Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Time for Bed-Bed

Last night, as I was getting The Munchkin ready for bed, she asked if she could have cuddles in our (The Other Half and my) room. She got changed, brushed her teeth and after grabbing her trusted yellow blanket, finding her go-to corner and pressing it up against her nose, she curled up against me and laid her head down on my chest, ear over my heart. It wasn't long before she was fighting a losing battle to stay awake and her eyelids became heavy. 

As I watched her drift off to sleep, I wondered if somehow she remembered the sound of my heart - as she listened to it beating away - from when she was an infant or even before, when I was pregnant with her. I enjoyed a rare, few quiet minutes with her, before giving her a kiss on her nose and telling her it was time for bed-bed. She looked at me through sleepy eyes and offered up her arms to be carried to her crib.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Little Things in Life

An afternoon spent amongst rows of strawberries nestled against hay, ripe and red and ready for picking. The Oldest worked on filling her own quart box, which was later added to the large tray - while The Munchkin supervised me and made sure that I picked only the best ones (and then proceeded to eat them just as fast as I could pick them). A couple of times they managed to work together, both kneeling - The Oldest telling The Munchkin what to look for and how to pick - and it was in those moments I stopped, watched, and tried to remember how they were on a beautiful, early summer afternoon when for an hour all was right in my world.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sticks & Stones

My Note: I wrote this in 2009 to process through the first time The Oldest was teased because of the way she looks. This was before I became aware of what blogging is and as a result I posted it on Facebook. I've recently been reminded of some of the notes that I've written - many of them focused on my girls - and I'll likely start transferring them over here to keep them more permanently but to also make sure that whenever I decide to pull the entries and compile them, they're where I can find them.

----------

I'm writing this more for my benefit - as a way of remembering the conversation, but also to help me process through the conversation I had with Rebecca when we were on our way home from the gym this evening.

A few months into my pregnancy my mom asked me what it felt like for me to know that I'd finally have a biological connection, but more importantly - a little person that would look something like me. Despite my always saying, "I hope she has my eyes," for the longest time I thought it was strange my mom would bring up that kind of question and even more strange that she continued to ask it as Rebecca's due date drew closer. And then she was born and when I was finally able to hold her for the first time, I understood exactly why I kept praying that Rebecca would inherit the shape of my eyes. But in that moment when I was overwhelmed with happiness that she had small, almond shaped eyes and a non-existent bridge to her nose -- I also began hoping she'd never know what it felt like to question what she looked like.

My eyes are the one physical feature that I have that growing up in a "white" suburban area outside of Massachusetts or later in more rural New Hampshire (even in Indiana when I first moved here -- though that is changing rapidly) set me apart from everyone else. While I've come to love the shape of my eyes and the dark brown, almost black color they hold - there were a number of years when to me they were more of a liability than an asset. The times when kids would pull their eyes taut and then run away from me on the playground or call me "chin eyes" were hurtful beyond belief. Sticks and stones may break our bones and despite what anyone might try and tell me to the contrary - words and actions sure as hell do hurt. They hurt when you're older and able to reason that someone should have known better not to call you a "gook" - and they really hurt when you're little and have no idea why someone tells you you're "different" or "strange" or a "freak".

When I glanced in the rear-view mirror this evening I was not prepared to see Rebecca, fingers by her eyes, pulling them to the side and closed. She said, "Mommy, I'm making a funny face. Sierra says I have a funny face like this." I took a deep breath and tried to catch just one of the thoughts that began to flood my head.

My first approach didn't work. Rebecca clammed up in a nano-second and wouldn't say another word. I silently got angry with myself first, calmed down second and then regrouped. I managed to convince her she wasn't in trouble nor was she going to get in trouble - which was most important because it allowed me to try again.

I asked Rebecca how it feels when Sierra makes faces at her - to which Rebecca responded quietly she didn't know. It was when I told Rebecca that kids used to make fun of my eyes that she finally opened up -- and began to cry. THAT was something that you could have told me was going to happen - could have provided me with the date and the time and the place that it was going to happen and no amount of preparation would have ever made me ready for.

You want to know how a 3, almost 4 year old breaks your heart? By saying that someone making faces at her makes her sad and hurts her feelings. By asking why someone would think she looks funny or why someone would call her "diamond eyes" or laugh and point and tell her her eyes are too small. Or by telling you that someone ran away from her because they were told that she's different.

As with most things in her 3 year old world - she experiences it, sometimes she retains it, she asks questions, she gets answers or - if needed - asks more questions to get more answers, she might cry or laugh and then she moves on. So I move on as well. Our car ride was short, but it was long enough for us to "talk", for her to be certain with the knowledge that I love her and at least for the next 12 hours that she's not funny or strange or different. She's just Rebecca. I know this is just the first of I'm sure many conversations - not only about her eyes, but about being a child of mixed race (I have to laugh when people ask me "What is she?" -- I want to answer, "She's really just a mutt. We think one half Golden Retriever, part Basset Hound and maybe a little Chocolate Lab") and hopefully someday about my ethnic heritage. And I know I can't protect her from all the sticks and stones and words -- all I can do is provide her with love and hopefully nurture her into being a strong, self-confident young woman.

Oh, and Rebecca's eyes... They've got the beautiful almond shape - but the coloring? A grayish color around the outside that blends in with a medium brown with flecks of gold and green. They're stunning... but I'm not biased either. ;)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Grieving & Gratitude

Early last week my boss stopped by my desk and asked me if I had a minute and then said we should talk back in our department's area (neither here nor there, my desk is set apart from the rest of the department for reasons that aren't relevant to what I'm about to write - but I will say that I'm better off because I have a window and more workspace). I didn't think much of it because I'm at a point of transition professionally and the details about my new position are evolving so I quickly followed. When he stopped by the office of one of my coworkers, asked if she had a minute and then - when we were inside the walls of our department space - closed the door. I knew something was wrong. 

"I have some really bad news..." he started. 

Our organization is going through a period of transition as well. With the various laws and regulations that seem to be changing from week to week that's just the way it is in my world. My mind started racing and in a nanosecond a bazillion possibilities raced though my head: our department was being let go, maybe he was being let go, maybe he was being tapped to move from the entity to the system, was someone from our c-suite leaving or worse yet, fired? How was I going to tell my husband I was out of a job? It wasn't convenient but I just started a part-time position for giggles with my Trusted Running Store so maybe that could help me fill in the gaps?

We all focused our attention on him, holding our collective breaths waiting for his next words and when he spoke it was far more of a shock than anything I could have imagined. A beloved member of our team had suddenly passed away. Details were sketchy and few. His wife and family - twin girls and an older daughter - were okay and had been out of town.  But that's all we knew. 

Someone began to tear up. Most of us just stared blankly off into space. My heart felt heavy. Words escaped me. My boss, recognizing the blow, said if we were free to leave for the remainder of the day if we wanted or head to the main building where we could find other forms of support and be with our other colleagues. We all sat and talked between ourselves behind a closed door and within the safety of our department walls and then slowly began to try and resume what we were doing as best we could. 

