Archive for September, 2009

September 29, 2009

My Running Update

A week ago I ran to the end of the pier — the one around 70th in Riverside Park. I started at  75th on Riverside Drive.  

I was breathing very hard. Hayden, who ran lightly beside me, told me not to breathe so heavily. He said that, “It just makes you more tired.”

“It’s all in your mind.” That’s what people tell you about running. They say, “Trick yourself when you run. Say ‘I’ll just run to the lamp post’ and then you find you’ve run to the FAR  lamp post, not the NEAR lamp post.” 

So a day later, I ran again. This time by myself. And I ran to the end of the pier and back. I was trying not to breathe hard. I was trying not to let the exhaustion get to me. I felt I’d doubled my distance.

This last weekend, on Saturday, I ran to the end of the pier and then back. And then to my surprise, I kept running.

I followed a guy a dozen paces ahead of me. He was at least 10 years older than me and at least 50 pounds heavier. He was sweating. I let him set the slow pace. I felt good.

I made it all the way to the women’s restroom near the boat basin. I looked at my phone. I had run for 13 minutes without stopping. I felt proud. I felt maybe I could’ve kept going.

The only problem with this new pursuit of running is that the endorphins have not kicked in yet.

I think they did kick in when running in the Adirodacks. But then the air is fresher there. The view of the mountains beautiful.

I started this blog when I started running with Deirdre and the girls. We ran upthe private road and all the way on Camp Dudley Road to the school house.

I really just took up running in search of endorphins. I’m still searching.

September 21, 2009

Too Much Hot Cocoa

My husband started cleaning the kitchen cabinets yesterday. Oh, I should be happy. See, we were plagued by these little nasty spice bugs.

But he is unable to complete a task (either due to his Parkinson’s Disease or his maleness) so he left the entire contents of the kitchen cabinet spread out on the kitchen table. “Okay,” I thought, “no problem, I’ll put things back or throw them out.”

And then, I noticed something about the contents on the table. We have a heck of a lot of hot cocoa. We have it from William Sonoma and from Swiss Miss. We have the fancy chocolate sprinkles from Neuhaus.

We have it no longer. We had it. I threw it all out. All six kinds of hot cocoa and four kinds of chocolate sprinkle-stuff. It was just too much. And I’m afraid that my accruing so much hot cocoa might say something about me and my parenting style. I indulge my kids too much.

I mean, does everyone find a ton of hot cocoa when they clean out their kitchen cabinets?

I casually know an older woman whose husband had Parkinson’s Disease and she said her one failing as a parent – when her children were little and her husband was declining – was that she spoiled them. When they were adults, her children did not thank her for indulging them. In fact, they reprimanded her. They wanted boundaries and limits, she waffled and was permissive.

She probably gave them lots and lots of hot cocoa.

As a parent of kids whose dad is ill, I admit I feel sorry for my kids. I want them to be warm and not cold. Hot cocoa is delicious after a day of sledding. But I try too hard. I buy them too much. There have got to be ways of warming the soul and keeping the cabinet free from clutter – ways that might not include chocolate.

September 10, 2009

Health Care for Caregivers

Just checked out the

Everyone has a health care story. This is the first one I read.

As a United Methodist Minister and Health care worker I affirm the church’s position and pledge my support on this issue. As a small membership pastor I do not have health insurance because the congregation I serve cannot afford the rates of the church sponsored plan. Since my health care job is on a “as needed” basis (prn) I do not qualify for health insurance. – Allen Noah Converse, TX

I do not know Allen Noah. But I believe he should have health care. I do not know a lot of people, but I believe we should all have health care. 

I have a place in my heart for people who care for other people – pastors, parents, caregivers, teachers, and doctors. I believe they especially need care. Just because someone does not have a traditional job that offers health care, that person should not be penalized or denied.

Is a small-town pastor less important than a big-time CEO? I don’t think so. As a follower of Jesus, I want to love, care for the least, the lost, the lonely. I want the above-mentioned pastor to have health care. I want the parent who opted out of the workforce to care for her infant to have health care.

I believe a country pastor or a stay-at-home parent is as valuable to our nation – even more so – than a corporate mogul who carries health insurance for his or her family.

I know several parents at my girls’ NYC public school, who have health care for their children, but not for themselves. They cannot afford it. They are parents who have jobs, but those jobs do not offer health care. And even if they did not have jobs, they should still have health care. I worry about them, I worry what would happen if they required major medical care.

God know, my family has needed major medical coverage over the last several years. My 12-year old has had three heart procedures. My husband had radiation for cancer and care for his Parkinson’s Disease. I have absolutely no doubt these procedures, treatments and doctors’ visits would have bankrupted us, had we no health insurance. Surely, we would be a million dollars in debt.

As we in the United States debate how to provide universal health care, I suggest we remember parents and pastors. Let’s not forget people who care for other people. Their work is priceless and too many of them are not insured.

