Tag Archives: clayton

The Leak Heard ‘Round the Neighborhood

Life this week has been reminiscent of that one summer I spent in Australia when we were allotted three bathroom breaks a day, took an average of four showers a week and washed our five outfits even less, beating our clothes against rocks and hanging them over foliage to dry.

Let’s back up. Last week I checked in on our water bill and noticed that it was, oh, five times our normal monthly cost. The bar graph of average usage was actually quite comical. Normal, normal, normal, we need more ink for this month. Because of MLK Day Monday, we couldn’t start dealing with the problem until Tuesday. Ugh, that guy and his revolutionary upheaval of atrocious civil rights violations. So inconvenient. The mysterious part was that we couldn’t find anywhere inside or outside the house that indicated a leak or excess water build up. So naturally, we were all whatever, it’s probably the meter.

JK. That is so not us. We were all OMG the leak is in the foundation! Our house is going to be ripped apart and the insurance won’t cover it and there are CHILDREN and BABIES that are going to fall in that massive hole and it’s all over for us!!! How can we live without a FLOOR?!?!

Spoiler: we still have a floor. And we can account for all of our children.

Did you know that normal, run of the mill plumbers don’t actually come and find a leak? Nope. They come out, check to make sure you didn’t somehow miss a giant bubbling puddle of sewer water in the middle of your house, and then refer you to a super professional Leak Detection Specialist. In other words, a weathered gentleman in an SUV who pokes around in your yard with the Leak Detection Specialty High Tech Equipment, or what looked like—to the untrained eye, of course–a metal pole with a handle.

The L.D.S. was worth every penny (and it was a lot of pennies), because he poked in just the right spot to send the leaking water pouring out of the ground and into the yard. And that’s where his job ends, by the way. If you have any pennies left, they will then go back to the plumber who has to re-reschedule another appointment to actually fix the leak.

The leak, which happens to be in a pipe located under a root the size of a fallen redwood. I don’t know if your natural inclination would be the same as my husband’s, but Clayton thought surely we have to destroy that root before the plumber charges us to do it. And yes, that seems to make a lot of financial sense when you’ll be charged by the hour and just getting to the leak could take several hours. However, that would make sense in the middle of the day, with adequate lighting, and the appropriate root-destroying accoutrements. We had neither.

root

But, bless his heart, off we went as the sun was setting to the local cheap power tool warehouse (because, Nat, it costs the same to buy one here than to rent one at Home Depot). One of us was in a big ol’ hurry to scoop himself up a [specific name that I don’t remember] saw. The other one had spent six hours sitting on the floor cleaning out the second bedroom and organizing old paperwork while almost six months pregnant, so she could barely straighten her legs to get out of the other one’s vehicle and waddle across the parking lot. To paint you a picture, Frantic McFrenzy darted a few steps, felt bad, turned around and came back, couldn’t wait any more, darted a few steps in front, felt bad, came back, and so on as we walked into and around the store looking for the money saving saw of redemption.

In all of our blade comparing excitement, I forgot the one reason I’d agreed to go with Clayton in the first place: the opportunity to use a working toilet. Ours has been merely a collection receptacle, just so you get your necessary dose of TMI here. So, on top of my prenatal stiffness, I was working with like a five hour bladder. Not ideal.

Cut to 8 p.m. and Clayton is still outside in the dark, sawing to the light of his iPhone flashlight app and, concerned spouse that I am, I’m curled up watching The Bachelor not so secretly hoping Clayton is preoccupied through the handing out of the final rose. Or at least until one of these chicks cries.

When he comes back in, he brings with him 1. lots of mud and tree shavings and 2. a noticeable air of disappointment.

“Well, that went about as expected.” To know where our expectations typically land on the optimistic to pessimistic spectrum, please see above reaction to water bill.

Tree root still splayed out over top of our busted pipe, almost mocking in its undaunted façade. Water meter still spinning like a whirling dervish when it’s turned on. We’ve been keeping the water completely turned off for the majority of the day, rather than pay $128 to make a pot of coffee.

Remind me to tell you about that one time I was in charge of turning the water off after Clayton had gone to work and there were winged, clawed beasts waiting in the meter hole when I, and my basketball stomach, bent down to wrangle it. Maybe the garbage man had to stop, get out of his truck and assist the pregnant woman on the verge of hyperventilation. I would have hugged him but I’d already maxed out my awkward capacity for the day.

Guys, we’ve really been roughing it in our air conditioned house with electricity and take out meals.

The plumber comes back tomorrow and we’re hoping he can de-root and de-leak by COB. We are not at all worried that removing the tree root will cause the gigantic pine tree to fall backwards on top of our house. No, hadn’t even crossed our minds, even though we have some experience in that department. We really need to find our homeowners insurance policy.

trees text  But hey, silver linings–we have a new saw and now we know BOTH Ashleys are cray cray.

Moving Forward

Today was an emotional day as we said goodbye to our family’s first church home. After several months of feeling uncertain about our place there, we decided it was time to move forward. 

In the three years Clayton and I spent at NBC as members and leaders, we welcomed our first child, celebrated Addison’s dedication and her first two birthdays, and each turned 30 joined by friends from NBC. Clayton found his passion for leading worship, and I found the sometimes hilarious, always exhausting business of baby and toddler ministry. (As it turns out, the same can be said of women’s ministry.)

loveloud c n

NBC became a warm, comfortable and comforting solace on Sundays and during the week at LifeGroups. In varied seasons over the past few years, we have found pastors and friends who have shared their lives openly and honestly and who have made us feel safe enough to do the same. We have hosted and been invited, we have served and been served, we have been both accepted and challenged. As neurotic new parents, we could not be more grateful for the ease with which we drop Addison off into arms of people who sincerely love her every Sunday morning.

dedication

When it doesn’t come naturally to meet new people or develop new friendships, moving on is met with resistance–not questioning the decision but mourning the loss of the comfortable and familiar. NBC was that familiar coffee shop on the corner, walking inside felt like second nature, time there felt refreshing and nurturing. We will always think fondly of NBC, the friendships that it brought us and the spiritual home it provided us. We’ll keep praying for its heath and its mission, but mostly we’ll pray for its people.

