Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Camping and Cramping

Last weekend wee went CAMPING!! For the SECOND time in a summer! Isn't it amazing?? Maybe next year we can go THREE times. Wouldn't that be a dream come true... But I digress. We left on Friday afternoon and headed up north to the Manistee National Forest. It's that big green chunk on the left (or pinky-side) of the state.

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The larger purpose of the camping trip was to run a trail marathon up in that neck of the woods (the North Country Trail Run). Heather and I signed up for it early in the summer, planning to use it as a training run in preparation for our later marathons in October (she's running Portland and I'm running Grand Rapids). More on that to come.

We camped at a nice little campground next to Sand Lake. Although I miss the mountains of the west, I do love the fact that there are lakes everywhere you turn in Michigan. This lake in particular was perfect for babies and pre-running relaxation. It had a soft sandy beach and the water was cool but not cold. There was a bit of foam along the lake shore that Abby thought was soap suds. She kept squatting down to "Wa" her hands in it.

Saturday morning found Heather and I sneaking around camp at 6 am in the dark, trying to gather our things without waking the sleeping babies. We headed for the trail head at about 6:45, in time for packet pick-up, a few to several pre-run porto-potty visits, and chatting with friends and strangers. The ultra runners (those crazies that signed up to run 50 miles) started at 7:30 and we followed at 8:00. Here is a run down of how the race went for me...

"Ah, feeling good. I love trails. It feels a bit warmer and humider than I'd like. Oh, a bit of a hill. Oh, wow, this hill goes on forever. Jeez, when will this hill end?!! Here comes the sweat drips. Oh my god, those girls are PASSING me on the hill? Whew, the top of the hill. Oh, here goes Heather, speeding by me down the hill. I'll try to keep up. Oh, there she goes, disappearing around that corner. Well, just keep going anyway. Hmmm, there's those girls, passing me again. I'll just stick with them for a bit. Boy, it's pretty warm already. Hey! There's Heather! She looks lost. Yep, she was lost. Glad we found her. Man, this pace is way faster than I should be running. Maybe I should just slow down a bit and go back to my original plan. Not bad, got a nice fellah to talk to behind me--Jeff from Grand Rapids. Ok, mile 10. Not feeling great. It's too warm and muggy. Need some more water and gatorade. Shoot! Look at all those people running by while I get gatorade! I can't get my water bottle lid off! Hey Guy! Can you help me? Whew, got a refill. Now I have to catch up to Jeff. Wait, what did Jeff look like? I never saw him. Is that him? No, sounds different. Is that him? Oh man, not feeling good at all. Why are my shoes squishing? Did I run through a puddle? No. Oh my gosh. It's sweat. My shoes are squishing with sweat. Sigh. This does not bode well. Yeah, not feeling good. Oh crap. There's a cramp in a deeply buried abdominal muscle. Ouch. Oh crap. My arm is cramping. I'd better get more gatorade. Where the heck is the next aid station? Where is everyone else? Why aren't people passing me? Oh there's some guys. Cool. Wait, those are ultra people. I'm running as fast as people that are running twice as far as me. Awesome. Oh crap. There goes my calf. Just keep going. Oh crap. There goes my right quad. Stop and punch it a little, see if that helps. Oh crap. Two girls just passed me. Oh crap. There goes my right quad. Yay! A huge downhill! Oh crap. I can't run fast downhill on crampy quads. Ok. I think I'm in control here. Going slow, but not too bad on the cramping front. Oops! Tripped on a root! Legs cramped! Have to stop and hit them a little. Jeez. And I signed up to run another one of these in a month and a half???!!"

I am happy to report that I managed to finish the race, and I ran the last 3 miles without walking once. I wasn't feeling very happy about the race, but I found a few positive points to focus on. One--I beat my time for the only other marathon I ran (which was a road race in which I also cramped). Two--I ran through the cramps, which I was not able to do in the last marathon. Three--I managed to eke out a third place finish in my age group and 13th overall for women. I'm even happier to report that Heather ran an awesome race (despite getting lost, falling on her face once, and getting stung in the leg) and got first place in her age group and fourth place overall for women.

