Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Visit With the Easter Bunny

Libby, Amelia, and I went to visit with the Easter Bunny today. He made an appearance and hosted an Easter egg hunt at my current place of business. Libby was THRILLED with chatting with the Big EB. Amelia.....not so much. Here are some photos.
Only a few days before it's time to plant jelly beans in the garden. In case you weren't aware, they sprout into lolipops once a year (Easter eve to Easter morning) when the conditions are absolutely perfect.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Yowsah times two

So, I went to the bowling outing on Saturday, only to leave after a game because I was feeling pretty crummy. Flu-like...the bad achy-all-over-feeling, queasy, etc. I felt better on Sunday but still not good and didn't even do my easy long run. I haven't run in a week due to scheduling issues and not feeling well. That's probably for the best, though, because my hips have been squeaking at me a bit since the 16 miler and my shoes are in desperate need of replacement. I think it was best to rest the hips a little and wait for shoes that don't have a hole worn through the heel.

So...I found my shoes online yesterday for 71.00 on the coolest site. Usually they are only 90.00, which is pretty damn cheap, but 71!!!!! I ordered them this morning and they have already been shipped, so I'll have them for our 20 mile monster run this weekend. PLUS I did a survey when I paid for them and got one year subscriptions to FOUR magazines for 8.00!! Bonus!! What, you ask, is this grand website of which I speak? Outdoor Divas is the name and you should check them out!!

Saturday, March 24, 2007


It's Saturday!! I'm sitting here with coffee and juice and a belly full of bagel and thankful for a couple of days off. Today is the company bowling outing, which is always fun, but honestly I'd like to stay in my house all day long. I'd love to brush Chumley, play with the girls, and then curl up with Libby for a nice afternoon nap. I may have a few beers at bowling because I'll be home by dinner and only have to run 8 miles tomorrow. Usually I have to be so careful about what I eat and drink on Saturdays because of it's effect on the Sunday morning long run....but with a 'short' long run and an evening to re-hydrate I can relax a bit!

Tonight I'm planning on a movie marathon with Chris. I rented four movies for he and I (and Open Season for the girls)but ended up going to bed when Libby did at 8:30 last night. I know...could I be more lame on a Friday night??? but I'd been up at 4:30 am on Thursday and then had a long day yesterday. Therefore I didn't end up watching any of them. My friend Monica pointed out that I hadn't done a 38 Word Movie Review in a very long time, so I will be resurrecting that starting tomorrow.

I had a ENT appointment on Wednesday and Dr Wonderful roto-rootered me and helped me breathe again. He said that the nose is finally all healed up, but it will be a while before it's functioning properly as far as the stuff it produces. He gave me a shot that is supposed to help me find relief or complete freedom from seasonal allergies for 4-6 weeks, which will give the nose a little more help. So far it seems to be helping, but this morning I am a little stuffed up again. We'll see.
Like I mentioned, tomorrow's long run is a 'short' eight miles. That's because next week is the big monster......20 miles. After that one, we'll drop back down and slowly build back up to another 20 miler, and possibly go through that same cycle a third time pre-marathon.

I'm super excited because I'm going to be buying a felted bag from my friend Jeffi up North in Canada. She makes amazing quilts and bags. Check them out!!! She's working on a way to accomodate a couple of my requests for features on the bag and then I'm getting a custom ShantiBag!!!!!! Some day Chris and I will have one of her quilts. We both want one SO badly. Her bright colors suit our home perfectly and they'd really brighten up our bedroom.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Two new sessions up on my site

I just finished loading two new sessions up onto the photography site. One is a six week old baby, the other another includes pregnant sheep and a brand new baby goat.
The link to my site is up on the upper right of this page.
Only another month before my workshop with Audrey Woulard. I'm beside myself with excitement. I should improve so much, especially my natural light work. Just in time for a couple weddings I have booked for this Summer!

Last year's Long Runs--(added update)

As I brace myself for this morning's 16 mile run, I thought I'd look back at last year..... keep in mind that we did not hit this distance until April 15, so we are quite a bit ahead of schedule. We have plenty of time to increase our pace by May 20. This year I did a 14 miler with a lot of snow and ice on the ground in a 11:00 pace and a 13 miler also with a 11:00 pace. Much better than last year already.