P.S. Sorry for being that annoying stage mom who recorded Clayton’s entire worship set this morning. 

Dear Addison: 22 Months

Dear Addison,
When you are pregnant, the most common sentiment that you hear from other mothers is that “it goes so fast.” Since you hear this constantly and have no frame of reference, you nod knowingly in appeasement and sort of shrug. I mean, time goes fast. We all get that, parents or not.

But girlfriend. Let me tell you. Once you have sat in the front row and witnessed the grand spectacle of a newborn growing and changing into an infant into a celebrated 1 year-old into an unmistakable toddler, cooing to smiling to laughing to speaking words, lying immobile to faceplanting at the playground,

that is when your eyes water and your heart aches when you look at the clock, when you feel the weight of its motion, never ceasing, never slowing. It goes too fast. We move too fast. That baby left us too fast.

IMG_3136

And in that same breath, we exhale with the immeasurable joy of your person, the uncontainable explosion of your personality that delights and surprises and horrifies us every day. We are so grateful to know this you, a little girl with preferences and peculiarities that are all your own.

Toddlerhood is a trip, baby little girl. Taking care of a baby is exhausting in the most basic lack of sleep, you can have the baby back if I can take a nap sort of way. Parenting a toddler is exhausting in the THIS TANTRUM WILL NEVER END, YOU CAN HAVE THE BABY BACK FREE OF CHARGE PLEASE SOMEONE TAKE THIS STRANGER OUT OF MY HOME sort of way.

021

You are a force, a tiny cyclone of electricity that is this way and that way, getting into this drawer, taking that off the counter, putting on those shoes, stepping on that tail, never, ever ending. (Until “Frozen” is on.) It’s physically tiring to chase after you, but it’s even more mentally draining to be responsible for this little human who seems hell-bent on discovering the most dangerous scenarios possible in a relatively safe environment and just going to town. Yes, climb on top of that unsteady ottoman. Yes, jump like you’re on a trampoline a quarter inch from the edge of the bed. Sure, why choose to walk around in Mama’s ballet flats when there are 4 inch stilettos for the taking.

IMG_2161

I always judged women who admitted to losing their temper with their kids. I mean, they’re just kids, poor tiny innocent doe eyed kids. Ease up, woman! And then, I actually had one of those doe eyed innocents. And here I am some days, the spitting image of all the impatient, voice-raising, “If I have to tell you one more time,” shrill, no fun mothers that I was certain I would not be. I don’t want to apologize for those days, Addison. They are all part of this impossible-to-do-right chaos of mothering, and you can ride that singular fraying nerve like a longboard.

But I do want to tell you that that I try so very hard to remember the other days of this often challenging season. The days when you let me pick  you up to peek at the blueberry pancakes on the griddle and you giggle with anticipation. The days that you mimic the “beep, beep, beep” of the microwave from your crib as I heat your milk. The mornings when drinking your bottle at the other end of the couch is traded in for squeezing right up next to me. When instead of jerking your hand away at the park, you hold it up high, inviting me to join on this particular adventure. The one single day when you could not kiss my face enough, reaching up and taking my chin with a delicate grip and scrunching your face into a kiss right on my lips. Yes, that day is staying right here with me for awhile.

IMG_3020

You color our world, Addison Brooke. You love performing for an audience, waving to strangers and shouting a brusque ”hey” if you don’t receive the appropriate response. You are obsessed with shoes–anyone’s–and shutting doors. You don’t mind getting dirty or going to bed when you’re tired. It seems that you learn new words every day, and remember things we’ve said or shown you only one time. You share with other kids (just not with me or your father) and will watch “Curious George” for a week straight. You’ve grown tall and lost most of your infant chub, which breaks my heart a little, especially the absence of those baby thighs that deserved individual names (Anderson and Cooper if we’re getting specific).

IMG_1818

 

170

Maya is your best friend, and her wagging tail, wet kisses and back rolling tickle you to pieces. She tolerates you.

IMG_2093

One of your favorite games is to “hide” when Daddy gets home. You will run to your room or behind my legs saying, “Shh! Shh!” You talk a big game, but when it comes to actually surprising anyone, you simply don’t have the patience to sit and wait for them. You are jumping out screaming, “Boo!” before he even gets in the house.IMG_1897

Some days, I am pacing the floor until your bedtime because raising you is not always an easy undertaking. But even on those days, when your Daddy or I pick you up and head towards your room, the idea of being away from you tugs at my heart. Whatever tantrums the day held, sleepy Addison is sweet and affectionate. You wave good night over our shoulder in a small, slow motion. You point to your cheek for a kiss. And then another. And then another. All the way into your crib, you ask for one more kiss. Some nights I have to walk away while you’re still pointing at your cheek or I’m sure I’d be there at sunrise, leaning down into your bed, my hair tickling your nose, pecking at your little face.

IMG_3045

I am so glad that I’m the one who gets to hold your hand on the way to the car, who hears the full out laugh elicited by bath time splashing, the one who is asked for one more kiss.

I am so glad to be your Mama, Addison Brooke.

IMG_1641From My Whole Heart,
Mama

 

Hollywood (the East Coast version) & Miami

Thank God for medical conferences. And my completely remote writing business that allows me to take advantage of them. Clayton attended some long-winded professional meeting in Hollywood (Florida) last week, and I carpooled with him Wednesday night to my own private vacation. As you’ll notice from the photos (or lack thereof), we aced taking pictures together.

Beach selfie. Happened.

Beach selfie. Happened.

We stayed at the Crown Plaza in Hollywood, which wasn’t slumming it by any stretch, but the conference was a block away at The Westin Hollywood, and that my friends, is a hotel. The lobby is four stories high with a glass ceiling and two rows of full size palm trees INSIDE. I walked in and was certain I’d entered heaven. A lot of people wear swimsuits in heaven, btw.

