On a Learning Curve

Life may not be easy, but it's always an adventure.

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For These Things…

I’m in a pensive mood these days. My birthday celebration lasted a full week, and I’ve decided that being 40 feels absolutely no different from 39. (Of course, that was my opinion when I moved from 29 to 30, and somehow I no longer feel 29.) As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve also been thinking about all the things for which I am truly grateful. For these things I give thanks:

1. I kicked off my actual birthday with a half marathon. Though the organization and start of the race was a mess, the time I spent with my BAMR friends from last year’s Ragnar DC was sweet. Running with my friend Tracy, who paced me the entire race, was a bonus. Realizing that I ran the course 5 seconds off my half PR was disappointing; however, my PR was on a super-flat course and this course was hilly with a capital H.


The 4 of us made up 1/3 of Team Dimity in last year’s Ragnar Relay DC. Zoom in on Joan’s shirt (1102) if you need help decoding BAMR.

2. My amazing husband threw me a 40th birthday party that blew me away. Ryan stepped way out of his comfort zone and organized a surprise party at a local winery last Saturday afternoon. All of my family came, and I spent a gorgeous afternoon with dear friends and family. We enjoyed the delicious wine from Running Hare Vineyard and–this is something I have been asking for several years–ate birthday cake that someone else baked for me.

DSCN1000 (2)3. Friendship. The word in itself is a complete sentence. Three of the above women–and one more who missed my bash to celebrate her 20th wedding anniversary–above have known me since we were 18 years old; that’s more than half our lives! We’ve walked with each other through two decades of life–first through our grueling academic years and later through careers, marriages, children. We’ve cried during times of loss, comforted in times of hardship and struggle, and celebrated each other’s victories. I love these women.


Silly, I know, but I love this group of people.

4. My family is awesome. H shared her actual birthday with me last Saturday; my sister took care of the catering; my parents brought flowers and rented a nearby cabin so that our house wasn’t overrun with small children; and my brother and sister-in-law flew in from Chicago just for the weekend.


Best parents in the world plus the newest 7-year-old in our family.

5. The decision to homeschool continues to be a blessing to our family. What began as a two-year experiment for one child seven years ago has morphed into something far bigger than we ever envisioned. This week we were able to spend time with our sweet neighbor Sofie on two mornings when her mom needed to be elsewhere. I love that we can pick up our math books and language arts, walk next door, and help a neighbor. I love, too, that we scheduled an impromptu field trip to a nearby berry farm yesterday. We met some friends who are new to the area, enjoyed a picnic lunch, and brought home 11 pounds of berries.  Did I mention that we only have 14 more school days this year?!


H with Sofie and her family on a warm afternoon last week.

And while I began this post by giving thanks, I also recognize that these are the very same things by which I am blessed.

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to 3 of the most important mothers in my life: my own mother Jane, my mother-in-law Donna, and my substitute mother Sharon.



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Ragnar Recap

I think my quads have finally recovered from my Ragnar DC weekend since I can now successfully descend any flight of stairs. But I know any future race experiences have been completely ruined by winning a spot on the First Annual Ultimate Mother Runner Showdown. Pay an entry fee to run? You’re not sending me clothing, shoes, hydration, nutrition, and assorted swag? Seriously?

My smile was genuine after climbing straight up the Appalachians for 2 miles!

Instead of writing my own recap, I’m going to send you to to the words of my 12 teammates. Look at the pictures, read each mom’s favorite memories, and let you know what you think.

Team Dimity (aka Are Our Kids Still Chasing Us?) at National Harbor after 36 legs across Maryland.

Since all good things must come to an end, I need to conduct math and science lessons. Polygons and the digestive system may not be as fun as Ragnar, but it’s time to come down from my cloud.


A Thank-You Note

I met some wonderful mother runners this past weekend as we gathered in Cumberland, Maryland, for the start of Ragnar Relay DC. 25 of them, to be exact. While everyone was like-minded in her love for running and dedication to family, some of them were extraordinarily creative. The ladies from Another Mother Runner had already showered us with swag from their sponsors (Saucony, Nuun, 110%, Hyland’s, SofSole, Skinfare, Nuttzo, and Ultimate Direction) throughout the summer and fall, but several moms gifted us with fruits from their own hands on Thursday evening. In lieu of my usual handwritten thank-you notes, I want to publicly thank the following moms:

Aimee shared her gorgeous bluegrassy, folk album Dirt Road Dreams. Listen to a few tracks. “Lullaby for Flint” is my favorite.

Dirt Road Dreamer by Aimee Hoyt

Schuy gave each of us a soft cotton tank and hand towel with the logo from her women’s active wear shop. My sweaty tank is still in the laundry basket, but here’s a quick picture of my new spinning towel!

I'm shopping at Indigo Schuy if I ever make it to Chesnut Hill, PA.

I’m shopping at Indigo Schuy if I ever make it to Chesnut Hill, PA.

Nikki is also known as The Girl Who Quilts. She somehow found time to whip up two dozen quilted clutches for the mother runners. She must not sleep.

That's the Ragnar logo with my name embroidered. There's a zipper, too!

That’s the Ragnar logo with my name embroidered. There’s a zipper, too!

