A new family

Last night our foreign exchange students arrived, Clara from Germany and Estelle from France.

I felt anxious all day. I couldn’t believe it was really happening.

I worried. Would our new “children” like us? What will this next year be like?

My oldest two children are not as excited about it as I am. I think they think I’m replacing them. But maybe in a way I am. They are adults and don’t need me being a mother hen to them anymore. They are off living their own lives like they should be.

I am excited about this new adventure, but as with anything new a little frightened too.

I wonder what it would be like to see everything for the first time through their eyes. Maybe even for us, the old will become new again.

I hope it is a wonderful experience for all of us.

 

What is happening? Part 2

We left the wedding that night before the clock struck midnight. Not because something magical was happening. My car wasn’t turning back into a pumpkin. But on that day, when the clock struck midnight, my princess was turning 21. I told Angel that I would take her out for a drink at midnight. We got back home just in time for me to freshen up. When I came out of my room, Angel was fast asleep on the couch. I didn’t really want to go anyway. I was exhausted.

We took Angel out for lunch instead. We were surprised to see that a lot of restaurants were closed from the storms. Some restaurants had no electricity. The restaurants that did have power said they didn’t have enough help to cover for the restaurants that were closed and people that went out to eat because they didn’t have electricity. It caused a storm surge of customers.

It was sad to see Angel leave. It was the first time she was home after she moved out. It made me realize how much I missed her conversations. I’m not sure when she will be coming home again. After she left, I was exhausted.

I decided that I was going to go for a long run the next morning. The plan was to find a point to get on and off the trail to run to my parents house and back. I was hoping to park my car on the trail and run 10 miles one way. I wasn’t sure how it would work because of the storm damage and because I never ran the trail there before.

I left later than I wanted to the next morning. It was a nice day, not too hot and not at all rainy. The trail was heavily wooded but beautiful. The first half of the run was well groomed. I ran into a lot of people on bikes. There were several trees down and at some times it felt like an obstacle course.

But the second half of my journey was very remote. The bottom two pictures were taken on the second half of the trail. It would be a great place to hide a body. Wouldn’t it? There were fewer people along the trail here. At times I feared for my safety. It ended up being 14 miles to my parents house. I had a late lunch with my mom and headed back home.

My mom walked with me for the first 3 miles, then got picked up by my dad. She was afraid for my safety. There were times that I was too. I did something that I wouldn’t want my daughters to do. I felt vulnerable. At times I would look behind me and no one was there only to be passed by someone from behind a few minutes later without knowing they were there. It was creepy. It was starting to get dark. My mom wanted to give me a ride closer to home, but I refused.

I spent a lot of time walking. I thought I would spend a lot of time thinking, but I didn’t. My mind was empty and free. No problems, but also no solutions. It was starting to get dark. I was running out of fuel. I didn’t have much water. My feet were starting to ache. But I made it! I ran 28 miles. It was the furthest I’ve ever ran/walked and 25 of the miles I was totally alone.

I think I am ready for a 50k. I feel confident now. I wasn’t as sore as I thought I would be, but I was sore. The next day I went in for a massage. I should’ve waited because I was almost too sore.

I’ve regained my confidence, but my mom was so worried that I promised her I would never take the trail to her house again.

 

 

What is happening? Part 1

So many things have happened in the last week, I don’t know where to start. It feels like a year has passed in a week. I will try to start at the beginning.

My faith feels tested. I’ve been asking God for a sign. But so many bizarre things have happened within a week that I don’t know how to interpret them.

It started last Friday as I was picking Arabella up from volunteering at Bible camp. I finally got a call from the doctor’s office. I don’t have Celiac and the polyps that were removed are benign. My stomach is starting to feel better. The doctor said if I went off Prilosec too fast, it will cause an excessive amount of acid to pour into my stomach. That is probably what happened, but I scheduled an appointment for allergy testing anyway.

Friday night a huge storm hit where our cabin is up north causing massive damage. I think that the power finally went back on yesterday. What a mess that will be to clean up. There were multiple trees down. Thankfully no one was hurt and the cabin is fine.

