Monday, September 16, 2013


Back in June, when I was feeling ambitious and had the whole summer in front of me, I signed up for the North Shore Inline Marathon. I started rollerblading several nights a week after DS was in bed, and got my sister to teach me some core-strengthening techniques. In the middle of July I did a "test run" 10 mile skate to see how hard that would be, and it wasn't bad.

Then I got sick. Really a bad cold, and couldn't even think about skating. Then we went to Arizona for 8 days. Then... well then I was lazy. I mean, I was starting a new job, so that is something, but I could have started skating in the evenings again, but I didn't.

All the sudden it was September, and I hadn't been on my skates for 6 weeks, and my longest training run was 10 miles (less than half of the marathon I was signed up for).

But, I thought "Hey, I already paid for it, and I think I can do it, and its on my 30x30 list, so I mine as well give it a try, what is the worst that could happen? I get picked up by the 'you are too slow' car and don't get to finish??" (Or you know, crash and die, but I tried not to think of it that way).

So on Friday I went to pick up my race packet. I felt totally ridiculous and out of place walking into the skating expo where all the booths were trying to sell the latest gear. But I picked it up.

And Saturday morning, I found myself getting on a yellow school bus to ride the 26.2 miles to the start of the race, holding my 13 year old RollerBlades and a small bag with some water, a protein bar, and safety gear.

The weather was perfect temperature wise, but there was a strong headwind. 

Unlike a traditional marathon, at the Inline Marathon they release you in waves - to make it safer and keep you spread out. I was in Wave #6, also known as the "we are not sure we can even finish this" wave. We didn't cross the start line until 10:43am. (The first elite wave started at 9:30am)

The first 3 miles were hard. I had no idea how fast I should be going, and there were a lot of hills so I kept changing paces, going to fast and then being out of breath. Then around 3 miles I settled into a rhythm (admittedly stolen from people who looked like they were doing well in front of me... hold my hands like them, push off when they do, boom I have a rhythm).

Miles 3-10 were pretty easy actually. Then it got a little harder, but I was excited because I was almost to the half, where my family (dad and little sis) would be cheering). So, I made it to the half in good spirits and making decent time (1:40).

Then Mile 14 came. And, out of no where, I suddenly felt like I couldn't move another inch and I was just going to drop dead. I would describe it as total body fatigue. For miles 14-18 I considered it a success if I kept moving forward. The head wind was a killer and I couldn't "catch a break". At the 18 mile marker I sat down on a guard rail and then the ground. Drank some water. Stretched my back. Ate a bite or two of the protein bar. A medic stopped and checked on me. I told him it was just a break and I was going to get up... so then I had to do it. LOL. The thing was, when I did stand back up, I felt a LOT better. I skated around the corner to find the straight-away I had been looking for, where the scenic highway ends and runs into town.

So, mile 18-20 were OK, because I had just had a break and was excited to be able to move towards the goal of town.

Then I got to town, and there were NO spectators. I mean, I didn't expect many, but skating down a very empty London Road (usually busy street) was pretty eerie. The edge of town is 60th Ave East. I thought that DH and DS would be waiting for me at 40th Ave E, so I counted down the blocks. But then, they weren't there (as it turns out, DS was down for his afternoon nap). So, I sat down at 40th Ave and had another break (1-2 minutes). Got up, felt better again. Turned the corner, and could see the infamous Lemon Drop Hill, the biggest hill on the course (to climb). I felt like "The Little Engine that Could" at this point and literally was going "I think I can" in my head. And I climbed up it, into the head wind still. Mile Marker 23.

Now I knew I would make it. I had labelled Lemon Drop as my "point of no return" and told myself and others that if I made it to Lemon Drop, I was going to make it all the way (or crash.. but not drop out. LOL). Besides, the long climb of Lemon Drop was followed by a long downhill onto the highway (it is the northern tip of Interstate 35, pretty cool that we get to shut it down for this race), and then we got to skate through the tunnels. By this time I could FEEL that we were closing in on the end. Just had to climb up the exit ramp (which was practically as bad as Lemon Drop), then turn out of the head wind (probably like 25.8 miles into the headwind. then the last .4 not), and down the off ramp (the biggest/steepest down hill of the race), around the DECC, past cheering DH and DS, across the finish line!!

Since we were so spread out by the time I finished, they even announced my name as I crossed! I guess that is a perk of being at 3:32 (three and a half hours). Once I got off the race course and into the recovery area I pretty much just sat down in the middle of a parking lot and took off the skates. I got one large blister on each foot, and several bruises around the top of my skates. I am pretty sore.

