If there’s one single thing that I can blame for my recent addiction to participating in organized running events, it’s the finisher’s medal you get at the end. Not the fun factor. Not the satisfaction of knowing I did it. Not even the physical benefits can come close to the feeling I get when I’m handed one of those silly medallions hanging from its colorful fabric band.
The minute I was handed my first finisher’s medal at Disney’s Happy Haunted 5K I knew I wanted more. Feel free to picture me as an evil villain, rubbing my hands together greedily in the middle of a pile of wealth saying, “More! I still need more!” That’s pretty much how I felt every time I looked at that first medal. I craved another trophy, another token of accomplishment. Because obviously, knowing I did it simply wasn’t enough.
I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I didn’t want to just shove it in a drawer, and I had no intention of wearing it (it was kinda ugly). So I proudly displayed that medal and my first running bib on the wall. I admired it often. It was just soooooooo pretty! And it was mine! ALL MINE!
I’ve since accumulated two other medals, one for the A1A Half Marathon and another for the Royal Family 5K at Disney. Clearly my previous method of display was not going to work anymore. After all, if I was going to display one I really should display them all, right? It didn’t seem fair to play favorites, and they were all just sooooooo pretty to look at!
So I crammed all three in the same frame, added the dates and names of the events, and hung that baby on the wall. And I gotta say, it’s probably borderline mental how often I glance up the stairs at it. I just find it to be incredibly motivating to see my running (and walking) accomplishments all in one place. It encourages me to keep going. It keeps the memories of those events fresh in my mind. It makes me proud.
When my mom and I were at the expo for the Disney 5K we saw a vendor selling racks with hooks for hanging finisher’s medals. Some of the sample photos they had of the racks in use were crazy – dozens and dozens of medals hanging in a line, overlapping and crisscrossing each other. While I don’t have any aspirations for a wall in my house covered in running medals, I like the idea of having an impressive display like this someday, maybe in our next home’s office:
I’ve seen some cute variations of the same thing. My favorites are:
- Find Your Happy Pace
- This is My Gym
- I Run This Town
- Hebrews 12:1 – “Keep running the race that is set before you with endurance.”
I may end up with one those later, but for now I’m happy with the three I have. And they seem to be getting along splendidly all cozy together in their frame. Of course, they don’t know it yet but they are about to get a baby brother, because I just found out that the 10K I’m running next week is giving out finisher’s medals too! Yay! It’s a St. Patrick’s Day run – hope they don’t mind sharing a frame with an Irishman, because I fully intend to display this one too.
As I mentioned in Part 1, I’ve learned over the past few years that it really upsets me when a teacher tells me that Emily is more than qualified for specific awards and honors, yet for whatever reason she hasn’t been given recognition.
And so the saga continues…
We saw it happen again in Kindergarten. This time it was a special monthly award and a little stuffed panda that got to come home for the weekend with his notebook. Every Friday Emily would climb into the car and excitedly tell me who was chosen to take the panda home. At first she was always so happy for whomever the lucky kid was, but after a while she started to become confused. She’d say things like, “Freddy got to take the panda home today, Mommy. But I don’t understand why, because he’s on blue (a not-good color) every day and I’ve never even been off of green (the best color)!” I tried to explain that her teacher knows she does well and that everyone might not get a change to bring the panda home, and that seemed to help. She finally did get her turn with the panda, but it wasn’t until Easter weekend, almost 7 months into the school year. She also won the Spirit Cup late in the school year, although she wasn’t really sure what she earned it for.
