So yesterday my daughter sprang out of bed like a shot, ready to make breakfast. You see, she’d been planning this breakfast for WEEKS. My husband told me the night before that under no circumstances was I to get out of bed before the girl presented me with breakfast in bed – her treasured gift for my birthday. Who am I to argue with staying in bed on a weekend morning? And my four year-old was right. Breakfast in bed is an excellent way to start your birthday. I look forward to surprising her with the same treat in January. I can hear the giggles of delight now.

As I kick-off this new year of sorts, my heart is full.

1. We live close enough to my parents that we were treated to my birthday dinner at their house. I think celebrating a birthday with your parents is a pretty special event, especially once you have kids of your own.

2. One of my treasured birthday moments was having the kids play (quietly, in separate rooms even) while my husband and I read books on the couch next to one another. I don’t think we’ve shared this magical experience since before our son was born over seven years ago.

3. My son played “Happy Birthday” for me on the piano, a tune he taught himself by ear, while my mom presented me with my cake. His gift and passion for music can sometimes be a bit much, but there’s no substitution for the smile on his face when he pulls off a new song to entertain a crowd.

4. When I think of how my past year was spent and look ahead to this next year, I am happy with my choices. Like my husband said in an email to me today, “We are coming up on a GOOD year.” We’re ready for that.

5. Yesterday a childhood friend of mine had labor induced and she is SO CLOSE to welcoming her daughter into the world tonight. It was the same day that my roommate from my college studies abroad in Cortona, Italy married her soul mate. I’d call that a good day.

6. Next month I kick-off my Happiness Project Book Club at the YMCA where I teach. We’re using Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project book. I’m looking forward to truly examining the choices I make and the impact they have on my own happiness.

As for now, I’m going to soak-in the residual sunshine from yesterday’s festivities  . . . and have just one more bite of cake.



Tonight marked the end of the Fall Foot Patrol season. For six weeks, five coaches and I played running games, discussed hydration, the YMCA Core Values, the importance of stretching and good nutrition, and gradually increased our running distance with close to 30 elementary school students. Wow.

To celebrate how far they’ve come, today the runners completed their final 1.6 mile run around Lake Tye, a pretty man-made lake across the street from the YMCA. The far side of the lake backs up to a cattle farm, from which you can look across the lake and see the Cascade Mountains. Tonight, thanks to Daylight Savings, our 4:30 run was at sunset. We were treated to a beautiful pink sky and the near-full moon smiled at us from above while its reflection shimmered hello to us from the lake’s surface. While the majority of the runners ran 1.6 miles, eight amazing kids reached their goal of a full 5K (two laps around said lake). They ran it and they were STRONG.

I posted on Facebook: “I ran 5K this afternoon with some of my favorite people – eight 3rd – 5th graders. Along the way they made up cheers about Foot Patrol, high-fived and cheered on the younger kids who were running 1.6 miles, laughed and soaked-in the beauty of the moon’s reflection on the lake we ran around and the pink sky at sunset. It was perhaps my favorite 5K of all times.”

When I returned to the “party room” reserved for our post-run celebration with the 5K runners, we were greeted to cheers from parents and the younger runners. It was an incredible atmosphere of pride and confidence. The parents were beaming because running such a distance is something many of them have yet to accomplish, or something that they never imagined their child would do with such excitement and success. The kids were congratulating one another and chanting “Go, Foot Patrol!” between sips of cider and bites of cheese or apples.  After I passed out their certificates, for which each child got their own round of applause, one boy asked if he could share a prayer. It being the YMCA, how could I refuse?

“Dear God, Thank you for this running club and for making running the best sport ever. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.”

Before Foot Patrol, this exuberant young soul didn’t know he had a passion for running. But there is no doubt about that fact now. He tells everyone that he loves to run. And he made it no secret that he’s bummed Foot Patrol won’t be happening again until the spring. He’s not alone in his disappointment, as just about every kid asked on the way out when the next Foot Patrol session is. The group dynamics with this session’s runners was the best I’ve ever seen, truly a teacher’s dream, so part of me is sad, too, that I won’t be running with these kids again sooner than late April or early May.

I’ve been running for eight years now. I ran a marathon when I was 25, I did a 10K with a friend for her birthday last year, and I have no idea how many 5K’s I’ve run. But as I posted this evening, my run with these wide-eyed, happy kids was by far my best run.

Dear God, Thank you for making running the best sport ever. And thanks for helping these kids discover it, too. Amen.

