Wednesday, December 31, 2008

No need for steel toed shoes anymore

"What we really need is for Nike to start making steel-toed tennis shoes for you."
-My mom, when I was little, on the way the way to buy me yet another pair of shoes.

For the entire first 14 years of my life, I wore white Nike tennis shoes almost exclusively. I had some kind of patent leather or loafer shoe for church and dressier occasions, but other than that, I stuck with the shoes I loved. Even in the dead of summer when the heat bears down with such force that even the flowers bow their heavy heads, I wore tennis shoes and socks everywhere I went. This sounds like a fairly easy arrangement for my mom. I like Nikes, she can just buy me a pair when I need one and no big deal. The problem arose with the fact that I was a pretty busy kid and pretty rough on my clothes and shoes. So, she ended up purchasing her share of Nike shoes over the years, dozens of pairs over the years I am sure.

I love tennis shoes, running shoes, cross trainers, you name it. I realized this to a greater degree today as I churned away on the elliptical machine, watching the feet of those lined up in front of me on the treadmills. The woman with the white tee-shirt and red hair, she has the 07 Brooks Trance on. They changed the shoe that year. It used to be a favorite of mine and now no longer works for me. The girl with the hot pink shirt and black baseball hat that is running up in front row, she's got the neutral Brooks Radius on, 08.

As a kid, I did what every self-respecting child does when wearing a new pair of tennis shoes,gleefully turning to face my mom I would say, "Watch how fast I can run in these!" As I took off running at top speed, I smiled with amazement. What a great pair of shoes!

I'll need another new pair of shoes soon, and even though I know it isn't reasonable or true, I secretly hope that each new pair will make me a swifter and more graceful runner and athlete. What I really want more than speed is the thrilling belief of speed, just to get that first sprint in, the one that starts as soon as you step out of the doors of the store and ends at the door of your car in the parking lot.

To feel my heart thumping hard within my chest cavity,and look down at my brilliantly white pair of shoes and turn to whoever is with me declaring, "Wow! Don't these shoes make me fast?"

"Oh yes!" the person would proclaim. "The fastest I have ever seen you!"

(My current pair of shoes, Brooks Radius, now discontinued)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A break from baking

Last night I gratefully tucked myself into bed at 8pm, early by any standards, including my own. This morning I rolled out of bed at 4:45, anxious for an hour by myself. Sliding the leather recliner back it was just the warm lights of the Christmas tree, some highly sugared and creamed coffee and my journal, hanging out together in our family room. After 35 minutes of carefully pasting the words of each concerns across the landscape of the wide lined paper, I felt as if I may not have solved every issue, but at least they now stood obediently before me, lined up like wide-eyed preschoolers, ready for the next set of directions.

I love National Public Radio, but lately, I find myself turning it off. It feels as if everywhere I turn a company is laying off thousands of people, personal stories about how these struggling families plan to make it through the holidays stings with the realization that we ourselves stand only a few feet from that line. Have we saved enough money? Are we living simply enough? The questions begin their familiar dance. I take a deep breath and pray that both Josh and I keep our jobs. I switch from the news to Charlie Brown’s Christmas album.

Today, the kitchen fills with swirls of vanilla, cinnamon and lemon as I make yet another loaf of sweet bread for the teacher gifts this year. The dishes pile up in the kitchen sink, somehow reminding me of the huge drifts of snow the plow left behind in Minnesota. As a child, I couldn’t wait to get my snow suit on and play, “King of the Hill” with the other kids on our neighborhood. We would find the biggest mound of snow, usually taller than my eight year old self, and take turns being the king. The king stands at the top of the hill, and all the other players take turns pushing the king until he or she falls over. I loved being The King, but I also loved the tumble off the hill, rolling in the snow, only my cheeks feeling the bitter cold air, the slow drip of melting snow on my skin.

The dishes in the sink remain unchanged as I write, the batter hardening with each passing minute. Sweetie, our appropriately named kitten, sleeps with her head tucked into my hip on my lap. Ice coats the streets outside the office window. They are slick and hard, a winter armor, the type of conditions that begs for elderly hips to be broken. It is a perfect day for baking.

A snow drift hasn’t appeared out by the curb, so instead, I’ll be The King of the Kitchen Chaos . An economic crisis you say? Banished by my royal hand! (At least from my mind for the next 2 hours.) With my mighty powers I will dismantle the dirty dishes and turn a goopy, sticky mess into a tasty treat for all to slice and enjoy. The best part is… I won’t even need my snowsuit.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Tanning Bed Story

I spent all day yesterday listening and waiting for a comment to spark my interest. I worked all day and heard nothing remarkable. I finished working late. I was determined to work out anyway and bought a G2 Gatoraide at my last Target of the day, purple, my favorite flavor, and gulped it down on the way to Cardinal. By the time I arrived, changed into my workout clothes and hopped on the spin bike, my blood sugar felt semi-normal. Plus, I knew Josh had my favorite chicken burritos waiting for me when I got home, good incentive to workout and get home.

About 15 minutes into my workout, a rather large, short man wearing a canary yellow tee-shirt walked up to me. “Hi!” he said a little meekly, holding up his hand in more of a “I come in peace” sort of manner than a wave. Pulling an earpiece out I lifted my eyebrows and said, “Uh, hi.”

“I just wanted to come over and say hi, “ he began, shifting his weight back and forth from one foot to the next, “I didn’t want things to be awkward you know…”
I had absolutely no idea what this man was talking about. He seemed a bit wired and his eyes were bloodshot. He stood about 5 feet 3 inches tall and almost that much wide. The guy was huge, not fat huge, but painfully stretched and highly veined skin, huge. Blinking rapidly, he smiled up at me, it looked as if he also had dentures.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t think I know you.”

“Oh, are you not the girl who walked in on me in the tanning bed the other day?”

Yikes. “Um, no, that wasn’t me.”

“Well, you know, I didn’t think you saw me totally naked or anything, right? But I wanted to make sure it wasn’t weird between us or anything, you know?

Two things occurred simultaneously at that moment, first I thought, “Did he not just hear me say that it wasn’t me?” and “Oh my gosh, brain, please do not send me an image this guy naked.”

“Well, that wasn’t me. “ I said again, with a bit more force. He looked a little disappointed. I tried to smooth it over a little for him. “ You know what? People think I look like someone else all the time. I cannot even tell you how many times someone has come up to me thinking I was someone else.” I laughed at myself, trying to put this guy at ease and get on with my workout.

“Well,” he said, sticking out his hand, “I’m Jerry.”

“Okay,” I guess he wasn’t ready to go quite yet. “I’m Kate.” I said shaking his hand.

“Well, you girls all look alike at your age, with your hair and everything,” he said without smiling.

That’s just what every woman wants to hear isn’t it? Not that she stands out in a crowd, but that she looks like a clone of the one before her.

He went on. “It was pretty weird you know, you walking in on me. Not a big deal though. I just didn’t want things to be awkward. After all, it wasn’t your fault really. The guys at the front desk are the ones who messed the rooms up.”

“Yep, I imagine that would be pretty awkward.” But mister, I thought, I did not walk in on you. I am not your lady. Take a look at me. Do I look tan to you? I have never even used a tanning bed before. I wear 50+ sun block and still get burned. How about you take this conversation up with this fathomed bronzed woman later and we’ll both be on our way? Please, this is exchange is painful.

“Sooo…” he continued, spreading his hands out in front of him, palms up, “Just let me know if you need anything at all…” still, not walking away. “If you need anything, you just let me know.” What would I need from him I wondered?

“Alllllll-right,” I answered putting my ear piece back in and taking a deep breath. He was finally leaving. Out of the corner of my eye him I saw him walking up to his buddy with a big smile.

What the heck was that? I thought.

At least it colored my day with a bit of interest, no matter how uncomfortable it was.
What is the take away lesson here? Save your skin and keep your clothes on people. Or at least lock the door.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Damn the clam

Kate's Rehab list:
Goal #1-Find a doctor who doesn't speak in a condescending manner and is willing and able to listen to what I have to say.

DONE! Thanks to my friend Kim, I found a doctor who listened, is a runner, and spoke the words I wanted to hear, "It may take awhile, but we'll get you there."

Goal #2- If my knee happens to, "take awhile" to heal, I'll find a good physical therapist to get me there.

And TA-DA! Throw your hands up in the air people... also completed! His name is John Schmitz. I am posting his blog to my favorite blogs so if any of my female Indianapolis Runners need a physical therapist, they can just look him up. The blog is called "In Motion".

Many of the exercises John wants me to do are listed there on the blog. They are all stabilizing exercises. IN regards to my body, let's just say that my stabilizers suck. My stabilizer muscles have been slouched on the couch, watching The Wheel of Fortune and claiming disability for about 18 months now. If you were to place my stabilizer muscles on a continuum where Arnold Swarzenegger sits perched on the strong end and Pee Wee Herman hovers unsteadily at the weak end, Pee Wee and I might have to duke it out for last place.

Which I must admit, pisses me off. I spend so much time lifting to AVOID injury. Apparently, according to John, I did a lot of the right type of things, just maybe a little bit too aggressively. Did I mention that this man is diplomatic? Thus, I am yet again presented with a recurring theme, push and push and push and crash.

Now, John assigned a set of exercises for my knee. Your Grandma probably does these exercises at the free aerobics class in her retirement home, things like leg lifts and "The Clam", which is essentially laying on your side and lifting your knee a few inches up towards the ceiling.

