This past weekend, my friend Kim and I decided to run a half. No, not a half-mile, a half-marathon.
For all you non-runners out there, that equals 13.1 miles--not a bowdownandworshipme distance, but nothing to sneeze at either. It's kind of like being the student council treasurer instead of the student council president....or the school mascot instead of the school cheerleader....or a chiropractor instead of a medical doctor.
Kidding. Kidding! Jared, sweet husband, I swear I was only kidding. I'd rather have an endless supply of back cracks than an endless supply of prescription narcotics any day of the week. (And just like that I've moved from innocent joking to blatant lying...funny how that happens.)
Anyhoo, Kim is married to our Branch President--the equivalent of a pastor for all my Protestant and Catholic friends out there--and for some reason, the fact that the Branch President's wife skipped church to run a race made the entire experience that much better.
Kim and I met in a grocery store parking lot at 6am, we loaded into my station wagon (because we're hot), and headed south. I spent the greater part of the two-hour drive hydrating, and after coming perilously close to whizzing in m'britches two times, we arrived at the starting area.
And that was the moment when we put two and two together--it was March, in New England, thirty degrees outside, winds of twenty-something miles per hour, and we were paying forty bucks a pop to run thirteen miles right next to the open ocean.
What. The. Hell.
I was like, "Hey Kim? Never repeat this, but I think I'd rather be at church."
She was speechless.
Here we are, hiding from the wind, waiting for the race to start:
You know what I love about that picture? I love that fact that Kim's iPod is bigger than my vest. Clearly I purchased that vest in 2003--two years before I came to realize the joy (and abdominal disfiguration) that comes along with motherhood.
Now, I will recap the race in four brief statements:
1) Five feet into the race I tripped over a florescent orange traffic cone.
2) Four miles into the race I had no idea how I was doing since there were no mile markers along the course. Ten miles into the race I still had no idea how I was doing because, right-o, still no mile markers.
And the volunteers (bless their generous, supportive hearts) weren't much of a help. I'd be like, "Where are we?" And they were all, "Hampton Beach!!!! Isn't it beautiful?!?! Yay!!!! Run!!!!!"
Enthusiastic? Absolutely. Helpful? In their own way, I suppose they were.
3) I would describe this race as very windy, super windy, oh-so-windy, and unbefreakinglievably windy. A phrase like "really stinking windy" might also be suitable.
4) I went into the race with the goal of running 1:50 or under. I ran 1:49.59. If that isn't trophy worthy, then what the heck is?
Here I am after the race:
We're lucky enough to live one tenth of a mile from a really pretty lake. When the leaves are off the trees, and it's not too dark but not too bright, you can kind of see the water from the top corner of our upstairs bathroom window.
If you live out West, or down South, or anywhere other than the North, I know what you're thinking. You're all, "Eeeeewwww! Gross!!!!! Lake water!!!! Gag!!!!" Well guess what? You're wrong. In fact, you've never been wronger.
But honestly, I do know where you're coming from--I used to live in Texas. I still remember the first time we took James swimming at Joe Pool Lake, I was like, "Jared, do not drop the baby...if you do, we'll never see him again. And he's just starting to grow on me."
It was like swimming around in a clogged toilet that you flush and pray, flush and pray, flush and pray, until you finally give up, walk away, and let your unsuspecting co-workers worry about the turd soup.
And those fountains? In the middle of the unswimmable lakes? I still don't understand.
Up here in the North, where lakes are made by the hands of God--you know, as opposed to large crews of illegal workers--these bodies of water are pretty stinking beautiful. They're clean, they're clear, and if you have a thing for trashy people wearing tiny bathing suits, then heaven itself can't beat a morning at the public beach.
It's cold and snowy and completely craptastic in Maine this afternoon, so I found these pictures in my web album.
