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Why Run? My Story...

Friday, April 29, 2011
Sorry for the duplication if you read both this blog and Our Cups Runneth Over, but I had to post this on both blogs. All of you that have been here, reading and supporting me over the past year... I love you. Thank you for always being there. :) 

It is incredible how much life can change in just one little year.

Last year, at this time, I couldn’t run up the block without being winded. Now, I’m preparing for my first half marathon (13.1 miles) in Nashville, Tennessee TOMORROW.
My favorite question that people ask me is “why?” You know, why run? Why run that far? Why run at all? Why run?

It’s not an easy question to answer. It takes a lot of explaining to do. And, typically, I don’t bother going through it all with people, because it would take a LONG time. Most of the time, when people ask me why I run, I answer with something like, “I dunno… I just started doing it and loved it… and kept running,” or “I love it because it’s my time away from everything else,” or “I run because I can… and one day I probably won’t be able to.”

All of those short little quips of answers come from a bigger story… they are small indicators of the real reason that I run… that I LOVE to run so much. Yes, that’s the red flag you should be seeing… this could be a long post. :) Get cozy.

How it Started

It was almost a year ago today that I sat and stared into my computer. This very same computer, actually, and contemplated what I considered a life-changing, risky post. It was something I had been toying with for months… an idea to really define my life… to find a path that would lead me to fulfilling all that I wanted and was always “too busy” to do.
I was not yet brave enough to announce my life list. It wasn’t that I was worried about someone thinking my list items were crazy. I knew some of them were, but that most of them were things that I think many people would love to do. It was merely a commitment issue on my part… a fear that I would announce this list of goals and then accomplish none of them.

I had talked about different ideas with Brad… different thoughts about how to incorporate these plans into my blog. Everything seemed so daunting and so risky. I felt like I would HAVE to do the things on my list if I posted them, as if someone out there was holding me accountable. And, while I was terrified of that accountability, I loved the way it made me feel like I would actually accomplish those items. Yet, I still couldn’t commit.
And, then, one day, I picked one thing on the list. I woke up and looked at Brad and told him I was going to train for a triathlon.

Yes, he laughed out loud, too. I had never run so much as a mile in my adult life. I had never swum more than the full length of an Olympic-sized pool (and don’t ask Cilla about our lifeguarding class that we dropped out of nearly immediately in college). I didn’t even own a bike.

And, I was going to train for a triathlon. My poor husband… he tried to be patient and understanding, but I’m pretty sure that he was at a loss for words when I made this declaration. Brad, trying to be the supportive husband and not completely discourage me, suggested that I train for a 5K first. Then, progress on if I enjoyed running.

So, I announced it on my blog. I was going to train for a 5K. A non-runner, strictly speaking, was going to start something new. I downloaded the Couch to 5K program and started working.

Immediately, I fell in love. I loved it all… the burning feeling in my legs and chest, the quietness and aloneness that I rarely had elsewhere, the sound of decade-old music coming from Brad’s outdated mp3 player, and the feeling that I truly was going to accomplish something new. I loved it. I became obsessed with it.

And blogging about it made me feel even better. Every time I started to skip a day, I remembered that I needed to do it because someone might be reading my blog and would be disappointed if I couldn’t finish the 5K. It truly did hold me accountable. Blogging about it made me want to do it more. (Thank you people... I love you again!)

How it Changed Me

I can’t even begin to describe the feeling I had the day I crossed the finish line on my first 5K. It was at Buffalo Trace in Frankfort and Rebecca and I ran it together. It was great. It gave me a high that no drug could ever provide… it made me feel full and alive… and happy. It was my drug - adrenaline… accomplishment… strength… whatever you want to name it, running had given me this new desire and love for life. As soon as I finished the race, I was plotting my next move… thinking about how I wanted to get faster and go farther. Yes. Running became a part of me… it became a passion.

And it really kick started my list. The high I got from accomplishing that one list item pushed me into full speed overdrive to work on the list. I became more confident about my list. I felt like blogging about it was THE way to make me do the items on my list… THE way to make me live the life I wanted to live. So, I did it.

I announced my life list… and I started working on things on the list… marking off some small things, marking off some bigger things, just focusing on finding ways to stop procrastinating all that I had wanted to do with my life… and just DO IT.

