Monday, December 8, 2014

Savannah River Bridge Run - RR

I've come to a major realization that on my blog I have two types of posts.  Posts about running and posts about everything else.  It was a seminal moment for me.

This weekend I ran in a race down in Savannah called .... The Savannah River Bridge Run.  Its a really nicely run race that consists of a 5k, a 10k and what's called the Double Pump.  I did the Double Pump.  That means I ran the 5k and then turned around and ran the 10k a few minutes later.  That comes out to a 15k (I'm really good at math) which is 9.3 miles.

Before we go much farther let me make a couple disclaimers.  First - if you don't like reading about running, race strategy and my monthly cycle then stop reading now.  Second - if you don't like excuses and whining you should also take a moment and excuse yourself from this post.

This was a hard race to mentally prepare for.  I've run one 5K race since my cross country days in junior high and I've never done anything like the Double Pump.  Initially my plan was to try and PR the 5k.  A PR would be anything less than 19.49 but I decided a 19.30 would be nice.  That comes out to a 6.16 pace, which is tough but doable.  Then I thought I’d just hang on for the 10K and run it as fast as a could.

Unfortunately I thought a lot about everything except for the BLEEPING bridge.  The bridge that you run over once in the 5k and twice in the 10k.  The bridge that is a 5.5% grade and a ¾ of a mile long climb.  Yep, that bridge.

My pace for the first mile of the 5k was 6.16.  Dead on.  My pace for the last mile was 6.16.  Perfect.  My pace for the middle mile that included that flipping bridge was 6.59.  CRAP!

Now for another side note that will delve more into excuse territory.  I lined up too late for this race and had about 50 people in front of me at the start.  While this is not a big deal in a marathon it is a really big deal in a 5k where every second counts.  Unfortunately I totally screwed myself by doing this because I spent the first minute weaving in and out and trying to get up to speed.  That certainly hurt my time.  Next is the big one.  My shoe.  It came untied at mile 2.1.  I made the decision not to stop and just to run and pray it wouldn’t fly off our trip me.  It did neither but it certainly did not help anything.  I was so ticked at myself for not double checking that it was knotted properly.  And finally, I started my period the morning of the race.  Enough said about that.

I finished the 5k right around 20.30 and felt thoroughly discouraged.  So I spent the next 19.30 minutes justifying to myself taking it easy on the 10k since I was sure I was out of placing at that point.  When it came time to line up I just picked a spot near the middle and chatted with my friend Nikki until the gun went off.  At which point I realized it had been a big mistake to stop moving after the 5k.  My legs felt like lead.  When they started to loosen up I again found myself having to weave through hoards of people in order to try to run at my own pace.  I’m sure my first mile pace was well over 8 minutes just because I kept on getting stuck behind people on tight turns. 

The 10k was where I really just let go mentally.  Taking on the bridge two more times absolutely sucked and I knew my pace was horrible.   It wasn’t until the last mile that I finally got serious about running again and kicked it in as hard as I could.

So, it wasn’t a great day and that’s all find and dandy until you look at the results and realize you missed 1st place in your age group by ONE second and missed placing overall by 15 seconds.  I have no doubt that had I lined up at the front in both races I would have placed overall.  I’m sure that sounds arrogant but I don’t mean it like that.  I’m just so frustrated with myself for not staying focused on making smart decisions.  And for giving up without knowing how close in it I was. 

There were definitely things out of my control – like the shoe – but my brain is always in control and its my lack of mental toughness that I am most regretting right now.

The good news is that I am committed to taking this and making it a learning experience. I don’t want to have a other race where I give up and then realize how close I could have been to placing. 

Anyone else out there had a similar experience?  

Friday, October 3, 2014

Yes. Just yes.

The other day my friend Molly posted this to facebook:
American Parenting is Killing Marriage

Go ahead and read it, I'll wait.

To this whole article I want to yell "YES!".

If you come to my house and ask my children who Mommy loves best they (should) all tell you the same thing.  Daddy.  He is who mommy loves best.

I didn't always have this perspective.  Back when Jake was first born I was overwhelmed with love for him and the maternal instincts that sprang up in me seemingly at the moment of his birth.  I remember trying to talk to Ryan about my love for Jake and how indescribable it was.  What happened next is something I will never forget.  He took my hands and said, "I love Jake too, so much more than I could have imagined.  But YOU are the one whom I love the most."

At first I was shocked.  What kind of monster had I married?  How could he not love our precious child above all else.

Wow, was I ever wrong.

Ryan is my partner for life.  He is my Always.  My Forever.  My children are my Now and then one day I will give them away to their Always.

Does this mean my kids feel insecure or unloved?  No! It means that my children are able to rest in complete safety and peace regarding our family.  They know that I love them so much that my heart feels like it will burst but that my loyalty and my heart belongs to their dad.  My children, I pray, will not feel the burden and weight of being the one whom I love most.  They will, instead, get to rest in the security of that love resting on their dad's strong, capable shoulders.  They will know that while our family may, from time to time, be shaken it won't break.

And one day, when my kids are grown and (hopefully) embarking on life's journey with their own Always they will rest easy knowing that their parents are happy and content with the One that we have chosen.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Make. It. Stop.

