Sunday, January 6, 2013

Looking Forward

There's a lot coming up on the horizon! We scheduled Lucy's c-section date for January 18th. In 12 days, my baby girl will be here, and life as I know it is going to CHANGE. I'm so excited, but also incredibly intimidated. I've settled into a nice routine of having E here for a portion of the week, and then enjoying quiet couple time with the Champ the rest of the time. I've had flexibility in the last couple of years to work later hours on nights when E was at his dad's. I could work out when I wanted to, nap when I wanted to, shop when I wanted to. That's all about to change.

My world is about to revolve around late night feedings, packing diaper bags, and figuring out a whole new little person. I'm attempting new things this time around. I'm planning to commit to breastfeeding, which scares the hell out of me. It didn't go well with E, and I know each baby is different, but I'm expecting it to be HARD. For something to be so natural, it's one of the most unnatural experiences I've ever had.

Also, this time around, I'm planning to cloth diaper. As I write this I have 4 waterproof covers being shipped from an eBay seller, 18 prefold infant diapers coming from a Chinese cotton prefold distributor, and 12 Sunbaby cloth diapers coming from China. I've done A LOT of reading about cloth diapering at this point, and many friends have testified that, while it's overwhelming to read about, it's actually really simple to pull off. It should save us a good chunk of money, and it makes me feel a little "crunchy." In addition to friends who are supportive of the concept, I have a couple of friends that highly doubt this to be a positive experience. If anything, that only motivates me to succeed more.

We are also on week 2 of healthy eating. We prepped some more juicing veggies today, boiled more eggs, washed more grapes, cooked some carrots and mushrooms, made a healthy chicken tortilla soup, and I plan to make a chicken salad loaded with veggies along with lean burgers and sweet potatoes for tonight. The healthy eating worked last week. I managed to hold my same weight even after all of my Christmas eating, so I have faith that if we continue planning and prepping ahead of time, my baby weight will come off.

At any rate, in 12 days, I'll be losing a good chunk of it! Countdown is ON!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

It's the time of year when everyone makes resolutions: eating better, working out every day, actually using their gym membership.

I didn't make any resolutions this year, but judging from my kitchen on this first day of 2013, it certainly doesn't look that way. The dishwasher is running, full of bowls and plates and measuring cups where I just attempted to make healthy waffles, chock full of wheat germ and flax seed meal. (The recipe needs tweaking, but they weren't terrible once you slathered a bit of peanut butter on top.) And my juicer is drying on a towel on the counter. It hasn't seen the light of day in about 10 months, when I finished my 40 day juice fast. (Ok, 36, but who's counting?)

From the looks of the kitchen, it appears that I made quite a few resolutions. But I refuse to acknowledge them as such. Yes, we are making calculated attempts to eat better. Yes, I plan to start juicing again. And yes, this is all happening the first week of the new year. But the timing has nothing to do with the fact that it's a new year, and everything to do with the fact that I'm nearing the end of my pregnancy. In 17 days at the most, our baby girl will join our family. This is exciting for reasons that warrant their very own post, but for me personally, it means that the number on the scale has a fighting chance of going back down. And the faster I can make that happen, the happier I will be!

I'm motivated to get myself back to feeling like me again, only better. I want to eat healthy and feel human again, and I want to get back into some sort of workout routine, which I abandoned in the first few months of my pregnancy. I would love to be able to run the half marathon again this year!

We are trying to establish a habit of weekly food prep to encourage healthier eating. So far it's worked really well. On Sunday, I went to the store and invested in TONS of produce. Then I came home, and spent a couple of hours on food prep.

Boiled 12 eggs
Boiled chicken breast
Made a pot of Weight Watchers Corn Chowder
Made light Chicken Salad
Put together 4 ready to eat salads with vinagerette dressing
Boiled Carrots
Sauteed veggies
Peeled and chopped veggies for juicing for the week
Washed grapes
Cut up fresh pineapple

My goal is to spend some time each weekend prepping my food for the week, so that I can just grab and go. And if I do this enough, maybe that number on the scale will move down and I'll feel like me again.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Little Flutters

I've had this post brewing in me for a couple of months now, and for some reason it just wouldn't come out. I have no idea why.