This morning we did our 16 miler with an average pace of 11:00 per mile! That's a big improvement from last year's 16 miler, which was 11:43/mile, a month further into the training season. We rocked it.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


I took Libby and Amelia out to Auntie Jo's farm today to see the chickens, new baby goat, and extremely pregnant sheep. That baby goat is amazing. And the poor sheep look as glorious and big as possible. They must be close to having those lambs.....

Here are a few photos from the farm.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

March of Dimes WalkAmerica

I participate in March of Dimes' WalkAmerica every year.
Had it not been for research and innovation from the March of Dimes, there may not have been the necessary technology or knowledge to have Libby. Knowing the terrible pain of having, then losing premature babies, I thank God that the March of Dimes is working to keep other mothers/fathers/grandparents from going through the losses of their own. They have made a huge difference in the lives of countless families.
I will participate in Walk America for the March of Dimes every year in order to my part in helping them care for babies and their mothers. I run 12 miles to honor my twin girls. I run to help raise awareness of premature birth. I run to support the March of Dimes. Mostly I run because it's the only physical thing I can actually do for my daughters...I can't change a diaper or hold their hand or make them a sandwich. I can run for them.
If you are able to support me in my effort this year, I would appreciate it beyond words. You can sponsor me by donating money on my March of Dimes website. If you would prefer to help by participating in a WalkAmerica in your area, let me know and I'll help sign you up. If you'd like to buy a 'memory mile' in the name of my girls or another premature baby you know, I can help you get that information. Or if you'd like to volunteer at the event nearest you or go out to cheer people like me on I would love it.
If you would like to donate, you can do so by using my personal March of Dimes website. Just leave a comment with your email address and I'll send you the link.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Four years.

Libby is four years old.
Four years ago I was in a hospital room fighting through a rough labor and delivery, ending what seemed like a two year long pregnancy. The weight off of my chest was astounding.
Chris and I got preganant just a couple of months after our wedding, just after my father had a major stroke. I had severe morning sickness, walking around in a constant state of oh-my-God-I'm-going-to-puke....and we found out soon after that we were expecting twins. Twins. Pregnant with twins after one month of not even really trying, when we didn't know if I'd be able to get pregnant at all. As the morning sickness was just starting to get a little better we learned that these two little nausea-inducing sweet miracles were both girls. Rainey, short for Lorraine, after Chris' mother who passed when he was young. Grace, because we truly believed that our twin girls were a gift...given by the grace of God.
When my belly kept growing and growing, sometimes several inches a day, we thought it was because I was carrying two babies. Having never been pregnant before, we did not know that the growth was abnormal. The doctor did not question it at my last visit. I became increasingly uncomfortable and strangers starting asking if I was overdue. I was 5.5 months pregnant.
I went through three days of labor, going into the hospital only to be sent home. The doctors did not believe that anything was wrong, did not believe that I was in labor or that my girls were in danger. When the doctor decided to examine me before sending me home yet again, he discovered how wrong they had all been. Rainey was right there, in the birth canal. Grace was up higher, floating around in my dangerously large amount of amniotic fluid.
Within a half hour both Rainey and Grace were born, and within another hour they were gone.
There was a funeral and some very dark times.
It took more than six months of trying before we got pregnant again. After considerable prayer the doctor confirmed that there was only one baby. The relief was unmeasurable. I was sick again, but only half as much so. We learned that we were having another girl, and the pregnancy was labeled high risk. When the doctor discovered that I had the same complication that I did with the twins, the already high level of stress skyrocketted.
We had weekly ultrasounds from week 18 on, and two visits to the Neonatologist. After I began having pre-term labor again I was put on medications to stop contractions, which I took every two hours for the remainder of my pregnancy.
The pain and general discomfort of the polyhydramnios coupled with the unbearable stress and still very acute sense of loss made the last half of my pregancy with Libby nearly unbearable.
The doctor agreed to let me have Libby thirteen days before my due date, since she was ready physically and we were so concerned for her safety. With so much extra fluid, she had more room than a baby normally would. That increased the chances of there being a cord accident.
It was a very long and unproductive first half of labor. I progressed, then simply stopped. No amount of medicine was making me dilate. I had a terrible reaction to my epidural, as I have trouble with any type of anesthesia. It caused my blood pressure to drop to nearly nothing. I believe it was 40 over something. I passed out whenever I made the slightest movement. After a lot of doctors running around and yelling 'stat' I made it through the remainder of labor and delivery by keeping my head lower than my feet. Libby came down into the canal, then something happened and she slid back up. The doctor ordered that an OR be readied for my possible cesarean, and gave me a very short deadline. If Libby hadn't come back down in a matter of minutes I was being sent to the OR. She cooperated and the doctor allowed me to start pushing. Because of the epidural issue, I had to push Libby out while laying flat on my back and with my head lower than my feet. She was facing the wrong way and then turned while coming through the canal, therefore causing extreme internal tearing.
Late in the night Libby was finally born, healthy and thriving. The irony was that her cord was abnormally short, making it impossible for her to move around much in the womb. After all of our worry over cord accidents it turned out that not only did her short cord make it very unlikely, but we actually should have been concerned about cord abruption. Isn't it funny how the universe works things out?
The depth and span of emotions I experienced after Libby's birth is impossible for me to describe. It was a long and very painful journey punctuated by one truly miraculous moment. A moment when tears and laughter spilled from deep within me.
It's been a very interesting four years since then, filled with ups and downs. More than anything filled with love. Four years later I am still stunned by the miracles I see when I look at Libby and Amelia, just as I will always be stunned by the depth of sadness I feel when thinking of burrying their big sisters, Rainey and Grace.
But mostly by the depth of my love for all four of my beautiful girls.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Cake #5

