Friday, April 26, 2013

Olivia's 18th Birthday

Last week we celebrated Olivia's 18th birthday.  We began Friday night with a dinner at the local Indian restaurant. (I can't remember the name of it, but it's near Jimmy's clinic).

 Sam and Clay at the restaurant

 Olivia, Jimmy, and Leah

The next morning, we continued our celebration.  I decorated the table with a brightly colored animal print scheme.  I even found wrapping paper to match!  

We did not begin our day with a birthday breakfast, but an early morning family run instead.  We went to Ballard Park and we all ran varying distances while we took turns watching Sam play on the playground.  After our run, we enjoyed breakfast at Starbucks.

 the birthday table

 Sisters before the run

When we arrived home, Olivia opened her birthday gifts.

 a couple of handmade items from Leah

 a special candle holder crafted by Clay

 It is made from part of our old dishwasher and a saw blade.

Later in the morning, Olivia's friend, Anna Beth, picked her up for and outing to the mall.  They planned to enjoy lunch together and then go to Build A Bear so Olivia could build a bear!  Yes.  Anna Beth's gift to Olivia was a gift card to Build A Bear.  The gift card was in the cutest little miniature Build A Bear box!  They had such a fun time!

 Olivia and Anna Beth before their trip to the mall.

 Back home again with the new bear.

I cooked a special birthday supper for Olivia--she requested zucchini pasta and salad.  Julie lovingly made her the prettiest and tastiest lemon birthday cake.

 the pretty cake

 blowing out her 18 candles

sweet sisters

It was a lovely birthday celebration!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Getting Back to "Normal"

I think that today is the very first day in over a week that has felt almost "normal".  We did school all day.  I folded 5 loads of clean clothes, and I helped Clay clean out all of his drawers and closet.  We took out all of the clothes that he has outgrown.  For now, they are in a basket in a corner of Sam's room.  It will be a few years before those clothes will fit Sam!  After I go through Sam's clothes, I can make room to store the clothes that he is waiting to grow into.  I also have to go through the other four children's closets and drawers.  It's that time of year!  Time to purge and restock.  I was happy to find that Clay did not need anything new!  

I slept last night without waking multiple times.  I did not dream of the bombers or the victims or the race.  I just slept.  Thankfully.  So far today I have not checked the latest headlines on Fox News or CNN on my phone or iPad.  

I plan to make a menu tomorrow for the next week and buy groceries on Friday.  I need to get back into my normal routine, and focus on what I am doing.  I also need to start running again.  I ran a couple of miles last Saturday morning with Leah, and I ran three miles with Sam, Lynn, and Avery at the Runners Unite For Boston event held Monday night.  But I need to get out and run hard and clear my head.  I need to run with Lynn or Leanna or Heather, but I also need to get outside and run by myself.  I plan to run either alone or with a friend tomorrow morning.  Bright and early.

Just trying to get back to normal.  But never forgetting.  And always praying. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

My Boston Marathon Experience

Photo from Sports Illustrated

This photo shows the runners stopped about 1/2 mile from the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  I know that I am not in this photo, because I could not see the front of the stopped runners, and there were businesses lining a sidewalk in the area that I was stopped.

The Boston Marathon proved to be the most difficult marathon that I have run to date (my 4th marathon).  I had set a time goal of 4 hours, 29 minutes, which is ten minutes faster than my previous PR.  My plan was to run the first 10 miles at a 10:00 pace, and then pick up the pace a little bit through mile 21, and lastly, run as hard as I could (at that point) from mile 21 to the end.  Miles 16-21 were just as challenging as I was told they would be---four big hills culminating with "Heartbreak Hill", which I cried on.  By mile 21, I could not pick up my pace any, because "running as hard as I could" resulted in my barely hanging on to my current average pace.  At this point in the race I began walking more often than every two miles like I had trained.  My legs were screaming at me.  My mind was engaged in an internal battle....."just walk and forget your!  Keep on going.  You can do it.  One foot in front of the other...." I kept thinking about Heather, and how I wanted to be able to tell her that I pushed myself the entire marathon.  So I kept pushing.

