Taking Flight, or Maybe Just Candy

I have a pitiful track record when it comes to Halloween pictures. Last year I forgot my camera entirely. This year I didn't think to take pictures until after dark. I snapped maybe three shots of Caed and Dani together, even though I know it takes at least 50 attempts to capture two simultaneous forward-looking smiles.

So I'm drawing from the morning dress rehearsal instead. Here is Caed, who was actually the "black spiderman" for trick-or-treating but decided to wear the "regular spiderman" this morning to battle the princess.
Yes, you heard me. Spiderman picked a fight with the princess. But don't feel sorry for her. It turns out a tiara can be a very dangerous weapon. Plus, she stole black spiderman's mask, so really, this princess is doing juuust fine without a prince to save her. She does, however, need to learn to share and be nice.
At the final hour, Dani decided she'd rather be a butterfly (a repeat from last year) than a princess. It turns out she was really just after the wings. She put on the wings, skipped around the house and wondered, "Why dey not f'ying? My wings aren't working!"

Once we established that the wings work only for pretend flying, she seemed to come to terms with her own gravity. That isn't to say she didn't try spreading her arms and looking to the sky a time or two more.
And really, who needs wings when you can soar in the sugar heights of kit-kats and milk duds?

This post linked up to Musings of a Housewife for a bit of Halloween show and tell.


Autumn is a good influence on me.

Lately I am perfectly happy to take a walk or to sit under a shedding tree, without the urge to tell anyone what I'm doing in 140 characters or less. I have Autumn to thank for this.
As a redhead, I feel a bit entitled when it comes to Autumn. I figure, after a sun burned summer, Mother Nature owes me and my freckles a break. It's our turn to blend in with the scenery, to look and feel like we actually belong.

(Autumn is also the only season you'll see a redhead on the cover of a catalog. Because the pasty look rocks the earthy sweater. The swimsuit, not so much.)
Autumn makes me as curious as my kids to explore where the trails lead. Or to see how high we can climb without freaking out about the lack of railings.
Autumn admonishes me to stop the clamoring, the staring at the computer, the dashing around as if my time is somehow superior to that of others.

Autumn encourages me to curl up and turn pages, to reacquaint myself with the crock pot, to grind cinnamon over my latte, to sing a hundred rounds of "I love you a bushel and a beck" and never, ever tire of the hug around the neck.

And it is easy to comply.

This post is linked up to the You Capture series at I Should Be Folding Laundry where the challenge was "Autumn."



My little sister Robin has a very imaginative memory. Or so we tease her. It's just that she remembers so many things from so long ago in such vivid detail. And many of the alleged events involve her maltreatment at the hands of her siblings. And (shockingly) none of the supposed perpetrators have any recollection of such events.


That's Robin, right there. Isn't she adorable?

So it turns out there might be something to these memories my sweet little sis has been storing all these years. Tonight she reminded me of a scene so vivid I swear for a few seconds I was there.

I was a twig-legged seven year old, twirling around in the living room like it was nobody's business. My sisters were there too, the three of us engaged in a quest to make our cotton skirts fly like the Knottsberry Farm swing ride.

I dove dizzily to the ground and gazed up to watch the ceiling spin. All the while, Dad played the piano, sang at the top of his lungs, and bounced on the bench with every push of the pedal.

That's Dad, with my baby brother on his lap. Not pictured: The twirling girls.

I don't remember the melody of the song or the feel of the carpet (Robin probably does!), but I know exactly how I felt in that moment.

Carefree. Lost in the moment. Happy. Secure.

Fast forward a few decades. Now it is Caed's and Dani's turn. They are the carefree kids climbing every last lookout at the old fort and giggling their way through the "tickle tunnel". And I get to be the Mom, the one who keeps the cares at bay, who keeps track of them when they're lost in the moment.

As precious a privilege it was to be a twirling carefree seven year old, the joy is doubly mine in giving my children a chance to do the same.

