Friday, December 28, 2012

Symptom Free Streak is Over....Boo.

  Sawyer has made it 20 days totally meltdown free.  Since we took sugar out, his emotional roller coaster has leveled off and he hasn't had any "episodes"......until today.

   He still hasn't had any sugar, but we got busy today and he went too long without food.  I carried the boys to spend some of their Christmas money, which two of them got enraptured with.  Carter bought a Nintendo 3DS and Sawyer is the proud owner of a .22 rifle.  They were both so excited about their new treasures.....until.....too much time passed.  Sawyer went from being giddy about using his new gun to grouchy to having a complete meltdown by the time we got home.

I hope that we make it at least another 20 days before I have to deal with this again.  Perhaps, I will eventually learn to keep a better watch on the clock when we are out and about and
FEED the BEAST every 2 hours like I am suppose to.
My score as a Mom today....F.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Peanut Butter Pie.......Don't Tell 'Em It's Sugar Free!

  Our family ditched sugar 3 weeks ago.  You can read all about it in the post Sweet Poison if you missed that one.  We mostly just took out anything that tasted sweet or had sugar and swapped it for fruits and more cracker or chip type snacks.  The boys are eating cheese sticks, beef jerky, rice cakes with peanut butter, chips, and fruit as their "go to" snacks.
    Watching the change is Sawyer has been beautiful!  He hasn't had ANY emotional breakdowns in 3 weeks.  Not once.  He has awakened happy each morning and nothing seems to be triggering a meltdown.  A couple of times over the last 3 weeks, he has vocalized that he was feeling funny and needed something to eat, but he was able to recognize it himself and didn't crash.  His sugar levels seem to have become so much more stable.   Ditching sugar hasn't been a problem for us.
    Even though we don't really crave sugar or miss it, sometimes we have a need for a dessert.  A couple of times over the holidays, I have needed to carry a dish or a dessert to a party.  For that reason, I searched for some sugar free recipes that I could present to others, (without them spitting it back out because it tastes "diet")  that we could eat as well.
   I found a basis for this recipe and then adapted it a bit. 
It is deeeeelish!

Sugar Free Peanut Butter Pie
1/4 c. Unsweetened Almond Milk
1/4 cup peanut butter
8 mini Sugar Free Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
1 Tblsp Cocoa Powder
1 Tblsp Splenda
Put all this stuff in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat at half power 30 seconds. Stir it up.  Heat it again. Stir it up.  Until it is creamy.
Set it aside and let it cool off.
When it is cool......
Fold together
1 - 8 oz. tub of sugar free Cool Whip
2 mini Sugar free Reeses Cups chopped up
The peanut butter chocolate goo that is melted together
Put all this deliciousness into a pie crust.
(I bought a pie crust that had only 4 grams of sugar, but you can make a shortbread one that is totally sugar free.)
Put the pie in the freezer for a few hours if you can stand to wait that long.
Top with sugar free chocolate syrup if you want.  I liked it better without the syrup, but whichever floats your boat.  I think I will try it next time with some sugar free chocolate chips in it. Mmmm.
They will never know it's sugar free. 
I promise.
Cross My heart and hope to die.....stick a needle in my eye.
I pinkie promise.
You can't tell.

My Mom = A Cross Between Einstein and Mother Teresa

  My Mom is the most giving person I know.  She thinks of little ways to give to others constantly.  Carrying food to sick people, leaving little gifts in our cars, buying breakfast for others in secret in a fast food restaurant, baking favorite cakes, the list goes on.
   All my life, I have known that Christmas is my Mom's favorite time of the year.  Of course, it's not too hard to figure out that she loves it, she isn't trying to hide the fact.  She answers the phone with "Merry Christmas!" instead of "Hello".  She plays Christmas music, grins about secret gifts, and dances in the kitchen as she bakes. She adores Christmas. 
    It was only this Christmas that I figured out why she has such an affinity for Christmas.  I have decided that she loves Christmas so much because it is the season of giving.  During this time of year, she is surrounded by everyone who is wrapped up in the spirit of giving, and  it's like a little piece of heaven for her.  Although Mom gives to others all year, she can enjoy an entire holiday where others see the importance of giving as well.  Giving just makes her happy. 
  I found these two quotes that made me immediately think of Mom.  She honestly could've written the quotes herself.
Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile. ~ Albert Einstein
It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.  ~ Mother Teresa
I have a lot to learn from Mom. 
This upcoming year, I hope that I can learn to be more giving and loving to others. 
Although the photos don't really show Mom's love of giving... I still want to share. Here is a peek into Christmas at Mom's house this year.....
Mom always decides on a "theme" for the tables each year for our Christmas Eve family meal with my brother and sisters.  This year's theme was "Winter Wonderland" and was beautiful!