How I Struggled

Running wasn’t easy for me. As Dawn alluded to in her post about starting out running, 
there are times when you shouldn’t push yourself too far, too fast, or you will get injured. I have weak ankles. Anyone who knows me from my childhood is probably laughing reading that, as I’m sure they remember me being on homebound from school for over a month in the sixth grade. Not only did a tear a ligament in my left ankle while in gymnastics, as it was healing, I thought it would be a great idea to jump on a trampoline with my cousins, and chipped a bone in my right ankle… all resulting in me having two weak ankles that have been sprained way too many times to count over the years. :) Combine that with my inability to be patient or stick to a training plan, and well, you get injured Andrea…. On repeat.  I struggled with ankle problems throughout the summer.

Once I was ready to really run again, I started having stomach problems, which resulted in a gallbladder surgery. I was frustrated. I felt like every time I would get into a rhythm, I’d hit a roadblock. But sometimes, you can find the silver lining if you look for it. While doing some bloodwork for my gallbladder, the doctors discovered that I am positive forSjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that is similar to Lupus, but not typically as debilitating. I am barely positive. The doctors say I could have it without symptoms, it could be a false positive, or I could start having symptoms at any point. When I learned this, I was afraid. Naturally, no one wants to hear that they could have a disease, no matter how life-altering it might or might not be. I started reading (of course, on Google) and learned a lot about it. I’m still learning about it. Many people don’t have symptoms until they are much older… and some of the worst of the symptoms include increased fatigue and exhaustion.

Fear can drive a lot of things… and it probably plays way too large of a role in my life, but in this one instance, I think it’s a good thing. It gave me a shock. It was as if someone said, “Hey… one day, if you really do have this disease, you might not be able to run. You might not be able to enjoy a lot of the things you love in life.” And, you know, it doesn’t matter if it is Sjogren’s or breast cancer (yes, I’m high risk there too) or if it is no disease at all, there WILL come a time in life when I might not be able to do the things I love. And that includes running. Where is that silver lining I was talking about? It is in the realization that I’m blessed to be able to do the things I love… to have a family who supports that… to have a life that is full… full of love, happiness, family, friends… to have my cup running over.

The Half

With that all on my mind and in my heart, I just about jumped out of my chair in excitement when Dawn, my friend who I met only because of running and blogging and through my best friend, Cilla, e-mailed me and asked if I would want to do the Country Music (Half) Marathon in Nashville in April. Heck yes.  A girls’ weekend… a great run to train for… NASHVILLE – a town I have wanted to visit my entire life (have I mentioned that I lived on the Country Music Highway in Kentucky growing up… and I LOVE country music?). :) Absolute and unequivocal yes, I will train for the half marathon in Nashville.
Digging up a training plan online, planning out our trip, figuring out my schedule and how to incorporate it into Brad’s  and the kids’ busy schedules… all of this had to be done. And, it was. I had it all planned out… and the plan was going great. Then, in March, I started having foot problems. A little more than a month from the race… I was running 10 miles on my long run… almost completely ready for Nashville… and I have a metatarsal stress fracture in my left foot.

Humph.  The doctor tells me I must take time off… and to basically consider myself out of training mode. He said I might be able to run some of it, but not likely that I’ll be able to run the entire half in Nashville, if any of it at all. He tells me to prepare for the possibility of being out.

Depression. Anger. Frustration. Anger.

Three solid months of training… hard training… missing time with my kids kind of training. Gone.

Then, on April 11, I went back to the doctor. I had coped with the idea of being disappointed. He tells me I can ease back into running, but to not consider myself ready for the half… to make sure that I walk as much as I run. Of course, he knows I’m probably not going to adhere to that, so he gives me instructions on how to train so that I can actually finish the half (as well as possible, anyway). I had virtually given up on the hope that I might be able to run some of it. I had even contemplated not walking or running any of it at all, but just going down to the race and being a spectator for Dawn and Maria. And, there I sat, hearing the doctor give me news that I *might* be able to do some of this. I listened (kind of :) ) and now I’m ready. Well, I hope I’m ready. I’m as ready as I’m going to be. I want to finish this without walking so bad. I mean, to do this would make me feel so gratified in all of that work. BUT… I’m not going to be disappointed about whatever my finishing time is or if I have to walk for portions of it. I’m just going to enjoy it, have fun, and realize that I’m blessed to be there and able to run as much as I can.

Why Run…

… because it makes me feel alive, strong, confident, and happy…

… because one day my kids will think it’s pretty awesome that their mom could run 13.1 
miles (or in the translation I give to them these days – from Mamaw Kathy’s to Granny Dale’s house – a completely rough estimate)…

… because I have worked so hard to get here and I don’t want to turn back…

… and, because I can.

Tomorrow – Saturday, April 30 – at 7 a.m. Central Time (8 a.m. Eastern Time), send some positive vibes our way. :) Dawn, Maria, and I will all be running, alongside 30,000 of our closest friends (hehe) in Nashville, Tennessee. And, while you are at it, hope for some good cool, DRY, weather for us, too!