First Grade didn’t prove any different, but this time Emily was really starting to see the same pattern Jay and I saw. She started getting depressed, saying she felt like her best was just never good enough. Other kids were being awarded, even though they were in trouble all the time or were reading easier books than she was. During the last parent-teacher conference of the school year her teacher told me that she was one of the highest-level readers in First Grade – although because of a funky scoring system she wasn’t eligible for any reading awards or the quarterly pizza party. Grrrrr. Then her teacher pointed to a poster in the classroom that listed all of the character traits the school focuses on each year and said, “Emily demonstrates every single one of these qualities. If I could I would give her an award for all of them.” And apparently, I’d had enough. It was just too much, and Momma Bear arrived. I started angry crying (not the same as sad crying) and asked why she hadn’t been recognized for any of them if she was such a great candidate for all of them. I told her that this had been happening every year she’d been in school and I was tired of it. That it broke my heart to see Emily feeling like a failure when she clearly excelled academically and was of strong character. That it was becoming more and more difficult to explain that not everyone would get a turn… that some kids needed to know they were doing a great job… that her Daddy and I were proud of her whether she got an award or not. Her teacher apologized and confirmed my suspicions – the students who were receiving the awards were the ones who needed the positive reinforcement for their successes, while it was assumed that Emily knew her teacher was proud because she received small treats more often. She agreed that Emily should be recognized, and Emily won a special Reading Award at the end of the year ceremony that was created just for her, along with the last Character Trait award, honesty. But I still can’t help wondering if that only happened because I made a fuss. I’m glad she received the awards she deserved, but I wanted her to earn them without my help.
But now we reach that happy ending I promised, because yesterday Emily was recognized for demonstrating the Character Trait of enthusiasm. Before Easter. Without my getting involved. And this Momma Bear’s heart was ready to bust with pride.
I know I can’t fight my daughters’ battles. I don’t want to. But I do think that humility is a hard trait to come by naturally, and I know that there is no way Emily would have ever spoken up. And although I hate thinking that she was only recognized last year because I became “that mom,” I have no doubt that it was the right thing to do, and I have no regrets.
Who knows, I might have to do the same for Julieboo one day.
I’ve been a mom for nearly 8 years, and I’ve discovered that only three things really turn me into a Momma Bear. I’ve only experienced these three situations with Emily, although I’m sure if any of them happens again with Julia I’ll be just as upset.
The first Momma Bear moment is when I feel like I can’t get Emily from somewhere if I need or want her. There were a couple of times last year when Emily’s school wouldn’t let me sign her out, and I was ready to go berserk on someone. I also seem to snap rather quickly when someone chastises Emily right in front of me, and Emily hasn’t done anything wrong. There was a nasty moment once when a lady in her car yelled at Emily for interrupting, making her cry. I confess it was one of the rare occasions when I didn’t respect an elder.
The third situation (and topic of the day) is when Emily’s awesomeness is overlooked or ignored, usually so that someone who has greater academic or behavioral struggles can be recognized for demonstrating improvement. As a teacher I know how important it is to reward students who have difficulties so that you can reinforce the benefits of positive change. But as a mother it’s different. Especially when you are constantly being told during parent-teacher conferences that your child excels academically and socially, yet month after month there is no recognition.
It’s been happening since she was 4 years old and in VPK. Her class had a special Student of the Week poster, and whoever was chosen as the student of the week also got to take home the class “pet,” a stuffed dog named Fluffy. Every kid was dying to get Fluffy, because he also came with a notebook where you could insert photos and write about the adventures you’d had all weekend. Well, despite being told in a conference that she was one of the only kids who followed directions consistently and despite the fact that she was one of 2 top readers in the class, she was almost the last one to be awarded Student of the Week and given Fluffy. She was confused when kids who were always being sent to the office for misbehaving were recognized before her, and we just told her that her special day would come. Of course it did, and she was thrilled. But she was nearly (if not) the last kid to get a turn, and as soon as everyone had a chance then the teacher started again, and most of the class got to take Fluffy home a second time. But not Emily, since her turn had passed so recently to the start of the second round of Fluffy’s home visits. She held up just fine, but I could feel myself getting upset over the obvious unfairness of the whole thing.
Unfortunately, this was only the beginning. But I promise, there’s a happy ending ahead. But not until Mrs. Bear makes an appearance…
Jay and I were very blessed to have our friends and family give some of the best wedding toasts we’ve ever heard. Both of our fathers spoke beautifully at our reception, telling stories about what it was like raising us, guiding us through school, and watching us fall in love with each other. They both wished us a long and happy marriage, and said that they and our mothers were thrilled that God had brought us together.
