Friday, December 12, 2014

The heart grew three sizes that day

I am not sure where to begin.  First, my last post was in February.  I am sad to say that nearly a year has passed.  But with an almost-three-year old, and a 50 hour/week job, I spend every spare minute with my nugget.

These past 10 months have been busy, to say the least.  There have been ups and downs and bumps and bruises. Mostly my own!  And company and travel and the zoo and play dates and new friends. I'll try to catch up.  But today is about the heart that grew three sizes.

As a parent, it is our instinct to do everything we can to protect our children.  It leads to overreacting and being irrational from time to time.  But it mostly results in what is ultimately best for everyone.

Our little nugget is almost 100% potty trained.  This is not a poop blog, but that's the only part that isn't "trained" yet.  No more wet pants...but wet pants is where this blog begins.

I am a working mom.  I have to rely on others to care for, nurture and stimulate my child for 9 hours a day, 5 days a week.  That is a difficult pill to swallow on a good day.  On a bad day, it's hard to not just quit my job. And in 10 months, there have been plenty of both days.  Recently, Bry's potty training had regressed.  And there seemed to be a lot of inconsistency at school. The director was absent for what seemed like weeks. The teachers were all over the place.  The children in B's room outnumbered the teacher at a ratio of sometimes 15-1.  I know...laws prevent that.  It was a mess.  A huge mess.

But there were two teachers that made me feel as if it were time to either quit my job, or find another school. With foreclosure not being an option, I took a tour of another school.  A new friend of mine, who also happens to be the  mother of Bry's BFF, was along for the ride.  We both realized that people cannot change behavior if they do not know the behavior is problematic for others.  So we spoke up to the assistant director.  The problem got better, but we were still skeptical of the longevity of our relationship with this school.

Fast forward a month:  We were told that "a new student" had joined the school and their mom dropped off at the beginning of nap time.  This mid-day drop-off made for lots of tears and loss of sleep for all the kids.  No naps for a week makes for some meltdown-prone children.  15 of them.  Which adds to the stress for the parents, the teachers AND the children.

On Wednesday, I was picking Bryan up after work and all the children were outside enjoying the last 15 minutes of daylight on the 65-degree day.  I bent down to let B run into my arms when a little girl came and sat on my lap.  I had never seen her before. And it was weird.  Children of this age do not generally like to sit in a strange lap.  Let alone force themselves into it.  I frantically looked for a teacher hoping for a little relief in this very odd situation. The very friendly little girl quite obviously had some special needs.  She is non-verbal and her hands seemed clenched as if she has cerebral palsy but she walks (and runs!) quite well, so that's likely not her condition. Her sweet little face is asymmetrical with a protruding forehead and sunken eyes.

I found the entire 30-second exchange quite odd, but didn't really give it another thought.  Yesterday morning, I was dropping Bry off when i saw TWO girls.  Yes.  It seems that the lap-sitter from the day before has an identical twin sister.  They were quite a handful for the two teachers who were also managing a room of 10 other nap-deprived children that were not loving drop off time.

And now we get to the part I am embarrassed to write.

I immediately thought, that's it.  THIS is the last straw.  Those girls are the problem. They are why Bry isn't napping and they are requiring too much attention from the teachers that should also be spending time with the other children.  This school is not equipped to  handle these two girls and it's affecting my son's well-being.  After the holidays I'll find a new school for him.

Yesterday afternoon, I picked Bry up a little early so that we could go to a birthday party.  I had not had a great day. Work was even more stressful than usual, other things were cluttering my brain, and the icing on the cake was running late to pick B up only to find he had pooped in his underpants as I was walking in the door. Ugh.

I got him cleaned up and we walked back in his classroom to get his jacket.  The two new girls were there.  Bryan saw one of the girls had dropped her favorite classroom toy and was somewhat distraught about it.  My son saw the toy across the room, walked over, picked it up and handed it to the little girl.  And without a second thought he said, "see you tomorrow (name I didn't understand)" and turned to walk out with me.

To paraphrase "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," I puzzled and puzzled till my puzzler was sore. Then I thought of something I hadn't before.  "Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!"

You see.  It is not my son that needs a new school. It was his mother that needed a new perspective. My son cried through his first nap on a cot.  And he cried through the nap the day he got stung by a bee.  And he cried through a nap one day because he missed his mommy.  It is not a "condition" of the child that makes them cry through their nap.  It's their state of mind.  These two precious little girls were dropped off in a new place where all the toys had been put away, the lights turned off and all the kids were sitting on really weird little cot thingies. That's no fun. I'd cry too.  It probably looked like a concentration camp to them.