And, while I’m at it, thanks to Dawn and Maria for pulling me through all of the struggles of training for this half. There’s no way I’d be nearly this excited or positive or ready without you girls! Oh… and thanks to Brad for putting up with me, too. I know he’s had to listen to a lot of whining when he didn’t really want to. :) Well, that really goes for Cilla, my parents, my brother, basically anyone who has talked to me over the past month and a half. Lol. I promise to stop whining so much in May. Hehe.

We will post our results on Facebook and give you a little wrap up of our time away next week! Fingers crossed!

Easter and Brad's Birthday

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Well, I said I was back to blogging, but I haven't blogged. :) Brad has lectured and admonished me for it. Now, I'm sitting up and getting this post done while he is cozy and warm in the bed. Hmmm... how is that fair? :)

This weekend was jam packed with fun times, including a wonderful Easter and my hubby's 30th birthday. No, we didn't have a party, so don't get your feelings hurt that you weren't invited. :) Jake and Bailey were pretty peeved about it and were not happy to find out that we weren't having a superhero or princess bash. But, they calmed down pretty quickly when they found out that Easter was on the same day and they'd still get Easter baskets filled with goodies... it would be close enough to birthday gifts, right?! 

Honestly, this weekend was quite enjoyable because it was pretty low key. Well, except that the storms that raged across the country kept coming through our part of the world and wreaking havoc on my sleep schedule. :) But, oh well, such is life. 

We spent our Saturday at church at the Easter Eggs-travaganza they had planned. It was a carnival-style event, complete with an inflatable, cupcake walk, and the Easter bunny. But don't worry too much. It wasn't all commercialized. :) My absolute favorite part of the event was that they took the effort to make sure that every child understood the story of Jesus' resurrection. Upon entering, the children were given a large Easter egg and a slip of paper with a list of items on it. The items included a crown of thorns, a cross, and an empty Easter egg (there were more, I just can't recall them all off the top of my head). The kids had to go around to people in the gym and "find" the items. Once they had them all, they could jump in the inflatable. It was great to see the adults taking the time to not only give the kids their items, but talk to them about what they stood for. I loved it... it was fun and educational. 

I have to say that it was quite interesting that our church did this scavenger hunt. Apparently, they are on the same listserv as Jake's preschool, because he also came home with a basket of eggs, all of them including something about the story of Jesus inside of them. Again, I love... especially because Jake told me every item and what it stood for without me asking. He is fascinated by the story of Jesus and "the bad guys." He impressed me so much when he came home last Wednesday, telling me about the play they had seen at school. He said, "Mom... I saw a pway (or movie, since he told me three different times and called it a movie too) at school about Jesus. The bad guys put nails in his hands and stuck him on the cross. Then, he died. And they moved the rock... and he was gone. He was still alive." Of course, he doesn't entirely understand the resurrection, but he was fascinated. My heart melted... he kept telling me how he loves chapel. He might not care about learning his ABCs, but he sure does love the story of Jesus. Gush. 

On Easter morning, the Easter bunny had left goodies for the kids. They enjoyed a DS game, lots of candy, some cheapy books, bubbles, and tattoos. We colored Easter eggs. But, we didn't make it to church, despite our attempt to get moving and ready on time, but we did have our own little "service" at home. We read the story of Jesus and talked about Easter. We talked about how God gave his son for the world... and how we hoped that we would never have to make such a terrible sacrifice. Bailey, who knows the story of Jesus, still seemed shocked by it. And, I loved that. She, like us, just cannot comprehend how the people who saw Jesus work his miracles could not believe the He was God's son. It seems like it would have been so easy to be faithful and believing in those times... but then again, God gives us the miracle of life daily... and we still find ways to take it for granted. :) 

Speaking of the miracle of life... my husband turned 30 on Easter, which pleased me greatly. :) Now, I can stop hearing about how ancient I am. :) 

We had dinner at Asuka on Sunday to celebrate both Brad's birthday and Easter. Yay for birthdays!!! No cooking! :) And, thank God for my husband and another year to celebrate together. Love you babe... and hope you had a great birthday. 

And, for the moment you've all been waiting for... 

Easter outfit pictures! :) 

I couldn't pick. So, be warned... there are several. :) The kids were really enjoying playing it up for the camera, so I took full advantage. And, I loved that I have a new bench (made by my hubby) for the kids to sit on at our kitchen table! :)



Hope you all had a wonderful Easter, too! I'll be posting more on Friday, about my upcoming trip to Nashville for the half marathon... :) "Talk" to you again soon! :)

Busy, Proud, and Growing Kids...