I'm having a baby.

To be more specific, I'm having a baby girl. Lucy.

As I type this, she is nestled snugly under my navel, and every now and then I can feel her twitch, or kick, or roll over or flutter. Today, for the first time, I felt her kick from the outside, which is both magical and scary considering I'm barely over half way to her due date.

It's all a really big deal. Of course, all babies are a really big deal. Miracles. But to me, this baby is the biggest kind of really big deal. She represents a lot of really great things in my life: love, healing, fullness, joy, peace, contentment, and arrival. That's probably a lot of expectation to put on a 1 pound fetus.

A few years back I had a different baby in my belly, and I placed a lot of expectation on him too. But the unfortunate truth is that the expectations were completely different. With him I saw desperation, fear, longing, and survival. My desire at that point in my life was for that sweet, innocent baby to fix things. Again, a hopelessly unrealistic list of things to hope for from someone who had yet to see the light of day.

The truth is that as quickly as E was growing inside of me, my marriage at the time was just as quickly breaking down into unrecognizable bits of life that scared the hell out of me. The months leading up to his birth, and the first few months that followed should have been joyful and exciting. Instead, with the exception of getting an amazing kid out of the deal, they remain a part of the saddest and most disappointing time in my life.

Now, almost 6 years later, I know a few things to be true. And here they are:

That kid, the one that was born in the darkest part of my life, is the biggest source of light in my world. He didn't fix any of the things that I thought he would, and yet he has fixed everything in me that I didn't realize was broken. I am a better person because he walked into my life, and I am healed all over again every time he walks into the room.

This kid, the one that is lazily napping under my ribs, is my 'full circle'. She is a chance to get it right, and a chance to experience the precious moments of pregnancy in the light instead of the dark. I have full confidence that she will deliriously complicate my life in the way that only a fitful newborn can. And I firmly believe that her very presence in my world will shift it on its axis, and I will be yet again, a new woman because of her. I can't wait.

I have a kick ass husband. Because of his daily presence in my life I know exactly two things: 1. There absolutely is a God. and 2. That that God gracefully and mercifully loves me. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a husband like that.

Time heals a big fat bowl of nothing. In and of itself, time will tick by and tick you off. Had I just sat there in the last 6 years of all that vast obnoxious time, I would have ended up a hateful, bitter wad of a woman. The key is doing something with the time. I cried a whole big bunch. I moved. I went to school. I dated stupidly, I graduated, I began a career, I fell in love, and I prayed, searched for, and found forgiveness and healing. Life got better, not because time went by, but because I chose a better life.

Every little kick from my baby girl reminds me to be thankful that I'm not who I was and I'm not who I'm going to be. I'm learning that a really good life isn't made of milestone moments, but by embracing the tiny fits and flutters.

I'm finally loving them all.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sharing Shoes

"Maybe someday I'll understand why it happened that way. But I guess God knows what He's doing."

Perhaps you've said something similar. I've uttered this phrase many times, usually with very little expectation of ever actually figuring out why certain things happened or why things went the way they did. I'm usually fairly resolved to never having a clue about what God is doing, and I'm more ok with that than I used to be. But over the last couple of days, it's as if God has pulled back the curtain on certain times in my life, and given me a fuller view of the "why." 

I've never written a whole lot about my second marriage, mainly because I'd prefer to pretend it never happened. And in social situations, I avoid talking about it, because I'd rather people that don't know, NEVER know. If I had it my way, I would erase that entire year. Nothing good happened in those months. 

But then my phone rang yesterday, and God set events in motion that have changed my heart. It was around lunch time. I received a phone call to assist with an "emergency" involving a young woman and her two kids in an abuse situation. As I drove to meet with her, I tried to prepare myself for what I might find. The goal was to be the best counselor I could be. 

