Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Helen cooks! Fall Flavors - Krusteaz Yumminess!

Finally, it is fall. I can tell it's fall because I have worn pants for three consecutive days and I haven't had to turn the upstairs AC on in order for the kids to be able to sleep. That's good news, in my book. Fall is not only great for running (assuming my back pain leaves!), it's great for eating things that are pumkin-y and cranberry-ish and warm - all of which, I love.

Helen came home from school, inspired to make a mess bake. Now that she is 9, and looking for a little independence, the kitchen seems to be a go-to spot. I was hoping to capture her making pancakes with Ed one morning, but I got home from running too late. But alas, I did watch her make cranberry-orange bread. It was tasty!

She started with a box of Krusteaz muffin mix, that I had left on the counter. I convinced her that making bread was even easier than muffins, because she wouldn't need to spill mix all over fitting it into muffin wrappers take so much time with individual wrappers.

She read the directions on the box, and set to it. She replaced the water that was called for in the recipe with milk, something I always do.

Note - during this exercise, I learned that Helen is freakishly good at doubling and halving recipes when I would ask her things like "what if we only wanted to make half" or "what if we wanted twice as much". Not bad for the start of third grade from a girl who claims to not like math.

I also noticed, that now that Helen is 9, if I tell her "please don't make a mess" before she starts her kitchen exploits, she's pretty good at not making a mix. (Pro-tip - I have this large bowl with a spout from Tupperware. It's easy to pour from, reducing the mess of transferring the batter to a pan.)

She folded in the cranberries and while doing so said "maybe we could put these in a drink sometime". I like how that girl thinks.

The only part of the baking I did was transferring the bread into the oven and onto the cooling rack. It turned out great. Toasted with butter, it made for an excellent morning meal for me.

Next up? I'll capture the pancake making.


Disclaimer: I received these mixes from Krusteaz to test. Our experience was good - and we'll use them again. Krusteaz makes several different mixes - I'm planning on trying the cinnamon-swirl mix, next!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Getting to the start line

Helen and I have had our ups and downs, particularly lately. She argues all the time, and it's wearing on me - for sure. I've been mid-text with my sister and mother to commiserate and while I have been texting to complain, Helen has been picking a fight. It's that bad, sometimes. (Most egregious argument? Whether melon was sweet or not sweet, which is when I finally had to tell her that we were going to have a lot of really great and interesting things to argue about over the next few years, so this was just one we could not engage in.)

To be clear, I understand a little of what Helen is going through. I was once the under-sized little sister to a big sister who did a lot of things right. Just like Helen wants to not be "little" all the time, I wanted to be thought of as independent and a big girl. I don't blame Helen. It's part of life.

But just when I'm about to throw my hands up in the air, I am reminded that she also always knows just what to say when she knows things are not going well.

On Saturday, I woke up in so much pain that I was unable to walk, turn my head, or really do anything without wanting to tear up. We were at the beach. The pain had started on Thursday morning and was intermittently better. It became clear to me that my goal race - the Marine Corps Marathon - wasn't going to be in the cards for me if things didn't turn around quickly. (Race day was just 8 days away.)

I booked an appointment for a massage. Ed lifted pretty much anything that needed to be lifted. Miraculously, no child jumped on me, asked to be carried, or played too roughly with me.

Helen did follow me into the bathroom and tell me "I just know you're going to be able to run, Mommy. I just know you're going to feel better soon." And she didn't just tell me this once. She would find private moments  over the course of the weekend, ask me how I was doing, and then assure me it was going to be fine. I was going to be able to run.

And after my massage, I was feeling a lot better. I am treading lightly now, hoping that nothing tightens back up. I  have abandoned carrying things up or down stairs. I make sure I sit properly, take walk breaks, and stand while working when I can. I stretch every half hour and I keep hearing that little girl assuring me that I will be able to run.

Helen - you have made a thousand stars shine for me.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Ragnar 1.0

Two weekends ago, I ran a Ragnar race. For those not familiar, this is a 200ish mile relay race. Ultra teams have 6 people, regular teams have 12 people. Runners run legs of defined lengths and then pass a wrist band off to the next runner at defined exchange points. In my case, we were an 11ish person team because people who normally would've been teammates were participating in other events or injured. On the up side, two of the injured people drove our vans and planned the whole thing - which was supremely nice for the rest of us - especially a newbie like me who rather enjoyed receiving a list of things to pack which included "plastic bags to store your clothing in". Yes, that was necessary.

