Monday, August 30, 2010

Running on Empty

Despite my lack of posts on the topic, I am still training for the NYC Marathon in November. But I've hit a bit of a low point with my running. I'm not as far along as I'd like in terms of my long runs, and I'm so, so tired of running in the gym.

Last week I went to the gym with the goal of running 12 miles. I had my iPhone loaded with a movie - "Babies" is beyond cute, and no one gets eaten! - and lots of podcasts. I even got set up on a treadmill in front of a TV tuned to a good channel. I did really well through 9 miles, and then I got hit with horrible stomach cramps. If I had been running outside, I would have had to walk it out and still finish the distance. But at mile 10.5, I gave up both physically and mentally.

When I talk to running friends about my concerns, they remind me that I still have time and say that I shouldn't get anxious about it. They also remind me that given my time constraints, I'm actually doing well to run as much as I am.

But it still doesn't help.

I really, really need the weather to turn so that I can get back to running outside and ramp up my mileage.

This morning I intended to run outside, but when I walked out and felt the temperature - 82 degrees at 5:30 - and the humidity, I grabbed my keys and headed to the gym. In an effort to keep myself amused, I ran 20 minutes of a preprogrammed hill routine and then 20 minutes of race pace, for a total of 4.5 miles. I definitely felt the workout, but it just wasn't the same as running the Windsor Loop with friends.

I know that if I can just get through this low point, I'll be fine. So I'm plugging along, hoping for cooler weather.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Drunken Elephants Upstairs

The house we stay in at the beach is an older one, and it wasn't built with any kind of soundproofing. We're used to hearing the thumping of people walking around in the upstairs unit - and the banging when our friends with kids stay up there. The noise doesn't usually bother us, mostly because it stops at bedtime, and we've certainly never been woken up in the middle of the night by upstairs neighbors.

Until this year.

This was the 7th time we've stayed at this place, and it's the first time we've had a problem with the folks upstairs.

We knew we were in trouble when four cars pulled into the driveway and 11 college-aged kids emerged. Our fears were confirmed when they sat out on their balcony and turned on their boom box - which we could hear all the way down on the beach. B hobbled out on our deck and shouted at them to turn down the music, which they did.

But then they all came down to the beach and turned on their music right next to us. Turns out their cooler had a built-in CD player with speakers in the lid. Bonus - they could drink beer and annoy us all at the same time.

But the fun really began at about 1am, when they were good and drunk and sitting out on their balcony blasting country music. Again, B went out and shouted at them. They turned down their music and went inside, and that's when the elephant wrestling started. They made so much noise that we were afraid that they were going to come through the ceiling. The kids were so worn out from playing on the beach, that they slept through it all. Not so with the adults.

It was pretty much the same situation every night - they'd get drunk, play their music too loud, and tromple around upstairs like drunken elephants. One night, they livened things up by going out, which started out great - there was no noise from upstairs. But then they came in at 2am, drunk and singing "Sweet Caroline" at the top of their lungs.

On our last full day at the beach, they all came staggering downstairs at about 3pm and set up camp 10 feet from us on the beach - never mind that the beach was completely empty in both directions - and turned on their nifty boom box/cooler. At this point, B had had quite enough. He hobbled over on his crutch and asked them to either turn down the music or move further down the beach.

One of the young men came over and politely introduced himself and called B "Sir" and apologized for being annoying. We chit-chatted with him for a minute, and Campbell gave him a high-five while bouncing around. All the girls in their group glared daggers at us, but the boy was very nice. We thought that maybe this would solve the problem - we'd had a polite, civilized discussion about the noise and disruption.

We thought wrong.

I was asleep in the back bedroom with Elizabeth where the white noise machine was turned on full volume, so I missed all the fun. But B had fallen asleep on the sofa, which he often does because it's easier for him to prop up his still-broken foot. He was woken up at 3am by a bunch of the upstairs neighbors hammering on our door and yelling, "DUDE! Let us in. DUDE! The lock isn't working. DUDE!" Then they yelled downstairs to the kids down at the car about how the lock wasn't working.