We spent that afternoon lazing around the trail head watching other runners cross the finish line while we ate food and drank refreshing liquids (of all varieties). Abby spent the time making friends with older children and smearing dirt on her face.

Finally bored of waiting for the prize announcements, we headed back to the lake to wash off the sweat and grime and relax.

That night we had a wonderful bonfire in which we made S'Mores and around which we sat drinking beer. In the morning we ate blueberry pancakes and scrambled eggs and leisurely packed up camp.

During the process of packing, Gail came over with her magical bubbles for the babies. They had so much fun with those bubbles!

Before heading for home, we went up to see the Manistee River. We managed a 30 minute hike and then spent the rest of the time eating lunch and swimming in the river.

What a wonderful weekend. Minus the cramping.

Oh, and if you want to see more pictures, I'm posting the other hundred I took on facebook : )

Monday, August 30, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Few Things

Some things Abby has done lately that make me smile.

1) For the last few months when Abby gets into an uncontrollable temper about something I have been saying "Abby, do you need a time-out?" A time out consists of me taking her into the living room, laying her on her tummy on a pillow, squatting down next to her with my hand on her back (but very deliberately not looking at her), and waiting it out. Once she has stopped screaming, I say "Okay, if you're done, you can get up." Well, the other day she got into a hissy about something and I said "Abby, do you need a time-out?" She stopped crying, stared at me for a minute, and then ran into the living room, flopped down on her pillow, and continued crying for a minute. Then she stopped, got up, and came in to see what I was doing. I was, um, astounded.

2) As I mentioned previously, at bedtime Abby turns her fan on and then I usually sing her a song before I put her in her crib. Because I'm not a very creative singer, I have just been singing "Rock-a-bye Baby" twice in a row. The last week when we've been going in to go to bed she turns the fan on and then IMMEDIATELY starts going "ba ba babee" in a sing song voice. It's so cute!

3) When Barb was here she bought Abby a mini-stroller and a "purse." Now Abby frequently goes and gets the stroller, slings her "purse" over her shoulder and walks to the front door yelling "BYE! BYE! BYE!" The cute thing is that she pronounces bye in a slightly southern accent...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Day in the Life Of

I was talking to my mom this morning, regaling her with a few funny anecdotes about Abby and she asked me if I ever wrote any of them down. Weeeeellll, way back at the beginning of Abby's life, I had grand ideas about keeping a book with Abby stories and photos and achievements. I bought a beautiful album, pretty paper, and made a title page with her name and a photo of her at birth. That took about 6 months to finish. Then I started working on my PhD, training for various running races, and being a mother and I never added anything else. But I DO manage to find time to post on this blog now and then. Until now I have mostly shared photos, but I'm thinking I will start posting more stories. Blogs are nice because it takes a tenth of the time to write something down, if you make a mistake you don't have to get the whiteout, and I don't have to worry about whether or not my handwriting is good or whether the arrangement on the page is artistic enough. The moral of the story is that I'm giving up on the beautiful, handmade Abby book and am instead going to try to tell a few Abby stories here when I get the chance.

For those of you not keeping track (which of course, all of you are) Abby is now 18 months old. In fact, today is exactly the 18 month mark. To commemorate, I'd like to take you through a typical day in the life of Abby.

Abby wakes up in the morning anywhere between 7 (if I was up late the night before) and 7:45 (if I got up at 5:30 to go do a track workout). When we hear her stirring in her room, we grab her and bring her back to bed with us. She insists on bringing her blanket and her froggy with her. She likes to lay between the two of us, variously giggling, staring wistfully out the window, hitting daddy or poking mommy's eyes, and on rare occasion drifting back to sleep. Most of the time she climbs down after 15 minutes and goes over to the bookshelf to browse the paperbacks that she is not allowed to play with. If no one stops her, she picks one out and runs away with it.