For me, it was only a short time before I decided I needed to leave to be with my family. To see The Other Half, to collect The Oldest off the bus and then gather The Munchkin from Kiddo Care. It was one of those afternoons where all I wanted to do was hug and love on my children because I could. It was one of those days that I was reminded how much can change in the blink of an eye.

I could try to describe the person we lost, but there are no words that could fully tell you what kind of remarkable individual he was. He just had a presence about him - he was one of those people that when you were around him you just knew that he was a good person. And he always had a smile. Always. As I walked into our building yesterday for the first time since his passing I meandered down the hallway that I inevitably would pass him by. Usually I'd be a woman on a mission and lost in thought or staring at one of a million work related email messages that had popped through on my phone and suddenly there he'd be. Walking toward me, leaning over with That Smile and a "Hi Joy!".

I could try to describe the organization that I work for but no words could fully tell you what kind of remarkable organization it is. I'm from a generation that is continually seeking the next great thing so when I'm asked how long I've worked for the organization it's still surreal for me to say that I'll have been with them for NINE YEARS this coming August. I love the place I work for. I love the people I work with. I love that so many people met The Oldest when she was just barely 6 months old and now they're remarking at how much she has grown. I love that I hope, when she graduates high school, some of those same people will be there and I can walk in to their offices and hand them a graduation announcement.

So this loss hurts us a great deal. We're family. And like all family does in times of trouble, we've circled our wagons and are taking care of our own in the ways we are able, but it doesn't make the loss any less raw or fill the void that now exists. 

This morning, as I was grumbling and groaning to myself as I was trying to get my legs to cooperate on the treadmill. That's when the universe spoke to me by way of music. There is a beautiful rendition of Over The Rainbow/Simple Gifts that's done by a group called The Piano Guys and it shuffled its way into my playlist. 


'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be fair,
'Tis a gift to wake and breathe the morning air.
And each day we walk on the path that we choose,
'Tis a gift we pray we never shall lose.


I could no longer grumble and only be grateful for the fact that last night I was able to watch the Bruins win in 2OT, get 4.5 hours of sleep and somehow manage to wake up, stumble into the bathroom and go to the gym. I was so thankful for a husband that could meet me after my shift with my Trusted Running Store with a container of gas to fill up my tank so I could make it home on more than fumes. I reflected on the conversation I had with The Oldest as she rode home with me - watching the way the setting sun reflected the red and blonde highlights in her brown hair and being amazed at the girl she's become. And I thought back to the time I had with The Munchkin as we rocked in the glider in her room - her little finger tapping three times on my nose as she said the words, "I. Love. You." before she curled up in her well loved, yellow blanket and closed her eyes. 

And I cried. Right there in the gym. I cried. I hopped off the treadmill and wiped off my face with the towel and hung my head before looking up to the sky.
 
Tell people how much you care. Tell people how grateful you are for them. Make sure they know what they do well. Say I love you and mean it because you don't know if you'll ever get that change again. Smile. Smile at everyone because you can never know the impact of one, simple smile. Hug your children just because you can and let them eat fruit snacks and drink Sprite for breakfast every once in a while because really, those are the kinds of things that memories are made of and someday they'll look back at and laugh and smile and say, "Remember the time that mom let us have fruit snacks and Sprite for breakfast?"

And when you wake up in the morning feel what's beneath your feet, be amazed at the sunrise and be grateful that you've seen another day. Because it truly is a gift.

I wish for you peace, Jason. I hope somewhere, somehow, you know how very many - how. very. many - lives you have touched and how deeply you are and will be missed. 



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

"The Story of My Life"

Over the last month I've sworn up and down that I was going to cancel my Facebook account only to decide that I've got too much invested - too many photographs, too many random status updates, too many this or that - to actually follow through. 

Arrival to the United States in November 1976
Truth be told, there are also too many Korean adoptees. I've been a part of a group of Korean American Adoptees for some time but hadn't really become more participatory until the last couple of months. Why? I don't know. Just is what it is. But what I've found in that forum is a collective group of individuals that understand my struggles and in turn many times my darkest fears and deepest dreams. Despite the fact that we are spread across the globe - some younger, some older - we all share a common thread that binds us together.

I have only just recently started to understand the shapes and forms my identity problems have taken. To most who do not know me I present as a confident, self-assured, intelligent and outgoing individual. Outwardly I am able to say that am good at what I do professionally - the work that I've done has contributed to three years of national awards and I have worked hard to earn the respect and confidence of the leaders who depend on me and my skill set. 

Those who are closest to me however know that I battle low self-esteem.  I overachieve so I do not disappoint. I very carefully calculate my risk so as to not fail. I have difficulty feeling worthy or deserving. There is rarely a week that I am not fearful of losing my job. I am terrified of being left alone, especially in a large crowd where I do not know anyone. For the longest time I viewed my eyes - their unique almond shape and dark brown, almost black color - and my ethnicity as a liability. 

This became especially true in junior high school as friends began experimenting with makeup. The teen magazines don't tell you what to do if you do not have an epicanthal fold and trying to figure it out on my own meant that more times than not I looked like the Bride of Frankenstein rather than the fashionable teen pop star. Of course I was also lacking the blonde hair and blue eyes that society told me was what beauty looked like.


I have done my best to keep my insecurities in check around my daughters, especially The Oldest as she has grown from a toddler to a child who is blossoming into a girl. The last thing I want for them is to project my insecurities into the universe where they can be at best perceived by them, and at worst become a part of who they are. I never want them to look in the mirror and doubt who they are.

I still haven't figured it all out - but with the help of an excellent therapist and some good medication I'm starting to understand how, at the very least, the pieces of the puzzle might fit together. Small dashes of confidence are starting to add up and with that my view of the world has become a little more cheery and bright. As a very wise person once said to me, "It's amazing what happens once you start to like yourself."

Despite the fact that everyone - at least right now - in the Korean American Adoptee group are largely unknown to me personally, I take comfort in knowing that they exist in the vast expanse of cyberspace. In the absence of a biological connection to the place of my birth, aside from The Oldest and The Munchkin they are the closest thing to blood relation that I might ever have. I'm learning more about the food, the culture, the customs and yes - even about how to properly put on eye make up. And I relate to - no, I feel their hurt and their sadness because it has been mine as well.