My brother, Kevin, had given his wedding toast the night before at our rehearsal dinner. It was completely unexpected and not like him at all to have prepared something like this, and if he had saved the paper he’d written it on it would be one of my favorite wedding mementos (it’s already one of my favorite memories). I wish I could remember it all, but I know that he told a lot of funny stories about us as kids. He talked about how he’d always tried his best to be there for me, whether it was sneaking the veggies off my plate at dinner so I could pretend I had eaten them or keeping an eye on the boyfriends I brought over so that he could give me his opinion of them later. He told us that he was so glad that I’d finally found a guy that he approved of, and that he knew Jay would make me happy. It still makes me cry.
Fortunately, we do still have a copy of another toast – the one written by Jay’s best friend Eiki. It still makes us laugh, and every so often we even find ourselves quoting it. I came across it today while looking through one of our wedding albums, and I thought it was funny enough to share.
“I have to confess I never thought this day would get here. Not because I was so eager that I couldn’t wait; believe me, in writing this toast I could have used a little more time. Instead, today seemed far off because really, Jay getting married was never very likely. Why? Because Jay is a geek. Which I mean in the very best sense; the geek lifestyle has a lot of advantages, although you couldn’t say that romantic success is among them. After all, the tan you get from your computer monitor doesn’t look as good as the tan you get from the sun, the size of your hard drive really doesn’t matter, and “Wanna see my lightsaber?” is likely to get you slapped. For these reasons, romance was always difficult for Jay.
“But he persevered through the lean years and found Susie, the love of his life. They’re really a perfect match. Here is an example: I am told that Susie is afraid of sleeping in a bedroom with a closet door open. Having seen Jay’s closet, I’m sure that’s a wise policy.
“Susie – thanks to Jay, your computer will always be top of the line, you will know what all the buttons on your calculator do, and you will gain an invaluable understanding of the finer points and profound significance… of Star Trek. Jay, I promise you that your colors will be coordinated, your carpet will see the light of day from time to time, and you will end your dietary reliance on Cup-O-Noodles. Or at least, before eating them, you will add water.
“Jay and Susie, I expect your marriage will bring you both a lifetime of prosperity, contentment, and more than a little excitement. Therefore, honored guests, I hope you will all raise your glasses with me, and toast the young couple’s future happiness. Jay, while your marriage will probably cut down on the number of times you can see the 3rd Star Wars movie, I think you’re making a good trade.”
The funny thing is that nearly 12 years later, for the most part, everything in that toast still rings true. I still hate sleeping with the closet door open (another story for another day), Jay is a pretty color-coordinated guy (now), and my computer is always a high-performance model. Oh – and I’ve never once slapped Jay for wanting to show me his lightsaber.
But I will contest on two accounts. I still have no idea what all those buttons on my calculator are for. And I turned out to be a bigger Star Wars nut than Eiki expected… I actually went to the premiere of Revenge of the Sith (that’s Star Wars 3 if you didn’t know) with the two of them. Oh yeah.
Our marriage has been full of prosperity, contentment, and more excitement than we ever expected. While we give God all the glory for the success of our marriage, the love and support of our friends and family has definitely played its part in it as well.
I’ve been seeing a lot of blog posts about the level of parental engagement popping up on my Facebook news feed lately. It seems as though they generally migrate towards one of two mindsets:
- The Shame-on-Me-for-Using-My-Cell-Phone-at-the-Playground – These types of posts usually feature a very self-reflective parent who has realized that they have spent so much time on their cell phone at the playground that they’ve looked up and realized their kid is now 19 years old and too big for the swing. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. But because their head has been down for so long they have failed to notice that their child has grown and are just now realizing that they can never get those moments back. Now they are vowing to never use the phone again while at the playground with their kids.
- The I-Ignore-My-Kids-on-Purpose-So-They-Can-Learn-to-Live-Without-Me – These blog posts are usually the complete opposite of mindest #1. These parents allow their kids to explore the playground without feeling any need or guilt about not watching their kids, mainly because they see it as a break time for themselves. Kid falls down? He doesn’t need me to kiss his boo-boo. Someone takes her toy? She needs to learn to stick up for herself without me intervening. I’m sure these parents are actually watching their kids, but the impression is that playground time is not supposed to be time with mommy or daddy, but time for mommy or daddy.