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Saturday morning we awoke to get ready for my Uncle Rick’s wedding. He had a whirlwind romance proposing 36 hours after meeting and moving in with her the following week. They married 7 months later, her 4th wedding and his 3rd. They seem like a good match. I really hope it works out for them.

We were going to leave early to meet up with my brother Luke and his family for lunch. It was my daughter Angel’s 21st birthday the following day and more than anything she wanted to meet up with the family for sushi. Just as we were ready to leave, another severe storm rolled in. There was a tornado warning for the path of our house, the restaurant we made reservations at, and where the wedding was going to be held.

The sky grew dark as night and sirens were going off. The wind swirled around in many different directions. Lightening bolts slashed through the sky as thunder clapped to usher in a torrential downpour. The rain came down so hard and fast that it poured into my son’s bedroom. After the storm passed, we mopped up the water as fast as we could in our dress clothes. We were running very late for lunch. Paul was an usher for the wedding and Angel was singing. They couldn’t be late. I worried that perhaps my uncle’s union wasn’t meant to be.

We made it to the restaurant an hour after our reservations. There were only a handful of customers. The place was always a classy joint, but on that day the music was the chef’s choice. They were playing rap. When a song came on with lyrics containing every profanity known to man, my brother Luke quietly left the table and complained to management that their choice of music was not appropriate for his little girls.

The wedding itself was held in a small church without A/C. I was a little worried that all of our cell phones would go off with the weather alarm during the ceremony, but the weather turned around. After the ceremony, there was a reception with an open bar. Once one of my aunt’s found out that Angel was turning 21, she started plying her with alcohol. Why wait?

It was at about this time that my son told me he no longer believes in God. I wanted to reassure him but I reminded myself that I was having my own crisis of faith. When I was having the most doubt, other people started cramming their faith down my throat which weakened my faith even more. I knew from my experience that I just had to listen. He left after the meal telling me that his rap band had their first gig that evening, but I wasn’t invited. He turned off his locator on his phone and returned home between 4 and 6 AM.

My daughter Angel caught the bouquet. Will she be the next to marry? As she danced with her boyfriend Dan, I thought perhaps she would be.

That evening Paul and I took advantage of a stunning sunset after weathering the storm.

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And the two shall become one.

To be continued…

Running out of time

I’m STILL waiting for a call from the doctor. I did get one call yesterday. It was from someone who barely spoke English trying to sell me final expense insurance. Did they somehow know I was worriedly waiting for test results?

At least all of this waiting gave me plenty of time to think. If I end up not having Celiac, I think I will go the allergy testing route. I was going to beg the doctor to put me back on Prilosec, but decided against it. When they did the scope, they found numerous polyps in my stomach that they think were caused by long term Prilosec use. It’s rare that they are cancerous, but they could be. They did a biopsy, but couldn’t remove them all.

In the meantime, I’m running out of time. My first 50k that I signed up for is a little more than a month away. I’m planning on running a marathon distance next week.

Training for this has been incredibly challenging. I really didn’t realize how awful I’d feel off of Prilosec. I have been feeling sick to my stomach a lot or having a stomachache. Several times I have been afraid to be far away from the bathroom. I’ve had to turn around and come back home. I’ve had to run into the woods. I’ve had no where I could go.

Being anemic, I feel exhausted, weak, and lightheaded without running. Running I feel like my legs are made of lead and I have a large weight on my back. Most days I need to take a nap.

I hurt my ankle last month and had to take some time off.

The weather hasn’t been cooperating either. We had a late start to the summer with record rainfall and cool days. My favorite trails were underwater. Some of the races in our area even had to be cancelled due to the weather. Then summer hit full force. Tomorrow will most likely be one of the top ten hottest days on record in our area. Followed by more rain and strong storms.

The storms have been hitting us unexpectedly at times. Just this week I drove my daughter to camp. It was sunny, hot, and humid. We passed a lady walking with her child on the way. By the time we got to camp, there was a continuous roar of thunder and heavy rain. On the way home, I saw the lady with her daughter who was about ten. It looked like the mom was huddled on the side of the road trying to protect her daughter. I know how terrifying it can be to get caught in an unexpected storm, so I pulled over and offered them a ride home.