Put down your phone!
Clean less, play more!
Your kids aren't the center of the universe!
Never feed your kids these top 10 horrible foods!
Say no to electronics this summer!
Do these 20 fun, easy Pinterest activities for an amazing summer!

Make. It. Stop.

Sometimes I feel like I'm going to scream if one more message of how I should be parenting comes across my news feed.  I completely understand why some people choose to flee the never ending drone of the world's voices rather than stay connected through social media.

This morning I was sitting at the kitchen table with Reid working on his Christmas list.  Yes, that's right, his Christmas list.  In July.  But heck, I figured that it would be a good opportunity to spend time with him and even get him to practice some writing together.  As we worked he kept getting frustrated and what should have been a sweet time together turned into an all-out effort on my part to keep to keep my own frustrations from boiling over.  Because guess what: No matter how much time I give my kids its never enough for them.  

It seems to me that the underlying message out there is that if you do X, Y & Z (see above) your kids will be happy, healthy and content.  I call bull$hit.  

Almost every time I try to do a fun activity it seems that it ends with me near tears and ready to off the next kid who says something negative.  As an example let's say that I saw a cool idea on Pinterest about making super bubbles. In a moment of weakness and stupidity I think this sounds awesome.  It will go something like this:

Load kids in car to go get supplies for cool activity.  Because, of course, I don't have them on hand.
Listen to whining at store -we are not going to look at toys or get treats, we are just here for 1 thing.
The supplies cost around $20.  Money I could have spent going to the movies and having 2 hours of peace.
But I press on.  This will be fun and I will be a good mom for having done it.
Get home and try to read instructions and do setup while listening to constant questions and badgering.
Jake tries to steal my ipad (with said instructions) so he can play.
Try to calmly explain why I need ipad.
Break up fights that erupt in my state of distraction.
Get back to set up.
Kid knocks over $20 ingredient but I salvage enough to move forward.
Bring everyone outside to attempt awesome experiment.
It doesn't work. 
Everyone is disappointed.  $20 down the drain.

And are my kids thankful and brimming with gratitude because I tried? HECK NO.

Their frustrated. I'm frustrated.  I send everyone to their rooms to think about their attitudes and appreciate what I've tried to do for them.   I feel defeated.

I guess this is the part of the blog where I should get all philisophical and share with you the true path to happy, contented and grateful kids which (big surprise here) would have nothing to do with following everyone else's instructions.  But I don't know what that path is.  I'm still fumbling along, almost 10 years into this thing called motherhood, trying to figure it out. 

So I guess that is what I can offer you, fellow mother.  You aren't alone.  You aren't the only one who is confused.  You aren't the only one who wants to give up sometimes.  And hopefully that will be something.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day weekend

It's Memorial Day weekend.  A time where you see and hear lots of patriotic comments and also come across some highly emotional opinions on this holiday.

I've had some thoughts lately about the weekend that I thought I would share.

A caveat to begin with.  As a service member's spouse I think I have a little more perspective on the topic than the average American citizen.  That being said, despite my husband's 10 years on active duty and numerous deployments, I have never been touched directly by someone I knew dying in combat.  Of course I know people who have passed away but not in a close or personal way.  The Gold Star Families among us have, I'm sure, many opinions on this matter that hold a great deal more weight than mine.  I say the following humbly and with full responsibility that I could be wrong.

First - Memorial Day is to honor service members who have died protecting their country.  Its not a time to honor those who have served so honorably, but survived.  They have a holiday - its called Veterans Day.

Second - the whole topic of whether or not saying "Happy Memorial Day" is ok ...  I agree with those who say it makes them feel a little sick to hear it.  I understand it.  If I had been touched by death closely and this was a weekend that brought it all back for me - I too would bristle at that.  But I think so many people - myself included- don't know what else to say ... Is it too long to say "Its Memorial Day. Never Forget"? I like that one.

Third - A lot of people get indignant at the idea of people having barbecues over Memorial Day weekend.  Here is what I think - It is very important that we make time during this long weekend to honor and remember those who have died for our country.  Yesterday my plans to attend the flag laying at our post's cemetery were foiled by the rain (we aren't afraid of rain but all our extra clothes and shoes are boxed up).  But I do hope to take my kids to the ceremony that will be held tomorrow and I do plan to talk to them about what the day means.  And I plan to tell them about Jared Van Aalst and Lt Col Rob Baldwin and my own Great Uncle Dick who all gave their lives for this country and left wives and children to grieve in their wake.
That being said I know that those men gave their lives because of what this country stands for.  As we remember and drink a toast to them is it really so bad if we also enjoy our friends and loved ones too?  I seem to think that this weekend is big enough for both.

Fourth - Remember those who are left behind.  Not just this weekend but always.  Remember the anniversary of the death and reach out to the survivors to let them know you remember.   And I don't just mean the family members. I also mean their brothers and sisters in arms who carry so much on their shoulders already but especially in the wake of the death of their comrades.  Be sensitive to them.  And even if your words feel awkward put yourself out their enough to ask them about the remembrance bracelet they wear ... they need to know their grief is not only their own.