Hollywood Beach

On Thursday and Friday we had lunch together with Clayton’s boss at The Westin’s oceanfront café. It was amusing to see all of the buttoned up, badge-wearing conference attendees meeting their bikini and cover-up clad wives. I guess my plan to tag along was not all that unique. I was the only wife in an oversized Nike t-shirt as a cover-up, though.

IMG_3497

Clayton and I were able to explore a bit for dinner each night. Thursday we drove around for a long time with nothing to show for it before finding Portherhouse. Luckily it was nice enough to eat outside on the patio because they allow smoking inside, which is no bueno for my lungs. Stink eyes would have run amok.

Friday night we were slightly more prepared and headed toward downtown Hollywood. It wasn’t quite as rambunctious as we were expecting–okay, it was also 6 p.m. We’re so old. We walked around and attempted to take inconspicuous selfies, which is impossible, and artistic photos of yet more palm trees.

Downtown Hollywood

We had dinner right on the intercoastal at The Downtowner. Again, probably wouldn’t recommend indoor dining (it’s a cramped bar/pub inside), but we loved sitting by the water. We walked around some more after dinner until it was too dark to take any more palm tree photos.

the downtowner

As you should assume, every night ended with ice cream in some capacity. Totally justifiable because I worked out a total of one time. But I certainly thought about a few runs along the beach and packed my Garmin, so…that has to count for something.

We’d planned to stay Wednesday night through Saturday night and drive home Sunday. There was a teeny little hiccup when we came back from lounging at the pool Saturday afternoon and realized our room hadn’t been cleaned, and it was 1 p.m. My stomach sank a little bit, and after some troubleshooting, Clayton realized the room was only booked through Friday night, and had been that way since the trip was planned months prior. Oopsies.

Obviously, I was the picture of reason and understanding and forgiveness. At least I would have been if I was speaking to Clayton for the following hour.

In my huff, I assumed we were going to pack up and head home, but luckily my petulance doesn’t always call the shots. My caffeine addiction does. We parked it at Starbucks for (yet more) half price Frappuccino’s and I sulked while Clayton booked us another hotel in downtown Miami.

View from our 20th floor balcony.

View from our 20th floor balcony.

 

View from 11 degrees to the right of the previous view.

View from 11 degrees to the right of the previous view.

I guess it was okay.

The weather was overcast and rainy, so we didn’t really need to be close to the beach anymore. We had our nicest dinner Saturday night at the hotel’s restaurant, and I am still daydreaming about the steak I had. Which is weird because ”I don’t like steak.”

We drove around South Beach because we were too crotchety to deal with finding parking and actually walking. Watching other people have fun sure is exhausting, so we grabbed ice cream at Publix and called it a night. Stop judging us.

IMG_3519

Sunday morning we decided to give South Beach another go and had a delicious breakfast at Oliver’s Bistro before actually parking our car and traversing on foot. Gasp. We headed to the beach for a little walk, stumbled upon one topless sunbather, and that about did it.

Oliver's bike Miami South Beach fence the tides leslie narrow

I’m still feeling gipped about only seeing two alligators along a 4,000-mile stretch of Alligator Alley, but otherwise the trip was a roaring success. For some reason I never realized just how beautiful Miami is and how tempting it is to jet down there every single weekend.

But there is one good reason to stick around home, too. And I sure missed those 30 pounds of attitude.

IMG_3689

 

 

 

Writing about February & March in honor of April.

Some highlights from life as of late.

My old man actually became an old man. C-money turned 30, and, as far as we can tell, still has the metabolism of an 11-year old. Being the doting, selfless wife that I am, I up and got sick for his actual birthday and spent four hours of that evening sleeping. He made himself a nice steak dinner, which he got to enjoy in spurts while chasing after our toddler. The lengths I will go to to get out of cooking…astonishing, really.

Not pictured: raging nausea.

Not pictured: raging nausea.

We rode that celebration train into the next couple of weeks, though, and gathered a bunch of our friends for a brew hop. (That’s not a thing, you say? Not so, according to the dazzling invitations.)

 brew hop invite

We started the afternoon at Cigar City Brewing, not listening to the tour guide and perking up whenever we heard the terms “free” and “beer” in close proximity. It was lots of fun to hang with our old college pals and felt exactly the same except for how much slower we all moved, how much less beer we could consume and still function, the presence of some friends’ baby, and the undercurrent of stories of our own kids that lasted throughout the evening. So yeah, identical to 2004.

C tori wes cab

 nat C goggles

After CCB we headed to Tampa Bay Brewing Company for dinner. Twenty sweet friends came out, and my little hubs was pretty blown away. Not to mention, my SIL helped me surprise him with a cookie cake for dessert. Does anything say mature, responsible, professionally successful father better than a gigantic chocolate chip cookie covered in frosting? Didn’t think so.

cookie cake

We even after-partied for a bit, serenaded by a middle aged Irish tribute band with a heavyset guitarist of indeterminate gender. Rock on, Noa’s. Rock on.

 nat C gaspars

Over the course of the last six weeks, we also celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday, my brother’s birthday, my best friend’s birthday and my dad’s birthday. It’s enough, people. Stop aging, for the love.  

Everyone whined about daylight savings, meanwhile over here Addison has been sleeping past 8 a.m. nearly every morning since. Parenting win! 

Speaking of…there is an 18 month update post sloshing around in my head that maybe one day will see the light of day. Two months late, it still ain’t even close to finished. There is A LOT to talk about with this one, let me tell you. She is far, far from boring, and she keeps us all laughing hysterically and sprinting to stop her from doing a whole host of ridiculously unsafe behaviors on the reg.

Seconds before standing upright in a moving wagon with no safety restraints.
Seconds before standing upright in a moving wagon with no safety restraints.

I don’t really say “on the reg” in real life.

