Berenstein Bear books at bedtime. 

He is such a baby of four kids! We do so many things differently with Wade than we did with Peyton. From bedtimes to routines to shows we let him watch. "I don't really get the jokes in "Blackish"," he told us the other night. I praised his self-awareness and being able to tell us, but then questioned why in the world I was letting him watch it. But it seems way better than what I was watching at 7, "Dukes of Hazard" and "Dallas." I mean right?

A couple weekends ago, we had our first "Home Alone" moment. Tim and I always drive separately to almost every event because we are usually driving and picking up another one of our children. As we left JT's football game, Tim thought I had Wade in my car and I thought he was in Tim's. Luckily we realized it when we called each other to do the van check before we left the parking lot, you know where we ask "who do you have in your van?" I mean thank god we have checks and balances/quality control/somewhat of a safety system because we realized he wasn't with either of us. We rushed back to field and found Wade sitting with a mom he knew who was getting her phone out to call us. He was calm and sort of even a little pissed at us, but he wasn't hysterical. He thanked the mom and got in one of our minivans to go home.

That's the thing about being 7 years old and the baby of four, Wade is this awesome mixture of little kid and big kid. He is snuggly and sweet and will proudly make the shirt with the giant, crooked 7 I made for him to school. He is also pretty self-aware and confident and brave and independent, not to mention forgiving and pretty flexible.

Wade got his first friend birthday party this past weekend and he was psyched. We did little kid crafts (painting pumpkins) and then played touch football games like the big kids.

The great thing about being the baby of four and having two older brothers is that those brothers help organize the game and have friends that can play too.

Peyton was awesome.
I see a possible camp counselor job in his future. 

My feelings on football are the same, it scares me. BUT my boys love it, I mean they really love it. So, duh, I made a football birthday cake. 

The rest of our weekend was packed with football and more football, and bike rides and parties and cross country meets and a visit from grandpa and ahhhh!!!!

This picture is everything. If you look closely you can see JT at quarterback, Wade playing with a buddy on the sideline and Peyton nervously watching the game. Brothers and football!

So proud of Lucy! She got a medal and her team won the meet.
She was so excited.

My dad came up for a visit from Pittsburgh and got to see our busy weekends first hand. And spend a lot of time with the kiddos.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Stormy Weather and Change and Homecoming Dances

My oldest kid went to his first high school homecoming dance this past weekend. I can't even believe it. Time is so damn weird. I mean it feels like just yesterday but at the same time a million years ago that I went to my own homecoming dance at my high school. Everything feels surreal right now not to mention exhausting, but at the same time very clear and poignant and sweet and important.

Just like in a movie, the past week's plot change was marked by winds and rain. The kind of metaphor that makes you roll your eyes in the movie because it's so obvious...stormy weather ushering in a new season, change. 

Obvious or not, after three days of constant rain and dark clouds and cold-ish wind, ch-ch-change happened. The rain stopped, the sun sort of came out and I became the parent of a kid that goes to a high school homecoming dance. Whaaaat?!?! 

Peyton went with a group of friends. He had fun. I was overwhelmed with all the people and the pictures and ahhhhh. But honestly it was all pretty cute and fun to watch.

And you know what? It's weird and I can't believe I'm so old and I don't really know what I'm doing, but I think I'm finally settling into this role of a mom of older kids. It's been a real struggle for me. Mostly because I absolutely loved having little kids. It was my jam.  But this new-ish role, these big kids that have dances to attend and football games to play and races to run and friends to hang out with and homework to stress about, well it's all pretty interesting and wild and nerve-wracking and fun.  

There was a lot of football last week per usual in this family.

It's a good thing I'm adjusting to these big kids and homecoming dances because I have a few more coming up behind Peyton. But I do need to pace myself because um, it's going to be eight years before Wade goes to his first high school homecoming dance.

We had to take a picture because having older, busier kids means it's rare for us to all be in the same spot for very long.

Saw this song pop up on a blogger's site that I love and it just felt so right on:

(click here for the video)

And duh, I said ch-ch-change, I had to post this song:

Friday, September 23, 2016

Grabbing Time

It's been a crazy back to school season. It's been all about transitions. 

Transitioning back into school, back into routines, and crazy busy schedules and homework and practices and ahhhhhhh. I hate transitions and being busy. I mean seriously, I hate it. My peri-menopausal hormone-induced heightened anxiety that I've been experiencing of late has made it all a million times worse.

So, this past week I took a little bit of control back and found time and hope and felt so much better.
Here's what I did:

I didn't wait for the right time. The only night we all were together for a family dinner was Monday night. So, I lit candles and put on some music and set the table for the fam. I made a normal night something special because it felt good and it didn't matter that it was a dumb Monday night.

I skipped curriculum night at all my kids' schools. Instead, one night we went on a family walk instead with the dogs; on another night, I watched Peyton's football game instead of missing the end and rushing to the elementary school. After I got over the initial feeling of guilt and like I was failing because I wasn't going to everything, everywhere, it felt nice. And relaxing.