For the love of Pete....I'm in the process of making the fifth cake in three days. This one is for Libby to take to daycare with her tomorrow. Tomorrow is her actual birthday. I can't just bake it, slap frosting on, and be done. No, not me. I have to make stencils so I can use them to sprinkle colored sprinkles on the cake in the shapes of a crown and a dragonfly... Have to make a '4' out of several wafer cookies, icing, and silver balls....
I'm tired. And I'm even more tired of cake.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Libby's 4th Birthday Party

Today we had Libby's fourth birthday party. It was a PINK snacks, pink drinks, everyone had to wear pink. It was great. I made Libby a Barbie cake, and she loved it. Four cakes later, that Barbie cake is a story in itself....a story for another time. Libby got all sorts of great gifts, her Grandparents even gave her a pink motorcycle to match mine! Check out the photo of us trying to look tough.

Cranes, Trains, & Automobiles

I was told that it was about time for me to write a respectable long run report. It's been a while since the last adventure-laden tall tale of running and danger. So here you are, then.

This morning, after a very short night due to Barbie cake baking (more on that later tonight) and daylight savings, I got up to run with Jo. I felt like caca. Like doodie. Even a bit like poo. The butterscotch pudding baby-produced type of poo. That's bad.
I got moving and hunted down my running clothes and ate some magic cereal (Rice Crispies...they are 'magic cereal' in our house due to their noise making abilities).

The temperature was somewhere in the low 20's I'm guessing, and the sky was blue and beautiful. I decided to run ninja-style (all black, with full ninja type hood/face mask)in case there was any trouble. Thank God I did.

There was a considerable amount of ice on the streets and sidewalks today from yesterday's melt and the night's freeze. This meant that Jo and I did a lot of slipping, sliding, tiptoeing, leaping, and swearing. As my very intellectual running partner explained, she is better on snow, while I am better on ice. Why, you might ask? Because she has Bozo sized feet that operate as snowshoes. Whereas I have freakishly tiny feet which allow me better stability on ice and other slick surfaces such as swimming pools of Crisco (on my wrestling nights) and polished linoleum. This is apparently because they support more weight per cubic inch. I'm not so sure if that was not actually some sort of comment on my girth. Regardless, there were several episodes of slapstick style arm-flailing, leg-spinning, and butt-landing. Mostly by Jo, with her less weight per square inch constitution.

Slipping and sliding, we kept on running.

