Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Good Morning

It is 7:30 am and my happy little birds just got up. And I should say that they are indeed chirpy little birds not the harpies of the past days. So the extra hour and half of sleep must have done the trick.

After I posted last night about killing the nap I thought about it some more and thought I should clarify. I am not the cruel mommy taking a nap away from a child who desperately still wants one. Rather I am the helpful mommy trying to ease my child through the transition from sometimes napping to no napping but still get enough sleep. And by ease I am referring to the cold turkey no napping program.

If Beau would nap at a decent hour, like 1 or 2 or heck even 3 in the afternoon that would be fine but for the past few weeks he has wanted to nap at 4 or 5 in the afternoon for 2 or 3 hours. A nap that late in the day encroached into bedtime territory and then bedtime would become 10 pm rather than 8 pm. And then he was still getting up at 6:30 in the morning. And he wasn't the chirpy bird he is this morning but rather the blanketed harpy screeching demands at me. It was frightening. I do not like to be woken up by that thing so something had to change.

So the nap is just a problem. I am going to stick with the 7pm bedtime and see how it goes. So far so good but only the rest of the day will tell.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Nap is Dead

I am killing it.

Carmella quit napping regularly at 21 months--right after I found out I was pregnant with Beau. That sucked but then I began quiet time, so it worked out okay . . .eventually. And ever since Beau was born I have made an effort to encourage him to take naps. Mostly I do this by wearing his ass out. Also, as a second child he has learned to get sleep when it is offered. He has always been a great napper so really I didn't do much; but I have felt blessed because Carmella was everything but a great napper. However, all this napping is becoming a problem. I have found that the naps just aren't working to my advantage anymore.

Beau will be 3 in 2 months and his naps are very inconvenient. Also, he doesn't nap everyday, most days yes, but not everyday. So I decided for summer I would help him quit. We started the quit napping program 3 days ago. It is a cold turkey program, no patch, no gentle cutting back. Just quitting.

My thinking is that it is summer and who wants to spend 2-3 hours stuck inside while they wait for their almost 3 year old to wake up? I'll tell you who doesn't, me and Carmella. We get bored and we are tired of being quiet and we are tired of cleaning, watching TV, doing work sheets, crafts and such. We want to do fun things, social things, we want to go to the pool.

Also, I should add that taking the nap away has a two-fold purpose. In taking the nap away I will also (finally) be getting rid of the baby. For those not in the know the baby is the pacifier. Once my kids hit 6 months old I limited paci use to the bed--naps and bedtime-- only. Occasionally I broke this rule for long car rides or when they were sick. The "in bed only" rule has worked well with both kids. Grandparents, however, do not follow this rule but my kids and I have embraced the "what happens at grandma's stays at grandma's" philosophy. I am just saner not knowing everything, really, anything that goes on at either Lala's or Bubbles's house.

In our house, Ryan is the sandman and usually puts the kids to bed at night. He is better at it than I am. There is always less fussing when he does it. And in regards to banishing the pacifier, he is king. I don't know how he did it but he took Beau's baby away around 18 months; he did it with Carmella too. So Beau has been only having the baby at naptimes and that was because I am weak and wanted him to nap and giving him the baby was how I got him to do that. I did the same with Carmella until I realized she was no longer napping so then I just took the paci away. No nap, no paci.

Today we are on day three of the no napping program and Beau is starting to feel the effects. He had a meltdown at the gym that was ended by my allowing him to wear his cowboy boots and have his yellow truck with Scooby Doo on it-- both of these items just happened to be in my car and proved great negotiating tools for talking him down from the toddler ledge of insanity (which, if I am being honest, I was ready to shove him off of). The boots and car were in no way related to the origin of the meltdown but they resolved it. You know, whatever works. He completely freaked everyone out at the gym nursery today and I have to admit as annoying as it was, I was pretty entertained by it. He showed them three things today: first, that he can throw an Olympic size tantrum like no one else, second, that I wasn't kidding when I said he was Houdini when they watched in disbelief at how quickly he was able to shimmy under the 5 inch opening of the half door and third, exactly how strong and fast he is when he not only managed to wrangle away from them but easily opened several doors that I see adults struggle with everyday. He almost made it to the parking lot before they caught up with him.

Beau was okay after he got his cowboy boots and truck and things went fairly smooth the rest of the day. We had lunch, we ran errands and then we went to the pool for 2 1/2 hours. I could tell he was tired since this was the first day that he didn't put up a fight about going home. Or like on Friday, when I announced it was time go and I took his floaty off, he ran and jumped in the pool and nearly drowned--you know, just to show me that he wasn't going home and he really meant it. That was a fun heart attack for me.

