Gardening · running · special needs parenting · Uncategorized

Food Glorious Food

As a runner I know how important it is to fuel my body with high quality food. As a mother caught in often stressful situations, stress eating is my nemesis. One would think that summer would be my downfall, but think again. 

Late morning every day I make a quick run out back and lunch consists of pico de gallo fresh out of the garden. 

I typically throw down 6-8 Roma tomatoes, a whole onion and 2-3 jalepeños with some cilantro and lime as my lunch. Yep, every single day. I’m a tomato snob and only eat them fresh from the vine, so I indulge when I can!

I just brought this beauty in and it tastes like a jolly rancher it’s so sweet!  

If you add in beans, peas, and more, I have a smorgasbord of daily goodies and not a single craving for comfort food. 

I don’t think I’ll ever be a convert to summer with the running being so miserable and trying to keep kids entertained 24/7, but the eating just can’t be beat! 

(Garden dog couldn’t agree more).

Uncategorized · writing

Book Update, the status of “Hope Deferred”

I started writing on a whim. After hearing so many times, “You should really write a book”, and “You’re such a good writer”, I took the plunge.  Ben had one hell of a winter, I was processing a lot of our past that I had never worked through, mostly because in the moment, we were simply surviving.  When life brought us full circle to a point where we believed Ben was in the diagnostic process for a life-limiting disease (which wound up being a med reaction, something that I still cannot believe), the need to get the history written out was the catalyst for me to literally sit down and write nearly 50,000 words on my tablet.  In the throes of something bigger than myself I threw the words onto the page with a fervor that sometimes alarmed me.

The rough draft has been done for a few months, and I have intentionally let it sit.  It needs ever so much work, but it also needs to ripen in order for me to be able to jump back in and take the story from a literal history to a compelling work with a breathtaking poignancy as I walk you through the many heartbreaking and triumphant episodes of Ben’s 10 years of life, to today, where I have a little boy who has prevailed over many diseases and limitations, but not unscathed.  Each episode has left its mark, and changed not only Ben, but our whole family as together we survived not only Ben’s life-threatening  and rare diagnoses, but also many other rabbit trails as each other family member has faced down our own battles.

I am so excited and so terrified of this book.  I want so badly for the world to see Ben as I do, to be his voice, and for people to marvel over this small wonder whose life I have played a supporting role in.  I have already been declined by a publisher who told me that “Down syndrome memoirs just don’t do that well for them”, even after I tried to establish how very different Ben’s story is from the plethora of other “Down syndrome memoirs” out there.

So I took a deep breath and engaged with another publisher, and we shall see where that goes.

I know that rejection is a part of the writing experience, and I am taking this whole bit one step at a time, trying not to get ahead of myself.  And so I wait, with the next step either being getting an offer from a publisher, or regrouping and using the next few months to rework the book and continue to seek out the right fit for publication.

But I believe in this book, I believe in this story, I believe that this will come to fruition, that a venue will open, and “Hope Deferred” will go from a dream to reality, and just like I have navigated all of the tricky paths that have come our way, I will navigate my way to the fruition of this story.

Uncategorized · writing

Random Acts of Kindness, or a Lifestyle of Compassion?



People love random acts of kindness.  The infamous Starbucks pay it forward, or filling an expired parking meter and leaving a note.  Those are great, but might I suggest there should be more to it?

Despite the trend of RAK’s, people are still ornery, selfish, and in too much of a hurry to give a rip about anyone.  All you have to do is drive down a highway to find out how mean-spirited humans are on a daily basis. It’s obvious to me that RAK’s are merely a tip of the iceberg.

(Funny story, while driving down the road we were cut off by a young woman who was racing in and out of lanes.  A few minutes later, we passed her, and when we looked over she was flipping the bird.  Alex saw her and smiled and waved.  The look on her face…)

When writing out my first draft of my memoir, tentatively titled, “Hope Deferred” one of the themes that stood out is that there are people making differences that go beyond RAK’s.  People for whom stepping into the gap is part of their DNA.  One of the first people to come to mind is a local teacher named Martha.  Martha is a living legend, a special education goddess.  To know Martha is to be blessed, she exudes altruism from every pore of her body.

Or Jeff the radiology PA at our local children’s hospital.  Jeff’s presence has been woven throughout Ben’s medical history, and he has always been a source of goodness and light.  Not only is he exceptional at his job, his inner compass is such that in doing his work he impacts the lives of children who are hurting and their families by going above and beyond his job title, with kind-heartedness and compassion.

I think of Mike’s lifelong best friend who didn’t blink an eye when Mike called him late at night to say we were stranded in Chicago, 3 hours away while on our way home after adopting Ben.  Marty hopped in his car and drove into the night, 6 hours round trip and acted like it was nothing.