I passed the 40K checkpoint, the last one before the end of the marathon (42K, 26.2 miles).  I was mentally celebrating the fact that I had only 1.2 miles left of this grueling race.  I walked one more time after this checkpoint.  I told some random person that I didn't think I could finish.  Then I pulled myself together and began running.  Fast.  My legs were numb, my mental status was focused on the finish line and finding Jimmy and Heather.  I just looked straight ahead and ran.  And ran.  And ran.  

And then it was like I hit a wall.  All of a sudden all of the runners stopped.  Hundreds of runners, at a complete standstill.  My first thought was that a runner was down.  I figured that the emergency people would assist him or her off the road and we would continue our race.  I stopped my watch.  I noticed my time and distance.  4 hours, 23 minutes.  25.8 miles.  

I had no cell phone, no I.D., no money, no hotel room key.  However, I did have my lipstick.  

When you finish (or are nearly finished) a marathon, your brain is in a fog.  You have just pushed yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally just about as far as you can push.  Normally, when you cross the finish line you keep on moving.  That is important.  Your muscles start to cramp, and walking usually eases some of that pain.  You walk on through the finish line chute.  You continue walking to get your finisher's medal.  You walk on through to get the much-needed refreshments, and then you keep moving on to the family waiting area where you find your family and friends.  The  key is to just keep moving.  Within about 1 minute of our stopping, both my legs seized into cramps, reaching from my waist to my ankles.  I still had no idea why we were stopped, and neither did anyone else around me.  I hung on to two strangers, trying not to cry about my legs hurting so bad.  They were both so kind.  One of them kept trying to show me different stretches to relieve my pain.  The other one had a cell phone, so he tried to figure out what was going on.

About half the runners around me had cell phones.  Everyone was texting, calling, emailing, trying to access the internet.  Finally, word began to travel.  

"We think there is a bomb threat at the finish line." 
"There have been two explosions at the finish line."
"There were two bombs at the finish line."

Ironically, no one, including myself seemed to panic.  There were no tears.  It was not chaotic.  We were all just standing there, mentally numb.  The information seemed hard to process.  Bombs at the finish line?  What does that mean?  I could not form a mental picture.  It is so hard to explain, and I know it must hard to understand if you were not there, but we just did not understand what was going on.  We had no idea of the extent of the damage.  We had no reports of injuries or deaths.  We had no way of comprehending the horror that was unfolding just 1/2 mile down the road.

One of the men standing beside me, (the one who was helping me to stretch), shared his Clif Bar with me.  Then as the news began to sink in with him he realized that his family was at the finish line.  He worked for John Hancock, and his family was waiting for him to finish in the VIP tent at the finish line.  He said, "I'm going to the finish."  He asked me if I wanted to come with him.  I was unsure about what to do.....I began to follow him--we moved a barrier and got on the sidewalk--but he began moving faster and faster, and I just couldn't keep up with him because my legs were hurting so badly.  He slipped away from me, so I just stopped.  His name was Scott.  I have no idea if his family were victims.

I rejoined the runners in the middle of the road.  We all began shaking, because we were wet with sweat from running and the wind was really blowing...spectators came into the road passing out trash bags for us to wrap up in.  I put one on like a dress, and then took another one to wrap up in too.  Then a man began passing out discarded clothes he had picked up along the race course.  I took a man's shirt and tied it around my legs.

A lady (I think from a hotel) worked her way through the runners with a silver pitcher of water and a sleeve of paper cups.  I drank a cup of water.  We still just stood there.  I borrowed three or four strangers' cell phones and texted Jimmy that I was ok.  That were were stopped about 1/2 mile from the finish line.  He didn't receive those texts until 2 hours later.  The cell service was basically non-existent at this point.  More people were passing out water bottles.  I drank a bottle of water.

I still was not in a panic.  It is such a blessing that we runners did not really know what was going on, or I think mass panic would have set in.  I knew that my texts were not going through, and I hoped that Jimmy was not worried about me.  I knew that my family and friends were tracking me online, and that they would be wondering why I stopped running.  I had no idea that they were back home watching it all unfold on TV--worried sick about Jimmy, Heather, Koach, and me......