This post shared with the Tuesdays Unwrapped community hosted by Emily of Chatting at the Sky.


All Stocked Up

It snowed exactly one week ago. Yesterday it rained. And rained. The sun rose today in response to our demands for an apology and offered a contrite message in the sky. In invisible ink, of course.

"I've erased all the clouds!" she said. "Even the nice ones. And today, just today, I'll bend a few degrees closer. Enough to put the sweat back into your sweatshirts. Enough to brush a summer blush on your cheeks."

Apology accepted.

We wore coats only out of habit. We didn't need them. And we ditched them halfway through our exploration of the old Fort by the sea.
I would have gone crazy snapping photos of the children had it not been for the ever precarious posing places. How can I tell them to relax and smile in one breath and then yell a panicked, "DON'T MOVE" in the next? Yes, I think we'll just stick to the scenic stuff sans kids. And you'll just have to trust me that the kids had a grand old time.

The squirrels store up acorns for the winter. Little Sal's mother stores up blueberries for the winter. Talented mommy bloggers store up apple pie filling and canned pesto and salsa and who knows what else for the winter.

I store up photos for the winter. I inhale Autumn and exhale memories. My mental pantry is teeming from today alone. We're all stocked up on beautiful days.


Another Reason (Not that I needed one)

On Tuesday, my friends and I discovered another reason to love Maine.

Pineland Farms + Autumn = Me Blown Away (along with some leaves).

I was blown away by the scenery.
And the smiles. (This is the part where we told them to say "cheese" at the creamery, where they were watching the stirring of a 1500 pound vat of cheese, glorious cheese.)

And the locals. Who gave us a very warm (and slobbery) welcome.
Well, not this guy. He thought was too good for us. And he was right.
And did I mention the wiggle room? Wow.

And the opportunities for random photos of farm equipment that I thought looked artsy, but is most likely a gigantic automated pooper scooper or something manure related.

And now I have to come up with a much better way to end this post than to reference cow dung.
Hmm, lemme see.

Oh, I've got it! Let's just do a repeat of the smiles, shall we?
Insert contented peaceful sigh raaahyeeet Here.


Denim is the new Velveteen

I'd rather be a pair of well-worn jeans, loved and familiar, reached for on the daily, than hang on a rack, admired from afar, known by no one, empty.

What profit to be perfectly stitched, faded only at art's intention, embellished, loops forever untugged, only for show?

I don't belong in the window or on the runway.
I'm fine with falling to the floor in a heap after my element-shielding shift is over. As long as I've given all day long, stretched a comfortable close around them, then I am all I am meant to be.

I used to judge those well-worn jean ladies. I thought they were missing out on being somebody. Didn't they care about career and accomplishment? I shook my head and wrote them off. I'm sure it's great to be a wife and mom, but is that really all you want to be? And then I added a "not that there's anything wrong with that" to get myself off the hook for being judgmental.

Well. I can't speak for last year or for next week, but for now I answer my own wagging finger. Yes. Today that's all I want to be.
Because even though I spent a decade swearing I'd never let myself get lost and faded and stretched at the hands of another, it turns out I'd rather be really important to somebody than be somebody really important.

And this wife and mother gig? No one is more surprised than I at how perfectly it fits.

(And none of this is to say that you can't be important to somebody and also be somebody important. Of course you can be both. I was just telling you what I'd pick if we were playing the "would you rather game". So, Oprah, when you read this, don't get all offended, okay? I'm sure you're really important to somebody in addition to being somebody really important. And also know if that if you want me to come on the show, I'm totally open to it, even though I said that thing about not belonging on display. It was just a metaphor. Seriously, call me.)


The Halls Are Alive

The halls are alive with the sound of music.

Okay, well, calling it music might be a bit of a stretch. But the halls are most definitely alive with the sound.

And what is it they say? "One person's headache is another person's music?" Something like that.

Admittedly, if Julie Andrews were here to listen in, I don't think Maria would be the most pressing problem to solve.

