Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

We had fun getting ready for Halloween. Yesterday we carved our pumpkin and Anni participated by throwing away the cut out pieces of pumpkin (very helpful) and squashing around the guts on the floor (not so helpful).

Anni discovered that this is funny and now when I say Anni "be funny" she runs and gets this and puts it on, now if I could just get her to stop walking with it on and running into things!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

mishaps, mayhem, & madness in C-U

Our trip this weekend to Cham-bana was a little too eventful for my taste. Here is the long version of everything that happened:

Easy plan: we would drive down to Campaign Urbana to see my sister perform as an Illinette in the Homecoming game Saturday, celebrate my Dad's birthday with a dinner out after the game, stay with great friends from our old stomping ground church: the Sutton family, present our plans for Africa Sunday after the service at a luncheon, and then drive home. Sounds simple right? Not at all as it turned out. Now that I am one day removed I can laugh at the series of minor inconveniences (that are not as minor with a baby involved) but needless to say it was interesting!

We drove out on Friday and were actually able to make the whole 2 1/2 hour drive without stopping. We were chatting in the blazer about how lucky we have been that our "ghetto ride" has made it this far on all these trips. Ha, we had no idea God was laughing from above. We arrived at the Sutton's house and after putting Annikah to bed we visited with Bill & Jane. The Sutton's have 3 "boys" that are now grown and we knew them from New Covenant Fellowship (our church in college). Jason and I were youth group leaders and along with Bill and Jane we took the youth group kids on several hiking, camping, and Habitat building trips (the most infamous one included "Uncle Billy's death march" that leaders and kids alike doubted they would ever return from). The Sutton family was really a family away from home to Jason and me in our college years. They are warm, hilarious, amazing Jesus followers and we are blessed to know them.

Later Friday night we went over to Katy's dorm room in the six pack (Scott Hall). Floods of memories came back as we climbed the stairs to the still ridiculously tiny dorm rooms. Katy then took us to "Late Night" which was called "Chomp" when we were there. It is where you can get snacks and food if you miss the normal dining hall hours. We could not believe the improvements! They had made to order lattes, smoothies, salads, and even sushi! I did not even know what sushi was in college. We grumbled like old bitter people that "back in the day we never had it so good" and "Katy, you better be grateful for this!" I think we even threw in a "we used to have walk uphill both ways to class" to clinch out positions as old farts! It was great to see Katy. I remember her visiting me my freshman year at U of I as an 8 year old little girl and crying when she had to leave. Now I was seeing my little baby sister in college with so much responsibility, choice, and independence. As a side note: I am also crazy proud of her. She is awesome at dancing and has managed to juggle the practice schedule, classes, and all the changes with grace and style. I want to be like her when I grow up :)

On Saturday we awoke to Anni standing in the pack and play shouting grunts at us to get up. We acquiesced to her request and fed her breakfast and then went for a walk. We reminisced about how many things are different since we went to school there which only made us feel old AGAIN. We got ready for the game and headed over to the stadium. Our seats were the worst possible seats you could have all the way on the top level right in the freezing wind (but they were free- thanks Mom and Dad) so we were determined to make it work. Anni enjoyed all the sights and people to flirt with around her. Right before half time Mom called and said there were some empty seats down where they were sitting practically on the field. My parents were sporting so much Illini apparel that I am sure they could be arrested somewhere for an orange and blue offense to the senses.
After paying roughly 500 bucks (ok 1o) for a coke, pretzel, and a hot dog we went down to join them. They were great seats and we could see my sister dance!
We got to watch half time and my sister was fabulous! Annikah danced through the Marching Illini. She was so adorable and was happy as long as she could walk around.