Again, these are just my thoughts and musings.  I welcome any feedback if you think my thoughts are misplaced as long as you do it gently.  Thank you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Boston Race Recap (and a bunch of other random crap)

 It'll be interesting to see how much caffeine I have to consume to make it through today.  You would think that the night after a marathon one would sleep like the dead.  For the second year in a row I had a crazy bad night post race.  Last year I blamed it on the horrible events of the day but maybe it's just my body's way of punishing me for putting it through such shenanigans.  I tossed and turned and looked at my watch for most of the night.  My legs hurt, my tummy hurt, my feet hurt.  By the time 4:07 rolled around I was relieved to put the night behind me and roll out of bed (and I do literally mean roll).  
It was a very fun few days. I flew in on Saturday night and camped out with my friend and neighbor Molly and her BFF Nikki, who I now also consider a friend!  On Sunday morning Nikki went for an easy 2 miles with me and then we grabbed some breakfast from Dunkin Donuts. After showers we headed from the plush luxury of their hotel to the modest Inn at Longwood where my crew was staying. I dropped off my bag and we grabbed the T to the expo.  It was crazy, crowded and fun.  I was so grateful to have them along for company and they also acted as my personal body guards lest anyone should be intimidated by my obvious speediness and pull a Tonya Harding on me.  Alas it was unnecessary, but I think that's due in large part to their intimidation factor.  And the bacon song,  more on that later. 
We found a place to eat lunch and I enjoyed a Sam Adams 26.2 brew.  It was yummy and perfect to go along with my Thai noodle salad.  From there we soon parted ways- me to head back to the hotel to rest and them to a tour at Fenway (fun!!).
I got to the room and found that I had missed my roomie Sarah, so I rested for a bit until I heard Jen's sultry voice making its way down the hall.  It was so good to see their faces.  A short bit later we met up for dinner at the hotel and I was reunited with Ashley and Brett, and Jen's other half, Greg.  Yay!  All we were missing was Tegan who was staying with her bro in Cambridge. 
Race morning started early! Sarah's alarm went off at 5:15. I laid around until 5:45 and then started getting myself together.  Us anal marathoners lay out every last thing the night before so it was pretty easy to get dressed.  Then I shoved everything I needed into the kangaroo pocket of my sweatshirt and headed out looking like someone heading into their second trimester.  We met up and walked to the T.  This was the point where Sarah put a $20 into the machine, purchased her $5 ticket and then got $15 dollars in coins back.   I almost hurt myself laughing.   And I have a new favorite "curse" word.  "Nooooooooooo mother crapper."  Gold.  If you are wondering why this was a problem you've probably never run 26 miles.  Suffice it to say on race day you don't need any extra weight.
We made it to Boston Commons and the well oiled machine that is the Boston Marathon kicked into gear.  After an embarrassing port-o-potty incident (and for someone with IBS to say that .... It takes a lot - I'll be happy to fill you in if you are dying to know) we hopped in line for the buses and were soon on our way to Hopkinton.  It is not a short bus ride.  And it crossed my mind more than once that they were going to make me run all the way back.  
Athletes Village was nuts.  It seemed so much busier and crowded than last year, which I guess makes sense given how many more runners they had. How many more was it, you ask? I don't know.  Google it.  Let me know. 
No exaggeration, we spent the majority of our time in line for the potties.  After that we grabbed a patch of grass and finished up with the important stuff - lube, sunblock and writing our names on our arms with sharpies.  Before I knew it they were calling my corral and so Tegan and I stripped off our sweats, threw them in the donation bags and headed for the start. It's over a half mile to the start so you have lots of time to get more nervous.  You walk past the houses along the street in Hopkinton- some houses have free beer, another had a tent with sharpies, lube, sunblock, rubber bands, safety pins all for free.  People are awesome in Boston!
l got to my corral with about 2 minutes to spare. Time for a selfie and then the gun went off.  At that point I realized I'd forgotten to double knot my shoes.  Too late but thankfully it wasn't an issue.  I'm running in Brooks Glycerins right now and I don't know if I love them but at least they stay tied. 
The start of Boston is downhill and it's hard not to fly and then set a fast pace as a result.  Smart marathoners know this.  Yesterday I was not smart.  I went out fast.  Somewhere around last years pace, but I'm not in last year's shape.  
I knocked through the first few miles ok.  I hit the 10k mark and realized I still had to run 20 more miles.  That was not a highlight for me.  
It was hot yesterday.  I was sweating a lot and the wind was in our faces.  Not ideal. I ran with a handheld water bottle since camelbaks were verboten this year.  I has to stop about 5 times at water stations to get it filled up. 
I also had to stop twice to go to the bathroom which sucked. The first time was an emergency but all the potties were full so I had to stand there and wait while time kept on ticking.  That uber sucked.  The second time I literally was going to pee all over myself and so I had to pee in someone's front yard.  I have guilt.  
Finally I had to stop and lube again when I felt the chafe coming on around mile 18. I couldn't get over to the med tent in time but some nice spectators had some vaseline that I used.
That's another thing I have to note about Boston.   Even though there are aid stations every single mile, the fans set up their own aid stations along the whole course.  They offer oranges, bananas, watermelon, water, beer, Vaseline, tissues, feeezie pops.  And the kids! Oh my gosh you can run almost 26 miles straight giving kids high fives the whole way.  
I ran past the same biker bar as last year around mile 2. They are one of my favorite parts.  Then of course you have the girls at Wellesley between 12 and 13.  Their scream tunnel absolutely lives up to expectations. They all have signs and many are hilarious.  Most start with "kiss me I'm...." And then you fill in the blank.  I stopped and kissed a girl (on the cheek) who had a sign that said she's going into the army.  
The biggest surprise for me in the race this year was the hills. I just do not remember them being so brutal.  My consolation is that every single person I talked to afterwards echoed that same sentiment, so at least I wasn't alone in my misery.   Boston is a net downhill course which sounds all fine and dandy but is totally misleading!!  You go up, you go down, you go up, you go down.  I guess in the end you go down a bit more than you go up but that I assure you it's not enough.  So I'm running along, fighting it out and I come to Heartbreak Hill.  The most notorious part of the course.  It was so hard but I just put my head down and climbed it. I was so happy when I got to the top.  And then I saw mile marker 20.  Y'all, Heartbreak Hill hadn't happened yet.  My frigging sense of accomplishment was for nothing and I still had to get it done.  Somehow I had lost track of what mile I was on.  I'm pretty sure my second Heartbreak Hill was slower than my "first". I'm not gonna lie - I was defeated at that moment!  From that point on it was a gut check.  Literally and figuratively.  My stomach felt terrible and every time I tried to take a chew I threw up.  So for the last 6/7 miles I took nothing but water.  It slowed me down considerably but I could not stomach the thought of another gummy chew in my dry mouth.  
Last year I flew through Boston.  This year I gutted it out.  I wanted to stop and walk so badly a few times but I didn't. I kept going.  
At this point, if you are crazy enough to still be reading, you are wondering why anyone would ever run a marathon.  I was thinking the same thing.  I still don't have a good answer for you.  One neat story though - a few times in there I had to do some serious praying.  At one point I asked Him to just give me strength.  At that moment I felt the wind on my back, just for a few seconds, for the first and only time that day.  Chills!
Last year miles 23-26 flew by.  This year they did not.  It was a mental fight the whole time.  At 25.8 I ran by the spot I saw my friend Lori last year.  She and her family were deeply affected by the events of last year so I prayed for my friend and her sweet kids.
Then I turned the corner onto Boylston.  Did I think "oh my gosh I made it!"?  No!  I thought "I don't remember the finish line being that damn far".  
 But I made it down Boylston.  So many around me were walking and hobbling towards the finish.  It was so humbling.  I made it across the finish and through the pure hell that is the finish chute.  It goes on and on and all you want to do is sit down and cease to exist.  I found Nikki soon after and was able to give her a big hug.  It was so good to see a familiar face! 
Then Jen called to tell me some horrible news.  Sarah had collapsed at mile 23.  Her body temperature was 108!  To say she had a heat stroke is an understatement.  They rushed her to the hospital in an ambulance.  It's her story to tell but as she put it - those people saved her life yesterday.  Truly.  She is ok and I'm so overwhelmed with gratitude!!
The rest of the evening turned out a little different then planned but what matters is I was able to celebrate with people that mean a lot to me.  I'm so grateful for the chance I had to run Boston again this year.  Thankful for my running buddies to travel with, my friends for their support in boston and from home, my amazing husband for his encouragement and being willing to shoulder all the household duties for three days along with his school work.
I don't think I'll do Boston again.
I feel like my experience is complete.  I would love to go back someday as a volunteer.   But I don't need to run it again.  Regardless I will follow the race every year with excitement and pride.  Like I said, Boston has my heart!