September 5, 2009

Today’s a Day for Packing

The kids and I have had an extended summer road trip — a few days in Long Beach Island, New Jersey; the kids at Quinipet camp on Shelter Island, Long Island; I went to Dillard University in New Orleans and then the New Age Spa in the Catskills; the kids and I to School of Christian Mission in Danbury, Conn; a week at Chautauqua Institute in Western New York with my sister and her kids; almost two weeks in and around family in Chicago; back to the Adirondacks in Westport, New York.

The kids and I have done extensive lugging. When they returned from Quinipet, I went to our apartment basement and emptied each suitcase, then when their laundry was clean, I refilled each suitcase. The next day we left again. They have been living out of those big, bright suitcases for two months now.

On this trip, we also invented the ONO bag, the “One Night Only” bag. (And whenever we mention ONO, we sing that song, “One Night Only”.) In the ONO bag, there’s a toothbrush, a bathing suit, PJs, and a clean change of clothes for the next day. This is the bag you take into a hotel after a day on the road, like at those hotel stops in Binghamton, New York; Toledo, Ohio; and Erie, Penn.

When the kids and I went to Italy almost three years ago, each child had their own backpack. We checked no bags on the flight. By the end of our ten days, Charlottte’s light blue sweat pants were streaked with mud. We so needed a hot laundry cycle and I had hoped for that when we finally visited my cousin in Ravenna. But the electrical wiring in her house probably couldn’t handle our filthy loads. Any way, I felt it was an imposition to ask. Note to self, pack dark pants next time instead of light.

It is necessary to unpack, do laundry, and pack when you travel. Sometimes when I return from work travel, I leave the rolling bag untouched for days – even, yes, weeks. Maybe I hate to say good bye to a trip.

After you pack, eventually, you have to unpack. I don’t mind the former, I don’t like the latter. Because that means the trip is over. The only consolation is that soon you can travel again. I hate to end a trip without having another coming up soon.

I will go to the Taize community in the South of France in October, the whole family will go to Akumal in Mexico for Christmas. These are good trips to anticipate.

Because the upcoming trips are international, I have to return to the one bag travel, just the necessities – dark pants, toothbrush, layers.

I have to enlist the children today. They have to help pack and unpack. They have to carry the load.

Summer is almost over.

I hate it, but we have to do it. We have to pack up and unpack this summer road trip before we can pack for the next.

September 2, 2009

“Mom, you’re just too good for me.”

I swear to God my son just said that to me on the tennis court. I swear to God. This is the happiest day of my life. The best thing anyone has ever said to me.

Okay, okay, I’m a little competitive. I take a lot of (too much?) joy in beating people at tennis. I know I should be a bigger person. I should hit the ball gently to a 12-year old. I should hold back. But, God help me, I love to win.

The game was kind of crazy because we played Australian – or is it Canadian – doubles. The two of us against Chris, but Chris’s adding was getting a little funky. It was deuce and he’d say it was 15-30 – that kind of thing. He wanted to sit out. He dozed off on the bench, watching us play. Well, he wasn’t watching. He was dozing.

Hayden and I kept playing. The game was 3 to 0 in my favor. And he said that ill-fated line. “Mom, you’re just too good for me.” Oh God. I can’t tell you how good that felt. I asked him if he minded if we put that on my gravestone. I felt the endorphin rush.

Then he came back. It was 3 to 3. And it was game, set, match point; we were playing to 4 games.

Hayden served. It was deuce, add in, deuce, add out.  It was deuce, add out, then he double-faulted. I hate when anyone double faults, but in this case, I took the victory. It tasted sweet. I’m just too good.

September 1, 2009

Rattlesnake Mountain

We hiked Rattlesnake.

Maybe a fourth of the way up, Charlotte discovered a shedded snake skin stuck to the trunk of a toppled tree. Hayden peeled it up, like a nametag off a suit jacket. He made us all touch it. So yuck.

We arrived at the parking pull-off around noon and I think it was about 3:25 when we returned. Or else it was 3:52. I’m fairly beat now. And will likely feel it tomorrow.

In terms of endorphins, I think I hit them about 20 minutes into the hike on the way down. I was by myself. I felt a rush of well being as I watched my kids holding hands in a tunnel of light ahead of me. You know the kind of yellow light in the middle of green trees on a late summer day. Very nice. Very Hansel and Gretel. Heartwarming.

But then a stick and leaves were thrown. The girls broke into a fight. Catherine threw some kind of handful of seeds or leaves at Charlotte, to make it look like it was raining. And Charlotte took offense, said something nasty like “You touch yourself!” And Catherine said, “I was only making you look pretty.” And Charlotte said, “Without that stuff falling on me, you’re saying I”m not pretty?” in that kind of head-wagging way.

The endorphin buzz was lost somewhere in there.

But that’s what I get, hiking with 9-year old twins, a 12 year old, a 5 year old (Izzy, Kristen’s daughter), a 30-something year old, (Ben, Kristen’s boyfriend) and the husband with Parkinson’s.

I worried that the climb would be too difficult for Chris and Izy. But Izzy was only carried briefly on Ben’s shoulders.

Chris managed pretty well. Unlike our hike up Coon Mountain last week, when he was nearly last at the end of the hike, Chris, this time,  finished towards the front. With the help of a walking stick. And grit.