We made it until the 3rd quarter and then I thought I better take Anni home and let her nap so she would not be a nightmare at dinner. I loaded her in the baby back pack and started the epic journey to the car (Jason came to help me load up everything and find the car as many of you know I am not all that observant of where I park). We got to the car, loaded it up, and strapped Anni in. Jason tried to start the car: nothing. He tried again: notta. After many not so grateful comments and attempts to start the car we realized our dear blue beat up blazer had picked this moment to meet her demise. So we are stuck in a freezing parking lot with an overtired baby and a dead car. We called the Suttons to see if they could come and get us and left a couple messages but never got a hold of them. We then called triple A and knew that we would probably wait there for at least 1-2 hours for them to come. I decided I needed to get home so I told Anni to look especially pathetic and we scoured the parking lot for anyone who looked remotely sober (remember it is the 4th quarter of the homecoming game so this is more difficult than you would think). I finally found a woman and her daughter and asked if they would mind driving me and Anni home while Jason waited for triple A. I was sure to look really sad and tragic and praise God she was so kind and drove us home and even refused to take any money. I arrived at the Sutton home and walked in to Bill and Jane sitting having lunch. Hilarious! They had not heard the phone ring or checked messages. I put Annikah to sleep. Poor Jason ended up waiting in the lot for the next 2 hours (the tow guy called me and said "we are having trouble locating the car because there is a game or something letting out", yeah, no kidding?) and then another hour at the Midas shop. He finally called and said they found the problem and it was something with the fuel pump and would cost us around 800 dollars and they could not work on it until Monday. We decided we would deal with it later and get Jason home so we could celebrate my dad's B-day. We met some other family members that had driven down for the game and went Chevy's. Everyone was running late so by the time we got to the restaurant it was considerably after Miss Anni's normal dinner time and for this infraction on our part she decided to not let us eat by causing all sorts of mayhem.

It was still fun to see everyone and celebrate my dad (who managed to really enjoy himself with a few drinks :) evidenced by the fact that after they sang to him he kept the embarrassing sombrero on the rest of the night.

That night we hung out again with the Sutton family and talked through the plan for Sunday which was now a bit stressful being down one car. That night Anni awoke many times ending with us just bringing her to bed with us where she slept soundly but we of course did not. On Sunday morning we did last minute preparations for the luncheon (we made African dishes to serve). Jane also was a huge blessing as she made an extra dish and dessert from recipes she found on line that were fabulous! My mom, dad, and Katy also came and helped set up and serve which made everything so much easier. We got to church early to set up the tables, lap top, etc and Anni had to take a nap in an office. She did stay in there for about 40 minutes but I doubt there was any sleeping. During church she grooved to the music and then; of course, when we got up to give an announcement she squirmed and acted the fool. After church we had the luncheon and presentation and it went well.

After cleaning up and getting to the Sutton's we had an hour until the Black Chorus concert that Zak Sutton was performing in (even though he is not black, a funny story for another time). Anni hung in there and we went to the concert but within minutes we wondered if this was a good idea as sitting in our laps was not going to happen. She was cracking me up dancing and grooving to the music. She was "shakin' what her Mama gave her" all over the place and people near us were actually giggling out loud. I started laughing so hard I was crying. I decided to distract her from running the aisles and dancing but feeding her a banana. This only worked in part because in between bites she was still working it out. We decided a little before intermission that we should duck out and feed her some dinner. We returned for the last 4-5 songs (this time standing in the back so not to attract any evil stares) and Anni went right back to dancing. The choir was swaying and clapping and Anni got so into it that she swayed and clapped her little self right into the wall and bumped her head. It was truly one of the best moments for me all weekend, just seeing Anni filled with joy and letting loose, not caring if it was appropriate but only concerned with having fun. She blessed me and I stopped worrying about all the mess we had to deal with for the car and getting home. For that moment I too did not care what others thought, about my grown up problems and I just smiled.