But here is the thing... today, when I wore my finisher's t-shirt to work, I felt invincible.
I mean, if I can skate 26.2 miles on a whim, I can pretty much to anything, right??
It sounds cheesy, but that marathon was crazy empowering.

So the question is, what next? I think perhaps I will tackle that section of the Superior Hiking Trail that is on my 30x30 list....

Saturday, September 7, 2013

20 Months + 1 Day - First Scar

Yep. First Scar. I mean, its not a Scar yet, but we are told it definitely will be. Benjamin has had his share of fevers, bumps, bruises and scrapes, but this was a new one. On Friday afternoon he was running in the daycare room and tripped and fell into the corner of the wall, taking a deep gash out of his forehead. When I say deep, I mean deep. as DH put it "Deep as in its possible that you were seeing skull when it was cleaned out". It is over his left eye. Luckily when it happened DH was already at home (early) and could go get him and take him to urgent care. I met them there after work. It was pretty obvious from his ongoing activity level that there wasn't a brain issue or anything - he was happily playing in the waiting room as we waited (happily except when another toddler tried to play with the same large toy as him..). Eventually we got back to see the doctor. They numbed up the cut (which was quite an adventure in itself because he was squirmy and the numbing agent was close to his eye), and then we burrito wrapped him and they cleaned it out and glued it shut. Yep. They glued him back together. They said it will scar for sure because how deep and wide it is. It seriously looked like a hole in his head. Pretty gross.

So, I don't have any good pictures of the cut, because that is just not how I roll/ was not a priority for us. We were busy reading him magazines and driving his car with him and singing him songs.

I probably will take a picture of the cut glued shut once the band-aid falls off... but for now I am just leaving the band-aid on. I am pretty sure removing the band-aid would alert Benjamin to the fact the cut is there, which he seems to have forgotten entirely.

Just thought I would record this day for prosperity - Benjamin's first scar. The ladies love a daredevil... LOL

Thursday, September 5, 2013

20 months

It has been ages since I have posted just about Benjamin and what he is up to. That's because on his 19m "birthday" we were off gallivanting across the southwest.

Today though Benjamin is 20 months old. A lot has changed since I posted about him on July 5th. So much I hardly can keep track of it because most of it seems like "old news" to me.

But let me give it a shot.

Clothes:  He recently started wearing size 6 shoes. He loves to wear hats. He still is wearing 18m clothes for the most part but can pull of 24m shirts no problem. 24m pants are too long still. I am trying to figure out what to do with his fall wardrobe. I don't want to buy a bunch of 18m pants he will outgrow by Christmas, but I don't have enough pants to cover him full time (without using the shorts). Time to go to the second hand shop and see what I can wrassle up.

Gross Motor: He is not yet jumping, but he can run. We went through a day or two where he was trying to run faster and falling a lot, but his muscles caught up. He has gotten a lot more proficient at stairs. He likes the playground - especially going up the steps and down the slide. He loves loves loves benches. When we go on walks he needs to climb up on every bench he sees. He doesn't stay up there long, but he wants to get up there. Just today he started to climb up onto a kitchen chair for dinner. (He sits on a calculus book on a regular chair these days). He has a big-wheel style bike. He has gotten really good at scooting it around. I have showed him what the pedals are for, but his legs are not quite long enough.We have been trying to play more music because its so cute seeing him dance.

Fine Motor: Benjamin has really gotten better at puzzles and shape sorting - he has the dexterity to line things up better (or maybe the patience?). He colors as well, and likes to draw with a pen. He absolutely loves the sandbox. He likes to shovel sand into trucks or buckets and dump it (usually on himself).

Language: To say there has been a "language explosion" is an understatement. In the past couple of months Benjamin has started saying so much more, and trying to say so much more. He often uses words we didn't even know we taught him. For example, calling a station wagon a wagon instead of just a car. Today he was saying "monster" pretty well and he recently told me dinner was "yummy". Sometimes he still babbles. He goes 'dibba dibba dibba" and its absolutely adorable. There are still some code words in Benjamin-speak. For example, if he says "beep beep beep" be means something is backing up, or should back up. The other night he said "beep beep beep" when he wanted a door the cats had pushed open to be closed (the door should back up). He imitates a ton - especially if you yell or make any sort of weird noise. If you yell at the pets (no, back off, stop) he will do so as well. He learned to say "O-H!" and get us to say "I-O!" last Saturday. He likes to play language games. For example - He will say "mama, mamam, mmaammaa" and expect me to say "Benjamin" back. Then he will say "Dada" and expect DH to say Benjamin. He also has discovered possession and frequently asks if things are his ('mine mine?"), or points out/confirms they are his. (for example, food before eating it).