I am not knocking Grandmas here, because, let me tell you, my butt is totally sore the next day! John is quick to assure me that these exercises are not easy if you do them correctly. Still, there is no glory in "The Clam", I am here to tell you that first hand.

Except of course, for the fact that practicing these exercises seem to be working. I think my stabilizers are at least off the couch and throwing away the crumpled candy wrappers right now. I continue to hope physical therapy will get me back in my running shoes and out on the street again. I really miss running longer distances. I'll "clam" all day if that's what it takes, even if your Grandma could do it better.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Read at your own risk

Disclaimer: The following passage you are about to read contains perhaps inappropriate confessions regarding my own insecurities and narcissistic qualities. Read at your own risk, understanding that you may well find yourself angrily yelling at your computer screen, “Get a grip girl!”

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been toying with the idea of scraping the whole blog project and just closing up shop. I share this not as a means to dredge up more supportive comments from friends and family to “Keep at it,” but just truly as a confession that has been nagging at me mercilessly. For those Catholics out there, you can understand the freeing nature of a one on one acknowledgment regarding your short comings. As an active Catholic parishioner in college, I chose to give myself a confession session for my 21st birthday. What does that tell you? I bet therapists far and wide would have a hay day with that information, such an act on the eve of my legally permissible alcohol purchasing adulthood. I still remember Father Dan laying his warm dry palm over my bowed head and absolving me of my mistakes. Whether or not I needed the priest for the wave of peace that followed didn’t matter, I felt resolved.

I find that I am not sure just what the function of this blog is. Is it a place to practice writing prompts, a forum to appreciate the comings and goings of everyday life, another mommy blog, or just a place for a mediocre type of self promotion. “Hey, look what I noticed today? Aren’t I clever?” Originally, it served as a motivation for me to write each week, a goal to post something, anything, to the blog to just keep me plugging away.

And yet, now it feels like an excuse, a way to put off actually working hard on writing a piece to submit to a publication. I tell myself that I’ll work on something more next week, it’s Elizabeth’s birthday, the holidays, I don’t feel well, etc. I’ll just throw something up on the blog and put forth more effort later is what I tell myself. Unfortunately, “later”, as so often is the case, has yet to arrive and present me with a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates.
The reason isn’t complicated. It has everything to do with pride, fear and lack of follow through. I’ve started and stopped so many things in the last few years. I started a masters program in special education, only to find that perhaps that was my mom’s dream, not my own. I then went on to pursue a masters in social work. I found the classes inspiring, my brain on fire, neurons happily zipping across the barren dessert of my stay- at- home- mommy- mind, and yet a tiny nagging voice wondered if I loved school or the new professional field?

In the process of my own self discovery, and the various masters classes, I started writing, stretching past the daily journaling, to hopefully, something more substantial. As a result, this summer I decided to take a year off from the social work program and take a stab at writing, see what I could do with it in twelve months.

My confession is this, so far, this is it. Right here, this is what I’ve accomplished. I’ve blogged, entered one writing contest, taken a writing class, in which I didn’t finish my story, sat down and wrote a list of goals with Josh, and then crossed off only the “easy” ones.

I don’t know. I keep going through this crazy back and forth, wishing no one knew that I was even trying this, feeling so embarrassed, willing exposed by it all. Like a crabby night nurse with aching legs and swollen feet, the question, “What the hell am I doing?” makes the rounds of my consciousness quite a bit lately. And then there is the opposite desire, wanting so badly to push through it, kick the nurse in the skins and remember my own tendencies to throw temper tantrums when things get hard. To remember how easily I succumb to pity parties, in which I marinate myself in home-grown self-absorption and gain 3 pounds of anxiety weight.

So that’s where I am. I don’t quite feel resolved. I guess the blog is no Father Dan. I have to hope that the better side of me wins out, that I kick some shins, wrap up the party and get to work. But then again, I still have Christmas shopping to do…

Friday, November 21, 2008


Hannah screamed as she thrust her body towards me, pulling away from her mother. Saline tears raced up and over her flushed cheeks, like two agile skiers racing down the snow covered slopes. One by one the tears landed on her snug t-shirt. The dark spots created random polk-a-dots across her belly that grew with each passing second.

I looked at her mother, "Is there something I can do to make this better?" Kai and I were leaving after a play dough playdate. I stayed too long and needed to make a speedy exit in order to meet my daughter at our house when she stepped off the bus.

Charlene sighed, "She wants a hug and a kiss."

Ah, that explained Hannah's fish like movements with her lips. I tried blowing her a kiss.

"Hannah, look," I said dramatically bringing my hand up to my own puckered lips. "I'm going to blow you a kiss, get ready to catch it ok?"

Most kids love this game, catching the winged kiss with their padded palms. Hannah continued to scream, wanting no part such breezy affection. She pulled away from Charlene, causing her to quickly shift her weight to the opposite side in order to prevent both of them from toppling over.

"Ok," I said. "How about a kiss on your head?" I barely knew this little one. I tried to read her mother's face. Did she want me to give her daughter a kiss good-bye? Certainly not. I wouldn't want someone I barely knew kissing my kids. So, I planted a soft kiss on Hannah's shiny honey colored hair, noticing her perfect part down the middle. I realized that after six years, I still haven't mastered such a clean part on my own daughter's hair.

This only proved to insult Hannah and she yowled with more intensity. Looking up at me with her pale blue eyes, she seemed offended, as if I had offered her an apple in place of a towering flowered cake on her birthday. Meanwhile, the clock ticked away in my mind, the bus would be coming soon.

So I leaned down and gave her the quickest kiss I could muster on her quivering lips and magically, she stopped.

Relieved I said, "Okay Hannah, we'll see you next week and I'll bring stamps to play with next time." Hannah closed her eyes and rested her head on Charlene's shoulder, suddenly exhausted.

"See ya!" Charlene waved as we finally walked out the back door where my car waited impatiently.

As I turned the key in the ignition my thoughts shifted gears with disapproval. Why didn't I just leave? Lots of kids cry at the end of a play date. I taught elementary school for several years. I know about boundaries. "Give me a high five or a hug!" Those are the choices.

But Hannah is living in a home for pregnant women who are in crisis. Her mother is expecting a baby soon and is trying to secure a job, a car and a place to live in these coming months with the help of the staff at the home. Hannah now lives with 4 other families in similar situations, pregnant mothers with no where to go, trying to piece their lives back together. How can I deny such a simple request from a 2 year old? But the fact is, next time I will need stick to my guns and say no. I know it must be against the rules to give the kids kisses.

I wasn't prepared, in many ways, I was not prepared at all. I will return next week with the box of stamps and colored ink pads under my arm and the phrase, "How about a high 5 or a hug?" planted firmly in my mind.

** Names used are not the real names of the given individuals.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Booty Bounce

For the last several nights, Elizabeth, Kai and I have taken part in an after dinner dance contest. We pull up itunes on the computer and take turns throwing out new moves to the 30 seconds of any given song. Josh judges as he cleans up the kitchen. So far, Elizabeth has won each competition hands down. Josh and I exchanged more than a few raised eyebrows between each other as she danced, “Where did she learn to move like that?” Not from me… unfortunately. I love to dance. I am just not good at it.

Today, I tried a new health club that recently opened up near us called LA Fitness. After years at Cardinal, I thought it might be time for a change. This club offers classes. I decided to try Cardio Kickboxing. The very cute and Barbie-like instructor asked us at the beginning of the class if anyone did not have any dancing background. “Even taking classes as a kid counts, just something. “ I was the only one to raise my hand. “Ok, that’s fine, “she assured me with a flash of gleaming white teeth, “I just need to know who I am dealing with today.”

A friend of mine used to teach Step at one of the clubs I belonged to. She used to joke, “I know if Kate can follow my queues, than anyone can.” Ouch. But it was true. I used to mouth the counts out along with her so I wouldn’t mess up. At least I made the other self-proclaimed uncoordinated women feel better. This is why I run and bike people, no choreography needed.

This instructor, I think her name was Alyssa, was so good though! She broke down all the moves for us first, gave out high fives when we finally got it right, and encouraged us to part-take in the optional “booty-bounce” move. She looked very MTV-ish doing it, me, I looked like an idiot. And yet, I didn’t care. It was fun. I laughed and tried it anyway. The instructor with her careful directions, good music, and upbeat attitude made my day. I’ve often wished my mom had forced me to take dance lessons. According to her, she asked me a few times about lessons and I refused. Now I am wondering if it is too late to try as an adult.

In any case, Elizabeth will want to compete again tonight I’m sure. Little does she know that her mom just learned a new move from Miss Alyssa! I am sure the “booty-bounce” will get me a few extra points with the judge, or at the very least a raised eyebrow.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Get in your playroom!

Josh just left for his weekend with friends and the kids are tearing each other apart. My classic line is, “When I find myself losing patience at 8am, I know it isn’t going to be a good day.” The weather outside is cloudy and rainy. The damp chill seeps into the bones and spirit, prompting an extra layer of clothing and high pitched whining from my children, typical pre-holiday weather for Indiana.

And so, I am implementing a new strategy today. If my darling little ones cannot find the means to problem-solve like civilized people as they wander the house, they will need to do so together in a dual time out in the playroom. Instead of separating them, or just letting them work it out in a loud fashion right next to me, I am placing them both in the playroom together with the following instructions:

“ You two will need to solve this problem together in here. Once you have a workable solution that you both agree to, you may join me in the rest of the house. I am setting the timer for 5 minutes. You may not come out until you hear it beep.”