Monday, April 18, 2011
Well, I have avoided blogging, because I promised to post Jake's birthday post from Our Cups Runneth Over on here... and well, to be honest, I just have avoided it because it will take away my precious time. 

So, I'm going to be bad... and ask that if you really want to read it, you check it out here. :) Sorry for the inconvenience. Maybe I'll re-post it later this week... but I don't want to promise to. 

Instead of blogging, I have basically avoided the computer altogether. As in, today, I checked my e-mail and saw that I had over 200 e-mails that were unread. :) Yes... Junk email rocks. 

That just goes to show you that I haven't spent much time on the computer, though. Instead, we have had a very full and wonderful weekend (plus today). 

Saturday started out as a rainy mess. I was just wishing we didn't have to get out of bed. But, Brad was already up and at 'em at 7 a.m., heading to the t-ball field to help prepare it for a day's worth of games. Our game wasn't scheduled until 11:30. He spent the entire morning, along with some other coaches, at the field. We played at around 12:30... in the mud and cold and a few drizzles of rain. So, I didn't take pictures. :( Sorry. Next time... 

However, I have to brag. Jake played so well (I mean, as well as he does at this age). He didn't argue with Brad in the outfield. He didn't try to leave the outfield. No, he wasn't entirely happy about playing, especially as cool as it was and as wet as it was, but he stuck it out. AND, to make things even better, he had a good hit and scored a run. We hadn't even expected him to get to second base this season (mainly because he doesn't always listen to the coach when he's running from one base to another). :) So, yay for Jake! 

And, Bailey... she played very well, too. She got two hits, scored two runs, and got to play second base for an inning. She did a good job when she was paying attention and seemed pretty happy that she got to play in the infield. :) 

After the game, we took our freezing toes and hands home and ate some lunch... took some hot showers... and got ready for a party. One of our best friends, Bret (aka the villain at Jake's party) was celebrating his birthday with a crab boil and tons of delicious food and wonderful company. We spent the entire evening having fun with our friends, laughing, straining to hear each other over all of the fun, and watching as Bailey and Jake quickly captured the attention of the other kids at the party, in hopes of bringing them all out of their "shells." Again, I was proud of them. We only had to get onto them a couple of times for yelling or running through the house (it's a habit at Bret and Cilla's). And, they quickly made their way into the hearts of some (kind of) new friends by showing their sweet little personalities. We didn't make it home until after midnight, with two sleeping kiddos... 

... which meant a morning of sleeping in! :) Well, sort of... we slept until 9 or so... which is definitely sleeping in for us. :) 

Brad got up and got us breakfast. Then, Bailey and I had girl time while Daddy and Jake went to Home Depot. Bailey and I got our hair cut and then we went to King's Gardens to buy vegetable plants for our garden. It was a beautiful day... and we wanted to spend it all outside. And, we did. Our garden is nearly all planted. A new garden having been cleaned out for this year (translation: me digging out weeds and grass with a rake and shovel... oh my aching back). :) I'm hoping for tomatoes... strawberries... peppers... cucumbers... watermelon... cantaloupe... and a nice big patch of spices. 

Before the end of the day yesterday, I made time to go on a run. I made it 5 miles. YAY! Or BOO! I don't know at this point. I should be running twice that (at least) for the training for a half marathon. However, I'm pretty pumped to be running... so I'll just leave it at that. And, for the record, I have walked some during my runs... so I won't be over-doing it (as tempting as it might be). 

Do you think I was exhausted after that weekend? :) 

Time stops for no man or woman. 

Jake and Bailey had their check-ups at the doctor's office. Other than the 4 shots Jake received and the 1 shot that Bailey received (ugh), the visits were great. Bailey is in the 90th percentile for height and weight (48.5 inches and 54 pounds). She's perfectly healthy, happy, and ahead of the game. Jake is in the 50th percentile for height and weight (40.5 inches and 32 pounds). With the exception of needing more iron (no surprise there), he is perfectly healthy, too. The doctor commented that he was speaking more clearly and said he looks great. I had mentioned his stubbornness... she had laughed. Then, she  got to see him in all his glory when he would not stop crying about the shots. He actually wouldn't say much of anything to the doctor prior to the shots, other than, "I don't want a shot." Repeatedly. :) Bailey, on the other hand, was trying to tell Jake it wouldn't be any big deal and that it wouldn't hurt (after scaring him to death all morning by making fun of him for having to have them). And, then she was surprised to learn that she, too, would get a shot. Funny how she changed her tune so quickly after she knew that. Haha. I'm sure the doctor thought I was terrible when I teased her and told her that she deserved it for giving Jake such a hard time about it all day. :) 

And now you know why there are no pictures on today's post... :) We have been so busy living life, I haven't taken time to capture it. I probably should have taken the time... made the time... but oh well...  :) Such is life. 


Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Well, my blogging on here lately has been sporadic at best, which is exactly what I feel like everything else in life has been like, too! One foot in this door and one foot in another... my head at one place and my body in another. Just crazy busy, in so many wonderful ways... overwhelmed feeling in so many bad ways. :)

But, today, I feel like I am finally back to being a normal person again.

For the moment, anyway. :)

I am back.

I am back to running. Woo Hoo! The doctor released me to do some running. Notice I'm saying some running. He doesn't exactly think it is a good idea for me to run the half marathon on the 30th, but he also figured that I wouldn't take that advice. So, he gave me some useful advice for when I do try to run it. Basically, he told me how to ease back into training... and told me not to run any really long runs before the half... and just to try and go out and do it without the long run before. Well, that just totally makes me a nervous wreck... but it also makes me a very happy runner... mainly because I'll be running SOME. Last night was my first night back at it... and it felt great. Not completely pain-free, but great nonetheless.

I am back to feeling like I have a somewhat normal life, now that the kids' birthday parties are planned, Spring Break schedules have ceased and returned to a normal routine, and I'm able to see a few days on my calendar that involve nothing more than dinner and a movie or some time hanging out with the kids. Too bad that time is in July. Haha. I am only teasing.

I am back to seeing more clearly. Literally. About two weeks ago, we had a little scare where I couldn't really see out of my left eye (it was blurry and I saw black spots). After a rushed visit to the ER, it was determined that there are no brain tumors, signs of a stroke, or blood clots in my head, so THANK GOD. :) However, I did have to get glasses and, despite the headaches they cause, they seem to be helping some. And, the black spots are pretty much all gone now.

I am back to working on my list. I had to kind of ignore it for a while... not because I wanted to, but because I had to in order to get other things done. I was reminded of how much I love my list and the feeling it gives me when I marked off teaching Bailey to tie her shoes. And, I'm ready to do more. :)

I am back to feeling like a regular person again. So, beware... more blogging will ensue. :)

And to prove my point... I am going to be reposting about Jake's party and his love for superheroes on here this week. You can already read them here and here.

Her Tied Shoes...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
On the Friday before Spring Break, Bailey came home to announce that she had to learn to tie her shoes before she came back to school. This presented a slight challenge, since her only shoes with laces are cleats and she was going to spend most of her break with family. Not that they couldn't teach her, but it wasn't their responsibility to, either. 

I was kind of stuck between trying to figure out how to handle this for her and trying to plan Jake's birthday party. And, unfortunately for Bailey, I just really didn't have time to work with her on it until Sunday after the party. 

She and I had worked on it several different times throughout the past few months, but she would get frustrated with her inability and would just give up after a few tries each time. I kind of figured that is how it would go... and that she would eventually "get it" without too much worrying. 

She did. 

Sunday night, as I sat exhausted from the party, we practiced. Within five minutes of sitting down, she had it. She was so thrilled. She was going to go back to school knowing how to tie her shoes. She was thrilled. 

And so was I... my big girl continues growing. She keeps learning... and this time, she helped me mark one more thing off of my list. 


Monday, April 11, 2011
It's hard to believe that four years have passed since my baby boy was born. In some ways, he still feels like a baby to me... and I think he always will. :) Saturday was his birthday... and this post was mostly done then... but things got hectic... and I was swamped in capes and more capes... so I'm just now posting. Shh... don't tell him. hehe. 

Dear Jake,

How did it happen? How did the past four years fly by? I feel like you are still two years old and have only been for a few minutes... like your second birthday party was just yesterday. And, yet, here we are... another year under your belt. Maybe I feel like you are still so young because you haven't grown much in the past two years. Oh, you are taller and more muscular and more like a big boy in so many ways, but you've gained all of 8 pounds since you were 9 months old. Yes, I am in a panic about what the doctor is going to say at your check-up next week. :)

Jake when he was just an infant... This photo taken by www.priscillabphotography.com
Watching you grow over the past year has been amazing. You are talking so much more clearer than you were last year at this time. As a matter of fact, I found this post from last April, talking about my concerns with your development. Remind me when you are older that I have to remember one thing about you... in everything you do... you do it at your own pace, in your own way. You still mumble sometimes and you still stutter when your mind is working faster than your mouth. It's adorable. And, there are still things that you say that I get confused about. For instance, you were so mad at me a few weeks ago when you pointed to a car dealership and kept telling me it was "Chick-Fil-A." I mean, by the end of the conversation, you were screaming, red-faced, mad and crying. I just thought you were tired and ignored you. Well, as it turns out, you came in a few days later and pointed to a commercial on TV and said, "That's a Chevrolet." Hmmm. You weren't telling me the car dealership was a Chick-Fil-A at all. It just sounded like that. I apologized. I really did. :)