That's when B yanked the front door open to some very startled and drunk kids and yelled something along the lines of "Shut the F*CK UP. You're at the wrong door, you drunk morons. It's 3am so shut the hell up."

The next morning, B was in a foul mood, so I escaped with the kids down to the beach. At noon it was obvious that the kids upstairs weren't moving out that day, and we decided to head for home a day early instead of enduring another night of listening to them stomp around.

We called the landlord, who is super nice, on our way off the island and told him what was going on. He apologized profusely (but didn't offer to refund the night we weren't using) and said he would send his wife over to talk to them. He also told us that we should have called him because he would have rousted them out of there. And really, we should have. But each day we thought they'd get the point and be more quiet. Unfortunately, they didn't.

I was so upset and frustrated at the whole situation that I seriously considered hitting their cars with the last few eggs in the refrigerator. But then I decided that wouldn't set a good example for the girls.

Sometimes it's no fun being a responsible adult, especially when dealing with drunken elephants.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Obligatory First Day of School Post

The kids started back to school this week, and all the baby angels sang Hallelujah. I wasn't at all weepy about sending the big girls to school. I've had just about as much as I can take of the bicker twins lately. Being around other kids at school will be good for them.

Ella is in 4th grade, which doesn't seem possible. I remember being in 4th grade. I met my bestest friend in 4th grade. I'm still friends with kids from 4th grade. How did she get so old? Ella picked out her outfit and was quite pleased when I told her none of it matched. She especially loves her new Converse All-Stars.

Lily is in 2nd grade. She, of course, had to pick out a dress for the first day. And I have to admit, she looked darn cute in it. Her teacher is one of the best at the school, and we're thrilled she has him. Lily cracked me up when we were walking through the halls on the first day. She was like the little mayor of the school, saying hi to and chatting up everyone she saw. She is definitely my little social butterfly.

Campbell now goes to preschool five mornings a week, thank the baby jeebus. He needs more activities and stimulation that I can give him. He insisted on wearing his new sunglasses to school. We've started calling him The Dude. And he does indeed abide.

And finally, mah baybee. Elizabeth started a mother's day out program and goes to school Tuesday and Thursday mornings. She has the same divine teacher all of the other kids have had, which made dropping her off much easier. I was able to hand Elizabeth off to Miss Katherine and leave, knowing that she was in the best possible care.

But I was still a little weepy when I left - my last baby has started school. Before I know it, she'll be in college.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Baby and the Beach

I wouldn't say that Elizabeth exactly hated the beach. She certainly liked it better than Campbell did at the same age. He wouldn't even sit on a chair on the blanket without screaming.

Elizabeth was just fine as long as her little feet didn't touch the sand. She was quite content stand at the very edge of the blanket and dig in the sand, always making sure that her toes never crossed the line. It actually made it quite easy to keep an eye on her - I always knew right where she was.

We eventually convinced her to sit on my lap at the very edge of the water and let the little waves lap over her legs, and she ended up loving it. Elizabeth would happily kick and splash in the water, but if her feet actually touched the sand, she'd scream - just like in the picture below.

I'm hoping that Elizabeth will come to love the beach as much as the rest of us do. I think she's at the age when anything new or different is bad, bad, bad.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A boy and the beach

Two years ago, as Barb reminded me, Campbell HATED the beach. He hated it even more than Elizabeth hated the sand. At least we got her down to the beach and in the water without having her scream nonstop.

This year, on the other hand, Campbell had the time of his life at the beach. From the moment he kicked off his shoes, he ran and jumped and played and splashed to his heart's content. I had the best time just watching him have fun.

He didn't even care that the big kids were off doing their own thing. Campbell was his own best company. I was too far away to hear what he was saying, but he was chattering away the whole time.