Except....this is what my kid did with the decorations.

Ready to eat the huge spread of breakfast food with my siblings.
The grandkids always gather around my Mom and Dad to sing
"Happy Birthday"
to Jesus before we open gifts.
This Christmas, I really paid closer attention to the spirit of giving.
One would think that a child raised by a lady who has the same thought processes as Einstein and Mother Teresa, would grow into a real saint.  A child who is willing to give all that she has to others.  A child who volunteers her time and who finds creative ways to show love.  Unfortunately, that isn't the case. I have been given the best example for a giving spirit possible in my Mom, yet I find myself "too busy" to be giving to others. I hope that in the upcoming year, I can find ways to show love to others and be more Mom.
"It's not enough to be busy. So are the ants.  The question is....what are we busy about?"
~Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sweet Poison

Our family has taken sugar completely out of our household.  We have been sugar free for 9 days....all 5 of us. I believe that prior to removing sugar from my house, that I was poisoning my family with sugar.  I know.  It sounds extreme. I debated about whether or not to even share this blog.  I feared that people would read it and get all judgemental saying that I am one of those Moms who deprives her kids of sweet treats, who is the downer at a birthday party and who is just weird and overboard about nutrition.  But, then I remembered that I didn't really care what everyone else thought so much.  I realized that it is my job as a Mom to do what is best for my family and I wanted this big change in our life documented.
   So there you go.  I'm really not wacko. Continue reading if you wish. 

The ultimate decision to remove sugar from our home just came within the last few weeks, but the reasoning behind it started almost 8 years ago.  I know.  I act fast.
   My middle son, Sawyer, who is now almost 10 has battled what we refer to as "episodes" almost all his life.  It first began when he was two years old.  He started having spells of claminess and dizziness.  He would be playing and suddenly get sweaty and dizzy. He literally fell over on more than one occasion from being dizzy. I carried him to a pediatrician who suggested that he must be drinking too much caffeine, since we occasionally gave him sweet tea.  We immediately cut out all caffeinated beverages.  His spells improved some, so we felt we must have found the cure.  Looking back, the episodes probably had gotten better because of the sugary drinks we had removed from his diet, and not the removal of caffeine.
   Over time, his spells began to return. It was later concluded that since he is considered hypermuscular (a very high muscle to fat ratio), that it just took more calories and protein to fuel his body than a typical child.  When he burns what he has consumed...that's it.  He doesn't have the typical fat stores that most people do.  But even though he eats and eats.....he continued to have episodes.  A "bad spell" might mean any combination of nausea, sweating, crying or major emotional meltdown, fatigue, paleness, dizziness, leg aches, and most frightening is disorientation and confusion.

(This photo was taken while sitting at a restaurant wating for food to be served on vacation.  There was no event that spurred these tears.)

  To make a very long story of his medical history shorter, I will just say that the child has been tested and prodded for every childhood disease known to doctors.  (That might be exaggerating a bit, but you get the gist.)