Their mother is faced with the same dilemma I face every day.  Balancing her fierce love of her children with the fact that bills do not get paid if she does not work.  She doesn't like dropping them off any more than I like dropping Bryan off.  And her daughters want the same thing my son wants.  To play and make friends and have fun and be cared for and feel safe when Mommy can't be there.

And we want the same thing for our children. Health and happiness and for other children to be kind to them.  I want to thank those precious little girls for helping me better understand...well... everything!  My heart grew three sizes that day.

There will be no school changes any time soon.

Monday, February 24, 2014


You all know how much I love the mantra of Braver-Stronger-Smarter.  But my oldest and dearest mantra is one-forty-five.  And yesterday it took on a whole new meaning for me.  Here's the story.

In February of 1992, I was racing slalom at Crystal Mountain on a Friday afternoon.  The week leading up to this particular race was filled with practice on not-so-great conditions that had me "walking" out of my bindings.  That's skier lingo for, "my boot kept coming out of my binding for no good reason."  It happens sometimes.  So we tightened my bindings a little so that my skis would stay on when they should, but not so tight that they wouldn't release if necessary.

Fast forward to that Friday night.  Six of my teammates were to race that night and I was scheduled as the alternate racer.  Unfortunately, one of my teammates went home from school sick so I needed to step up and fill her spot on the team.  No big deal. I was ready. We had to leave class at 1:45 to catch the bus "up north" for the ski meet.  I was pretty terrible at remembering those things, and we didn't have cell phones with timers, calendars, reminders or alarms.  So, what did any typical high school sophomore do? I wrote it on my hand.  
I recreated it today. This is not the original photo. There is no original photo!

It was my turn in the start shack. I was nervous as all get out, but felt strong and ready. I took the first few gates full steam ahead and was feeling great. I crested the headwall (flat ends and steep pitch down starts) and took the next two gates a little too aggressively and caught the tip of my ski on the third causing the now infamous "sit-down."  I knew there was something wrong. I heard the pop and felt the pain, but my skis were still on. Everyone yelling at me to get up.  I asked for the "DQ" (disqualification) and told the gate keeper to call my coach. Charlie slid down the hill, and dad walked up from the bottom.  And then the ski patrols joined us with the toboggan, strapped me in and and took me down. That was the longest and worst sled ride EVER. 

In the patrol house, they cut my race pants off me and my knee instantly swelled beyond belief. They cut up a cardboard box and duct taped it around my leg to immobilize it.  Mom and dad loaded me in the car and from Dad's portable bag phone (pretty state of the art back in the day), we called ahead to the ER in Mt. Pleasant.  It was the longest drive ever. I can't remember which was worse...the pain or the fear. That was the night I met Dr. Tom Keating for the first time. 

As we sat in the ER waiting for Doc to see me, Dad looked at my hand and said, "Jenna! What on Earth did you write on your hand?"  I turned and looked and said, "oh, 1:45. That's what time I got out of class today."  What Dad saw was this: 
Same recreation, just upside down.

From that moment forward, our family has stuck with 1:45 happens.  And it sure does.  A few years later, my brother gave me this pillow for Christmas to commemorate the now healed knee:

That fateful Friday night, Doc Keating told me that "someday" my activities would be limited but not for a long time.  Well, a long time is here.  I've come full circle on this story.  

Mom, don't be mad at this part of the story, and rest assured that it's not really going to happen.  I have been saying for years that if I could find something that I wanted to remember for the rest of my life that meant a great deal to me, I would get a small, subtle (easily concealed) tattoo of it.  I've never found exactly what I wanted so have never been inked.  After this whole "I'll never run again" thing came up, I realized that the thing that represents strength, bravery and perseverance to me was that clock reading the time 1:45.  So I hit the boards of Pinterest searching for the perfect 1:45 tattoo.  You'll never believe what I found...

Luke 1:45  "Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."  Wow.  I know He does not share His plans with us.  However, if I were to take the beginning phrase only, "Blessed is she who has believed," I think my mantra has actually been this all along, I just didn't know it.  I believe in His plan for me. I believe in my strength, bravery and perseverance.  No ink necessary.  On my hand or as a tattoo.  I have all the 1:45 I need in my heart and my soul.  One Forty Five is an even more spectacular mantra than I could ever have imagined. 

Blessed is she who has believed. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Braver Stronger Smarter. Part II

I know, I know.  I need to blog more frequently.  I have lots to say, pictures to post, updates to share.  But today I need to just breathe and think of the bigger picture.

I've posted about running a lot.  Like here, and here  and here, and here.  And feel free to snoop around and find a dozen more...maybe even more than that.  Today is my last post about running.  Forever.  Not because I am sure you are tired of  hearing about it, but because I will not be running any more.  

