Tuesday, December 28, 2010


These days Abby is acquiring new skills faster than I can say "boo." For example, she's starting to string together sentences like "Daddy, read book to me." Somewhat less charming, she's also beginning to understand the fine art of deception.

As many of you know, Alex, Abby and I spent Christmas and the week prior at the Mettler's home in Minnesota. If you've never had the honor of doing the same, let me explain something. Around the holidays the Mettler house is overflowing with sweets. There are tins and tupperware and bowls full of chocolates and cookies and cakes ALL THE TIME. This leads to a lot of sugar consumption. I of course allow myself to ingest all the sugar I could possibly desire, but I try to limit Abby's consumption. (Yes, this is hypocritical. I don't care.) As you might imagine, keeping Abby from eating sugar all the time when I myself am is a difficult task. It is incredibly hard to deny her, especially when she says in a tiny little voice "Peeeas?" To avoid the responsibility of denying her, I have taken to sneaking treats when she's not looking and either going to another room or turning my back. Sadly, it seems she has caught on to my tactics. Not only is it getting harder and harder to hide from her, but I think I've taught her to be sneaky....

With that background, let me take you back to Christmas Eve at about 8 pm.

The family has just finished dinner and retired to the living room for a round of present opening. Abby is wandering around, playing with various toys when she suddenly spots a bowl full of M&M's on the coffee table. Before making a move, she looks around to assess the situation. She is disappointed to find Mommy sitting right next to the target, looking directly at her. She tests the waters. "Cookie?" But Mommy is shaking her head before she even finishes asking. "No cookie." She stares at the bowl. They look so scrumptiously delicious. Little red and green nuggets of delight. She tries again. "Cookie? Peeeas?" But Mommy is stalwart. "No cookie. It's too close to bedtime." She stands, twiddling her hands in front of her, thinking. Then she says "Cookie, Gamma" and points to grandma, who is sitting just a few feet away. Mommy pauses. "You want to give a cookie to grandma?" Abby nods, points and repeats more excitedly "Cookie, Gamma." Mommy says "Okay, you can give a cookie to Grandma." She carefully picks an M&M out of the bowl and with arm extended begins to turn and walk toward grandma. The second her back is to Mommy, she pops it into her mouth.

What a sneaky little monster.

Friday, December 24, 2010


One morning in Minnesota we took a trip to St. Paul's Children's museum. It was amazingly cool for Abby. So many things to do and so many fellow children to gawk at! Here she is at her favorite two exhibits: 1) the bubble station and 2) for lack of a better description, the water park.


P.S. Translation of Abby speak in the middle of the next movie: "Another ball"


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Cookies

Yesterday afternoon Abby got to help Barb and Beth make Christmas cookies. Well, it was actually the other way around, but don't tell Abby.


Sawing Logs

It's been a while since I posted videos. So be prepared!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Little Tree

It's that time of year again. Time to dig out the little Christmas tree, adorn it with tiny little ornaments, and sit cozied up on the couch with cookies and milk to appreciate its tiny warmth.

I love our tree--it has so much history tucked away in its fake pine needles. Every time I unfold it, I think of its first Christmas, so many years ago, when Olivia was off at University and I was still at home. I remember mom and I painstakingly painting little ornaments and stringing beads to tuck away in boxes for Olivia to open, one by one, as Christmas slowly approached. Then I remember getting the Christmas tree in the mail after Alex and I moved to Ann Arbor, accompanied by a whole new set of boxes of ornaments, carefully crafted by Olivia and mom.

I love this tree because it makes me think of my family.

P.S. I also love this tree because I can tuck it away where Abby and Rowan can't reach it!

Monday, December 6, 2010


Abby's trumpet lessons continue. She finally successfully "buzzed" into the mouthpiece instead of just breathing into it. And she's very studiously learning different fingerings.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ia and De-issss!!

Abby fell in love with (Oliv)Ia and De(nn)is over Thanksgiving. Well, she was in love with De-is. She thought Ia was alright anyway, because De-is liked to hang out with her.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Baby Is A Genius

See? She's reading AND playing piano at the SAME TIME.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Christmas Came Early

My families bought me an early Christmas present. Can you guess what it is? Here's a hint.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Latest Scoop

What kinds of things has Abby been up to lately? Well, I'll tell you.

She's really into "helping." Any time we cook or wash dishes I hear the telltale sound of a chair scraping across the floor and a little voice saying "hobe, hobe." She will also now ask for help when she's eating and it gets particularly difficult (like when there's only tiny bits of oatmeal left in the bowl and she can't quite get them onto her spoon).