But as I sat across from her and listened to her story peppered with abuse in various forms, I found myself sucked back in time. When she told me how she would get in trouble for breathing wrong, using her fork the wrong way, or hugging her kids too much, I found myself transported to my old living room, where someone was lashing out at me for drying the laundry on the wrong setting, for cleaning the dishes the wrong way, or for folding towels a different way than he thought they should be folded. I remembered being called a "f*cking c*nt" when I crossed some invisible boundary that I wasn't even aware existed, and listening to him call my innocent three year old horribly cruel names for wetting the bed. As this woman shared her story and her fears, I unexpectedly found myself sharing her shoes. 

The thing about abuse that most outsiders don't understand is the quick and consuming battle between the healthy and sick parts of you. The sickness that causes the abuser to fall into the perilous abuse cycle is wildly contagious. It latches onto your soft spots, the vulnerable places that ache for healing, and very quietly begins to turn clarity into confusion. It jumbles together your insecurities, your discontentment, and your deepest desires into a tangled mess of unfulfilled longing, and then confusion is all that remains. After extended exposure to this toxicity, it's easy to buy into the belief that "this time he'll change." Abusers are the best at apologies. They have no trouble saying they were wrong, that they shouldn't have threatened you, shouldn't have thrown things. They simply shouldn't have lost control. But they did, and they are sorry. And they are crying over their mistakes. And they are begging for forgiveness. And they are promising that it will never EVER happen again. An abuser will remind you at the beginning of the hour that the military taught him to kill you with his bare hands, and at the end of the hour hold those same hands up to Jesus and in tears of brokenness ask you to pray with him for the healing of your marriage. 

And you do it, because confusion tells you to be committed to your marriage. Confusion tells you to have hope. Confusion tells you that he can be different. Confusion tells you to give him another chance. That he loves you. That it will get better. That it will change. You do it, because now you are sick too. 

Regardless of what type of abuse is taking place, the cycle is difficult to step out of. In fact, statistically, it takes roughly 8 attempts to step outside of the cycle, before the abused is able to finally walk away. Miraculously, it only took me two. As I gathered up this mom and her two kids this morning, it occurred to me that I'm not certain what number attempt this is for her. I know it's not her first. I'm praying that it's the last, but only time will tell. 

I've never understood how or why I got myself into that sick second marriage. Looking back, it was idiocy from the very beginning. But I know at some point, his sickness jumped onto me, and I got sick too. And when he wanted the dishes done, I did them. When he wanted a new vehicle, I bought it. And when he wanted to pray, I prayed. And I prayed. And I prayed. And I prayed. 

And then, when I removed myself from his sickness, God restored my life to a wholeness that I had never known. And He continues to work all things together for the GOOD. And he continues to absolutely blow. me. away with his mercies. 

I've never understood the why. But this morning, as I sat with this mom and we acknowledged the multiple parallels in our lives, she looked at me and said, "I'm so thankful that God put you in my life. When I look at you, knowing your story, I just see hope." 

And just that quickly God pulled back the curtain on the "why." 

It was the first time in my life, that I have been able to be truly thankful for this journey. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Interview

It was bedtime last night when I decided on the spur of the moment to interview E. I had seen other moms do this sort of thing, and I was curious as to what he would say. If I was the type of mom who planned activities ahead of time I would have had a list of questions. Since I'm a slacker, I made them up as I went along. I asked him random questions, and these are his exact responses.

1. How old are you?  "5"

2. How old is Mommy? "21" (I wish.)

3. What is your favorite thing to do with Mommy? "Watch a movie and sit in the chair." (It's sort of my favorite thing to do with him too!)