 Sawyer was finally diagnosed with hypoglycemia a year and a half ago, but even that wasn't really conclusive on his blood work.  His pediatrician was confident about the diagnosis, despite the inconclusive bloodwork.  We were given a Medical Care Plan that instructed us to feed him a high protein snack every two hours. There was no other nutrition advice given. Although we have amped up his protein intake to every two hours, he has continued to have problems.  He is on a constant emotional roller coaster.  Mornings have been absolutely dreadful over the past two years.  He is like waking a monster from hibernation until he eats something and then he calms right down.  He gets upset and cries in the mornings and get frustrated about everything.  He snaps at his brothers and gets emotional over very trivial things.  After school is a major melt down time.  He is usually upset and grumpy until he gets something to eat and often wants to just lie on the couch for a while after school.  I know what you are thinking....This woman just has a brat for a son. But it's really not like that. Really, it's not. He has a perfect 100 conduct grade from Kindergarten to 4th grade.  He is polite to adults and is a perfectionist in sports.  He has a God given talent in all things athletic and attends gifted classes.  He really is a great kid.

   His "episodes" are always tied either not eating or they come immediately following when he begins to eat.  I have always thought that he couldn't help it when he exploded and that there had to be a physical reason behind his episodes.  A little peanut butter or cheese always fixed him right up, but I still felt that there must be something more I could be doing to keep him more balanced and less likely to have a meltdown or an episode.
    I came across some research when I was reading one night online about sugar.  It really piqued my interest, so I read more.  Over the last month, I have read several books, articles, medical reviews and all sorts of research about the negative effects of sugar.  I was truly baffled by what I had read.  All sorts of bad how addictive it is, how it weakens your immune system for hours after you eat it, how it makes your glucose levels in your body fluctuate, how your liver has to process the alchohol in sugar very similarly to the way it processes drinking alchohol, it causes kidney damage, it causes eczema, it's the top cause of diabetes, it causes hypogycemia, it leads to certain cancers, causes crankiness in children, it causes mood swings and fatigue.... the list literally goes on and on and on.  The medical professionals all agree that sugar has these negative effects on people. 
   In the mean time, while I was reseaching about all of this and realizing that I needed to consider at least cutting out some sugar from our diet, my sister-in-law was diagnosed as hypoglycemic.  She was telling me one day at work that since her diagnosis, she had removed sugar from her diet and felt so much better!  She told me that she tried to just cut back on sugar and balance it with high protein, but she noticed that eating something with sugar in it made her feel bad. She was proclaiming that it had really improved her mood most of all. 
   That sealed the deal.  I had to at least try it.  It was worth a try to see if removing all sugar would help Sawyer's moods and episodes stabalize.  And after reading all about how bad it was for everyone....not just hypoglycemics, I decided that I didn't really want any of us eating it anymore. We were planning to go out of town for a weekend camping trip last weekend for my marathon, so I decided to not make any changes until we got back home from that trip.  I wanted to be able to clean out the pantry and replace the sugary stuff before I eliminated it all.  But during that weekend on the Friday we left, Sawyer had two of them was very scary.  The first one was somewhat typical for him. It was the same thing we saw all.....the ....time. He ate pancakes loaded with sugar.  I warned him that he might not feel good if he ate them, but he retorted that he would eat some bacon with them so that he wouldn't feel bad. He would "balance" it with protein. Within half an hour, he was an emotional basketcase.  He went from being on cloud nine because he was heading to the campground on a school day, to crying and grouching at everyone.  He was upset and he felt terrible. His stomach hurt and he felt sick and dizzy. We pulled out the emergency stash of food, and he leveled out within half an hour or so.  He was back to his regular old self.
     The next episode happened the same night at the campground.  We decided to have a campfire and roast marshmallows.....which are actually nothing more than a glorified puff of sugar.  Sawyer ate six of them.

Within a half hour or so, Sawyer fell apart.  His face got white. Scary white. He walked into the camper with a panicked look on his face.  He was patting his arms. Then patting his face. The he reached to the back of his neck and patted.  He rubbed his checks and then his arms again.
He said,
"I don't feel good.  I think I need something to eat."
I took one look at him and knew something was wrong.  I asked,
"What feels bad on you.  What's wrong?"
He replied with,
 "I feel fake. My skin feels fake."
After explaining it to us, he meant that his skin felt numb and he began to cry.  His voice sounded so little when he said,
"I'm scared."
We got a spoonful of peanut butter for him to eat and gave him a cheese stick.  As he ate it, tears rolled down his pale cheeks.  He continued to pat different parts of his body.  He told us that he was checking to see if his nerves were still working.  The whole ordeal was very unnerving for both him and the rest of us.
That was the last time any of us had sugar.