We brought home a set of congas today. It was a birthday gift to the Man, whose enthusiasm for the idea of Family Jam Night predates the existence of our family.

Two kids and a husband beating the bang out of congas is music to the heart, if not the ears. And even though I really identify with the quiet old lady character in Goodnight Moon, and even though I'm a chronic shusher, I loved every bit of our noisy togetherness.

Love, it is palpable. And happiness, it is heard.

Using my best inside voice to share this very loud gift as part of Tuesdays Unwrapped, hosted by Chatting at the Sky.

(Also, I feel compelled to point out that I'm now aware both kids are wearing a full helping of spaghetti sauce on their faces in the pictures above. Lovely!)


When It Rains, It Snows

When it rains, it pours. Rain, in this case, being a metaphor for fun.

On Saturday, Caed went to a birthday party that included a Karate lesson. He got such a kick out of it (hardy har har). He hasn't stopped talking about it since. And, given the fact that the dynamite instructor had a room full of five year olds standing at attention yelling "Yes Ma'am!", I am highly inclined to sign that boy up for regular lessons.

And then there was Sunday, the supposed "day of rest." Yeah, I'm not sure what that even means. Dani was up at 5 a.m., and Larry left for work by 6:30 a.m., so the only context for the word "rest" was in the sentence, "So, you can handle the rest, right?"

The day was what you might call a tight squeeze. We left church with just enough time to scarf a PBJ and change into jammies for the Laurie Berkner concert. (It was a PJ themed concert. Hence the PJs). None of the pictures I took did justice to the downpour of fun. Afterward, my face hurt a little bit from smiling. I knew they'd enjoy it, but I had no idea how much. They danced, clapped, hopped, giggled and sang with the kind of rapt attention I could only dream of obtaining from them.
And then. We ran (through the actual rain) back to our car to head to a pumpkin carving party. Where, (why yes, how did you guess?) we carved pumpkins. I hoisted Dani up to see the action while Caed spooned a few seeds out. Then off they went to play with their friends in a knife-free environment while I slaved away on the cleaning and carving.
We lingered a long while with our friends, gobbling pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies, catching a bit of football and wondering why it was snowing in Foxborough but raining in our backyard.

Then we got home, and stopped wondering.
Which of course leads me to conclude that when it rains, it snows.
(Buh dum bump...I'm here all week, folks!)


Back Home

I have woken Here nine hundred mornings to good days and bad.
To the scent of saltwater or the sound of the snow blower.
And Here I am happy.
But There is still "Back Home."

It was There I slept under the shadow of the sixty year oak,
Out on a limb, coveting roots.
It was There two babies cried themselves alive into my arms.
Ten winters flurried.
Twenty storms raged.
Ten summers sulked.
And countless breezes blew.
There, where a hurricane double-wind dared the maple next door to bend over and ring the doorbell.
(A feat a tree of fifty circles ought never attempt. Because it fell and couldn't get up.)

It was There the mailman delivered dead-end letters, all stamped with disapproval.
There, where we leaped with the first letter that didn't start with "we regret...".

It was There I pined during his desert detour,
And almost lost him twice
In sickness and in health.

It was There, where one after another and all at once we met
Trial, Failure, Heartbreak, Loss.
It was There, where under the shadow of the oak one morning we woke,
And staring right at us, stirring us awake, was Hope and a Future.

But we moved from There.
Where we conceived a dream, birthed a possibility, nurtured a reality.
We moved from There, where we were strangers to few and friends to many,
Where we cut career teeth and tasted snooty wines with down-to-earth people,
Where Halloween wouldn't haunt without mulled cider and
A parade of costume-clad toddlers to the blazing red tree.
(Oh I miss that tree).

We moved nine hundred nights ago, and everything has surely changed.
Another child is rocked by that window.
Another woman curses the gumball seeds caught in the rake.
Another jogger struggles up the slow grade from Old Town.
But Here I am, wishing for the There
That is and might always be Back Home.