My file photo, sent to my parents.
I was at the gym tonight putting in some dreaded 'mill miles because it was far too raw and cold outside to go for a run with The Munchkin (despite her asking if we could from the moment I picked her up from daycare). 3 miles done, I slowed my pace to a walk to allow my legs and muscles to cool down and as I did I was scrolling through my email messages and then Facebook on my phone. As I checked out the Korean American Adoptee page I was greeted by a collage, compiled of photos of us (well, not me because I missed this one). There are photos of arrival to the United States, as infants, or the first images sent from orphanages and adoption agencies to waiting families. I always smile when when I see the collage because it makes me feel less alone seeing so many pairs of eyes that are like mine, cheeks and cheekbones like mine, shiny black bowl-cut hair that frames a round face like mine staring back at me. So it seemed fitting that as I was looking at all the adoptees in the photo, Bon Jovi's "Story of My Life" came on to my iPod. 

I used to have that song on my run playlist when I was battling demons that were waging war inside my head. I sometimes would listen to it over and over again to remind myself that I could make it through 24 hours and at midnight I could say I had survived yet another day. Lately, it's been a reminder of where I've been and where I am now. But this afternoon as I listened to the lyrics it took on a new meaning. 

I know it isn't black and white
And it's anything but grey
I know that no I'm not alright, but I feel ok cos
Anything can, everything can happen
That's the story of my life

Many of those photos may look black and white or gray but if you look closer, they're hardly that. They are rich hues of the threads that make up the tapestry of our individual stories. They're the stories of our lives.





 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Officially Unofficial



I have officially, unofficially completed half-marathon #7 - The 3rd Annual Carmel Half Marathon as part of the Carmel Marathon Weekend. This makes me a "Certified Streaker" because I've completed this event, starting in 2011 with the  8k and then 2012 with the half, the last 3 years. Knowing that my hope is someday to publish all of these blog entries into a published journal for The Kiddos I will only state that prior to this the closest I ever came to streaking was on a summer night on the shores of Lake Champlain in Vermont and that wasn't nearly as physically demanding as covering a distance of 13.1 miles purely under my own power. This, however, has been infinitely more rewarding. 

So why officially unofficial? Because after I entered the starting corral, and only a few minutes before the start of the race, I had an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. I realized that I had forgotten to attach my timing chip to my sneaks and knew exactly where it was resting on the kitchen table at home. In all honesty, I'm the kind of person who can put my phone and keys down when I walk in the door and 5 minutes later not be able to find them so the fact that I haven't done this sooner is kind of remarkable to me. 

This race was never about time - it was about participating in an event that I love with members of my running family and pounding out frustration and heartache in the ground - so the fact that I don't have an official race time doesn't phase me in the least. I am worried that not having an official finish will negate any further streaking I might be a part of - I've been really proud to have participated in the inaugural event in 2011 and hope that in 10 years no matter where I may be that I'll be here for this event. So I'm hoping that the race organizers will be able to accept photos from The Other Half, Garmin and/or Runmeter data, and if needed a friend that can attest to the fact that I passed her going in the opposite direction (the course loops back on itself) and somehow make a note in their records that I did indeed run. It was what it was, though, and knowing there was nothing I could do but try and contact the race organizers after I stood at the start and said a few silent prayers, took comfort in the red and white "B" adorning a hat that I've had for more than 10 years and waited.

It was cold this morning and after being teased with temperatures that felt like late spring, walking out into 32 degrees was a bit of a rude shock. Temperatures, by the way, which were colder than the Monumental Half Marathon I ran the first weekend in November last year. Adding to the chill was a stiff breeze. No, wind is probably more accurate. If the wind was to your back it wasn't much of a problem but as soon as you turned into it or if you were in the shade it felt like it cut to the bone. Despite this it was a beautiful morning to run. As the start was signaled and we made our way up hill to the start line (yes, you read that correctly - you run uphill to the start) the sun was cresting over the trees and the sky was illuminated a rich hue of gold. I pressed play on my shuffle, let my Garmin add to the chorus of GPS beeps and chirps, and began my journey toward the finish. 

I updated my playlist last night. As I ran I wanted to remember Boston and all of the HAPPY memories I have. As much as The Boston Marathon is included in those, the best ones have been at Fenway Park - home to the Boston Red Sox. Most people, Red Sox fan or not, are now familiar with Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" (which is sung in the middle of the 8th inning) but there's also "Tessie" by The Dropkick Murphy's and "Dirty Water" by The Standells. It seemed only fitting, despite the fact that I've got my own feelings (barf) about the song, "Sweet Caroline" was up first. 

"Where it began, I can't begin to knowin..." is how the song starts out. I reflected back to the first time I had seen the Boston Marathon and then, fast forwarding, to the first time I really felt like I had become a true runner and not just a wanna-be-imposter. 

"And when I hurt, hurtin' runs off my shoulders. How can I hurt when I'm with you?" My legs started to protest as they warmed up andI ran through my usual internal monologue of cuss-words and f-bombs as they did but the hurt in my heart was greater. I thought how fitting it was that those words came at a time I wanted to release my hurt and leave it behind. 

I cycled through those three songs, with "Your Going Down" from Sick Puppies added in for good measure and as I settled into a comfortable pace my heart started to feel at ease and I was able to remember why it is I so very much love to run. I missed The Munchkin but there were points in time, when the sun was shining directly behind me, I was fortunate enough to run with my shadow again. She led the way reminding me to dig down when my legs started to fatigue and gave me a pep-talk when cold chilled my fingers numb. Along the route people who recognized the "B" on my hat would say, "Way to go, Boston!" or "You're almost there, Boston! Keep it up!" THAT, warmed my heart and made me smile. The miles passed by one after another - some more more challenging than others - but all remarkable and a testament to the collective determination and strength of those of us who run or walk. 

As I crested the hill to the final yards toward the finish, with perfect timing "Dirty Water" began to play. 


I'm gonna tell you a story
I'm gonna tell you about my town
I'm gonna tell you a big bad story, baby
Aww, it's all about my town

Yeah, down by the river
Down by the banks of the river Charles 

That's where you'll find me

Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you're my home.


The Other Half was at the finish to greet me - I saw him taking photos and tried to smile (but I think I look pretty geeky). I crossed the finish, collected my finishers medal and then my Streaker medal (bling x 2?!?! BONUS!!!) and then made my way through the chute. Here's to Certified Streaking, my 7th Officially Unofficial half marathon, uniting with the running community, and honoring - in my own way - the city that I love. Oh, Boston... You're MY home.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Time Transformation

This morning it was just The Oldest and me at home. The Other Half had left to bring The Munchkin down to Kiddo Care about 30 minutes earlier and we were sitting quietly at the table - her eating cheese toast and sipping on orange juice and me crunching away on my cereal drenched in coconut milk. 

The Oldest loves to read. She's got book upon book upon book and is starting to collect a number of digital books on her Nook too. I looked up from my phone where I had been engrossed in the morning news stories on NPR and looked her way.

And there she was. 3 years old, legs just barely dangling over the edge of the chair as she peered into her cereal bowl with a spoon trying to be a Big Girl. I blinked and that little girl was gone. I had to catch my breath and choke back tears. 

The Oldest glanced over at me and looked concerned. "What's wrong, Mommy?" she asked as she put her hand on mine. I scooted over to be closer, wrapped my arms around her and kissed her forehead. 