So, I will get a little writing in while I wait…

And there is it, beep, beep, beep…the infamous timer. Who knew my microwave would morph from fast food preparation to an integral tool in my parenting procedures? Duty calls and the experiment continues…

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why bother?

Looking at Kai’s lime green box of Leggos, I imagine if I stacked all of my reasons NOT to write, one on top of the other, the colorful tower would certainly reach the ceiling. After all, a pile of clean laundry sits on my bed, waiting to be folded and put away. Today is Friday, which means I need to complete two reports for work. I just sent out Evite invitations for Elizabeth’s 6th birthday party. She wants a beach party and although we discussed a number of games and activities, I need to compile a list of supplies for them, as well as deciding what to send home with the kiddos as a treat bag. Once again, I vowed to complete all Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving this year and yet not one gift has been purchased so far. Emails from friends sit in my inbox unanswered. I feel tired, how is it that going on vacation provokes such exhaustion? Maybe I am getting sick and should rest my newly colored red head down on a pillow and take a quick nap while Kai sleeps? But Jenny did ask me to send her a picture of my new hair color…can I get a good shot taking the picture myself? Plus, what am I going to say? What happens when I sit down to write and nothing of value comes out? How long do I push through what feels like crap before I quit for the day? At least if I tackle one of the above tasks, I can claim victory over my list and triumphantly cross it off for today.

Writing remains on my mind, if not on my to do list no matter what the given day holds. And so I come back, time and time again to all of the reasons I DO write. I write because I remember my mom sitting down to write in our living room in Illinois. She sat in the rarely used, but quiet room with pencil in hand and a yellow legal pad on her lap. Wandering into the room, I asked her what she was doing? She looked so out of place to me. I was used to my mom bustling about in the kitchen or reading a novel at the end of the sofa in the highly trafficked family room. She told me she thought she would try writing a book and was just getting started today. I left her to write, and remembered feeling a sense of awe that my mother was sitting down to write a book. I write because I never did see my mom sit down to write in that yellow legal pad again. I write because I learned a few months ago that the story line is still in her mind, ready to be exposed on the page but she is waiting until retirement to dive into that venture again.

I write because I see my soon to be six year old daughter writing stories of her own now. The stories appear on the page like transparent wings flecked with silver fairy dust, beautiful, magically, and completely her own. My own breath quickens watching her discover the power of words on a white page. As she bends over her work, I silently pray she never lets go of the thread of creativity and expression, that she instead confidently grabs hold of each one that comes her way, weaving together a solid rope of expression in her life.

I write because it gives me an excuse to eavesdrop on nearby conversations. Like the two airport mechanics sitting behind me, while taking their break in the Miami Airport this week. I listened intently as one described their boss as “The Elephant Man” right before the smaller mechanic purposefully sent a lost traveler in the wrong direction.

”Now, what are you gonna do when he comes back saying he can’t find it?” asked the larger and more empathetic mechanic. “Well,” said the small one with a shrug, “then I’ll just send him down that-a-way. Only two ways to go. He’ll find what he needs eventually.” And they continued on, teasing each other about the Dixie cup sized coffee one chose to drink, and whether or not one donut a week is following the doctor’s orders. “It’s all about moderation,” argued the larger mechanic.

I write because for as long as I can remember, it has helped me to understand and navigate the world I live in, internally and externally. As a child I wrote about anorexic cheerleaders that committed suicide. Yep, that one was given to my sister as a gift when I was eight years old! Call out the psychiatrist please… Still, I worked through body issues on the page and not in my life. I write because that same sister insists that I should, and I want to believe her more than I’ll admit.

I write because it is always refreshing, exciting, frustrating, hard as hell, comforting, painful, insightful, boring, and available. I write because for some reason, even though my to-do list remains long, if I write a little each day, I feel accomplished, even if the writing isn’t my dream-perfect- powerful and descriptive narrative.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

33 and feelin' free!

In my 5 year old daughter’s eyes, she is thrilled that Obama won this election simply because that is who her parents voted for this year. Today is my birthday. Elizabeth climbed into bed with me early this morning for a birthday snuggle. After sharing with her that Obama won last night, I asked her, “Elizabeth, do you know why this is such a big deal?” She shrugged, thinking we'd take part in more birthday talk this morning instead of politics.

I shared with her that Barack Obama is the very first African American man to be elected as our president. She tried her best to muster up some enthusiasm in response to this announcement. What my daughter fails to understand is what inflates me with a bursting sense of hope for the future. In Elizabeth's brightly colored kindergarten world, I might as well have said, “He is the first man who wears purple socks to be elected president,” and the impact would remain the same.

Today I turned 33. My Dad called this morning to wish me a Happy Birthday, talk about the Election Day news and remind me that I was born on Election Day in 1975. As far as I am concerned, the results of this race this year is the best birthday gift that I can imagine. My children, Elizabeth and Kai, will know a different world, just as I know a world entirely different from the one I was born into 33 years ago.

Last night, while watching the numbers roll in, tears streamed down my face and when I finally saw Barack and Michelle Obama walk out to greet the huge crowd at Grant Park with their two little girls in tow, I thanked God for the opportunity to witness this historical moment from my family room.

I leave with my sister this Friday for our cruise in the Bahamas. We’ll meet Erin and Kristin from the Manic Mommies podcast and hopefully make a few new friends on this trip. I am just so grateful that the election occurred before this trip, as I don’t think I would really be able to relax otherwise.

A half a day into my 33rd year, and I have to say, it is looking pretty darned good from where I stand.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Oh la la

I fell in love with a cat named Oh la la this week. The name alone coupled with her aqua blue eyes and her pink metallic tag declaring her title, completely enamored me to her soft gray feline-self. She visits our house each morning and evening, bolting in the house the moment we crack open the door. Even my husband, who is not a fan of the purring and pawing breed, thinks she is “a pretty cool cat”. After several days of Oh la la exploring our house, I called the number on her tag. I felt like we were quietly kidnapping someone else’s cat each time she strolled through our home.

It turns out, Oh la la lives a few streets away within our neighborhood. Audrey, her owner is 8 months pregnant. Oh la la apparently dashes out of the house each morning. Audrey’s growing belly prevents her from rushing out in the yard after the zigzagging cat. I shared with Audrey that Oh la la has spent some time in our house over the last few days. I wanted to check and make sure that she felt okay about Oh la la’s rendezvous in our family room. Secretly, I hoped that by contacting Oh la la’s owner, she would sigh and say, “Oh, that cat is such a pain! If you want to keep her over there…be my guest!” Instead, she said, “You know what? I guess I would say not to let her in, just because I am afraid she won’t come back home then. “ My heart sank. “She‘s my little princess. I got her seven years ago. I’m sure you see how sweet she is.”

Of course, I noticed her extraordinary demeanor. I hoped that perhaps Audrey no longer recognized or appreciated Oh la la’s charming behavior. My phone call proved that thought incorrect. Before hanging up, I agreed to keep Oh la la outside and said good-bye feeling deflated despite Audrey’s chipper, “Thanks honey!”

This is not the first time I’ve fallen in love with someone or something that wasn’t mine. A few years ago I met a small boy in our workout childcare room that I felt a strong connection to. I discovered later that he was being fostered by a local family here in town. Immediately, I felt that Josh and I were meant to adopt him. Needless to say, the family fostering him loved him as well and was working on adopting him already. I did not sleep more than a few hours a night for weeks feeling distressed over the situation, wondering what it could mean. Were Josh and I meant to foster children? Is that why I fell in love with this little boy at our gym? Was it to show me that I was ready to adopt a toddler and didn’t “need” to experience babyhood once again? Whatever the purpose, the situation impacted me in a powerful way. We did go on to later adopt Kai as a toddler, only a few weeks younger than that little boy who charmed me so quickly months ago.

This love at first sight phenomenon has only occurred twice in my life, once with a little two year old boy and now with a whimsical and affectionate cat, Oh la la. I am not sure what these situations say about me. I still keep an eye out for that little boy when I am out running errands around town . And in the case of Oh la la, I remain quick to give Oh la la some attention when she shows up at our door, outside the house of course. Who knows, maybe a cat is in our family’s future, just not Audrey’s princess.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


**Free writing-Write about a coincidence

I remember standing in the kitchen talking to Josh about my conversation with Jenny and then running into Susan at the store. Jenny called earlier and we talked for awhile about adoption. At the time, Jenny longed for another child. Her youngest, Kyle, now over a year and life slowing down a bit, she felt ready to take another one on, ready to enjoy that closeness with another child. Scott felt a bit differently. He did not share any of those particular maternal/paternal desires. Freedom tasted sweeter than reproduction did. Jenny hoped to convince him otherwise, but I think she knew that most likely, there would not be anymore children.

Earlier in the day, the phone rang and I answered, knowing it was her. There are a couple people in my life that I almost always seem to know are calling before “Hello?” My sister is one of them. A smug sense of “ I knew it” washes over me each time my guess proves correct.

“Hey, I have some news about adoption for you.” Jenny said excitedly.
“I talked to Dr. Anderson about it and she said that it really isn’t that expensive.”
“How can it not be that expensive?” I interrupted.
“She said that you pay the fees a little at a time, not all at once. Like, you pay for the home study first, then part of an agency fee, then for the paperwork as you get it done. You don’t pay the rest until you get your child, which can be awhile anyway.”
“Really? I never even thought about that? That makes sense though.”
“Yeah, well, I told her, you know in a perfect world, I would want to adopt, but it is just so expensive.”

