Birthday Weekend

We took off to Bellingham on Friday, as soon as the ink was dried on my new drivers license, and spent the afternoon tracing our old roots, before we headed to see Ben Folds.  We moved up to Bellingham in 1997, soon after we started dating, and laid down some roots while we were there.  Bellingham is where we became a married couple, where we found Martha, where we figured out to be homeowners and remodelers, where we learned to grieve a lost baby and, later, give birth to our family.  Bellingham is where I decided to become a teacher.  It’s where we figured out that Bradley should be our stay at home while I should support our family with my job.

But Ben Folds?  Holy cannoli.  I’ve long loved Ben’s funny mix of off the wall hilarity with deep sentimentalism and sensitivity.  I like how he sprinkles swears throughout his songs making me grasp my pearls.  I like his stroytelling.  I like the way he describes situations with metaphor and story rather than just saying it:

Next door, there’s an old man who lived to his 90’s
And one day, passed away in his sleep
And his wife, she stayed for a couple of days
And passed away
I’m sorry, I know that’s a strange way
To tell you that I know we belong
That I know that I am
I am, I am the luckiest

Who doesn’t want to be a part of that couple, I ask you?  The show was just amazing.  It was literally just him and the baby grand on the stage for two and a half hours.  For the second half of the show we were invited to write our song requests on a paper airplane to throw it onstage.  This prompted a lovely second half full of wonder and explanations and backgrounds of songs from Ben.  As it was a season ticket option for the regulars, Ben had to explain a few songs and allow for leaving if needed, but my kids sat through it all.  Toward the end, I was worried that the kids were bored from the length, but I heard Jude exclaim how much he loved Ben Folds and Gigi was sitting next to me singing along.  Fantastic.  Even through the marvelously horrible and cringeworthy B*tches Ain’t Sh*t.  Sit next to your kid through that for a growing experience…  aiyiyi!  I tell you!  It paralleled my New Kids experience, which Ben would hate to hear, but I thought it was interesting that the two shows could exist in such a similar space even though the product is so different.  But holy cow if Ben Folds isn’t just an amazing musician and songwriter.  I’m obsessed with all of his albums again.  

On my actual birthday I was lazy!  I opened some presents, did some crafts, went to Target and Ross to exchange a few gifts then home for a delicious eclair, love, snuggles and of course my birthday wish.  I’ve wished for the exact same thing every year since I started my body project.  So far so good and the wish magic seems to still be working.  I wanted to try a run but decided to hold off for a while longer.  Our busy day left me a little sore yesterday as we walked the streets, revisited three different trails, danced at a concert and visited the old Kobs Farm.  It seemed appropriate to skip it for one more weekend.  

Today we made up for all the playing we did all weekend.  We cleaned house, we cooked the meals for the week, planned outfits and carved pumpkins.  I’m ready for the week…  I think.  Keep me in your thoughts.  As my boss said:

2016 has been ok for me, but a Monday Halloween is difficult when you’re a teacher.  I almost added ‘of second graders’ but I think even high school teachers have a tough go of Halloween!!!

And…  Scene!

A few nights ago we were discussing birthdays.  Specifically, mine and Guinevere’s as we share the blessed month of October as our birth month.  Guinevere and I are making a super duper cool Harry Potter themed planner for her to use for the remainder of the school year.  For this, we need a color printer, so in July I started campaigning for one.  They’re cheap, often free, the ink being the most expensive part to purchase…  I hinted…  I waited…  and finally I kind of blew my gasket. I spat at him that I couldn’t make my gift for her, as I had no printer.  He asked, kindly, if I would like an early birthday gift to which I saucily retorted that I would not, if it were a printer.  A printer is like a vacuum cleaner, and who wants an appliance for a birthday gift?  It stung in that way that stung me as deeply as him and I instantly regretted being so needlessly nasty.  He shyly told me that one would be on my doorstep in three or four days time if I wanted it and I suddenly thought of a million projects I’m dying to do, which need a color printer.  Like these candles.  I’m so making a set of these when my color printer gets here.  For my birthday.  I apologized and confessed my fantasy printer life and things returned to happy normal Lj life.