Since the car would not be fixed until sometime Monday Jason decided to go home with my dad Sunday night as he did not want to have to use vacation days to take Monday off. My mom generously agreed to stay with me and Anni got her hotel room for an additional night ( the oldest Sutton son; Ben was getting home from a Special Olympics tournament (he won!) and needed his room back). We went to our favorite Mexican restaurant; Dos Reales and I was lovin' my 3 dollar mushroom quesadilla (my mom even stayed with Anni so I could enjoy this meal sans baby)! Right before Jason and my dad left he realized that the house keys were in the blazer so he could not get in once he got home (thankfully he realized this BEFORE my dad drove him all the way into the city or I would fear for him). He decided to stay at my parents house, wear dirty clothes, and just get up and take the train to work the next morning from the burbs.
After another night of frequent awakenings by Anni I was tired but knew I would be home soon. On Monday morning we took Anni to breakfast where she proceeded to destroy the joint by launching any food we offered. We wanted to go swimming in the indoor pool (it was closed but my mom convinced them to open it early after telling them our saga). After about 20 calls from Jason in Chicago to figure out the car situation (we ended up towing it to a place our friend's knew about that was cheaper) we were told the car would be ready at noon. Perfect as check out was noon. After swimming I put Anni down for a nap and my mom stayed with her while I borrowed the Sutton's van to run errands. My sister needed something from Target, I needed to exchange a sweater at the mall that my sister got me for my birthday, get gas for the Suttons, and pick up something to eat for Annikah and us. I arrived back at the hotel but opening the door would wake up Anni and as she was taking one of her only good naps of the weekend I was not about to do this so I texted my sister to see if I could drop the stuff off for her. My cell phone was dying (I did not bring my charger because we were supposed to be home by 7pm Sunday) so I called quickly and said "where are you?" It died. What is it with technology? It is supposed to make life easier but I just had to laugh at that point. Katy could be anywhere on campus. Two things I count on and take for granted always working: my car and phone were of no use to me. Jason and I had a discussion about this very issue. 10 years ago I would have never relied on a cell phone, no "I'll call from the road" or "we can call and meet up." But now our lives have adjusted as we are so used to being able to get a hold of anyone at any time, which I still am not convinced is a good thing. (For now I will not think on this & will keep mindlessly using my little flip collection of buttons and micro-thingies). By a miracle my phone did turn on again and gave me a few seconds of service to call and I was able to drop off the things with her! I arrived at the hotel just in time to hear Anni waking up. We packed up the Sutton's car as we had to check out by noon and then ate our lunch in the entry way area. Still no call telling us the car was ready. I called and checked in and they said everyone was at lunch and it would be until 3pm. Great, no place to go with a baby. We decided to pass some time by shopping for some crafty stuff at Hobby Lobby for my Grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary celebration coming up. Anything breakable in the place Anni wanted to touch so it was a tiring journey but she was doing well for being so off her schedule. We headed back to campus town for a treat still waiting for the car place to call my mom's phone. Right as we were paying for our over priced smoothie they finally called. It was about 2:30pm and we immediately headed over there. After transferring everything AGAIN and paying the 777 dollar bill (painful!) we were on our way (after dropping off the Sutton's car). My mom drove and I fed Anni the smoothie to keep her quiet (I reasoned there was fruit in there right?) We were off. Finally! After about 3 hours we were in Wheaton to drop my mom off and transfer more stuff. We stopped for cheap-er gas (than the city) and of course my card was rejected (probably because I had just charged 777 bucks in C-U) even though my mom had no credit cards I had another card to try and thankfully we were on our way with a full tank. At my mom's house I fed Anni what little food I had left for her and we headed home around 6pm. We hit the worst traffic and the 45 minute trip turned into 1 1/2 hours. I felt terrible for Annikah who fussed and protested in the back seat. Jason was at home waiting outside as he had no key and I am stuck in traffic. I think hell with be like this, alone except for a baby crying the back seat, no phone, no snacks, no caffeinated beverage, and horrible traffic. Plus, maybe really hot. That pretty much sucked. We finally made it home and got Anni into her own crib; yeah! Me and Jason in our own bed; double yeah! The chaos had ended and although we are out some money and lots of time we are home, happy and safe with a funny (only now) story to tell.

I made a list of things from this weekend I would not chose to do ever again:
*me washing Anni's socks & my underwear in the sink of the hotel b/c we are out of clean clothes
*chasing Anni around a restaurant while my once steamy food becomes frigid

*being stuck in traffic with no phone to call and tell Jason to use his extra waiting time to go get me Thai food!
*Switching Anni's car seat 7 times into 4 vehicles over 3 days.
Not my idea of a relaxing weekend but everyone was safe and it sure was eventful!

maybe this is why Anni never sleeps on car trips

more on our crazy & eventful trip to Champaign-Urbana later

Thursday, October 25, 2007

a helpful reminder from Howard

Because we have been gone so much I feel a little overwhelmed during the week, like I am trying to play catch up with errands, and other not so fun but necessary household tasks, all of these stops always made to take twice as long with a toddler. Yesterday as I was frantically running from place to place trying to accomplish a ton before I headed off to Awana at FEC I was reminded of something incredibly important.