“I know it is just so frustrating and overwhelming. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten on the computer to try and research it all. But I just end up feeling so overwhelmed that I get off. It seems impossible, but then I think, “Well, other people do this, there has to be something that I am missing here.” I said, looking out the window into our backyard. The cardinals were hopping around the ground pecking at it for food. When we first moved into this house in the middle of December, the cardinals seemed to flock to the umbrella like oak tree out by our shed. They were like Mother Natures’s neighborhood welcome wagon.

I tried to draw birds to the barren back yard of our townhouse to no avail. It turns out birds really do need trees, since our complex had none, I rarely saw anything outside of a sparrow or house finch outside our windows. This house signified a new beginning. I lost my second pregnancy in the townhouse, now we left the townhouse behind and a flock of ruby red cardinals had flown out to meet me. Surely only good things could await us here I thought, only to lose another pregnancy six months after moving in.

“Her daughter is adopted.” Jenny went on as she does when she gets on roll, in her big sister way, needing to push forward and share all she knows because it will help you. You’ll see. “They adopted her from India. I guess her husband is Indian, so they really wanted the child to be from there. I’m not sure if she had any miscarriages, or trouble getting pregnant or not, but she is also a part of this infertility board that gives seminars for people dealing with infertility.”


“Yeah, and they have one coming up in April, I can give you the website if you want it.” Jenny shared.

“Sure, couldn’t hurt to look at it.” I said, not wanting to get my hopes up too high. I wasn’t ready to climb the ladder of possible babyhood again quite yet. Ironically, I knew all too well how much it could hurt to even ‘look into’ adoption. Previous researching efforts left me feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, feeling that perhaps Elizabeth was just meant to be an only child.

Josh and I talked at length about this possibility. Usually I ended up researching being only children soon after looking into adoption. It turns out, statistically, only children turn out pretty good, high IQ’s, positive social skills, usually high achievers. Each time Josh or I met someone who was an “only” we questioned them about it. “How did you feel about being an only child?” “What was it like?” As if being without siblings were similar to living alone in a mud hut in India, singular, foreign and exotic in nature. Time and time again, each person assured us that being an only child was not a bad thing at all.

After taking down all the information my sister had meticulously gathered, we hung up. I needed to go the grocery store, get some food in the fridge and think. So, I packed Elizabeth, then 3 years old, into our car and headed off to Meijer.
As I approached the dairy case, I recognized a familiar face. Susan Backer and a beautiful little Asian girl about Elizabeth’s age riding in her cart. I babysat for Susan in college during my breaks from school and over the summers. She and her husband had two little boys who were now in junior high. After our initial hellos and how are yous, I asked her if they had a new family member?

“Yes!” she said proudly. “This is Ellie. We’ve just arrived home from China about 10 days ago.”

I couldn’t believe it. Just minutes before my sister and I were discussing adoption, her telling me how Dr. Anderson recommended China for various reasons, and running into Susan at the grocery store, who I hadn’t seen for years, and she just happens to be fresh off the plane from China with her new daughter!

We spoke for several minutes. I shared with Susan that Josh and I were considering adoption but were concerned about the cost, process, etc. She answered many questions, recommended her adoption agency, gave me her number and email for follow-up questions and advice, and then went on her way, changing my life forever in 10 minutes.

Later that day, when Josh returned home from work, we talked in the kitchen, me sitting on the counter top, Josh standing before me. I recounted the story and what a coincidence it all was. Before this moment, when I brought up adoption, Josh seemed hesitant. “Well,” Josh said in his typical way, making huge decisions with apparent ease and with total confidence, “I think we should do it. Let’s just stop everything else and focus on adopting then.”

“Seriously?” I wasn’t so sure I was ready to go that far yet.

But the next day I started the calls and filled out a form for Susan’s agency, and we were on our way. It still amazes me to this day, a chance encounter with a woman I used to babysit for, came at just the right moment, essentially bringing us to China, to toddler adoption, to Kai, our son.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hilly Hundred 2008

"I like the way you talk when you are riding your bike Elizabeth"-Josh

When Elizabeth gets onto her bike, her whole demeanor changes. She talks excitedly. Her feet whirl in circles, and she laughs at her own ability to create such speed. Funny, I still feel the same way as an adult.

Dad and Jenny and I rode the Hilly Hundred this weekend. As usual, we had a blast. There is something that happens when all three of us get out on our respective bikes, well, something other than Jenny not being able to shift the gears correctly! (Just kidding Jenny! You have already paid your dues for that one. That bike is out to get you!)

People talk about the simplicity and freedom associated with bike riding. I could not agree more. All I think about is the next hill, what I will eat at the next stop, and being able to clip out of my pedals so I don't fall over!

My sister and Dad and I chat up different people. I always say, "Gosh, we meet the nicest people here every year." To which Jenny answered, "Yeah well, we're pretty nice ourselves!" Which of course we are. Something I have always admired about my Dad is his ability to walk into a room of strangers and make conversation, tell stories and have people laughing in no time. Jenny and I can hold our own as well. When you put the three of us together at a biking event, we're ready to make anyone our friend, and we do!

I wore my old RAGBRI jersey to breakfast the first day of the ride. A woman excitedly ran up to me and said, "Did you do RAGBRI?" I answered yes. "Did you just LOVE it?" To which I had to answer, NO. I felt badly, as she had the time of her life. (Ragbri is a week long ride across Iowa. It is known for the party atmosphere and is held in the hottest week of July! You end up riding a little over 500 miles. For me it was too much testosterone, as the ride is also 95% male, and way too much heat, 120 degree heat indexes.) When she found out I rode it with my Dad though, her eyes teared up. "I wish I had known about rides like that before my Dad was gone. I am guessing she was about 50 or so.

And that is just the whole thing. My Dad is the one who took us on all of those bike rides from picnics in Minnesota, to the long weekends on the Sparta-Elroy trail. He bought me a French racing bike for my first 21 speed. I never did have a 10 speed. Then he went shopping with me for "Goldie" my lovely Trek that I got for college graduation.

More than the bike, the Hilly is about time with my Dad and my sister. Time when all we have to do is haul out our biking gear, hope for good weather, ride the given route, and eat some food.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


**This post is a little late. I meant to get it out before we left on the Hilly, but that did not happen.**

Instead of typing here, right now on this pink laptop of mine, I should be getting my bike and the related weekend gear together for the Hilly Hundred this Friday. My pile of jerseys, sports bras, biking shorts, warm socks and riding tights, once stacked neatly under on the floor are now thrown about after last night’s impromptu sleepover with Kai. For some reason, he has adopted an intense fear of all things surrounding storms, the rustle of leaves through the trees outside our house, the sight of heavy gray clouds, the soft pats of rain on the roof, and of course the dreaded and more than a little obnoxious crack of thunder and flashes of lightning.

After hopping out of bed four times with his heart fluttering like a startled bird, and looking past my face towards the ceiling crying, “…fraid… I ‘fraid…” I gave up trying to convince him that he was safe alone in his room and grabbed the slick red sleeping bag and laid it out for him on the floor next to our bed. I tucked him in and felt his chest rise as a deep breath of security filling him, allowing sleep to settle into his muscular body. Josh and I try to keep the kids in their own beds, to keep our bedroom the one room that is really just for us, but I my own body screamed for sleep. I needed to squeeze out every drop of sleep out of this wet night. Climbing into my own bed, I listened as Kai’s breathing slowed. In the dark, though my own eyes were closed ,I knew his mouth now hung open, slack against the antique white embroidered pillow case. Before releasing my own body into the pull of my bed, I marveled at my own ability to provide such peace in the face of his intense fear.

A few weeks ago, during one of my swim workouts at the pool, I couldn’t help but notice the father and son pair swimming in the lane next to me. The dad looked to be somewhere around my age, his early thirties I guessed. He was Asian and had thick, almost wavy black hair. His body reminded me of the Ken dolls of my youth, smooth, rippled with muscles, not a hair on his body. They must have all migrated to his head! The son bore a striking resemblance to the father, except with much softer features, his babyhood not yet completely chiseled away. I guessed the son to be about 4 years old. I watched from the privacy of my goggles, as the young boy doggy paddled with all his might down the 25 yard lane. His hands and feet churned the water, creating small wakes behind him. His eyes remained focused on the other end of the pool. Not once did I see the child’s gaze fall to anyone or anything outside of the approaching wall or his father. He lifted his teacup chin up clearing the water line. Straining his neck and puffing out small gasps of air as he went along, he worked his way down the lane.

The father swam ahead, gracefully stroking his way to the other end, as if pulling on imaginary rope which drew him to the opposite side with ease. Then he waited patiently for the boy, his elbows propped up against the smooth edge of the pool. Judgment never crossed the father’s attentive face. When the boy reached the father, high fives were not exchanged, technique was not discussed. Instead, the father simply pulled the boy up out of the turquoise water and placed him on his bare chest. Then the two leaned back into the water, as if stretching back in an invisible recliner and floated together, back to the other side of the pool.

“He’s quite the swimmer!” I said as they reached my side of the pool.
The father smiled gently, “He’s a hard worker.”
Proving the point, the boy took off yet again, puffing his way through the water, ready to ride his father’s silent approval back and forth for as long as the father offered it up.
The father/son team were in the pool when I arrived and continued their pattern of practice after I climbed out, wet and tired 45 minutes later.