I dedicate my Tuesdays and Thursdays to cleaning my house (mornings) and Foot Patrol (afternoons). The Foot Patrol coaches and runners have been hard at play for five weeks now, integrating fun games (running in disguise) with some distance training. The coaches and I have worked with nearly 40 boys and girls, K-5th grade this season. Some days thinking about it just blows me away. Ten years ago, if you had told me if I’d be a kids’ running program coordinator and coach, I would have laughed.

Across the street from our YMCA is a paved trail around a man-made lake. The entire circumference of the lake is 1.6 miles. For our younger runners, completing this loop is their season goal. For our older runners, two laps around makes for a great challenge. With this program and its acceptance of anyone who wants to sign-up, we really don’t know what mix of kiddos we’ll get until they show up the first day. What a great surprise we had when we found out that eight of them want to complete the full 5K run. They don’t just want to, they WANT to . . . and they want to go FAST.

Another handful of runners beg for us to play more games. They play whole-heartedly and then start suggesting new games to the coaches, or request games we’ve played earlier in the season. When our day’s session is finished, these little bodies are still in motion as they get their fellow runners together to play “just ONE more!” while they wait for their parents to finish signing them out and parent chatter. Their enthusiasm is contagious and I do look forward to integrating some of their game (and stretching) ideas into the next season’s plans. What is interesting about this bunch is that they aren’t at all interested in distance running, yet I’d be willing to bet that they cover more distance with the games than the distance runners do when they work on running around the lake. At first this bothered me because I wanted every runner to complete at least the 1.6 mile run by the end of the season, but then it hit me that this goal is MINE, not theirs. Some of these running gamers WILL complete the run, mostly because their running buddies want to. But some of these great spirits will choose to do what works for them, which truly is the goal of Foot Patrol – to introduce children to running in a FUN way so they will learn to see it as something they can do throughout their lives without seeing it as a punishment. Are they having fun – YES. Would they see running as fun if I pushed them to do the full 1.6 miles? Maybe not. I’d say the goal accomplished and we’ll just let this bunch revel in the joy they’ve discovered in the games.

And what of that last handful of runners? I’m not one for choosing favorites, but I do really like this bunch. Maybe it is because these kids remind me of my own discovery of running, or maybe because I’m a sucker for witnessing “Ah-ha!” moments, but I’m really enjoying my “I didn’t know I could do that!” group. These are the runners who are part of Foot Patrol because a sibling is also running, because on a whim they thought it “might” be fun, or because one of their friends told them about it at school and their parents were happy to have them participate in a low-cost, local fitness program. For the most part, these are 2nd & 3rd graders who are active in other sports, but who have never really paid attention to what their bodies can truly do.

Last week we were blessed with cool, but dry sunny afternoons for Foot Patrol, truly PERFECT running days. Some of the runners had been asking if we could go ALL the way around the lake. Since many of them had covered 3/4 of the distance comfortably the week before, the coaches and I divided the kids into a few different groups to meet their pacing/distance needs. I took a group of 4 boys, 3 of whom were ready to go, go, go. The fourth boy thought maybe he could, but he wasn’t sure. With one last chance to run with another group, he decided to stick with us and off we went. Thankfully there is a bathroom half-way around the lake, for despite the requirement that everyone make a pit stop before Foot Patrol starts, all four boys were happy to make a second pit stop. At this point that fourth boy started having doubts about continuing. The other kids were amazing at encouraging him and I promised to stick right with him so we could choose distances and then take walk breaks if he wanted. Feeling more confident with our newly set plan, we were off for our second half.

About .10 mile from the cross walk back to the Y, the boy looked at me and said, “I’m not sure I can run anymore.” Since he had been pretty chatty along the way, I didn’t share his doubts, but I didn’t argue with him. Instead I had him lift his chin to look ahead and see where on the path we were. When he did, his already big eyes got even bigger. “We’re HERE already? That’s the Y up ahead!”

“Yup! Did you surprise yourself?” I asked.

“Yeah I did. I didn’t think I’d ever make it around. But I DID! That was EASY!” He quickly shook off his self-doubt as he stood a bit taller to finish up his run. That Saturday he showed up for the YMCA’s annual Fall Classic 1.6 mile/5K fun run to run with his parents and little brother. His little brother is a Foot Patrol runner, too, and was so inspired by his big brother’s accomplishment (and his own good training, of course) that he decided HE could do the 1.6 mile run, too. And he did.

What about you? Do you find yourself facing a daunting task and wonder how you’ll ever accomplish it? Put your chin up, face that finish line and surprise yourself. You can do it.