Tonight I turned and asked him if the Bowflex is accessible in the garage.  It’s been off limits to me for weeks because my birthday is lurking somewhere in there.  I thought we could throw a sheet over whatever it is and I could start working on my arms, shoulders, back and chest.  He asked me if I wanted an early birthday gift and, with stars in my eyes, I suddenly realized he was hinting that he had purchased a free weights set!  He looked back at me, baffled, and said, “My wife.  Who is this woman?  A printer is an appliance, but free weights are a gift?!”  Nope.  He was just offering to rid me of the inconvenience of my gifts sitting in the garage/spaceship/workout space and was allowing an early birthday.  I opted to find a different workout, for now, and a surprise, come 10/29, thankyouverymuch.  But, HA HA HA!

Life is a Carnival

This weekend I took my favorite Pokémon trainer and 11th Doctor (from Dr. Who, of course) to my school carnival. I tried to be a deer and, while I think I really rocked my makeup, it was hard to tell if I was a squirrel, deer or lion. I suppose I’m a ‘squeerion’. He he he! Nonetheless, we had an excellent time helping kids make beaches in bottles, touring the local haunted hallway and running around like a kid is supposed to after eating too much sugar and having more freedom than usual. It was a great night! And I promise I wasn’t trying to be overly serious, I looked like a dog when I smiled! Too confusing!  Look:


Today I was working away in my kitchen, making my evening meals for the week, considering why it is that I’ve been able to maintain my weight without really paying a lot of attention to it.  In fact, I’ve been avoiding weighing myself until I finally bit the bullet yesterday.  As I was peeling carrots and prepping broccoli and Brussels sprouts, as I was pressing steamed cauliflower and potatoes through the ricer, I started considering what I was doing at that very moment: I was preparing healthy (mostly) food for my family to eat for the week.  Because I’m preparing multiple meals at once, I don’t prepare intentional leftovers.  I make serving sizes so there’s not room for overeating.  It’s not intentional, it just kind of naturally happens as a time saver mid-prep of five meals.  I haven’t even been prepping the healthiest food- it’s all about moderation.  We’ve been eating broccoli cheese bakes and cheesy potatoes- just reasonable servings.  It’s been brilliant and, more than anything, a pound saver, too.  I have my evenings back as well as healthy meals for dinner.  Better than all of that, though, is I never have to answer the ‘What do you want for dinner?’ question that I hate answering more than any other, that one.

We also attended a funeral for my best friend’s dad this week.  It was really shocking, in a way, to see all of those photographs with the artifacts from my own childhood, right there.  It’s funny how you really curate and preserve your own family and home, but it took me by surprise to see all of the same photographs, furniture, and artifacts from someone else’s life and realize how much my life merged with theirs.  What a flashback and beautiful service.

{I made this for my Orca Running Ambassador bio pic and thought I’d share here, too. }

Cheers for a great week.  It’s parent teacher conferences for me with a celebration on Friday to kick off my birthday weekend.  I just happened to see that Ben Folds, whom I have adored for years, has come on tour with just his piano and will be playing the Mount Baker Theater in Bellingham this Friday.  I saw him once when he opened for John Mayer, whom I don’t enjoy, but I’ve been waiting for the just right opportunity to see him again- not at a college or in a big stadium again.  I wanted a pared down experience, small venure, small band, and this is perfect.  I know he swears like a sailor, but after Pitbull and Macklemore made the scene in our house I realized my kids have heard it before.  When considering leaving them in a nearby hotel or bringing them along, we decided to bring them along!  I’m SO EXCITED to finally see Ben with my whole family!!!

Moving Forward

I haven’t been terribly motivated to post things when I feel like I’m not even doing anything.  Ha ha!  Apparently to post I also need to have taken a run, done some dynamic calorie counting or lost some pounds, but I’m doing NONE of that right now.  I’m kind of glad for the break, too.  I’m going to speak frankly, now about why:

First, I love my students and class.  At this point, they are mine and you can’t have them.  Even if one leaves, imagine the toughest kid ever in any of your classes you had as a child and realize that he or she belongs.   With me.  Once they’re in my room, I love them like they’re mine and I want them.  Those are my people.  I work well with them, we love each other and work well together.  My class is mine and I wouldn’t exchange anyone at all at this point.  