Helicopters flew overhead.  Police motorcycles zoomed by on the other two lanes of the road (adjacent to the lanes the runners were in). A long, long line of unmarked grey police cars came flying down the side of the road we runners were in.  We had to quickly move to either side to make room for them.  The gravity of the situation still did not register......

I lost track of time.  It was like a slow motion dream.  Runners idly talking.  Wondering what to do.  Where to go?  I kept asking myself, "What does that mean?  Bombs at the finish line?"  I could not process that information (again, I attribute it to mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion from running for over 4 hours.)

At some point (I am guessing about 1-1.5 hours later), a policeman worked his way alongside the road of runners, making announcements at every block.  When I could hear him, he said, "The race is over.  You need to evacuate this area immediately.  If you are staying in a hotel downtown, begin walking to your hotel.  If you need to retrieve your runner's bag from the buses, walk down Berkely.  If you need to get elsewhere, go ___ (I don't remember where he said), buses will be there to take you to (somewhere).   I just paid attention to the part "Begin walking to your hotel.".  I did panic a little bit at this point.  I had no idea where I was or where my hotel was.  At first I just stood there, unsure of which crowd to follow.  I walked a short distance in no particular direction (wrapped in two garbage bags and a shirt tied around my legs), and found another police officer.  I told him the name of my hotel and asked for directions.  He said, "Go down to Mass. Ave., and turn left.  Then follow that street until you reach Huntington.  Turn left (or was it right?).  Then you will see your hotel.  I was confused.  I asked him to tell me again.  And then again.  And after he patiently repeated those simple directions for the fourth time, and man walked up behind me and said, "I'll take you.  I'm staying there too."  I was so grateful!

I followed this nice man to my hotel, and we were still oblivious to our surroundings.  Emergency personnel were everywhere.  Policeman were at every street corner.  Runners filled the streets, walking...and we just walked, shivering to our hotel.  I did not get the man's name, but I found out that he was a urologist from Atlanta, and he was attending the same medical meeting as Jimmy.

We made it to the hotel, and later I realized that it was now 2 hours since the race had been stopped.  As I entered the hotel lobby, praying that Jimmy was in our room since I did not have a room key, I ran into one of our friends who was at the marathon to work the medical tent.  He is a cardiologist like Jimmy, and he and his family were our neighbors when he and Jimmy were doing their medical training in Jackson.  He was white as a sheet and visibly shaken.  I asked him what happened.  What is going on at the finish?

He asked me if I had seen Jimmy.  Had I heard from him?  And then he proceeded to tell me in great detail what he had just experienced.  I stood there with my mouth horror.....he described what by now all of you have seen on TV, and more.  Tears came to my eyes.  It all sunk in.  I began to feel sick, like I was about to throw up.  He kept on telling me about all the people he had treated--their injuries, their prognosis, the blood, the chaos.  My heart was pounding, and it was then that I panicked. Where was Jimmy?  Where was Heather?  Where was Koach?  I began to do the math in my head.....I knew what their predicted finish times were (way ahead of me)....could they have been in that area?  I told him I had to find Jimmy, we hugged and I ran to the elevators.....

I was stopped by a hotel employee. He was checking all people who wanted to enter the elevators...only hotel guests were allowed.  "Could you please show me your room key" he asked.  I frantically explained that I had just run.  I had no I.D., no cell phone, no room key, but I needed to get to my room to check on my husband.  I told him my name and my room number.  He checked his list and let me through.  

That was the longest elevator ride of my life.  I timidly knocked on our hotel door, praying.....Jimmy asked, "Roan, is that you?"  YES!  He let me in.  I have never been so glad to see him and to hug him! And then I was about to be sick so I ran to the bathroom.  

What followed was just as surreal as the entire afternoon.  We watched live Boston news until well after midnight.  We were on lockdown in our hotel.  At first in our rooms, but later we were allowed to come to the hotel restaurant to eat...and then back to our rooms.  The SWAT team was guarding the front of our hotel.  Emergency and police and FBI vehicles whizzed past our hotel for hours.  On and on and on.....