Our team was full-on "team" and it was wonderful to experience 14 women coming together to eat, sleep, debate, support, and even run together. How did we get from 11 to 14, you ask? Well, we had 11 runners signed up. We had two drivers, bringing us to 13, and one of our volunteers - a mother of two of the women running - actually donned a pair of kicks and took on a 2 mile leg for us. Thankfully.

The team was originally assigned a start time of around noon, which sounded nice, but would've meant we risked being out on the course as the course was closing. So our team captain asked for a new start and - ouch - we were awarded 7:45. That, in itself, is not so bad. But we needed to arrive an hour before that, and the race is a couple of hours away and so a 7:45 start meant leaving my house at a time that started with 4. That is just not right. But still,  better than being out on the course at the end!

We packed the vans quickly - including a couple of cases of Honest Tea Sport - which I didn't even know existed until a few days before the race. I was gifted a few of these gems, along with the products I'm more familiar with (kids fruit drink and flavored teas for me!) and I was so surprised, I emailed the company letting them know I'd take the drinks on a relay race with me. And, as it turns out, Honest Tea has a soft spot for crazy sports, and they dropped a couple of cases of their drinks off on my front porch for my whole team! We had the orange and lemon varieties, and my take on them is that they are not as sweet as some other products out there. And, since one of my teammates can no longer drink one of those other products because they are so sweet, it was nice having these along. THANK YOU! They were consumed with a lot of smiles and no complaints. I've been enjoying them post-run for the past week as well.

After the packing, and the driving to the start where we met teammates who had come from Texas and Pennsylvania, it was time to decorate the van. This is actually a thing, and my one regret is that it's also a thing to have team magnets made and stick them on other vans. I've put myself in charge of magnet procurement for the next relay event I'm involved in. Our van decorator was extraordinary. Our team is team is the "Capitol Bound Chicks".

Our first runner was running around a lake to start the race while the rest of us moved items to the correct van, checked the gear tent for items we wanted to buy, and then got ready to cheer on runner number 2. At that point, the vans split up and we would only see each other at every 6th exchange, where one van's runners would drive ahead and rest while the other van's runners would complete the next 6 legs of the course.

I was in van 2, runner 11, which meant everyone from van 1 and 4 runners from my van would run before I started. By the time I started, I could tell I was in a sweet position. There are strict rules about when reflective gear must be worn. I had a 5 mile run on a dirt path along a canal (which are just about the best running conditions I can imagine) and if I ran it quickly, I wouldn't need extra gear. I got super lucky because a woman passed me basically the moment I stepped onto the path. She then proceeded to run the most even 5 miles possible, so I planted myself about 10 feet behind her and followed. This took the pressure of worrying about missing a directional sign and I didn't have to think about my pace at all.

After my run, I handed off to runner 12, watched her take off in still decent light (but with reflective gear), headed to the next exchange where we would see our teammates from van 1 and have a driver change, and then wait for our runner to come in. After that, we drove ahead to pass the next six legs which our van 1 would be doing, and stopped for dinner.

We found this. Yes, Italian AND Mexican. No, I cannot explain it. But I will say, I was the only one who was in the clean plate club that night. BOOM!

Now, off to sleep (I chose to sleep in the van) and wait for our turn to run.

By the time it was our turn again, it was dark. I think I started running around 3:00 AM. It was a 10 mile leg and I was very alone. I passed a few people running (it's a staggered start, so it's not like a normal race where you and your 10,000 best friends are all plodding along together) but nobody running near my pace. There was one man walking who didn't look great, but he assured me he was fine. There was also one crazy old dude that was spectating. When my van drove ahead and passed him, they looked for a place to pull over to make sure the dude wasn't up to any mischief. But there wasn't a good spot. I noticed him from quite a ways back, decided even though I'd been running in dark for over an hour I could still take him, took comfort in his Nats cap, and passed without incident. The mind can do crazy things running in the middle of the night and I was very proud that mine didn't get out of control. I also was able to find and follow every turn - thank you race organizers for marking the course so well! I was on shoulderless back roads for the most part, and at one point, decided I need to run sort of quickly to make sure I wasn't on those roads when traffic started up. Safety provides good motivation!