My bracket could not be more disastrous, but I feel like that’s a pretty common sentiment this year. Clayton is still in the running towards becoming America’s Next Top Bracket Champion at his office, so fingers crossed there.

I’ve still been running, but not really training for anything major. The several months of distance training burned me out mentally for now. I did run a 15k the weekend of Clayton’s party with my Jacksonville friend who was way too easily talked into running 9.3 miles.
Actual conversation
Me: Come a day early and run a 15k with me.
Her: Ok.

 tori nat 15k

I had some goals initially, but knowing that I hadn’t trained properly made me more realistic about what I should expect. And, shocker, I did not hit those goals. But I tried hard—and am still trying–to focus on the positives: my overall pace was a wee bit faster than my half marathon PR, and I was definitely middle of the pack in my age group, as opposed to back of the pack. Sounds silly, but that is a big improvement from when I started running seriously.

I was also so very tempted to call it a day when I realized my goal time was unattainable; I walked a few steps and that felt niiiice. But I told myself to get over it and run, there were strawberries to eat and beer to be gulped and cookie cake to be demolished. I needed to burn some mad calories heading into that weekend, so I kept on and hit my secondary goal of not being a pansy.

run addict
Taken less than 72 hours after I’d sworn off running for-ev-er.

The current plan is to do more speed work and focus on smaller distance races, mainly because come May, there is not a race over 5k to be found in Florida. We would all melt and perish trying to run more than three miles in summer. The first hard workout of this plan was this past Saturday when I had a hot date with some hill repeats. I loved it. It’s crazy and masochistic, but I love the challenge. Plus, the miles and the time go so much faster. 

We caught a Braves spring training game and were hooked up with some free Dave & Buster’s games. The rest of our group left after dinner. Our foursome (with a focus on one 30-year old in particular) hung around until stupid o’clock high on the “but it’s free! and you can shoot stuff!” endorphins.

C Brant Rambo

Those are all the big time bullet points from the last few months. I feel like my life is decently exciting until I try to write about it. Hello, snooze fest. But there you have it. Maybe that Addison post will be coming your way shortly because, let’s get real, she’s awesome and you need to know about it. 

Enough

I wrote this post several months ago but found it today and still got smacked in the face by it.

__________

Last week, up to my elbows in soapy water and covered head to toe in the mess of motherhood, I lost it. Full on tears dripping into the clean dishes lost it.

And the most maddening part of all was that I ruined those clean dishes (not really, I totes put them in the cabinet anyway) for a phantom. For a nothing. For an imagined problem that nags at women and moms with an incessant chirping of you are not doing enough!

I am surrounded by strong, ambitious superwomen. They inspire me continually. But because we have been numbered and categorized since our first breath, my instinct is to begin numbering and categorizing the theirs against the mines. This friend does this job, and this job, and raises this baby, and volunteers there. That friend works there, works out that many days, earned that degree, and takes her baby to the library. That girl wakes up at this time, works those hours, cooks those meals, and always wears mascara.

And, inevitably, what follows is the conclusion that

I am not doing enough.   

____________________

What is “enough?” How am I supposed to know when I’ve reached it? When I can’t put down the computer until midnight every night? When I have to find someone to watch Addison five days a week? When I have structured, age-appropriate Pinterest activities planned and prepped for her every morning when she wakes up? When my husband comes home to a hot, home cooked, edible (<– key word) meal every night of the week?

Why are we am I in an all-consuming, head-down, relentless pursuit of a goal that is wholly subjective and indefinable? What am I even chasing? If I look up, what is ahead that drives me to justify neglecting the truly valuable in anticipation of some fleeting, self-prescribed merit?

Stop. Look to the left and to the right. That is the goal. Those are the milestones that build a city of memories, a lifetime of timely pauses and spare minutes. The race is not against mothers or friends or women who do things that I can’t or never will. The race is with them, a shared marathon with some paving the way, others coming behind and the  beautiful synchronization of friends striding beside you. Swooping in with home cooked meals that will taste better than any concoction you could dream up. Busting out their own hot glue gun and ribbon when you don’t have any more space in your head for DIY crafts. Walking into your house and scooping up your baby with the warmest familiarity.

Time to enjoy the space between afternoon naps and dinner, with a swing in the yard or wagon ride in the driveway, is not

wasteful

or insignificant.

It is not a consolation for not having more important commitments.

It is

enough

and so much more.

When responsibilities are met, and the must-get-done’s are done,
breathing, deep and slow, for a minute or an afternoon, is okay.

When did it stop being nourishing and start being indulgent to read a novel that wasn’t accompanied by a test that counted toward a degree, to take a nap because you were up three times with an unhappy baby or just because you are tired, to let the laundry pile up one more day because a lunch date with your daughter is way more fun?

I have freelance projects every week.
I am a full-time mother.
I volunteer at my church.
I take care of Addison while Clayton volunteers at our church.
I handle the cooking (or ordering) of our meals, the cleaning of our house, and the organizing of our schedule.
I keep my body healthy.
I go to a small group once a week.
I see friends and family as much as I can.
I write sporadically on a blog.

In what universe would this collection of identities not be enough?  I feel so compelled to fill in the gaps of every hour in order to feel accomplished, to be sure I am making the most of my time. But I know in my head that making the most of my time is defined by what and who gets most of my time. And I don’t what that to be a computer. Or a stranger. Or a brochure or web page that will wither and die.

Making something requires an intent to create, a choice to design a life that has some growing room, some space around the edges to relax for awhile. To allow for minutes that spring up when a cat finds its way into the backyard and needs to be watched through the back door, when the play area at the mall is completely empty for the first time ever, when your kid discovers how to flip over her toy table and climb on top of it but can only get down with a Mama’s hand.

Those seconds will sprint right past you if you are not so very diligent in making time for them.

And I have told myself I do not want to miss them.

I do not want more clients if it means less time with Addison, I do not want more volunteer commitments if the joy of giving is replaced by dread, I do not want quiet moments with my husband at the end of each day to be hijacked by exhaustion.

