Monday, April 20, 2015

Dear Anna

Dear Anna,

You are now 10 1/2 months old.  I can't believe how fast these few months have passed.  As we sat on the porch swing this evening waiting for Daddy to come home, it seemed like only yesterday that I had you wrapped up, sound asleep, on that same swing, able to hold you in one arm.  You slept most of the time then, but only if I was holding you.  You liked to move!

Now, you still like to move, but generally your moving is of your own doing.  You've really developed your own personality, and it is so interesting to see our similarities and differences.  Maybe I'm projecting a lot, but we do seem to be quite similar.

You love being snuggled and carried around, but you kind of hate being around lots of other people.
You're perfectly happy just playing in a corner by yourself.
You have strong opinions and you're not afraid to voice them.
You love the dogs.
You love being outside and playing in the grass.

You've been through so much already, and your first year has, unfortunately, been a stressful one, but we've just about made it through.  You've been a champ through everything, and I am so extraordinarily proud of you.

You're helping me to learn patience and acceptance for the way things are (you'll crawl and walk and talk on your own schedule and not on what someone says you should be doing).  And at the same time, you've given me so many bragging rights.  I mean, you're adorable and SMART!

You make me smile every time you blow kisses, or wave bye-bye, or suddenly mimic something Daddy or I do.  It really is amazing to watch you learn.

I want you to know how much I love you.  I want you to know that, even when life is crazy, and I don't have a spare minute, and I'm tired and frustrated, and I hand you off to Daddy or daycare, I love you and you are always on my mind.  When I'm training a dog or cleaning the house you're on my mind.  When I'm put you to bed and breath a sigh of relief because I have a free moment in the evening my heart is swelling with love for you.  When I'm climbing into bed and looking at you on the monitor I can't take a normal breath until I've made certain you are safe and well.  I hope this is something you never have to question.  I hope you feel this love forever. 



Thursday, April 2, 2015

Why I Didn't Cheer

As I mentioned in my last blog post, Hans, Mom and I all did the Monument Avenue 10k this year.  We all had great results, and we had a really good time.  One thing you may or may not have noticed, though, was that I didn't go to cheer Mom on.  A large part of me has wondered why I didn't make a big deal out of this year.  I mean, I cheered for her when she did her 1st 10k.  Heck, I even drove as fast as I could to meet her at the half way point after I'd finished (kind of a tradition for us).  Last year, I was pregnant, so timing didn't really allow me to cheer, and I was the one who really needed the cheering anyway.  This year, though, I should have been cheering.  The race is to raise money for Massey Cancer Institute after all.  How could I not cheer her on?  I've thought about it a lot, and I have a few explanations.

I had to work.
This is true.  While this was supposed to be my weekend off (the only one all month) I did have a lesson, and meeting Mom would have messed up my plans.  That said, I could have easily scheduled my lesson for different time or day.

Mom's and my relationship isn't what it used to be.
 This one is a little harder to go into without revealing some things that shouldn't be shared to the mass public.  The reality is, though, that mom and I don't have the same relationship we once did.  We have a lot to work through, and even admitting that is hard.  In addition to some of our baggage, we also have to deal with how cancer changed our relationship.  How, I was thrust into the role of caregiver and had to manage food intake and doctors appointments and chemo schedule and bills, all in addition to being a new mom.  Now, Mom is trying to take those things back, but it's hard to let go when you're so used to holding on.  Our relationship is definitely different.

I wanted to be selfish.
I already mentioned this was my one day off all month.  I wanted it to be all about me.  It may sound awful, but I wanted to be selfish.  Heck, I even thought about not running just so I could lie in bed all day.  I'm glad I did run, of course, but I almost didn't.  The reality is, I barely had enough energy to worry about myself.  I couldn't even fathom thinking about someone else.

Cheering this year was too hard.
Let me explain.  When mom first walked the 10k, it was this huge accomplishment where we had a lot in common.  She'd always wanted to do it.  She'd trained hard.  She had a big time goal in mind.  This year, though, cheering meant facing the reality of the situation.  This wasn't just a race that she'd thought of doing for a while.  This was a post-chemo, post-radiation race.  Cheering meant acknowledging all the pain and struggle of this past year, and I'm not certain I'm ready to do that.  It's so much easier to put everything in the past and move on, and yet I also feel that I'm just burying my head in the sand and avoiding.  Call me cowardly, but I just didn't feel up to bringing everything to the forefront this year.

