Tuesday, May 28, 2013

6 Months, already!

I feel like I am that stupid groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  I've stepped blinking out into the spring sunlight and instead of spotting my shadow as I expect to see it (for it has, after all, been spring for sometime now), I've found it much altered by my companions.  No longer is my little boy little and my bitty bundled newborn bitty, but rather there is a tall beanpole and a bouncing (literally) baby in their place.  I'd much prefer to think of my "blink" as more Rip Van Winkle-esk than admit that time is flying as fast as it is, but when reality is measured in growth spurts and a handful of months mark milestones that years or decades mark for us adults, I humbly acknowledge my preference is irrelevant.

Six months have passed since November and my two little wild flowers - for they certainly are not weeds! - are ever so much more of themselves in personality and in substance than they were.

Top: "What's she doing?" on December 2, 2012
Bottom: Pre bedtime exchange on May 7, 2013

Today was GV's six month well baby appointment which she cooed through with flying colors.  Measuring in at 26 inches in length, 17 pounds 11 ounces in weight and a head circumference of 17.5 inches, she continues to keep near the top of the growth charts. Of course she wasn't exactly pleased to have her vaccinations, but with some clean shaven snuggling from HB (a much appreciated break from his "too scruffy" face) she was back to her sweet, smily self within minutes.

Left: Hospital snuggle with HB on November 28, 2012
Right: Oh so fashionable road trip on May 23, 2013

She's not quite ready to start crawling yet and her little teeth haven't broken through as of now, but I'm expecting that by the time we get to Vermont in late June she'll be on full throttle in every direction.  I'm not too eager for her to be starting the next phase as I thoroughly love this snuggly, immobile age, but the way she is increasingly interacting with and venerating her older brother makes me wake up each morning wondering what "aww moments" the passing days will bring.  They so key off of each other and it warms my heart the way they exchange smiles at the mere sight of one another and laughs with each play session.

I often tell GW how much I appreciate his help with his sister, but I've got to brag about how much of a God send GW is to this tired, frazzled Mom.  For one thing, back in December he learned the words to the Christmas carol "Jingle Bells" and, on top of the overly adorable rendition of the song he does, he figured out that when he sings this to GV she - no matter what - stops crying.  Much like his infant response to Edith Piaf, she instantly ceases screaming and watches him "dash through the snow on a one horse open sleigh" with glittering eyes and complete adoration.

He also is teaching her to bounce.  Previously, when I'd place GV in her bouncer seat she'd sashay her weight from foot to foot and then scream until picked up.  But when GW began to fiddle with the toys around the seat and bounce in front of her with the encouragement "bouncy baby, bouncy baby!" she pushes both feet into the floor and squeals with harmonic glee.  Freeing my hands for a moment or three, I send a silent prayer of gratitude upward for such invaluable help and all around happy sounds.

While I cannot peer into the future and guarantee an everlasting bond between these two, I ardently hope they continue as they have started.  I hope they aren't too eager to grow out of their already becoming too small size 5T and 9Mo clothes and into the fads of their generation, but such is life and one day - I pray not too soon - they'll have independent lives and families of their own.  Between now and then, I hope my groundhog like self will miss my shadow once and a while and drag out their childhoods for as long as God will allow.  I'd be lying if I said it was entirely rainbows and poptarts, but  I'll take the bad with the good and love them regardless.

Left: GV home coming on November 29, 2012
Right:  sweet snuggle on May 15, 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Run as One & Historic 10K

Holy cow, this has been a running weekend! Not in an intense, incessant kind of way - we didn't do any crazy distance or personal best pace or anything like that - it simply was.

Yesterday morning we drove up to Washington DC for the Team RWB & Team Rubicon joint event "Run as One."  With the aim of raising awareness of veteran suicide,  a 100ish of us ran a three mile loop around the national mall from the base of the Washington Monument, around the Lincoln Memorial and all the way back down to the Smithsonian Castle.  Wearing matching grey t-shirts and flying the stars and stripes at the front of the pack, the run leaders kept the pace such that we were truly running as one and in honor of Neil Landsberg and Clay Hunt, both veterans who committed suicide earlier this year, sticking together.

While our stroller was the only one participating in the run, the location and purpose of the event brought out more than one VIP...  Lou Nemec, the national athletic director for Team RWB; Tommy Sowers, the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs; and retired General David Petraeus.  Stars and Stripes published a neat article about it (see it here) and if you check out the pictures of the run you can see my handsome HB doing his thing with the stroller.

Of course we had to get a picture... who'd believe us otherwise!

And today, we ran the first annual Historic 10k.  Part of the MCM Event series, this race does the last 6.2 miles of the Historic Half Marathon route - which, for those of you not familiar with the route through Fredericksburg, Virginia, includes the notorious Hospital Hill (a long, step hill that, appropriately so, passes the local emergency room doors...).  HB and I considered running the half, but having a) not trained for it, b) heard rumors of stroller bans (seriously, who bans strollers?!) and c) decided possible injuries are not worth it, we agreed that the 10k was more appropriate given our larger running goals this year.