"Nothing at all, Peanut." I replied. "Just thinking about how much I love you." 

"Okay," she chirped before smiling and going back to her reading.

 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Love That Dirty Water

In the state of Massachusetts and Maine, the 3rd Monday of every April is a holiday. Patriots Day. It commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the first shots of the Revolutionary War that started the colonies on their path to freedom.  As President Obama so appropriately said, Patriots Day is “...a day that celebrates the free and fiercely independent spirit that this great American city of Boston has reflected from the earliest days of our nation.”

I spent half my school years growing up outside of Boston in a suburb called Reading. Our street dead-ended at a place where, if you climbed through the brush you'd come to a fence on a rocky ledge that overlooked Route 128 and it wasn't unusual to hear the roar of jets flying overhead as they made their way to and from Logan International. In the spring there were trips into the city to spend time at Boston Common and ride the Swan Boats (especially on Mother's Day). The summer brought games at the famous Fenway Park where the wooden slat grandstand seats from yesteryear are so small that even a normal person living in 2013 feels like they're going to eat their kneecaps and in the fall you could find me sitting, legs dangling over the side of a bridge with my dad as we ate Legal Seafood chowdah while we watched the crew teams competing in the Head of the Charles glide beneath us (or occasionally hit a bridge abutment). Winter would bring trips to the Science Museum where we'd watch in fascination as the worlds largest air-insulated Van de Graaff generator created an awesome indoor lightning storm or visits to the aquarium where everyone knew how to walk like a penguin thanks to the Boston Aquarium commercials. 

But Patriots Day - Patriots Day was a day all on its own and for many of us who grew up in Massachusetts it holds very special memories. 

There were journeys to Lexington to see the reenactment of the Battle of Lexington where, at 5am on a cool April morning, when dew and a spotty fog covered the grass our history and our present collided - spring jackets, sneakers and cameras beside tri-corner hats, petticoats and muskets. A rider on horseback appeared, words exchanged and the sleepy green awakened with Minutemen coming out of the tavern and houses surrounding the green and "arriving" from nearby areas. All were prepared to fight the British - the Red Coats or "lobsterbacks". The reenactment itself takes only moments and is done before it ever really feels like it gets started but it's a unique piece of history - history that lives on every year on Patriots Day.

There's a Sox game - a rare early week, midday game that one year could be filled with sunshine and game goers wearing shorts and t-shirts and the next people dressed in their winter's finest parkas, hats and gloves trying to keep the chill away by holding a steaming cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee or eating a Fenway Frank that I think Steven King once said look like its been cooked in water that came right out of the Charles River.

And then... Then there's The Marathon. 

Just as I'll never forget my first Sox game or the first time I saw the reenactment of the Battle of Lexington, I'll also never forget the first time I saw the Boston Marathon. It was a beautiful April day - the kind that makes you forget that just a few weeks before you were wearing snow boots and drinking hot chocolate. It was just my dad and me and a few thousand of our closest friends as we found a place to stand along the route just before the course takes a turn and the runners head for Heartbreak Hill. We waited for what seemed like an eternity. Just as I started to get bored we could hear the siren blips and blurps of a police motorcycle drawing closer and before long it and a strange looking truck carrying a television camera passed us with the elites cruising not too far behind. I remember my dad leaning down and asking me if I could believe that a human being could run that fast. I couldn't then and I still can't now. They made it look so easy, so effortless and so graceful.

What I remember most about that day though is how a slow trickle of runners continuing on their 26.2 mile journey became a steady stream and then came in wave upon wave upon wave. Heads bobbing, hooting and hollering, smiling, laughing - some dressed up in costume, others in their running best - while those of us on the sides cheered. I was lucky enough to get a high five or two and be a part of one of the state's proudest and finest days. 

So the fact that someone has taken a day - a day that for me and many others like me is associated with so many happy memories and turned it, at least for now, into a day of unfathomable tragedy and sadness is beyond my comprehension. My heart aches for Boston. I feel sick to my stomach for so many reasons - only one of which is the fact that this was a violent, senseless act - yet I am also grateful that those that I knew who were in the area are safe and accounted for.

It's only been within the last few years that I developed a love for running. I tried, unsuccessfully in high school to be a 100m high hurdler and loathed running anything that had the world "mile" in it. I would joke that the only time I would run was if chased and even then it had better be downhill with a stiff tailwind. It at first seemed impossible and I was limited to running short intervals of 15 to 20 seconds with double the amount of walking to recover but with time and persistence I started putting enough distance together to cover a 5k and eventually a half marathon. Somewhere along the way running became less of  a struggle and more of an escape, especially when it included time with The Munchkin. As I grew and developed into a runner I began to have a new appreciation for what it must mean to actually qualify for and RUN the Boston Marathon and with that came the dream of actually running it myself. I know what it's like as a spectator - I grew up loving The Marathon because of it. I want to know what it's like to be on the other side. 

Which is why what happened on Patriots Day - April 15, 2013 - is all the more difficult for me to understand. For the love of "my" city but also for the running community because - whether we know each other or not - we're all one big family. We share a common thread of knowing that no matter how long we've been gone or need to be away, the road or the trail will be waiting for us. We've shared our triumphs and our successes. Like your oldest, most trusted friend it listens to our sorrows and sadness - allowing our tears to fall and our screams to be heard. Because running is unlike anything else - for most of us we've experienced a time when even the shortest of distances has required pure grit and determination to propel our bodies along using only the strength of our legs and the will of our mind - I feel like there's an unspoken understanding. We all chafe. We all do nasty things to our toenails and talk about poop and trots and snot in such candid ways most non-runners think we're crazy. And maybe we are because who, after all, would want to push their bodies to the point of physical exhaustion or rise before dawn because it's better to get the long run done on an 80 degree summer morning than when it hits 90 in the middle of the day. 

Though the title of this Blog is 3M: Motherhood, Munchkin and a Marathon I had put my marathon plans on hold. After injuring my leg the way I did last fall I rethought my plan and had decided to focus on running the half-marathon distance (still no small feat) and on trying to become a half-iron distance triathlete. Yesterday changed that. I don't know when, but I WILL run the Marathon distance and some day I WILL run Boston. Because as the song goes... I love that dirty water... Boston, you're my home. 



Sunday, April 14, 2013

Connecting With My Inner Korean Cook

One evening, when The Oldest was in a Montessori preschool with an international focus, The Other Half came home and told me that he had spoken with one of the teachers about their upcoming Thanksgiving Feast. She had asked if I would be willing to make a dish to share. Knowing how much I love to cook and bake, he said that he'd double check with me but didn't think it would be a problem. 

Remarkably, he remembered to tell me. He relayed that it was supposed to be something special - something that we had as a family at Thanksgiving that was part of our tradition. Immediately I started thinking about making chocolate pecan pies or looking up my late grandmother's apple pie recipe because those were, after all, our tradition.