I hollered at them to get into my car fast because a car was coming and I didn’t know if they could see me stopped in the torrential downpour. I was out in the middle of nowhere. I was almost out of gas. I was hydroplaning. Cars were driving slow or pulled over to the side of the road altogether. But it was exhilarating. I got someone home safe. But it grew exhausting driving about a half an hour through flash flooding in a torrential downpour.

You would think that all the rain would’ve washed all the mud off my car from trying to find a hiking trail that had its access dirt road under water. But no. Unfortunately, my car was unable to get through the washed out road. Instead it looked like I went mud running which regrettably didn’t earn me any bad ass mom points with my teenagers.

Needless to say, I have also wanted to stay close to home for fear of getting caught in a bad storm. Not to mention, I had a lady come up to me when running to tell me that a bear was spotted on my running route. Then there is the endless stream of drivers hellbent on trying to run me down with their cars.

I almost deserve more than a banana and medal if I can finish this race.

The good news is that I found a new running trail pictured above. It seems pretty safe and full of nature (and bathrooms). Despite my health and fears, I am determined to run this race. I might not finish, but I sure am going to do my best to try.

 

 

Extreme empty nest solutions

On Sunday I received a phone call from the foreign exchange student coordinator a couple hours after my daughter moved out.

Sunday was a bittersweet day.

On Sunday, my best friend became a grandma for the first time.

On Sunday, it’s been a year and a day since my close friend lost her daughter in a fiery car crash.

On Sunday, my daughter moved 4 hours away and is not planning on living at home again.

I was feeling down as you can probably imagine.

My oldest daughter moved out, my son is off pet sitting this week, and my youngest daughter is volunteering this week as a camp cook. I’m feeling the empty nest kick in. I realized that I may have a harder time with this whole empty nest thing than I thought.

I’ve been a caregiver since I can remember. I was my autistic brother’s “second mom”. I also helped with my other two younger brothers.

In college, I was a caregiver for an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s and a middle aged man with Paranoid Schizophrenia. I took care of my brother Matt up until after I had several kids of my own. I also took care of my Aunt Grace when she had dementia. I provided day care for several children when my kids were little.

I don’t know what it is like to not take care of someone and the thought is a little scary.

As I was crying and feeling sorry for myself, the phone rang. The foreign exchange program coordinator called and said she had an emergency situation. One of the host parents for a student from Germany ended up getting into a serious motorcycle accident and broke her back. This student was really into music and needed a home.

I was wondering what to do with my daughter’s empty room. So we filled it. Now we will be hosting two foreign exchange students starting next month, Estelle from France and Clara from Germany.

I feel like my life has meaning again. I suppose most people get another pet once they start emptying the nest. Not me, I guess you could say I am rather extreme.

Even though it might be stressful having 3 teenagers in the house again, I am going to enjoy this last year of chaos before I have an empty nest.

By the time next year rolls around, I might actually be okay with only taking care of me.

 

Cracking open the box

Today I cracked open Pandora’s box. I am afraid to peer into what lies inside.

I spent most of the weekend feeling blah. It rained all weekend with high temps in the lower 60’s. Some of our outdoor plans got cancelled. It has been very frustrating. So far summer break has been cool and rainy. Surprisingly, the best days of the year so far fell on Alex’s graduation day and again for his grad party.

The weather has been making me feel restless and bored. There is nothing I hate more than boredom. I’d rather be way too busy. Not to mention that all my favorite running trails are underwater. Although, thankfully, my ankle is starting to feel better.

Yesterday, on Father’s Day, something exciting happened though. I got a message on Ancestry from a relative on Paul’s dads side. On Father’s Day of all days too. You see, Paul never knew who his dad was. From what I can tell, this man is Paul’s cousin.

I told myself that I wouldn’t go seeking out answers. I was far more curious than Paul. But if someone came to me asking, that was an altogether different story indeed.