We came home and I cleaned the sugar out of the pantry.  I checked labels and bagged up anything that had more than a couple of grams of sugar. 

I replaced the sugar stuff with peanut butter, beef jerky, lots of fruit (which has natural sugar, but the body breaks it down it is perfectly healthy), popcorn, crackers, almonds and peanuts.  I began researching looking for recipes and "sugar-free" alternatives to replace what I was taking away.  I expected the transition to be very difficult for us.  I was so wrong.
We kicked sugar out and haven't looked back.

Sugar isn't good for any of us, so we all are benefitting from the change.  Carter, who was complaining of a tummy ache almost every day at school, has stopped having stomach pain.  I am less hungry.  I don't crave sugar stuff and dream about it all day like I use to.  I haven't missed it so far.  But, the biggest change has been for Sawyer. 
I honestly wouldn've have believed it could have made such a difference except that I see it with my own eyes.
After exactly one week off sugar, I asked him how he felt and if he could tell a difference.  He smiled and said...
"My skin hasn't felt fake one single time this week.  I also haven't been dizzy or light headed at all." 
He was very pleased with this change in his physical health.  I also pointed out that he seemed happier, to which he agreed wholeheartedly.  In a full week, we didn't experience one single meltdown before school or after school.  Not one.  None.
I couldn't even believe it.
Sawyer looked at me and said,
"I think you and daddy finally figured out what was wrong with me.  I know you've tried everything, but I think you've figured it out."

So long, sweet poison.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Twenty-Six Point Two Miles.....One Mile at a Time

"A marathoner is a marathoner regardless of time. Virtually everyone who tries the marathon has put in training over months, and it is that exercise and that commitment, physical and mental, that gives meaning to the medal, not just the day’s effort, be it fast or slow. It's all in conquering the challenge."
                                                                    ---Mary R. Wittenberg

Arriving at the Start Line of the Rocket City Marathon last Saturday to me was like the final award ceremony for the many miles I had put in over the last few months.   I had run all of those training miles alone...except for the cows and the neighborhood dogs, and was so ridiculously pumped about running the actual race.  Now, let's be clear.....I wasn't expecting to participate in the real award ceremony.  That would be reserved for the Kenyans and the athletic phenomenons.  
I had a personal race goal of running the marathon in less than 4 hrs and 30 minutes, but I was hoping to stay closer to a 4:15 pace.  During my training runs, I had maintained that pace for months, so I completely expected to cross the finish line within my goal time.  I even wore a "Pace Tattoo" on my left forearm that would help me check my pace at each mile marker.  I felt phsyically and mentally strong and ready for the race.

The gun fired.....

I was off.  I shuffled along mixed up in the crowd of 1600 or so runners during the first stretch of road.  I spotted my family and friends right across the start line and they all gave me an enthusiastic wave and smile as I began my journey.  I flashed a wide grin and waved to my group. 
The first mile clicked by in what felt like only seconds.  I had adrenaline coursing through my veins as I ran along in the crowd of runners.  The first mile marker clicked by and I was grinning from ear to ear.
The second mile marker also seemed to appear instantly.  The joy of the moment made the first 18 minutes pass by quickly. I was feeling so fresh and strong.  I was still surrounded by a pack of other runners, as everyone was trying to even out their pace and find space to get into a running rhythm.  I spotted my whole group of race supporters at mile two! My hubby was there with my 3 little boys, my Mom and Dad, and a couple of my great friends. I was suprised and so happy to see them so quickly!  I threw my arms up to give them a wave as they cheered for me and kept trucking along.
Miles three and four passed by almost effortlessly.  During these miles, my prayer band reminded me to pray for my family.  I ran and prayed with such a thankful heart for my perfect little lovebugs and my hubby.  I prayed during those first few miles with such gratitude.  I was literally filled with joy.  I was feeling beyond grateful for the ability to accomplish such a difficult physical feat and felt wrapped in a blanket of love because of my supporters who were there to cheer me on.  I had a permanent smile across my face as my feelings of joy oozed out as I ran.
I trucked along through miles five and six.  I could see my little guys standing with their signs they had made as I approached them.  I had to make a super quick detour over to the sidewalk where they were standing to give each of them a quick smooch on the forehead.
I had stayed near the 4:15 pace group until mile six, where I had to make a quick stop at the portapotty.  I did such a fantastic job "pre-hydrating", that I had to make a stop.  Since someone else was making a pit stop, too....I had to wait a minute on my turn to go.  During my stop, the 4:25 pace group passed by me.  I wasn't too worried about that because I knew that I was still very close to my pace time and I thought I could probably catch back up to them.
I fell into a comfortable running rhythm during miles seven to ten.  I saw my supporters a couple more times, and became quite amazed that Bradley and the boys seemed to be around every corner.  They were very efficient as a marathon support group!  Each time I saw them, I was greeted with new signs and more cheers. 