When I dropped off The Oldest at preschool the following day I was met with a very happy teacher who was smiling from ear to ear. "We're so excited," she gushed. "Thank you for making something for our Thanksgiving feast! We've never had Korean food before!"

Panic on the inside. Calm and cool on the outside. 

Uh. Hmmm. Well. Yeah. About that...

I smiled. Nodded. Said I was happy to and that I looked forward to it.

As soon as I got to my car I called my husband in a panic.

"YOU DIDN'T TELL ME IT HAD TO BE KOREAN!?" I yelled at him.

In his defense, he probably didn't know. He sounded so dumbfounded there's no way he could have known. He tried to tell me to calm down, that it would be okay but all I could think about was how I, the Americanized Korean Adoptee who knows exactly three words of Korean and sadly doesn't even like kimchi, was going to be able to pull off making a Korean dish, let alone enough of a Korean dish to share. Ask me to make chicken tetrazzini? No problem. Strawberry shortcake with homemade whipped cream? I'm a master. Korean food?

When I got home, in a frenzied panic I pulled out a cookbook that my father had given me for Christmas and began leafing through the pages. I wanted to make an authentic dish but the first requirement was it had to be something that I thought people would be willing to try with a very close second requirement that I had to be able to find the ingredients and third that it wouldn't take eons for me to make. Strike one. Strike two. Strike three. I was out. 

Out of desperation I turned to the internet and began searching out websites and finally found one that I thought might work. It looked fairly simple, could be made for a large group easily and didn't look so strange that people wouldn't wonder whether or not they dared try it. To this day I have no idea as to the authenticity, but they ended up being a huge hit and the school finally had their Korean food. 

Pa Jun (Korean Scallion Pancake)

Prep Time - 10 minutes | Cook Time - 10 minutes

Ingredients: 
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 1 bunch scallions, halved and cut into 2 to 3 inch lenghs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • oil for cooking
  1. Mix all ingredients together and let sit for 10 minutes. Check consistency before cooking - the batter should be a little bit runnier than American pancake batter so the Pa Jun cooks quickly and evenly. 
  2. Heat a saute pan over medium heat and coat with a thin layer of oil
  3. Pour enough batter into pan to create a thin layer (about 1/3 of the batter)
  4. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until set and golden brown on the bottom
  5. Turn over with a spatula or plate and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add more oil if needed.
  6. Serve with soy sauce or other Asian inspired dipping sauces. Serves 4 as an appetizer or as a side dish.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Oven Roasted Smashed Potatoes

Garlic Parm Oven Roasted Smashed 'Taters
The great thing about these 'taters is their versatility. Serve them with a breakfast of quiche or scrambled eggs, or as a side to a dinner of grilled chicken or roasted fish. Dress them up with some chopped rosemary, garlic salt and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese or season simply with some fresh grated pepper and sea salt. They take a little longer to make because you have to steam the potatoes first and then roast them, but they are a favorite in my household and I promise are worth the extra time. 







You will need
 
  1. 1 bag of small potatoes. I think Trader Joe's calls these Teeny or Tiny Potatoes. The ones that I use are usually well under 1 inch in diameter. If you can't find Teeny Potatoes you can cut up larger ones into smaller pieces
  2. seasonings: rosemary, garlic salt, seasoned salt, sea salt, cracked pepper, or curry are all great starts but be creative!
  3. olive oil
  4. a small glass dish (Pyrex custard cups work great)
  5. a non-stick baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray

First, preheat your oven to 425. 

Place a steaming basket inside a pot filled with just enough water (I usually bring the water up to just under where the steaming basket is). Add the potatoes and place on a burner over high heat to bring the water to a boil. Steam the potatoes for 5 to 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender and can be pierced easily with a fork.


Transfer the potatoes to a medium bowl. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and then add any seasonings before tossing the potatoes to coat. 



Empty potatoes onto the baking sheet and spread them out evenly. Using the bottom of your small glass dish, gently press down on a potato and "smash" it flat. You may find it helpful to use any remaining oil in the bottom of the mixing bowl to coat the bottom of your small dish in between smashings to keep the potatoes from sticking to the bottom. 




 .




 
 Add any extra seasoning or grated cheese before placing on a middle rack in the oven



Cook potatoes 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. You can turn over the potatoes half way through their cooking time if you'd like but it's not necessary. 

ENJOY!

Dear Munchkin


Dear Munchkin -

 You weren't so sure you wanted to run this morning. When I started to get you dressed you flopped backward onto the floor and started flailing your legs around making it all but next to impossible for me to get your jeans on. Not that I could blame you as the sky was (and still is as I write this) a cloudy gray and when the wind would gust I could hear it whipping by the screen in your window. Eventually, with the promise of fruit snacks you kept your legs still long enough for me to get you dressed and as I tied your shoes you smiled at me and said, "We run?"

Yes, Munchkin, we ran. You are too little to understand right now, but hopefully someday you will have an appreciation for just how much we have. Since the summer of 2011 we have logged more than 400 miles together and I'm certain that by the time the end of this summer we will have surpassed 500. Over the last couple of years my running has changed. YOU have changed.

Your dad will someday tell you that I hadn't been across the finish line of an 8k more than 10 minutes when I asked him what had happened to the jogging stroller that he had bought me when your older sister was born. He smiled at me, laughed, gave me a look of resignation and told me after he saw a guy pushing a jogging stroller cross the finish line he knew that it wasn't a matter of if I'd ask about the jogger, but when. We got home that afternoon, fished it out from where it had been sitting in the garage for more than 4 year and dusted it off. Your old ride was okay but it pulled hard to one side and made running more of a challenge than it should be. Despite this, we started logging regular miles and before long we were lucky enough to upgrade to the wheels you have now. 

Our miles that summer were sometimes a bit of a challenge. You always enjoyed the first few miles and they would pass with giggles and laughter. Sometimes you'd become quiet and listen to the birds or babble to yourself but no matter what the distance, about halfway through our run you'd start to scream. It would be so loud that I used to joke with others in the training program if they needed to find me to just listen for you. I'd do my best to get you settled down but most of the time I just had to hope that you'd eventually fall asleep. Thankfully, fall asleep you usually did. As you've gotten older there have been times when if it weren't for your asking me if we could run, I never would have gotten myself out the door. And the expression on your face when I pick you up from daycare after a long day at work and you see me and say, "I run?" makes me smile every time.

I have spent some of my best moments with you when we've been running. We've talked about trees and birds. You've waved to dogs and people or pointed out bunnies and squirrels as they scurry across the trail. On long runs your small hand will often reach up through the jogger canopy to hand me a grape or a cracker or the occasional empty fruit snack package that you no longer want to hold. We've laughed and sang and otherwise just been silly - and when you've slept I've glanced down at you and wondered how in the world I will ever be able to tell you how much our runs mean to me. 