Next, we went to a playground to get some sleep. Three of us headed out in sleeping bags while the other three stayed in the van. My previous van sleeping experience was not great. I was ready for something with a little more air flow. We intentionally chose spots away from the runner exchange point, so it would be quiet. What we did not count on were Ragnar volunteers deciding around 6:00 AM that playing the playground gongs would be a great idea. They did apologize profusely when my fellow runner let them know, politely, that we were trying to sleep. Around 7:00, kids came to the playground, and their parents were quite apologetic but of course, we were telling them we should apologize for sleeping next to their playground. Hopefully no children were scarred by seeing three moms rolled up in sleeping bags taking naps!

Starbucks was employed to jump start our final set of legs. We were in DC, and by the time I ran, it was hot - conditions I'm  just not good in. I did walk a bit of my last leg, though still came in at my predicted time. Thankfully, we did some creative runner exchanging which split the final leg up - because that piece of the course was beastly in distance and heat.

All in all, this was a wonderful weekend away. The timing didn't end up being great, because the following weekend I was at a bachelorette party, and the weekend that just passed I went to Boston for Friday night / Saturday morning.

Things have been topsy-turvy and the whole family is headed out on vacation soon - so for now, thank you, Honest Tea! I'll definitely be buying more of your product. Thank you friends, for the fun times, and hopefully - I'll be able to run with the team again.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Orange Cat

I don't like cats. In fact, I have an irrational fear of them, and while I know it is irrational - this hasn't made me get over it. It has made me to pretend to get over it so I don't pass it along to my kids, which I have been a wee bit too successful at.

They love cats.

They have never met a cat they didn't love.

They think when I tell my story about how I became afraid of cats, I must be exaggerating.

Thankfully, they are both allergic to cats so we can never have one.

Orange Cat is a neighborhood cat who occasionally hangs around our house. This thrills the kids, as they are eager to befriend orange cat and know that so long as they don't touch their face, they won't have swollen, watery eyes. They mostly remember this.

A few mornings ago, Helen was delighted to announce that Orange Cat had returned. She witnessed Orange Cat crawling out from beneath our car and expressed surprise to Ed that Orange Cat could fit under our car. Little did she know, Orange Cat was hiding under our car doing very, very bad things.

Ed dropped Helen off at the corner so she could walk to school with her friend (more on that later). He then drove off in our car, that Orange Cat had been shamefully hiding under. As he rolled off, he revealed a beautiful gold finch that is one of several that hangs out in our backyard. Only the beautiful gold finch will no longer be hanging out in our backyard, because the gold finch was dead - and it was clear to me bad things had happened to that bird on its way to death.

I was horrified. I almost cried when I saw it lying there. It was bordering on disgusting because the flies had found it. I wanted to pretend I hadn't seen it, but I try to live with a "smelt it dealt it" sort of policy on these issues, and I knew that Connor would be walking right by it later that afternoon when he parked his bike in the shed.

And so I found myself adulting. I went inside, grabbed a plastic bag, grabbed a plastic shovel that had been lying by our trashcan for no reason except nobody bothered moving it, and then I scooped the body up and disposed of it - along with the shovel and bag.

So Orange Cat - I already didn't like you because of your feline nature. Now I really don't like you because of your murderous tendencies.

Get off my lawn!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Summer: Week 5

Helen attended a horse camp with one of her favorite people in the world. Helen got to attend this camp because her friend's mom is very organized. I think it might have been January when I got the first email with instructions on how to sign up - and I received a text the morning of sign-up, just to make sure Helen got into the camp. I pride myself on being on top of most organization things, but this woman just crushes me. Which is actually nice and I hope Helen and her daughter remain friends for a long time!

Much of our summer ended up being planned around this camp because canceling would've caused heartbreak in both girls. Unfortunately, it was among the hotter weeks we were in town. It was so hot, that the girls didn't get to ride horses on the first day of camp because it was "too hot" for them and another day, they rode bareback. I know less than nothing about horses, but this seems like a not great idea to me. But, Laura Ingalls Wilder did it with her cousin so Helen figured it was a great idea. And I guess it was fun.

The camp was run by the local YMCA. Children were dropped off there each morning and a bus took them to the stables. Campers spent the morning with horses and then in the afternoon they went to museums and waterparks. I'm not sure if the museums were planned or not - I certainly thought the girls would spend the whole day at the stables. In any case, it was sort of thumbs down on the afternoon activities (except the day they spent at the waterpark) and thumbs up on the horse part. In the end, I think Helen would like to do a horse camp again, but we might look around for another one.