About three miles into the run we came across a train. A long train. It was blocking our planned route, so we turned and ran parallel with it. The train pulled ahead a bit, so we dug in and gave 'er all we had....and started gaining. Car by grafiti covered car we slowly moved up toward the engine. Chugga chugga, chugga chugga, CHOOOO CHOOOOOOO! The train heaved with effort, steam pushing into the crisp air...the conductor hung out of his window looking back...then ahead...then back again..... Jo and I dug deep into the wells of our determination and grit and continued to move up. The train was approaching our last chance at turning and crossing the tracks. Jo and I looked at one another and gave a nearly invisible nod, and pushed onward. Fifty feet... forty-two feet.... thirty-three feet, four inches..... The train's steam was whistling and wheels grinding on the track. Jo and I pounded against the pavement, our breath growing louder and faster. Twelve feet.... eight feet.... I grabbed Jo's hand and pulled her with me across the tracks just as the train flew by, horn screaming.

A laugh was exchanged and we kept on running.

A couple of miles later we heard an unfamiliar call. Both of us stopped and turned, looking around to learn who was making the sound...."Hey Hotties!!!!!" "hoooooo Mamas!!!" Oh yeah, that's right...we were feeling pretty good about our hot selves at that moment. Then we realized that it was three cranes calling to another crane flying solo. Apparently male cranes are just as well-versed in cat-calling as males of the human variety. Who knew?

A bit demoralized we kept on running.

As is always the case, we had trouble with automobiles. People do not take kindly to runners in the street. So they aim for them. Somewhere around mile eight an elderly man and his wife rolled down the window of their Buick and pointed at us. I assumed that they were just like the others and would be yelling at us about not running on the (icy) sidewalk. I was just about ready to pull back and sock the guy in the eye when Jo grabbed my arm. As it turns out the nice 95 year old couple just needed directions.

I took a deep breath, gave the directions, and we kept on running.

We only did ten miles today because Libby's birthday was in a few hours and I needed to finish getting ready. We did well despite the cranes, trains, and automobiles.....

Saturday, March 10, 2007

New Photos of the Girls

I took some more photos of the girls inside today with just natural light. Still practicing and don't have the right lens for it, but they turned out pretty well, I think!
Libby's full name, Libelula, (with an accent over the 'e') is the Spanish word for 'dragonfly'. She was playing with a dragonfly cookie cutter that I'm planning to use for cutting out decorations for her cake....

How wide can you open your mouth...does it compare with my little girl? And check out those teeth...she's obviously very proud.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Can you hear the rumble?

They're forcasting 48 degrees on Monday and 54 degrees on Tuesday....time to get the bike out!!!!! You can bet that if we get up close to that temperature this biker girl will be riding to work on the pink Daisy. That's right, my motorcycle will officially come out of Winter storage and I'll be breaking in my new jacket. I'd better polish up the pink flames on the helmet and get ready to brave snowbanks and road grit. I'll keep you posted on any motorcycle activity. I just can't keep Daisy locked up in the stinky garage any longer!

We're getting ready for the pink party on Sunday. Today was the trip to the party store, tomorrow will bring cleaning, stuffing goody bags, a trip to the grocery store, and the baking of the cake. The very special cake.... Sunday morning is a long run of somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 miles (not as long as I'd like, due to a time shortage in the Reb Haus) and then it's time to party in pink.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Chumley the Wonder Dog

Quite often the bedtime stories I tell Libby are about Chumley the Wonder Dog.
Chumley is our 10 year old Golden Retriever.
Chumley the Wonder Dog can dance and walk on two feet and wears funny outfits or a tutu. Libby counts Chumley the Wonder Dog as he flies over the moon some nights...when counting sheep just won't do.
Last night we were hanging out and suddenly Libby laughed really loud and said, "Mommy, Daddy, Look!! Chumley is by Holly's butt and he's standing on his two feet like Chumley the Wonder Dog!!"

Chumley was mounting Holly, the Black Lab. Sure enough...Chumley the Neutered Wonder Dog was was going for it.

On another note, Amelia now says "Elmo" and "cup" but still no "Daddy". Chris and I are both "Mommy". Her "please" and "no!" are two of her best (and most often used) words.