The other thing is that she's really into keys. She knows what they do and the power that they represent. This was clearly demonstrated to me a few days ago while I was in the bathroom. Not moments after closing the door behind me, Abby was on the other side jiggling the doorknob and frustratedly proclaiming "Mama! Mama!" I called out "Just a minute!" and waited for the typical response: "MAMA! MAMA!" Instead, it got silent. I could almost hear the cogs turning in her little head. A second or two later I heard her shuffle off. I was fairly surprised by her apparent willingness to give up right away--that never happens--but didn't question it too much. It's a rare moment when I get to sit by myself at home (sure, I was on the toilet, but you can't be picky when you're a mom). Then a minute or so later I was snapped out of my peaceful repose by the sound of jangling keys being forcefully scraped against the doorknob. There was no verbal communication aside from some occasional grunts. Abby had decided that if I wasn't going to come out on my own she would come in and get me herself.

(As a side note, she insists on being the one to unlock the car every time we go anywhere. This morning I helped her use the key to start the car--probably the dumbest thing I've done this week. She's going to cry every time I don't let her start the car now.)

What else? Oh, yeah. She's started imitating EVERYTHING that I say. Even things that I say, for example, when I knock a plant off the counter and spill soil all over the kitchen floor. Get my drift? I'm going to have to re-familiarize myself with the word "shoot."

The other thing is that she's finally REALLY into stories. She used to like books, but just for the excitement of turning the pages or ripping them out. She didn't really care what the book was about. Now, every evening, she brings me book after book and sits enthralled as I read it to her. Then she asks me to do it "gan" and "gan" and "gan" ... I can't wait 'til she can read.

She's talking a lot better these days, actually using two different syllables in the same word. But so far she hasn't been able to put two words together. She'll repeat one word a hundred times (like "Hobe") and then a few minutes later repeat the second, related word a hundred times (like "DaDa"), but she won't repeat the two in quick succession (like "Hobe Dada"). With one exception. She says "Go! Go! GO! Daaaaay!" (translation: "Go! Go! GO! Daaaaave!") She learned this phrase while watching Rachel, Dave, and Alex at the last bike race. No, she never cheers on Rachel or Dad, just Dave.

So there's your update!

Bath Time in B&W

I should be grading papers. Instead I'm looking at cute pictures of my daughter. Amazing how often she helps me procrastinate.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Alex is Awesome

These photos are but a tiny bit of the overwhelming evidence that it is true.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Abby's First Pumpkin!

Alex bought Abby a pumpkin to carve this evening. Well, she didn't do much of the carving, she mostly just supervised. She was a bit more squeamish than I expected about the guts. It took a lot of convincing to get her to stick her hand inside the pumpkin. And once she got it in there she came back out with no more than a single little seed. She enjoyed stirring the guts that Alex and I removed though.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Favorite Season

Fall. I missed the peak colors, but finally got out with my camera this morning. Michigan may not have mountains, but the fall colors here are, well, incredible.

P.S. I put these photos on facebook too.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Third Time's A Charm

Warning! This post contains gratuitous details about running! If you don't like runner talk, let me offer this as substitute entertainment.

Let me back up. This story begins almost 4 years ago during the departmental Christmas party. It was then that I discovered that Heather liked to run. We were comparing notes on our half marathon performances and were both talking about how we kind of wanted to try running a marathon. The seed was planted. We subsequently talked Rachel into participating and the three of us signed up for the 2007 Detroit Free Press marathon. We started training together the spring of 2007 and then our jobs and research led us in different directions. I went to China, Rachel went to the Biostation, and Heather went to California. We all *tried* to train, with varying degrees of success. I, for example, had only run twice, both times less than 3 miles. When we re-united in August, we had 2 months to finish training, which amounts to 6 weeks of training and 2 weeks of tapering.

When Detroit rolled around, I have to admit I was feeling pretty confident. Up to that point, I had never met a race I couldn't run, training or no. Of course, I hadn't raced much. But anyway, I headed out with thoughts of Boston prancing through my head. Around mile 8 I started to question my pace. I ate a Gu. Then the race course led us through the most awful, horrible, terrible race obstacle I have ever had the misfortune to meet. The tunnel. It's a mile long. There is no fresh air. It is stifling, and hot. Did I mention it was hot? I started sweating so much in there that I was dripping and soaking wet when I came out the other end. It only went downhill from there. My pace was flagging and I was struggling to keep a finish time of 3:40 in my sights. I think I had another Gu somewhere in there. (By the way, Heather had jumped ahead of me at mile 8 and was comfortably on her way to qualifying. Rachel was somewhere behind me, apparently suffering just as much as I was.) Around mile 17 I had to stop at the porto-potty and BOOM. Calves were solid as rock. I tried to limp along after that, but they just kept freezing up, not to mention I was really tired. I walked and limped to the finish line. 4:30:12. Disaster.