I want to find enough

laughter surprises spontaneity fulfillment joy confidence beauty

right here in this moment. Because I am certain it is there. I just have to stop and look.

 

Do it big.

Duuuuude. natl champs screen

(Source)

I can’t stop smiling. Is there such thing as an elation hangover that lasts for like a month? Because that’s what I have. But instead of a headache, I have a permagrin and the giggles and sometimes full tear ducts when I catch that shot of Jimbo hoisting the crystal football over his head with his eyes closed or when I see the parking lot outside of Doak Campbell stadium packed with people welcoming the team back to Tally. If I’d had one more millisecond to contemplate it, I would have made the 4 hour drive with Addison yesterday to greet them.

Let’s back up. I was stomach-twisting nervous in the morning, so I got in a workout while Addison napped to clear my head and keep the anxiety at bay. That was important since I was such a vital component of FSU’s game plan. My parents arrived mid-workout and waited for Addison to wake up before removing her from the inevitable cone of profanity.

My garage obviously needed to know who I was rooting for.

My garage obviously needed to know who I was rooting for.

I had a few hours to kill so I made some stops in search of cold weather FSU gear. We were watching the game at an outdoor restaurant and the temps were going to be around 35. Stellar planning, as usual. I bought several correctly-colored-but-team-neutral sweaters but ultimately couldn’t bear not having FSU displayed prominently. The floor length puffer jacket would just have to do its job over a t-shirt and cardigan. Plus, I knew my head would be warm.

four

We arrived a solid 90 minutes before kick off to eat and tremble and pace.

If you have a television or access to any social media outlet, I’m assuming you know how things played out. If it was 9:30 p.m. on Monday night and you posted about The Bachelor, it’s safe to say our friendship is irreparably damaged.

Three quarters of rage and disbelief and antisocial behavior from one alumna.

Crouching Seminole, Hidden Offense

Crouching Seminole, Hidden Offense

And then a fourth quarter that  will live on in college football history.

arms up

Followed by a jumping, screaming, high-fiving, hugging, wife-carried-out-into-the-streets-of-Tampa celebration that hasn’t exactly ended in my mind.

jump

C N crazy face

group1 (2)

How many consecutive days can one wear FSU apparel? I figure I have at least a month until people start making conspicuous comments in public.

It was a major concern for all of us if we didn't let you know our official BCS ranking via our index fingers for the rest of the evening.

It was a major concern for all of us if we didn’t let you know our official BCS ranking via our index fingers for the rest of the evening.

Fun tidbit: Downtown Tampa has a tall skyscraper, the SunTrust building, that is lit up for Bucs, USF, Rays and Lightning games in the team colors. When we were heading towards the restaurant I mentioned that ”they should have done the SunTrust building in garnet and gold,” not realizing that peak was ablaze in FSU colors. I was giddy when I saw it and said that if we won, we were going downtown to take pictures with it. Behold.

Professional photog skills from the car

Professional photog skills from the car

Mission: Accomplished

Mission: Accomplished

We (my SIL and I, the boys were totes poopers after 1 a.m.) wanted to party into the morning, but it was a Monday night and the two spots we crashed were already closed.

I still have grand plans to make my way to Tallahassee for some kind of celebration. And I shall keep partying it up until I have no more party left in me. Probably around week eight of next season when we get upset by Notre Dame or something.

And one last time for blogland…

F-L-O-R-I-D-A    S-T-A-T-E
Florida State, Florida State, Florida State
Wooooo!

Christmas & New Year’s 2013

As my husband has deemed it, Happy Flu Year! You may be able to guess, we’ve had a blech go of it around here lately. But let’s back up to before my body revolted against me.

Clayton had to work a half day New Year’s Eve. In normal people hours, that would equate to getting off at 12, but in the medical field a half day is going in at 7:30 and getting home at 3. What the rest of us slackers would call overtime. I’d tried to finish wrapping all the presents and packing and cleaning and whatnot, but I had Addison, so…yeah. I definitely didn’t finish. Or start.

Not staged.

Not staged.

Have you ever tried to wrap a present with a pre-toddler in the immediate vicinity? It should be a new way we torture prisoners of war. Don’t touch the tape. Get off the wrapping paper. You didn’t grab the scissors, did you? No, stop opening that, it’s not your toy. Give me back the tape. Where did I hide the scissors? Seriously, stop sitting on the wrapping paper. Do not hit the dog with that roll of paper. OMG, where are the scissors?!

And then just as you’re admiring your gleaming, bunchy, barely in tact, freshly wrapped present, a tiny finger darts in out of nowhere and rips the thing wide open.

This, times 28, was my present wrapping experience this year.

Proud of her mayhem

Proud of her mayhem

 

Anyway, we didn’t get on the road until 5 p.m. because we have sensors for beginning trips at the tip top peak of traffic. Any other plan would be too easy. We dropped off Maya at my parents’ house and made for Gainesville. We stopped at Perkins for a depressing orange and blue themed Christmas Eve dinner. I didn’t want to be Scroogey, but I’ve never spent Christmas Eve in a restaurant, and I don’t intend on ever doing it again. Especially a restaurant called Perkins.

car

We finally made it to Clayton’s sister’s house around 1 a.m. Since it was pretty late, Addison did fantastic on the ride. We played one episode of Barney on my phone (I stick it under the head rest of my seat facing her. Who says you need all the fancy bells and whistles?) and then she passed out.

Luckily she was good in the car because as soon as we exited the car, the tune changed. Loudly. She would not sleep in the pack and play ever. For the four days we were there, she took one nap in it and that was it. Otherwise, she was ninja kicking us or falling asleep directly on top of my face throughout the night or napping en route somewhere in the car.

Christmas hangover

Christmas hangover

Honestly, I did not have the highest expectations for spending Christmas with my in-laws. The relationships are many and complicated, as is the case in any family with that number of people. But Christmas was the best kind of chaotic–kids shouting (4 and 34 year old kids), tissue paper flying, claustrophobia settling in as everyone crammed into Clayton’s parents’ living room. All of his five siblings swear that the room has shrunk to half its original size since they were little. There was a sweet sense of nostalgia to see Addison opening presents in the same room that Clayton spent his Christmases.