So at 5:00 this morning we got up, laced up our shoes, bundled the kids and made our way over to the start line in down town Fburg.  With the only stroller participating in the 10k, we took turns pushing the kids around the undulating route and fed off of the continuous encouraging comments from spectators and Marines alike for our "hard core" parent skills.  Course when we hit Hospital Hill and our energy tanks appeared to be empty, a guy from the local running store volunteered to push the kids for a ways to give us a break - nice, but nope! With the motivation we finished the hill and brought it in for a time of 59:02.   Which, given the fact we were exhausted and it was raining pretty hard by the end, I am pretty proud of.

Assuming there is no reason not to, I am totally tackling the half every year I can from here on out... it's an awesome event and, ya know, 13.1 miles doesn't sound so bad any more.  Granted marathon training hasn't really started in full force yet (that begins first week of July) and I'm still only running between 3 and 5ish miles on any given outing, but half of the sport is mental and dagnabbit I'm stubborn enough to have that part, at least, covered.

Now, where's the ice...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Team RWB

Over the last handful of years I feel like my identity has morphed into something I never expected.  When I was younger, I had this black and white plan of what my life would look like along the way -- I'd achieve a certain level of education, I'd become an integral cog in one of the government's hush hush agencies, I'd quickly move up the ranks in obscure positions I'd happily leave to other's imaginations and I'd generally be seen as a successful, glamorous person -- but the unexpected began to happen and suddenly my future became what my compulsive organizational behavior had fought so long to prevent: grey.  

I don't say that in any negative sense, but rather as more of a acknowledgement of my former rigidity and as an acceptance of the control I simply do not have.  Since 2009 I've weighed my options and made assertive choices to step away from "The Plan" in an attempt to "let go and let God" do what is right for me and, more to the point, my family.  I acknowledge there is a certain degree of passivity in this lifestyle outlook, but I'm tired of trying to force the square peg (plan) through the round hole (life) when there is a more simple way...  I am not what I expected, but I am passionate about what I've become:  

I am the wife of a veteran.  I am a mother of two.  I am an endurance runner.  I am a type 1 diabetic.   

As random as this topic may seem, I bring it up because today was a big day for me where I felt like all of my "new" pieces melded together in one cohesive positive direction.  Typically my being feels ripped in twenty directions -- the mother in me needs to be cuddling or cleaning something, while the wife in me ought to be packing a lunch in the kitchen or showering more often, the runner in me should be at about mile seven already and the diabetic is reminding me that, oh yeah, you still haven't finished your coffee.  But today, today I was cohesively all of those things at the exact same time and for a bigger purpose than myself...  let the ramble about Team RWB begin. 

A few weeks back, right after the Boston Marathon bombings, HB and I were introduced to a veteran's support organization that works to build communities and combat PTSD through physical activity and positive social interactions.  Side stepping the dingy VFW bar scene, Team RWB validates the modern American veteran and their families by connecting veterans to one another, creating a common purpose and a positive post-active duty group identity.  It acknowledges the hardships OIF/OEF veterans have endured and by placing one foot after the other actively defies the social stigma that disabled vets cannot do for themselves...  Team RWB bridges the gap between all of the well intentioned civilian non-profits that act on behalf of veterans, the Department of Veteran Affairs and the veterans themselves by bringing simple person-to-person "let's go do something" humanity back.  

Given that HB and I are out running all the time anyway - we're gearing up to start our marathon training after all - it took next to no effort to get a weekly Team RWB 3 mile run set up in our area.  For the past several weeks it's just been the two of us with our incredibly patient duo in the Bob stroller, but, as I already said, today was different - someone came!

With one new member, the group is still dominated by my family, but I feel elated that it took one step in the right direction today.  I'm so hopeful that with time and persistence I'll be able to grow the local team and that one day we'll have ourselves a vibrant, constructive, healthy community for vets in the Rappahannock area...  I mean the reality is, folks, that PTSD is no joke and with 22 new vets committing suicide a day there is something that we as a country - as a community - are doing wrong.  Many of our current vets joined the military when war wasn't just a possibility, but a given and to transition back to civilian life after all they've been through is a truly daunting mission.  

Not only does Team RWB give them an off base, non-VA Clinic place to find support and camaraderie they loose when no longer "in," but it gives people like me a chance recognize what they've done and lost by doing what I'm already doing: living the life their bravery and sacrifices have enabled me to live.

So, today, I was every bit of me and then some.  I jacked my sugars up a bit, took my insulin pump off, laced up my minimalist shoes and went running with my husband and kids; and all to support our vets.  Next week I'll do the same and the week after that and the week after that too.

That's who I am.  Who are you?