I hit mile 11 and everything changed. 
I was running along happily, until something went wrong in my left knee. 
 I had not had any knee problems during my training runs, so it seemed to come out of nowhere.  It was instant and it was intense.  Something felt crooked or out of place or wacky in some sort of painful way.  The pain was back behind my knee cap.  I stopped and bent over, touching my toes to try to stretch out my hamstring.  I  did some knee lifts to try to make the pain subside.  Then, I tried to run again. 
Oh, boy.  This was not good.
I decided to walk a bit and see if maybe just "shaking it off" would work.  Walking didn't hurt it at all.  So, I kept walking for a bit.  I walked for a quarter of a mile or so.  I decided to give it another go and try to run again.  Owww!

Oh, dear.  Not good. Not good. Not good.
I had to walk again until mile 12.

I had been running with my cell phone, just in case my boys wanted to text me some sort of message of support and I was using the clock on the phone as a pacing tool. 
I texted Bradley for help.
I sent....
"Something is wrong with my knee.  The next time I see you, have some ibuprofen ready with a drink."
He was near the route of the runners, so he pulled up next to me in the truck and Tucker held his hand out the window.  In the palm of his hand were 3 ibuprofen.  I took them from him as I walked alongside the truck.  I took the styrofoam Jack's cup from him to have something to wash the pills down with as they drove off looking at me with concern.
I was humbled to walking for the next two miles.  I tried to run over and over, but my knee just would not cooperate.  I prayed that the ibuprofen would start to take effect so that I could pick up my running pace again. 
I walked to mile 13.
I walked to mile 14.

I watched as the pace groups kept running past me.  As I saw the slowest pace group, the 4:45 group run past, tears came to my eyes.
I knew that I wouldn't be able to finish my race within my goal time frame, and I began to worry that I wouldn't even make the course time limit of 6 hours.  If I had to continue to walk, I would never make it.  I would be crushed if I didn't make the 6 hour cut off, or worse if I had to just drop out.