Without going into it overly much, I have the biggest caseload I’ve ever had as a teacher with both the huge class size of 29 kids, who are also heavily impacted with unique needs.  I’m not going to tell about numbers or specifics or anything, but I have more mandated, legal documents requiring specific services for specific kids in my classroom than I’ve ever had.  My days are jam-packed to the point that I rarely even have time to eat my lunch.  If I’m not working with a student directly, I’m walking around putting out the many fires that light when there are that many spirited kids in one small learning space at once.  What I’ve realized is that with a 24:1, student/teacher ratio in play that I, the teacher, have enough time to circulate once around the class, looking at all the work happening, helping as needed and can get back to the first kid before frustration hits.  29 kids, on the other hand, means that by the time I get back to the seven year old I began with, he or she is often in tears and then next kid has started some beef with the kid next to him about a pencil or something similar, not worth fighting for and, in the meantime, the office has called and so and so needs to get ready for early dismissal while these three kids leave for special services….  it’s intense.  Each day when I get home I’m often in tears, not of anger, sadness or frustration, but of sheer exhaustion.  I wouldn’t want to run or work out if I could during the week, quite frankly.  Perhaps this injury was really and truly a gift that will allow me to forgive myself this break from training and focus on being a solid mom, wife and teacher without worrying about the workout all the time.  I can be fairly relentless.  

There are bright spots, though:

  • I just weighed myself for the first time since the injury hit and am holding steady at 199.  I haven’t gained anything.  Which is good.  Right after the injury hit I tried to get dressed one morning and my jeans wouldn’t close.  It was water, obviously, but damn if that didn’t freak me out!  199 means I’m doing this right and I need to just stay the course.
  • I had two friends who offered to help me figure out how to exercise around the sciatica and help heal iI was so flattered to hear from the both of them and am planning to meet up to chat as soon as conferences are over.
  • My hip feels better.  I keep trying to tell myself I feel healed, but then I go and work at the costume carnival after a full week of work and feel the tightening happening again.  I’m not healed, just better.  I need to play this smart.
  • I realized I can still be an Orca Running Ambassador!  I’ve been privately so disappointed that I might not be able to run for a while.  Three months seemed long, but I know people with injuries that take a year or more to heal and worried that I might be lame for the year, unable to partner with Orca, but that’s not the case.  I’m in!  I’m going to spend some time tonight and tomorrow getting the campaign ready.  Hopefully I will get to see you at some of the races and you’ll save a few pennies off of the entry fee!  (Use code TAMARASHAZAM17 to get 10% off race fees.)  *

I got way into motivational speakers this week, too, and fell in love a little more with Jim Carrey.  

I discovered Steve Jobs, again, and Alan Watts for the first time and meditated a lot on my purpose in life. How passion should motivate me. What my gifts to the world are.

It may seem overly touchy feely but I needed to hear these messages this week.  Where I am in life is on a rather demanding and challenging path.  I’ll get through it, but in the meantime it’s helpful to conclude, again, that I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.  I’m in the right place.  

*Full disclosure: in return for promoting Orca races I am being compensated with two entry fees to races.  That said, they are races I was already planning to run: Better Half and Iron Horse Half.  Their races are well organized and the people who run them are really personable and nice.  I was honored that they would ask me to be an ambassador and I’m excited to be on their team!

Cautiously Optimistic

It’s been one week since I started on my injury path and so much has happened.  I mean, seriously, look at what the Donald has gotten himself into now.  Billy Bush?  What were you thinking, dude?!  Then Brad and Ang coming to a custody agreement so fast?  Amazeballs.  And the Kardashian jewel thief caper.  Oh my goodness.  My point?  I’ve been a good little non-runner and the American political system, paired with a healthy dose of reality and a-list celebrity drama have kept me busy and engaged with the important things in the world.  Oh.  And past seasons of Survivor.  