Communication: Even bigger than the language changes are the communication changes. He understands SO much now! We have been trying to be really good about telling him what is going on. Sometimes it goes well ("Benjamin, after this last time down the slide we are going home. Benjamin, I am going to drop you off at daycare, but I will be back later.") Other times it goes poorly - like the time I told him in the morning that we would see Grandma&Grandpa that evening, and he misunderstood and was disappointed when we showed up at daycare instead of "baba"s house. When he gets upset I really try to get his attention and talk to him - ask him what is wrong, what he wants, or explain what is going on. It works a lot of the time. I usually combine it with distraction. It might go like this:

Benjamin starts screaming
Me: Benjamin, what's wrong?
Benjamin: CARRRR!!
Me: You want to play with your car?
Benjamin: YEEEAH (stops crying)
Me: We can't play with the car right now because its bedtime, but we are going to read a book! What book do you want to take upstairs? 

That probably sounds really cheesy and like its out of a parenting book, but it totally works 9 times out of 10. It also helps to ask him to "say goodbye' to things we are stopping or leaving (like toys, the park, etc). I also try to repeat things a lot when I want him to understand what is going to happen next.

Academics: Benjamin can tell the difference between one and more than one. Anything more than one he calls two. He likes to point to things and has us count them and I am working on 1-2-3 with him. Benjamin can pick out the colors yellow, green, white, and blue. For awhile he answered yellow whenever you asked him what color something was, and then everything was green for awhile. Even at this time he could pick out a yellow crayon if asked to do so. I think it was a language thing, he knew yellow was a color if that makes sense. He knows some shapes - they have been working on them at daycare. He especially likes to point out stars. He knows his vehicles. He can differentiate between Trucks, Cars, tractors, diggers, firetrucks, police cars, motorcycles, bikes, scooters, station wagons, and SUVs, though he thinks all SUVs are "jeeps". I am sure there are other farm implements and such he knows as his favorite book is still "The Big Book of Things That Go".

Reading: Benjamin loves to read and be read to. When he reads it is adorable (though he does not do it often at home). You can tell he is trying to say what he remembers of the book or what he sees in the pictures. For example, we have a library book called "Good Morning Digger"  and when Benjamin read it to himself he said "digger" "yellow" and "truck" a lot. There are books that Benjamin has a favorite part of that he is waiting for. He likes Old McDonald's "e-i-e-i-o". He likes "the going to bed book" where they are coming down the stairs tired. We have been reading a wider variety of books, and he lets us get through a lot more of them now.

Eating: As of about two weeks ago, Benjamin is weaned entirely. Ending breastfeeding is bittersweet! Its nice to have my body back, and to be able to have DH help with bedtime and night time a lot more, but it was a special thing (mother child bonding and all that - lots of snuggling). In terms of real food, Benjamin always wants Cheerios. All of the time. He is intermittent on what else he likes... one day he will love a meal, two days later give him the same thing and he hardly touches it. A lot of it is just his mood, how hungry he is, whether he would rather be doing something else, how it is presented, whether you are eating it.. etc etc etc. He can drink out of a cup when we let him, but usually we give him a sippy cup out of convenience (so he can carry it around etc).

Sleeping: The main reason we weaned was because we wanted him to sleep better, and its working. I originally intended to night wean (leaving only a 7pm breastfeeding session), but the way things played out, it just made sense to wean all together. He now sleeps through the night more often then not. Its a great change.

Likes: Benjamin still loves being outside. He still loves anything with wheels. He likes to clean up after himself - "away away" he will say. He has gotten very good at building with blocks. He has a set of Duplo's that is cars - three car bases and lots of windshield, truck bed, engine, etc parts to build cars. He loves these. He also has mega blocks he builds all sorts of crazy things with. And when he is done, away into their boxes they go. He likes to roll around balls. He likes to kick balls. he likes to try and hit a hockey puck with a stick or watch us do it. He likes bubbles. He loves boats and going near water - throwing rocks in water, going to watch boats come in the canal, walking along the water, etc. He loves cookies, cheerios, and ice cream. He likes to press buttons. He likes to open doors when he can reach them. He likes to be in control of his environment. He likes water and lemonade and his night time pacifier, though he knows he only gets it at night now. He likes the playground (and can find it himself if we let him pick which direction to go).  He likes watching videos on you tube (usually vehicles, animals, or elmo). He likes Elmo. He likes most kids songs. He likes to splash in water. He likes to wash his hands. He likes to look at car-ads that come in the mail. He likes saying "uh oh" when anything is out of place or not as he expects it to be.