I thought of my own children. How often does the answer to troubles and fears reside in a moment or two of silent floating when they can no longer keep their heads above water? Whether it is a night sleeping in our bedroom when the sounds of the house haunts the expansive techno-colored imaginations of their minds, or quietly dismantling a frustrating, foot stomping day with a couple stolen minutes spent plopped on the couch reading brightly illustrated picture books. I forget in the daily rush, that as a parent, sometimes all I really have to do is harvest those moments of rest. All I need to do is encourage my children to lean back. I can pull their heavy bodies close to mine, inhale their sweet honey scented hair and we can float together, our heads tipped up towards the sky. I can buoy them up for awhile, allowing both of us to rest for a few moments before starting the next lap.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dr. Dream-Come-True?

This past Monday I tried another doctor regarding my knee and feet pain. The foot pain resulted from a wake boarding crash this summer, but the knee pain I’ve dealt with on and off for awhile now. Anyway, some of you may remember my entry a few weeks ago about the doctor who seemed to believe that I was just a silly girl that should just go for nice walks admiring my neighbors’ finely manicured lawns, instead of training for athletic events.

What I said in that post was that I just wanted a doctor to take me seriously as a female athlete and work with me to see what could be done. So, I almost slid right off my chair when Dr. Helms, a runner himself, looked at me after much discussion and actively listening and examining and said, “We’ll get you there. It may take a multi-faceted approach, but we’ll get you there.”

So there you have it. I am amazed at the different opinions you can receive from doctors. My mom has always told us that you have to be your own advocate when you do to the doctor. I am so glad that I didn’t just throw in the towel. A friend of mine from Cardinal suggested this doctor. I told her, “Kim, if this guy can help me, I am taking you out to dinner to celebrate.” I feel pretty optimistic that I’ll have to ante up on that offer.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Today I will remember the three of us sitting together, lined up across the red brick steps. The October air hangs above us, crisp this morning. The cottonwood leaves flutter across our feet as we wait together on the front step. Kai wears his kelly green dinosaur footy pajamas, the ones I bought at Target right after we returned home from China. He was always cold. They still fit, but barely. In a few weeks I will pull them out of his closet only to find his body no longer matches their size, his feet will stretch past the fleece companions. I will fold the yellow, green and blue dinosaurs up neatly and place them in the pile on the top self of his closet, clothes to be placed in the attic.

Elizabeth, freshly bathed 30 minutes earlier, carries her backpack. She’s stuffed the outer pocket full of miniature books. I can hear her reading them at night after we’ve tucked her into bed. It seems no less than a miracle that she can read all by herself. Years of teaching other people’s children to read failed to prepare me for such surprised joy.

Kai holds a squirrel puppet in his hand. His teachers cut the squirrel out of card stock yesterday at school. He apparently ran a brown crayon across the animal’s body enough times to label it “brown” and then quit coloring. Several squares of fake brown fur are stuck to the squirrel like the small circles of toilet paper haphazardly pressed upon a bleeding nick while shaving.

Kai presents his furry friend to us,moving the stick up and down, dancing the rodent about, as happy squirrels do. He stops the show frequently to reassure Elizabeth and me over and over again, “Not real, not real.” Giving both of us a telling glimpse into the past. Perhaps the garish fake fur looked a little too real for Kai when he first laid eyes on it yesterday. In order to illustrate to him that we are indeed not at all scared, Elizabeth and I admire and stroke the thick, heavy swatches. Kai keeps his hand firmly wrapped around the stick. This squirrel has been domesticated.

Earlier this morning I cut up pancakes and syrup, painted fingernails, red and pink, every other nail with the special sparkle polish on top, sang to a new children’s CD telling us to “Take care of the earth, take care of the sky, take care of the water while the waves roll on by,” doled out snuggles in our over-sized navy blue chair, and grabbed a fistful of toilet paper for a bloody nose. I fielded questions, “Where is Daddy?”

And tossed out the answers, “He had to leave early for work today.” We discussed schedules, “We’ve been visiting the library on Fridays lately guys...should we head there today after school?” To which they both clapped and shouted, “YES!”

A few minutes pass outside, as the gray sky yawns open above our heads. “I hear it!” Kai shouts as the grumbling bus rounds the bend, lumbering up to our driveway, where it groans to a halt. Elizabeth slides off the step, throws Kai and I kisses, and runs down the pitch of our driveway to climb the steep steps leading her up into the bus. Kai follows her, his wide, almost black eyes tracking the white and pink saddle shoes of his big sister. All the way down the driveway, he slices the squirrel through the air in smooth figure eights for the bus driver to see.

As a parting gesture, Bob the bus driver, waves good morning from his lofty chair and then proceeds to fold up the door and my daughter, as she finds her little partner and sits down. The bus hungrily surges ahead, ready to sweep up the rest of the students who wait patiently at the curb. Kai waves excitedly until the bus slips completely out of view. Cars passing our house slow down, smiling up at my pajama boy through their passenger side windows. His exuberance must remind them of their youth, their dewy children, their own small nephew, their wide smiled neighbor boy. It is a good way to begin the day.

With my daughter safely sealed inside the warm bus on its way to her kindergarten classroom, my son raises his hands, he stands ready to lose contact with the ground and wrap his arms around my neck instead. One child leaves,while the other remains. Kai remembers his puppet and smiles at it, “Not scary!” he says, finally convinced. “Nope,” I say kissing his plump cheeks, cool and smooth on my grateful lips, “Not scary at all.”

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Obama rally

My friend Heather. We drove to the fairgrounds together, loaded down with kids, carseats, strollers and of course, plenty of snacks!

Kai and Isabelle-They were sooo good! Kai wasn't such a huge fan of all the yelling, which was so ironic considering the kid lives to yell in the house! We were really proud of both of them!

High points of the event:

• I have never been around so many Democrats in Indiana in my entire time living here, that alone was pretty incredible. Sometimes, I fear opening my mouth when it comes to politics. I can usually assume I will be outnumbered.

• The African American woman and her Caucasian mother in law sitting behind us. During the wait in the stands these two women played, “I got your nose!” with Isabelle and Kai in between the constant snacking on whatever Heather and I could give them to keep the pair happy and quiet. They both cried as the flashing lights of the motorcycles leading the motorcade for Barrack Obama drove into the fairgrounds. “I didn’t expect to get so emotional,” she laughed as we all cheered and screamed.

• The wonderful cross section of people we saw, parents with young children in strollers, elderly men and women in wheel chairs, African Americans, and Asians. I have never attended any political event and I found it so inspiring to see everyone making their way out in the middle of the day on a workday to hear Obama speak.
Having Kai there with me, I don’t know, there was something about exposing him to all that is possible here in the United States. I wanted to say to him. “This is how we do it here. You have a say. That could be you someday. What you do in this life does make a difference.”

I couldn’t help but think that just a little over a year ago, Kai had rarely stepped out of the orphanage doors in China, and now here we were together at an Obama rally in the United States. Interestingly enough, that is just what Barrack Obama said after a protester raised a bit of a ruckus. At the beginning of his speech someone in the crowd yelled something and it created a loud stir in the section nearby. Obama stopped his speech, held up his hand and said, “Ok, now, what do we have going on up there?” in his classic, calm voice. With the question addressed and Barrack standing there, looking up, ready to address the protester, the commotion stopped. “That is the beauty of a democracy,” he said, “Everyone is allowed an opinion.” Then he shifted his weight and said, “Ok, now where was I?” Which was greeted with relieved laughter.

On our way out of the stadium, after the speech ended, Heather strapped Oliver into the baby bijorn . He grinned and kicked his legs happily. She held Kai’s hand as we weaved through the parking lot. Isabelle, now losing steam, wanted me to hold her. I gladly placed her on my hip and she gratefully snuggled her face into my neck. I couldn’t help but think, we are all in this together, all of our children, everyone’s family, no matter who wins the election next month.
As soon as we had them all strapped into the car Isabelle started asking for more food. “Honey, we’re all out of snacks.” No snacks, no problem, we’d heard Barrack speak, and it was time to go home.

If you look closely, you will see him standing at the podium.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

“Hey, so are you up for an adventure today?”-Heather on the phone 15 minutes ago

“Hey, so are you up for an adventure today?”
Of course I am! I have paperwork to do for work, need to go grocery shopping and just completed a to do list two pages long, but I could not turn this particular offer down.
My friend Heather is on the Obama mailing list and she just found out that he is speaking that the fairgrounds today. So we are packing up our kids, two three year olds and a 7 month old, and heading out to the fairgrounds.
I am so excited! We are throwing all kinds of snacks in backpacks to keep the kids happy for hopefully long enough. I’ll let you know what happens. I have to be back in time for Elizabeth to get off the bus. Hopefully we have enough time to hear his whole speech. I would be so excited if Michelle Obama was there too! OOOHHHHHH exciting!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Power of Red Shoes

“Just where do you think you are going, walking through my area,” she paused to look my straight in the eye in order to convey her absolute annoyance. Oh man, here we go again. A team lead told me to go ahead and take my cart through the meat cooler to the back room. I proceeded with caution. Often times I need to watch my step, as many retail workers grow extremely territorial about their spaces, how they are arranged and who tromps through them at what times. This is specifically the case in many Whole Foods grocery stores, where I swear the lack of sugar and processed foods creates an overriding atmosphere of crankiness, as they all work tirelessly to “detox” their bodies. The heavy set butcher held my gaze and then broke into a pleasant smile, “…wearing those adorable shoes!” she laughed at her own ruse. Breathing a sigh of relief, I once again marveled at the sheer power of a cute pair of shoes. We stood over her cart of organic, crimson burger patties and I talked about red shoes and how everyone needs a pair, don’t they? In her white pants, shirt, apron and hat, surrounded by knives and meat, I could certainly understand her desire for perky footwear.