Today though, he actually walked to the car instead of me having to carry him there kicking and screaming like I did on Saturday and then again on Sunday. Once we got home he laid on the floor and asked for a nap. I told him no and he began tantruming again him. I ignored him and put him in the tub. I bathed both he and Carmella and then set the kids up with a movie while I made them dinner.

When I called them to dinner only Carmella came. Beau had fallen asleep watching Scooby Doo. I woke him up and he sat dazed at the kitchen table half chewing his food. He kept laying down across the other chairs and I kept waking him up to eat. It was only 5:30 pm and I couldn't let him go to sleep yet. He had to hold out until at least 6:30, preferably 7.

My hopes(read plan)in stopping the naps are that Beau will go to bed an hour earlier-- and Carmella will be going then too-- and that he will then sleep until 8 in the morning instead of his usual 7, 6:30 am. This will make up for the 2 hour nap I am making him skip but still afford him enough sleep. Also, it will allow me some adult time in the evening with Ryan and some peace in the morning. I just see this as a win win situation, assuming it works.

So far so good, it is 7 pm and both kids are in bed.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Acclimating Para Deux

Bubbles and Poppy took the kids for a sleepover yesterday. I dropped them off a little bit before 5 pm and went home excited that I had yet another opportunity this week to run. It was still 90 degrees at 5 pm yesterday so I waited to see if the temps would go down while drinking copious amounts of water in hopes to be properly hydrated for my run. At 5:45 it was 88 degrees and the realtime Doppler radar on the telly was showing encroaching thunderstorms. I'll happily run in the rain in the summer months but a summer thunderstorm is a little different-- lightening scares the bejesus out of me. So despite the high temp--I consider 85 degrees my threshold--I headed out in hopes of beating the storms.

Either I have acclimated or the temp was off or more likely the cloud cover made it more bearable. My legs were tired and felt a bit heavy but other than that my run was rather enjoyable, much better than Wednesday's. Again, I didn't push the speed but was able to pick the pace halfway through and I'd say I finished it out at a sub 8 minute pace. I can't say for sure since I don't have a watch but I am pretty good at gauging what a 7:30 pace feels like vs an 8:30 pace.

After my run Ryan and I got dressed to go out for an adult evening. We dined at our favorite childless haunt and today I enjoyed a leisurely, quiet morning. So I have to admit that so far summer is actually shaping up quite nicely. I am heading out in a bit for yet another run and then going to get the kids and take them to a birthday party and then to the pool later.

Not a bad week at all:
Weekly mileage: 36 miles
Items found: 1 Trivial Pursuit game card that I did not know any of the answers to.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Ready or not it is officially summer. It is hot and the kids are out of school. We even went to the pool today. I had to put on my bathing suit.

Summer is not shaping up to be the brouhaha it was when I was a kid.

Just last week it was spring; the temps were cool and the kids were still in school. And I hadn't even wrapped my mind around the idea of me donning a bathing suit.

Talk about your wake up calls.

Sadly though the kids' last day of school was Thursday last week and thus ended my Tuesdays and Thursdays long runs. Now I am at the mercy of family to watch my kids so I can get a run in. This means that I have to be flexible about when I run and how often and for that matter how far.

Really, it has been okay this week. It is Wednesday and I am at 20 miles for the week--which is usually where I am mid-week anyway. Sunday morning I got to run and then Monday Ryan came home early from work and I got to run then too--I never get to run on Mondays so this was a nice treat. Tuesday, no dice for me: Lala has been picked up by a new gallery and is desperately trying to get enough pieces together for a show at the beginning of June. She isn't even taking my calls. Bubbles worked yesterday and was unavailable. Ryan didn't get home til after 8 pm. Luckily I had gone to the gym in the morning so I had at least got a workout in even if it wasn't running. Today I promised to take the kids to Tara's pool for a playdate with Chase. I was worried that I wouldn't get a chance to run yet again and I thought I might even be too worn out after an afternoon with the kids at the pool to even go to the gym. So I made sure to go to the gym this morning. Even still, I was hoping Bubbles would come through for me and watch the kids this afternoon so I could run.

My prayers were answered. Bubbles showed up at 5 pm and I, happily, went out for my run.

But holy mother of God was it hot as hell. After the first mile my head was swimming. I purposely took a slow pace and did manage to run the whole 6 1/2 miles but by the 5th mile I was starting to get chills and as I rounded the corner into my neighborhood I was brushing salt off my forehead. I checked the temp when I got in and it was 85 degrees. I am guessing in the sun it was hotter than that. I am just not ready for that kind of heat yet. I mean how am I suppose to go from 60 to 85 degrees in less than a week? Shouldn't I have had a warning week in the 70's?

So I have gone in less than a week from running in 60 degree weather in the morning, whenever I wanted to run to running at odd times of the day in 85+ degree weather.