Connor, on the other hand, was sent to math nerd camp. The curriculum in our public school is atrocious for highly advanced kids. Even challenging material isn't all that challenging. I really feel like I'm losing Connor on the math front, and I don't want that to happen. He's quite gifted at thinking through complex math concepts, and I'd like him to not give up on math as being boring until he gets through high school. In fact, I'd like him to stick with math through college, given that my office has had such great success hiring math majors. They tend to be able to think logically, solve problems, and work efficiently. These are great skills, regardless of what he ends up doing in graduate school.

A mom in a similar situation suggested this camp - and it is exactly what Connor and I both needed. Daily (for nearly two weeks), I reverse commuted, dropped him off, and then worked in a Starbucks until he was finished. It was a half day camp. The first week, it was supplemented with a baseball camp and I can't even believe he enjoyed it, given the heat. But alas, he had fun. The second week, he hung out around the house while I crammed work in - though we did make it to one IMAX downtown.

The camp instructor restored my faith in education. He told me he loved working with Connor. He told me Connor was "old school gifted", which meant he's a kid with a super high IQ but hasn't necessarily been exposed to anything challenging. The two of them sorted through negative base 10 numbers one day, chatted about things I have long since forgotten, and in the end - the instructor told me he'd be happy to tutor Connor free, given that Connor had to miss a session of camp. His eyes lit up when he talked about Connor and as much as our home school district has suggested I should slow my role, he was suggesting just the opposite. Keep that kid engaged! Make sure he has a peer to challenge him! Look for these signs to know he's being engaged properly (some interest in the subject, happy to chat about it at least a few days a week). And mostly, don't put artificial boundaries on him. He deserves to be educated. I almost cried talking to him because I have spent so much time explaining to people in our home school district that if they do not challenge Connor soon, we are all going to be losers.

Ed and I learned we had forgotten a lot of geometry, but could still hang in stats and algebra / trig type homework. I was impressed with Connor's willingness to work pretty hard. It was definitely good for him to see that this thing he loves does have people doing interesting things with it. Hopefully, that lesson sticks long enough to inspire him to keep going.

In the end, I think Connor would do the camp again, if only to see the instructor again.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Nellie's Eggs!

When I am  training for a marathon, I often joke that I eat like it's my job. It's not far from the truth. I try and eat a lot of protein packed food, because I read somewhere that it aids in recovery. Given how sore I am at times, I can't say it's magical - but I don't have a hard time believing I'd be more sore or take longer to recover if I didn't pack  my day with protein.

I would also be hungrier. That, I'm certain about - because the days I don't start with eggs or yogurt, I'm falling apart by 10:00 AM. This is not good, if I want to be productive at work.

So...when Nellie's Eggs contacted me to try their product, I was all in. I present to you, eggs three ways.

For the record, Nellie's are free-range, certified humane - and also available at my local grocery store (this is important, since we don't tend to go to multiple stores each week). The hens laying these eggs don't get doused with antibiotics or hormones, a trait I appreciate. And, they might even make your kids cuter - well, the kids in their video are cute, anyway.

(1) Hard-Cooked Eggs

Connor makes these for me. I have a magnet with instructions that I keep on the side of the refrigerator:

1. Place eggs in saucepan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Heat over high heat just to boiling. 2. Remove from burner. Cover pan. Let eggs stand in hot water for about 15 minutes for large eggs. 3. Drain.

These are my go-to option, since I can carry them into the office with little trouble.

(2)  Eggs and potatoes - my children are not fans of breakfast burritos, but I am. So I've been trying to teach them to make these, hoping that eventually they'll give in and just eat the concoction.

1. Cut a potato into small cubes. Fry. 2. Push the potatoes to one side of the pan and scramble an egg in the other side. It doesn't matter if things get all mixed up. Load onto a soft taco shell (referred to as "taco bread" in my house).

(3) And, because I was supposed to be at the beach this last weekend and was counting on my friend to cook me some delicious breakfast I present his version of eggs - an omelet with brie, caramelized onions, mushrooms, and spinach. That is a combo I approve of!

Friday, September 2, 2016

MCM Training

I would rate this training cycle as meh. I had a lot of trouble adjusting to summer humidity, found myself cutting some runs short, having trouble keeping up, and being intimidated by the hills around me. So I read a few articles on motivation, tried to step back and think about what's happening around me, and set about resetting my training.