Well, there are my reasons.  They may not be great, but they're mine.  Thoughts?  Insights?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Great Weekend

This past weekend was a good one. It was filled with wonderful moments, each one better than the one before.

So, let's start with Saturday.  Saturday was Hans' and my first day off in 3 weeks.  THREE WEEKS!  That alone is cause for celebration.  Did we sleep in and lounge about, though?  Nope!  We had a race to run.  This weekend was the annual Monument Avenue 10k.

Monument Ave was my first 10k back in 2012.  It was a grey, rainy day, and I remember being so excited and nervous.  I was so overcome with emotions that day that I teared up by the 1/2 mile mark.  I also remember both Dad and Hans were at the finish line, and Mom, my best friend, and Hans and I all went out for a celebratory meal afterwards.  I was sore and tired but oh so pleased.  In fact, I was so pleased with myself from my results that day (1:04:18).

Boy was this year different!  This year, I treated this race as just another training run.  It was cold, and I was tired.  I really didn't want to be there, and I wasn't even enjoying the fun costumes or the party atmosphere.  I was excited for Hans who was running it for the second time, and I was nervous for Mom who was walking it (for the 3rd time), but really I just wanted to be at home with Anna.  Anna was at home with Jess who was kind enough to babysit early in the morning.

So, I started the race.  I was layered up, and my race watch was covered, so I didn't take the time to check my pace.  I just listened to my body and hoped I had a pace that was better than that first year. (Note: Due to injuries and pregnancy in previous years, this was the first year I actually had a chance at setting a PR).  I didn't think much of my overall goal of under an hour since training runs hadn't been near that pace.  I just wanted to get it over with.  Imagine my surprise then when, at the end of the race, I checked my watch and saw 1:00:02.  What was my official time!?  When I checked the final results, the race clock read my time at 0:59:57!  That means I finally ran a 10k in under an hour!  This has been a goal for 3 years!  I did and had no clue I was going to do it!  Great surprise!

Hans finished shortly thereafter (can I mention how proud I am of him), and we went home to warm up and shower.  As I mentioned, Mom was walking the 10k.  This wasn't her first time walking it, but it was definitely her first time post chemo and radiation.  Here's the thing.  Chemo and radiation are hard.  For many of her training days, Mom ended up just curled up in bed, either shivering from cold or trying not to be sick.  Her longest walk prior to this was 4 miles, and afterwards she had to sleep in her car for an hour.  So, I was worried.  I had to head on to work, but I was anxious for news of how she did.  Hans picked her up, and gave me the report.  She finished!  She finished with a friend and with one of her coaches.  She was at home sleeping, she was exhausted, but she had finished.  She was ushered in by a police vehicle, but she had finished.  I was so, so proud of her!
Mom (in the floppy hat) with her coach and her walking buddy
 If that had been all there was to the great weekend that would have been fine, but there was still more to come.  I mean, all that happened in just the first 3 hours!  Saturday, Hans and I spent the afternoon together (after my quick moment in work) while Anna spent most of the time napping.  When we got home, I set Anna on the floor to play.  We've been waiting for Anna to crawl for a while now, so tummy time has been important.  Well, not wanting to be outdone by the achievements from earlier in the day, Anna crawled!  Cheers all around!
How could you not cheer this adorable face?
Sunday was a relaxing day.  We went to Romp 'n Roll, followed by church, followed by lunch out with the grandparents.  After that, we came home to a quiet house to rest and recharge for Monday.  Hans grilled burgers, we snuggled, and we simply enjoyed each others' company.  How could it get any better than that?

So, what did I say?  Is that a great weekend or what?  I wish they could all be that wonderful!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I'm Still Here!

Wow!  It's been 2 whole months since my last blog post.  I definitely had not planned on going so long.  Countless times I've thought of great blog posts, but life has gotten in the way.  So, let me fill you in just a little.