I’ve read multiple blog posts on this subject, and the end result always seems to be the same: think about what impression you are leaving on your kids when you take them to the playground. Mindset #1 tells you that you need to make sure your kids feel important. Mindset #2 tells you that your kids need to learn that you need some you-time.
Now, before I’m seen as too judgmental let me be perfectly clear – I easily fall into both of these categories, although I think I usually find myself in the second. I’m actually writing this post at my backyard table while the girls play together. There are clearly benefits – and detriments – to following either of these mindsets exclusively. I know I don’t want my girls thinking I’m always going to want to go down the slide with them, and I certainly don’t want them thinking that my phone is more important than they are. So I try to find a happy mix of the two. I like to think of myself as part of the Pretend-to-Ignore-My-Kids-Until-They-are-Asking-Me-to-Interact-with-Them-and-Then-Stop-What-I’m-Doing-and-Play mindset.
Here’s what that looks like. As I said, I am currently sitting at the table in my backyard writing this post on my laptop. My girls are playing at their sand table together. They are fine, I am fine. Everyone is happy. But at some point they realize I’m not paying attention to them, and they start bringing me sandy “meals.” They set the table, ask me to choose a meal from the menu, “cook” it, and bring it over to me. That’s when I stop typing and play along. I eat all my food and demand that they clean the table or I will never eat at their restaurant again. As they clean, I type some more. Then we do it all over again. They love it, and I still get to sit and type. Sometimes they want me to do something more engaging, in which case I stop and go play, because like the parents in mindset #1, I know they won’t want me to play with them forever.
It’s a little different at playgrounds. Whenever I take out both girls I do intentionally step back and let them have fun without me. And yes, that means that sometimes I play on my phone. But my eyes and ears are always on my girls. If I hear, “Look, Mommy,” then I look. If they want me to push them on the swing, I go push. But otherwise, they are on their own. I won’t always be there to fight their battles or to come up with fun games to play, so they need to learn that they can develop some of those skills on their own. Yesterday Emily made a new friend on the playground, something very hard for my shy girl to do and something she may never have done if I had been playing with her.
That chameleon on the playground? It’s me. I analyze our situation, take their current needs into account, and become the mom they need me to be, whether it’s the quiet adult figure pretending not to watch them so they won’t be embarrassed (although I’m secretly snapping photos), the fun mom who’s ready to play kickball, the mom who stops playing kickball so they can interact with other kids, even the grumpy restaurant patron. I’m willing to change my colors so that my girls can grow independently yet still feel safe and important. I’m not going to put myself in a box or live by absolutes – at least, not when I’m on the playground.
My mom has been itching to complete a Disney 5K for the past few years, but since everyone she knows always talks about running them she was concerned that walking it was not really an option. So when I ran their Happy Haunted 5K, I was thrilled to report back to her that there were actually quite a few people enjoying the event at a slower-than-jogging pace. I told her I was going to sign her up for the next available Disney 5K as her birthday gift, and offered to walk the course with her. She was so excited!
My mom is not exactly a lover of exercise, and during the few months that we had to wait for our event date she was sick off and on, making it difficult for her to train as much as she’d hoped. But she did squeeze in a 3-mile walk on her treadmill whenever possible, even adding in slight inclines to get her body prepared for any potential inclines on the course. When the day of the 5K arrived, she was definitely mentally ready, although not 100% confident that she could keep up the steady pace she’d maintained when indoors on her machine.
We picked up our packets the day before, which included a clear bag for our gEAR (more nods to Mickey there), a shirt, snacks, and our bibs. We toured the expo for a while and bought ourselves a couple of goodies, including a tiara charm for our sneakers to commemorate the occasion and a super cool magnetic pouch that enables you to run with your phone and a few other small items if needed. I also bought my mom a magnet for her car that says “Walker Girl,” since I’m all about decorating the car with major accomplishments.
The next morning we were up bright and early and in our corral for a 6:15 start time. We were in the 3rd corral, and didn’t have to wait long. I gotta say, at this point I’m pretty confident that I will start to get weepy at probably every single starting line I cross at one of these things for the rest of my life. This time I had tears of joy for my mom. She was so giddy!