I do feel pleased at my recovery progress so far.  Today was the first day that felt like the cramping let up late this morning and into afternoon and my end of day felt pretty normal.  Until today, every day has been filled with excruciating pain, up and down my leg for most of the day.  It’s relentless, like birthing labor, and it moves in waves, like contractions, too.   Remember that sweet, blissful painfree moment in between labor pains?  I did that allllll last week.  Hours of pain, moment of sweet painlessness, back to it again.   I was scared of going back to work because I could imagine being hit with a nasty charley horse in the middle of a math lesson.  Kids being kids would still be asking me if they could use the restroom and would still be tattling as they are usually oblivious to the suffering of an adult, and there I would be, poor attitude and grouching at them through my teeth, gritted in pain!  I’m not worried about hurting at work as much as I’m worried about about my pain threshold and the resulting shortest or temper that comes, and the resulting damage to the relationships I have with my second graders.  But today there was hardly any pain.  I kept on my pain meds and even felt so good that I attempted to run a little across the courtyard, without thinking, until I remembered that I’m injured and shouldn’t.  That has to be a good sign, right?

I’m glad to be feeling better.  I was a bit depressed last week, even if I did spend most of it at home with ice packs, heating pads, husband massages and more episodes of survivor than should be viewed in one week…. It’s sounds stupid, but I’m terrified losing my stride and gaining weight back. I can forgive a 10-20 pound gain, but more than that is untenable. I guess what is scaring me the most is taking three months off. Three months is pretty much what it takes to get into condition. I imagine that after three months without running that I’m essentially going to be a non-runner again. I’ll be out of shape. Chubby. Burning lungs. The works. Ugh. Today was the first day where I finally felt better enough to seriously consider what I’m going to do to make this work. I read about a few other runners who were sidelined for a few months and they focused on their upper bodies during their recovery period.  One gal said her running partner and she had the same injury at the same time, they took time off, and her partner took the opportunity to lift and get strong up top.  The girl who just recovered had some major regrets when they came back together.  I’m always talking about working on my arms but I have a hard time getting any kind of routine going.  I think this may finally be my time.  So my plan is to have a plan by the end of this week.  I’ll be looking into what upper body cardio can look like as well as some arms and core routines.  Yahoo!

It Finally Happened

On Sunday night I woke up with pain in my hip.  Pain acute enough that I ended up on the bathroom floor, twice, with that cold, clammy, sweaty, nauseous feeling.  Where you feel like you might pass out but you don’t actually?  Yeah.  That kind of pain.  I woke up the next morning, though, feeling frisky enough.  My hip still hurt, but nothing to worry about, right?  I went to work that day and my hip spasmed a few times, but I thought, again, this was no biggie.  That night it happened again- except worse and a few more times.  The next night the same, until this morning I was having Bradley help dress me as I literally cried.  I decided to bite the bullet, slough off the denial, call in a sub for the afternoon and go to the doctors.  I came home with a prescription for muscle relaxers and no running for about three months.  I can walk, I can be mildly active, but I can’t do anything strenuous, involving my hip.  I have what’s called sciatica, I guess, and it’s a compressed nerve and resulting spasming something or other…  clearly I was paying close attention, but I feel like I’m having a constant charley horse that radiates out from the ball of my hip, up and down my leg.  I’m walking with a limp and everything.  My training has been solid enough that my doctor couldn’t pinpoint a reason for the injury.  It seems to have come out of nowhere- it’s not even the hip that usually hurts at all.  She did say I’m lucky it starts in my hip rather than my back, and that points to a speedier recovery than the other version.   But anyway…

[ Cap’n Awesome will return!]

I kept wondering if I should do my half marathon on Sunday and obviously that’s definitely not happening.  Bradley said that perhaps this is Mother Nature telling me to slow down for a season.  There’s a part of me that feels relieved.  I can let up the pressure and recover through the holidays.  What a gift, right?  I can guiltlessly avoid running for months.  But holy cow if that doesn’t terrify me.  Running is how I keep from gaining weight.  Running is how I prove my dedication to myself.  It’s like proving to myself, the limits I will go to, to stay healthy and alive.  Letting it go is sort of like letting my fat girl back in and I really don’t want to let that happen.  So I’m approaching this with caution, for sure, and an open mind for how I can continue to move forward with my health, but I’m totally freaking out.