4. What do I do for work? "You help people with the clients." (Close enough.)

5. What is Mommy's favorite thing to do with you? "Watch Tom and Jerry and pick up treasures."

6. How do you know Mommy loves you? "You tell me and you just do."

7. What is Mommy's favorite TV show? "Walking Dead" (I have never seen this before in my life. Up until last week, we didn't even have cable, so I'm thinking this is his stepmother's favorite show.)

8. What is your favorite dinner that Mommy makes? "Steak"

9. What makes Mommy happy? "Me!" (SO TRUE!)

10. What makes Mommy sad? "When I'm not at your house." (Also true.)

11. What is Mommy most afraid of? "Bears." (???)

12. What is Mommy's favorite thing to do outside? "Play with me, Simon, Candy, and Jonathan."

13. If Mommy could do anything in the world what would it be? "Play in the rain!"

14. What is the best thing about Mommy? "When she cooks me steak!" (maybe he was hungry?)

My precious kid. I hope he eats lots of steak and always finds joy in playing in the rain. 

Disney World, May 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Losing the Battle, Winning the War???

I haven't run since Friday. I feel like poop about it.

I meant to go over the weekend, but my grandfather passed away and his funeral was this weekend. My family was all in from out of town, and I wanted to spend time with them.

Plus, we had a ton of cupcake bouquets to make for a Women's Cancer Survivor luncheon that we donated to, plus a couple of orders. It was a busy couple of days.

And my diet has just flat out sucked lately. As much as I hate to admit it, I've fallen right back into my old habits of eating what is convenient. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT?!

 First of all, there's all these cupcakes laying around all the time now. And then after my grandfather passed, people just kept bringing casseroles, and chips, and sandwich trays....oh! the sandwich trays! 

So I keep telling myself that I'll get back on track. 

And then this obnoxious voice who is just a tad too comfortable with wearing nothing but yoga pants yells out, "But you're trying to get pregnant! Why work that hard just to get fat anyway?"

Obviously, I get the flaw in the logic. 

So I try to talk to myself all rationally. "Work on it now, so it's easier if you do have a baby. Keep running. Take vitamins. STOP EATING CUPCAKES." 

And then Yoga Pants speaks up again,  "You're getting ready to go on vacation. Just enjoy yourself and hit it hard when you get back."  

And part of me thinks she makes good sense. Life is too short to worry about my jeans being too tight. It's summer! The season of the maxi dress, the slightly more fashionable cousin to the moo moo!

So I'm taking 4 of them on vacation with me. And I'm going to enjoy time with my family, possibly eat some crab legs, spend a day at the beach in a bathing suit not worrying about how I look, get my picture made with the coolest 5 year old on the planet and a certain popular cartoon rodent, and then scrape together some motivation to get back on track. 

I'm okay with losing the battle at the moment. 

But I ran 13.1 miles too far to let myself lose the war. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

That Time I Ran a Half Marathon

A few years ago, I was getting divorced from Ex and I had this fantasy where I conquered all things hard. Part of that fantasy was that one day I would start AND FINISH a half marathon. 

This is the story of the day that actually happened. 

My alarm went off at 4:20 this morning. I was already awake. I had to meet Emily at the Walmart parking lot at the ungodly time of 4:45AM. We were following another car of marathoners downtown where we would park at the finish line (LP Field) and then car pool over to the starting line (Centennial Park). Already I was trying to figure out what to do with my stuff. I had a wallet, a jacket, my race bag, my phone, and my car keys. I decided to leave everything in Emily's car at the finish line except for my jacket, which I abandoned in Kim's car at the start. 

Once we were at Centennial park, Emily began looking for the port a potties. She had stressed the importance of "emptying" before the race as she ran the entire thing last year with an overly full bladder. She talked about having zero modesty and holding nothing back. She made it very clear that although there were port a potties along the race route, we would not be stopping. GO NOW OR DON'T GO. I was panicking, because my Shakeology had kicked in and I REALLY HAD TO (ahem!) GO. I have spent 31 years thinking there are just certain things you NEVER do in a port a potty. Today was a day of many firsts.