Our cell phones began to work again, although sporadically.  Jimmy received two burst of texts, including the ones I had sent hours before.  We were able to contact all of our family and friends and assure them that physically we were ok.  Mentally and emotionally shaken.

Jimmy relayed to me that he had finished the race, gotten his medal and mylar blanket, and was working his way to the refreshments when the he heard and felt the first explosion.  He estimates he was about 300 ft. away.  His first thought was that was an odd place for a cannon....then he heard the second one.  He and all of runners around him were quickly evacuated....he eventually made his way back to the hotel to wait for me.  By his calculations and by tracking me online he was pretty confident that I was safe with the stopped runners.

We left our hotel at 4:30 AM the next morning, amid yellow crime scene tape and SWAT officers still in the lobby.  We walked a block or so to catch a taxi to the airport.  We were still in a daze.

The events of last Monday still weigh heavily on my mind.  Actually, I am having a hard time getting it out of my mind, even for a brief time period.  The "what ifs" haunt me, and I am heart broken and profoundly sad for all of the victims and their families and loved ones.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Happy Birthday Olivia!

Today is Olivia's birthday!  She has grown up to be such a lovely, godly young lady.  Her daddy and I could not be prouder of her!

We actually did not celebrate her birthday today, except for going out to eat at an Indian restaurant.  Jimmy could not get off work today, so we are having our big family celebration tomorrow.  It's a good thing we did not plan to celebrate today......I was very distracted all day by the news coverage of Boston.....I am glad all of that is resolved, and we can have a happy day tomorrow!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Tiny Bit More About Boston

I am trying to get back to my normal routine today, but I wanted to share this link.  It is a brief news story on our local TV channel.  The first man in the story is my marathon coach (he spells it Koach) and dear friend, Kenneth Williams.  He made our weekend such a memorable one!  Like he told me in a text while we were returning home, "We laughed, and we cried."

Here is the link:
North Mississippians Return Home From the Boston Marathon.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We're Home!

Jimmy, Heather, and I left our hotel at 4:30 AM eastern time this morning.  We finally arrived home at 3:00 PM central time.  It was a long day of traveling after very little sleep.

I have mixed emotions about what to post about my Boston Marathon experience.  Up until about 3:00 yesterday, I was ready to share with all of you all about the fabulous time we had in Boston.  We took lots of pictures, and I had many fun and funny memories to share.  The marathon itself was difficult.  The hardest one I have ever run.  However the fun and the difficulties pale in comparison to the tragedy that unfolded before our eyes.  I really am still unsure what all I want to write. So, I am going to take some time to get my thoughts together before I post about our trip.

I am so thankful--and that is an understatement--to every single person who contacted us to check on us and our children, to those who offered to help us out in Boston if we needed it, to those who posted on Facebook on our behalf, and to those who prayed for our safe travels home.

It's good to be home and with my children again.  We never know when we get up in the morning if this day will be our last.  We must live each day prepared to meet our Lord.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Today in Boston

Most of you know that Jimmy and I ran the Boston Marathon today.
We are fine physically, but still shaken. Internet is sporadic here, and I am blogging from my phone. I'll post all about this sad day when we get home.

Jimmy and Heather were about a block from the explosions, and I was with the racers who were stopped. I was at mile 25.8.

Please pray for the victims and their families and the medical staff taking care of them.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


I couldn't think of a title, because I am not sure what I am going to write about.  I just know that I have neglected my blog this week, and since a few people read it to keep up with our ordinary life, I figured I better write something.