Click on this picture to get a look at a littler version of James:
These are the benches I like to stand on when I make my proclamations about life, liberty, and the fact that I'm seriously overworked:
The lake is about nine miles long, and this summer I plan to swim from end to end. Either that, or I plan to eat maple donuts on the bow of my in-laws' boat. I haven't decided yet.
This is a picture of my closet. Actually, it's our closet--two doors, one shared space. I'm sure you Westerners will gasp in horror when you get a look at its size. You see, up here in New England, we don't do the whole my-closet-is-larger-than-my-two-car-garage thing. But we also don't do the whole oh-crap-this-house-is-worth-half-as-much-as-we-paid-for-it-four-years-ago-thing, so I guess it all equals out in the end.
Looking straight on, Jared uses the right side of the closet. See?
Yes, that really is the extent of his wardrobe--three work shirts, a Hawaiian print Red Sox shirt, and a giant red and black plaid flannel (for date nights).
There's no questioning the fact that I'm this man's worst nightmare--he hangs his pajamas. I think it's glaringly obvious that he only married me for the money.
In the past week I've gotten three random emails asking for more pictures of my everyday, hum-drum, kind of boring life--and two of them said, "Like the stuff that's in your refrigerator." Now I don't keep up with blog trends so well, but I'm guessing this might be one of them. If not, the creep factor just increased by at least fifty degrees.
I know as well as the next guy that voyeurism is a heck of a lot of fun, but to be completely honest, I'm pretty stinking average. Plus, I might be the worst photographer ever.
But I'll do it. Every day for the next week I'll post some pictures or a short video of my day-to-day goings on. If there's anything in particular that you'd like to see--around my house, around my town, in Jared's car, definitely not at my work--post a comment and I'll do my best to satisfy your nosiness.
For today, without further ado, I bring you the inside of my refrigerator. Fascinating, right?
A) Orange Juice from Concentrate--I'm cheap.
B) Homemade Applesauce--As in my mother-in-law made it while I yapped her ear off.
C) Iced Tea--I drink four gallons of the stuff every single day. I also use whiskey instead of mouthwash. And when my cows are sick I let them inhale my second-hand smoke. (that was a joke for Mormons)
D) Green Milk and Green Jello--It was delivered to James by a leprechaun named Jimmy O'Mally (or Sh!tty O'Mommy--either way) at 6pm on St. Patrick's Day.
E) Almond Milk--I swear it's only a little bit gross.
F) Ground Flax Seed--Apparently it's good for the brain.
G) Coca Cola Classic--Definitely good for the brain.
H) Yeast and Pasta--Whole wheat pasta. You know, in case CPS ever stops by without an invitation.
I) Eggs--I own two and they're both broken.
J) Prunes--Sometimes my poop gets stuck.
K) Cheese--There's approximately one tablespoon of shredded cheddar in there.
L) Purple Cabbage--Jared likse to throw little pieces of it in our bed when he's cranky and over-tired. I'm not kidding, he did it last night.
M) Spinach--Ups the sexy factor.
N) Salad--It's no longer in the bowl, it's now in our bed. And no, I'M STILL NOT KIDDING.
O) Kale--I don't know what the hell to do with it either.
P) Fresh Air
This is the front of my fridge. It's just as craptastic and messy as everything else in my life--like a screwed up game of Eye Spy every time you pass through the kitchen. Can you find a Chinese fortune? Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel? A fish with a wiggly tail?
Here's a close-up of James's school picture. It features his signature smile, of course:
This is our latest family portrait. I'm the one holding the baby:
And this...this, my friends is the official Lawson Family Declaration:
Jared carries a copy in his wallet, James carries a copy in his backpack, and I carry a copy in my heart. The paper copy is probably in the same place as my driver's license, my Discover card, and my debit card--a very mysterious place.
I got the idea to write a family declaration from an article I read in Real Simple Magazine while I was pooping at the Wal-Mart. It's supposed to be a mission statement for your family, and so far it's really helped us along.