And THIS is the bacon song.  You are welcome.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pre-Race Jitters

I'm all jittery this morning.  I hope that sitting down and writing out some of my feelings will help.

Last year at this time all of the pieces were falling into place as I prepared for the Boston Marathon.  Months of training were on the books and I'd executed as closely to plan as possible.  In the final weeks I was tweaking my food and nutrition plan to ensure that I knew exactly what would work for me both before and during the race.  My race outfit was good to go including some new shorts that I used for my last 20 miler to ensure no unforseen chafing issues would arise.  I was eating carefully for maximum nutrition and to ensure I was as lean as possible for the race.  While I was nervous I was also confident in the training and planning I'd put into my preparation.

This year is so different.  The only training plan I've been able to follow since I hurt myself on Christmas Day has been a mishmash of everything I've done in the past.  I've had a few decent speed workouts, I got in a couple of 20 milers (at a pace significantly slower than ever before).  I even had one week that I managed to squeak out 45 miles.   Compare that to last year when I ran each workout according to an exact plan.  I had multiple 55 mile weeks and three 20 miler long runs.  On the weeks I didn't have a 20 for my long run I still often had 17 or 18.  I ran tune up races and marathon paced long runs.  When it came time to taper I knew I was ready.  Now with 12 days until the marathon I have no idea what I should be doing.  It feels weird to say I'm tapering because to me you taper from your peak. I never felt like I reached a peak so to then back off just feels wrong.   When I take it easy I beat myself up that I should be working harder, when I work hard I beat myself up that I should be taking it easy.

Here's what I think it all comes down to.  I've never before run a race where my goal was not to run faster than I ever had before.  A PR has always been my goal.  This year I know that a PR is not a possibility.  And for all the talk about how I'm just going for the experience and how I'm just happy to be there after what's happened in the last couple months, it is a majorly pride sucking experience to know I'm going to go and run the slowest marathon I ever have.  I kind of feel like a fraud.  I want to wear a sign on my back that tells everyone that I am only 9 weeks post-op from my knee surgery.   I want an asterisk by my name on the results page.