Confidence shattered, I decided to rebound and run another one in spring 2008. I was hoping to build on the my Detroit base (shaky as it was). Alex, ever supportive, signed up for the Cleveland marathon with me, scheduled for mid-May 2008. Training went well--I was able to run with Heather who was training for Boston on the heels of her Detroit qualifier. Then, a few weeks before the race, I got a terrible pain in my shin. So bad I could barely walk. I certainly couldn't run. Stress fracture. So much for Cleveland. At least I still got the shirt and hat.

Then I got pregnant. Flash forward to spring 2010.

Feeling confident about running again (having run two good half marathons the previous year), I decided to try again. I signed up for the North Country trail run and the Grand Rapids marathon. North Country counts as try #2 if you don't count Cleveland (which I don't because I didn't even start the race). You may recall, North Country didn't go great either, thanks to cramping, due in part to warm humid weather and probably due in part to a bad race strategy. 4:10:10. Sigh.

Between North Country and Grand Rapids, I bought a hydration pack (thanks mom and Liv!) and started thinking seriously about how I should run the Grand Rapids race. My thoughts went like this: "Start slow and speed up later? But what if I don't feel great later? Then I missed a big opportunity to pick up time early! But if I push it early, I might be more likely to cramp!" What to do? Although other (shorter) race performances and my training suggested a 7:23 to 7:45 pace, I had never even come close to that in the other two races. Was it too fast? I decided to just do what felt right in the moment--not too hard, not too slow. Easy, right?

Long story long, I ran Grand Rapids on Sunday and it went pretty well. I didn't cramp. I drained all 70 ounces of my hydration pack in 21 miles. I ate 6 Gu (I think) and I took several Endurolytes (electrolyte replacement pills), the last two without water. Ick. My Garmin watch tells me I ran the first 12 miles at a 7:28 pace. Then I slowed to a 7:43 for the next 6. Then at mile 18 I started the "death march" and couldn't seem to go faster than an 8:03. But I ran the whole thing and I qualified for Boston. 3:22:05.

Here's a photo of me with half my support crew at the finish line. More photos can be found on facebook.

Now that, after 3 years, I have finally RUN a marathon, I can start thinking about how to tweak my training for Boston so that I don't have to slow down to an 8:03 pace for the last 8 miles!

Oh, and most importantly, I am now officially the fastest woman Alex has ever dated.

I'll end with a few statistics (i.e. runner's crack):

Since the 3rd of May I have run ~934 miles in training.
At ~8 minute miles, that's 5 days spent running.

I was 2nd in my age group.
I was 19th out of 661 females (top 3%).
I was 190th out of 1,654 people (top 12%).
If I ran a 3:22:05 in the 2010 Boston Marathon I would finish in the top 7% for females (644th place) and the top 23% overall (5,011th place).
The average finishing time for women was 4:23:22.
The average finishing time for men was 3:55:01.
Heather ran Portland marathon 8 minutes and 51 seconds faster than me.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Second Grandma

5 years ago and some change, I married Alex. It was a wonderful occasion, wherein I ceremoniously secured myself a life partner, someone to share all my triumphs and all my failures with, someone to cuddle with and someone to fight with.

But beyond that, I secured myself a second family. I knew what I was getting with Alex--we had spent 3 years learning every little detail about each other--but at the time I didn't know for sure what I was getting with his family. I knew they were loud (and I say that in the most loving way possible), and I knew they were smart. And I knew they were tightly knit. I know now that I got damn lucky--the Mettlers are the best second family anyone could ever hope for.

Sadly, a little over two weeks ago Grandma Herbst passed away from complications following heart surgery. Of all the Mettlers, I am certainly the least qualified to be writing about Grandma. I only knew her for a little over 6 years, and in those years I only got to spend a few holidays here and there with her. What I do know about her is that she was an awesome Grandma. And she loved her grandkids to death. She was kind and always, always interested to hear about our lives. I will miss her presence.

Alex and I traveled back to Minnesota for her funeral two weekends ago. The trip was well worth the 2 twelve hour stints in the car. The whole family was there and it was a beautiful service. Barb orchestrated the construction of some photo displays. I wish I had had the presence of mind to scan some of the older ones. My, but that lady looked like a suave and sassy young girl! I took a few pictures of Abby while we were there. It's nice to think that there's some of Grandma Herbst living on in her.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010