Sheesh, didn't mother nature ever hear about acclimating? Didn't the school system?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Hide and Seek

Carmella and Beau and Ryan are playing hide and seek.
Carmella is it.
She is counting:
a 1, a 2, a 3, a 4, a 5, a 6, a 7, a 8, a 9, a 10, a 20, a 30, a 40, a 50, a 60, a 70, a 80, a 90, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27!



Carmella usually tells me I'm a mean mommy. This is because it is true. I am mean and I don't really care. Here's why she says I'm a mean mommy: According to Carmella, it is because I punish her and Beau for naughty stuff they do. I know, I know, I am so cruel. She says I should just let them do "whatever," because they "can't help it." Instead of getting mad and putting them in time-outs, I should say; "That's okay!I know you'll try harder to be good next time! Right?"

I am also a mean mommy because I get angry when they don't listen and then I yell. I yell because I assume that the reason that they didn't do what I told them to do was because they didn't hear me. So I raise my voice. Some people, er uhm, cough, Carmella, calls this "yelling". I "yell" because then I know for sure that they heard me. And if I can be sure that they heard me, then I can justly punish them for ignoring me and being disrespectful. I am also mean because I don't take them to the jumpy place every week and I don't let Carmella have sleep-overs.

In case anyone doesn't remember Carmella said that being 5 meant you could have sleep-overs. This is her rule, not mine. I think 5 is too little for sleep-overs. But since she did just graduate from pre-school and because she has been desperately missing her friend Alexa I surprised her by inviting Alexa to spend the night Friday.

Both Carmella and Alexa nearly drove Stacie and I nuts in their anticipation for Friday's arrival: "What day is it? How many days til Alexa comes/I go to Carmella's? When I go to Carmella's/when Alexa comes over we are going to . . ." and so on and so on--all week. To no end. Maddening. By Wednesday I told Carmella if she even mentioned Alexa's name again until Alexa was actually here that I would call Miss Stacie and tell her Alexa couldn't come. Miss Stacie pretty much told Alexa the same thing.

The sleep-over went well. I will have Alexa over again, anytime. The girls are always good together. Regretfully, I didn't take pictures except the one above but they cracked my ass up watching them get ready to go out to dinner Friday night. They came down in near identical outfits, sunglasses,and decked out in about every piece of jewelry Carmella owns. They had hideous, poorly and overly applied purple lipstick on. Dark purple lipstick. They reminded me of my friend Elizabeth and myself in middle school. And like my mother did to us, I let the girls go out as they were; figuring, as my mother did, that the humiliation of looking like that would cure them of their poor taste. This tactic didn't work any better with 5 year olds than it did with 13 year olds. At least on the 5 year olds it was kind of cute.

At dinner I got asked by several different people if they were twins. They do sort of look a like and are the same size and age so this wasn't totally surprising. I also felt flattered that people thought I could handle twins. Dinner, though, was an event unto itself. Ryan and I, along with Meme and Pat, found out that when you go out to eat with 4 kids that you become invisible. Even when you order your Mexican food in Spanish they still mess it up because they hate you. Even when the kids tango in the aisle and get in the way of the servers, you are still invisible.

The girls didn't go to bed til after 10:30 and then to my horrors woke up before the sun was even up. Around 6 am I heard Alexa across the hall telling jokes. I think Carmella was still asleep because I didn't hear her. Only Alexa: "Why did the chicken cross the road? To get dressed! Ha ha ha. Get it? Get it? Get it?" After about 15 minutes of this there then ensued much shushing. And then screaming. And then more shushing. And then Beau was up too-- all this before six thirty in the morning.

The kids were outside playing by eight and I was drinking coffee. I had successfully, until Saturday, been off the coffee for three weeks. Sigh.

They played until we had to go to Carmella's Flip Fest. The Flip Fest was Carmella's gymnastic recital. Alexa's dad met us there and picked her up. Alexa was very disappointed to go.
Carmella yawned through the entire Fest. She looked dazed in the choreographed group routine but so did the rest of them. The instructors then took the kids through the events: bars, beam, vault and floor. Carmella got up on the uneven bars and waved but then shook her head and got down, refusing to do her little bar routine. On beam she completely refused to do it (can't say I blame her, I hated beam and bars too). At one point I saw her sneak off to the bathroom. I ambushed her there and asked what was up. She told me she was tired. I told her Meme, Pat and baby Pat had come to watch her perfom. She admitted that she wasn't aware of that. It seemed once she knew at least part of her fan base was present she did better. She made a good showing with the vault and floor and the presentation of the certificate. Later, she was even perkier about the pink trophy.

