running · special needs parenting · Uncategorized

A Product Review, Clif Bloks


My husband likes Clif Bloks, so at my last trip to the running store, I picked up several packages in different options for him.  For this review, I will be specifically referencing the Black Cherry Chews.

Upon my arrival at home, dear Ben grabbed the bag and upon seeing “candy” in the bag, he distrubuted one pack to Alex, and kept one for himself.  The pack he gave to Alex was Black Cherry with +50mg caffiene.  My husband and I were looking through our race packets for the race the next day (which was the Lake Michigan RTS, a great race), and we didn’t notice that Ben had brought the Clif Bloks to Alex until Alex had decimated the package.

Alex is sedentary, to a fault, so imagine our alarm when we asked him to get Hannah for supper and he hopped up, and bounced on both feet like a bunny all the way through the house, down and then up the stairs, and continued hopping until he sat down to eat.  We took him out for a walk/jog after dinner, to burn off the buzz, and low and behold, he won the race to the finish, and resumed hopping around the house. He bounced and giggled, and fidgeted and ran like there was no tomorrow.  I have not seen the likes of this before or since.

Therefore, I give this product 5 out of 5 stars.  If a simple chew can get my lazy bones kid hopping around like a bunny on steroids, then I consider it premium product.

running · special needs parenting · Uncategorized · writing

Obstacles vs. Barriers

Before I get into this, let me throw out definitions, just to ensure that we’re all on the same page.

  1. a thing that blocks one’s way or prevents or hinders progress.
  1. a fence or other obstacle that prevents movement or access.

An obstacle hinders of prevents progress, a barrier simply prevents.  Let me suggest that there are very few real barriers in life, rather, there are many obstacles and choices that go with them.

For example, I had returned to college as a working adult to complete my bachelor’s degree.  I got pregnant.  Pregnancy was an obstcle to completeing my degree, but I chose to stop attending school because for me personally, working, parenting, and going to school was too much.  Another person could have made an entirely different choice and still have been right, just like I made the right choice.  But let me be clear, pregnancy was not a barrier, it did not prevent me from completing my degree, it just made the path trickier.

But I find that there are very few real barriers in life, very few things which actually prevent a person from doing something that is truly a priorty for them.  I fall into this camp:

I am reluctant to consider a closed door a barrier.

Yet many people would follow this path:

Image result for when god closes a door memes

(except shouldn’t they just accept it instead of excepting it?  Or is this to suggest that you omit it, I guess that works, but still, c’mon man).

Let me give an example.  In the movie, “The Lion King”, Simba watches his father die, and considers this a “closed door”.  He goes off, finds new friends, and lives a “Hakuna Matata” life, which is great.  But when he finds out that he’s needed in his old community, he reexamines the situation, and decides to bang down that closed door.  While his life with Timon and Pumbaa is cute and fun, you simply don’t have a hero until Simba decides that his closed door is just an obstacle, and obstacles can be overcome.

The formula applies in every story that has ever held conflict in which a character becomes a hero.  While I admit that stories are fiction, the same applies in real life.  Imagine if Walt Disney had taken his his failures as closed doors and decided to become a used car salesman.  Or Stephen King?  (A personal favorite of mine).  Or JK Rowling?  The list goes on.

I don’t know about you, but for me, I’m not taking that closed door as a sign that I should just move on.  I am a person with discernment and will, and as such, with each closed door, I will decide how to proceed.  This doesn’t mean that I won’t walk away from some closed doors, but it does mean that I will never assume a closed door is not meant to be opened, beaten down, or otherwise circumvented.

running · Uncategorized

Summer Running

Summer running is the pits.  Seriously.  It is the absolute worst.  Why do sometimers always run in the summer?  Do they like the stifling humidity and stinky clothing?  Or is it feeling like you’re breathing underwater that brings everyone out to the streets in the summer?  Wait, I know, it’s the salty tomato face, because everyone looks fabulous in the salty tomato face.

I just don’t get it.  When I run in the summer my feet are on fire, I’m dehyrdrated, and soaking wet. Does this not happen to everyone else?!  Everyone looks at me like I’ve lost my mind when I’m out there in a blizzard, but I’m here to tell you, that’s a cake walk compared to 89 degrees and humid.

This morning I took off while it was still cool, a real treat when you have to plan runs around a complex family, and the first couple of miles I was telling myself how pleasant it was, and nearly convinced myself that summer runs weren’t as awful as I thought, but by the time I had five miles under my belt I looked like I was drowning in salted beet juice and though I have never actually drowned in salted beet juice, I’m guessing that’s what it feels like too.

You summer runners, you sometimers, you have it backward man.  But that’s okay, I’ll enjoy the roads all to myself when the temperatures plunge.  You’ll think I’m brave, you’ll think I’ve lost it, and you can think that all you want, but instead of coming home spent and dehydrated, I’ll be coming home feeling invigorated and refreshed.  I’ll have a suntan on my face in February and be flipping the bird to my SAD. And the funniest part is that while I’m having the time of my life out living it up in the frigid temperatures, you will think I’m being tough and brave.

I know a secret, and I’m not even trying to keep it.  Running is best in the cold and snow.


I’m Not a Feminist, but…

Ben had fallen asleep on the floor, and as I stood to pick him up and carry him to bed.  Mike, who had been sitting on the couch with me, offered to pick Ben up instead. When I declined his offer he didn’t fuss. 

This is ideal to me.  I have never resonated with the word “feminist”  I don’t know if it’s because it evokes images of bra burning and sensible shoes (an entirely outdated image, which belies my age), or what, but the term isn’t something I have embraced. 

But when I threw bags of dog food over my shoulder to carry downstairs while wearing a dress, I wondered if this is what women fought for. 