A friend of mine just started blogging about her parenting adventure at “Can we hug it out?” and asked me to take a look at it. I did (and it is GREAT!), but when I went to leave a comment and sign-in using my WordPress account I realized that I haven’t written since March. March. 7 months ago. Almost the amount of time it takes to grow a baby. Geez.

So here I am, starting this week with a thankful heart, something I kicked-off a few years ago when blogging was a regular part of my life. Now that both kids are in school full-time, I hope to blog more regularly. As yesterday was a holiday (and my mom’s Birthday!), today does start my week, even though it is a Tuesday.

Today I am thankful for:

– my mother-in-law’s visit from Pennsylvania this past weekend.

– the energy I put into mopping all of the floors in my house, even though I really just wanted to go back to bed after everyone left the house this morning.

– the power of friends and their positive influences on our lives (Yes, Casey, I mean you).

– the joy of Hoop Dance that I reconnected with this weekend as I became a Level 3 Instructor for BodyHoops. This means I will lead Teacher Training workshops for the Level 1 and FitKids curriculums starting in 2012!

Here I am with one of my first hoops (Oct 2009), totally unaware of my hooping future!

– the 28 children who are running in the program I started at our community YMCA – Foot Patrol. Every Tuesday and/or Thursday, these amazing kids show up for an hour of warm-ups/games/distance training/and healthy living discussions. They are tracking their physical activity on a running log and celebrating it as a group. This is the second season for Foot Patrol and I have to say that as great as the spring session was (I directed and coached that FOUR days/week – one strong possibility why I stepped away from the blog for so long), this session is going even better as I worked out some of the kinks. What an experience!

– the companionship of our pup, Porter, as he follows me around the house while the kids are at school and the husband is at work. This guy is definitely mine, though he is happy to have anyone else (and everyone else) pet him and give him loves. Come to think of it, this big lug is another big reason blogging went to the wayside. We said a tearful good-bye to our beloved Albus around that time and then welcomed Porter Puppy into the family a handful of weeks later. Things HAVE been busy. But good busy.

Porter Puppy (at 6 months)

Before I sat down to write today, the drizzly weather and post-weekend blues were hitting me hard. By taking a good look at the positive things happening in my life right now, I’m ready to stop watching the rain fall as if it is a bad thing.  True, we’ll be running indoors for Foot Patrol today, but the upside of that is the space is all reserved and ready for us!

How about YOU? What are you thankful for today?




After having my children at home for 11 (count them – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 – whew!) days in a row for their school’s Mid-Winter Break, today I got to deliver them to their classes and head off to the gym guilt & responsibility free. We really did have a fun stretch of days together and they played remarkably well for siblings together for so long, but better yet, I had planned ahead and put dinner in the crock pot. That’s right – I had a plan AND put it into action. On a Monday morning. Sweet!

But there’s a catch (isn’t there always?). Today I decided to stretch beyond the comfort of my usual 3 crock pot recipes (which are 3 of about 15 “regular” recipes I use) and try something new out of one of the cookbooks my grandma sent me. My grandmother is an amazing cook who is doing everything she can to help me become better, which is hard from over 1,000 miles away. As of late she’s been clearing out her cookbook stash and sending them my way to help me get ideas. She’s also been known to send cookware and vegetable gardening/canning books, so I really have NO excuse not to improve my skills. Anyhow . . . using a recipe from a “fool-proof” crock pot cookbook, I put together what should have been a delicious Mediterranean chicken dish before we headed out the door at 8AM.

Fast forward to 6PM when the kids and I returned home from my son’s piano lesson. The house smelled wonderful, we were all pleased that we could sit right down to dinner, and my son even set the table in record time. “That looks WONDERFUL!” was an actual exclamation uttered when the dishes were served. And then we sampled the food. My daughter’s first impression was, “I’m not hungry.” My son, always one for the dramatic, said, “I’d rather chew on a stick!” Thankfully he followed-up his rude comment with some constructive, kind criticism, so I didn’t make him actually chew on said stick. Still, I’m thinking this recipe is not a keeper.

The kiddos really did give eating dinner their best shots. They picked out the chicken, which hadn’t absorbed so much of the lemon juice (the recipe called for one-half cup – which we promptly declared to be WAY too much) as the rice had, and followed my daughter’s suggestion to “Just take teeny bites, because then you can’t really taste it as much.” I ate mine to be a good sport with myself. But in the end, it was decided that the steamed broccoli was SO much better than the chicken/rice dish that we’d all just like more veggies. While this isn’t a bad thing, we did need a better solution, though it was getting late.

Enter husband (via phone, leaving from work). “Haha! Sounds like we need to order pizza.”