Since my last post was about Anna starting daycare, let's start there.  Well, first, she stopped sleeping through the night around the same time she started daycare.  She'd consistently wake up around 2 or 3am, sometimes as early as midnight, and would be super fussy all night long.  Then, she'd be tired and cranky all day because she hadn't slept well the night before.  This is the number one reason I didn't post.  I was so tired and out of it I couldn't function well enough to type.  We seem to have gotten a bit of a handle on it in the past week or so, and Anna is back to sleeping through the night (lots more solid food really helped), so that's good.  That said, I thought a happier baby in general might mean she'd start to like daycare more.  Nope.  She decidedly hates it.  I mean, I know there are times when she's just playing me and is crying for me to see, but I really do think she hates it.  Personally, I think it's just her personality.  She seems to be  happiest at daycare when she's alone in a corner with a toy.  When another kid comes around she cries.  Alternatively, she'll also be OK when one of the teachers holds her and pays attention only to her.  Ah, my poor little introverted kid who's apparently a spoiled only child.  What will I do with you?  It's kind of hard, though, when everyone you encounter says what a happy baby she is, but daycare says, "Well, she cried a little less today."  So, any tips?

OK, on to the next thing.

Last month, Hans, Anna, and I took our first trip to Disney World.  We went down right during the middle of the coldest temperatures and snow, so I think we planned that well.  We planned the trip around their Princess Half Marathon, so we had a booked-solid schedule.  I probably have at least 2 posts to cover the whole trip, but let me sum up a few things.  The Diaper Dash isn't worth it, but the other kids' races seemed fun.  Never EVER stay in one of their All-Star Resorts.  It's nothing more than an over-priced Econo Lodge.  The park itself was a lot of fun.  Some things were a bit overwhelming for Anna, but we stayed flexible (that's key), and we ended up having a great time.  I highly recommend getting a meal plan if you plan on going, and be prepared to walk...a lot.  Actually, by the time we got to the half marathon on Sunday, I was really concerned that my legs would be shot from all the walking we'd been doing in the days prior.  That said, the half was one of the easiest and most fun I've ever done.  There are a few things I'd do differently, but all in all I had blast.  Oh, and as for tips for flying with an infant?  I can't say I have many.  Anna was perfect and slept most of the time.  When she was awake she was really happy.  I did let her nurse however much she wanted to help with ear pressure, but all in all it was a really easy trip.

After the trip, the entire family got sick with the sinus infection from Hell.  Anna was put on antibiotics (which of course upset her stomach), and Hans and I went to the chiropractor and suffered in our own ways.  I whined a lot, and Hans took lots of Advil.  We're all on the mend now, but there were a couple of days last week where I was ready to head to the dentist and have them pull my teeth just to relieve the pressure in my head.  It was awful.

Other than that, life is super hectic.  We're going through some staffing changes at the kennel.  One of our leads decided to move back to Colorado to be with family, and it's left me pulling a lot of long days (6am-10pm anyone?  It's like it was when we first opened!).  I know this is only temporary, though, and we'll get through it.  We'll miss our lead dearly, but I'm excited for some of the things happening at the kennel soon, so I just keep telling myself that when I'm having a particularly bad day.  Mom is doing well.  She just completed three weeks of radiation, so she's recovering from that, but all her scans are still good.  She has her next scan in April and we're all anxious for the results.  If they come back clean she won't have to worry about any more treatments!

All in all, I'm loving life.    I'm finally getting back on some semblance of a schedule since Disney, and I'm getting used to the routine.  I'm lucky to have a ton of support in Hans and family, because I know I couldn't do this without them.  And now that weather is turning warmer, I'm super-happy.  Yay sunny, 60 degree days!  Let's hope it stays that way!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Starting Daycare

I don't know about you, but things around here have been BUSY!  The holidays are over, we're packing up decorations, Anna is growing WAY too fast, and the kennel is keeping me hopping.  I've finally started getting back to the kennel on a regular basis, and that has been wonderful in so many ways, but it's also exhausting.  Unfortunately, one of the things making it extremely difficult has been the fact that Anna is getting so active.  It would be one thing if it were just a matter of keeping her from getting into trouble, but Anna is hitting that age where she realizes when I'm not around and she wants me around...and she wants me to play with her...or hold her...or nurse her...all the time.

