Monday, May 21, 2018

kelsey's graduation

All my siblings are officially college graduates now! Congratulations, Kelsey!

On Saturday we drove to St. Mary's for Kelsey's graduation. Unfortunately the weather was a bit dreary, so the graduation was moved indoors and was held at the new athletic center. Fortunately, we arrived early and were able to get floor seats next to a small open area that served as Mae's playroom. The ceremony was lovely, and all the speeches had just the right balance of retrospective nostalgia vs. optimism for the future. We were all so impressed with all of Kelsey's achievements (Summa Cum Laude and multiple business school awards!) and so proud to see her recognized for them!

The drizzling rain had stopped by the time the ceremony finished, so Kelsey was able to get photos with friends and family outside. Then we all went back to Mom and Dad's hotel room for snacks and champagne (while Mae napped in the pack n' play that we set up in the hotel bathroom.)

In the evening, we went out for dinner at a posh little restaurant downtown before driving back to my parents house. They entertained Mae while we ate, so Dan and I actually got to enjoy our meals!

Congratulations again, Kelsey! I am so proud, so excited to see what your future holds, and so happy to have an excuse to come hang out in Chicago soon!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

"i two"

Happy birthday, Mae!

We had a busy week preparing for Mae's birthday party. GranE stayed with us all week, and Mae especially loved their daily visits to the coffee shop and park. Colleen and Batman arrived Friday morning, and we spent the morning at the playground and the evening at a local brewery for Nate & Amanda's going-away party.

Saturday morning, Mae got her first hair cut. She was pretty wiggly, but sat still long enough to get her bangs and curls trimmed. Then we celebrated Mae's birthday with a party in the afternoon. My family drove in for the day, and several local friends joined also. Mae LOVED all the activity and attention! Her jaw literally dropped when I told her we were going to eat off Moana plates. Our menu was dip-themed (taco dip, spinach dip, salsa, hummus, ranch, yogurt, ketchup, mustard, BBQ, etc), and I made swirly pink and orange frosting for our cupcakes. At one point, I was flying her through the dining room like an airplane and she started asking to "eat! eat!" I asked, "What do you want to eat?" and she replied, "Allllllla cupcakes."

Mae even blew out the candle on her cupcake! (I was so impressed. Almost as impressed as I was with myself when I remembered to buy her a birthday candle.)

Mae has definitely figured out presents now and was very excited to open everything. She received several cute Moana-themed gifts, plus some fun outdoor things like a wagon from GranE and Batman, and a picnic table and baby pool from Grandma and Grandpa. I am not sure what is getting more use at the moment: the adorable wooden tea & pasta sets or the Moana microphone that plays 15 seconds of a song from the movie. (Let's just say... I've listened to a lot of Moana and sipped a lot of imaginary tea since Saturday. "Mommy, hot-tea!")

We had to open and play with everything as it was unwrapped, so gifts took a long time! We've colored on this water mat from Colleen every day since Saturday also.

After opening gifts, we all went outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. We played with new bubble guns and the little ones took turns on our little slide. We tried to get a cute cousin picture, but Mae is still a little weirded out by Archer. This photo was taken right before she rolled him off her lap, face first onto the grass. Oops.

Thanks for a super fun birthday weekend, family!

Today, Mae celebrated her real birthday with her friends at day care, and then we picked her up early for her two year check-up. Her growth rate has really steadied, and she is still around 30th percentile for weight and 60th for height... a little string bean for sure! She had to get one vaccine (ouchy) but recovered quickly when we went out for hot dogs and ice cream. Then we came home and watched a little bit of "Moana" while we FaceTimed with both families. When Grandma asked, "How old are you?" Mae quickly responded, "I two!" She must have learned that at day care today!

Mae talks NON-STOP and engages everyone around in conversation. She talked to the electrician the entire time he was at the house this week, and she announced her birthday to every nurse at the doctor's office today. She knows no strangers, has never exhibited even a moment of shyness, and is generous with her hugs and kisses. Unfortunately, she has learned the phrase, "no like it" and uses it frequently (mostly at meal times). She's also developing a sense of fear and burst into tears during the scary lava monster scene at the end of "Moana", running to the door and asking to go "car, bye bye" to get away. A few days later, we decided to try a slower-paced movie, "My Neighbor Totoro." She loved it until they met Totoro, a big loveable gray bunny-like thing, whose loud snoring sent her into a fit of terrified sobs. I guess we'll be watching a lot of first-halves of movies for a while!