I think that RAK movement can often miss the mark.  While coffee is darn important, can we admit that paying forward the cost of a Starbucks is the tiniest drop in the feel good bucket? I tend to wonder if we’re deceiving ourselves into believing we’re do-gooders, when we’re really just treating a stranger, whose face we will never see to a cup of overpriced coffee.  It’s a quick dopamine burst in the brain, but the true impact is a wash.

When I worked as an advocate for children in foster care, I went into churches to ask them to help us find homes for children waiting to be adopted.  Often the churches would let me speak on behalf of the waiting children.  Not to toot my own horn, but I had it dialed in.  I would see people dabbing tears from their eyes in every pew, and that pastor would often choke up after my talk.  Yet, when the rubber met the road, more often than not everyone exited the sanctuary went home to their Sunday dinner and nap, and rationalized why they weren’t the ones to step into that gap.

Some of the children I advocated for 3 years ago are still waiting for adoption. 

What I am asking is this:  What step can you take today to make a difference?

Decide.  Commit.  Be like Martha, like Jeff, like Marty.  Make a real difference.

special needs parenting · Uncategorized

The Painful Suffering of Relaxus Interruptus

Ben is at school today.  Can I get a hallelujah?!

It’s not the same as sending them all out the door and being totally alone, but since Ben is my handful, the difference is tangible.

I suspect this is not something that just happens with special needs, though I also suspect that most kids grow out of it well before age 10, but this phenomenon is something I like to call, relaxus interruptus.  Relaxus interruptus goes something like this:  I sit down to drink my beloved morning coffee, and before the warmth even permeates past my mouth, Ben has a request.  Now mind you, before sitting down with said coffee, I got him food, got him meds, and got him settled with a favored activity, but none of that matters when he notices Abbi lounging on the deck and says, “Abbi out”.  Sure enough, Abbi is out.  Abbi can wait, but Ben cannot, so I get up and open the door for Abbi, which is never enough, because now “Abbi eat”.  So I help Ben feed Abbi, which takes 4 times as long as simply feeding her myself.  I then redirect him to his breakfast, and seek out my coffee.

Next thing I know, Ben walks up to me with his clothes, and the cycle repeats.  And it repeats every single time I sit down from 5 am to 8:30 pm.   So even though I have attempted relaxation approximately 973 times, I have not once actually acheived any level of relaxation. I suffer from relaxus interruptus.

As if relaxus interruptus wasn’t enough, there is also it’s sister ailment, laborus interruptus.  Ben’s radar is super sensitive, so he is dialed in not only to when I sit down for a moment’s peace, but also when I get up and do something.  Now with things like dusting or dishes, it’s one thing, but when I’m gardening or vacuuming or writing, the interruptions stymie me.  If you have ever completely lost your shiz and gone off the deep end over a sweet little voice saying, “Ceweo bweese”, you might know the feeling.  It’s not the request, it’s the fact that it’s the 58th request this hour.  Not to worry, I have a whole cache of made up swear words to let fly during these moments.  When the windows are open, I sometimes catch myself and wonder what the neighbors think when they hear my screeching, “Why the green gunderson did you not ask me this 49 seconds ago when you last interrupted me?!”  I suspect that any mom who has ever suffered from laborus interruptus would understand.

Sometimes I try to play with Ben for a prolonged period in hopes that I can fill up his tank and somehow stave off the interruptions for a few minutes.  But after spending 63 minutes zooming cars down the track, saying the color of each, and lining them up according to category, I tell Ben that mommy is taking a break.  He smiles and says, “Oday mom”, and I breathe a sigh of relief.  Phew, I did it, now do I get something done, or steal a few minute break.  I head for a bathroom break to consider my next step, and before I’m done washing my hands, he’s there, handing me a ball, with the cutest smile ever saying, “Wanna pway?”

running · Uncategorized

24 Odd Things That Happen When You Absolutely Love Running

Runners do odd things. People who absolutely love running do a lot of odd things and have odd things happen to them.  If you can check most or all of these off, you know you’re a diehard.

  • You don’t blink at a 5am wake up on long run days
  • You always keep a pair of running shoes in your car, “just in case”
  • When other people have big decisions they sleep on it, you run on it
  • You’ve taken a runcation
  • You have an action plan in case of dog attack
  • You never run without TP and there’s a story behind why
  • Carb loading is your second favorite sport
  • Any other exercise is considered cross-training
  • You could stock a second-hand running shoe store singlehandedly
  • You significant other has made you go for a run when you’re cranky
  • You have planned running routes of every distance you’ve ever run in every direction from your house
  • You’ve mastered your running snot rocket
  • You’ve run in triple digits or negative digits or both
  • Never mind the duct tape, you’re convinced kinesio tape can fix anything
  • Your wardrobe is divided between running clothes and “other”
  • You know exactly what to wear in any possible weather condition
  • No matter how many pairs of running shoes you have, you always need one more
  • You’ve used every one of these and then someimg_2515
  • Blisters and black toenails are a normal part of your feet
  • You have favorite races
  • You have asked a doctor “How long until I can run?”
  • Chafing is your nemesis
  • Your non running friends eyes gloss over when you start to tell running stories…and you don’t care
  • Finally, you know you’re truly diehard if you’ve run until your nipples bled