Bethany contributed a piece to a hilarious book on motherhood and brought copies for everyone. Buy a copy of Bethany’s book if you need a good laugh!

Bethany’s contribution is “Parenting is Taboo.”

Rebecca baked cookies for us. And these weren’t just any cookies. These were professionally crafted cookies that were delicious, uniform in size, and tiny works of art. I ate three of my cookies during my Ragnar adventure because they were full of carbs, and carbs are good for runners. Don’t judge Rebecca’s talent by the one surviving cookie I brought home. If you ignore the cracks, you can see the amazing detail that she put into my race bib cookie. Oh, and did I mention that Rebecca bakes for fun?

I think Rebecca has found her calling. Open a shop!

I think Rebecca has found her calling. Open a shop!

Thank you, ladies. Thank you also to Laura and Terri who created custom stickers so that we’ll remember our Ragnar experience long after our muscles have repaired themselves. And thank you to the wonderful mother runners who gave me the weekend of a lifetime.

I promise to post more later this week. My camera battery died in the hotel lobby, and I am starting to rethink my refusal to own a smart phone. (Just thinking, not willing to give in to the peer pressure yet.) I will eventually post pictures, but for now you’ll have to settle for a picture of me pre-race in my pink tutu. No, I wasn’t the only one wearing one. Yes, it was surprisingly comfortable and served as a race belt and an easy way to identify teammates.

Ready to run Ragnar in my Tuff Girl tutu!

Ready to run Ragnar in my Tuff Girl tutu!

P.S. I would be seriously remiss–and seriously in danger of never being allowed to leave the house again–if I didn’t thank my husband Ryan for making this weekend happen. Thank you for stepping into my size 8.5 shoes for three days and keeping the kids alive and the house in working order. I love you.

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Down on the Farm

As promised, here are a few pictures of how we spent yesterday morning. We set off for Fisher Farm in La Plata after discovering that they had pick-your-own peaches for $1/pound. I took no pictures of the peach-picking process, and that’s probably because we quickly abandoned our picking and left the dirty work to Ryan after the farm owner offered us a tour. We admired his pear, apple, pecan, and cherry trees; asked if the raspberries would be open for picking; and sympathized with his squirrel woes. (Apparently his squirrels are susceptible to lead poisoning; fortunately, the girls don’t understand how squirrels get lead poisoning.) Then we met Tom, Tom’s hens, and six coops of chicks.

Below is Tom, our newest friend. He’s very proud of appearance, as you can tell by his ruffled feathers. And he’s quite friendly, too.


Here I am with Tom. This is as close as I wanted to get to him. Apparently if you get down on his level, he’s very, um, affectionate. (Ragnar friends, this is how I wear my latest Ragnar Swag. I love my new blue Saucony Mirage 3s.)


This is as close as S was willing to get to any turkey. While she admitted that turkeys are soft, “Hamsters are softer.” She has a serious love for hamsters, and very few creatures can compare.


Ryan was a better sport about the turkeys, but he told me that I needed to stop taking pictures of the turkeys and finish picking peaches.

ImageIn all, we picked 32 pounds of peaches and spent just $32. Okay, we picked about two pounds, and Ryan picked another 30 pounds. I dropped off 10 pounds with a friend, and later this week I’ll put up jam and make one of my great-grandmother’s peach cobblers. I also have another reason to enjoy living in southern Maryland.

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Today is Day 1 of my training for the DC edition of the Ragnar Relay Series. While S swam in this morning’s drizzle, I checked off a 4.4 mile tempo run. (According to running calculator guru Greg McMillan, tempo is the quickest pace you can comfortably hold for 1 hour.) It took me 1 mile to question what I was doing and 3 miles to decide that I was not crazy. In just under 13 weeks, I will be joining 11 other mother runners–none of whom I’ve met in person–on a 200-mile trek from Cumberland, Maryland, to National Harbor. Yes, 200 miles. With 11 other moms. And I can’t wait!

You see, I get one get-out-of-the-house-free pass from Ryan per year. That means 1 whole weekend without any feeding, cleaning, schooling, or diabetes responsibilities. He’s completely in charge, and I’m not. For the past two years, I’ve jetted off to Padre Island to visit friends from our last duty station and run the PIBC Surf ‘n Turf 10k. That’s in January each year, and this year I decided to hold onto my card.

The right moment presented itself when my favorite running blog announced a contest for 22 spots on two Ragnar relay teams. The contest entry was completely open-ended, the race finishes a mere 50 miles from my doorstep, and I was determined to get a spot. I will shamelessly admit that I enlisted my children’s help with my winning entry. The girls consulted with me and helped create a shoebox diorama. (That was after I agreed to trade one of my empty shoe boxes for S’s Saucony shoe box. Saucony is a sponsor.) Last month we all celebrated when the first team was announced and we found my name on this list. (Correction: Ryan was not celebrating. He still thinks I’m nutty to want to spend 24 hours in a van with sweaty sleep-deprived strangers. He also knows what’s in store for him while I’m gone.) Here are my teammates.

All of this is to explain what I will be doing with my free time for the next 13 weeks. If I look (more) tired (than usual), you’ll know why. If you can’t get in touch with me from October 3-5, you’ll know why. If Ryan looks completely exhausted and frazzled on those same dates, you’ll also know why.