The Little Dude abides.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Back from the beach

We're home, thank the baby jeebus. Overall, it was a good week away. There were some minor hiccups, like Elizabeth's absolute hatred of having her feet touch the sand and the drunk elephants upstairs, but the good stuff outweighed the problems, for sure. I have lots of posts lined up.

I did a good job of turning off electronics for the week, mostly. I still checked e-mail a few times and scanned headlines online, but I stayed off Twitter and Facebook, with one exception, which I'll get to in a minute.

While I was unplugged, I didn't read blogs at all, and when I turned on my google reader this morning, I cleaned out my list of unread items so that I wouldn't be tempted to spend all day today down the rabbit hole. This also means I haven't left comments for anyone. Please don't hate me.

Spending the week without Twitter and Facebook has broken me of the habit of checking in constantly. I think I've been online all of twice today.

As a result of being offline, I got a ton of knitting done - I finished a pair of socks and started a new one and worked on my sweater. I also read a lot; I currently have four books in progress - Empire of the Summer Moon, Pillars of the Earth, Kon-Tiki, and The Great Swim.

And now for the question I posted on Facebook and Twitter:

What the hell is an esoteric hot tub?

(And I have tried a dozen times to get the image to flip right side up. It's correct in my photo editing software, but for some reason when it gets imported to effing blogger, it flips. So I'm giving up.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Beachward Ho!

Tomorrow morning we are loading the car and heading to S. Padre Island for our annual week at the beach.

I have mixed feelings about the trip. On the one hand, I love being at the beach more than just about any place else. I love the salt air and water and the wind and the sand. I think there's something in the salt air akin to valium - I tend to be a much calmer person at the beach.


B is still on crutches and will be pretty much useless in terms of packing, loading the car, unloading the car, playing with the kids on the beach, swimming with the kids in the water, lugging back and forth from the beach, etc. So I'm pretty much going to be doing all the same stuff I do here already, but with a better view.

Fortunately, we're sharing the beach house with our neighbors - this is the 7th summer we've done this - and they're incredibly helpful with kids and carrying and such.

I haven't even begun packing yet. In fact, instead of packing tonight, I'm going out for drinks with Wendi, Liz and Jennifer. My plan is to wake up tomorrow, throw a ton of shorts, t-shirts, bathing suits and towels in a bag and hope for the best. The kids will be responsible for whatever books, toys, movies, lovies they want to bring.

I've vowed that while we're gone, I'm going to disconnect from the interwebs - no facebook, no twitter, no e-mail (other than work-related ones). Seven days is a long time to be disconnected, but I think I can do it.

See you in a week.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

There was a little girl

With a curl in the middle of her forehead
When she was good,
She was very, very good
But when she was bad,
She was horrid.

Elizabeth has hit full-on terrible twos, and she is killing me. She has started throwing tantrums that rival any screaming fit Ella ever pitched. Yesterday she got so worked up - she didn't want to be held, she didn't want to be put down, she didn't want to be on the sofa, she didn't want to be on the floor - that I ended up putting her in her crib, figuring she needed some time in a cool, dark room to settle her down. As I walked to the door, I looked back just in time to see her tumble head first over the rail of her crib. Fortunately, she landed on her back instead of her head. And I think she scared herself enough that she won't try it again. But I've still ordered a crib tent to prevent and further tumbles.

Elizabeth has also taken to hitting, pulling hair, and biting. Campbell is the usual target of her attacks, and bless his heart, he usually doesn't do anything other than scream. Sunday he came out of his room sobbing and showed me his hand. There was a very clear set of Elizabeth-sized teeth prints on his wrist.

We've been putting Elizabeth in time out whenever she hits or bites or pulls, but I'm not sure it's working. Last week she got mad at Campbell, and I caught her with hand raised, poised to hit him. I told her that if she hit her brother, she'd have to sit in time out. She looked at me, cocked her eyebrow, and slapped Campbell on the face. And then she walked over to her time out spot and sat down. I'm not sure what our next step is.