Happy birthday again to our sweet, busy, wild, fun-loving little girl. We love you!

Monday, May 14, 2018

kevin's graduation

Even though last Sunday's marathon was a big deal to me, we celebrated a much more important event the day before: Kevin's college graduation! I trained for just six months; Kevin has been training for 22 years for this day! I am so proud of his huge accomplishment!

Graduation was held at the University of Indianapolis football stadium. Mom and Dad arrived early to save good seats, and we had a great view from the center of the bleachers. The weather was a little toasty, but the passing clouds kept us from overheating. The University gave honorary degrees to a local Methodist reverend and the banjo player Béla Fleck. While the reverend's sermon was well-written and enthusiastically delivered, we all enjoyed the banjo music much more!

Conferring the degrees took a long time, and Kevin was one of the last ones to walk across the stage. We were all a bit choked up as he received his diploma. He even remembered to switch the direction of his tassel on the way back to his chair!

Congratulations, Kevin! I am so proud of you!

P.S. We are excited to celebrate Kelsey's graduation in just a few days! I really like one silly detail of this photo: Kelsey donned her cap and gown to take some family graduation pictures, but she wasn't allowed to switch her tassel yet since she hasn't officially graduated yet!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018


I ran a marathon! I finished the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon in 4 hours, 37 minutes, and 43 seconds. I am so proud, so happy with how the race went, and so thrilled with my time!

Back in October, I started training on my own, and then in January I joined a local running group. I ambitiously joined the pace group training for a 4:30 to 4:45 marathon finish time (about 10:18-10:50 min/mile pace), which was a bit faster than my half marathon pace of 11:12 min/mile. All winter and spring I ran two shorter runs during the week and one long run on Saturdays at 7:30 am. I am so glad to be done with those early morning weekend runs, but so glad that all my hard work paid off!

The "Flying Pig" moniker of the marathon is a nod to Cincinnati's history in the meatpacking industry and the city's nickname of "Porkopolis." As a lover of puns, I appreciate how the race organizers fully embrace the porcine theme. You'll see what I mean as you read my thoughts from race day in my "piggy tale" below.

Pre-race: Dan and I wake up at 4:15 and he drops me off downtown at 5:30. I make a quick pit stop at the port-o-lets and then meet up with my group outside the Cincinnati Bengals football stadium before we head into our "Pig Pen" (corral). Dan surprises me at my pen to wish me luck!

Mile 1: Hyperventillating. So excited/anxious.
Miles 2-3: One bridge down and I'm in Kentucky! It always feels cool to run into a different state. I realize so much anxiety is already melting away... it's race day and I'm not sick or injured!
Miles 4-5: Done with all three bridges, and we're back into Cincinnati! I see Dan, Jen, and Jeff for the first of many times!
Miles 6-9: Hillllllls. This is what I trained for! A guy holding a big pink letter "F" deadpans into his megaphone, "Get the F up the hill." I jump up to touch the Mario question mark boxes that a spectator is holding over the course. Elvis serenades us with his most famous song, "Sweet Caroline." I separate from the rest of my pace group and our coach Eric becomes my personal pacer for the next 12 miles.
Miles 9-11: Rolling hills. So excited to see Dan, Mae, and GranE! I give smiley Mae a big hug, but she bursts into tears after I leave. Oops. I see Jen, Ben, Anna, Joey, and Lisa a little further down the road.

Miles 12-16: Still feeling pretty good through the residential area of Mariemont. The decorations, spectators, signs, and snacks are better here than anywhere else along the course! Pig balloons... crepe paper... pink everywhere! I skip the bacon station(!!), but accept a blue popsicle from a little kid. Lots of kid high-fives through here. I turn on my music and iTunes selects "Eye of the Tiger" as the first song. Good choice, iPhone.