We planned to walk the whole thing, and my mom kept up a pretty steady pace the whole 3.1 miles. It was really exciting to see her smile get bigger as we passed mile 1… then 2… then 3. Our route took us through the parking lot at EPCOT, then through the park behind Test Track and Mexico, where we entered the World Showcase. We walked past all the countries, then out behind London and back in near Canada. We then took a walk up through Future World, around the front of the famous EPCOT ball, and back out to the parking lot where we crossed the finish line! And my mom kept up her pace the whole time. I remember at one point she said we needed to slow down since there was a big incline, but I don’t think she ever actually slowed down. I was SO crazy proud of her.
At the finish line my mom got her medal. Her first 5K medal EVER. She was beaming. And my heart was so happy. We took a couple of pictures together, then headed to the car and back to our hotel. It’s been almost 8 hours since we completed the 5K, and every few minutes my mom says, “I still can’t believe I did it!” It’s one of the best feelings in the world to accomplish a goal like this, but I think being able to give someone the opportunity to meet their goal has got to be a close second.
I love you Mom, and I’m so proud of you! You did it!
Now, I’ll be completely honest – my closets usually look like a bomb hit them, because that’s where I hide everything. There’s a pile of trash on the back patio because I forgot it was bulk trash day last weekend. If you open my fridge you’ll find a mysterious chunk of blue stuff that’s been there a month – I haven’t even tried to clean it yet. I did try to vacuum today, but I’m pretty sure that it didn’t suck up anything because there was enough hair in the canister to rival a Sasquatch. I always forget to wash the tub until I see the icky ring the girls deposit, and I only just put away the cake stand a friend borrowed and returned over 7 weeks ago.
Hmmmmm… what else…. Sometimes I intentionally turn on the TV so I can zone out for a bit. I’ve been known to carry on text conversations with my friends while holding one with Emily at the same time. I wake up sometimes and my first thought is, “Man! I have to make breakfast again?!?!” I get annoyed that Julia would rather watch Paw Patrol than Dance Moms, so I try to make eating in her tent with the flaps closed sound like fun so I can squeeze in a minute here and there. True story.
Despite all this, I know I’m a good mom.
Aside from the closets, my house is pretty clean. The fridge is always stocked, garbage goes out twice a week (except when it only goes out once), and my girls get a good night’s sleep every night. My beauties love to play, craft, and bake with me. We play games, dance, sing songs, and snuggle during movies. We eat junk food, as well as our daily fruits and veggies. To me, this is all Minor League status stuff. Standard “I’m a Mom and This is What I Do” stuff.
But every so often I feel like I’ve made it to the Big Leagues. That is, I’ve gone Pro.
These are some of those moments, in no particular order.
- When my girls ask to eat something healthy. Every so often my girls will come up and beg me for a banana, or carrots, or apple slices. Whenever this happens I burst with pride a little inside, knowing that they are making healthy choices. Then I panic a little because I’m not sure if we have what they are asking for.
- When my girls have a bath more than 3 days in a row. I’m going to credit this one to being such a good mom that my kids are so well-trained to their bedtimes that they start getting too cranky if they are up too late. Because of this, if we are out too close to bedtime or past bedtime due to Girl Scouts or Bible Study, we opt out of bathtime. But every so often I have my act together and manage to remember to get them in the tub before we leave… and if this happens more than 3 days straight I feel like a rock star.
- When Emily has a friend over and I make them do homework before they play. I don’t know why this one makes me so proud, I guess it just seems über-mommy-ish to me.
- When my girls sing along with the radio to a song we sing in church. Um, why wouldn’t this make me feel wonderful?
- When I had to change Julia’s diaper while she was standing. I honestly can’t remember why on earth I had to do this, but I remember feeling awesome that I did it.
That’s all I can think of for now… I’m sure there are more, but since both girls are already passed out upstairs (sans bath) my Mommy Brain has officially shut down. I’m done Mommy-ing for the day.
PS – It’s almost Friday! :)
I still can’t believe I ran a half marathon only 2 days ago! I wrote about my day-before race prep here, now onto the main event!