See how some of the words are underlined in thick, black marker? That because sometimes, when Jared's being extra horrible, I drag him to the refrigerator by the ear, underline a phrase like HELP EACH OTHER OUT or BE KIND or WE TRY NOT TO BE DOUCHE BAGS with a sharpie, and decrease his self-esteem with an evil gaze. No words required.
So there. My fridge. I feel very close to you right now.
I'm not sure why it's so important to us, but Jared and I have tried to give our kids names that have a little bit of meaning.
Maggie, for example, is named after the Magalloway River--Jared's favorite place to catch trout. Her middle name is Elizabeth, since we got married at Elizabeth Park near my childhood home in Connecticut. And her last name is Lawson--a name that's been passed down the line by a bunch of white guys I've never met.
James's middle name is Camden. Camden is a beautiful little town in Maine, and also happens to be the first place I ever made out with Jared. Not the place where we fell in love mind you, but the place where Jared turned to me and said, "I know that I'm moving out West and this relationship will never go anywhere, but would you mind if I kissed you?"
I was swallowing his head before I even had the wherewithal to answer.
So that's his middle name. And his first name? Well that's after my Irish grandfather, Jimmy Smedick. Technically speaking, James is 12.5%, or 1/8th Irish. Technically speaking, I'm 1/8th stupid, since I forgot to dress James in a single speck of green clothing on this great St. Patrick's day.
He did wipe some snot on his cheek this morning during breakfast. Does that count?
Jared called me from the school parking lot, pointing out the fact that kids were pouring off the bus wearing shamrock shaped diddly-boppers, pot o' gold tattoos on their cheeks, and green clothing from head to toe. James on the other hand, was wearing a t-shirt from Bike Week in Daytona Beach--with a nice graphic of an eagle riding a Harley.
I did manage to scrounge up a package of green jello, and put a few drops of green food coloring in the upstairs toilet to make it look like a drunk leprechaun stopped by to take a whiz. All I can do is cross my fingers and hope for redemption.
Sorry, Grandpa Jim.
Up here in Maine, we don't have a lot of kids--which is unfortunate, because we have a ton of trees, and from everything I can tell as a mother, kids love to pee on trees.
Anyhoo, we don't have a lot of kids, which means we don't have a ton of Boy Scouts, which means there's almost no one to race against in the Pinewood Derby. To make a long story short, the Pinewood Derby would be ridiculously lame if it wasn't for the fact that every man, woman, child, baby, dog, inmate, and so on and so forth is encouraged to participate.
The morning of the Pinewood Derby, I made the executive decision that it would be bucket loads of fun to build a car. Jared was at work, Maggie was napping, and James and I had nothing but time, initiative, and fabulous ideas.
After a few slight-to-moderate mishaps with the rip saw, we went to the competition with this little beauty in our hands:
That's right. We call it The Penguin Racer.
It's red, it's shiny, it's decorated with Sharpie marker, and you guessed it--The Penguin Racer came in dead last.
I won't mince words here--that car sucked a major heap of sh!t. Not only was it beaten by a crayon, a dragon, and a seriously clunky toilet paper tube contraption, but that good-for-nothing penguin barely made it to the end of track.
That penguin is a bastard.
James did his absolute best to hold in his tears, and so did I. I tried to teach my son that winning isn't everything, but two words into my speech I was like, "Oh screw it. Let's get some brownies--they'll help us stuff down these terrible feelings of inadequacy."
While we were numbing our pain with fatty foods, I asked James, "So what can we do next year to help our car go faster?"
Without hesitation he said, "We can have Daddy build it."
And without hesitation I said, "Good idea. If Daddy can loosen his grip on his fishing rod for six or seven minutes, I'm sure he'd be happy to help you with your car."
It was all very touching.
Luckily, James walked away with the "Great Effort Award."