Fortunately, the little hellion does have her good times. When she's not pitching fits or pummeling her brother, she's a sweet, funny little girl who knows just how cute she is. She's adding words by the day - Monday's was "eye beam!" which means ice cream. She loves tagging along after Campbell and her big sisters and copying everything they do. And she willingly gives us big hugs and kisses.

She makes me laugh more often than she makes me want to tear my hair out - but just barely.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Making my heart melt

"Baby! Come hold my hand."

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Hope for the future

Today I'm going to talk politics, which I don't usually do, because this isn't that kind of blog. I don't know exactly what kind of blog this is, but it isn't a political one. Also, if you're going to leave a hateful comment or send me an e-mail telling me I'm going to hell, don't bother. You're not going to change my mind, and I don't believe in hell, anyway. I'm open to polite discussion, though.

This morning I was listening to NPR while driving the girls to the bus for camp. Of course, the lead story was about the overturning of Prop 8 in California. This led to an interesting and encouraging discussion with Ella about the issue. Lily didn't say much, but I could tell she was listening intently.

Me: Do you understand what the news is about?
Ella: Yes. It's about whether two girls or two boys can get married to each other, like Aunt P and Aunt S (B's aunt and her partner).
Me: Right. The law right now says that only a boy and girl can marry each other, not two girls or two boys.
Ella: Why can't two girls or two boys marry each other?
Me: That's a good question. Some people think that it's wrong. Some people say that it shouldn't be allowed because of the bible.
Ella: What do you think?
Me: I think that two people, boy-girl, girl-girl, boy-boy, if they love each other and aren't married to anyone else already should be allowed to get married.
Ella: And they can't be brothers or sisters.
Me: Right, they can't be related.
Ella: So Aunt P and Aunt S should be able to get married if they want to?
Me: Yes, if they want to.
Ella: The only problem I see is that if too many boys get married to boys or too many girls get married to girls, there won't be as many babies born. But I don't think that's going to be a big problem.
Me: No, probably not. There are lots more straight people than gay people.
Ella: What do you mean "straight"?
Me: Well, when a boy likes girls and a girl likes boys, that's called being straight. When a boy likes boys, that's called being gay. There are some people who think that gay people choose to be gay and that they should just choose not to be. But scientists who study the brain say that whether you like boys or girls is part of how your brain works.
Ella: Gay also means really, really happy. Like SpongeBob.
Me (trying not to laugh): Yes, SpongeBob is totally gay.

The discussion ended there, but I was pleased with how it went. I answered her questions as she asked them and put things in terms she could understand. My hope is that my kids' generation will grow up believing that of course any two adults can get married if they want to.

At the very least, Ella and Lily are off to a good start.

Finally, I would love for just one person to be able to explain to me how allowing two consenting adults to love, honor and cherish each other has any affect on the sanctity of my marriage in any shape or form. I have yet to have anyone give me a good answer other than, "the bible says . . ." So really, if you can explain it, I'd love to hear it.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

All in a row

In a mere 20 days, all four of my kids will be in some form of school. I don't know whether to weep that mah baybees are growing up or jump for joy that I will soon have two mornings a week to myself.

Monday, August 02, 2010

House Hunting

Over the past few long, hot months, it has become abundantly clear that we have outgrown this house. We have six people living in a 1550 sq/ft, 3 bedroom, 2 bath house that feels smaller by the day.

Four of the six people here are short, loud and messy. One of those short people loves nothing more than running as fast as he can from one end of the house yelling at the top of his lungs. Two of the short people are pack rats, collecting every shiny bit of paper or plastic that they come across.

One of the two non-short people living here works from home full-time, locked behind the door to his office. While it's nice that he's locked away, closing the office door cuts off the back of the house to the rest of us, which means that when I want to push the kids outside to play, I have to send them out the front door and around to the side gate. And given my kids' attention spans, anything can happen in the 30 feet between the door and the gate.