Photo by Kevin H.

No matter how much I love it here (and oh I really do love it!), my heart aches every October for the perfectly round red tree at the end of my Virginian street. (It is still my street, no matter what the deed says!) Roots are stealthy. You hardly realize you have them until it is time to pick up and go. Today I wish I could revisit the first place I ever felt grounded and linger a while under the shadow of that sixty year oak.

Where is Back Home for you? If you are still there, what do you love about it? If you have left, what do you miss about it?


You Say You've Got a Resolution

I resolve.

To speak kindly to the dog, because she's a person too. (Well, I mean, she thinks she is, and who am I to burst her bubble?)

To make more snickerdoodles and never ever ever run out of cinnamon.

To not size my entire self worth according to the number of words the editor assigns.

To reject all guilt not addressable by change or confession.

To stop eating all the potty training M&Ms.

To actually listen instead of waiting for my turn to speak.

To find recipes for the fourteen kinds of leafy greens and squash before they wilt and rot. Oh, and to actually make the recipes I find. Before I wilt and rot.

To figure out a red-headed version of smokey eyes and go for it. Maybe I should just make that to wear make-up one day out of each week. And to pray that the au natural look comes back next Fall.

What do you resolve?


New Heights

I know I said those beautiful easy peasey days are a very special treat, and by no means an everyday occurrence. So when I have two of those days in the span of a week, it's like having enough apples for crisp and pie, along with an unlimited supply of vanilla bean ice cream. Sorry. Please try not to hate me.

So. Here's a little peek at the peak of our week, which surprisingly surfaced on a Monday, proving to people everywhere (or maybe just me) that Monday isn't inherently evil.
Larry of course had to work. But Caed had the day off, and thus, we agreed to set off on an adventure so exciting that the expeditions of Columbus would pale in comparison. In other words, we'd go exchange some shoes at LL Bean and maybe hit a playground or two.

We conquered Big Boot territory in no time (hurray for the lifetime guarantee!). It was only 10 a.m., the weather was gorgeous, and we were all in good spirits. So I referenced the Mother's Guide to Uber-Controlled Fun and confirmed that these were prime conditions for spontaneity. Forget the school playground, I thought. "How would you guys like to hike all the way to the top of a mountain?!"

Caed was noncommittal. "Okay, that sounds fun. But is there a playground there? Cuz I really wanted to practice my monkey bars today."

And Dani was already making alternative travel arrangements. "I can't c'imb it, wight Mom? You carry me?"

"Not sure about the playground. We'll see. And no, Dani, I won't carry you. You can do it yourself now that you're a big girl."

When we arrived at the point of no return, or really, just the point of not getting my money back, I began to doubt whether I'd made the right decision. That is, until I drove around the corner and discovered the New World, also referred to herein as the playground with the best monkey bars EVER.
But haste haste. My spontaneous plans will fall apart if we don't get to the top of the mountain in time for snack. So let's motor!

Caed scouted out the rectangular white on the bark and quite literally narrated the entire climb. Dani just held my hand and half tripped, half skipped up the summit trail. She also shouted on several occasions for her babbling big brother to wait for her. "Where you goin' CAED. COME BACK HEEYER!!"

When we eventually caught up with Caed, this is the view that greeted us.
After uttering a "wow" or two, the kids turned their attention to the item of utmost importance. What did you bring us for snack?

Feast your eyes on that beauty, I wanted to say. But instead I sat them down with trail mix (with REAL chocolates in it!) and began the first in a series of lectures about how we don't just pick out the chocolate pieces and we most certainly don't fight over them, or mommy will eat them all. (It was a rare occasion in which I wouldn't have been horribly disappointed if they chose to disobey.)

As we made our way back down the trail in hopes of having another go at the playground, I told them what brave and tireless explorers they were to have reached the top of the mountain so fast.