You are still obsessed with superheroes. As a matter of fact, you are so obsessed with them that we had a full blown superhero party for you on Sunday. You loved it so. You kept telling me as we were getting ready for bed that you were so happy because your birthday was great... and that you couldn't wait for the next one. I, on the other hand, was exhausted and not so interested in that other year passing by too quickly. :) We have learned that we shouldn't worry so much about your obsession with the superheroes. You can and do regularly have conversations about other things. Instead, we now embrace all of your superhero love and we look for ways to use it to our advantage. You love to eat salad because Superman eats it to be strong (you don't really like it, I don't think). You still don't love milk, but will drink it when reminded about being tough like a superhero. :) We love superheroes, too. As a matter of fact, I feel like I'm becoming quite the expert on superheroes... it's like a whole new genre of popular culture has been opened up to me. At just the young age of four, you have already taught me so much... like how to stand up to bad guys. :)

Photo by www.priscillabphotography.com

Photo by www.priscillabphotography.com

Since you turned three, you have definitely become a little boy. You are no longer the little toddler that is happy to sit in a stroller at the mall. No, you are a full-fledged little boy now. You love to dig in the dirt, making mud pies in our yard. You can spend hours entertaining yourself with your good guy/bad guy toys, playing out scenes from your favorite movies or just letting them beat each other up. You love the "jumpoline" as you call it and will spend hours upon hours begging your dad to come jump with you so that he can super-bounce you or show off doing flips. :)

You have started playing sports. It has been interesting. We started you with three-year old kick start soccer. Daddy and Paul coached your (and Joseph's) team. You guys were so cute. But, as we are again reminded, you do things at your own pace, in your own way. I worry that you will one day be labeled as uncoachable, because you are so stubborn. But, you are coming along. You played basketball this winter and you are playing t-ball this spring. You always say you want to sign up... and you always have fun once you get there... but when we say we have practice for anything, you automatically start telling me that you are sick or that you don't want to go. Most times, you just flat out don't listen to your dad (and I get really mad about that and have to look like the mean mommy at all of the practices). You are always the young kid on the team... I think that plays a big part in why you act the way you do.

A lot of people, I'm sure, wonder why we push you to do sports. If you wonder when you get older, then understand now. :) You can be insecure. It takes you a long time to warm up to things. We started you in preschool in September. You cried every single morning until around November. Then, it was like a switch went off and you were fine. You started loving school... loving your friends... loving your teachers. You had to take the time to get adjusted. Being involved in activities where people support you and love you and tell you how great you are doing is only going to make you more confident. I don't care if you run to third base after you hit the ball every single time (thankfully, you don't do that)... I just want you to feel secure... to feel comfortable with who you are. I worry myself sick when I see you wring your hands. I hate to see you nervous. I hate to see you stand back and wait to make a new friend. But, it is who you are. And, while it bothers me because I don't want you to ever feel insecure, I know that you come around to everything, in your own time, in your own way. And, so patiently, we try to push you gently into being comfortable and confident, reminding you of how awesome you are at every chance.

Your sweet disposition is something that everyone notices. Everyone. I can't send you anywhere without someone saying, "He is so sweet." I love it, too. You will cuddle up to me on the couch and give me a big kiss and tell me you love me for no reason at all. You notice all of the beautiful things in the world. I will never look at a beautiful sky without thinking about how much you would love it... I kind of wonder if you will grow up to be a pilot because you talk about the sky so much (it could just be the superhero flying fascination, though). :) You notice people's light fixtures, which is hilarious to me because I notice them, too. You compliment people... you will find a way to make someone else feel good, even if you aren't sure how. I've seen you compliment your friends' socks before. Seriously? What 4-year old notices socks? You do. I love that you are so giving with your friends and that you miss them as soon as they leave. I worry that you will never learn to stand up for yourself... I saw a kid in your class shove a stuffed animal in your face so hard that it shoved your head backwards and you didn't say a word. It made me so mad that I almost came over to you to make you tell him to stop, but I didn't. When I told you after the class that you should stop him (yes, I will admit that I told you to punch him if he won't listen), you told me that it was not nice to hit. Ugh. I know that, Jake. But, seriously, you can't let kids pick on you. Then, one day, you decided that Jackson and Joseph had gone too far and you went ballistic on them, screaming your head off that you were "pissed off." So, maybe I shouldn't worry so much... maybe your wick is just a little longer than mommy's.  :)