I stretched some more.
I decided that I would try again to run.  It had been long enough that maybe the ibuprofen would be helping.
I gave it a go.  Ow.  It hurt, but less so.  A slow jog might be possible. 
I kind of shuffled along at a slower pace.  Hoping my knee would kind of get in the game and cooperate.  I was running again.....slowly....but it was better than walking. 
I was clenching my teeth together as I ran, but I was determined to hobble along and finish this race.  I made it to Mile 15.
I was thrilled that I was jogging again when I spotted my gang of supporters. I wanted to be able to erase some of the concern that I had seen on the boys faces earlier.  They were as excited about coming to cheer at this race as I was to run in it.  I didn't want to ruin the day with a bum knee.
I wanted to finish this race!
I was determined.  I continued to pray and run. Pray and run. Pray and run.  I prayed at each mile marker for whatever was on my prayer band, and then I would pray some more for the strength to finish.
I continued over the next few miles jogging as much as I could, until it hurt too bad, and then I would walk for a while.  I made it to mile 16 and mile 17. Slowly clicking the miles off.
I checked the time on my phone to see how far off pace I was.  I checked my pace tattoo.....which was originally applied to my arm to keep me on became a constant reminder of how far off my goal pace I was.   
I made it to the water stop at mile 18. I felt a little embarrassed at how slow I was.  I know, I know...the feelings were irrational and unwarranted.  I was running a marathon for heaven sake!  It's not that I wasn't proud of that.  But, I was just disappointed in the way the run had turned out.  I didnt expect to be just surviving the race.  I wanted to relish in it. I found myself surrounded by runners in their 60's and 70's.  Women who were vomitting.  People who were just slow.  I have always held the utmost respect for runners of ALL speeds.  It has never mattered to me if someone ran fast or slow, as long as they were running.  But somehow, it made a difference when I was the one running slow.
My little guys must have known that I needed some encouragement, because at about this time...they held up these signs....
"We believe in you."
I kept moving. 
Run, walk. Run, walk. Run, walk.
Mile 19 done.
Mile 20 passed through some sort of a park.  As I ran through it, the boys gave me a banana to eat.  I crammed three bites into my mouth and kept running....chewing as I jogged off.  It was seriously the best banana I had ever eaten.
But stopping, even for that short, short time caused my knee to start to hurt so badly again.
I gritted my teeth and hobbled off.  I only had 6 miles to go.  6 miles is nothing.
I kept telling myself....6 miles...that's only 2 5K's.  It's nothing.
I just wanted to keep moving.
Walk, run. Walk, run. Walk, run.
Mile 21.
At around mile 22, the runners were suppose to run through a pedestrian tunnel.  When the boys saw this tunnel the day before the race as we were coming into town, they thought it was the neatest thing ever!  As I appraoched the tunnel on race day, I saw three little boys standing at the entrance of it, waiting to run through it with me. 
As we ran, they asked..."How is your knee?  How are you feeling?" and said, "We are proud of you, Mom. You're doing good!"
I was still jogging.  Still moving toward that finish line.
Only 3 miles to go.
My whole crew....Mom and Dad, the boys, Bradley, my friends...they were all there at mile 23.  They shouted..."See you at the finish line!"
The finish line.
I was going to make it.  I was going to finish.
At this point, all of my gratitude started to come back again.  Although my knee was still being uncooperative and my legs and feet were beginning to ache all over, I knew I would be able to finish the last 3 miles.
Mile 24.
Mile 25.
Everyone around me was struggling.
Several were vomitting.
Almost everyone was walking more than they were jogging.
The runners all started encouraging each other.
"We're almost there."
"We got this!"
"Keep moving forward!"
The spectators that were scattered sparsely over the last mile were especially compassionate and encouraging.  Screaming....
"Go! You're almost there!!" 
"You did it!" 
"You're there!" 
"Right around the corner!"
Mile 26.
I could see the finish line.
It was just down the hill.
I heard my friends calling to me from the sidewalk...
"There she is!  You did it.  You are there!"

I could hear the announcer call my name over the cheers....
"Runner #1584 - Jennifer Heptinstall from Blountsville"

I did it. 
I made it!
I crossed the finish line.
I jogged into the arms of the race officials as they wrapped me into a blanket and placed my medal around my neck.

I finished a full hour over my goal pace time, but I did it.
I ran a marathon.
I clutched onto my medal and loved the way it felt heavy hanging around my neck.
I ran straight over to my family who were waiting to congratulate me.

Everyone was so encouraging and supportive.  They ALL knew I was disappointed with my finish time, but no one else seemed to care about the time it took to finish.
Shortly after I crossed the line, one of my friends asked....
"Well, will you do another one?"
I shouted...
"No. Never!  I am not doing that again."
But, the gang laughed and said, "We will ask you again next week.  I bet you will change your mind."
Over the past week, as the knee has stopped hurting, and the blisters have gone away, and the muscles have regained their strength, and the joints are less achy....I have started to consider trying it again.  Although I completed my goal of finishing a marathon, I didn't even come close to my goal finishing time. 
Doing another one is now certainly a possibility.
To boast of a performance which I cannot beat is merely stupid vanity.  And if I can beat it, that means there is nothing special about it.  What has passed is already finished with. 
What I find more interesting is what is still to come.
      ----Emil Zatopek