After Flip Fest we went to my mom's to pick up Beau, so I could run and to also pick up cousin Bella for sleep-over number 2. Earlier in the week, well after I had already committed to Alexa sleeping over, Bella's mother asked if I would do her a favor and keep Bella Saturday night as her mother (Aunt Boo) couldn't do it and my mother wouldn't. We haven't seen Bella in a year, maybe 2 and I thought since all of Carmella's other cousins are younger and are boys I thought it would be fun for her to hang out with Bella.

Bella is a super-model child. Carmella is not short by any means but Bella is at least 5 inches taller. She looks like she is 7 but she is only 4. She is a beautiful child too, with a head full off blond enviable curls. She also is a funny kid. She told me that she had to eat these bars-- and these bars were Quaker oatmeal bars-- that they were medicine.
Medicine for what, I asked?
For her allergies.
Oh, what are you allergic to?
Don't know, pollen or something.
Later, it came out that it is Barbie that she is allergic to. And eating those bars she explained, "keeps me safe." I was greatly entertained by her and so was Carmella.

They played good together: They played barbies (though Carmella worried about Bella's "allergy" and later Carmella, surmised that Bella's allergy was probably because of Barbie's hair). They giggled in Carmella's room. They had a clubhouse on Beau's top bunk that excluded Beau. They swung so high on the swings they almost touched the trees. They had a blast in the bath making alphabet soup. They had a pizza picnic and watched a Scooby Doo movie. But as it got darker Bella started getting a little whiney and then Carmella told me she was ready for bed. Beau protested. Bella began to cry. Carmella obeyed. We brushed teeth and I read books. Then it was time to sleep. Ryan ushered Beau to his bed and I tucked the girls in. Bella decided she needed to switch places with Carmella. Carmella complied, as Bella was the guest and Carmella already told her that as the guest it was her right to chose and be first--at everything. Bella began crying again and saying she was scared. She wanted to call her mommy.

I had previously been warned that Bella would do this at bedtime. My Aunt Boo, whose house Bella had stayed at the night before, had let Bella call her mommy--with disastrous and hysterical results. I was planning on trying a less sympathetic route. I explained, rather matter of fact, that her mommy was busy and that there was nothing scary here and that I would be right downstairs and then, later, right across the hall. It was fine. Everything was fine, I assured her. And, look, see, I wasn't even turning the lights out. Just putting the chandelier on dim. It's cool. Carmella's not scared and Beau, well, Beau is a baby, that's why he is fussing. Everything is fine--I said backing out of room-- good night.

Beau, as I passed his room on my way back downstairs, called out that "Mama, I'm 'ared too."
Hush, no you're not, I whispered to him.
Beau went to sleep.
Carmella tried to sleep.
And after a few minutes of sniffling, Bella came downstairs.

I hugged her and snuggled with her for a minute and then led her back upstairs and told her to go potty. While Bella went potty I gave Carmella the 4-1-1. Bella misses her mommy and she is going to cry for a while, I explained. Don't worry though, I told her, because everything is fine. Don't get scared because she is crying. You need to be brave for her because Bella is nervous about being away from her mommy. Tell her it is okay, I said. And Carmella promised she would.

I then tucked Bella back in and kissed them both and went back downstairs. And waited.

About 10 minutes later both girls came downstairs, crying.

We are both scared, Bella announced. I asked of what. Bella said she was scared because she missed her mommy-- and could we please, please call her, she begged. Carmella's reason was so lame I almost laughed out loud, forgetting that I was trying to be sympathetic. She was scared because she was worried about her trophy that she left at Lala's.

Your trophy is fine, I told her.

This was way too funny not to share, so we called Lala. Yes-- I know--I risked serious, possible upset of my plan but, don't you know? A lonely trophy is much more serious than missing mommy. Come on!

Lala assured Carmella the trophy was safe and Carmella went back upstairs and got in bed. Bella, of course asked if she could call her mommy, again. And again, tucking her in, I said no. I told her that "we're not going to do that." Surprisingly, she didn't ask why. But she did argue that she missed her Mommy. I said I knew she did but the sooner she closed her eyes and went to sleep the sooner she could see her mommy. And even more surprising, she did close her eyes and I heard nothing more from any of the kids till 8 am.

Ah, sleep, blissful sleep.

So, I think that I have redeemed myself and have earned the title of "nice" mommy--at least for today and until tomorrow when I yell or don't take them to the jumpy place or punish them for beating the crap out of each other.

I have also learned that maybe some 5 year olds are ready for sleep-overs but 4 year olds most definitely are not. That's not a sleep-over, that's baby-sitting.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

New York City--November 5, 2006!

I have registered and am in the lottery for the 2006 ING New York City Marathon.
I won't know if I am one of the lucky 34,999 to run along aside Lance Armstrong until June 15th.

I am keeping my fingers, toes and everything else crossed.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

My Wealth

My great-grand mother Ebie once commented to me, as I walked her from my house to my aunt's house next door after a visit,--a visit during which many of my friends had stopped by--"that it is friends that make you rich, not money. You are lucky to have so many nice friends."