  • I tried three new recipes this week.  Well, actually, I bought the ingredients and Julie prepared three new recipes this week.  One was definitely a "make this again", one was ok, and we will probably not make it again, and one was--well, I don't know how it was, because Jimmy and I had a little spontaneous dinner date at Oby"s--our favorite restaurant in Starkville.  We ate there when we were dating (24 years ago), and we love going back there and reminiscing.  We both got the roast beef poboy with gravy, just like always.  Delicious.  They have the best bread!
  • The recipes were all found on the blog, Fat Free Vegan. Julie made International Quinoa Salad (this is the one everyone liked!), Cashew Carrot Salad (the ok one), and Roasted Asparagus Salad with Chickpeas and Potatoes (the one I did not try).  I think I would like the asparagus/chickpea/potato dish, so I plan to make that again soon.
  • Do any of you use chia seeds in your cooking?  I have some, but have not used them much.  I plan to experiment with using chia seeds in our smoothies and baked goods.....please share any ideas you have! 
  • We are nearing the end our our school year!  Olivia plans to finish all of her courses by May 2, and she will be graduating on May 3!  I cannot believe that!  I ordered her graduation invitations on Thursday.  I can't wait to see them.  Our local homeschool organization has a really nice graduation ceremony that features the Kindergarten graduates, the 8th graders, and of course the seniors.  There are twenty seniors participating in the graduation program this year.  
  • The other four children will continue their schoolwork until May 29 or 30.  If Jimmy is off May 30 (and I think he might be) then we will end our school year on May 29.  If he works that day, then May 30 will be our last day.  I haven't seen his May work schedule yet.
  • Clay, Leah, and Sam will not finish their entire Sonlight Cores by the end of May.  That's ok.  For Clay, we will just stop (I think he will get to week 30 or so of 36 weeks).  I will look at the remaining read alouds, and if there is one that is too good to skip, I will either read it aloud over the summer (I read aloud to the kids all summer) or I will assign it to him when he does World History again in the 10th grade.  For Leah and Sam, we will just stop where we are (I have a goal of completing through week 30), and I will start where we left off in August.  Then, when they complete the current core, we will just begin the next one.  I don't feel any rush to "double up" just so we can complete a core and begin another one in August.  I am concerned with the quality of our education rather than the quantity. 
  • I have already planned to read both Heidi and The Secret Garden this summer.  Neither of these books are included in Sonlight Cores, and I want Leah and Sam to hear them.  This will be my 4th time to read Heidi aloud.  Maybe only the second time to read aloud The Secret Garden.
  • The marathon is soon.....I still have a time goal of 4:29.  I am getting nervous!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Homeschool Classroom Post

I wrote a post for The Homeschool Classroom a few weeks ago that was published yesterday.  I was so busy doing my last long run before the marathon---yay!!!, making my weekly grocery list and shopping at Sam's and Kroger, cleaning our our linen closet (that really needed to be done), and then taking Leah to her Keepers At Home Meeting, that I never even used my laptop yesterday.

So this morning, I am sharing the link.  11 Ways to Help A Sick Homeschool Mom.  While I shared my personal experience of receiving compassion last year, these same ideas could be used for any mother or friend going through some hard times.  We need to look for ways to be compassionate.  We are all so busy with our hectic daily lives (myself included), that I think that we sometimes feel like we don't have the time or resources to help someone in need.  But we do.  And, as the person extending the helping hand, you will be blessed too!

I am reading a book called Margin right now.  Well, I am trying to read it.....I am so tired when I get in bed at night that I usually just want to play spider solitaire on my iPad until I fall asleep instead of reading something intellectually stimulating!  In this book the author (I can't think of his name right now) has spent over a hundred pages telling the reader why we need margin, why our society experiences so much stress because we don't have margin in our lives, how people who lived 100 years ago did not have many of the modern conveniences that we enjoy, yet they had overall less stress in their lives, because they had margin.  I understand my lack of margin.  I need margin.  If anything out of ordinary comes up in my day, I sometimes panic!  Where will I fit it in??  So, I am telling this book that I am reading.....I get your point about the detriments of living a life without margin---I am living that life!  Please tell me how to create margin in my life.  I am hoping that the author will answer my questions soon.  Have any of you read this book?  Do I need to continue reading it?  Did it help you create margin in your life?

Have a good Tuesday!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Not Much to Say

I don't have much to say, but I am blogging anyway.

Today has been an uneventful day.  We started school at 9:00 AM, but before that I got up  early enough to do some B90 reading and run seven miles.  We did school, cleaned the basement, and enjoyed a game of dominoes after supper. I am still about 6 days behind in my B90 reading--for various reasons--so I think this time it will be a B100 Bible reading plan.  I am almost through with Jeremiah.  Yesterday morning Sam woke up while I was still reading.  He asked me to read what I was reading aloud to him.  He stayed close beside me for four chapters before he wandered off!