Four generations

Four generations

We went outside to watch the kids fight over the prize present: four wheels of pure awesome. The car belonged to our nephew, but that certainly didn’t stop the girls from promptly kicking him off. It was a pretty fun morning despite the sleep deprivation.

She was a little too comfortable in the driver seat.

She was a little too comfortable in the driver seat.

We all headed back to my sister in law’s house for a late lunch and lounging. Like every night, we attempted to put Addison down and were met with shrill protesting, so we held her until we went to bed at some stupid early adult bed time.

One highlight of the trip was seeing ”The Desolation of Smaug” while Clayton’s mom watched Addison. I was completely confident and trusting and supportive of this decision and did not tear up when we pulled out of the driveway or obsessively check my phone and Clayton’s phone during the movie. The movie was good, but I can’t get over how pretentious it is that the correct pronunciation of “Smaug” has about 12 syllables.

Thursday and Friday I woke up feeling sore from head to toe. I attributed it to sleeping (or not sleeping) in a different bed, juking away from Addison’s flailing limbs all night and general exhaustion. My sister in law had been sick, so I knew there was a chance I’d caught it, but powered through. I did not want to be the lame in-law who came to visit and napped the whole time.

Clayton, his sister, Addison and I went over to downtown Pensacola for lunch Friday. It was a lot colder than we’d planned for, but it was a nice little break. After we drove a sleeping Addison around for a two hour nap we met up with Clayton’s other siblings and their kids for a date at the park. I didn’t have much time to notice how bad I was feeling while dodging my nephew’s pretend laser beams. Don’t worry, I got in a few good shots myself.

A tunnel

The whole crew–all 12 of us, including four kids under five–piled into Outback for dinner Friday night. If there is a sweet tea shortage in the south, you can thank us.

Friday night was no bueno. I had a fever and could not sleep, just laid there feeling hot and getting dropkicked in the rib cage. When we woke up Saturday morning, it hit me even harder. I felt awful. We packed and ate breakfast before leaving, and then we spent ten hours getting home. Ten hours crunched up in the passenger seat with a fever and full body aches and chills. What a delightful traveling  companion.

Saturday night was the worst. I was huddled on the couch, head and body radiating heat. Clayton scared me when he took my temperature, read the thermometer, took it again, and asked, “Are you feeling okay?” He left and came back with more medicine, even though he’d just given me some. I think I topped out around 102 and sweat it all out throughout the night. Thankfully I woke up Sunday feeling light years better. Still sick, but nothing like the previous few days. What a fickle little devil, that flu.

Things were looking up. Addison and Clayton were congested, but nothing major. We hung around the house Sunday doing nothing that we’d planned to do, like clean or unpack or take down Christmas decorations. And then Monday the bottom fell out with poor Addie. She wouldn’t nap unless draped on top of me. Of course she gets a pass when she’s sick, so I was fine with it. But when she woke up, she was clearly miserable. That lasted the rest of the day.

Later that night I went to get her because she’d started crying, and she was burning up. Her fever was just under 103. She wins. Long story short, we ended up at the doctor at 6 p.m. New Year’s Eve and the pharmacy shortly after. She tested positive for Influenza A, which also confirmed that I’d had that nasty little bugger.

Fighting off the flu with smoothies

Fighting off the flu with smoothies

Since then it’s been a sniffly, crying, gagging-on-Tamiflu party up in here. My clients are ready to sing my praises after I was sick a month ago, Addison was sick three weeks ago, I was sick last week, and Addison is sick this week. I’ve only had to reschedule the same phone call three times since I can’t get any sitters to watch Addison while she has the flu. This generation, such pansies.

Arsenal

Arsenal

Eventually we will get back on track. I will dust off my cardiovascular and muscular systems and actually exercise again. I will unstrap the Lysol disinfectant from my husband’s hip. We will remove our lifeless, sagging, fire hazard of a Christmas tree from our home. And perhaps I will think about a reflective 2013 post and plan for 2014.

But for today, we’re still sickies. We will eat our meals in front of the Disney Channel and leave our tissues on the carpet until we hear Clayton open the garage. We will play in our tent and maybe walk around the neighborhood. And hopefully we will not shatter a vertebra trying to finish off that Tamiflu.

Self-commissioned quarantine

Self-commissioned quarantine

Happy 2014!

Florida Holiday Halfathon Recap

I know it seems like I’ve  become delusional and only post about races like I’m a running blogger, but I swear there will be a healthy break from that starting yesterday.

I registered for the Florida Holiday Halfathon simply because I did not want to throw away three months of training, which is what I felt like I’d done at the St. Augustine Half Marathon. I knew I could run faster, but, more importantly, I knew I was mentally tougher than what I’d shown in that race.

As the days passed, though, my body began to let me know that this training cycle was nearing its end whether I liked it or not. I started getting more sore and achy after my runs, and my knees started hurting during every long run. I added more icing, more meds, more foam rolling and more prayers to my regimen, getting increasingly nervous that my legs might not be able to give me the redemptive race I wanted.

While I rode a PR high for a solid week after the turkey day 5k, it probably wasn’t the  best plan to throw that into the mix between half marathons, either.

All this to say, by the time race weekend came around I was not feelin’ it. At all. I was prepared for absolute disaster. In addition to the breakdown of my hips and knees, Addison and Clayton shared their colds with me the week before the race. I hosted a cookie exchange the weekend prior and had been feasting on sugar-filled garbage ever since. My “easy” two-mile shake-out run the day before the race was a horrendous, gasping-for-air mess that I cut a quarter mile short.