He's definitely walking in his mother's footsteps. And let me tell you, the path is lined with all kinds of sportsmanship trophies, citizenship certificates, participation medals, and various other signs of mediocrity.
But he managed to act pretty thrilled. See?
When we got into the car, I asked what it means to win the "Great Effort Award." He stopped, he thought, and he said, "It means that your car losed, but your tried so hard."
"That's right," I said. "It also means that your toy penguin is a bastard."
I've got to say, the raw food party was pretty stinking fun. Fifteen people showed up, and not a single one of them was even the slightest bit scary. Unfortunately the raw foodist did not wear a head wrap...not even close. More like True Religion jeans and a Coach purse--an absolute rarity in this neck of the woods.
And I didn't get any pictures. When new friends cross my path, I tend to get a little bit overexcited--like a cocker spaniel. I tried very hard not to be all, "Hi! Welcome to my house! I have this chair for you! And this brownie! And this raw foodist! Let me take your picture! So I never forget the moment we met! I feel really connected to you! Welcome to my house!"
So yeah, no camera. But I did find this picture of a fresh young coconut on Google images:
I'd have to say that my favorite moment came when the raw foodist was passionately explaining the health benefits of chia seeds. That's right, ch-ch-ch-chia seeds. They're good for your bowels? Or your hair? I guess it really doesn't matter.
Anyway, I raised my hand and was all, "So what if I want to buy the chia seeds, but not a terra cotta Scooby Doo head? Where could I do that?" And just as she took the same deep, cleansing breath that preceded all of her answers, my friend Karen whipped open her purse, pulled out a mini bottle of Diet Mountain Dew, cracked it open, and threw back an enormous swig.
The raw foodist pretended not to notice.
My second favorite moment of the night came when my friend Carolyn tried a sample of coconut water. She obviously didn't want to, but being the excellent sport that she is, she tossed back the contents of that Dixie cup like a champ. Then she swallowed, paused, and her face contorted into the same expression I'd imagine you'd have if you witnessed a train wreck, a sewage spill, and your naked grandma all at the very same time.
And once again, the raw foodist pretended not to notice.
All in all, it was a good night. A few awkward silences, but nothing too serious. According to my scientific calculation, 98% of friend making comes through follow-up, so at this point I guess it's back to the Adult Ed catalog to plan the next get together--either welding or biscuit making.
How many things are wrong with the following statement?
Yesterday, I was running through my neighborhood and I thought to myself, "You know, these love handles really aren't so bad...I like they way they help to keep my fanny pack in place."
I could go on and on and make a pretty great post of that, but I'll keep it short: My life is over.
Did I mention that I'm having a party tonight? Like a real life party. With twenty, walking & talking, potential friends, at my house, and I'm too Mormon to get my drink on ahead of time.
That's right. I'm not too Mormon to swear, but definitely too Mormon to drink.
Out of the twenty-or-so young moms who are coming, I'd estimate that I know three of them fairly well. The rest of them? Total and complete mysteries. And none of them know each other.
And 98.7% of these girls are skinnier than me.
Should I break out my tap shoes for the inevitable moments of awkward silence? Did I mention what a craptastic hostess I am? Have I ever told you that super skinny girls give me the nervous farts? I'm sure I have, it's the foundation of my being.
You might be wondering why I'm throwing this party, which is consequently causing my head to spin around on my neck. Well, the answer is simple--I'm running dangerously low in the friend department. Actually, scratch that, embarrassingly low.
I do have one good friend, but lately I've been making up excuse after excuse to call her eight or nine times a day, and I think she needs a break.
So these women I invited? The ones I barely know? I found 'em all over the place.
One of the girls is the daughter-in-law of some people who live down the street, one is another mom from James's daycare, and one of them, I kid you not, I randomly met at the town office. I was standing behind her in line and she was like, "Hi. I'm new here and I need to register my car. I have plates from New York right now."