I am lucky. I have always been. Not in the way some people are but I know that I have always been blessed by knowing so many great people that I can call my friends.

She died a year after telling me this but her words have long stuck with me. So on this Mother's Day I want to thank all my Mommy friends and family for giving me such a rich life. With you guys as friends I live my life like I have Bill Gates's bank account. Thanks to: Lala, Bubbles, Noni, Tara, Meme, Dee, Carrie, Liz, Kim, Pam, Steph, Stacie, Barb, Jess, Danielle, Tisha, Anne, Camille, Lissa and on and on. You guys make this Mommy gig easier by keeping those tough days from ever feeling lonely.

I especially want to wish Meme and Carrie a happy first Mother's Day. Meme, I know you have waited years to be a Mommy. Congratulations. I am sure that you will be as excellent mother as you are aunt, friend and confidant. And to Carrie, I say welcome to club. You will laugh more now than you ever did before.

Last night Meme was hospitable enough to yet again host us at her house for a fun evening of food, drink and fireworks. The kids had fun too:

Check out Beau's arm. Rookie of the year 2021:

All the kids; Carmella, baby Pat, Beau and Chase:

Best buds--that is when they aren't killing each other:

Fireworks and Carmella's cabbage patch:

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Graduate

Carmella graduated from preschool today. She got her diploma and she is ready for Kindergarten. Hooray!

This whole ceremony was a total tear jerker and just about the cutest thing ever. Each class sang a song and then each student walked across the stage to receive their diploma. Then the whole graduating class sang "God's Alphabet" and the school's Graduation song.

Here are the pictures from this momentous occasion:

Carmella receiving her diploma:
I was very impressed with the 4/5 year olds being able to grab the diploma and shake the hand. I remember having a bit of anxiety about that for my high school graduation.

Adjusting the hat:
Ladies and gentleman, your attention please. May I present the class of 2018:

The cake:

Close up:

Happy Graduate:

Lala, Bubbles and the Graduate and all her bouquets.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hell. Yes.

Today on the mill:
Time at 1 mile: 6 minutes 50 seconds
Time at 2 miles: 14 minutes and 49 seconds
Time at 5k: 21 minutes and 28 seconds
Time at 4 miles: 28 minutes and 57 seconds
Time at 5 miles: 37 minutes and 34 seconds

Those are my fastest times ever at each distance.

Woo hoo!

Quiet time

Who needs a maid when you got kids?

Right now, Beau is upstairs cleaning his room. Carmella cleaned the playroom when she came home from school. I folded laundry. This is a good day.

I am most impressed by Beau. Generally when I tell the kids to "pick up your toys or I'm throwing every last one of them out" Carmella will scurry around picking everything up. Beau just keeps right on playing, ignoring me. I have even witnessed Carmella clean Beau's room for fear that I will throw out his toys. The very idea of any toy, even one of her brother's, going into the trash is extremely distressing for Carmella. Also, she knows from experience that Mommy makes good on her threats. Beau could give a rat's ass about Mommy's threats. He'll learn.

And again, this yet another prime example of just how different my daughter is than I was at the same age. Okay, at any age. I am, er, was the type of kid who would have found extreme pleasure in seeing my brother's toys thrown out because he didn't clean them up. I was even the type of kid who would probably have purposely put his toys back out even if he did clean them up just to watch him cry as they were thrown in the trash. Mwhahahahaha. . . Yep, I was the original bad seed.

Lucky for me, Carmella is nothing like me.

The reason for this cleaning is quiet time/naptime. In my house for kids under the age 4 there is a 2 hour, strictly enforced, quiet time. Everyday. Your choice is to nap and if you choose not to nap you may play quietly in your room. Usually Beau naps but today he decided to trash his room. There is also a semi-quiet time for the older than 4 crowd. The options here are: to nap, or you have to clean your room and/or playroom or where ever you made a mess that morning and didn't have time to pick it up. After cleaning you then may play quietly for an hour doing anything but watching TV. After an hour you may turn on the television and enjoy a snack. Carmella always chooses to clean and that is fine with me.

Since Beau didn't nap today and made a huge mess of his room I told him that he couldn't come out until it was clean. He asked me to help him but I told him no. I explained that since I didn't help make the mess I didn't have to help clean it up either. So he is cleaning. He has been making a lot of racket tossing toys in the appropriate places but he is cleaning.

Hang on, he is calling me to check his room.

Okay, I'm back. It was clean but his bed wasn't made, not really a big deal since he'll be getting back in it in a few hours anyway but I wanted to see how far I could push it. I told him his room looked great but he had to make his bed before he could come out. Carmella heard and came bounding up the stairs asking if she could help him-- really, is this normal?