As much as I loved having Anna all the time, I really wasn't accomplishing anything at the kennel.  I was lucky if I could get one task done in a 4 hour period, and I couldn't leave the front counter because that was the only safe place for Anna.  I couldn't hang out in the yards, I couldn't clean, and if Anna was in a crabby mood I even had trouble answering the phones.

So, Hans and I discussed things, and we decided to start Anna in daycare.  The idea was that I could accomplish some things at work, and Anna would start to learn that she didn't need to be near me all the time, and she'd get to socialize with other babies.  It was the perfect solution.  The problem?  We had to find a daycare that was accepting infants.

Apparently most people register their infants while they're still pregnant.  I knew this, but Hans and I hadn't planned on needing daycare.  Mom was going to care for Anna.  We hadn't planned on her getting sick or needing surgery or being unable to even lift Anna.  So, when life threw us that little curve ball, we decided to try it on our own.  It didn't work, and when we started looking for a daycare we were told that the wait would be until March at the earliest or, in one case, September!

I had just decided that we'd need to search for a private nanny and had started looking into nanny-share options when we just happened to drive by a brand new daycare.  It was way out of the way for us, so I didn't think too much of it, but I was desperate, so I pulled up some info on my phone.

This daycare offered part time options.  Check!  They would handle cloth diapers.  Check!  They even have cameras in the room so we could watch Anna while we're away.  Oooh!  Interested!  We scheduled a tour, fell in love, and signed her up.

It's been one week, and Anna has attended two mornings and one afternoon.  There are so many things I could say about it (like I'm proud I haven't cried...out loud).  I'm able to get so much more work done, but I miss my daughter.  I worry about whether this is the best fit for her or if I should have gotten a nanny.  I worry, due to the newness of the facility, that she doesn't have enough kids around her to socialize.  And yet, I know she's healthy.  She's safe.  And for 3 half days a week, I have some time to be an adult.  It's wonderful.

Yes, Anna has started daycare.  We're still working out all the glitches, and we're still getting used to it, but it's a good thing so far.  After a while, she'll probably go at least 3 full days a week, but I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to slowly get her used to it (and get me used to it).  The staff is great, and I really think things will work out well.

Now I'm putting it out to y'all.  Do you have any tips?  Any advice?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bye 2014!

This past year has been a crazy one, full of ups and downs.

UP: Continuing to run until I was 35 weeks pregnant.
DOWN: Not running a single full marathon this year. (That's minor, though, because of the reasons.)
Admittedly, this photo is from 2013, but you get the idea.

UP: Giving birth to our beautiful daughter, Anna.
DOWN: Finding out Mom had cancer.

UP: Getting the best birthday present ever when Mom's scans came back so good.
DOWN: Dealing with Mom's chemo.
Mom, on the very last day of chemo!
UP: Watching our business grow and thrive.
DOWN: Working a lot and barely having a moment to myself.

UP: Celebrating 7 great years with Hans.
DOWN: Not having enough time to spend together.
Bonus: Another running photo!
UP: Cody and Lollie
UP: Wonderful family
UP: A general feeling of happiness
All three of my babies.

Things haven't necessarily been easy, but there has been a good balance, and a general trend towards good.  I can only hope that 2015 ends up being even better.  That said, I'm not going to discuss my New Year's resolutions today.  I'm not going to give an update of the past few weeks (although, there is some catching up to do).  As the sun sets on this past year, I'm just going to wish you all a wonderful New Year!

Monday, December 15, 2014


I hate chemo.  I hate chemo and I don't even have to go through it.

I hate how sick it makes Mom.

I hate how it invades our lives, forcing us to overly plan something as simple as lunch with a friend.

I hate how we're filling Mom with poison and yet it's supposedly helping her.

I hate how it smells.  It doesn't just smell in the treatment center.  It also leaves Mom with a very distinct, very pungent odor that lasts for a week or more.

I hate how it's apparently so bad that children under 18 can't even be in the treatment area, meaning I can't spend quiet time visiting with my mom.

I hate how it screws with the brain and has all sorts of mental side effects.  Mom's biggest side effects are impatience and combativeness.

Mom is doing well, but chemo is so hard on the whole family.  Today she starts her final round of chemo, and I can't wait for that final day.  She'll get to ring a bell and come home, and she'll (hopefully) never have to return for further chemo treatment.