And another Libby-ism.... As she was getting ready to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house last Friday, she told me, "Grandma calls me Sugar." I asked, "do you like that?" She said, "oh yes." I replied, "you can call her Sugar Mama". Libby shook her head and corrected me...."no, Mommy, she's 'Suga-rama' (pronounced Shug-o-rama). She was very pleased with herself and I died laughing.

Libby turns four next week. I'm not quite sure how that happened. We're having a pink party this weekend. That's the Everyone who comes has to be wearing something pink. Something visible. Even the men and boys. Chris, for example, will be wearing my pink baseball hat. Pink snacks, pink cake, and pink drink.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Did it.

Done. 14 miles on snowy and icy terrain (people seem to think that shoveling is a sign of weakness or something, I guess) with high winds.
Even with having to tiptoe over lots and lots of icy patches, snow, and just barely thawed puddles, and being blown sideways at times, I averaged an 11:00 pace. Not too bad. It will be better next time when I have my running partner pushing me along and entertaining me with tall tales about sheep and goats. But I did it.
I'm spent.
Plus, Libby is home after a fun weekend at Grandma and Grandpa's house. I'm pretty sure that she did not want to come home, but I did get some big hugs and kisses.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The gnomes love me!!

Today a package arrived. At first glance it appeared to be an ordinary brown envelope...but upon closer inspection I found that it was a package sent from the gnomes. From the great family of Gnome to me--an unworthy but appreciative human.
Inside the package was a note which read:

"Greetings Dear Reb from new Orleans,
Enjoying Gnomecon 2007. Wish you were here. We'd show you pictures of what we did for drinks on Bourbon Street but we didn't want anyone to get embarrassed. Your imagination will have to suffice instead.
With Love and Adulation,
The Gnomes
P.S. Enclosed is a small token of our affections for you, Gnome Goddess, so you won't forget us"

As if that touching letter was not enough, it was accompanied by a gift. They sent... are you ready?.....are you sitting down?....okay, prepare yourself.....
a "Wee Little Garden Gnome"!!!!!!! he is a lovely little flower-holding gnome about three inches tall.

My desk at work will now be a much brighter place. As I stare at my computer each day, I will have a constant reminder of Gnometopia....the land where all is good and full of beauty.

Thank you, my gnome friends. I am humbled by your greatness and generosity.

AND we got an offer on the house today!!!!! They lowballed us, but hopefully they will accept our counter offer and we will be rid of it by March's end. Thank all that is good and holy.

All by myself.....

Tomorrow I have 14 miles on my training schedule and I have to run them on my own because my running partner isn't available. Anyone have any tips on running that far without someone to pull me along?
...okay, I'll be honest, my training schedule actually says to run 16 miles....but I refuse to do that alone, and frankly I don't feel physically ready to run that far yet. So I've made the executive decision to run 14.
The farthest I've ever run alone is 13.1 miles. That was the Fox Cities Half Marathon last September, and that was hard, but I did it. It was also a race with thousands of people running and spectators cheering me on. I doubt that I'll have too many people standing on the side of the road, holding signs, playing music, holding Gatorade out for me to grab, and yelling words of encouragement as I pass tomorrow.
I think I'll be on my own. SO, anyone have any tips?

Libby is gone all weekend to her grandparents' house... and I miss her already!! They asked if they could pick her up from the sitter on Friday and take her to a magic show, then keep her until Sunday. Libby's been dying of excitement for weeks. It's weird just having Amelia here, but she's loving the extra attention. We are loving the extra sleep since she usually sleeps a couple hours later in the morning than Libbs. She and I are going out to Jo's farm this afternoon to play a little and so I can give her the proofs from our shoot last weekend and a housewarming gift I put together. I will post a photo of it after I give it to her, because I really like it. :)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Is that one tough gnome, or what???

So, what do you think of the bad-ass gnome on my new header? Toughest gnome you've ever seen, isn't he?
I found some really interesting ones today....some dirty ones and some cute ones and some downright freaky ones...
Check out Gnomeland!!! There are some sweet gnomes there. The "Modern/Rude/Naughty" section is particularly entertaining. There is even a motion activated gnome that farts when someone walks by!!