And that comes down to nothing more than pride.  I run because I love it but I also run because I'm good at it.  And if I'm honest while I can do lots of stuff pretty well I don't do anything great.  And don't bother trying to disagree with me because you'd be wrong and the point of this blog is not to get lots of you to pat my ego.  My ego doesn't need patting, but my pride sure needs a kick in the butt.  You can pray for me on that one.  Thanks.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

IEP Success - buckle up, its a long one.

IEP day has historically been one of my least favorite days of the year.   Its a day where you go to your child's school, sit in a large meeting with many professionals who have all been testing and assessing your child, and hear all the things that are wrong with him.*  I have NEVER made it through one of these meetings without crying.

For those of you not in the "know" IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan.  When a child meets a certain number of criteria (such as an Autism diagnosis) they qualify for an IEP.  School's do not just hand these things out willy-nilly as there is a LOT of work that goes into creating one, working towards meeting the goals laid out, measuring progress, etc.  In evidence of this Jake's IEP is 17 pages long.  And that is for a high functioning kid on the spectrum.

When Jake's IEP was first created 3 years ago I had no clue what kind of things I could/should ask for. There are books and websites to help parents know what to expect but at that point I was so flippin' overwhelmed that I actually had a "special needed kid" (that's what Jake calls the kids at his therapy center - as in "those special needed kids", present company excluded obviously!) that I didn't do much homework beforehand.

The first few pages of the IEP are an overview of Jake and results from the assessments that he has been given.  There are four sections:
Social/Emotional/Adaptive Skills
Each section has sub points in which they lay out strengths, weaknesses, concerns, etc.  For example Jake's Communication section has a sub section on his sensory concerns and how impacts his performance at school.   When needs are identified it is noted that a goal needs to be set and the baseline from which he is starting.

Next there is a section for Accommodations/Modifications/Supplementary Aids that are made.  Jake has none for reading, math or written language but he has a sensory accommodation that allows him to have a small manipulative item (toy, eraser, etc) to help him organize and focus.  He also has a communication accommodation that Jake will restate directions to check for understanding.  He also has an accommodation that he will sit on the end to give him space to move around as needed (i.e. he does not always have to be in his seat as long as he is on task).  For this IEP we added a new accommodation that Jake will have the opportunity for additional sensory time when assignments are completed with 85% accuracy.  This was in response to Jake's tendency to rush through his work with little regard for correctness in order to proceed to the next more desirable activity (that's fancy IEP talk, y'all will learn :)

Finally we come to the meat of the IEP which is the goals.  Coming into this meeting Jake had one (!!!) goal on his IEP.  Refer back to paragraph 2.  This is a direct result of his mom having no clue what to do when I attended his first IEP meeting in 2011.  True, there were six benchmarks under this goal but the main focus of his therapy at school was in his comprehension of spoken and written words.   As a results of this goal and benchmarks Jake was then afforded (2) 30 minute special ed sessions per week and (1) 20 minute speech therapy.

In preparation for this upcoming meeting I contacted the amazing therapists at ACI (Autism Concepts) in Kansas City for help.  They had reviewed Jake's IEP and kindly informed me it was "weak" and, of course, they worked with Jake on a regular basis so they were well informed as to his strengths and weaknesses.  I was able to set up a conference call both with Nancy Champlin, who founded ACI and its 5 centers across the US, and Melissa who is the director of the KC campus.   Below I'm going to bullet out some of the things we discussed going into the meeting:

1- The principal or school psychologist must be present.  Always request that the district Autism Consultant attend the meeting as well.
2- When they run through the present level of performance it should be across all levels - both social and academic.  This will dictate the number and type of goals that are set for Jake later in the IEP.
3 - Go into the meeting prepared to clearly state my ideas and goals for Jake.
     - In addition to academic concerns this should also include "significant concerns with Jake being able to work independently and with a number of peers
     - Social skills - Jake has such a deficit that he cannot initiate an maintain a conversation with both adults and peers.  He also has issues with joining in ongoing play.
4 - The suggested that we be prepared to list 3 -5 core deficits that concerned us for Jake.
5 - When we are discussing concerns with something such as reading comprehension that we list out specifics such as 1 - when he is being read to, when he reads orally, when he reads silently.
6- We discusses our concerns about Jake's problem solving across school work and social activities.
7 - Nancy suggested that I push for no less than 8 goals.  Jake must have social goals as part of his IEP because difficulty social abilities are a core deficit of autism.
8 - Nancy also suggested that I NOT include my concerns with Jake's handwriting because he is actively working on this at ACI and we wanted to stay big picture with his goals.
9 - For each goal insist that the measurement be either data collection or permanent work product - NOT observation.  This was a BIG one.
10 - insist that goals be written to ensure that data collection is happening across the school day to include lunch, recess, art, music, etc - not just in the classroom.
***As an example here is a goal that I suggested at his IEP meeting.  The wide eyed stares and frantic scribbling that followed would lead me to believe that this does not often happen.
- "Jake will independently initiate 4 part conversations within a 1 hour data collection period, across the school day with multiple peers on 4 out of 5 consecutive data collection days."
11- Do not say "best" when talking about what I want for Jake.  They are not required to do what is "best" they are required to do what is in Jake's "interest".
12 - Overall goals need to say "independent" not "with prompts".
13 - They suggested that he should have no less than 3 goals for social skills.
    - Initiate conversation with multiple peers across the school day utilizing appropriate body language, intonation, eye contact, etc
     - Maintain the conversation
     - Modify his behavior/speech based on verbal and nonverbal peer input