It was windy so pushing the stroller was tough and Anni was running out of patience and snacks. When we got to the post office I was happy to see that the line was short. This is an act of God as the line is usually ridiculously long and loyal readers of this blog know that the service is not always the best. After we mailed our 2 packages and letters with ease I quickly turned to buckle Annikah in for the trek home and headed briskly for the door as I still had one stop to make before picking up Jason from the train. As we headed out an older man who was walking with a cane put his hand out as if to say "wait." He started toward us and said "let me help you" and walked slowly and deliberately over to the double doors to open them for us. His gait was almost painfully slow as he used his cane and swung open the very awkward door. I said "thank you so much" and Anni pointed at him and smiled which made him chuckle. He insisted on getting the other door as well and when I asked him his name and he replied "it is Howard and take care of that little one." I told Howard he had made my day and thanked him again. My description lacks in his genuine care for us. Howard did not let anything get in the way of truly exhibiting and exuding kindness.

In that moment I was reminded of many things. I was reminded that sprinting through tasks and then feeling prideful about how much I can accomplish in a day is not what God requires of me. He wants me to look for opportunities to say "let me help you" even if it is not convenient. He wants me to care for others and love my neighbor and not just talk about it at church. He wants me to find joy amidst busyness and time for people during each day's activity. Howard reminded of something I know but desperately needed to be reminded of and for that I am grateful.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

weekend in Cedar Rapids

We were off again this past weekend. This time to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to visit Jason's folks. Cedar Rapids little slogan in the city of 5 seasons. We are not sure what that means but we fondly call it the city of 5 smells because of Quaker and other factory smells when you arrive really hit you. We also we able to visit Jorie, Mark, and Anni's cousins Joel and Silas in their new house referred to by Joel as "brown house."Brown house is actually only 1 1/2 blocks away from the Engstrom's house! Congrats to Mark & Jorie on a great house with a real yard; you guys are grown ups now! They also got a new flat screen TV and Jason was over there until almost midnight Saturday playing the Wii. Annie, Jason's younger sister also joined us, flying in from Atlanta for the weekend. It was awesome to see her and spend time sharing.
It was awesome to be all together (minus Justin- we missed you!)and enjoy the warm weather. We went to a Amana colonies for a huge and greasy breakfast.
I am not sure who enjoyed it more: Annikah or Jason. We walked around and enjoyed the warm fall weather and cute shops. Anni sampled the root beer and played in the leaves with her cousins. We also enjoyed some late night talks and Masterpiece playing. Most of all we enjoyed being together. Thanks for everything Engstrom clan!
Iowa has fun parks!
Annikah LOVES Silas!
hugging cousins!

playing in the leaves with Mama & Silas!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Amazin' Mamas race around Chicago!

Friday night I had a fabulous time watching many hours of prep, planning, and effort pay off (this is why I have not updated my blog as every free minute this last week was spent cutting clues, emailing, and otherwise going nuts getting ready). Beck (fab friend of famed awesome mama status and partner in crime for ridiculous projects :) and I planned a Mom's Night Out for our 13 M&M's mom's group at First Free. We decided way back that we wanted to do a crazy Amazing Race inspired game through the Lincoln Square neighborhood. The Amazing Race is actually an awesome reality show where teams race around the world. I realize here that saying "awesome reality show"might seem like an oxymoron but really it is interesting mostly because you get to see so many different places in the world and you get to see the couples, friends, and family members get seriously irritated with each other and wonder if you and your spouse would be ready to kill each other as well or if you could keep your cool as your husband gets lost for the thrid time.