After standing in line for 20 minutes to use the "bathrooms" we began making our way to our "corral." I'm going to write this like I'm talking to someone who has never run a race before, because until today, I had NO CLUE what to expect or what a race corral was. As it turns out, when the starting gun sounds, you don't all just go for broke like it looked in my fantasy. When you register you put down an estimated finish time. (I originally put 2 hours, 30 minutes.) Based on your estimated pace, they put you in a corral with other runners of a similar pace. I was originally put in corral #23. But I was planning to run with Emily who has a faster time than me, so I did a corral change to start with her. We started in Corral #17. This means there were 16 corrals of "faster" runners ahead of us. They start in waves, so even though the race started at 7AM, we didn't get to the starting line until about 25 minutes later. They give you a plastic, magnetic "chip" that you loop around your shoelace, and throughout the course there are sensors that record your time. So even though the race clock had been ticking away for a half hour, my chip was keeping my correct time. 

We made our way to the starting line, and there are people stretching, popping energy shots and jelly beans, strapping water to water belts, spitting, and readying all of their gadgets, (stop watches, phones, ipods). I had nothing, not even a tube of chapstick or a stick of gum. So I just listened to the countdown of the corrals in front of me and watched as each group took off. Then it was our turn. A rush of adrenaline washed over me as I heard the lady shout 5,4,3,2,1! And then the people in front of me started running, so I did too. 

I looked up and immediately got dizzy, as the entire horizon was FILLED with marathoners who were bobbing up and down, close together, but in no uniform fashion. The sounds of clip clopping shoes on pavement pounded my ears and the bobbing played with my inner ear a little bit, so I looked down at the ground. I focused on my breathing, and Kim, Emily, and I weaved around runners trying to find a comfortable pocket to run in. We found one, and before I knew it we had covered 3 miles. We skipped the water station at mile 3. Obviously that was for sissies. But regardless of whether or not you drank, you had to dodge a bazillion white and aqua dixie cups being thrown right onto the ground. People splash water on their faces and streams randomly pelt you in the face. Crazy. 

Around mile 4 there was a pretty steep steady hill. We were looping around a college campus near downtown. The major difference between the race route and my standard running route was the lack of shade on the race route. When I run at home, the greenway is mostly shade with a couple of big hills. The race route was uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill THE ENTIRE TIME with NO SHADE. By the 5th mile I was looking for a water station and thanking God for every little breeze that blew across my face. This is where Kim took off to run faster. (FYI, there are only 50 p90x certified trainers in the entire country. I was very aware that I was running my very first half marathon with 2 of them!) I felt a little bad that Emily (who is in amazing shape and is sort of a BEAST) was running with me. She was obviously giving up a PR (personal record) opportunity to run with me. But I was so thankful for her. We hadn't walked any up to this point, and I probably would have taken a walking break had I been on my own. 

Miles 6, 7, and 8 were about the same. I kept running with no breaks other than a quick walk through a water station (so I'm a bit of a sissy now), and I kept thanking God for the small breezes that I found along the way. I was enjoying the bursts of music from the sidelines and there were some great motivational signs being waved by supporters. Some of them were there for specific runners, but some of them were just there (sitting in lawn chairs and drinking beer and mimosas!) to watch the fun. In my mind, they were all cheering for me. 

Some of my favorites were "Worst Parade EVER!" and "This isn't sweat, it's liquid AWESOME." 

And then mile 9 happened. I have no clue what it was about this mile that got me. Maybe it was the uphill, downhill, uphill, part. Maybe it was the steady sun, no shade part. But I was feeling every inch of my body by mile 9, and I began craving water stations like they were crack. I took my first walking break in this mile, maybe a tenth of a mile or 2. I'm not sure how long, but I started running again. 