I am an eclectic blend of feminine and tough, I want to be pretty and strong.  I want to wear dresses and lift weights.  

I don’t know if this is what Gloria Steinem envisioned when she and her friends set out on their quest for equality, but I can honor everything that defines femininity while being a total badass, and I love it.  I don’t know if I even realized what I was doing working as a paramedic into my ninth month of my first pregnancy, doing all my own lifting and never batting an eye at it during my first pregnancy, then chosing an alternate role at work during my second pregnancy, which took a much larger toll on my energy stores.  Having the ability to decide for myself how to manage work and pregnancy, and managing the balance two different ways is the beauty of the modern era.  I can’t imagine life without those options. 

I wonder why I recoil at the word feminist while reaping the benefits of what the vigilant Baby Boomer women fought for,  it seems awfully silly.   At the end of the day, when I have the freedom to be the strong and ladylike person that I am, I know that it’s I’m riding the wave the bra burners made while wearing their sensible shoes, and I am ever so thankful for it. 


Confessions of a Forty-Something Pokémon Addict. 

All of a sudden it happened. I think I should blame Jenifer, who introduced Alex to it. Or something. Someone has to be held responsible.  For this:

I stopped my run today to watch him hatch. 

And speaking of my run, I kept my app open to get mileage. Except I didn’t do it right and didn’t get full credit. If it wasn’t for the blasted heat and humidity I probably would have run all afternoon just to level up. 

I’ll be just minding my own business and think, “Hmmm, I wonder if there are any critters nearby”, (I’m obviously not up on the lingo) and just often enough something like this guy is in my petunias.  It’s that intermittent positive reinforcement that has me hooked. 

And I don’t even know what it all means except that the bugger tried to escape, and that he looks cool, so I took him down. He’s mine now!  Yeah, take that Zubat thingy. 

Now every outing (not that I get out much as an introverted special needs mom) is an occasion to find PokéStops and get more Poké Balls as preventing a tragedy like this from recurring is crucial. 

I am fully aware of the ridiculousness, in fact I hide it from my husband. He thinks that Pokémon Go is for uncivilized morons who are next up for the Darwin Awards. (I have no idea where he got that impression). 

Thankfully Alex is my cover, after all this is all for him.  No, really, it is. 

special needs parenting

Easy Like A Sunday Morning

Or so goes the song.  But it’s not like that here.

I love, and I do mean love quiet mornings.  I’m that ridiculous person that is neither a morning person nor a night owl, rather I go to bed early and stay there as long as possible, which is rarely long enough.

This morning at o-dark-thirty, little mister got up and hit the ground running.  Ben is my opposite, he likes to stay up late(ish) and get up early.   The tension this creates is enormous.

He wakes up bright, chipper, and ready to meet the day, no matter what day it is, and has no notion that I am essentially useless before a loading dose of coffee, even after all these years.  So I sit in my comfey chair, prepared to sip my brew and be as mindless as possible until it kicks in, and he sits next to me jamming out to Fall Out Boy.   Now don’t get me wrong, I love FOB, just not when I’m catatonic. 

The first couple of hours of our day is entirely predictable with him attempting to interact and get me to provide the basics of his care, and me responding in grunts while muttering under my breath about my coffee getting cold. 

On better days I remind myself that he’s almost to his teenage years and that Alex finally started needing more sleep than me when he hit puberty (and oh, what bliss that is!), but I’m terrified that every day for the rest of my life my days will start out according to this pattern.  

One would think I’d grow accustomed to this pattern, yet my body clock resists any effort to reset and persists in torturing me every morning by being impervious to external stimuli. 

Alas, here he comes with his clothes, it’s time to get him dressed.  Later today I might pause to appreciate his internal motivation and independence, but forgive me if I just grumble my way through this daily ritual.  I do adore this child truly, but adoration hours start at 8 am. 

special needs parenting · Uncategorized

Alex the Hobbit

I sometimes wonder if Hobbits were modeled after people with Down syndrome. With the exception of hairy feet, the description is nearly perfect. 

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
The hobbit-hole in question belongs to Bilbo Baggins, a very respected hobbit. He is, like most of his kind, well off, well fed, and best pleased when sitting by his own fire with a pipe, a glass of good beer, and a meal to look forward to (which they take 6 times if they can). 

J.R.R. Tolkien

If you add an iPad or Skylanders to that description, my friends, you have Alex. 

Alex adores the simple pleasures of life. A bowl of ice cream, a slice of pizza, or even just bringing in groceries from the car and unpacking them, Alex is over the moon. 

I’m learning so much about relishing simple moments from him. Like when he catches my eye in the rear view mirror and tells me he likes me, or his happy dance when his cheeseburger is delivered at a restaurant. Yes, there is much to be said for joy in simplicity.  Alex continually reminds me to slow down enough to appreciate the little things in life. The elation he emotes somehow fortifies me on days when details and busyness act as anchor.  I pray that I will always take pause to notice his contentment. 

Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Yes, Alex’s small acts of kindness and love bring me courage, just like his fictive kin Bilbo Baggins.  

The other side of the coin is keeping Alex from being so comfortable in his own skin that he misses the bigger things life has to offer.  

Today is the first day of a short road trip. When I asked Alex if he wanted to go he demurred. When pushed, he called it “scary”. That was a red flag which told me he must not be allowed to become complacent.  I set about getting him excited for the trip by telling him of swimming pools and mountains, none of which did the trick. What finally broke through was choosing car snacks. Ah yes, the way to this boy’s heart is always through food. 

So far he’s having a ball, after all, what better way is there to please a modern day Hobbit than a Cracker Barrel bacon cheeseburger?