It's been 22 years in the making, but two weeks ago I heard the words I was dreading all this time, "you will need a knee replacement someday..."  But not until I am over 50.  In the meantime, my orthopedic surgeon (now know as Doc) said, "I wish you wouldn't run but I know you love it and I don't have to tell you to give it up just yet.  Do it while you can because your days are numbered..."  I thought we were measuring in years.  Not number of runs.  And I didn't know the number was 2.  Yes, that's right.  Two 3-mile runs.  

So, a little history.
My BFF, Angie, is a "coach" with the Beachbody company.  You know, the people who make the workout DVDs such as P90X and TurboFire.  Anyway, it's a bit like Amway, but my Doc said that I needed to do more cross training and I hate the gym so an at-home, cost effective DVD was my weapon of choice.  I began doing the T25 workouts and LOVE them.  Since starting them in November, I've lost almost 20 pounds and about 2" off my waist.  They work and they are 25 minutes five times a week. Can't argue with those results or the time commitment.  

Three weeks ago, I was in the final 30 seconds of the video, doing an in-place full-body run when I heard a "POP" noise and felt shooting pain down my leg.  The same knee that I've already had five surgeries on.  A week and an MRI later, I learned that the good news was that I didn't tear, sprain, strain or break anything. The bad news is that I have moderate cartilage degeneration in my right knee and from time to time I will do something that will slough off another layer of the cartilage causing severe pain and swelling.  Eventually they will probably have to do a debridement surgery to get it out of there, but not until it is debilitating.  Awesome. So I have that to look forward to.  

Fast forward to this week.  Back at the DVD workouts for a couple weeks, I look at my training plan and realize it's time to start running.  I've registered for the Colfax half marathon on May 19 and need to get those miles in!  I ran on Sunday for the first time since before Christmas and felt pretty strong.  My knee was a little stiff and achy, but overall, I was confident I was doing great.  I worked out in the living room on Monday and Tuesday and went out on Wednesday for another 3 miler.  I felt great. Strong. Free. Able.  By the time I hit the 5k mark (3.15 miles) I was stiff, achy and ready to stop. Thankfully I was only a block from home.  By the time I hit the shower an hour later, I was in a great deal of pain and my knee looked like I had inflated a balloon inside. I had no range of motion and couldn't navigate the stairs very well.  It got worse as the night progressed. Tears, Advil, TED (compression & anti-embolism) sock and an hour of ice made it a little better, but the pain kept me up last night.  My hourglass had expired on a perfectly sunny and warm Wednesday in February.  

This morning, after several more tears, and a very long conversation with the most perfect and supportive husband on Earth, I decided to hang up my Garmin permanently.  And being full of the stubborn gene, that was no easy decision to make.  But this is what is best for me and most importantly, best for my family.  

I have no regrets.  I can say that I have completed four half-marathons.  And it all started with this blog post...  And re-reading that, I really do believe that the decision to stop took as much Bravery, Strength and Smarts as the decision to begin.  Thanks Mom. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy HallowAnnivThanksgivMas

Blogging hasn't been my thing the last couple of months.  Between all my travels (six out of 8 weeks was WAY too much) and having company in October, finishing up the racing season and stuff, it's just been a little nuts around here. I'll try to be better as we close out the year, but no promises!

I can't even remember September, so I'll skip it.  In October, I finished that darn half marathon that made me start to hate running. Between the pain, the asthma and the other problems that got in the way of my training, I can only take pride that I finished 2 half marathons in a year.  I even finished both of them without an ambulance...the second required a stop at the medic tent for an unyielding asthma attack, but other than that, I finished on my own two feet...just a little slower than I would have liked.

We had Bryan's 18-month check up in October, and he grew up, but certainly not out.  He likely reclaimed his label, but nobody cares in that developmentally, he's "measuring" closer to 27 months than 18 and has a rapidly expanding vocabulary.  And his fine & gross motor skills are developing quickly too! Who cares if he's really skinny?  He's otherwise very healthy.  I'll take it!  Thankfully, my sister-in-law is willing to let us have the 12-month pants back for Bryan.  I have a feeing my nephew and Bryan will be in the same size pants by April!  That's OK.  I'll take smart and skinny any day of the week!

After all that and celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary, we rounded out the month with Bryan's first Halloween costume (he dressed as his lovey, "Frasier") and his first trip into the mountains.  And his first real snow experience.  It was so much fun.

We are gearing up for a small Thanksgiving at our house, followed by first Christmas here and then we head to MI for a week to celebrate second Christmas.

Bryan's list of words include: Abby, apple, baby, bye bye, hi, night night, no, yes, uh-oh, beep beep, moon, cracker, juice, cheese, more, please, thank you, Elmo, Dur Dur (Frasier), Bert (as in Bert & Ernie), and by the time I pick him up from daycare, there will be another, I am sure.  Seems like a word a day lately.  Some more decipherable than others!