We really had no idea what we were actually getting into. Once we started planning we realized that the logistics were pretty much a nightmare (between coordinating the stops, getting places to be willing to let us disrupt their business, writing clues, and schlepping 3 kids around to do all this). We pressed on knowing that it would be a blast if we could pull it together. Beck was a rock star at getting donations and since she lives in the neighborhood was able to work her magic and secure most the locations and we got together to write clues and think up embarrassing but hilarious tasks the teams of Mamas would have to do to acquire their next clue. If you have seen the show there are many kinds of tasks and last night we tried to shake things up for the 20 women that participated. Here is a sampling of their tasks: eating weird sushi at Tank or singing for money outside of Old Town School of Music, punching and kicking at a Martial Arts Academy, learning how to correctly measure for a sports bra and downing a power gel at Fleet Feet Sports, reading a Dr. Seuss book aloud and doing interpretive dance for everyone at Starbucks, riding a tricycle through Lincoln Square, searching for someone at Garcia's Mexican Restaurant by asking every patron if they were a Hot Mama (in Spanish of course), telling me 3 yo' mamma jokes, and finally searching through a diaper bag for a pacifier in order to travel to the final pit stop. They then raced to the finish in Welles Park where we had lit 2 tiki torches (we thought we may get arrested for this but had a plan to ditch them and run if the 5-0 showed up). It was a crazy night! My favorite part was watching all these moms full out sprint from place to place- who knew they were so competetive? Bystanders in the square even started to cheer them on & a bartender at Tank Sushi asked one team what season it was and when it would be on. Did he not notice that there were no TV cameras following them? After the race we all headed back to Beck's house and snacked while sharing stories of the night and getting to know each other. It was a miracle that it actually went as planned and the Mamas seemed to have a great time. It was a success as moms do so many things all day for others and they deserve a night out even if it is one where they run around like imbeciles doing bizarre tasks for no reason! I say Go Amazing Mamas!!

* these are just a few camera phone pics of the night

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Michigan roadtrip

We were gone yet again for the weekend. This time we were visiting a church called Marimont Community Church in Pontiac, Michigan. We were there for their missions conference and it was another blessing to us to meet everyone and talk to them about our plans for Africa. We again got to meet some other families who are living overseas and serving God.

As we travel each weekend it is getting easier to be away. Of course 6 hours a day in a car with Annikah is never what I would "look forward to" but she actually completely shocked us at how well she did. Of course, she never slept even 10 minutes on each 6 hour trip but she also did not really fuss of cry at all. For that she gets the rock star award! I believe I also deserve some sort of award for entertaining her for that long. It got very creative at the end as we hit Chicago rush hour coming home. Hitting Jason while he is driving with the baby elephant stuffed animal may not be the safest thing but it sure was hilarious to overtired and hating her car seat Annikah!

here are some of the highlights of our trip:

*during our presentation on Sunday the PowerPoint repeated went out and then the power in the entire place went out, it actually quite reminiscent of Africa!

*the family we stayed with actually had pygmy goats as pets- 3 of them! Jenny & Matt and their family were so hospitable and Annikah LOVED the goats!

The feeling was apparently not mutual as one of the goats (I think his name was Hubcap) repeatedly head butted her. A unaffected Anni pressed on in her squeezing and petting of the goats. How often to city folks get to stay with people who have goats as pets? That was awesome!
*Annikah was really a trooper as her naps were totally off or non existent and it was a totally different place. She warmed up to the people and was very sweet to most of them. Only 2 incidents that were a bit problematic:
1. An older lady came up to Anni while she was eating (a major event for her) and got very close to Anni's face and started speaking in a high pitched voice "hi, little baby, what are you eating?" Anni was having none of it and slapped the lady right in the mouth! It was a bit embarrassing. Time out for her but also lesson for all those who dare cross the Annikah: do not get in her face while she is eating!
2. Anni was not a fan of the nursery so we kept her with us for the evening service. She was having a great time dancing to the music and stealing things from women's purses. She then was tempted by this perfectly teased white hair of an older women in front of us and she could not resist giving it is little tug. Lucky for us the woman did not even notice!