The week I spent in New York with Ed's family was fantastic, from a running perspective. I got up and out the door every day I was supposed to run, had a really successful long run, and Ed even joined me twice - and in a week of solo running, that was really appreciated.

Shortly after getting home from New York, we took off on a 17 day European adventure (first and last days were mostly travel) and I would say I kept up with running, for the most part. I ultimately logged 130 miles in August and that's just under what I had hoped for.

Once I returned to DC, I knew it was time to put my business hat on and get to work. I hit my training plan like it owned me.

Sunday - mostly solo 10 miler; company for the last 2 (I'm almost embarrassed. to admit that I found myself highly motivated to keep going so I could hatch eggs from Connor's Pokemon Go game - Connor would not be embarrassed that he was motivated to run two miles with me just so he could hit Pokestops and battle Pokemon in gyms).

Monday - 4 miles; Tuesday - 9 miles; Wednesday - 3 miles; Thursday - TRACK!; but this morning? It was the run that gave me the confidence to keep going. I met a friend before the crack of dawn, drove to her house (1.5 miles away) and we set out through her hilly streets. We actually got pretty close to my home at one point, and I desperately wanted to run down the hill and skip the second half of our run, but I didn't want to have to deal with getting my car later in the day - so up the hill I went as we proceeded onward.

And then it happened. We started talking about kids and school, and she is such an amazing mom of four kids and has a vast knowledge of education (she teaches) and at some point, she said "we're getting close to my house - what are we at?" and I fully expected to see I had run 8 miles but no - we were at 8.97, so with a goal of 9 for the morning - we were sitting on finished! The time went so fast, I had so much fun, and my head is clear and ready to finish this training cycle up.

Tomorrow I have 19 planned, and I'll be running it solo. Hopefully the hurricane predicted to be where I'm staying won't get there, though Ed warns it might be a pretty windy run. Regardless of conditions, the run will also be important.

But today? I feel like I found some mojo and wanted to record it because the run was that much fun.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Summer: Week 4

Phew - it's been a long break from the blog. I went on vacation, didn't take my laptop, and pretty much avoided communication outside a few random Facebook posts. I *almost* forgot my password at work, which is my sign of a good vacation, but I was able to figure it out before I got locked out of my account.

So...this post digs into the way back trenches of my mind, so I have a reference for next year when I'm trying to figure out what to do with the kids!

Week 4 took us on vacation with Ed's family. Ed's mom rented three houses - one waterside, which we stayed in with Ed's parents, and two across the roads for Ed's younger siblings. Our vacation started out a bit ominously. We decided to drive about halfway to the lake we were staying at and go whitewater rafting.

First, it's super awesome that the kids can now do stuff like go whitewater rafting, though it's nothing like last year when Ed and I were on water rough enough with friends that we had to have a guide in the boat. But still, the kids get to bump around a little, people can fall out occasionally, and in general it's a fun time. This particular trip was made fun because the attitude was full on - we are at war with every other boat and we will drench them with our super soakers. You would think this would get old, but if you are 8 and 10, it does not. And even the older folks in the crowd, who really shouldn't have been subjected to this sort of warfare, seemed amenable and to be having a good time.

At one point, a crew of teens passed us, and then one of their riders was tossed into a rapid. We ended up pulling the teen on board - a prisoner, if you will - and then the mom of the teen demanded we give him up to her boat. Clearly, the teen wanted to be with his friends, and the dad was unconcerned, so we did not agree to the prisoner exchange. We let the teen get back onto his own boat. Helen and Connor thought the whole thing was pretty funny.

This was all fantastic, but then Ed got the (smart) idea to fill the tires of our car up with air. Sadly, the piece of the tire that connects to the air pump broke off. So we got to watch the tire deflate completely. Sad day. With the help of a passerby, Ed got the spare tire on, we got the car repacked, and then we found a repair shop getting ready to close that agreed to stay open to fix our car. And that wasn't all - they refused to charge us to fix the tire, because they didn't have the right sensor mechanism (which is only important because it lets us know when the tires need air, but suffice to say we weren't going to try that crazy move again!). The owner said we could just tip the worker, but then the worker insisted $20 or $40 or some other offered sum was just too much. I think he ended up taking $10.