Today I reached back to Paul’s cousin and told him what details I knew about Paul’s dad. We’ll see what happens. Paul said he was okay if I did that.

It’s hard, Paul built his whole identity around not having a father. But what if he has a whole new family out there that wants to get to know him?

Why do I feel like I cracked open Pandora’s box? Do I really want to know what’s inside?

I can tell you one thing, life got a little more interesting.

Fortune Cookie Wisdom #19

You have many special gifts, go experiment with them!

I really like this fortune cookie.

But how do you know what your gifts are? I think the best way to find out is by trying  new things.

Last summer my mom retired at age 70. She was really quite miserable after retiring because she really loved her job. She even got an ulcer shortly after retirement. But then she started trying new things. She started a sewing project with her sister-in-law. Once a week, we work together doing genealogy research. She discovered that she really has a passion for history. She wants to start volunteering at the literacy council.

My husband’s step-dad Darryl also retired recently. He, like my mom, has a hard time sitting around doing nothing. He decided that he wanted to be a first responder and signed up to take EMT classes. He also joined his church choir which always practiced during the time he was working.

I wonder what other ‘gifts’ we will discover that we have.

I found out that I love to run when I was in my 30’s and started writing a book this year. I probably won’t be running marathons forever and as of right now I am thinking one and done as far as the book goes. We’ll see where this path takes me.

I am encouraged by the others around me that even in my 60’s and 70’s, I might still find new and exciting gifts.

 

 

May

It is finally here, the month I have been dreading and waiting for.

My son will be graduating this month. Despite his procrastination and grades that are less than satisfactory, I think he is going to pull it off.

Alex has finally matured enough that I think he is going to be fine without us. He told me this week, that although he doesn’t say it often enough, he is going to really miss us and that he appreciates everything we’ve done for him. He also said that although he doesn’t spend a lot of time with us that he doesn’t want us to take it personally that he is leaving. He said that it is time for him to be an independent man now. I agreed. I told him that it was normal to want to leave home once you are an adult.

I am letting go and he is planning on leaving. He told me he isn’t planning on leaving the area anytime soon and will probably visit us a lot. That made me feel happy since my son is not the type to share these things.

Next month Alex is planning on moving out.

This month Angel will be coming home from college. But this summer she is not planning on staying with us like she previously did. She just put in an application for an apartment and is planning on staying here until she can move in. She will live 4 hours away.

Two out of three kids are planning on leaving home for good next month. I will be happy and sad to see them go. It is bittersweet.

We still have Arabella at home. She will be 16 this month.

We are also planning on filling the void by getting a foreign exchange student. Estelle from France will be moving in the beginning of August.

A new adventure awaits!

The ultra training starts

I just signed up for my first 50k.

There is no turning back now. Thankfully, I have until September to train. I will be running the ultra with my cousin.

It has been a cold spring here in Wisconsin. I have only been out to run a handful of times. Today’s high temps are in the mid-40’s and it is raining. Yuck! But at least it’s not snowing.

I was able to run with my new friend from the theater. I doubt we will ever run together again and I am okay with that. She is so much better than I am. What I didn’t know was that this new friend qualified for the Boston Marathon 6 times and ran it twice. She even ran something like 10 miles the day she gave birth. Talk about hard core!

She is a couple years younger than me as well which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is in the racing world. Maybe if I was 20 years younger than her, I would be able to keep up. That might even be pushing it.

Now that I am almost 45, I don’t have the stamina I used to.

I had a really bad run outside a couple weeks ago. I was several miles from home when I had to go to the bathroom really bad. I was in the suburbs and there was no where to go. I was so tempted to run up to a stranger’s house and ask if I could use their bathroom. How mortifying would that be! Every time I ran, the urge to go was stronger but walking prolonged the journey home. I called my husband to pick me up, but he didn’t answer. There were people everywhere. I finally made it home accident free.

Maybe I need to add Depends to my running supply list! That is the only thing I like about running on the treadmill at the gym. There is a bathroom close by if I need it. It is easier to stay hydrated as well. I finally broke down and bought a hydration belt with water bottles for the long runs outside.