I know there’s gotta be more. Feel free to add them in the comments!

running · Uncategorized

Just Call Me Molasses

I try so hard.  I do all the right things.  I eat well, keep my weight in check, I do speedwork, cross-training, and strength work, I am faithful to train consistently, so why am I still at the back of the pack?  It’s maddening.  I think I have read every book written about form, and still, I’m doing good to break a 10 minute mile, and that’s just for one mile.

It’s awfully humbling.

Conventional wisdom states that if you do all the right things that success will be yours.  But conventional wisdom isn’t perfect. I guess there’s an exception to every rule, and with running, I’m it.

That leaves me considering where to go from here.  Do I just be slow?  Do I keep up the speedwork in hopes that some day something clicks?  Do I buy every new book in hopes that there’s some kind of combination of breathing, form, and nutrition that I haven’t tried and that some day, somehow I will have that angel choir sing the hallelujah chorus over me as I breakthrough to the other side and become some kind of bodacious speed queen?

I guess my answer would depend on the day.

I think I have resigned myself to running for the love of running, for my health, just to be a runner, but that longing doesn’t remain dormant any length of time.  All I have to do is go to a race, and feel sheepish as my husband is already cooled down and stretched before I reach the finish.  Or perchance to jog the neighborhood and pass that guy pushing his daughter in the stroller, and feel like maybe if I can keep up the solid work long enough, that will be a regular occurance some day.

I don’t want to resign myself or rationalize, but I don’t want to hang every last hope that some day I might actually qualify for Boston, which right now only sounds absurd, even though the very thought of it make my heart pitter patter.

The thing is, I will continue to do the right things whether so doing yields desired fruits or not.  Because doing it right matters, and is good, even if it doesn’t direct my path exactly as I desire.  I guess that means I will be uncomfortable, hoping for something beyond my reach, while being content in my skin.  I don’t think that discomfort is a bad thing.  It means I’m not settling.  Ever.

But I think I will leave the Garmin behind a bit more often, and enjoy running just for the sake of running, with no worries about distance, time, speed, or any other manner of measurement.  There is joy in that freedom, and I am in the business of joy.

But if I may, I implore you, the one to whom speed comes naturally, the ones who plunge ahead as gazelles with grace and momentum enjoy it for me.  Soak it up, delight in it, drink it in.  Don’t ever take it for granted.  Some of us would give up a toe to run a mile in your shoes.


To The Moms Who Are Happy When School Starts


It’s August, and the back to school rush is starting (at least in normal states, in Michigan we have a ridiculous law which puts tourism ahead of education, thanks Michigan, glad to know education is prioritized).

The first day of school is my favorite.  It’s like a holiday.  In fact, it trumps Christmas as the absolute best day of the year.  I am already seeing back to school posts across my social media and man am I jealous!  I have almost five weeks yet until the big yellow bus shows up to whisk my kids off for the day.  I never realized that 5 weeks could stretch before me as an eternity, well, at least not since last summer.

I love my kids, I do, it’s just that I like them best when I get breaks, when their brains are stimulated, and they have structure above and beyond anything I can offer in these four walls.  It’s not that I don’t try.  I stock up on fun things to do for summer.  I load the iPads with learning apps, and I get my kids out and about to experience the world.  It’s just that 12 weeks is a freaking long time to keep this up.  Even under the best of circumstances, when I remember to make them read and write every day (which I don’t) there’s serious summer learning loss.  And summer math?  Yeah, I make Ben count things all day, does that count as math?

My kids are sick of each other.  They’ve played with every game and toy a million times over, and they’re just plain bored.  It doesn’t help that I am too.  I’m ready for time to myself, to do a few projects, to find a girlfriend or two and have coffee and catch up.  Where is the break in summer break anyway, I could really use it about now.

Then I see moms that are sad to see their kids go, and I feel guilty.  What do they have that I don’t?  Why is summer bliss over there when we’re fit to be tied over here?  Could you wonderful summer moms just bottle some of that bliss up and send it my way, because we ran out of that jazzy stuff in June.

I’ll hang on, and so will my kids.  They’ll probably be even happier than I am when that bus door closes on their hind ends.  Thankfully my kids love school, and thrive there.

So to you moms, like me, who are dying for that first day of school, I raise my torch to you, in solidarity.  You are my tribe, my crew, and together we’ll make it through these last few weeks, come hell or high water, with an excellent likelihood of both.