Miles 17-20: Starting to get a little overheated and slow down a bit... but I'm still running!! That thought keeps me going as the cloud cover evaporates and the sun beats down my back. Eric has pulled ahead of me, but I know if I stop just once I will stop again and again. I'm taking every opportunity to cool off: dumping at least 2 cups of water down my back or over my face at every mile and filling my shirt with ice from the medical tents. (The rattling sound as I jog along is kind of funny). I feel like I'm wearing a wetsuit. The 4:30 pacer passes me. My phone plays "We Are The Champions." Too soon.
Miles 21-23: I'm tired, but still feeling good! I airball my Layup for Lauren at 22 miles. Basketball was never my strong suit. (Then again, neither is running.) I hit 23 miles and realize there's only 3 more to go!!!
Miles 23-25.2: I feel amazing! I pick up the pace and almost catch back up to the 4:30 pacer. I'm high-fiving all the volunteers and yelling "woo" at all the spectators! (The runners around me probably think I'm so annoying.)
Mile 26.2: The longest mile of my life, but PACKED with fans! A guy with blue hair running next to me encourages the spectators to cheer for me. Lots of crowd support! Dan videos me crossing the "finish swine!"

Post-race: I stumble through the exit chute and babble something totally incoherent to a medic who helps me pour water over my head and gets me a foil blanket. I continue on and collect my medal, a fruit cup, and a banana. I enter the recovery area at Smale Park and OH MY LEGS HURT. All semblance of balance and coordination is gone. Dan meets me and helps me wobble to a grassy area so I can sit down while he collects my finisher jacket. Finally, after several minutes, I muster the energy to struggle up 2 flights of stairs and 5 blocks of city sidewalks to the parking garage.

After we get home, I shower and lay in the bath tub while Dan picks up a cheeseburger, fries, and mac & cheese for my recovery meal. I can barely move; according to my Fibit, I have taken over 56,000 steps! I finish the evening with a delicious pasta dinner and the cutest flying pig cookie that Jen gave me! I also open a gift from Mom and Dad: a flying pig bracelet charm marked 26.2! I am proud, happy, and exhausted.

A few of my favorite things from race day:
  • The pig-themed snack/aid stations: Flying Fish Station (offering Swedish Fish), Twist & Snout (Twizzlers), Pig Tails (gummy worms), Swine & Cheese (Cheez-Its), Greased Pig (Vaseline for chafing), and many more!
  • Running past a guy in a shark costume around mile 17. Weeks before the race, Dan told me not to be discouraged if I was struggling late in the race and got passed by someone in a ridiculous costume. So, I almost laughed when I was the one passing the shark! I shouted, "Go shark!" and he gave me a thumbs up.
  • Silly spectator signs... Santa and the Easter Bunny were there holding up signs that said, "I believe in you!" and lots of people had signs said "I like PIG butts, and I cannot lie."

I must give a HUGE thank you to Dan for supporting me through all this. When I started training, I knew this would be a big commitment, but I did not fully appreciate just how much time it would take. Every Tuesday and Thursday after work, I was out running until past Mae's bedtime, and Dan was at home feeding, entertaining, and bathing Mae and putting her to sleep. He was up early with her every Saturday morning, finding fun activities to keep that busy little girl happy. He cleaned up the house and washed dishes when I was too tired or sore to rally myself. He suffered through all my anxious tears and encouraged me after every difficult training run. He let me have the bed to myself for two nights leading up to the race so I could toss and turn as much as I wanted. He woke up before the crack of dawn to get my to the starting line, followed me all over the course to cheer, and wore his brightest shirt so I could find him easily among the spectators. His emotional support before the race (and physical support afterwards) was the main reason I was able to accomplish this goal. Thank you, Dan!!

Now, here's some fun statistics. The Flying Pig has a reputation for being quite hilly, and it was certainly no walk in the park. However, the total climb of 1,211 feet was nothing compared to my half marathon total climb of 1,641 feet!

I kept a pretty steady pace throughout the event, slowing a bit around mile 20 and getting my second wind around mile 24.

I completed just over 550 miles between training and race day. My peak week was around 36 miles. I think it's time for a new pair of running shoes!

Lastly, I'll wrap up with my favorite inspirational quote that I saw on a spectator's sign: "Pain is temporary, but posting this on Facebook is forever."