I also work from home, which means I'm usually perched at the kitchen table next to the kids while they are doing artwork or playing with play-doh or just running around the house screaming. It's not an ideal situation.

So even though the thought of moving makes me cry, I've allowed B to start the process of finding a house. Because he's in real estate, he has access to all of the house listings in the area.

I hate the idea of moving, not because I'm particularly attached to this house, but because I love where we live. We're in a great little neighborhood that's close in to Austin. It doesn't take me longer than 10 minutes to get anywhere I need to go. The girls' school is walking distance, as are the neighborhood pool and park. We have a little shopping center with cool, retro family-owned pharmacy, grocery store, deli and barber shop. It's a nice little spot.

We also have wonderful neighbors. Our kids have all grown up together and are almost like siblings. Even better, all the parents get along, too. We go on annual beach trips with two of the other families, and two of the neighbor moms are going with me as my pit crew for the NYC marathon. We have our own little village right here.


The rational part of me has to overcome all these emotional reasons to not move. We need more space.

This weekend we started looking. B put together a list of houses in our price range with the right number of bedrooms, the right square footage and pools (we've promised the girls a pool as a reward for moving). Unfortunately, to get the size house we want with a pool at a price we can afford, we're going to have to move out of central Austin. The question is how far I'm willing to move.

Some of the houses B put on the list were far enough away that they were in neighboring towns - Dripping Springs, Round Rock, and Leander. I put my foot down on all of those.

I'm also having a problem reconciling myself to the idea of living in a "new," fancy house. All the houses B pulled this weekend were built in the last 10 years and have vaulted ceilings, granite kitchen counters, play rooms, formal dining rooms and the like. Our house is 60 years old and has creaky wood floors, mystery light switches and doors that don't close all the way.

I told B that we're going to be the redneck, hillbilly neighbors without any furniture and newspaper covering the windows.

Right now our plan is to look at the different areas we've agreed on and see what kind of houses are available. And we need to get our house ready to sell - paint the whole thing, re-do the kitchen, fix our bathroom tiles.

I predict lots of tears and drinking on my part and lots of eye-rolling and sighing on B's.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

NYC Marathon Training - Back on Track

This was a very good running week. I'm starting to feel a little more confident that I can actually pull off this crazy scheme of mine.

  • Monday - 4, loops in the neighborhood
  • Wednesday - 3, with circuits
  • Friday - 9, on the treadmill
  • Saturday - 2, at the Trail
All this for a grand total of 18 miles for the week. This is the highest my weekly mileage has been in at least five years. I looked back at my running logs from11 years ago, at the height of my marathon training, and I averaged between 20-25 miles per week, except for the weeks when I did long runs of 20 miles. I've learned from experience that my body doesn't handle super high weekly mileage. So as my long runs get longer, I'll have to back off on my other runs to balance everything out.

Friday's run was a real head trip. I went to the gym planning to run at least seven, but hoping for more. Somewhere around mile five, I started to doubt my plan. But then I decided to just take it one mile at a time, allowing myself a water break after each mile. Mile 9 was the hardest, not just because my legs were turning to rubber, but because I was bored stiff. I had already listened to two Fresh Airs and an entire running playlist. I had made the mistake of picking a treadmill in front of the TVs that were tuned to ESPN, Telemundo and Fox News, so I didn't want to watch any of those.

Through the whole mile, I kept thinking, "I could just stop. I don't HAVE to keep running. It's not like I have to run back to my car. All I have to do is push the Stop button, and I'm done."

Despite the running commentary in my head, I finished the mile. Woo!

Saturday I went down to the Trail for an easy 2 miles, just to get Friday's run out of my legs. I could have run farther, but I was back to my car, and I couldn't talk myself into running more.

I know that it's going to get harder, mentally, for me to do my long runs at the gym, but I'm going to have to suck it up. We're heading into the worst heat of the summer, and there's no way I'd survive my long runs outside. I'm going to have to download some audio books or something to get me through the endless miles in the gym.

But I can do it.