Are We There Yet?

So.  Half marathon season is almost over and I couldn’t be happier.  My friend, Jessica, and I were discussing the Snohomish River Run and how much the timing really seems to be a challenge.  If it were in September, no problem.  End of October?  Not a problem either.  The beginning of October, though, makes for challenging training.  The end of August has the burst of end of summer panic with it, and for me, the onset of the school year.  I run like a robot all summer long, then the school year hits and it’s like I have to relearn how to have a healthy private life and a job at the same time.  Harder than it looks, I guess.  My point being, my training hours dry up and are replaced with snuggling hours, crafty hours, recovering from work hours, prepping food and clothes for the week hours…  you get the idea.  I spend nine hours outside my home and tha makes running tricky.  Not to mention the sheer exhaustion that comes with starting out a school year.  And if they are ‘extra fancy’ students, well, I may not get a run in until Winter Break!  

So, yeah, having a half marathon next weekend has me all kinds of agitated so I decided to go for a long run today.  Like Jessica told me yesterday- she got the three miles in at the 5K.  She just wanted to run ten miles today and she’d feel like she met her goal of running a half marathon this week.  My mind clicked into gear, agreed and decided to do the same thing…  And then I woke up this morning and didn’t feel like running around here.  I like running different routes right now, I guess.  I think I feel confident enough as a runner now that I want variety in my runs.   I just knew my neighborhood’s view wasn’t going to satisfy me today.  Today I needed something new.  I needed to go to the dollar store, so I decided to combine my run with my errand for Google eyes and glue sticks.  I told Bradley that I’d text him when I got to Wayne Golf Course and then he should hop in the car to meet me at the store with his wallet and a sweatshirt for me.  By the time I got to Wayne, I had only gone about four miles.  I knew I wanted at least six miles, if not more, so I took a detour around the Bothell Landing loop and then went on the Burke the rest of the way to the dollar store. 

 It may sound silly, but I felt like an adventurer.  I’m also always amazed at how fresh the world looks when you’re not in a car,  I saw apartment complexes and housing developments that we whizz past and I saw a gorgeous section of the Burke Gilman that we’ve always managed to skip.  If I had run the rest of the way home, I would have made about nine miles.  That’s something good to keep in mind for the future.  For today, though it was shorter than I wanted it to be, I feel satisfied with today’s run.  Do I feel ready for the half marathon next weekend?  Not really, but I don’t feel unready either.  This will be the anniversary of my first half marathon and my fourth half marathon this year.  I feel experienced enough, this time, to know that it doesn’t take as long as it feels and I’ll come out the other side alright.  Moxie and confidence will have to carry me through.  And then, yes, I’ll be ‘there,’ at the end of my half marathon season.  I’m proud of myself, but I’ll be glad when running returns to being about meditation and fat loss rather than training for the half…  Until next summer.  

Celebrate Schools 5K 

It wouldn’t be the first weekend in October without running the Celebrate Schools 5K with my fellow Edmonds Schools District colleagues, students and, of course, my family!  This year we had a great showing of sign ups and support for my school so I am really hoping that translates into a decent chunk of change for our students.  If not, it’s a really fun race that benefits many students in my cshool while also promoting exercise, so what can go wrong there?!  This year my school adopted a superheroes theme, most of our staff wore capes, so Captain Aweomse donned her cape and star spangled pants to make the run.  It didn’t feel as costume-y as it looks in retrospect.  I was wondering why everyone thought I was dressed as Wonder Woman…  duh!  😂👍

On a personal level, Gigi was shooting for first place and came in third for her division.  She was worried she would disappoint us (what?!) but we were thrilled at that accomplishment!  Wow!  I can’t believe what a runner she is!  Bradley came in the top 20 for his division, and Jude ran the whole way with an average pace of 11:15 per mile.  The Lj’s showed well, this year, and had a great time doing it.  🙂 Just as an interesting side note, last year I ran this race and then followed that up with the Base to Space climb up the Space Needle.  That was one of my favorite events ever!