I love that you enjoy going on dates with me and that you still prefer me over anyone else in the world. I know it won't last. I know my time as the "queen" of your life will come to an end sooner than I want. I dread it. I'm enjoying every second of it now, which is probably a contributing factor to why you are so babied. :) You are 4 and you rarely will dress yourself. You know how... but you won't. You expect me to do it. Yes, I am embarassed to admit that on here. :) You love Mondays and Fridays, because I don't work on those days and Bailey goes to school. It's just me and you. You almost always wake up happy on those mornings, ready for a pop tart, orange juice, and a new hand-picked show from Netflix on the X-Box. Typically, it's one of your favorite 10 superhero movies that you've seen 100 times. You want me to cuddle with you while you eat your breakfast. Then, while I race around the house trying to do as much as possible in one day, you play with your toys. You love your home. If Bailey asks who you are going to marry when you get older, you respond with "mommy." She has argued with you (to the point of fist-fighting) that I am already married to daddy, but you don't care. You are going to marry me. hehe. It's nice to know that you love me so. And, you are still my baby. You still want me to hug you and hold you and baby you, just like I did when you were a baby. You will even crawl in my lap and let me rock you sometimes. See... it's easy to see why I view you as this little baby. :)

You love your daddy, too. You guys have done so much together over the past year... just guys. I love to see that. It melts my heart. I love to see you go to football games or golfing or fishing together. You talk about those times all the time. I love that you value that already... and that you know how much your daddy loves you. You idolize how big and strong he is and how he can fix anything. If you only knew how much you are already like your dad. You already have his habits... and I'm pretty sure it really is genetic. As soon as I say it's time to clean, you sneak away unnoticed, just like daddy. :) You are stubborn and won't apologize unless forced... and then you hate it. You can tell you don't mean it most of the time... your dad is the same way. But, there are good things too... :) You are very easy-going, laid-back, and along for the ride. You are content... always content, just like your dad. You can always find the good in people and always have a good sense of humor. Well, unless it's early in the morning... then beware. That, I'm afraid, you got from me. :)

Bailey is by far your best friend... and always will be. You wake up and ask about her... we drop her off at school and you miss her. I love that. You also have some pretty awesome friends named Jackson, Joseph, and Carson that you talk about all the time. I hope you guys will be best buddies forever... and that you'll add in little Steffan (Cilla's baby boy) when he gets here. I love that you love babies... and you are so sweet and gentle with them. Carson is 15 months old (I think) and you treat him like a newborn, always being so easy to hug on him or squeeze his cheeks. I am sure the day is coming when he is going to get sick of it and knock you out. :) And, when he does, I hope you are just as sweet and gentle as you are right now.

The past four years have been amazing... and I wouldn't trade you for any other little boy in the world. Yes, I would love it if you were more helpful or more independent sometimes or even just less hateful at 7 a.m., but there isn't a boy in the world that has the same sweetness, the same stubbornness, and the same silly sense of humor. You, my boy, are my favorite superhero... and I know that that is the biggest compliment that I could ever give you. :) 

I love you my little man... stay mommy's little boy, please. :) 


The Lost Letters... :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Do you all feel like I've forgotten my blog? 

Well, I haven't. I'm still here. 

A little blinder than I was the last time I blogged, but here nonetheless! :) 

It's a long story... and it's not one I want to focus on tonight. Just know that I'm wearing glasses for the first time in my life. Hopefully it isn't permanent, but we shall see (no pun intended)

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I ran across some interesting ramblings that I had typed up on my computer prior to my blog. It is funny how I was blogging before I was officially "blogging." These particular ramblings were about Jake... all about Jake. You see, when Bailey was born, I kept a journal. I wrote everything in it. It wasn't a baby book, necessarily, but more like notes on everything... different things going on in my life, different things about Bailey, different things about Brad. It was all hand-written. And, I still have it... 

... and then... along came Jake... and along came all of my fears of being the mom that doesn't take pictures of the second child until he starts school. I knew that life would be busier, but I swore to myself that I wouldn't let life get in the way of documenting the various things going on in our lives for our kids to read later. Again, it's funny how things work out... and how I knew I wanted to blog before I ever "blogged." 

I sat down when Jake was a baby and typed up some notes for him on our computer. And, naturally, I forgot them. 