Going into the meeting with this information gave me a sense of confidence in what I was trying to accomplish.  First of all I have to say every IEP meeting I've ever been in I'm always impressed with the caliber of professionals that are assembled.  And they fact that they all have Jake's success as their goal.  The meeting could not have gone better. The team was so receptive to my input and my concerns.  Going in the IEP draft that was proposed had 2 goals.  After my input we came out with 6 goals.  Still a bit short of what Nancy wanted me to shoot for but obviously still a big win.  As a result of the increased goals Jake went from 2 to 4 Special Ed sessions a week and 1 to 2 speech therapy sessions a week.  Additionally Jake will receive inclusion special ed which means the special ed teacher will come to the classroom during math and work with him in his own environment.   For the first time in 4 years I feel confident that we have an IEP that is actively doing everything possible to ensure Jake succeeds.

*There is a definite flip side to all of that which is how AMAZING it is to be surrounded by intelligent professionals who have all been testing and assessing your child and who love him and want the very best for him, as you do.  But it didn't flow with this blog post so I put it here at the end.  Every single time I had to go to a meeting there was always laughter amid the tears as we shared stories about how precious Jake is and the many ways he steals everyone's hearts.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Stream of Consciousness Blogging ...

A peak into the mind of Lacey.  Its a dangerous and scary thing.

Any kid that comes over to my house to play with Jake is guaranteed a good time.  As the mom of an autistic kid who has trouble making friends I covet playdates.  So, should your kid show up at my door and want to play with mine I am going to give your kid anything they want.  If they want homemade ice cream I will go to the store, buy whipping cream and a churn and crank that thing until my arm falls off if it keeps your kid happy and playing at my house.
In fact, moving away from all the awesome kids in our neighborhood is the thing I'm going to miss the very most about Fort Leavenworth besides missing my own friends.  I love a Sunday afternoon where there is total pandemonium in my house with kids running around laughing and yelling.  I love that there are no playdate arrangements that need to be made for that to happen.  Kids just show up.  I got up from my nap today to find we'd gained two kids and lost Reid for the afternoon (a totally fair trade, I might add).  I love it.
And I'm sad for Jake who is going to be leaving behind some of the first real friends he has ever had.  I'm sad for all my kids to leave their friends but its going to be the hardest for Jake.  The other kids will make friends anywhere.  Ainsley could be friends with a stick.  Reid can be friends with any kid that likes animals and weapons.  Jane Dare has a scary ability to make friends and influence people.   That girl makes me nervous, if you catch my drift.  I don't actually catch my drift, so if you understand what I'm thinking could you let me know?  Thanks.
But for Jake, I'm sad.  Do you think his buddy's parents would notice if I kidnapped their son and brought him to NC?  They are moving to Germany so maybe I can convince them he wants to be an exchange student and live with us.

Moving on.  My girls are still convinced I'm very injured because I still have stitches in and have to ice my knee.  I receive get well cards on a regular basis.  I need to figure out how to milk this more efficiently.

My neighbors across the street just got a puppy.  Talk about best possible situation for me! My kids can go love it and squeeze it and play with it and then when they lose interest, as all kids do, we can leave and I don't have do anything else.  Thank you H family!  Does it bother anyone else as much as me when people say that their dog is potty trained?  I seriously doubt that your dog does, in fact, use the commode.  Why is it so hard to say house trained?  Or yard trained, more appropriately!  Now there is even a Barbie with a dog that poops (GROSS!!!) and its called Potty Trainin' Barbie or something like that.  I knew that the Mattel people were kind of dumb but it amazes me that something that ridiculous made it to market with that stupid name.  They and the people who made the Doggie Doo Doo board game should all be shot.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Knee Update

Its been exactly one month since I hurt my knee.  If I was a professional athlete I would have had an MRI that same day and surgery the next.  Unfortunately I'm no where near that level of importance and so after 1 month and 3 visits to the doctor I've finally been able to get scheduled for surgery ... in 3 weeks.  GAH!

That leaves me in a very restless and unhappy spot.  I miss running.  I'm doing the best I can with swimming, biking and ellipticating but they are decidedly inferior for giving me my runner's high. I'm so cranky.  I feel really badly for my family right now.

This state of waiting is the absolute worst.  I'm not getting better, I'm just getting slower day by day.

My surgery will be 2 months and 9 days before Boston.  I have no idea what kind of shape I will be able to achieve between surgery day and race day.  And I still have the nagging fear that my left knee that was bothering me in the first place before my right meniscus tore, won't cooperate after all is said and done.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Festivus Miracle

My phone rang this morning while I was at the gym. 

It was the kids school. 

 When I heard Reid's teachers voice I was a little nervous.  We had less than a pleasant morning at Casa T and Reid was, as usual,  a major player in the drama.  I was fairly certain she was calling to announce an unprecedented case of expelling a kindergartner from school.
Imagine my shock when I heard the excited voice of his teacher saying "Mrs T, I had to call you because we've had the Festivus miracle that we had hoped for." Let me explain.