So a new plan emerged that gave me an out if I needed it. Saturday, the fam and I drove over to pick up my packet and–veteran alert–actually drove the race course. We scouted a spot near mile 8.5 where Clayton could park and either 1. hop into the race with the jogging stroller and run the last leg with me or, most likely, 2. pick my lifeless body up off the course, throw me into the car and take me somewhere that served giant pancakes. I had made my peace with either ending.

She loves me, slow or not.

She loves me, slow or not.

When my alarm went off Sunday morning, I immediately decided I didn’t want to run, turned it off and went back to sleep. Probably the most decisive I’ve been in my entire life. Luckily I’d anticipated this morning mind game and set a second alarm, which did the trick. I had paid for this thing, after all.

I was more nervous getting ready and driving over to the start than ever before. Maybe more so than the day of my wedding. Clayton getting a ticket for an expired tag (true story) actually broke the ice and provided a much appreciated distraction. Don’t worry; I intend to invoke obligatory nagging about it later.

That little hiccup did put us behind schedule, but I still had enough time for a brief warm up and Winn Dixie bathroom stop since, again, I half read race info and the start was 7:35 a.m., not 7:30 a.m. I should have known things were looking up when all these miscues were turning out to be positives, but I was mainly focused on not vomiting on other runners’ cute Christmas outfits. Seriously.

Magically, my nerves completely subsided when I lined up and turned on my brand new playlist. From the very first few steps, I felt immensely better about this race. There’s not much to talk about from the race itself because it flew by. It helped that I knew I had friendly faces and a vehicle waiting for me at mile 8. I started out telling myself to just make it that far, no pressure. If I decided to keep going, it meant I was having a good race. If I stopped, it meant I didn’t have to trudge through 5 more miserable miles. Both victories.

Would have been fun to actually see this during the race, but it's the thought and gas money that count.

Would have been fun to actually see this during the race, but it’s the thought and gas money that count.

Hei5man.

Hei5man.

Well, guess who was nowhere to be found at the clearly marked meet-up spot? My hubs. I was still feeling strong and had spent about two miles trying to come up with a clever way to tell him to start running and not warming up the car. But all that work went to waste. In his defense, he had texted me, but I’d decided about three steps into the race that my phone was staying out of sight. I glanced each direction twice, didn’t see him, and kept right on going. A part of me knew that I reached this point earlier than expected by a tad, and that felt pretty dang exciting. There was no chance I was stopping to wait for him.

Since we drove the course together, I figured there were a few more spots where I might see him. As I passed each of those intersections expectantly, it became both confounding and a little hilarious that we still hadn’t met up. Mentally, it was a nice distraction up until the “if all else fails, he’ll be here” location, where he was still MIA. That was mile 11, and I’d been struggling in my head a little between miles 9 and 11 (even though these were some of my fastest). I began counting down until mile 11, when I was certain I would see Clayton, Addison and my sister in law. But I saw nothing familiar, except the huge lake I knew I had to run around before finishing.

lake

I was able to shake off the fact that I would not be finishing with Clayton and became very thankful that I didn’t actually feel like I needed him at that point. I knew this was going to be (and already was) an awesome race, and I had enough to finish well. Much like missing me at the initial meet-up, I got a thrill thinking that maybe he kept missing me because I was so ahead of schedule. Look, you’ve got to keep your head in the game out there somehow; if it’s all lies, so be it.

I had a decent sprint through the finish chute and, as usual, couldn’t stop when everyone was yelling at me to. It’s so crazy to me that all the runners can just come to a complete stop after that final sprint without keeling over. Mama has to cool down for at least five minutes before hoisting my foot up into your lap. Deal with it.

Still not seeing Clayton, I sent him a profane text (funny cursing, not angry cursing) and finally located the support team. They missed the finish, but I was too high on endorphins and dehydration to notice.

It was a 16-minute PR. Holy. Crap.

high five half

And that’s it, gang. I am so content with that race and my time. I finished with just a little nausea brewing, so I know that I worked hard up until the very end. On the conservative to ambitious goal spectrum, it was right in the ambitious zone, and I could not be happier with my paces for every single mile. Plus, it was the first time I used two Gu packs, and they didn’t send me hurling into the bushes. Success!

Mandated by my knees and IT band, a necessary, much anticipated break from pounding the pavement is in full effect. It’s scary to think I’ll lose all of these gains, but I know I won’t get anywhere except an orthopedic office if I try to maintain this schedule. Any advice for not completely sacrificing your speed improvements during a break in training is welcome! Do I have to re-rejoin the gym? And while we’re on the advice train, I’ve been cramping nonstop since I got home Sunday. Going on three days. Totes worth it, but still curious if this happens to anyone else?

I am being very intentional about not browsing races while still ridiculously euphoric. I’m not even able to stand upright yet, but still very likely to do something utterly ridiculous like register for a 15k in February. (But just to get a head count, anyone considering Gasparilla?)

My mom hung my medal in our tree. I didn't stop her.

My mom hung my medal in our tree. I didn’t stop her.

St. Augustine Half Marathon Recap

The St. Augustine Half Marathon, aka my second half ever, is complete. Woohoo…is what I wish I could be saying, but instead I am me and being Debbie Downer about the whole thing.

The good news is that it’s done. My feet covered 13.1 miles for the second time in my life, and I have the shiny medal to prove it. Which may have stayed on during lunch 100 miles away from the race site.

The tough-to-digest part is that this course was bananas, and I had no idea. It’s not like I had eight weeks to study the course map posted online or anything. Instead, I chose to show up and be all, “oh, there’s bridges?” And the course was all, “UM. FOUR OF THEM.”

Those miles across water? Wishing now I would have swam them.

Those miles across water? Wishing now I would have swam them.

The friend that I’d trained with and planned to run with ended up getting sick last week and decided race morning to not put herself in the hospital by attempting a half marathon feeling like death. I hated it for her, of course; I’m not a completely horrible person. She even came all the way to St. Augustine for two nights to not run. But, frankly, I hated it for me, too. Two weeks before my first half I begged and pleaded with Clayton to run it with me because I didn’t know if I could push through on my own. It was quite a stunner to plan for having a partner with me, and then realize that wouldn’t be the case an hour before the race. (Missed you, Kelly!)