Every mile from mile 9 to the finish line was tough. Call me a sissy if you want, but my butt ran through EVERY water station after that. I was looking for any way to cool off and sneak in a walking break. Emily was a champ and stayed with me. I apologized every time I slowed down, because I'm sure she was ready to pick me up and carry me at that point! I was so thankful she was there. It was during this mile that she nudged me and said, "Look at that sign!" Some guy was waving a piece of white poster board with the words, "YOU ARE A BIG DEAL" on it. Next to him a sign said, "If it was easy everyone would do it." Emily looked at me and said, "See, you are a BIG DEAL! Keep going!" So I did. We made it to mile 10, then 11, then 12. I was losing my grip at that point, so ready to be done. The most I've run up to the race was 10 miles, and I pretty much walked every 5th minute of that. I had never RUN this far. And holy cow, my body was reminding me of that. 

This is where I should remind you of my little running a marathon fantasy. I used to imagine myself conquering the race, only I'm obviously delusional. You see, in my fantasy, I'm running (effortlessly, of course) and approaching the finish line. Things are nice and calm, and I look ahead to see my entire family cheering me on. They are standing in the middle of a nice quiet road, a few spectators standing on the sidelines, and my family is waving a banner wildly that says my name. My husband and son are waiting for me at the end. "YAY MOMMY!" they shout. They are so proud. Then, I run faster, straight to them, scoop up my son in my arms, (swell of soundtrack here) and my husband bear hugs us happily. 

Obviously, I'm nuts. 

I spent the hard miles trying to wrap my brain around the finish line. It still seemed SO FAR away, and I knew my husband would be there, but in all of the craziness, I had ZERO expectation of actually being able to find him. I tried not to worry about how I would get in touch with him after the race as I had no phone. And because neither of us knew what to expect, we had no game plan to find each other. This wasn't my calm little "Sara is the only runner in the world" fantasy. This was the Country Music Marathon and THOUSANDS of people run it each year. Thousands more come downtown to watch it, and thousands more are associated with assisting. I just knew there was no was he would actually see me finish. I expected it would take me a good solid hour afterwards to even find him. And I was sort of afraid he would have driven all the way downtown for nothing. 

Then, we rounded a curve and I was pulled back into the moment. The full marathoners (crazies) ran left. The halfers ran right. We were SO CLOSE. We ran over the bridge leading to the stadium. I was losing every ounce of will power I had to keep going. 

But God knows exactly what I need. Throughout the whole race, whenever I was too hot, He would send a stiff breeze to cool my face. Whenever I was parched, He sent a water station. Whenever I wanted to quit, I looked up and saw that He had sent Emily. 

And as I crossed the bridge, just in sight of the 13th mile marker, He sent me The Champ. I looked over at the sideline, and there he was, just smiling. Our eyes met, he yelled something encouraging (I don't even know what) and I started crying. And running faster. And then hyperventilating a bit. I needed to see his face so badly in that moment, and God loves me, so he parted the thousands to let me see it. 

We rounded one last curve, I got a grip on my breathing, and I could see the FINISH LINE. At that point, I UNLEASHED some hidden burst of energy and RAN across that finish line like an African Olympian! 

I DID IT!!!!

I got my medal, and they started handing us water and gatorade. It took a LONG time to find Jonathan after that, and a LONG TIME to get to the car to come home. I was pretty discouraged by my finish time at first. I glanced at the race clock as I sprinted across the finish line and it said 2:53:39. I was upset that it took me nearly 3 hours to finish. But I reminded myself that finishing was my ultimate goal. Then, after I got home, showered, and napped, I looked at my results. I had forgotten that the CLOCK time and the CHIP time are different. The clock started with that first corral, so my ACTUAL RACE TIME was 2:26:38!!!!! My goal was to finish in under 2:30, and I DID IT!!! 

I ran the race with a pace of 11:12 minute miles. 

I am SO thankful that Emily ran with me. If ever you need to know what a great friend is, just look to the person who is sacrificing her race time to see you cross the finish line. LOVE HER. 

When I got home, I had a BabyCakes order to fill. There are some leftovers, so this is probably true. 

God always knows just what I need.