The last time that I blogged about Reid it was to make the announcement that I was going to homeschool him this year. I didn't really want to come back on my blog and make the announcement with my tail between my legs that I was too much of a weakling and I'd changed my mind. When we got to Kansas and the reality of homeschooling was upon me I jumped on the opportunity to enroll him in the half-day kindergarten program here like a drowning woman grabs for a light life raft. 

It was a lot of mental justification exercises that I went through to make that decision but I'll spare you those right now. At no point since then have I been entirely sure that I made the right or the wrong decision.  The year had a very rough start academically and behaviorally for Reid. While he has made huge gains in his behavior and some gains in his academics, reading has still been an insurmountable obstacle for him. 

His teacher has been absolutely awesome in her unwavering determination to help Reid succeed at school. During our many conversations and conferences she remained hopeful that he could, in fact, learn. She assured with me that she had seen it happen before that a kindergartner would come back after Christmas break and it was as if the light switch went on- something she called the Festivus miracle (and thanks to my love of Seinfeld I needed no explanation).  I too was hopeful but wasn't holding my breathe.  Just this morning as we were driving to school he informed me that he knew how to spell DVD. He paused  repeated d, v, d carefully enunciating each letter and then waited for me to applaud his intelligence.  You can see why I might've been less than optimistic about his prospects.  But then came that phone call to tell me that Reid had earned a spot in her Guided Reading group - something he has wanted all year long!

I totally started crying right there by the pull up machine.  Between that and my performance last week when I hurt my knee (also by the pull-up machine) I'm sure my fellow gym goers are starting to get a little freaked out by my emotional outbursts that seem to be brought on my that particular exercise!

So, yay!  There is a Reid update.  

And a final note that Reid was absolutely spoiled last week with a special package that had shark toys, shark candies and an awesome shark book - yes, he LOVES sharks - as a get well gift after his surgery.  That boy felt like the king of the world to have all that attention and love showered on him by a very special family!  Thank you Haas family!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Knee

I wish this would fix it.  A band-aid and a kiss and the boo-boo is all better.

Its been 10 days now and things aren't going well.  I tried to run a few days ago and made it about a half mile before I limped home.  The next day I went to the gym and in the process of jumping up on the bar to do pullups I tweaked it so badly I saw stars.  I'm trying not to imagine what the people around me were thinking as I doubled up in pain from something as innocent as jumping.

That afternoon I saw a new provider - a PA actually - who took me much more seriously than the doc I saw my first time out.  Maybe it was the fact that I cried when he examined my knee because the manipulating and tests hurt so badly, whatever it was, its a relief to be making progress.  Slow progress but at least we are moving in the right direction.

Amusingly enough I was at the Ortho to finish up a third injection, on my left knee, of a product called uflexa.  Its a new, cool product that lubricates the joints to help them glide better.  What's amusing is that its my right knee that's hurt.

Considering the amount of hours put into training during marathon season I've had some extra time on my hands lately to think.  Sometimes that is good and sometimes that is dangerous.  I go back and forth - from being angry that I'm dealing with knee issues once again, to rationalizing that its not really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of life.  I mean, I run because I like it.  I don't depend on it for my livelihood.  I wasn't preparing to knock over any records or win any cool awards.  In fact, I remember pretty clearly having a conversation with myself during training last year to the effect that if I ran under 3:20 at Boston I would be happy with that as an all-time marathon PR.  Of course, then I ran that 3:19 and wondered if I could go faster.

Probably.  But do I need to?   What will be required in sacrifice for that faster time?  Time with my family and friends.  Am I going to be a world class athlete at the age of 35? Nope.  And just because you can do something does that mean you should?  These are the very ambivalent feelings I've been having through the past couple months leading up to training.  Its funny that all that time I spent thinking I needed to make a big decision about how I would approach my training this round and now it probably doesn't matter ... the decision isn't likely to be one I will get to make.

Friday, January 3, 2014

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Right now I'm loving a few things and I can't keep it all to myself!

First off is Fabletics!  A couple of months ago my friend Joan mentioned a company that she had fallen in love with - and in the same breathe she mentioned lululemon.  So I knew that she knew what she was talking about and that she was serious!  I did a little research and figured out how the company works.  The gist is that you sign up as a VIP (free) and that entitles you to an adorable workout outfit each month at a big discount.  At first I was put off by the idea of that many new outfits (and the committment) but then realized there was no obligation and you can easily skip any month for as many months as you wish.  And you can cancel at any time.  So with little to fear I made my first order last month.  I chose an outfit with running tights and a cute jacket with a herrignbone pattern.  When my package arrived in the mail I pulled it out and was thrilled.  The fabric on the pants felt amazing! Every bit as luxurious as any lulu I've tried on.  I was so excited I put my outfit on and ran over to my neighbor Cym's house so she could see it too!  Then I took a picture (cuz I'm dorky like that):

The pants I chose have this awesome snake skin print that is subtle but makes them have a cool twist.  I wore this outfit 3 workouts in a row I like it so much (sure, it smelled a little bit by day three but I was adorable!).  All of the sudden a monthly subscription seemed like a great idea! I can't wait for my January outfit to arrive! Oh, and did I mention the best part - this outfit cost me $30!!!!!  Yup, for the price of a headband at lululemon I got an entire outfit.  Granted that's a first outfit only deal but still - worth it even if you only get one outfit and then quit!
  If you are interested do me a huge favor and use this link because I do get credit for anyone who signs up (but honestly, that isn't why I'm sharing - I'm sharing because this stuff is flippin' awesome).