The man had a plan.  I tried to execute said plan, but the local pizza join was closed. That’s right, at 7PM on a Monday night, they were no longer serving pizza (for delivery OR take out). I honestly thought the guy was joking and called his bluff. He assured me they were closed because their delivery truck never showed today and they were actually out of pizza.

Have no fear, I’ve planned ahead on more than this one crock pot dinner-cooking occasion. I had two frozen pizzas in our deep freezer. The night was saved. And we all got a terrific laugh out of the disaster of a dinner that was Round One. Better yet, my children recognized that I really DID try to make a tasty new dinner. Their post-dinner comments were “Next time you could just leave out the lemon, then we can taste all of the other delicious flavors. I bet then it would be good!” (that’s the smooth-talking boy) and “That’s okay, Mom. You don’t have to make it again.” (out of the mouth of my sweet girl)

So despite the lump of lemony chicken and rice goo left at the bottom of my crock pot, I AM left with a thankful heart at the start of this week (and end of this month). I am pleased that my children were as excited as I was for them to return to school, satisfied that I got in a good workout at the Y, and most thankful for the grocery store trip a few weeks ago when I grabbed those frozen pizzas that were on sale – “just in case” we had a situation arise when they might come in handy.

Right now the only sounds I hear are the gentle whir of the humidifier in my daughter’s room and the click clack of my keyboard. Usually at this time (7:30PM) our house is filled with the sounds of snack munching, giggles and/or book reading.

Tonight marks the 4th anniversary of my daughter’s entry into the world (literally right about now, actually) and she’s too tired for us to sing “Happy Birthday” again. So tired, in fact, she is sound asleep in her new princess jammies, snuggled up with her new pillow pet, after a full day in her new fancy dresses surrounded by people who love her. A day at school and the evening birthday festivities even zapped our six year-old of his energy and he’s already out like a light, too.

Though she’s only graced our lives for four years, I find it hard to remember a time when she wasn’t part of the family. I posted on Facebook that “‎4 years ago today we welcomed our Megs into the world (all 9 lbs. 9 oz. of her). Her spunk, interpretation of the world, and boundless love make each day with her unpredictable, colorful and full. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” That really sums it up. She’s a firecracker.

Happy Birthday to my sweet, spunky girl. I will do my best not to rush you to grow-up, but I am SO looking forward to seeing what a strong, remarkable woman you will be. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to enjoy the journey of watching you discover what an amazing person you already are.


No, not literally, though I think that would be fun; however, metaphorically I am juggling up a storm.

This year we’ve been trying to add some fun into our family life mix. My husband and I have enjoyed a few date nights at the Everett Silvertips hockey games, we took both kids to the Washington Stealth lacrosse game (totally amazing), we’ve gone ice skating as a family a handful of times, and I even snuck in a girls’ night when my mom and I went to see Anne of Green Gables the Musical. I think we had more outings in January than we did in the last three months combined. While we certainly won’t keep up this pace, we are realizing how much we can do as a family now that the children are getting older (the boy is 6.5 and the girl turns 4 next week). It really is fun!

Seeing how WE enjoy watching sports together and participating in physical activities, I’m really working to expand the availability of youth activities at the YMCA where I first started teaching hooping classes. This is where the juggling comes in. Funny thing is, I’m so excited about it all, I’m not feeling overwhelmed by it – just busy!

In December I approached my supervisor about offering a children’s running program to help get youth prepared to participate in our branch’s annual 1.6miler/5K race in the fall. The idea was so well received, I’m kicking-off the program in April. We’ll do a second session in the fall (maybe even having satellite sites at some of the elementary schools to reach a greater population). So my work is cut out for me to get the program up and running with a name, volunteer coaches, integrating the Women’s Sports Foundation’s GoGirlGo! program into the girls’ groups, and advertising all of this goodness. As a former teacher, the author of a running book for girls, and the parent of a boy who wants to run (and a girl who just can’t wait to be old enough so she can join in the fun, too), this truly unites all of my passions! Can you sense that I’d be jumping up and down if I could do that and type at the same time??!

I don’t want to rush January at all, especially with a VIP birthday celebration next weekend (more ice skating!), but in February I get to teach hooping classes again. I’ll be doing a thirty minute class as a warm-up class for our Y members who take a spin or cardio class right afterward. I think it will be a nice addition to what the schedule already offers – and I can’t think of a more fun way to kick-off a morning than with a hula hoop. On Saturdays I get to teach a family oriented hooping class that will integrate games for parents and their children to play together. I hope that it inspires many hours of campsite, beach and backyard play as the weather improves and families head outside for adventures.