My alarm went off at 3:30a, and since excitement kept me from a good night’s sleep I was out of bed, downstairs, and ready to go within 20 minutes. Erin came over by 4:15a and we were off! We parked near the starting line, then waited in line for 40 minutes to pay for a parking meter. We didn’t check any bags, just locked everything in the car. After we paid we made a mad dash to the line for the porta-potties, then took our place at the start near the 2:45 pacing sign.
I didn’t actually hear the race start (no gunshot or countdown), but at some point everyone started moving forward en masse. Because there were so many people, everyone started out waking until they actually crossed the starting line, then picked up the pace. It was really great running so early in the morning, especially on downtown streets blocked off from traffic. Our first leg took us to A1A, and we reached it right as the sun started to rise. Beautiful. We ran a while along A1A, then turned into Birch State Park. We decided to use the porta-potties there since there were more than we’d seen, and my nerves were making me have to go! Unfortunately, it cost us about 10 minutes and we lost our 2:45 pacing group. But we kept on. We headed back out to A1A north until mile 8, then turned and headed 5 miles back to the finish.
We both started feeling the burn right at about 11 miles, but with strangers cheering and encouraging us on (and a fellow runner who told us the 11-mile warmup was over and it was time to start the 2-mile run – ha ha), we pulled through. We finished our water bottles, chucked them to the side, and sped up, passing people we’d been stuck behind for miles. As we neared the finish line we kept telling each other to keep moving and that walking was no longer an option. I was getting more and more emotional as we got closer and could see the last mile… then someone said we had half a mile… then a quarter mile… and then I saw my family and lost it. Seriously, I cry waaaaaaay too much at these things.
I was so touched that Jay and the girls had come to watch me cross the finish line. They had made signs that said, “Go Mommy!” and were holding them up for me. For me! Emily was jumping up and down. And Erin and I crossed the finish line together – just as we’d hoped. Our official finishing time was 2:46:16, which was pretty great considering we’d had to make that bathroom stop in the middle. I couldn’t believe we did it, and I’m so thankful that she invited me to join her!
This marathon run always has beach-themed medals, and the medal for 2014 was a Stone Crab. Not the prettiest thing, but Emily loves it and wants to take it to school for show-and-tell. While I’m proud of myself and love the medal, I don’t plan on wearing it or hanging it on my wall, so instead I used some leftover Christmas money I had saved and bought a cute little crab charm to represent my achievement.
And, of course, I could finally put that coveted 13.1 sticker on the back of my car. Yippee!
At one point during the run Erin asked me what my favorite thing about the half had been. I enjoyed running and training with her, and knowing I was accomplishing my goal was pretty great, but hands down my favorite thing was the expression on Emily’s face as I crossed the finish line. The way she kept jumping up and down and saying that she had the most wonderful mommy in the world because I can run 13 miles. How she kept holding my hand and looking up at me. It’s the most amazing feeling in the world to know that your daughter is proud of you. I still tear up thinking about the smile on her face as she watched me run past her, and that’s the single thing that made all the effort worth it.
And I’m totally letting her take my medal to school for show-and-tell.
I DID IT!!!!!
This morning I ran my first half marathon! 13.1 miles! I feel AMAZING!
Completing a half-marathon had been on my mind since the first time I learned what a 13.1 sticker represented (and I desperately wanted one on my car), but it was also something I wasn’t even ready to think about for another 7-8 months. Then, in late December, my friend Erin told me she was signing up for the 2014 Publix Fort Lauderdale A1A Half Marathon, and asked if I wanted to join her. I decided to go for it. Both of us were totally fine if we needed to walk and originally had no intentions of trying to run the whole thing. We trained individually for about 8 or 9 weeks, but it wasn’t until we ran 11 miles together last Sunday that we really began to think we could run the whole thing. It was so exhausting, so much work while training, so much soreness, and SO MUCH FUN. Seriously. But it also took a bit of preparation the day before to make sure what I’d worked so hard for went off without any major hiccups. So here’s how my pre-run day went down, mostly for my future reference in case I decide to do another one.