*We survived CUJO the dog. We arrived home (Matt & Jenny's place but they were out) after a long day and Anni was already up almost 2 hours past her bedtime. We wanted to rush in and get to her to bed and then the plan was for Jason to drive to fill the car with Hallelujah cheap gas and grab us something to eat from Kroger. Sounds simple right? The first part of the plan went off without a hitch, we got Anni to bed and then off Jason went out the side door while I was sitting watching TV in the living room. Less than 1 minutes later the door slammed and I hear Jason breathing so hard I thought something terrible had happened. I went over and he said "Cujo is out there!" His heart was racing and he reported that as he walked to the car all of a sudden out of the darkness (not in the city anymore Dorothy!) he heard massive thud-thud-thud galloping and then saw this huge dog running full speed toward him. He then turned and bolted back into the house where I now encountered him in this state. As soon as I realized he was ok I did what any concerned and caring wife would do I laughed hysterically at him!
I looked out of the porch and there he was Cujo in the flesh. He looked pretty nonthreatening to me, no foaming at the mouth or blood dripping form his fangs, more like a lab mix of some sort with a bandanna and a collar. Jason said the last time that happened he was attacked by a dog when he was little on his paper route (again I could not stop laughing). He insisted if I wanted anything to eat I had to walk to car with him. I grabbed my shoes and we headed back out, this time no dog in site. About 3 steps off the porch and the thud-thud-thud galloping came again in the distance. We both freaked out, screamed like little girls, and ran back into the house just in time to avoid either a viscous attack or probably more likely a crazy dog jumping on us and licking our hands. At this point I am laughing so hard I might just pee myself and Jason is still being clear is his initial assertion that this dog is in fact a killer roaming the streets looking for his next victim. We try again for the car and this time Cujo comes from behind the house, "See he is getting tricky and smart now" Jason remarked. We were just at the point of resigning to the fact that unless we are willing to risk being mauled by Cujo we must stay in the house and eat Anni's goldfish and applesauce when a neighbor comes looking for Cujo whose real name was something completely nonthreatening and who was indeed just trying to lick us. Well, it was a hilarious story and it ends well as we happily ate our hummus and chips and salsa without anymore potential animal attacks!
On our ride back we also noticed the beautiful colors of the trees and were thankful that we got to spend this time as a family together just meeting and being with people. It was an eventful & fabulous weekend in Michigan!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

the birth of "no"

This is the "n" word right now at the Engstrom abode. Why is it that no one has to teach kids to be naughty? They learn that one on their own just fine. Once again proof to me that as humans we all have a sin nature, despite being taught what is best we decide to go our own way and be corrupted. That is right my sweet little Anni Joy has discovered the word NO and she uses it freely and often. At first I thought it was cute; that time has passed. She was asserting her own will and communicating with me so yeah for Annikah! And of course she has the right to disagree and I want her to be able to communicate her own feelings but this is getting crazy. The charm has far faded as now her response to almost everything is a "no". It actually sounds like "naaaa" but in case you are not clear what she means she has added the head shake for emphasis and even the occasional dirty look and eye glare for dramatic flair. All this has left me wondering if I say no too much to her? Why would she pick this up so quickly and use it every chance she gets?

"Anni, we are going to get our coat on now"
"Naaaa" (followed by her running away and hiding behind the rocking chair in her room)

"Anni, can Mama have a kiss?"
"Naaaa" (followed by me feeling rejected and sad- ok, not that deep)

"Anni please stop running down the aisle of Jewel and come here to get in your stroller"
"Naaaa" (followed by me thinking of pretending she was someone else's child, hey, no judgement I only said I thought about it)

"Anni can you help Mama pick up the crackers you mashed all over the just mopped floor?"
"Naaaa" (followed by Annikah getting on her little car and running over them further "getting the job done")

Yes, No is big around here these days. Let's just hope it is one hit wonder big and not Rolling stones here to stay. Oh Vey!

*she has also been doing lots of other "big kid" things which I must update soon but we are leaving for a missions conference again and our camera was lost or stolen (some require pictures of video) so I will get on it soon...

Monday, October 8, 2007

the 26.2 that almost never was

So, there was a tiny bit of drama surrounding the little race I was involved in yesterday.

This is my story of a girl and her hopes of running 26.2 miles to glory (or at least mild satisfaction and pride).
For a week I have known that the heat was going to be bad. That "bad" is just a number or vague "that will suck" thought until you actually get out into it. Apparently, the officials of the marathon did not watch the weather on WGN to know that the temperature was projected to be into the 90's. It was the hottest temps on record for the 30 years of the marathon.