High hopes on race eve that we'd be crossing the finish together.

High hopes on race eve that we’d be crossing the finish together.

I was way nervous in the morning and couldn’t finish my usual breakfast or coffee. Clayton, Addison and I left about 10 minutes later than we’d planned, but we were staying so close to the race that I didn’t think much about it. When he dropped me off and I realized the start line wasn’t where I thought (seriously, eight weeks of non-map studying), I started freaking out a little about missing the start. I jogged to the big mass of people, made a quick as lightning bathroom stop on the way, and just as I asked someone if this was the half marathon start, the gun went off.

And there I was, running. I had very little time–okay, zero time–to steady my head or stretch or get my bearings. The first five miles were lame city. We ran over the Bridge of Lions immediately, and then spent the rest of the time on a major highway passing strip malls and Sunday morning traffic. I really wanted to hold off on listening to music in case I needed a boost later, so it was just engines and feet out there. Luckily, there was a decently funny guy behind me that kept me entertained with sardonic commentary. We’re all idiots for doing this, let’s just embrace it.

My pace for those first five miles was exactly on target. I’d wanted to keep it somewhat conservative but not start too slow to the point where I couldn’t ever increase to my loftier goals. Turns out, that ol’ increase would never take place, so that became a moot point. It was a positive split parade after six miles. But at least for five miles I stuck to the plan.

Around mile 5 we hit the second bridge (the Bridge of Lions was the first), which was long and long. I felt pretty good going over it and saw my speedy friend coming back down the other bridge (numero tres, if you’re keeping count). She looked really strong and that was exciting. I saw Clayton twice around this point and his lanky torso hanging out of the car trying to snap pictures was too much cute to handle.

Such a beautiful highway view with a line of drivers giving you angry stares for making them late to brunch.

Such a beautiful highway view with a line of drivers giving you angry stares for making them late to brunch.

Once we descended bridge two, it was maybe 0.1 mile before we turned around and ran up the third bridge. And this was my coffin. I seemed to have lost all steam going up that beast. Trying desperately to be funny and encouraging, I made some comment to a girl that was walking. She passed me less than a half mile later, so I doubt I’ll be throwing out any more hilarious and obviously effective words of wisdom at any future races. I’ll probably invoice her for coaching fees.

I tried to remember my friend telling me that miles 3-8 were going to suck. Just get past that point, I thought. But mile 7 was it for me. It was the last time I felt any sustained strength. From that point on, I battled against quitting and walking my pissy butt back to the car. My initial strategy was to turn things up at mile 9. In real life, this was the point I vowed never to do a full marathon. Honestly, the only reason I didn’t stop at the mile 10 marker was because I knew how long it would take for me to walk back and there was no shortcut. I had no other motivation to keep running other than I’d finish slightly faster that way.

I had to walk a few seconds here and there but got so annoyed with myself I started back up pretty quickly. [Text to husband somewhere around this point: "Babe it's over". Dramatic much?]

There was actually a sad little pack of us who would run some and then stop to walk and then try to run again between miles 10 and 12. Clearly, this was not our day, and I felt bad for all of us. We never envisioned this would be our race. Womp womp.

I got a text from a friend when I was feeling especially womp-wompy that said “hope the run went well today!” After I got over the boiling rage of her thinking I’d be done when I still had two more miles, I realized there were a lot of people who knew about this race that were going to ask me about it. I could not imagine saying I gave up at mile 11, so I kept going out of sheer stubbornness. But I wasn’t happy about it.

We had to go back over the Bridge of Lions at the last mile. Four bridges would be an accurate summation. Luckily, that was the easiest of all of them and wasn’t too awful at that point. Life in general was looking rather dismal so a little incline wasn’t going to swing that vote too much. I was able to pick it up ever so mildly at the end when I saw my fast friend–2nd place in her age group and 9th woman overall, wha?!?!–and her fam. A little farther down towards the finish line I spotted Clayton and Addison’s huge grin, which was indescribable. But more than anything, I was glad that it was over. I was so hoping to finish feeling more than that.

finish3

I wasn’t impressed or anything after I finished, but having that six-mile mental battle so fresh in my mind, I was proud that I pounded it out. As the hours dragged on, and I looked over and over at my terrible splits, and the official times were posted, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.

I don’t know if I had more in me during those hours, but I am bummed that this race was the culmination of a totally healthy, really strong, 12-week training cycle. I felt great after every long run and did speed work consistently every week. My long run paces were all better than what I ended up with at this race, and my long runs had always felt easy. That is so, so frustrating. I was hoping, planning and training to race this thing, and all I could do was finish.

But hey, I did finish.

Lunchtime bling.

Lunchtime bling.

Other positive notes: technically I did reach my very basic goal of beating the time from my first half marathon (by 6 minutes) and Miss Black Shirt was all about trying to pass me in the finish chute and did not, thank you very much. I didn’t even know anyone was near me until I looked through the pictures.

I may not have finished before many people, but I did finish before her.

I may not have finished before many people, but I did finish before her.

Plus, mom bonus: I ran a half after baby birthing. When I remember that first two-mile run a few months after having Addison, it’s hard to believe I conquered (okay, tolerated) 13.1 miles. Those first few weeks were u-g-l-y.

Oh, speaking of ugly.

Boy, she sure is having fun and looking good doing it!

Boy, she sure is having fun and looking good doing it!

So what now? Well, I am going to sulk and eat cookies for another day or two. I’m going to join my sister in law for a pedicure and wine date. And then I am going to put my big girl tempo shorts on and get ready for

this.

The definition of insanity...

The definition of insanity…

I am certain I have a better race in me, and I am not wasting this training on that miserable half.

At least we know one person was glad I made the trip to St. Augustine. (Total accident, by the way.)

Just me and MJ, rounding third base.

Just me and MJ, rounding third base.

So, anyone feel like running a half in December???