Of course once he had Carmella's help he quit but I told him he would be punished if he didn't help her, that he was lucky to have such a sweet sister. So he started helping.

Here are the pictures from their joint bed-making effort.

Carmella even explained her technique:
"First you throw everything on the floor and you arrange the pillows.":

"Then you start putting the animals back.":

"Not that one yet," she tells him. "I like to be creative with it and do it different every time.":

"All done!":

Maybe not as good as when I do it but not bad at all for a 2 year old and 5 year old-- and, even better, I didn't have to do it! Yes, I have learned to lower my standards-- not that they were all that high to begin with.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

On Getting Faster

On Monday I ran a 6 minute 54 second mile on the treadmill. On Wed I ran a 6 minute 50 second mile on the treadmill. My fastest recorded time prior was 6:59. I am getting faster.

The time has come to buy a stop watch and get a more accurate time, (read) faster time.

Runner's World June issue has great tips on how to get faster. The online site is even more helpful and has a trainer tool to help you customize a training program to get faster for your next race. I already do incorporate some of these tips and training recommendations in my, and I use this term loosely, training program. However, none of their tips involve a treadmill as a tool for speedwork. Obviously my methods are either cutting edge or, more likely the case, not very effective considering the magazine tells me that running on a treadmill forces you to run differently than you do on the road.

I have to admit that when it comes to running I do focus more on endurance--the length of my runs--in lieu of speed. Really, I think they should probably receive nearly equal billing. I remember from my days of swimming that our practices were fairly divided between interval training, sprints and 2 long lap swims; warm-up and cool down. Endurance was a by product of the relentless intervals--which I hated then and I hate now-- so they rarely find their way into my running workouts.

So why bother with getting faster if it takes the pleasure out of running one might be inclined to wonder.

My answer is simple: being faster means I can run further. I like to run far. And there is definite pleasure in pounding out the miles at a fast and efficient clip. Your body feels like a machine. You feel like you own the road. I see running fast and efficiently as kicking gravity's ass and as the prime paradigm of physics at its best.

The treadmill at the gym, which I use to do my sprint work, I know is not the most ideal tool for increasing one's speed. The problem is that the top speed is a six minute mile. This has not been a problem until recently as previously I never pushed it below a 7 minute mile. Lately though, as I sprint and gradually increase my speed from a 7 1/2 minute mile to a 6 minute mile, I am finding that I can and want to go faster.

My mind absolutely boggles at the thought that if with proper training I might some day be able to run a 6 minute flat or even, dare I think it? A sub 6 minute mile. When I started running 8 years ago I was a solid 9-91/2 minute miler. I thought then that an 8 minute mile was impossible. Now I run 10 consecutive 8 minute miles on a fairly regular basis.

I am not so totally unrealistic that I would ever entertain that I could maintain a 6 minute mile, even a 7 minute mile for the course of a whole marathon. I am talking about for just one mile only, not consecutive miles, a 6 minute pace. But I do think that a 7 minute mile for a 10k and an 8 minute pace for a marathon might be realistic--assuming I can get that one 6 minute mile. Well, anyway, that is what I hold as my allusive goal.

As runners, and I am loosely paraphrasing John Bingham here, we put up doors that we think are closed to us: the 8 minute mile, the half marathon, the marathon--whatever. And once we bust through that door we have to put up a different door that we may think is closed: a door that we may never have even imagined possible. The best part of running, I think, is how you can continually surprise yourself.

Friday, May 05, 2006


That is the language Beau speaks. I know, I know it is not nice to make fun of kids with speech problems but he is my kid. And besides, I feel that after enduring one too many of his public tantrums I have earned the right to tease.

I mentioned awhile back that Beau has Apraxia. He was diagnosed at 27 months. But at 30 months he started talking and his speech therapist feels this is no longer an accurate diagnosis but rather he has an articulation or phonological disorder. This is a way less serious, less permanent diagnosis. Basically, speechwise he is age appropriate in what he says but he still lags in understandability.

Beau leaves the first sound off of almost every word he says. Often it is really hard to understand him unless you know the context. Lately though it is getting easier so either he is getting better or I am almost fully fluent in Beau-Latin. Regardless, his speech has become very endearing to me and I think I am going to miss it when he no longer speaks it. Sometimes I make him repeat stuff even though I understand him the first time just because it sounds so cute and I like hearing him say it.

Tonight he had me rolling on the floor.

Ryan and I were watching TV and I heard Beau call from the top of the stairs: Daddeee! Iaper.
And then said some other stuff we couldn't understand.