We stopped our DirectTV service a couple of months ago (short story.....we rarely watched TV, and paying over $100 a month for something you rarely use seemed like a silly expense.  Plus there are so many other productive things we can do instead of watching TV on those occasions that we were watching).  The ONLY time I have missed having "cable TV" is while running on the treadmill.  TV shows are my lifesaver while running on that treadmill.  I used to record a few shows and watch them, fast forwarding through the commercials while running.  I will admit that for a couple of weeks I was lost without cable in my workout room.  We tried NetFlix, but we found that there weren't enough shows that we were interested in available on DVD.  So I bought Season 1 of The Waltons on DVD at Sam's.  I like that show, but it was NOT good running material!  Then I watched National Treasure--a movie that I have heard in the van numerous times, but have never seen.  It was a great distraction!  I ran almost five miles without checking the distance!

Recently I ordered Season 4 of 19 Kids and Counting, and those episodes are good for shorter runs.  But my most favorite, especially for longer runs is ER.  I bought Season 1.  From 1993!  I did not realize that ER came out that long ago.  I saw most of the episodes in the early 90's....until I began having children in 1995, and then my TV watching days were mostly over.  My seven mile run flew by this morning watching the excitement of ER.

Clay is almost a full time blacksmith.  He regularly finishes his school before 9:00 AM (all except for the Sonlight reading that I read to him....and that will end at the end of this school high school my children are no longer required to listen to me read their history and literature books....they read them alone...but I welcome them to listen to everyone else's read alouds....I digress).  Anyway, Clay is either at his forge, or in the workshop most of the day.  And he gets so dirty!  Black soot everywhere.

I have FOUR MORE TRAINING RUNS BEFORE THE MARATHON.  Just four.  And I am happy about that.  A 10 mile run (tomorrow morning), a 15, a 4, and a 3.  Yipee!

This picture of this shirt (the one on the left) pretty much sums it all up.

Well, I guess I had more to say than I thought when I first started!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Office Day

I used to have Office Day on a weekly basis.  This was a day when I set aside an hour or two to work on paperwork.  Paying bills, answering emails, filing papers, making lists, writing cards or thank you notes, balancing the checkbook, filling out forms, etc.  Doing this once a week keeps the piles of paper manageable and insures that no bills will be paid too late.

However, over the last few years as my daily life has gotten busier, I have failed to keep this once a week appointment with my desk.  It has turned into the tyranny of the urgent for most things and an extended, overwhelming session about once a month.  This is not my preferred way of having an Office Day.  I really need to look at my schedule and choose a weekly time slot to dedicate to paperwork.

Today is going to be one of those extended, overwhelming sessions, but I am writing on my calendar an appointment to have Office Day one day next week.

What about you?  Do you schedule regular time to do this type of work?  I am open to new ideas!

P.S.  I am now down to less than 100 candy-filled Easter Eggs.  We shared tons of them with our cousins, and I gave away more than 100 yesterday at our Spartan XC practice.  I plan to share the rest of them with our friends at Bible study tonight.  If we don't give the rest of them away soon, we are all going to turn into chocolate--from eating so much!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Menu Monday

Finally.  After two weeks of shopping with a last minute list and doing the best I could with what was in the pantry and the refrigerator, I made a weekly menu.  And a detailed grocery list.  Last Friday, I shopped at Kroger, ran 10 miles, picked up my family, and then shopped at both Sam's and Walmart.  It was 10:00 PM before we got all of the groceries and various items all unloaded and put away, but I was so happy to have all of that done!

Here is the menu:

  1. lentil soup, rice, green salad, fresh fruit
  2. baked potato bar, green salad
  3. quinoa salad, baked sweet potato rounds, fresh fruit salad
  4. refried beans tacos or wraps, rice, corn, guacamole, corn, etc.
  5. homemade chicken noodle soup, fresh bread
Also, here are my miles this week.  I ran a total of 50 miles last week, and this week begins my taper down to the actual marathon.  I have 37 miles this week.  I ran 17 this morning, and so I have 9,6,5 left. At this point in the marathon training, I am a little bit weary of running. 

For more menu ideas, please visit