Despite my newly evolving view on shoes, I tend to favor running shoes over favor cute ones. I’ve never been one to ascribe to the, “Damn, these shoes make me look good!” philosophy. In fact, I hold a pretty impressive record in the athletic shoe department, if that record were to include the number of pairs purchased. I also am fairly well versed in the highly technical jargon surrounding the running shoe genre. Talk to me about over and under pronation and I’ve got you covered, yet move onto boot styles for this year or peak-a-boo toes and kitten heels, and watch my eyes slowly close up shop.

As a mother of two small children, it is easy to fall prey to the sweat pant syndrome. Moms out there, you know the feeling. Your wardrobe consists of worn out t-shirts from Target, jeans that were in style 3 seasons ago, and grass stained running shoes. Sure, I always have a few outfits I can pull together to look half-way decent in an emergency. But, hang around me long enough and you’ll see those very outfits make several appearances. While I do love a cozy pair of tennis shoes and a nice pair of jeans as much as the next gal, I also fear the day I turn 50 and find myself wearing peach tracksuits out to lunch with friends who resemble Mrs. Doubtfire. A fine line exists between laying low on the fashion continuum hanging on to the belief that I convey a sporty, casual style and looking like I’ve completely fallen off the “I care what I look like,” wagon.

I learned long ago from my mom and sister that accessories “make” the outfit. I long for the days when I lived at home and browsed through three different wardrobes each night before selecting the perfect outfit, a shirt from my sister’s closet, the belt and earrings from my mom’s massive mirrored closet and black pants and shoes from my own closet. Never again will I find myself as well dressed as I was in high school, unless or course my mom and sister come to live with me someday.

I enjoy looking nice, I just don’t necessarily want to put in the leg work required to get there. One day, heading my mom and sister’s timeless advice, I decided to focus on shoes. With about 30 minutes of free time before I needed to pick up Kai and Elizabeth, I swung into The Designer Shoe Warehouse store, known as DSW. I made a beeline for the clearance section in the back of the store. This store isn’t kidding with the name. It is a huge warehouse full of shoes. Many women might refer to such a store as heaven. Me? It looks more like hell. How am I supposed to work my way through that entire inventory by myself?

I wear a size 9 ½ shoe. That tends to limit the degree of cuteness that will work on my cruise ship feet. I’m looking for a minimizing shoe. Give me something that makes those puppies look at least slightly dainty and feminine, or I might as well throw my money into another pair of running shoes. When I walk into a shoe store, I look for what I to call, “The big girl” section. These sizes tend to be pushed back in the farthest, and darkest corner of the store. As soon as I stopped in front of the 9 1/2 sign, I saw them, waiting right there for me like Christmas in July, the perfect pair of red shoes. I loved them right away for a few reasons. First of all, I knew my sister and my mom would both approve. I could hear both of their voices chiming in my mind as I slipped them on, “Well, you can dress up just about any outfit with those shoes! Get them! “ Hesitantly, I turned the box over to check the price. They were only $24.00! BINGO! We have a winner! I checked myself out in the full length mirror, sure enough, I was already feeling better. Fueled by my initial find, I spent the next several minutes scanning the racks for more bargains. In a rush of optimistic bliss, I tried on dozens of different styles and colors of shoes. In the end, I purchased 4 pairs that day, two of which happened to be cherry red!

Like a shiny merichino cherry perched on the top of a towering sundae, the red shoes rang up at a further reduced price. I only paid about $14.00 for them, when originally they were listed at $60.00. Smug and loaded down with the bulky shoe boxes, I figured I only needed to wear them once or twice to make the purchase worthwhile. Looking back, I had no concept of the hidden power of the cute shoe, but I would soon find out.

I wore the red shoes later that day when I picked up Elizabeth at preschool. I weaved my way through the crowded hallway and waited at her classroom door along with the other mothers. The minute she spotted me, her eyes zeroed in on my feet. “Mommy! “ she squealed. “ You got new shoes!” Pride flooded her face, as if she had been secretly whispering this very prayer at night, pleading with God to help her mother understand the power of the shoes, to finally purchase a note worthy pair, like the mommies in the magazines. As we made our way back down the incense scented hall, we squeezed past tiny kids gripping their parent’s hands, laughing, “Excuse me,” as we bumped into each other along the way. Elizabeth eyed the director at the end of the hall. She was dispensing cheerful good-byes to her flock as we floated out the door.

“Mrs. Barb!” Elizabeth called out. “Look at my Mommies new shoes!”
Mrs. Barb, looked down and shared her approval, as did another mom right in front of to me. “Aren’t those cute!” I thanked them for the compliment and pushed Elizabeth out the double doors and into the sunshine. I can take my daughter to dance class, read to her, play board games and ride bikes outside with her, but apparently, in her mind, the gold medal goes to the mom with the cutest shoes. It looks like she and the butcher from Whole Foods have something in common.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Comfort Music

**I suppose announcing that I wanted to try and blog a little each day served as the kiss of death! Maybe that won't work after all. :)**

I drive quite a bit for work, which means I spend a good amount of time listening to podcasts or music. Yesterday I drove to Lafayette, which takes me about 75 minutes one way. Normally I favor the podcasts, my favorite shows consisting of This American Life, The Moth, The Satellite Sisters and Manic Mommies. Unfortunately, by the time I finished getting both lunches packed and both kids ready for school, I had failed to sync the most recent episodes.

This left me thumbing through my playlists for something I hadn’t heard for awhile. We all have different versions of comfort music, the songs or albums that follow you throughout your life. They never grow old or tiresome. My mother’s comfort music was Joan Baez. I remember listening to Joan’s voice fill our Minnesota kitchen with her melancholy tunes. My mom and I often sang along to various songs together, but the only song I really liked of Mrs. Baez’s was Diamonds and Rust.

I'll be damned
Here comes your ghost again
But that's not unusual
It's just that the moon is full
And you happened to call
And here I sit
Hand on the telephone
Hearing a voice I'd known
A couple of light years ago
Heading straight for a fall
As I remember your eyes
Were bluer than robin's eggs
My poetry was lousy you said
Where are you calling from?
A booth in the midwest
Ten years ago
I bought you some cufflinks
You brought me something
We both know what memories can bring
They bring diamonds and rust

For as long as I can remember I’ve favored sad songs. I loved this song for the visual contrasts between the sight diamonds and rust. I imagined dazzling jewels perched upon massive mound of junk yard scrap metal. Until looking up these lyrics just a moment ago, I had no idea it was about a long lost lover. In a time where I knew nothing of romantic love, the song pulled me into a wave of emotion, and created a stunning visual against my closed eyelids. Naturally, I loved it.

Each night my mom sat on the edge of my bed in my purple wall papered room, stroked my forehead and sang me , Yes We Have No Bananas, All the Pretty Horses and The Rocking Chair Song, as part of my bedtime routine.

“Sing the one about the horses, “ I begged my mom each night. I meant, All the Pretty Horses.
“But Kate honey, it makes you cry every time.”
“I know, but I like that song. Please.”
Softly, she’d begin the horribly sad lullaby,
“Hush-a-bye, don't you cry,
Go to sleepy little baby.
When you wake, you shall have,
All the pretty little horsies.

Blacks and bays, dapples and greys,
Go to sleep you little baby,
Hush-a-bye, don't you cry,
Go to sleepy little baby.
Way down yonder, down in the meadow,
There's a poor little baby crying mama.
The birds and the butterflies flutter round its eyes,
The poor little baby crying mama.”

Hearing my mom sing about that baby crying mama produced a stream of tears every night. I imagined a Moses-like baby, left alone in a basket in the middle of a field, only the birds and butterflies paying any attention to the tiny baby’s sorrowful cries. I imagined the birds shooting questionable glances at the butterflies and the butterflies flapping their wings in agitation, as if to say, “Well, what do you expect us to do about this kid?”

Why would anyone leave a baby alone like that? My heart bled for the fictional baby. I looked up into the face of my own mother, her lotioned hand stroking my forehead as relief filled and relaxed my body. My mother never left me in a basket in a field. Boy, was I lucky. Now I could get a good night’s sleep, the fathom nameless fears put to rest for another night.

I eventually found The Indigo Girls, the thick down blanket of my own comfort music, on my ipod. I swirled my thumb over the slick disk to find the song I wanted, “Mystery”. I remembered that my sister’s high school boyfriend introduced her, then me, to the Indigo Girls.

Cruising along 65 south, I rolled down the windows. Not caring if the truckers I passed looked down on me and chuckled to themselves, I belted out the chorus,
“I could go crazy on a night like tonight, where summer’s beginning to give up her fight. And every thought is a possibility, where voices are heard, but nothing is seen. Why do you spend this time with me, may be an equal mystery.”

Each time I come back to their music, I vow to learn to play the guitar once and for all. If only I could play one of their songs for myself, to strum my own fingers across the taunt strings and sing, no matter how off key, one of my favorite lines,
“You like the taste of danger, it shines like sugar, on your lips. You like to stand in the line of fire, just to show you could shot straight from your hip. There must be a thousand things you would die for, I can hardly think of two.”