This year you've started running with me. I usually stop about a half mile away from where we started, you hop out of the jogger and will start trucking up the trail under the power of your own two feet. Last Sunday, as you began running you turned around, smiled at me and squealed, "You can't catch me!!!" For now, I'm grateful that I can but I'm fairly certain that my days of being faster than you are numbered. As I watch you there are times that I start to wonder if maybe you will become a runner on your own. But until then I'm happy to take your hand when you reach for mine and run with you.

I love you, Munchkin. Thanks for being MY running buddy. Thanks for being my inspiration.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

400 Miles

By the time The Munchkin and I had completed our walk - run/walk - run on Sunday our total miles logged together since 2011 ticked up to just over 400. That's like us running from here in Midwest Exile to Erie, Pennsylvania. Wow.

I took this photo of her at about 4.5 miles into our run, just after a potty break and before our turn-around point.

Thanks, Munchkin - for the laughs and smiles, but most of all for some of the best hours of my life that I've ever spent.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Eat Your Tofu!!!

The Other Half grew up in the Midwest as a self proclaimed "meat and potatoes" kind of guy and was never really adventurous when it came to trying new foods. He very reluctantly tried Thai food, for the longest time was convinced that Chinese food was the bane of his digestive existence, didn't want to touch Brussels sprouts,  believed Country Crock was butter and when I married him was still drinking 2% milk. He now loves Thai food, realized good Chinese food didn't cause digestive distress, figured out that roasted Brussels sprouts are actually quite tasty, understands that Country Crock is not something that I can use in my cooking and had no problem converting to skim milk when I - shortly after getting married - had a moment of realizing the thing they call work-home-life-balance is a scam and had a meltdown of epic proportions.

I didn't spring tofu on him immediately because I know that if it's cooked wrong it can be a miserable experience but that if it's cooked right it can be amazing. It wasn't until after The Oldest was maybe 3 years old and I was trying to get back into shape that I decided the timing was right. To say he was underwhelmed would be the understatement of the decade. He didn't even need to say, because the look on his face said everything I needed to know. THANKFULLY I've got a really good track record with cooking and random culinary creations so I told him he'd only need to try it once and if he didn't like it, I wouldn't make it again. I knew I had to find not just a good recipe, but a GREAT one. And I did.

One of my most favorite cooking blogs is 101 Cookbooks and it was there that I found the recipe for Caramelized Tofu. I looked it over and figured if ever there was going to be a recipe to make him fall in love, or at least in like, with tofu that was it. 

It's become one dish that everyone in my family, even The Munchkin, loves. The Oldest gets excited when I tell her I'm going to make it and is visibly disappointed when I don't. 

If you're looking to change things up, are thinking about easing into more vegetarian meals or have wanted to try making tofu, this is a great one to start with. It's simple, comes together easily on a weeknight and leftovers are just as good the following day. 

A couple of tips:

1. Fresh garlic is almost always better than the stuff you can get in a jar. It's real easy to peel and mince garlic if you know what you're doing. Take a clove or two of garlic, place it on a sturdy cutting board. Make sure you use a knife with a large, wide blade - but place the blade flat against the garlic and then pound down with the palm of your hand or a fist. The garlic peel will crack and you should be able to just remove the peel from around the clove. If you pound against the blade again you'll start to crush the garlic which will then make it much easier to mince. Even I can do this without cutting off a digit and that's saying something because I've managed to slice my finger open on a jackknife, another finger on a tuna fish can, and puncture yet another finger while using a linoleum cutting tool in art class.

2. Press the tofu to remove excess water. I take the block of tofu and place it on folded paper towels (or if I'm feeling environmental I use a clean dish towel) in a shallow dish and then take another dish and place it on top with something like a can of tomatoes or, as I did tonight, a quart of maple syrup, in it as a weight. I don't press it for too long - maybe 10 or 15 minutes. If I get it out of the package when I get home from work and then go get changed, usually by the time I get back to the kitchen it's pretty good to go. 

3. DO NOT over toast the pecans. NOT. NOT. NOT. They'll become bitter and really detract from the dish.

4. To make the dish go a little further as a main dish I serve the Brussels sprouts and tofu over rice.

5. I admit that I cheat. I use shredded Brussels sprouts and frozen rice from Trader Joe's. It cuts down on the time needed to chop up the 'sprouts and cook the rice. If you can't get Brussels sprouts already shaved you can always just split the sprouts, toss with olive oil and sprinkle with some Kosher salt and then roast in the oven until golden brown.

So here it is - Caramelized Tofu from 101 Cookbooks. ENJOY!


Caramelized Tofu Recipe

I used the Wildwood Organics baked savory tofu here, it browned up nicely and held it's shape, and as was mentoned in the comments it is non-GMO. Though any extra-firm tofu will work.
7 - 8 ounces extra-firm tofu cut into thin 1-inch segments (see photo)
a couple pinches of fine-grain sea salt
a couple splashes of olive or peanut oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
3 tablespoons fine-grain natural cane sugar or brown sugar
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 lb. brussels sprouts, washed and cut into 1/8-inch wide ribbons
Cook the tofu strips in large hot skillet (or pot) with a bit of salt and a splash of oil. Saute until slightly golden, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and pecans, and cook for another minute. Stir in sugar. Cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Scrape the tofu out onto a plate and set aside while you cook the brussels sprouts.

In the same pan (no need to wash), add a touch more oil, another pinch of salt, and dial the heat up to medium-high. When the pan is nice and hot stir in the shredded brussels sprouts. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring a couple times (but not too often) until you get some golden bits, and the rest of the sprouts are bright and delicious.
Serves 2 - 3 as a main, 4 as a side

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Beneath the Surface

When someone asks me about adoption or what it's been like to have been born in South Korea and adopted at 6 months of age most of the time I'll respond by saying that I feel blessed to have had a biological mother who was willing to relinquish me in the hopes that someone else could provide me with a better life. Of course, having been abandoned in a hospital after birth (that in and of itself is unique because many adoptees from the 1970s and earlier have no formal record of their actual birth date) I don't know how much or little of this is true, but it's what I choose to believe. What I do know is that after visiting South Korea on a "Motherland" tour with Holt International -- the organization I was adopted through -- I have an even greater appreciation for the opportunities I've been afforded because I was placed in the United States. Sometimes a well-meaning person will ask me if I've ever wanted to find my "real parents". My real parents make their home in York, Maine and I'd have no problem finding them if I wanted to -- my biological parents, however, 99.9% of the time I have little to no desire to actively seek out my biological parents.

99.9% of the time. It's the 00.1% that I rarely discuss because it is kept under lock and key buried deep down. It has the potential to open me up to a world full of hurt that emotionally I know I am not in a position to handle at this point in time. In that 0.1% is a longing for some kind of a connection - ANY kind of connection; which explains why, in 2000 when I received the news that Holt Korea was unable to locate my foster mother for me to meet during my time there, I dissolved into a heap on the floor of the kitchen. Nobody enjoys rejection - but an active search for a biological connection has the potential to lead to just that but in a way that is so much more personal and deep than anything I can imagine.