Again, having to go to the bathroom is always an issue outside. Not to mention bugs, pop up thunderstorms, reckless drivers, adverse weather conditions, those horrible hills, chafing, injuries, dehydration, and animals. But that is what also makes for the best stories and adventures that won’t be forgotten. It’s the dirt and the grit. Determination. The testing of the limits. The long runs to think. Enjoying nature when it doesn’t call. The friendships, the camaraderie of strangers, the goodness of fellow travelers along the trail. I love it all!

I am hoping that the training goes a lot better once it warms up outside. Since I have a few marathons under my belt, what is a few more miles? Right?!??

 

BVI, day 11

The time zone in the BVI and Puerto Rico is two hours ahead of us at home.

I woke up the morning of the 11th day at 12:45 AM to shower, leave by 2 AM, and catch a plane at 4 AM our time at home. I was approached by someone asking if I would do a survey at the airport. Normally I would say no because who has time for that. But there I sat while everyone else in the group waited in an endless line for coffee.

I didn’t get coffee. Instead this time I took my anxiety medicine. I was hoping to relax and sleep on the plane since I didn’t get much rest on the sailboat. But things never turn out the way I plan. The flight from San Juan to Chicago was 5 hours long and I’d be lucky if I slept half of it.

At the end of the flight, we were warned we were headed towards some nasty turbulence but that the pilots were very experienced and would get us through it safely. Terrified I braced myself to my seat for the longest time but the turbulence never came.

Many of the passengers coughed. I thought to myself that I would rather get sick after my vacation than during. That was until I got sick and decided I would rather not be sick at all.

We reached our connecting flight with just enough time for me to get a cup of coffee. I had play practice that evening that I couldn’t miss because I already missed 4 rehearsals from the vacation. Time to wake up!

Our second flight home was very short and as we were making our descent, I was filled with dread. There was snow everywhere! No more warm weather for a long time.

I had just enough time to unpack before heading out the door again. I heard stories of how things went when we were gone. Paul’s step-dad Darryl stayed at our house over the weekends we were gone. Monday morning he overslept and Arabella had to wake him up to take her to school. He left in such a hurry that he didn’t let the dog out and there was a mess to clean up later in the day when my mom came. He also told Arabella that he was going fishing on a day that she had to work and wouldn’t be able to give her a ride.

My mom stayed during the week and things didn’t go that much better. Alex skipped school one day because he didn’t wake up in the morning. My mom and Arabella were having so much fun that my mom didn’t take her to school one day until 10 AM. My mom wrote Arabella a note saying that she got stuck in our driveway which wasn’t true. Those things made me very angry (now you can see why I worry so). But I let it go reasoning with myself that the pets and my children were still alive.

That night I felt horribly tired at play practice. Jet lag I suppose. I felt dizzy as well. For all the time I spent on the sailboat, I didn’t feel like I was on a boat at all until I got home. Everything was rocking for two days. Then I got a really nasty cold for 2 weeks and maybe only slept two nights in a full month. But, hey, at least I had a pretty good vacation.

At this point you are probably wondering if I would’ve done anything different if you are still reading this. Yes, I would’ve left the wet suit at home. I would’ve brought a good pair of boat/water shoes. I would’ve done more research online. If you decide to read any books regarding the BVI make sure they are written post hurricane because some of the things we read about and wanted to visit simply weren’t there anymore.

Also, we opted to sail the boat ourselves without a paid captain or chef. I would recommend doing that if you have people onboard that are skilled at both. Also, it does help if the crew is in good physical condition.

It is always iffy to travel with friends. We didn’t know Tim and Cara that well and didn’t really know Stan and Angela at all. Overall, we got along pretty good. But there were instances when someone felt like the third wheel. Also, we were in very tight quarters and at times under stressful circumstances which doesn’t always bring out the best in people. There is a lot of invasion of private space and necessity to work together as a team to make decisions. I guess that’s what makes it a real adventure!

Thanks for reading!