Friday, December 14, 2012

Targeting the Innocent

When I arrived home from work today, I learned the tragic news of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary.  I stood and stared at the television screen shocked at what I saw.  I have never been able to understand what would go through someone's mind who goes into a "shooting rampage", but this was unbelieveable.  Someone had killed children.  On purpose?!
I cannot imagine the evil that must be coursing through the veins of someone who sees a child like 
.....As a target.
I am sickened.
  I physically hurt for everyone involved. 
I can not imagine the pain they are in.
I suppose that the news infuriates me so badly because of the precious kids I spend my days with.  I walk into my kindergarten classroom every day and greet 16 smiling faces at the door.  They feel safe with me.  We are there to learn our letters, and to count, and sing, and paint pictures, and build with blocks, and dance, and laugh.  We learn to make friends and not to pick out noses and to clean up our own mess and to cut in a straight line.  We learn not to push each other, to say kind words, and to say please and thank you.  We read stories and sit criss-cross-applesauce in the floor.  We do science experiments and make Christmas ornaments and tell stories.  We have pajama days and snack time and play games.  We talk about tooth fairies and cartoons and ice-cream cones.  We play "quiet mouse" and "duck-duck goose".  We learn to write our names and celebrate birthdays with cupcakes. 
I spend my days in a world where there is no such thing as evil.  The only "bad guys" are the little boys who chase the little girls on the playground for fun.  I spend my days with kids who think "butt" is a the worst bad word of all.  In a kindergarten classroom, the worst thing that ever happens is when someone gets a bloody nose falling down outside. 
There were kindergarten kids today who were doing these very things inside a classroom in Sandy Hook Elementary when evil invaded their safe haven. They were painting or counting or reading or dancing. Suddenly, their beautiful little, innocent lives were either taken or changed forever.
I am trying not to, but I can't help but imagine how frightened their little eyes must have been.  I can just envision how horrific the whole event must have been for those babies.
I hurt for them.
I hurt for their Mommies.
I hurt for their friends.
I hurt for their teachers who were probably trying with all their might, like I would be, to protect them.
I know that HE has a greater plan.  I am praying for peace for the families and children of Sandy Hook Elementary as his plan unfolds.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Rocket City Marathon - The Start Line

    I ran the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville last Saturday. I completed the full marathon.  I ran 26.2 miles.  I am included in an elite group of people that comprises less than 1% of the population. I did it.  I am a marathon runner.  All of these statements are almost unbelievable to me, yet they are true.   Although I put in the many, many miles of training it took to do it and I was the one actually running the still seems unreal that it's over. 
   I have thought about writing this blog entry since Saturday, yet I somehow struggle with how to put the experience into words.  The whole day was such an emotional roller coaster ride that I can't even begin to explain what the experience was like for me. Yet, I want to have it documented, so I am going to give it a whirl. 
  I suppose the best place to start the story of the marathon is the start line.....although, the story actually started months before then.  I won't back track into all the details of the training, the foot injury, the time constraints, and the diagnosis of the flu just a week before race day.  Nope, I won't go back that far. I will just start with the starting line.

  At 7:56am on Saturday, December 8th, I stood among 1,650 strangers listening to welcome speeches and various "good luck" messages over the loud speaker.  We were all crammed together in the starting corral with nervous energy awaiting the gun shot and permission to begin the race.  The adjoining sidewalks were crammed with families and friends of the marathon runners.....all of them craning their necks to see their loved one start their journey of 26.2 miles on foot. I had my own crew of family and friends just past the starting line waiting to see me cross that line.
I had dreamed of completing a marathon since 1997, when my Daddy did it. I cheered for him with pride as he crossed the finish line 15 years ago. Now, it was my turn. He was there, along with my Mom, to cheer me on.