The race started at 8am with me crossing the start timer at 9 minutes 42 seconds later. It was such a blessing to hook up with a friend of a mutual friend; Kelly. We ended up running together most of the way. We kept each other going. When she was tired I was energized and when I was tired she would kick my butt to keep going! I remember feeling pretty bad early on, around mile 6 my head just felt so hot, like it would explode but after dousing with some water I was reborn and could run again (at least til the next water stop). We kept going out of sheer stupid stubbornness. I was spurned on by my amazing friends and family that ran around the city in the heat to cheer for me, knowing they would do all that work to see me for less than 10 seconds. I want you to know that it meant so much to me. Every time I got a text or phone call I could keep going, every time I knew there would be Beck at mile 7, Andrea at mile 9, Jim at miles 12, Joni at mile 17, Laura & Nicole at mile 18, Jason, Annikah, My mom, and sis Katy at mile 18 I could just put one foot in the front of the other and get there.
I know the sacrifice you made (especially those with babies) to be there cheering me on in this crazy endeavor and for that I am so grateful.

So, the drama starts at mile 21 for us. We were pacing awesome (if I may say so myself) targeted to finished at 4:30 (which would beat my time in 2003). Of course, it was hot and we would see overflowing AID stations throughout the race and people on stretchers and holding their own IV fluid bags at every water stop but at around 20 miles it started to become insane, mile 20 is what runners call the infamous "wall". There were people laid out grasping their screaming muscles with a look of utter disappointment and sheer confusion on their faces. There were people laying on the sides of the course everywhere. We also would hear ambulance sirens every few minutes. We knew this was not good but the extent of the chaos did not reach us until mile 21 when after stopping to walk the water stop (as we did throughout to recharge and drink without choking) a police officer with a bullhorn started yelling "the race is over! stop running!" Now, to some that may seem like a huge relief but to us crazy people who just pushed through 21 miles in 90 degree heat index this guy was about to get a beat down from some sweaty and nasty people! I have to say I realize the cops were "doing their job" and of course, running a race is never worth some one's life but to people in our state stopping was not an option. We kept running not sure if he was serious or what was actually happening.

Cut to 1/2 mile later, more police officers screaming "you are running at our own risk, there are no more ambulances in the city! Please walk to the next AID station and a bus will take you to the finish line" All I knew was that I had not run 21 miles to arrive at the finish via the CTA. It was so close to the end I could smell it, feel it, there was no way I was stopping. We kept going but taking more frequent breaks for walking careful to not exert ourselves. At mile 22 Kelly and I split as I needed a longer walking break and some water (we actually ended up finishing 4 minutes apart :). But when I arrived at the water stop near 22 and then again at 23 there was no Gatorade and very little water being poured into cups we had to pick up off the street. I knew then that my time was going to suffer and if I was going to finish I had to let that goal go. I kept walking but after 22 miles of running walking actually hurts your feet more than running so I would run every chance I got with police officers yelling at all "offenders" at every turn. Although they were trying to keep us safe I think they grossly underestimated the strength to resist we had left in us after 4+ hours of running as curses were flying everywhere, "we just ran 22 miles, F*%$ you the race is over," "maybe your race is over!" Then there were helicopters over us with loud speakers but I could not make out anything; it was a scary situation. At mile 24 there was water and Gatorade (I swore I could hear the Hallelujah chorus swelling in the background. ok, maybe that was just the heat) and a call from Jason saying he was at the finish waiting. That was all I needed I picked it up and started running again and ran continually until the end. Right near the end there were very few people cheering but there was one guy standing yelling at the top of his lungs at every runner that was still running, "you are awesome, only 1% of the population will EVER finish a marathon, YOU are my hero" and he even personalized it with my name (written in permanent marker down my arm). While I would never call anyone who chose to run 26 miles a hero or anything remotely close he did give me a boost that I needed. All it took to finish was everything I had left and I made it, crossed the "unofficial" end at 5:18. While I was a bit disappointed with my time after getting home realizing the scope of the situation I am so excited I finished well at all . Of the 45, 000 runners 10,00 did not even start the race. Another 10, 900 dropped out before the finish, and over 350 were treated for injuries or heat stroke with one man dying. So, I feel pretty ok that my biggest aliment is some soreness and a bad sunburn and shirt burn (from the rubbing).
For some I know even running a marathon at all seems ludicrous and I actually agree. I was talking with some of me fellow nut jobs as we were running to the end after the race had "been cancelled" and we agreed that you do have to be a little off to try this. I guess the only way I can describe why I would do it is that I wanted to succeed at something that for most of my life I would never have even tried. I wanted to reach a goal made attainable only by my hard work, sheer will power, and vice grip dedication. I want to see how far I can push myself physically and mentally perhaps to move the line of what is possible for me personally. I am so amazed that God engineered our bodies to do such crazy things and then recover so quickly (although I am sore today but after a walk this AM and feeling much better). I am also blessed that He gave me the strength and ability to run and the desire to do so. I find a quietness in my spirit while running that often alludes me in my daily life. I will never run a marathon to win, but for me I won, I finished well after having a baby last year and training for 5 long months, and best of all my friends and family supported and encouraged me and truly made me feel like a rock star for this accomplishment!