Next up is Sorel boots!  O.M.G. I love these boots.  I had some major sticker shock when I first started looking into boots that would get me through this year in Kansas.  Finally I decided to suck it up and go with something quality and I ordered these boots:  I loved these at first touch but sadly I listened to the online reviews and ordered a half size up.  Alas they were too big.  And with a big snow storm bearing down on Kansas I didn't have time to exchange them so my sweet husband got these  for me at REI.  I love them.  They are cozy, cute and comfortable.  The first day I wore them after we got 6 inches of snow and the high was 22 degrees - my feet stayed warm the whole time.  They were worth every penny!

Next up is lemon oil.  I've kinda been singing the praises of lemon oil for a long time and often noting that its great on the skin to clear up acne.  Well, as someone who has struggled with my complexion since the age of 13 you would think I'd have jumped right on it long ago.  Instead I took my sweet time getting around to it.  But now that I've started I'm hooked.  My complexion has never looked this good for this long of a time.  Period.  And the only thing I'm doing is washing it with the same Neutrogena scrub as always and then using lemon oil on it.  I'm beyond thrilled with the results.

Finally, I got these cute little suckers at Crate and Barrel to go with my Christmas table decor.  I love how it turned out so much I can't put them away with the rest of my Christmas decorations!  They make me smile.  My mom even asked me to order her some when they went on clearance after Christmas so I took advantage of that to get a couple more for myself. They are paired with glitter branches that the kids and I made, paperwhite bulbs sprouted in mason jars, white candles and little white bottle brush Christmas trees from Garnet Hill.  Sigh.  I love it.  Since its all white and glitter I think I can get away with it as a winter theme for a couple more weeks!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Cliche New Years Day Post

I don't really do New Year resolutions.*  In life I'm generally an optimist but something about making a list of difficult to achieve goals and then setting out to reach them in the middle of cold, often dreary, January brings out the pessimist in me (or as my husband would say, the "realist").

This year I'm going to make a compromise and go with an (admittedly) cop-out of a resolution.**  Something along the lines of "this year I will love myself/accept myself/not criticize myself more".   But seriously, sometimes I beat myself up about the things I am not good at for little reason more than that my lacking in certain areas makes my life less of the storybook ideal life I'm sold by the world around me.

Are you still with me? Or have I lost you?   Let me try to explain a little bit more.

I've always been a person that has a few precious friends rather than many good friends.  Those friends that are dear are the ones who accept and love the things I'm good at and forgive or overlook the things I'm not.

I'm good at:
1- Being loyal.  I love my people fiercely and will defend them often regardless if they are wrong or right.
2 - I'm funny. I love to laugh and to make people laugh with me.
3 - I'm friendly.  I love to be with people - to enjoy the company of just being together. I love to learn more about others and connect with them on common grounds.

I'm not good at:
1 - Phone calls.  Making phone calls, returning phone calls, listening to voice mails.  I am not a phone person.
2 - Listening.  I get easily distracted.  If there is anything else at all going on it difficult for me to concentrate and hear what someone is trying to tell me.
3 - Jealousy (or rather I am good at jealousy, unfortunately).  I often get that sting of jealousy and I let myself do things/say things/ manipulate things in a way that isn't helpful or kind.

The fact that I suck at keeping in touch on the phone means that many of my old friendships drop away after time.  But there is little I can probably do to change that.  And so I need to accept that and not feel disheartened when I see FB pictures of old friends that are still close after all this time.  Its ok.  I need to be ok with that.

The fact that I get jealous means that I probably am not meant to be part of a large group of friends.  There is a group of girls from our last post who are very, very close and are always up to something fun and (at least to the FB world) glamorous.  Every time I have the evidence of this group's closeness put in my face on FB I feel sad and rejected.  But in reality I don't fit in there.  My world isn't my friends. I love my friends, I'd do anything for my friends, but my world is my family.  This is right and this is good and I need to accept that and the fact that especially because of number 1 and 3 in my "not good at column" above I won't ever be part of a group of girls like that.

I want to find peace and joy in the friends God has blessed me with in this life.  The fact that I still maintain a handful of best friends even though I'm cussin' awful at phone stuff.    Friends that appreciate my loyalty and love and my awesome sense of humor ;)

And if you're reading this thank you for being a friend to me wherever you fit in on the friend spectrum. Bosom buddy, old pal, new acquaintance, dedicated workout pal, sweet neighbor or random person that friended me once on fb and now doesn't know how to get rid of me.  Thank you.  And may you also find peace and joy in this life you've been given in 2014.

*Maybe my resolutions should be going back to English class and studying punctuations and possessives.  Is it new year's resolutions? New Years' resolutions? New Years's resolutions (kidding on that one).
**Ok fine, I'll admit it.  I also want to cut sugar out of my diet and be on Facebook less.   Dangit I didn't escape the resolutions' siren call.  Oh, and I want to blog more.   I hear that to be a successful blogger you need to have great pictures so here is a random picture that has nothing to do with the above blog post to send you on your merry way.  Look at this sweet Christmas morning hair.