Ryan and I wait. I hear Beau pad his way down the stairs. He comes and stands beside the couch next to where I am sitting. I can only see his face.
He looks very serious and says: Mommy, my iaper es inky. (holds nose) Oop! Pe ewe.
I say: Oh, then tell daddy.
So Beau comes around the couch and I am surprised to see he has no diaper on and is walking with his pj pants around his ankles.
Both Ryan and I stifle laughter.
Beau says: Daddy, my iaper es inky. Oop!
Ryan can only laugh.
I say: Where is your diaper Beau?
Beau: P-dairs
Me:Is it poopy?
Beau, very serious, says: Des, es inky.

Me, not wanting to believe him and also picturing the potential Hazmat disaster upstairs, says: Let me see your bottom.
Beau obliges, even turns around and moons us, trying to spread cheeks and says: inky!

Thankfully he is clean. Otherwise this would have been Daddy duty.

I say let's go upstairs and get a new diaper and I nearly wet myself watching him waddle up the stairs with his pants around his ankles.

Once upstairs he leads me to the bathroom and points to the trash: Eye hrew my iaper in da ash. Es inky. Eye eed ewe iaper.

Oh.My God: So. Fucking. Cute. I. Could. Die.
(The diaper was just wet; he calls everything poop.)

Okay, but seriously, if you know enough to take off your diaper when it is wet and throw it in the trash why the hell just not go on the potty to begin with?

Our Visit to the Holy Land

aka, Napa Valley.

Before anyone calls me heretic let me just say everyone has their own way of talking to God and their own way of praying. Mine just happens to involve wine, good times and pretty places.

On our first day in Napa we went black tie Taxi bus and our driver was Otello.
On the bus was Uncle Bob and Maryann, Bubbles and Poppy, Meme, Pat, baby Pat, Uncle Don, Eileen and of course, Ryan and I.
Our first stop was Andretti. I was as unimpressed by the wine as I am by car racing. But it was still pretty. Of course everything in Napa is beautiful. And , regardless, I tasted all the tastings that were poured in my glass. It wasn't even noon and already I was getting silly.

Next on our pilgrimage was Mecca.
Domain Chandon has been a mainstay at all of our celebrations: at our wedding we toasted with White Star and we had so much (thank you Uncle John for the generous gift) left over we toasted all year. Then we toasted at Carmella's birth, Christmas's, Easter's, New Years, 1st birthdays and 30th birthdays and then Beau's birth and we still continue to toast and sometimes roast with Chandon whatever the vintage, whatever the occasion. So really, for me, there is no holier place than Chandon. It is holy water.
Here is me and Meme worshipping at the shrine.

It is a beautiful vineyard. It even smelled divine. The champagne was delicious and I really didn't want to leave.
All I can say is if you go to Napa, don't skip over Chandon. We did buy a special bottle to take home and I can't wait for the occasion to drink it. Maybe my upcoming 35th birthday or maybe our 7 year anniversary?

After leaving Chandon we stopped at Sunshine foods and picked up some yummy edibles and headed for our next winery. By this point I am pretty well beyond silly, sitting in the back of the bus with Uncle Bob and Uncle Don asking them 20 gazillion questions, talking about nothing. What can I say? I'm a talker and despite my regular wine consumption I am still and always will be a light weight.

We stopped at the Reverie winery for lunch. This is an awesome winery with very good wine. I am not much of a red person but we did buy a bottle here as it was excellent. Not to mention they have a couple of hotties employed here to peddle the wine so even if the wine hadn't been good there was still yummy eye candy to be had-- well, for the women, and I suppose, the men too-- depending which way you swing.

I would add this to a definite stopping point of any tour of Napa. They store their wine in a man-made cave--so cool cave effect but not creepy like real caves-- and as you can see from the picture you can have a picinic here. This is ideal on rainy day such as we had. Also, their label, at least what we bought, is called A.S. Kiken, that's right Ass Kick'n wine. Don't ask me why because I 1) did not take notes, 2) was busy staring/not listening to hottie during his tutorial and 3) I was already past my usual limit.

After Reverie I am unclear of the exact order of the next wineries but we visited Ehlers, Merryvale, and Markam--the rock-n-roll winery.
At Ehlers there was a dog named Riley and Bocce ball. I really think Otello took us here so that he could work on his game. I even tossed a ball. It seems like a fun game. Maybe I'll have Ryan put one in the backyard. I think it would be a great addition to Beaupalooza III.

This is the whole group in front of Merryvale.

We had dinner at the Rutherford Grill and 4 of us ate the most expensive ribs in the whole world but they were damn good. So if ever in Napa and you want ribs go to Rutherford Grill.

The next day we did much of the same but we drove ourselves. We tasted my favorite wine at Cakebread. The winery wasn't all that much to look at but I guess with wine that good you don't have to do a lot to try and sell it. We brought a bottle back for my mom and her eyes about popped out of her head. The reserve chardonnay is amazing and they told us you can't buy it in stores. I am hoping when she pops that bottle she invites me over for a glass (hint hint).