As my family walked with me to the start line, my Daddy gave me his support and words of wisdom.  He said to me,
"Don't start out too fast. Stay on your own pace.  No matter how long it takes you to finish, I will be proud of you."
With a bit of raw emotions coming out in my voice, I replied,
"I hope that I am making you proud by stepping up to the start line."
He and Mom gave me a hug and kiss and I made my way over to my other awesome supporters.  My three little guys came to the race equipped with tons of motivational signs for me and were so proud to be there. 
All of my little guys and hubby have been so ridiculously supportive through my entire training period.  Never once complaining about the time it took me to train and always asking me when I returned home from a run about how my run went.  I was so elated that they all came with me to cheer me on.
I gave each one of my boys a kiss on the forehead and they all wished me good luck.  Bradley gave me a kiss and told me how proud he was of me.  I left them behind and made my way to my pace group in the starting corral.  I situated myself between the 4:10 pacers and the 4:15 pacers.
     Many of the runners had stood at the start line of a marathon before and were veteran runners, but were still showing signs of nervousness for what was about to take place.  Others, like me, were about to attempt their first full marathon.  I felt like everyone around me could tell how nervous I was.  I retied both of my shoes, even though they didn't need it.  I adjusted every article of clothing I was wearing. I checked my "Pace Tattoo" that I had applied to my left forearm to keep me on my race pace of 4 hours and 15 minutes.

 I glanced at my "Prayer Band" that I wore to remind me what to pray for at each mile marker.  My mouth felt like cotton, and my heart was beating out of my chest.  I was so excited that this day had finally arrived, yet I was so nervous that something might go wrong and I wouldn't be able to finish it.  I had put in the grueling hours of training and I was ready to start the 26 mile journey. 
The clock ticked.
The runners fidgeted.
Spectators clicked cameras.
Hearts pounded.
The gun fired.
I approached the start line with a grin on my face....

And crossed the start line with a huge smile and a wave.
I was doing it.  I was crossing the starting line of a marathon.
 This was the start of fulfilling a dream. 
"You should run your first marathon for the right reasons, because you'll never be the same person again."
                                        ---Bill Wenmack, Running Coach be continued.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The REAL Life of Jesus....As Told By 5 Year Olds

    Christmas is a very magical time in the life of five and six year olds.  They are giddy about Santa and snow and gifts and stockings and lights and trees and reindeer.  They come in the door buzzing about parades and newly wrapped packages under the tree.  Christmas is a hot topic in a Kindergarten classroom.  Each year during the month of December, I open up discussion with my class about their thoughts on "the REAL" reason for Christmas. 
    The discussion almost always starts off with Santa or presents, but there are usually several who are able to chime in about Christmas being a celebration of Jesus' birth.  This year started out much the same.
  I questioned my class. 

Raise your hand if you can tell me about the REAL reason why we celebrate Christmas.

As expected, a child blurted out..."For Santa!"  Which was quickly followed by the responses...."Cause, We get presents." And then, "Santa hides suprises under our tree and I don't know how he does that without me even knowing about it."

  Thankfully, the discussion quickly changed and was all about Jesus.  A child reminded the rest of the class that Christmas is REALLY about when Jesus was born.  The best part of this year's discussion was the depth of conversation in which the class began adding details about Jesus' life.  I kept questioning and the kids kept coming up with responses.  It quickly got very humorous.  Each time new details were added, we had to discuss what the truth really was.  Students were mixing up characters and situations in the Bible and sometimes, they were just way off target.  But, by the end of the discussion, I think all the students had a general idea of the correct story of Jesus' birth.

 If I were to piece together a portion of today's discussion from several students into one story of is how it would go......

The REAL life of Jesus......As told by my Kindergarten Class

   Jesus was born 50 years ago.  He was born in a 'staple'.  People brought him gifts when he was born.  They brought a passy, diapers, and baby blankets.  Then, he got big and built an ark and the earth flooded.  He also built a cross.  Jesus had super powers.  He could even freeze people.  Mean people body slammed Jesus.  They put him in a cave with lions.  He used a stick to poke them.  Then, Jesus died when he was 15 because he smoked.