Jake turns 4 on Saturday. I have so many cute posts to do to celebrate his birthday. And, I most definitely will be doing one like I did for Bailey a few weeks ago. But, until then, I thought it would be fun to share my letter to him when he was just a mere 9 months old. I might add that he is only 10 pounds heavier than he was then. Ugh. I hope the doctor doesn't give us too much of a hard time when we go back next week! 

To my baby boy... 

July 10, 2007

Three months after your birth and I’m just now writing about it all. I couldn’t put into writing how guilty I feel for not creating more time and sitting down to write about everything for you. Bailey was the first child and when she napped, I took the time to write about everything. With you, well, Bailey is two. :) So, my hands have been a little fuller!

Now, I’m taking the time, so I’m going to move past the apologies that I will always owe you for not being able to do everything.

The day you were born was one of the greatest days of my life. It was April 9, 2007. My pregnancy had been great – not a problem the entire time… I worked through all of it, feeling great until the week before. I started having intermittent contractions that week and figured it would not be much longer. The doctor had already decided to induce labor on the 9th, so it was just a matter of waiting. The day finally arrived. Mamaw Kathy had come down to watch Bailey the night before. Daddy and I got up early and arrived at the hospital at 6 a.m. They admitted me and started the medicine I needed at about 7. Most of the day was quiet. Daddy and I played cards until Big Poppa and Mimi arrived. Then, we hung out and talked with them. At about 11, I asked for an epidural to help reduce the pain. You were taking your time and I was just hanging out with everyone. A little while later, the nurse came in and turned down the medicine that was helping you come along. Apparently, you were having a hard time when the contractions were going and they wanted to make sure everything was OK. I continued having contractions, regardless of the fact that I wasn’t being pushed by medicine. It only took a matter of time before they said you were on your way soon. At about 4:00, the doctors came in. I knew you would arrive soon. At 4:25, you were born. Your arm was stuck around your neck, so you had been strangling yourself when I had contractions. I guess you had just grown accustomed to laying with your arm over your head… you continued to do that after you were born.

I couldn’t believe how beautiful you were and how much smaller you were than I expected you to be. You reminded me so much of your sister. Daddy could not have been prouder. He just kept smiling and looking at you. I only got to hold you for a minute before they took you to clean you up and make sure you were OK. You were having some trouble breathing and crying. The nurses scared me because they kept saying that you didn’t sound good. I couldn't help but start crying. I was so in love with you and so terrified that something could be wrong. I made your daddy go with you to the nursery to make sure you were OK. When they took you, everyone was gone and I was left all alone, crying. Fortunately, Mimi came in and talked to me. She assured me that you were healthy and that everything would be fine. Everyone was so excited to see you. Bailey was telling everyone about her brother. They were all looking at you through the nursery window and watching you get your first bath. It was so nice to know that everyone was there with you. Mamaw Kathy, Mimi, Bailey and Daddy stayed with you while they made sure you were OK.

It seemed like it took so long before the nurses brought you back to see me. I was so upset because all I wanted to do was hold you and feed you. Finally, at about 9 p.m., Mimi and Daddy made them bring you to me. I held you and rocked you. It was so nice to finally get to see you and love you. Bailey was so thrilled to see you too. She sat in my lap and helped me hold you. She was so excited about “Jakey.” She held you on the couch and we took your first picture…

Later that night, you cuddled up to me and went to sleep. I held you while you slept for a long time.

You were the sweetest baby… and I could tell you were going to be big. You ate so much! The nurses were all so surprised that you ate a 4 ounce bottle! You slept so much. I was so impressed by how sweet and quiet you were… and by how much you looked like your uncles Cory and Colt.

We brought you home on Wednesday (you were born on a Monday). It was great to finally be home with you and Bailey.

I guess that’s when it started getting pretty busy though! I couldn’t keep up with everything I wanted to do to mark and highlight your little life. I could see that I was going to be the mom that I didn’t want to be… the one that didn’t take enough photos of the second child and the one that never finished the baby book.

This is my attempt to work on it! I know I will have a hard time finding a way to record it all, but I will do everything I can. The most important thing is that you know how much I love you. My biggest fear is that you (and Bailey) would lose me before you should and you wouldn’t know how much you mean to me. I couldn’t put into words how much I love you and your sister. Since the days that both of you were born, I have been a mommy first and everything else last. All I want in life is to see you grow into strong people, who love with all your hearts, who give to those in need, and appreciate the small things in life. I want you both to find true happiness. More than anything, I want you both to always know that your daddy and I will always be there for you… we will always love you more than our own lives.

I will try… I promise… to write more to you and your sister so that you can look back and know about your childhood… the special things you did that made me laugh and cry… the special ways that you made me the most blessed woman on the face of the earth. J

I love you, my baby boy.