We also visited:
Plumpjack It was fun and quirky and the wine was good but mostly reds and like I said, I don't drink a lot of red so I passed on buying. Plus, what I liked was a bit pricey.

We stopped and lunched at Cuvasion. Again we got lunch at Sunshine Foods. I think Poppy bought some wine from here and we drank it at lunch. It was very good too.

Close Pegase.
I really wasn't impressed by the wine here but it is definitely worth the visit if you like art. They have some amazing pieces.This sculpture is by Henry Moore.

The building and the landscaping were equally impressive.

I don't know who did the Thumb sculpture but it did seem familiar to me. I was drawn to it because I have always likened my body shape to that of a thumb. I am not a pear. I am not an apple. I am a thumb. I have actually been told this. Notice the similarities?

Peju had amazing gardens, grounds and a beautiful tasting building.
This was the last vineyard we visited in Napa.

I felt like I was in the room of a castle.

I think this should be Meme's and Pat's Christmas picture.

After our tour of the wineries we sucked it up for an adult evening out in downtown Napa. We had dinner at Celadon and then danced at Joe's.
Our evening was cut short because Pat decided that he had the Natalie Holloway case all figured out and we must leave immediately as Meme and I were in great danger. It had something to do with the bartender ringing a bell and the free shots that someone bought Meme and I. It was a weird scene but nothing dire.

So, I think we had a fun trip. Since being back I do get the shakes around 1pm because I no longer start drinking before noon. It has been a tough adjustment but I'll manage.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

On Patrol with the Tree Geeks

Ryan and his brother are flora and fauna nerds. Every vacation involves a lot of plant conversation and tree photos. They fondle the leaves, admire the stems and ask me to get out of the way so they can get a good picture of the bark.
We only spent Friday and Saturday in San Francisco. So just two days with a rehearsal dinner and a 3 o' clock Catholic wedding cushioning our sight seeing. We definitely did not get to take in as much as might have liked.

Saturday I got up early to run a 10K in the Golden Gate park with Poppy. The race was put on by a local running club and was really low key. Or was suppose to be and maybe it was. Unfortunately, we never found the race. Our map for the park lacked the necessary street name of the start/finish and we just couldn't figure out exactly which unnamed street it was. So we made up our own course. I won and I ran further. We still did about 6-7 miles so I feel good about it.
I may hate flying to California but I love running there. I totally dig the no humidity and the perfect 60 degree weather. And I especially loved running through the Golden Gate Park. What an amazing park. Just WOW!

After my run I met up with the tree geeks and Meme and we toured the Tea Gardens and wandered about until starvation forced us to cab it to the Wharf for some lunch. We even saw a little Tai Chi on our way out of the park-- which I totally do not get but was still interesting to watch. I can't believe whole groups of people do this outside in public for anyone to watch. Show-offs.

Ryan took some pretty neat pictures of the Tea Gardens. I really wish we had had more time to see the other gardens in the park. There is a flower conservatory, which I felt pretty certain there would be some cool orchids in that I would have loved seeing. Not to mention the Shakespeare Garden that I ran past but was too nervous to venture in alone. As a woman runner I get skeeved out about desolate places. I need cars and people and well traveled roads to feel safe. Sadly, no trail marathons for me.
Sunday we left San Francisco but not before I got to try Dim Sum. I am not a breakfast food lover. I do not like eggs. At all. Blech! And since almost all breakfast/brunch foods seems to revolve around the egg I am often S.O.L. So Dim Sum was a nice change for me. I got to eat something other than cereal. This is a breakfast I can get on board with: shrimp and pork and vegetables wrapped up in a dumpling! Yum!

After breakfast and some requisite Bridge pictures we drove on to Napa but not before stopping in Muir Woods to placate the tree geeks.
Having grown up in the South and because I am too well acquainted (meaning visually bored to death) with the fauna and foliage of the Appalachian I am always enamored by the Northwest forests along the coast. I say forests because to me forest is a magical word and the woods in Oregon, Northern California and Washington seem magical to me. They are conjuring places. Places that I think hobbits, fairies and brownies could really live. Tolkien comes to life here, I am certain.

I felt these woods were so magical that I chose to listen to my ipod rather than the commentary from the tree geeks. I felt other worldly. And yes it may have been the Anchor Steams we enjoyed at our lunch in Tiburon. But know that Cold Play and Pavement and World Party proved wonderful companions on my stroll through Muir Woods.

Muir Woods made me wish that I did live right outside of San Francisco-- maybe in Tiburon or Sausilito, and that I wasn't scared and that I was a trail runner. Sigh. Maybe in another life. And in that life, maybe I wouldn't even wear my ipod and would let my rhythmic breathing and the sound of my quiet footfall echoing in the forest motivate me rather than the tunes in my head.