Caed beamed in reply, "I know, Mom. I could have told you I was gonna do a good job because I'm five now, and I know some stuff about explorin'."

Dani tugged on my sweater, "I c'imb to da high high top on da mountain, all by myse'f, wight?"

I squeezed her hand, "You sure did Darlin'!"

I'm well past five years old, but apparently I'm still learning some stuff about explorin'. Like, for instance, how that "top of the world" feeling follows you even after you arrive back to the safety of schedule and script and sea level.

Have you gone off script lately? Where did it take you?


We Live In a Beautiful World (yeah we do, yeah we do)

This place is tied with the beach as the lowest point in town.
This place is for the birds: the egrets and herons and an occasional bald eagle.
This place is where I run and think up original ideas and witty phrases and blog posts that I always forget by mile three.
This place is not lost on me.


Lost in Fun

I can tell by the clink clank sound and the burnt dust smell that the furnace felt it was finally time. The cold air trespassed last night, and the radiators of justice took the hoodlum air captive and scalded it into submission. We woke only after the skirmish was over to the clink clank announcement: All is well. All is warm.

But for the better part of yesterday it was warm enough outside to wander jackletless, to open the sun roof so wide we offered refugee leaves a home in the console.

And so it was the perfect day for getting caught up in a corn maize. Larry had to work, meaning I was on my own and a bit nervous we might get lost in more than fun. But we made it through the lobster labyrinth (yes an "under the sea" theme this year!) without incident, thanks in part to the overused but undoubtedly true marketing claim that "there's an app for that."
We survived the corn maize with plenty of time to tackle the slides and swings, the pyramid of tires, the wooden tractor and cow train rides. As usual, I went camera crazy in hopes of catching smiles to prove they had a happy childhood, which I know will come in handy when they are sixteen and certain I have ruined their lives.

I'm not sure this accidentally artsy one will be admissable into evidence, since you can't really be sure it's Caed up there.
And this one, though it's clearly Caed and a look that nearly defines him, might not be strong enough to make the case for a happy childhood.
Aha! This one should do it.
And here is proof that I was there too, the primary perpetrator of childhood fun.

Dani diligently practiced her wistful look, also known as her "I wouldn't look at the camera and smile even if you paid me in candy corn" look.
But just wait, Dani. I'll catch you having fun. See--there you are--hands in the air shouting "PUMPKINS!" Nothing makes you happier than a penalty-free opportunity to shout at the top of your lungs.
I am Dani; hear me roar. And see me try to pick up my weight's worth in pumpkin. There, that's more her size.
On the way home, we sang rowdy songs to make sure Dani stayed awake. And in between numbers, I stole a few fistfuls of the kettle corn we'd purchased for Daddy. But Caed caught me corn-handed and admonished, "You better stop eating that, or there won't be any left for Daddy." Oh Caed. You exaggerate. Of course I'll save a kernel or two for Daddy. I couldn't possibly eat the WHOLE bag!

We made it home awake and in one piece, with sufficient amounts of kettle corn left in the bag thanks to Caed's vigilance.

Sometimes we have a day when nothing goes wrong, and everything works out easy peasey, and there are far more smiles than tears, and very few scrapes. Sometimes we have a day when the air tastes like apples and little voices squeal while little legs navigate a life-sized puzzle. And we label those days the same as kettle corn and cider donuts: A special treat. A very special treat.


Scary Stuff

Caed recently woke up terrified from a nightmare about a giraffe that ate all of his teeth except for one. It's strange that his subconscious chose a gentle leaf-eating creature to render him nearly toothless, but not so strange when I consider the fact he is my son. As a child I had a recurring dream that a deadly bird (a mix between a peacock and Big Bird of Sesame Street) was following me everywhere. And if he touched me with his feathers, I would die. And of course, whenever the bird showed up, I couldn't move. See what I mean? Strange. And scary.

Then at dinner last night, Dani turned her pasta into imaginary babies. She talked sweetly to them, saying things like, "why you c'ying baby?" and "oh poor baby is tired", and then....