Arrival to JFK and becoming a family.
I wrote that in 2009, just about a year after someone I know  sat down with me and reviewed my adoption records. I was mostly curious because a majority of documents within my record are in Korean. She reviewed each page carefully and then summarized, as best she could, what she was reading. Until she came to one page and she fell silent. She flipped back and forth between that and a couple of others and then, looking me directly in the eyes, she told me she thought there was information about my biological roots through my family tree. I was born in Seoul in a hospital so there is a definite record of the date and time of my birth. This document referenced a location that is entirely different.

I've sat with this information over the last four, almost five, years - not entirely sure what to do with it, if to do anything at all. I once said that it's like a stone that sits just below the surface in a shallow pool of waterl. Sometimes the water is as smooth as glass and remains undisturbed. Other times the wind roughs up the surface so it's hard to see what lies below. I can look at it, can reach my fingers down and touch it and move it around, but where I haven't chosen to pick it up, it's remained there. 

The Other Half and I have talked here and there about my making a trip to Korea. My first, and so far only, visit there was with a group of adoptees and our parents as part of a "Motherland" tour offered by the agency I was adopted through. It was an intense two weeks and I will forever be grateful for the experience, especially the opportunity to visit locations that were significant to me and me alone. But now, with The Oldest having just turned 8 and The Munchkin about to turn 3 I want to know more about the place where I came from. - the food, the people, the culture. 

I've wondered if the person who helped me review my records - and has also been my source of all food things Korean when I've needed ingredients to make one of the few Korean dishes I know how to make - would be willing to make that journey with me. I feel tied to her, I'm sure in part because she's helped me navigate something so intensely personal and private. In my heart I knew the answer to my question, but to be polite I asked. She told me that she was so glad that I did - that she's been wanting to speak with me to say that she would be willing to help me in any way that she could but that she also didn't want to impose and trusted I would ask when I was ready. And so begins a new journey for me. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with the information - mostly I want to learn and to be immersed so I can tell my girls what Korea means to me. I guess if the journey takes me elsewhere with her it will be an added bonus.

So that's what I thought about today as my time on the treadmill added up to a few miles and then later as I made my way into the pool to give my legs a bit of a break and allow myself to be surrounded by the element that always brings me some peace and clarity. I know I don't need to make any decisions today or even tomorrow or next month - building upon what I wrote a few weeks back, maybe this is my true leap of faith.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Quick & Easy (Cheap Too!)

The Oldest asked me what was for dinner. My response? "A Mommy Concoction"

It's when I'm not quite sure what I'm going to make but I look in my fridge, the freezer, the pantry - pick something from here, something from there, throw it all together, stir it up with a little bit of love and hope that what I get is edible. The Other Half would tell you he loves it when I do that - that some of my best meals come out of my not having the slightest clue as to what I'm going to do. 

Tonight wasn't rocket science and it was far from totally homemade but it was made at home, it was quick, it was easy and it was gobbled up with so little left in the skillet that the best thing I could do was to spoon out the good bits, eat them up and then wait for the rest to be scraped into the trash. 

So what was this cooking genius, you ask?

2 Cans of Trader Joe's Minestrone Soup
1 lb lean ground beef (browned)
1/2 package Trader Joe's roasted corn

brown the ground beef in a large skillet, add 2 cans of TJ's minestrone soup and 1/2 package of TJ's roasted corn and cook over medium until heated through. 

Cooking. Genius. Yup.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Finding Faith

Saturday morning's long run of a supposed 70 minutes did not happen when my dinner out with The Other Half on Friday night ended in a double case of food poisoning. I probably would have felt a lot better if my stomach would have just let go of whatever was making it churn but seeing as I can count the number of times I've been pukey sick on one hand I would have had better luck hitting the Powerball than paying homage to the Porcelain Gods. So when Saturday morning rolled around and my alarm clock went off signaling that it was time to hit the trail, I decided to allow my head to hit the pillow again instead.

I was feeling guilty though. I thankfully got a workout in early Thursday morning but Friday it was the furthest thing from my mind as I continued to work through what was easily the second most difficult situation of my professional life. Thankfully it has nothing to do with me personally - not my performance or my abilities and if anything I remain grateful that I am the one who is, at least for the immediate future, the point person as we go about the difficult task of collecting information and examining our processes in the hopes that we can improve. There are times when I know a workout will make me feel better and allow me to leave some of the stress and tension of the day behind me but Thursday, after an almost 14 hour day all I wanted to do was get home, hug my girls and crawl into bed. Friday wasn't much different - my brain was on overload and had long passed the point of critical mass. I desperately wished that I was in a place - both physically and emotionally - to go to the gym but even the thought of swimming was too overwhelming. So as I left work Friday afternoon I promised myself that I'd go on Saturday. That was obviously before my introduction to Food Poisoning 101.

Overcast skies appeared to threaten rain, but with a temperature of 66 degrees there was no way to pass up the opportunity to run miles with The Munchkin. I had some motivational help in the way of the sweet potato fries I had on Friday night and then a beer and a mini peanut butter cup (chocolate shell, peanut butter mousse and whipped cream) this afternoon. I'm good at jokingly justifying almost anything I eat (beer and peanut butter are carbs and protein - and chocolate is just good for the soul overall) but truth be told I know that I like food far too much to NOT exercise. So late this afternoon, with beef stew in the crock-pot all ready to go for dinner, I buzzed home to change in to my running gear, get running shoes on The Munchkin and headed to the trail in the hopes that we could come close to the 70 minute run that was aborted on Saturday.

I made the decision before we left to not bring my iPod with me. I know that The Munchkin has been affected by my returning to work full time (when Friday rolls around she starts saying that she doesn't want to go to daycare and she's said more than once, "I miss you...") so I figured that it'd be good for me to give her uninterrupted, undivided attention. We talked for a little while but it wasn't long before I realized I was doing all the talking and there were no answers coming from the jogger seat below me. I peered through the opening between the canopy and the seat back and could see her, head resting to the side, fast asleep. All of the above was a long way of my getting to this:

Finding my faith. 

I'm at a point in my life where I'm ready to reconnect with my religion and, more directly, my spiritual roots. I believe in a Power greater than me - whether or not that is a power, singular - or powers, plural - is something I have yet to work out. Anyone who is familiar with my story, however, will know that it's important and time for me to make peace with my faith. Over the last two years I've come to realize that it truly is a gift there are only 24 hours in a day and at the end of each, when the clock strikes midnight, a new day begins. I prayed more than I've ever prayed before - sometimes for sanity, sometimes for wisdom, sometimes for strength - but always for the courage to do what was right at that moment in time.