What is your comfort music?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The "Odyssey" could be over soon

**I am attempting to blog a little bit each day. We will see how well I do. This is just a little experiment.**

We could be saying good-bye to our Honda Odyssey mini -van later this week. Earlier this summer, I had been feeling a lot of “green” induced guilt about the mini-van. I kept finding myself driving alone in the van, or with just one child. The empty seats and space seemed to be screaming at me, “This is not necessary!!!” And I agreed. We’ve already made some changes to try and use less gas. Josh car pools to work with a friend of ours. While I drive quite a bit for work, Josh and I always check to see who is driving the most miles on any given day and that person takes the Civic.
I approached Josh about selling the mini-van a few months ago. I figured we could save money on two sides with another car, smaller payment and better gas mileage. Plus, I felt like, someone has to start going back down to smaller cars, maybe we should be one of first families to make the change. While our van definitely has lots of space, it also has a whole set of luxuries we don’t have in the Civic, automatic sliding doors that open with the push of a button, leather interior, seat heaters, and just a really nice comfortable car to ride in.
The hardest part is that Josh bought that van for me a little over a year ago, knowing how much I wanted a mini-van. At the time we were waiting and hoping to receive our referral to adopt from China. I felt sure that if we bought a mini-van, The Field of Dreams theory would fall into place, “If you drive it, they will come.” Certainly, with such a huge car, more children would be destined to join our family. I felt desperate to make that happen. So Josh went out and found the perfect mini-van while I was visiting a college friend in California. It was so exciting. Seeing that van, I just knew we’d have more children soon. Sure enough, we received our information about Kai and the rest is history. Here he is and we’re now a family of four.
Part of me doesn’t want to let go of the mini-van just for that reason, just because it feels like it almost delivered Kai to us. I also wanted the van because I just knew that we could adopt again, that I our family would need one more child. Josh had sort of balked at this idea, but I felt sure he would come around. Secretly I worried it could turn into a point of contention between us. Interestingly enough, I really feel that two is the perfect amount for us. I am totally and completely content with our family exactly how it is right now. I don’t see us adopting another child. That knowledge is incredibly freeing and somewhat disappointing at the same time.
I can’t help but think back to all of the times I loudly declared that I wanted 4 kids. I just knew that I would be the greatest mom ever. I wanted as many children as possible. Plus, telling people about your desire to have four children impresses people. It does and I took a great deal of satisfaction from those looks of approval. I reveled in my ambitious family plan. All of this was set in stone in my mind, until I had my first baby. Then, reality set in with a heavily weighted thump. I quickly whittled the number down to three. You need a mini-van for three children, so that is what I wanted.
In some ways, getting rid of the mini-van makes me feel like a failure as a mother. Shouldn’t I want more children? What happened to the girl who couldn’t wait to watch over a brood of children? But the flip side is that I am so completely and totally happy and grateful and content with the family I have right now. We have a boy and a girl, they get along, (for the most part), are healthy, happy kids. My husband and I are still able to spend time with each other and are both pursuing career goals that we are passionate about.
Regardless, I will be sad to see the van go. It feels like the end of an era and I’ve never been one to handle good-byes well.

Friday, September 26, 2008

First day

He stood up to shake my hand when I introduced myself and I immediately liked him. With some people it goes that way if they impress you with their first move, and suddenly, the rest doesn’t matter as much, good or bad. I was the first to arrive in the classroom for the short story workshop. I often get lost, so I left myself plenty of time to find this new destination, “The Cultural Complex” building is what they call it. Although I didn’t find it on the first try, I managed to get there after one minor detour.
He seems to be about 60 years old, with white hair. His hair is the color I imagine I would like to have when I am 60 years old, beautiful shiny white hair much like the plump fairy godmothers from Walt Disney’s Cinderella. As people trickled in, he continued to stand and introduce himself. He then made an open handed gesture to me and I too would introduce myself. Suddenly, we were in cahoots with each other, determined to know everyone’s names and put all in the class on friendly terms.
Once we had all arrived, the teacher asked us to go around the table, introduce ourselves and share a bit about ourselves if we’d like. Another man, Charles, went first. I learned that all five of them have taken classes at the Writing Center before. Two of the students are farmers. One woman works the farm with her husband right now. They have over 2,000 acres of soy and corn. She drives the tractor for him during harverst time, but paints and writes and works odd jobs during the slower parts of the year.
The other woman was also a farmer, but is now retired and enjoys writing now that she can dedicate more time to it. David, the man I met first, worked for Indiana University in Bloomington in the medical school there. He shared advice for Charles, a doctorate student, on how to complete his dissertation.
After so much anxiety about taking a writing class, and sharing what I write, as I sat in the old curved bamboo chair around the single oblong table, I felt completely at ease. My curiosity about other people and just who takes writing classes surpassed my own self absorption.
We spent two hours working on character development. Our teacher led us through several writing prompts and gave us the opportunity to share our writing. Since sharing my writing with other writers is one of my goals, I did it. I read my writing; my scribbles that I refused to analyze to keep myself from chickening out. Despite the fact that my ears did ring as I began to speak, and I could feel the blood rushing to my face right on cue, I did it.
I drove home elated. All I had to do was show up. The hardest part was finding the place. I kept the radio off and drove home enjoying the dark evening as it seeped into my car. The stars glittered in the sky and I rolled down the windows, allowing the wind to accompany me on the ride home.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Writing class

Tonight I am supposed to take my first writing class. If you remember, I planned on taking a class earlier this month. Unfortunately, I missed it because my Target set up for work took such a long time. This class meets for four sessions and we’ll work on the different aspects of writing a short story.
I’ve got a few excuses to skip this class tucked away just in case I don’t muster the courage to go. I haven’t been feeling well lately or Thursdays are my long days for work, I’m not sure my mind can function well at the end of the day. The class costs more than $15.00, my default spending amount. Anything over $15.00 and I wonder, “Do I really need this?” The only exception to this rule is sporting equipment, in that case no spending limit applies. I would gladly spend $2,000 on a new bike for my husband if it meant he would enjoy riding more. Equipment and gear equals fun in my mind, and who wouldn’t spend lots of money for fun?
I know that I need to take these writing classes. I need to take several, tons of them. For me to step into this class, I need to shore up a water tower full of confidence and courage in order to wrap my clammy hands around a pen and write. I pray that the teacher doesn’t force us to share what we write. I could vomit if that is that case, which could possibly make a great story.

Speaking of throwing up, the sensation of losing my lunch is actually a really good indicator that I am on the right track. Some people experience chills, others can describe a rush of euphoria sweeping across their bodies, or there are a lucky few that see clear images of themselves in moments of the crystal ball nature. Me? I feel like someone's dad just spun me with reckless abandon on the merry go round and I need to lie down or risk spewing in front of all the neighbors at the park. Ironically, all of this all means that I am probably doing the right thing.

Still, I keep coming back to what this year is all about for me. It is about pushing out and finally doing these things instead of just wondering and pondering about them. That means going to class after work when I would probably rather go home and throw my pajamas on and read a story instead of try to write one.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Glitter Bouncy Balls

In my purse I keep a little spiral notebook. It is blue and has the profile of a peacock on it. The peacock is speckled with silver glitter that makes it look like a mystical creature. I dig around for it when something random from the day catches my attention, like the tall elderly gentlemen from last week.
He stood back and watched as I tossed the oversized bouncy ball from the toy display up in the air over and over again. The ball was filled with colored glitter, with each tossed the glittered swirled along the outer edges of the clear ball. I enjoyed flipping it towards the ceiling and letting it land in my palm with a satisfying smack of cool plastic. After about 5 tosses, I noticed him watching and I laughed, “Just taking a little break from work. Aren’t these cool?” I asked, stretching one out for him to see. He nodded and took one long stride forward. “At first I thought it was an apple,” he admitted. I kept waiting for you to take a bite!”
“Oh, no, they’re huge bouncy balls,” I gave the ball a bounce on the carpeted floor to illustrate my point.
He wore a camel colored sweater jacket reminiscent of Mr. Rogers. I almost expected a tooting train to encircle him as he stood there talking to me.
He gave one of the green glitter balls a toss into the air and then returned it to the plastic cube on the table.
“Well,” he said as he shifted his purchases to the opposite hand, “I better pay for these. Have a good one.”
“You too.”
Even without company, I wasn’t ready to give up the ball yet. Maybe I should buy a few of these for the kids to play with during vacation. I imagined the baseball sized balls bouncing all over the art and candle filled vacation house…maybe not. Reluctantly, I set the ball back down and headed back to work.
Those little friendly encounters with strangers make my day. I don’t know what it is about them. I just so appreciate a small conversation about bouncy balls in the middle of a book store while I’m working. It makes me feel thrilled to be alive and human, sort of like playing with the glittery bouncy ball. I just might have to buy one after all.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More and Less