I ran while the lasagna cooked. I found out last week that not running or exercising led to so much more anxiety. So, I snuck in a run when I could. One night it was while the lasagna was in the oven. I ran four very slow miles but I felt happier and more in control, and less guilt when I ate a lot of lasagna.

I watched TV with Tim. When Tim and I are out of sync the family feels out of sync. So, we made time for each other. Sure it was just hanging out watching TV, but it was really good TV and we were together in the same room (that's rare!). We watched the new show This Is Us and LOVED it. We also started watching Homeland...intense. It's nothing expensive and fancy, but it's also better than nothing and not talking.

(I so needed a show like this on TV. It's good.)

I left the game. At first this was a very low moment for me, but it turned out to be a good lesson. I had a mild panic attack at JT's football game. Instead of forcing myself to stay and fight through my anxiety and potentially have a bigger panic attack, I left. I was embarrassed and sort of full of shame as I was leaving and even later that night. But then I realized it was the best thing I could do for myself at that moment and taking care of myself was/is important. JT came home and excitedly told me all about his game. My mom friends in the stands texted to see if I was okay and gave me so much love and support. Just like an athlete who is cramping or playing injured, sometimes you have to take yourself out of the game to stay healthy. (We are big on sports analogies here at our house, so this one felt right on.)

When I was a teenager my dad used to say "it's not about not having time, it's about not making time." Oh my god, I hated that so much. But last week, I made some time. Instead of running around and doing all the things and resenting all the things and losing myself to all the things, I said no to some of the things. I made and found some time and it helped so much with everything. It probably won't be possible to skip all the meetings and I hope I stay for all the rest of the games, but when I can find time for a dinner on the porch or a walk through the woods with the kids and the dogs, I'm going to grab it because my god it feels good.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Celiac Disease Awareness--Gluten Free, Not a Choice, A Cure

Yesterday was Celiac Disease Awareness Day. In true me fashion lately, I'm a day behind. But I thought I would take the opportunity to share how Celiac Disease impacts our family and spread a little awareness.

My third child, JT, has Celiac disease. 

He was diagnosed when he was 3 1/2, a few months after Wade was born. JT had never been a big eater, he always preferred drinking a bottle over baby food and a sippy cup over lunch. He would get bad stomachaches and get sick to his stomach a lot.  But I had no idea what Celiac was. Being "gluten free" hadn't gone mainstream yet so I wasn't familiar with that either.  After he had hernia surgery, JT started losing weight and was sick all the time. He was slipping off the growth charts and was what doctors call "failing to thrive."  He couldn't digest any food. He looked like a starving child.

Once we got the diagnosis, everything changed. We got rid of the gluten in our house and in most of our life and JT started getting better. He gained weight. He grew. He got happier. He got healthier.

Going gluten free wasn't a choice, it was a cure.

Here are a few of our truths about what Celiac disease was and is for us....

Celiac disease was watching my 3-year-old waste away.
He could not keep any food down. His arms were like toothpicks. His belly was distended and hard as a rock and hollow sounding. He was pail and sickly. But he still smiled because he is JT, such a positive, sweet boy.

Celiac disease is a part of our everyday life. We read labels. We research online. We are very careful. Even a crumb can make JT sick. Our household is gluten free because JT gets sick from cross contamination and we want him to always feel comfortable and included at home.
We shop at all kinds of grocery stores and are reaping the benefits of everyone wanting to go gluten free. There are so many more products available at more affordable prices than there were seven years ago!!!!!

And duh, we still eat cake. Gluten free cake! 

When we travel, we don't think that much about restaurants. We have dinner in our room or on a picnic with the gluten free food we buy/bring. It's actually pretty awesome--we end up saving a lot of money and spending more time relaxing together. This was our spread in our tiny hotel in Atlanta this past summer.
Sadly, we miss stuff and mess up and he gets sick sometimes. One time we thought it was a gluten-free muffin mix and it was not and JT got violently ill. 

Celiac disease does not cause anaphylactic shock. Having to be so careful so JT does not get sick and stays healthy and strong has made my compassion sort of explode for other children and families dealing with any food allergy or autoimmune disease. I cannot imagine worrying about whether or not my child would stop breathing. So when a parent asks me to not bring peanuts to school, I don't and it's not a problem at all.

Celiac disease is not an allergy, it is an autoimmune disease. When JT gets "glutened" he usually throws up a lot and has severe stomach pain. He also gets very dazed and foggy-headed. He becomes very tired and can be in bed for at the very least 24 hours after ingesting the gluten. 

Celiac disease is our normal. It doesn't slow down JT for very long. He is an active, happy, pretty freakin' fantastic kid.

I love him so much. 

Here's some other information from a great web site, Beyond Celiac:

Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disease.

Celiac disease is the only autoimmune disease with a known trigger--Gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye and barley and foods and drinks that contain these grains.

Left undiagnosed and untreated, people with Celiac disease are at-risk for other serious health consequences such as osteoporosis, anemia, thyroid disease and even certain cancers.

Eighty-nine percent of patients experience brain fog after gluten exposure. Some describe it as difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness and grogginess.

Click here to learn more about Celiac disease.