Over the years I've struggled with what "God" means to me and, for a number of deeply personal reasons, on a deeper level what it means to believe and have faith. I've listened to people talk about finding God, finding their religion or being born again and at the heart of my disdain for overly organized religion is also a deep envy at the unwavering faith that so many of them project. I've tried to remain open to hearing their words and messages though, and it's because of this I was able to hear someone share something that I thought a lot about on my run this afternoon while The Munchkin snoozed. They said, "If everyone had a perfect life, nobody would ever have to have faith. We have to be challenged in order to believe in something greater than ourselves." THIS has resonated with me.

I know I didn't find all the answers in my run this afternoon, but I thought a lot about where I've been and where I am and where I'm going. And through it all, I'm pretty sure I've started to make peace with what it means to have faith.

Oh, and The Munchkin? She woke up about a mile short of where we usually stop so she can get out of the jogger and run. She made it almost a full half mile this afternoon - laughing and giggling the entire way. I took a video of her with my phone and couldn't help but wonder if maybe some day some station will show it before she makes her run for the gold in the Olympics. We made it back to the car and no sooner had I gotten her buckled into her car seat than I felt the first splashes of raindrops on my bare shoulders. How about that for timing? Or maybe it was a little bit of faith :)

It's Sunday evening and for the moment, all is right in my world.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

"Odd Coincidence"

At the end of January I returned to work full time to provide coverage for a co-worker who gave birth to her second child (a beautiful baby boy) and was out on maternity. This has not been without challenges the least of which was taking her full-time position and combining it with my part-time position. I can say with absolute certainty, at least in this case 1 + 1.5 ≠ 1. It's actually closer to 2. It's been doing my best to get meals on the table for dinner, adjusting my schedule to ensure that I can remain committed to my overall physical health, fine tuning my prioritization skills, reminding myself that just because I feel like I'm failing at all areas of my work and home life doesn't mean that I really am, and figuring out kiddo care and which parent is going to be where and at what time for what kiddo.

Did I mention that last night The Munchkin ended up at daycare until 6:15 pm because I was at work, The Other Half was at work and both of us thought the other had taken care of getting her? I don't know what's more amazing, that this is the first time in 6 years of having kiddos with this daycare provider that we've gotten our signals so crossed that we've, for lack of a better word, forgotten our child OR that our daycare provider is so wonderful that by 5:50 pm she hadn't even called us to find out where we were (her normal deadline for pick up time is 5:30). 

Through it all though, I'm learning to make adjustments and sometimes on the fly. It was about a month ago when I had the revelation that there's no law that says one must have meals on the table for ones family on weeknights. Tweaking the schedule I now cook Saturday through Wednesday and by the time the end of the week rolls around and I'm fried (for a girl who spent the last 3 years working Tuesday through Thursday it's a rude shock when I get to Wednesday and I've still got 2 more days to go) we can eat out. If I'm really feeling ambitious and have the time we'll eat out on Sunday and I'll do a crazy day of cooking and get most of my meals prepped and in the fridge or frozen for the week. I've reconnected with my Franklin Planner and once again am a list making fool to keep work items prioritized. I've started making mental note of the things that, even if everything else seems to go wrong in my day, that I've done them right. But perhaps most of all - when my schedule allows and the schedule of The Other Half permits I've been going to the gym before dawn breaks. It means rolling my behind out of bed (quite literally), making the groggy journey to the bathroom to put contacts into protesting eyes, hopping and flailing around the walk-in closet like a fish out of water as I try to force my limbs into gym clothes (the mornings I swim it's a tad easier) and then gathering my belongings to head to get my workout in.
    
This morning was no exception. My alarm clock started chirping at 4:20 am and I rolled out of bed, stumbled to the bathroom and then got dressed. I accidentally woke The Other Half because I forgot to turn off the light before I opened the door but he probably won't even remember it later today. I drove in silence down to the gym and I was on the treadmill by 5:10.

The Munchkin doing only as she can!
While I'm making peace with the treadmill - we're on speaking terms right now - I usually struggle to make it through the first mile and then spend the remainder giving myself a pep talk in the hopes that I can make it to a total of 3. Not this morning. You see, my dad sent me an email the other day with a subject line of "Odd Coincidence". In semi-retirement he's gone back to his roots of insurance risk assessment and though he didn't know it when he got his assignment, it turns out one of his recent site visits happened to be with a person I went to high school with. Occasionally I'll get a networking request - social and business - where I'll look at the name and have no idea who the person is or vaguely remember who they are. You know - when you get the request and you think you know who the person is but you're not sure so you go check out their profile and see if they have any pictures? If you're lucky the photo jogs a memory but sometimes even then you're left scratching your head so maybe you ask your Other Half or friends if they remember someone by that name.  That wasn't the case with this person. As soon as I read his name I immediately knew who it was and on a gray, dreary day it made me smile. My dad said he seemed like a nice guy and I told him that's exactly the way I remember him as. Just a super nice guy. That was two days ago.

Since then I've been doing a lot of thinking about the small signs the universe and cosmos sends me to remember exactly how special life and the connections we form are and that even in my moments of difficulty I have so much to be grateful for. The Oldest is about to turn 8 and is exactly a foot shorter than me (those of you who have met me know this wasn't going to be too hard for her to accomplish but still) and she's smart and sensitive and inquisitive and just all around a super amazing girl. The Munchkin is soon to be 3 and every day as I watch her in awe as she grows and develops into such a spunky, energetic, spirited little person of her own - especially since there was a time in my life when I was too busy being distracted by my demons to be fully present. The Other Half, who has been light years away from being physically able to do what he was capable of doing 2 years ago before his back injury, continues to improve and now can see there has been a positive progression for him. But there are also people in my life who are struggling as they work through the sudden loss of a loved one, a stage IV cancer diagnosis that is terminal, loss of long term employment or employment uncertainty. I think some and pray some - I hope against hope and try to send out as much positive energy as I can into the world in the hopes that maybe some of it will get to them or, if not to them to someone who needs it just as much if not more. Yet, I remain grateful for though it is difficult, it is still such a gift to be trusted enough that I am permitted to be a part of their journey. And then there's the guy from high school - a smile at a time I needed one, a reminder of someone who is just an all around great person, and the opportunity to reconnect with an old after almost 20 years.


So this morning. After warming up I started to run and I zoned out and before I knew it I was to 3 miles and then 4. I glanced at the clock to see if maybe I could squeeze in one more mile before having to hit the showers but no such luck. Cooled down, stretched, showered, and now here I am - typing furiously because I want to make sure I get all of my thoughts out so I don't forget them because I know someday I'll need a reminder that the universe and the cosmos always sends signs, I just need to be open to seeing them. 

Happy Thursday, all. Make it a GREAT one.

 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Words on Wednesday

A simple pleasure, a new facial moisturizer, brought an unexpected treasure and words to remember.