The day before the run Jay, the girls, and I stopped at the Fitness Expo to pick up my race day packet, which included my bib, a shirt, and a bag full of goodies, mainly snack samples and coupons. There were booths hosted by different vendors, everything from massages to health insurance to running gear. Nearly every booth had freebies, and we left with 3 bags full of snack samples, Ziploc bags, sand toys, frisbees, and even beauty products. I also bought a 13.1 sticker for my car! We weren’t there long, but it was long enough for me to shed some tears from all the excitement. The best part was seeing how proud Emily was of me. She kept beaming and holding my arm and pointing at me when people asked her who she was going to cheer for. Julia just liked the escalator.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I thought I would be the day before my first half marathon. I stretched my legs a bit here and there throughout the day, but for the most part I just lazed about the house. Jay wanted to order pizza for dinner, but I wasn’t sure that was such a good idea so I had some chicken & veggies from Boston Market instead. And I broke my rule and had a Java Chip too. Hee hee. Since I had to get up at 3:30a I brought everything I would need to our downstairs bathroom so I could get ready there without disturbing everyone’s sleep upstairs.
Here’s what I wore/used:
- Running Pants
- Sports Bra
- Body Glide for Her (for chafing issues)
- Pantiliner (I wouldn’t normally mention this, but I was sooooo glad I had one on when I realized too late that the porta-potty was out of toilet paper)!
- Shock Doctor Patella Brace
- Thorlos Experia Socks
- Asics Gel Exalt Sneakers
- Elastic Headband
- Small Water Bottle
- Cash for parking
- Bib with pins attached
I did a mock “get-ready-for-go-time” test run to help me make sure I didn’t forget anything. (It worked). I read the entire running program, even the ads (the Reese’s ad made me cry), and re-read every email to be sure I was as familiar with the event as I could possibly be. I also packed the race program with the parking maps in it, the printed final instructions, and a few extra ponytail holders, some dry cereal, and a banana. Once everything was ready I went to bed, around 9:30p. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t sleep since I was so excited – and terrified I’d oversleep – and I wanted to squeeze every possible minute of rest in.
Next up – Race Day!!!!
I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. There’s just something fabulous about a day where we celebrate love. Love for our significant other… our family… our friends… even our pets. I love all the love-themed goodies. I love the men in the grocery store grabbing the last of the flowers off the shelf. I love seeing the card aisle completely wrecked and picked over. I just love it.
And as far as I’m concerned, it has nothing to do with being married or even in a dating relationship. That’s what makes it so wonderful – it’s for everyone. I actually intentionally ended a few relationships over the years just before Valentine’s Day so that I wouldn’t be tied down to one person – I didn’t want there to be any expectations towards myself or anyone else. I wanted to show love just because I wanted to, not because I was “supposed” to. I love way too many people to focus on just one!
Valentine’s Day is F-U-N as far as I’m concerned. As a teacher I loved a day full of activities that revolved around conversation hearts. As a mom I love the pile of silly valentines that adorn my counter when Emily comes home from school. I love making food with heart shapes incorporated somewhere. The crafts, the balloons, the sweets – so much fun!
This year’s Valentine’s has been great! I volunteered to put together a craft project together for Emily’s Girl Scout troop – they decorated heart-shaped jewelry boxes. I made heart-shaped cinnamon rolls for breakfast. The girls gave out cute cards to their friends. Last night we brought strawberries cut into the shape of hearts to our Bible Study group.
Jay is amazing, and I love him – he will always be my Valentine. But he isn’t what makes my Valentine’s Day special. It’s too much pressure to expect him to come up with the perfect gift or romantic plans. Usually when those expectations are set (either on his end or mine), one or both of us ends up disappointed. We’ve discovered over the years that when we just spend the day being in love (exactly what we do the other 364 days of the year) we end up much happier. Valentine’s Day should never just be about him… or me… or him + me. It should be a day for us to give a little more of our love to everyone else in our life.
I’m fortunate to have a husband who tells me he loves me every day of the year. But I know that not everyone is – and I know that one day that might be the case for one or both of my beauties. I hope that when my girls grow they don’t think they need a man to “make” their Valentine’s Day special. I pray that they find the love in our family to be enough. The love between them and their friends to be enough. And most importantly, the love that God has for them to be enough. I hope my girls love to love, just like their Momma.