*there would not be enough rock star awards to go around to all those who supported me so if you prayed for me, sent a card, an email, a text, stood in the blazing heat and cheered, drove through traffic hell to find me, threw me a party, came to my party, called me, listened to crazy running stories, or in any way supported and encouraged me- thank you!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

more on Atlanta

We did have a great time of encouragement and fellowship with everyone from Grace Baptist Church last week. These are my kind of people: they love Jesus, chatting and sharing stories, and eating!! It was awesome to meet the church members as well as a few other missionary families who had lived overseas for years. One family had been in Japan for 50 years! Another that we enjoyed talking with a great deal raised their 4 kids in Senegal, West Africa. It was a great time and we are so thankful to have been able to make the connection!

Here are a few cute videos of Anni wreaking havoc at our generous host's house with her 2 favorite discoveries there: the little dog & the piano:

just one compliant

The only problem with an 90 degree day in October is that I have to run over 4 hours in it. I read something online that runners die when they are too dehydrated and not used to the heat and shared this with Jason who promptly offered great advice: "don't die!" Gotta love him! I'll try not to.
Sunday is the day! I have been training since May and Jason and I figured even Annikah logged over 150 miles with me. It all comes down to this: the only thing thing standing between me and the finish is 26.2 grueling miles!

*for all those amazing & awesome friends that are coming out to cheer my bib number is 32322 and I will be wearing a hot pink top and a black skirt (you can track us online and have text messages sent to you about where your runner is too). I will also have my cell although may not always pick up. Ridiculous amounts of celebrating involving pizza at my place after :)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

what not to do on your next airplane ride

After sitting in the security bin and getting successfully through security (no small feat with mounds of baby gear)Annikah decided to wreak havoc on the plane.

Here is a brief summary of her recommendations for a fun & fabulous (for her) flight:

*be completely wired and refuse to sleep

*instead of sleeping jump from seat to seat, climb under the seats, and then repeatedly jump on the seats

*bang on tray table and when that gets old (approximately 3 minutes later): climb and sit on it

*grab and spill every beverage within your reach

*watch baby video for about 10 minutes on Papa's laptop and fuss when it goes off repeatedly because YOU bang the keys

*pull window shade down then put it up (repeat 489 times or until person behind you actually feels sorry for us)

*eat various crackers and other snacks being sure to leave crumbs and "goo" everywhere

*cry because you cannot run amok down the aisle harassing perfect strangers

*throw pacifier (on the floor and at people)

*finally fall asleep 30 seconds before landing (and wake up as soon as I move totalling a nap of about 8 minutes)

*kiss those who are nice enough (or suckers enough) to put up with your shenanigans (Ok, this one is pretty darn cute)

We had a great trip and when I am a bit more rested I shall update you all more. But in case anyone had a flight soon I wanted to throw out Annikah's advice! I remember a time when I used to read my book and enjoy my 2 hours of flight time, those days, like peeing alone are far gone.