She looked normal enough to me. You know--Nikes, a NorthFace jacket, wearing a belt, had a face--so I was all, "Hi. You're new here? I'm having a party on Friday, March 5th at 7 o'clock. Can you come?"
And guess what? She said yes! SHE SAID YES!!!
Oh shiz. She said yes.
The good news is, we're doing an activity, and no, it's not all lame and Mormon thanyouverymuch. It's innovative and original. Or weird and random--depends upon your angle, I suppose.
Okay fine, it's very weird, and extremely random. As in a raw foodist that I found in the adult ed booklet is coming to teach us how to open fresh young coconuts.
No. That's not a joke. I'll take pictures to prove it. And by the way, I hope she wears a head wrap--every raw foodist should.
Surprisingly, I only got one no on the whole "come and learn how to open a coconut" thing--the rest of the women seem quite enthusiastic about the impending experience.
Either coconuts beat the hell out of tupperware and scrapbooking, or everyone else in this town is desperate for some new friends, too.
Wish me luck, and feel free to give me some advice.
May the force be with me.
In the past week I've gotten three or four emails asking about the very same topic: running while nursing. It's not the most fascinating of things, and I'm by no means an expert on the subject matter, so I'll keep my tips and advice brief:
1. If you're a nursing mother, and you decide to go for a run, please, please, please double up on the sports bras. Otherwise you'll become a spectacle, and I know from previous personal experience that SPECTACLE + INSANE HORMONES = INVOLVEMENT FROM THE COPS. Every single time.
2. If you increase your mileage and you find that your milk supply takes a sudden, drastic drop, then you're probably not eating enough. I've found--and I'm 100% serious here--that eating three Hostess Golden Cupcakes every day (one after each meal), keeps my weight steady and my milk supply abundant.
3. No, number 2 was definitely not a joke.
4. Personally, running and nursing both tire me out. When you add them together, I'm extra, crazy worn out. And then, if you sprinkle in an almost 5-year-old son, a job with lots of night meetings, and a husband who spilled a 20-pound bag of bird seed on our kitchen floor at 7:35 this morning, it can only mean one thing: I'M SO TIRED THAT I MIGHT PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE FOR FUN.
So. Go easy on yourself. Take lots of rest days, incorporate lots of short runs into your schedule, and if you absolutely must, stop in the middle of your workout, climb up on a park bench, and proclaim the following message to your entire neighborhood: I'M TRYING TO DO IT ALL AND NOT A SINGLE ONE OF YOU APPRECIATES ME! You'll feel so renewed.
5. I don't know about you, but nursing makes me unbelievably stupid, so pay attention to your surroundings, look both ways before you cross the street, don't accidentally fall off a cliff like some dumb-butted cartoon coyote.
6. Always carry you cell phone if you're a nursing mom who's running. That way you can call your husband at the start of the third mile and be like, "Do you have any idea how lucky you are to be married to me? Do you really appreciate the fact that I'm not letting myself go? I feel like you don't love me lately."
7. Drink lots of water--maybe two or three liters a day. Coffee doesn't count, Diet Coke doesn't count, and red wine probably shouldn't count, but it does. If you're Mormon like me, the red wine thing will do you no good--so if you absolutely need a buzz, I suggest taking three multi-vitamins, two Benadryl, and smacking yourself over the head with a medium-sized frying pan five or six times in a row. You'll be stealing stops signs and whizzing in your neighbors' bushes before you know it.
8. You should probably carry pepper spray if you're a nursing mom who's running--after all, there are many innocent people in the world who could use an occasional burst of fire in the eyes. It's an easy way to help them remember that you're under appreciated by every single person on the face of this hope-forsaken planet.
9. Get some good shoes. Every runner should have good shoes, whether you're nursing or not.
10. Put some Britney on your iPod--always a good reminder that you've got your mothering shiz in better order than at least one woman in the world.
So, there you have it. Ten tips for nursing moms who run. No go get 'em, ladies!