She ate them. Which wasn't so bad in and of itself. What bothered me was when she shouted with a sinister giggle,"I ate my baby!" No, it wasn't the Dingo. It was my daughter. Just lovely. Now I fear I'm raising a cereal killer. (Ooh, that was wincing bad. Scary bad).

No matter how you look at it (the bad dreams, the bad eating, the bad jokes), this is scary stuff, folks.

But nothing is quite as jarring as the real and raw version of motherhood and apple pie. The only possible reason you take a picture like this is because you have a blog. And maybe because you have issues.
See, I made an apple pie yesterday. And as I was finishing it up just in time to rush out the door to get Caed, leaving a sink full of dishes and apple remnants and flour EVERYWHERE, I thought, "This is what motherhood and apple pie really looks like."

Am I right, ladies? Or am I right?

Disclaimer: No actual babies or teeth or Sesame Street characters were harmed in the making of this post. Wish I could say the same for the pasta and the apples and the kitchen sink.


A is for Apple, but the Answer is (C) All of the Above

A is for Apple Picking. And Apple Picking is for Photo Taking.


We went to the orchard to coax Macouns and Cortlands from their treehouses, and it took all of ten minutes to fill our bags. We spent the next hour following the children around with our cameras, catching them being cute and harvesty, prodding them to say "apples and cheese!"

The kids found their way onto a low bent branch that apparently couldn't take the stress of standing tall. If only that branch had known. Standing tall would have been a hundred times easier than hosting rodeo time with a gaggle of preschoolers masquerading as cowboys.

"YeeHah!" they yelled.

"Look over here and say apples!" we shouted.

"Okay, okay, just say 'YeeHah', but look over here, would ya!"

I imagined Caed might be bummed that we went apple picking without him. (It was of course the first thing Dani announced upon seeing him, so there was no hiding the fun). But he took it in stride, and promptly put in his snack order for a "pinkish" apple.

As we drove home, I asked, "So, I need your help to decide--should we make apple pie or apple crisp?"

"Well," Caed replied, "You got lots of apples, right? I'm pretty sure there is enough for you to make apple pie AND apple crisp. So you don't even need to decide! Isn't that great, Mom?"

I know I'm biased, but that boy is brilliant.

So, what do you prefer--the pie or the crisp? (And I'm only asking out of curiosity, not to help me decide. Because that decision has been made by the five year old. We are most definitely making both.)


It was a REAL Fall!

Dani was sound asleep when the thunder and wind drummed up the leafy marching band and swirled into an unrehearsed formation of autumn paisley. At least I think it was paisley. Without a seat in heaven, or at least a view from the blimp cam, I can't be too certain. Sometimes you're just too close to the ground to see anything but swirls and specks and chaos.

I lifted my head, then more aligned with the desk than my spine, and sighed window-ward with worry of a nap interrupted. Wake my child, ruin my hour of peace, and I turn into a storm of my own making. My husband will bear witness that it's best not to get caught in that particular weather pattern.

But in the end, the weather didn't wake her. It woke me instead, woke me from my task-oriented nap time to take in the strange autumn afternoon, to set aside the things needing doing in order to see to things needing to be seen.

I wondered what it meant when the rain pounded its fists on the pavement while the sun shone on as if to say "there's nothing to see here, folks." Even the sun couldn't cover up the rogue raindrops escaping around its rays, the uncommon outburst splattering onto a well-lit lawn. There was nothing steady about the rain, and nothing partly about the sun.

The storm (if you could call it that) ended, Dani woke after a respectable slumber, and off we went to fetch big brother. Two steps past the classroom door, Caed recalled the highlight of his day. "A big big wind came! And then there was a REAL FALL! Do you know how many leaves were falling? A million! And did you know that's why it's called Fall? It was a Fall today! A REAL Fall!"