Here are some pictures of the last couple of months!  See you all soon!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


We are a happy family.  But like all families, I think sometimes we take for granted how wonderful our lives really are.  How often do you take a step back and count your blessings?  Which, BTW,  is one of my favorite Christmas songs.  The Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby version only, though.

I think the answer for all of us is, "not nearly enough."  While I keep a happiness journal of one good thing that happens every day, I still get lost in the daily grind, routine, rut. Whatever you want to call it.

Friday night, I was one of the very privileged Coloradans to see Keith Urban play at Red Rocks.  Red Rocks Amphitheater is only about 20 minutes from my house. It's a park. People exercise there. It hosts high school graduations and Easter sunrise services.  And there are concerts several nights every week from mid-May through late-October.  I've been several times and it's fun.  It wasn't until Keith Urban moved into the middle of the crowd, about four rows down from me and told us WHY artists have Red Rocks on their bucket list of performances that I really began to appreciate how fortunate I am to have this in my "backyard."  It really is an amazing venue and no place on Earth has a better view.  From that point on, it seemed that my blessings flooded my thoughts.  And in that moment, I felt utterly content.  Completely happy. And so incredibly blessed to have the life I have, and I wouldn't change a thing.  I wish I could have captured the next several minutes on camera, but I got bits and pieces:

And just after we took this "selfie," Keith Urban sang my favorite song of his, "Without You" when I saw fireworks erupt from three places in the south-Denver metro area festivals.  It was breathtaking.  Absolutely breathtaking.

And the weekend didn't end there! I've been on new Asthma medications (two new ones plus my rescue inhaler) which helped me have the best long run I've had in a LONG time.  After I logged seven miles, I called my mom and told her of my dream that my sister-in-law had gone into labor that day.

As soon as I got off the phone and out of the shower, we took Bryan to his Mimi and Poppy's house for his first sleepover there while Chris and I went into the mountains.  It was a perfect escape from the heat of the city.  We went to the Breckenridge Spice shop and grabbed refills for our Black Truffle Sea Salt and bought a sample of their Smoked Bacon Sea Salt.  We took the long way home and just before we crested Loveland Pass at 11,991 feet above sea level, we drove through a little rain shower.  But when we came out of it, we were ABOVE the rainbow.  Wow.  That's all I can say.  I yelled "we're above the rainbow. ABOVE THE RAINBOW!!" until Chris could pull over so I could capture this picture. You can't just pull over anywhere on the two-lane S-curve highway.  But in return, this is what I got:

It was absolutely breathtaking.  And twenty minutes later, Mom called to tell me Shannon had gone to the hospital and was in labor.  See, sometimes dreams do come true!

Chris and I tried a new restaurant close to home and were 100% impressed with not just the remarkable food, but the low (relatively speaking) price.  It was a fantastic night.  And as soon as we got to the car to go home, I got a call from Mom that my little brother was a Daddy!!  I know he has the two older kiddos, but this is his first baby.  And I am in awe.

By the time we got home from dinner, my mother-in-law had texted me to say that Bryan was a perfect angel and they wish they could do this all the time.  Bryan loves his Poppy as much as he loves his Papa!  

And we slept.  And slept.  And slept.  Until 8:00 a.m.!  It seemed like we had wasted half the day by sleeping in that late!  It was wonderful.  

So today, I started my day with a renewed sense of purpose and perspective on what really matters.  And that list is short.  What matters most to me?  My family, my friends, and love.  That's it.  With those three things on my side, I will conquer all.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


We've taken Bryan to all sorts of places.  Airports, rec centers, malls, Ikea, the pool, restaurants, Target, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, grocery name it.  It occurred to us last weekend that we haven't taken Nuggs to a park.  This summer has either been too hot or too rainy in the afternoons to enjoy a park.  We finally caught a break on Sunday.  Rain threatened our plans, but we managed to avoid the downpour.  We passed more than an hour in a perfectly grassy park (with playground stuff Bryan wanted NO PART OF and a sandbox his mom and dad wanted NO PART OF).

I was smart enough to grab the camera before we left.  Something I've been neglecting lately.  And while I see my errors in some of the photos, I managed to snap a few that I think could be frame worth. It also helps when the subject matter is so beautiful.

I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we enjoyed being lazy in the park!

Brave little kiddo. This was about 20 yards from where we were sitting.  He's pointing out a "car car" which is Nuggs code for airplane (two syllable mode of transportation is a car car)

A loud car passed by. He demanded an explanation!

Nothing sweeter than when he crawls in Chris' lap and wants to hold hands.

Juice please!

I am going to spit out the juice please!

My little Nugget of perfection.  I love him more than anything I could ever have imagined!

Thursday, August 22, 2013