Dislikes: Benjamin doesn't like hamburger very much, it can be challenging getting him to eat it in most dishes. He doesn't like when the pets are too close to him or on the table. He doesn't like getting dropped off at daycare. Most days it goes OK, but its harder than it used to be and some days he totally loses it. He doesn't like being told we have to stop something he likes. He doesn't like waiting and we have to find distractions while dinner is cooking. He had a total meltdown at my parents house the other night because he wanted sweet corn and it was still raw. He doesn't like turning - when we take him in the stroller he wants us to go straight for ever and ever. He doesn't like when we are eating or drinking something he cannot have. He doesn't like spicy bbq sauce. He doesn't like being in the car very long (unless its nap or bedtime). He doesn't like it when DH sings the Alphabet. He doesn't like it when he wants to be up in the morning and we are both still sleepy. He doesn't sleep in. He doesn't like trying to go to sleep somewhere besides his bed, daycare cot, or the car. He hates the doctor.

That is Benjamin at 20 months... enough detail?? LOL

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day Weekend

Friday Night 8/30/13 - After work we headed out to my parent's house for pizza night. It got off to a really late start because my BIL and Bro had to work late, but that was OK because we planned to stay up for a campfire anyways! After a late dinner and lots of hanging out, my older sis and I took a dip in the swimming pool, then my dad got a fire started. Benjamin was very interested at first! He liked to sit in his little Benjamin size chair and watch the flames. After that got old, he was fascinated by a color changing globe my parents have in the garden. Then it was S'more time. I think it was hard for him to bite, but he certainly enjoyed the marshmallow! By this point he was getting pretty tired! I mean it was well past his normal 7pm bedtime! (like 10pm?) I tried to get him to go to sleep on my lap, but he wanted nothing to do with it. So, we decided we better leave. We put him in the car and started loading other stuff when we realized he was already 90% out (before we even turned the light off or the car on), so we decided to just roll down the windows for him and enjoy the campfire a little more (about 20 feet from the parked car). It was a very fun relaxing night!

Saturday 8/31/13 - I spent most the morning thinking it was Sunday for some reason, probably because Friday night was so much fun. We headed over to my parents around 10am to watch football (go Buckeyes!!). The football game and company was fun, and DS learned to say O-H-I-O!! He could parrot either half (O-H or I-O) and then figured out if he yelled O-H we would respond I-O. Its going to be a fun football year! Then we all took a long late-afternoon nap. We went to Culver's for dinner and tried to go to Best Buy to get Direct TV (DH has been wanting more sports channels badly!), but they weren't prepped for it, so instead we ended up at the dollar store and had a good time. (Is that lame that that makes good entertainment?)

Sunday 9/1/13 - We were dog sitting, which it made making breakfast at home difficult, so we went out for pancakes. It was such a beautiful morning we decided to go to Brighton Beach to throw rocks in the water and dangle our feet in. It was nice relaxing family time! Back at home we cleaned cleaned cleaned. After lunch Benjamin went to sleep and we had some down time. In the evening DS and DH grilled us some hotdogs for dinner, then we walked to the playground for awhile, then took a nice fun bath before bed. In the evening we got the unfortunate call that my BIL had an accident with a garage door earlier that day and had splinter fractured a finger. He had surgery late Sunday night and had to stay in the hospital overnight, but he is doing OK. 

Monday 9/2/13 - After the normal morning routine we headed to Canal Park to watch the boats come in and go to the Maritime museum (the last time we tried to take Benjamin he fell asleep in the stroller and slept right through it! this time though he liked it a lot! He especially liked the tug boats and like to say tug boat. We watched the bridge go up a couple of times and just had a good morning. During Benjamin's afternoon nap I ran and got groceries for the week and then made protein bars for my breakfast for the week and beet and quinoa salad for my lunches. When Benjamin woke up we headed to my parents house for a labor day bbq. We played teeter-totter with my dad's flatbed trailer, dug in the sand box, and enjoyed some fresh off the vine green beans, tomatoes, and raspberries. Dinner was delicious and the company was excellent!

It was a pretty awesome long weekend!!