The more or less exercise works like this, when I feel a little out of whack, I stop and write down three things I feel I need more of in life, and three things I’d like less of. For example, I may write I’d like more time with friends, creative ideas and organized spaces. I may write I would like less power struggles with the kids, less anxiety over how clean my house is, and less time worrying about money. I cannot recall where I read about this strategy, but so far, it works really well for me. Amazingly, after doing this, I find myself able to let go of my “less” column, and embrace or actively seek out the “more” column.
I couldn’t help but apply the more/less idea to our recent trip to Sheboygan. On our yearly vacation in Sheboygan we meet several of our friends at a house on Lake Michigan for a few days. In years past we stayed for a week in July. This year we tried a long weekend in the fall. Each year, as we pack up the car and back out of our driveway, I imagine all of the “mores” vacation will bring to our family.
Anyway, here’ s my more/less list for this year’s trip.
More eating less cooking- I ate a TON on vacation, as I always do. The cool part is that we split up into “teams” each team is responsible for the dinner menu and preparation for that night. This year everyone cooked up amazing food. Paul, not to be outdone, even wowed us with homemade jalepenio cheesecake… I swear it is deliscious!
More cups of coffee, less glasses of water-The coffee pot at the house gets a good workout. The last couple of days there were 6 couples at the house, and we all drink coffee, with the exception of Steve. One of my favorite parts of vacation is taking my fresh mug of coffee out to the screened on back porch and watching the sun rise out over the lake. Usually, I do this alone, as others are still sleeping, but with more babies this year, I had more company.
More laughter, less turning in at a decent hour-I try so hard to stay up late. Josh builds a campfire each night for us to sit around, but as usual, I was the first to turn in each night. To my credit, I managed to stay up later than my normal early bedtime though!
More babies, less time sleeping in- There were two new babies this year. It felt great to not be the only mom dragging her butt out of bed at 5am when the kids started to wake up.
More kids, less whining- Our first trip to Sheboygan consisted of newly married couples and only 2 kiddos. This year we had 6 kids! They entertained each other and had a marvelous time. Next year the kids will out-number the adults!
More yard games, less beach time- Because we went in the fall this year, we spent more times playing out in the yard and less time swimming. Jove taught us all a new Frisbee game that I am now obsessed with!
More dishes, less time cleaning them up- Everyone pitches in, so clean up is quick and easy.
More candlelight, less lamps- When nighttime falls, someone manages to get candles lit throughout the house and the lamps don’t seem to get turned out. They light the porch, the kitchen table and the family room, where we all gather until heading out to the campfire.
More hats, less time getting ready-Well, this is just me really. I didn’t want to mess with my hair, so I brought two hats instead!
More couples this year, less space at the long dinner table-We barely fit around the narrow farm table, but managed to get us all in!
More stories to tell about Steve, a cooler and a pair of underwear and less time to tell them- Oh Steve, we love you. I know, Paul made you do it. I won’t give out your secrets on the blog, no worries.
More to come next year, less patience for it to get here- We left the house sad it was already over. Josh is already planning for next year. I feel so blessed that we’ve been able to do this trip with these friends for the past 3 years.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Road Trip

Today we will climb into our freshly washed and vacuumed minivan and drive 5 or so hours up to Sheboygan Wisconsin where we will meet 5 sets of our friends for a long weekend on the beach. Hopefully the kids possess enough coloring books, crayons, pens, blank notebooks, and stamina to make the trip with the least amount of angst.

At some point in the trip, we will all throw out our given lines. Elizabeth will ask, “Are we there yet?” and cry when she is tired but, “I can’t sleep in this chair Mommy!” I’ll tell her to do her best, and we’ll be there before she knows it. Josh will reach his limit for Hannah Montana and past vacation bible school CD’s and claim control of the radio after the first 60 minutes.

Kai will fight falling asleep in the car, as he could miss something really cool if he does, and will whine for about 45 minutes before he acquiesces and brings his thumb up to his mouth for a nap.

I will gather up all of my magazines and books that I saved for the ride and will realize that I need to go to the bathroom…again, and calculate how long I can hold it before mentioning it to Josh.

One of my favorite ways to pass the time in the car is to peek into the compact worlds of the other cars zipping by us. I imagine a young girl of 20 something with perfect skin checking her deep auburn hair in the rearview mirror. She is stunningly beautiful, but you can tell by the way she squints her eyes at her reflection that she is disappointed in her cosmetic efforts today. Thick white clouds hang in the sky as if suspended from swaying braided. The maroon Buick she drives has matching velour interior. I imagine it smelling of flat soda, fruit inspired shampoo and stale bread. Bouncing back in her chair she adjusts the volume knob up on the radio, and pushes her freshly manicured foot down on the accelerator to pass us, trading a fresh lip gloss application for the surge of speed beneath her.

I would like to press pause on all of the cars out on the road with us today and find out where they are going and how they feel about it. I especially notice this desire when I am out traveling at odd hours, early in the morning, before people make their way into halogen lit offices, or in the middle of the night.
Who is running away from home? Who is on their way to catch a flight to a place they have always dreamed of, taking a chance, packing a bag and just doing it. Who is so filled with sorrow and dread that they sit in their car and drive just to move. He drives throughout the town avoiding sleep and her unpredictable dreams. He keeps all thoughts at bay with a turn signal here, and a radio station change there. Bob Dylan squawks poetry with his guitar and he keeps his speed five miles above the limit, a police officer the last person he wants to talk to at this point. Instead the highway turns into a massive game board, each exit an opportunity to make a decision to stay or go. Yet, in truth, he knows not to venture too far away in case sleep will no longer wait patiently in the smooth leather backseat.

In our beloved cars we sit right next to each other, if only for a moment’s passing, so close I could toss a ball into that man’s open truck window. I imagine taping a note to a smooth racquet ball. “How are you doing today? We are off to our vacation house to meet up with friends and I am so excited about it. How about you? Where are you off to?” He reads my note and smiles with pleasure. He likes that I’ve taken the time to inquire about him. Taking one hand off the wheel, he reaches under his seat and grabs a marker. “I’m off to my mother’s in Nebraska. She is auctioning off her farm today and my brother and I both want it. Hopefully I’ll come out on top.” I tell Josh to slow down and roll the large passenger window down. He takes aim and it sails back into our car. I nod knowingly after reading it and the man pushes ahead. I’m happy to know that people still long for land and siblings will argue no matter what their age.

I doubt the above will occur while we’re on the road today. Still, I am looking forward to the trip. I may not be able to stop time to chat with my automotive neighbors, but I can look for a truck that might be heading to Nebraska.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My fantasy doctor

Forgive me, but I need to rant. With that said, you have been forewarned…
Do you know what this world really needs? We need more female sports medicine doctors. Do you know why I say this? I say this because I am so sick of older male doctors, who are active in exactly zero sports looking at me with their semi-amused faces and asking me questions like, “Well now, why are you doing all of these sports?” Like I should be home cleaning the floor, getting dinner ready for my family or balancing the family budget instead, like being a 30 something female athlete is totally ludicrous, like my interest in sports and doing events is laughable, cute but so unnecessary, like I should be home painting my nails or out shopping for a cute outfit, not training 5 or 6 days a week for an event I won’t place in, for events that I am just thrilled to finish, not to mention an award of any sort.

The silver lining around these experiences is their reactions and flippant comments fuel my feminist fire like you would not believe. For every man that thinks what I am doing is “so cute”. I vow to do more than that dude ever imagined I could do. Uh, how do you plan to run, or bike or swim or anything with that massive chip on my shoulder you say? What am I out to prove? I don’t know. Honestly, I just want to be taken seriously when I go to the doctor for issues that interfere with my activities.

I actually fantasize about finding a doctor that actually listens to what I have to say. I imagine them paying attention and then saying, “Ok, so I hear how important being active is to you. It sounds like your problem could have a few sources. Let’s see if we can break it can’t make a plan of action and see if some modifications could make a difference. It could take a little trial and error, but we’ll do our best to get you back out there as soon as we can.” I am not asking anyone to promise me that they will be able to fix it. But I am so sick of these doctors just patting me on the head and sending me away with a flimsy explanation like, “well, you have really loose ankles and there is nothing we can do about that.” Loose ankles? Well, that is a new one at least.

The very first time I went to an orthopedist I met my fantasy doctor. She happened to be a women, in her late 30’s and SURPRISE she was also a runner. She listened and helped me so much. We talked about different shoes, distances ran, my orthotics, and various strength exercises. She assured me we’d get it all straightened out. We did. The other person who was fantastic was my physical therapist I saw after I cracked my tail bone. His wife was in her 40’s and competed in triathlons. Unlike me, this woman placed in the top 3 of her age division time and time again. He understood the female athlete, he was married to one. In addition to being wonderfully respectful of women athletes, he also provided on-site daycare for his patients receiving physical therapy! How is that for a forward thinking man! Fortunately, I haven't needed physical therapy since then. And that fabulous female doctor? She moved to Michigan.

In a time where the Beijing Olympic commentators joked back and forth about how they have the best job in the world because they get to watch bikini clad women jump around the beach, I long for more men who understand and revere female athletes, regardless of their level of achievement. Surely, an Olympic champion should not be reduced to the type of bikini she is wearing, or be forced to wear such a bikini for extra ratings.

Listen, all I am saying is, if I were a 30 year old male walking into any of these sports medicine clinics, it would be assumed that my participation in sports is good for my physical and mental health and would not be considered cute or sweet or extravagant. The doctor would seriously address the problem. Can you imagine a male doctor smiling, folding his hands across his rounded belly and saying to his male patient, “ Now, why are you doing all these sports anyway.”
I don’t think so.

Here is what I am the most disappointed about though, you ready? I sat there on the paper covered table, wrapped from the waist down in the little sheet they give you, and just took it all in. The condescending smiles, the limited questions that seemed completely irrelevant, the dismissive comment made when I tried to explain what I had read about female athletes and how their injury patterns differ from those in men as a result of varying muscle strengths, the new study that promoted a different kind of strength training to prevent those injuries.

I wanted to say, "Listen buddy, this is important to me, and I am here so that you can help me, not make me feel like I am an 8 year old kid complaining about a skinned knee. Pay attention or just forget it if you could care less, and we won't waste each others time." But I didn't I sat there and waited for his line of questioning to finish, even though it was clear to me it would not lead either of us anywhere.

Lesson learned my friends. This has happened to me one too many times. Next time I will speak up. I will speak up, or walk out. It sounds harsh, but I've had enough. And if it happens, I'll be sure to blog about the experience and let you know how it goes.