We were the last to arrive at the house. The kids had an enormously fun time with their cousins, complete with tubing, swimming, crafting, and just about every other activity they could dream up at the beach.

We ended the trip with a visit to one of Ed's brother's home (pool!) and then stopped for dinner in front of a statue with a mom walking with her two kids. I couldn't pass up the photo op.

The annual photo in front of a pizza joint we visit whenever we're up at a lake in the Adirondacks.
Ed and a brother preparing for fireworks.


Connor being a good sport with the youngest cousin.


I am getting ready to ride on a roller coaster.

Two most energetic kids at the park.

My hiking family.
Swimming with cousins.

Real life and art.
I'm exhausted reliving this.

Justin's snack packs - saving me in Europe

Our big trip this summer was to visit friends in Vienna. En route, we spent nights in Prague and Cessky-Krumlov -  and then spent days afterward in Venice and Muhlberg. After I stop sobbing about the 1,013 photos that are being transferred from my camera to my computer,  I will compose myself and start posting about the trip.

But for now, I'll just note that - because I am trying to not die at a fall marathon,  it is necessary for me to run while vacationing. This is good, because I enjoy running. It's problematic because to pull it off, I must escape a hotel room early in the morning without waking anyone so much that they decide to start their day with me. I also must find a way to get protein and calories into my system so I don't complain about being hungry all morning after my run. Because when I run, I get hungry.

Enter, Justin's. Justin's sells fancy peanut butter cups at Whole Foods. I have been known to snag one when I am getting otherwise nutritious food, just so the world doesn't feel some sort of awkward imbalance with me consuming too much fresh produce for a snack. Yum.

News to me, Justin's also sells nut butters - in single serving packs. I received samples of the Justin's maple almond butter and honey peanut butter. These goodies are delicious and can be slapped on  a roll with breakfast for a fantastic after-running treat. I will also admit to one rather weird habit, possibly shared only with my sister. We eat peanut butter on pancakes. Justin's maple almond butter on pancakes is delicious. The maple in it makes me think it's not as weird as it seems to put peanut butter on pancakes -  because lots of people put maple products on their pancakes.

Regardless, these little packs got me through Prague and Cessky-Krumlov,  and I'm looking forward to tucking them into my running vest to use as quick protein after runs to aid in recovering.


I'm a Stonyfield blogger and as part of that program, received these delicious samples. They're sold at grocery stores (I found them at a local Safeway and Whole Foods). All opinions are my own.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Summer - Week 3

This past week, Connor went to sports camp all week and Helen went to Junior Naturalist camp.

Even though Junior Naturalist camp ended with Helen being stung by a wasp 3 times - twice by her eye and once on her back - I can tell this camp is going to be hard to beat. Every day the kids did some cool activity, and they spent pretty much the entire time outside.

Highlights included building their own shelters, going on a stream hike, and going on a morning hike at a different nature center that ended up at a water park. As far as I can tell,  the leaders of the camp brought a ton of energy to their jobs, and it was obvious everyone just adored Helen - which I'm sure is partly because the kid was so happy!

Connor's camp was OK, but not great. It's been super hot here, and playing outside pretty strenuously was a bit more than Connor was up for (especially as he looked back fondly on his prior week in video game camp).

This week, we're chillin' with the in-laws in the Adirondacks. The trip started a bit rough, when Ed tried to put air in the car tires. The nozzle that you put air into broke off - and all of the air in that tire escaped. Thankfully, he was able to get the little spare tire on, we found a service station that not only stayed open late to get our car on the road, they then refused to charge us. When I tried to give the guy who had saved our vacation $40, he told me he could not possibly accept it, took $20 and said he'd split it. People from Pennsylvania are clearly the nicest people on earth.

Prior to the mini disaster, we had been whitewater rafting in the morning which ended Helen's longstanding fear of "foot traps" and whitewater. She is now ready to brave the rapids in Cessky Krumlov when we go there in August.

The kids had more fun running around today with their cousins than one would think possible, and by the end of the day, Helen's eye (which had been swollen completely shut the morning before) looked basically normal. She was also so tired that even though a cousin spent the night, she wasn't even tempted to stay up late chatting.

I rocked 6 miles in the hills with Ed and am looking forward to more tomorrow. These miles are happier than others because I had a 2-day bout with sciatica that I thought would surely end my dreams of running MCM. But game on - my back has been fine for the past week.