I’m thankful for these great opportunities to share my passions with others. It all looks good on paper so far – let’s see how it goes when I actually toss the running program & hooping classes balls up into the air with the mom, wife, school volunteer, dog caregiver, writer, and mom-taxi driver balls that area already up there. If nothing else, it’ll be colorful! If it all fails, I can always go with my husband’s suggestion to try Roller Derby. No, really. He’s serious. But that’s for another post.

Here’s to happy running, reading, hooping or whatever adventures your life holds!

Our family Christmas card for this year included a mini cross-word puzzle that highlighted the best parts of our year. I’ll come back and link to some letters from previous years after I volunteer in the kids’ classrooms today (it is Polar Express/Pajama Day in my daughter’s classroom).

For those of you who received the letter, welcome to my blog! Feel free to take a few minutes to browse and see what it is I do here (less regularly as of late, but I’m getting back to it). 

Here are the answers:

ACROSS: 1. ballet, 5. YMCA, 8. Albus, 9. String

DOWN: 2. Long, 3. Emily, 4. Hawaii, 6. four, 7. kitchen

Thanks for visiting! I wish you happy running, reading and family time as 2010 comes to a close.


A long, long time ago . . . so long ago, I had to stop to look-up when it was, each Monday I wrote about how I was starting the week with a thankful heart. Though I took a break from writing those posts, it doesn’t mean I threw my thankful heart out the window. But I do feel that I’m at a place in life where it is a good idea to return to the practice of writing out the good things. Having a six year-old boy in the house will do that to a person.

Today is Thursday  (oops, not yet!) Wednesday, not Monday, but I do have a thankful heart. Today I’m thankful:

1. I talked with my boss and it looks like I’ll get to teach not one, but TWO hooping classes starting in January, bringing up my class total to THREE with the Cardio Kick class I currently teach. Sweet!

2. I’m having a meeting at the end of the month with my boss AND her boss to hammer out the details for me to coordinate and direct a youth running program for our YMCA branch! This really makes me giddy!!!

3. Though sick yesterday (germs do NOT read calendars), my daughter was well enough to return to school today, enabling me to get back to the Y for my usual Wednesday workout and to the grocery store to re-stock our pantry. This, too, makes me giddy! Life really is all about the little things.

4. Tomorrow I have a Girls’ Night with a friend I haven’t seen in a few months. We’re venturing here: The Vineyard Table

5. I remembered the password for my WordPress account on my first try. I guess it HAS been a long time since I blogged regularly. This will change.

How about YOU? What makes your heart thankful today?

“. . . and I made THIS necklace just for you, Mom. To make you FANCY!” my three year-old daughter explained as she showed me her day’s collection of art from school.

I should explain. I am NOT a fancy person. In fact, my daughter is very much like her favorite book character, Fancy Nancy, right down to the red hair, while I’m much like her plain jeans and t-shirt mom (although I, too, have red hair). The kids ask where I’m going if I’m wearing mascara. Even the dog takes notice when I put on heels.

So Little Sister has taken it upon herself to make me her beauty project (Fancy Nancy fans will recongnize the parallel with Ooh La La! It’s Beauty Day). For my birthday last week she picked out colorful dangling earrings, a sparkly necklace and a bracelet for me. My husband managed to talk her out of buying the entire jewelry department at Target, which is what her first plan was. She immediately gravitated toward the ultra-glitzy costume jewelry, but again Daddy came to the rescue and convinced her that she needed to think about what *Mommy* would like instead of what she would pick for herself. The results were perfect and she was proud of herself when I wore all three pieces for my birthday dinner. The problem is, she wants me to wear it all every. single. day.

Then yesterday she brought home the necklace she made at school out of yarn, noodles, straw pieces, and a tag that reads “Mom” in her very best three year-old writing. Without her having to ask, I immediately put it on, inducing the biggest hug a mom could ever hope to get from her child. I wore it to the post office, the grocery store, and the chiropractor. Everywhere we went people commented on (or just smiled at) my special necklace, which in turn made me smile and made my daughter glow even more. Funny thing is, I feel more fancy in the noodle necklace than I do in “real” jewelry. Maybe it is the love factor that makes the difference.

So now that I’m preparing for my husband’s work holiday party (the first we’ve attended in nearly 10 years), I’m starting to worry about what to wear and what jewelry I have that would be appropriate for an evening affair. Seriously, I get dressed-up for weddings (no more often than once every two years), but that’s about it.  I could wear the pearl necklace my husband got me as a wedding gift, I could splurge on a new necklace to wear with a new dress, or just maybe I should wear my new noodle necklace. Noodles are like pearls, right?