After the drama of retrieving said book has subsided, she goes to the fridge and points and squeals for her milk. Or, if she's in a terrible mood, mom or dad offers her milk and she grabs it and throws it on the ground, screaming in rage ("How DARE you offer me milk when I want Lucky Charms?!). While she wanders around sipping milk, we prepare her breakfast which has been the same for the past 6 months--oatmeal sweetened with a bit of brown sugar, mixed with applesauce, and garnished with a bit of cinnamon. When it's time to eat, she climbs up into her chair. If we aren't quick enough, she starts whining and crying. Truly my child--can't WAIT to get that food in her belly. Sometimes she feels like helping to feed herself, but most of the time she lets us do the spoon work. If she gets any oatmeal on her hands or face she grunts and points at the sink. She likes to keep it clean when she's eating. If I give her the wipe she gently dabs at her face and chest and hands and legs. If any oatmeal drops on the floor or chair, she points and makes distress calls until it gets cleaned up.

After her hearty breakfast she's ready for play. Play time activities vary, but most of them involve climbing of some sort: climbing into the rocking chair and rocking, climbing onto the couch and watching cars go by, climbing into her toy bin and sorting through toys, climbing onto the kitchen table and grabbing something, anything, before mommy notices. Things that don't involve climbing include splashing around in the pool, riding her horse, pushing around her baby stroller, dancing to music, reading books, and chasing the kitties.

When she starts getting tired (which may be at 10, 1, or 4--she's currently somewhere in the limbo between one and two naps a day), she starts laying around the house on pillows or rugs. She just recently figured out how to ease herself from sitting to laying on her back--it takes a lot of stomach muscle and is apparently awesome. She also enjoys it when I spread a blanket on the floor. She gets giddy with excitement when I start waving it in the air, preparing to lay it down. When I start seeing the tired baby signs, I ask her if she's ready for a nap. She ALWAYS responds by running into her room, turning on her fan, and then waiting by the foot of her crib for me to put her in it. I wish her a nice nap, give her her froggy, and leave the room. Most of the time, she lays in there and sings/talks herself to sleep.

Most evenings, after dinner, the three of us and the dogs head to the park about a half mile away from home. Abby likes to walk the whole way, usually clutching Charlie's leash in one hand. She of course is highly distractable, mostly by cars ("Ca"), other doggies ("Da"), rocks ("Ra"), and leaves (something really complicated that I can't replicate). When we get to the park, her favorite thing to do is climb the ENORMOUS slide (seriously, it's really big) and slide down. Getting to the top requires climbing up a set of 8-10 ladder-like steps that are nearly vertical. Oh how proud she is when she gets to the top (don't worry, daddy spots her the whole way). Sliding down is second tier to climbing to the top. She also likes riding the teeter totter. On the way home, daddy usually ends up carrying her on his shoulders to prevent excessive tripping, which increases as the evening wears on.

Bedtime is at 8:30. She gets a giant cup of milk at 8:15 and then we head in to go "night-night." She likes to kiss daddy or mommy goodnight but more than anything likes to push our heads together to make US kiss. She giggles her head off every time we do it. Then she turns her fan on. She gets a couple of songs sung to her and then it's head to the pillow. Or mattress I guess. She says "ni-ni" and waves at us to leave and that's the last we hear from her until the next morning.

So, now, don't you wish you had the life of Abby??

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Best Thursday in a Looong Time

Yesterday was a great day. I woke up at 4:30 am, loaded Abby into the van, and drove to Pittsburgh, PA. I know, I know, it doesn't sound that fun. But this is what made it all worthwhile:

Abby and I haven't seen Olivia since the last time she visited, which was, oh, last March. That's too long. So when we heard that she was going to be passing within a 5 hour drive of Ann Arbor on her way back home from Rhode Island, we jumped on it. (Sadly, Alex couldn't come, what with all his wasp rearing responsibilities.)

We spent the day walking around Pittsburgh, getting lost driving through Pittsburgh (several times), ogling birds at the Aviary, eating delicious pierogies at a church-turned-brewpub, and watching crappy tv at midnight. Guess what? The picture you see above and the one below are all I have to show for it!*

Olivia, we miss you already.

* Don't worry mom, we actually have hundreds of photos, but they're all on Olivia's camera ;-)

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Yesterday Heather and I went for our weekend long run (we're up to 22 miles!) out to Pinckney. Brian and Alex and the babes met us out there with yummy post-running treats including watermelon. Tell you what, Abby loves watermelon! Almost as much as she loves swimming.