"Did it do that at home?" he continued. "And how many leaves do think there are now, at home? Maybe a million there too?" He couldn't stop talking about Real Fall, and I couldn't stop thinking how listening to his voice and together watching leaves twirl is like looking down from the sky at the ground-ridden mess of motherhood and seeing a gorgeous paisley pattern.

We pedaled straight to the park when we got home. And there, waiting for us to take off our helmets and take a peek, was a rainbow. We shouted and pointed and set off to catch what Dani identified as the "rainboat".

Dani and I were certain we had chased the rainbow into disappearance. "Da rainboat is all gone. We can't c'imb on it," she reported as we bicycled home. But Caed wouldn't hear of it. "The rainbow went away for you," he said, "because you just got too close. But I never stopped seeing it."

Linked to Tuesdays Unwrapped (of course!) where Emily encourages us to find and appreciate the beautiful patterns of paisley in the midst of our everyday mess. And today I didn't have to look very hard or very far. When Real Fall arrives wrapped in a rainbow, it's hard to miss, even for a head down, list and check mark girl like me.


It was a blast in a "my legs are going to fall off" sortof way...

I'll warn you right now. If you have issues with feeling inadequate, you might not want to hang out with Anna. It's a good thing she's already one of my dearest friends, or else I might hate her too. Because do you know what she did today? No? Well, I'll tell you.
See that baby, bundled up in the Bjorn? That's Cora, and she's six weeks old. Scott (her daddy) is carrying her to the marathon relay checkpoint to meet Anna (her mommy) after her 6-mile marathon relay leg. (I realize I'm throwing out a few sixes here, but I promise Anna isn't of the devil. She ran six miles, six weeks postpartum because she is amazing, not possessed.)

Anyway, she clocked an incredible time, which I won't post here because she would call it "slow" and I would call it "as fast I've ever run in any race." So. Just know that she is amazing. And not just because she's a great runner, but because she has a million reasons to be stuck up and instead is one of the most down-to-earth, deep-thinking, caring people you'll ever meet.

While I'm at it, I should tell you about the other guy in the picture. That's Larry, my other half. The one that I have to try really hard not to resent for getting more and more good looking as he gets older. (So not fair!) He made his debut on the running scene with a fantastic showing on the last leg of the marathon, the same leg I did last year. I was so stinkin' proud of him when he rounded the corner for the finish. Here's a guy who has zero time to train, and yet he figured out how to make it happen. And it was SO MUCH FUN to be out there with him!

And there I am below, striking a cheesy pose, shouting "we're checkpoint #1!" as if that makes any sense. I am smiling only because I have not yet run 8.8 miles of HILLS. YES HILLS! AND NO I WILL NOT STOP SHOUTING. NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT THOSE HILLS!!!
I forgot my real camera and had to resort to using my phone, which is why I have no proof for you today that Anna exists. All of my Anna pictures came out too blurry. (I told you she was fast).

Oh, and back to Scott (you know, Anna's husband and Cora's daddy). He ran the other leg of the relay, wearing running shoes that Anna and I calculated to be entering the sole-killing teen years. He also clocked a smoking time (with no training!) and could still walk later. We are attributing this disgusting admirable ability to the fact he is five years our junior. And we are secretly hoping he is at least a little bit sore later.

And finally, I have to tell you about Kate. She had to sit this race out because of illness, and it was such a bummer. You see, last year, Kate was the one who told me I was running this race whether I liked it or not inspired me to run the marathon relay. And she has remained the main reason I've pushed myself to go further and faster. She too is an amazing person and a dear friend. And I really and truly missed her this morning.

But in true Kate fashion, she already texted me to tell me to gear up for next year. I think she's going to make me sign up for the half marathon. But I'm not going to think about that until after I've had a margarita and a massage, and maybe another margarita. And some ibuprofen.

Note: In lieu of comments telling me how awesome I am for running so very far, I will be accepting donations toward the aforementioned massage and margaritas. Thank you. :-)

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