Limping toward the finish line

We are, literally and figuratively, limping toward the finish line of this school year. God, it’s been a rough one. I thought last year was bad. Apparently this year saw last year and said, “Here, hold my beer.” This Herd is DONE. Toast. Finis. Exhausted. Drained. And oh yeah, I am limping.

You see, two days after the Bigs finish school, Big Man and I will run the Rock n Roll Half in San Diego again. My training was a bit derailed last week. I headed out for a four-mile easy run Thursday. I immediately felt pain in the left side of my left knee, and my left Achilles tightened up too. I tried to work through it, slowed down, and then stopped to stretch, but it just hurt. I made it all of .88 miles before I caved. At just over four weeks til race day, I wasn’t going to risk injury. And it really freaking hurt.

I hate when I have to stop a run because of pain. My whole day goes downhill. I was able to get out and finish four miles on Friday morning, but it wasn’t easy. There wasn’t any pain, but there was discomfort. I had to mentally fight to the end. Same happened on this morning’s 5-mile easy run. I was super slow, my muscles didn’t loosen up until mile 3. I will admit, I was tense, afraid the pain from last Thursday would return. I’m so not where I want to be mentally and emotionally with running right now. I’m afraid for this race, afraid I’ve put too much pressure on myself. I’m a little scared.

As for school…we’re usually beat up by this point. That’s nothing new. What is new is the level of being drained we are all at. It’s bad. The Bigs have four more weeks of school – 18 more school days. Big Man just finished the second of two AP exams this morning. The Princess has hers this Friday. In a few weeks, they face final exams. Blessedly they don’t seem to have the level of end-of-school-year projects they’ve had in recent years, thank the  Good Lord. It’s been a brutal year for both of them – academically for Big Man, socially and emotionally for P. We’re all ready to be done, to put this year behind us, chalk it up to life lessons and growing pains, and kiss it goodbye. Don’t let the door hit ya on the way out, 16/17 school year.

Little Man has 6.5 weeks of school. Yep, you read that right. He isn’t out until June 20th. I can’t remember when my kids were in school that late – past my birthday this year. Insanity. That’s 18 days AFTER the older two finish. Utterly ridiculous. I’ve been whining about it since the calendar was released last year. Then, get this, because they are aligning the middle and elementary school calendar with the  high school calendar, he will have just eight weeks of summer, as opposed to ten or eleven. Again, absolutely ridiculous.

He’s struggling right now, again. His SAI sent me an email the other day he’s back to leaving the classroom quite a bit again, spending a significant amount of time in the great room rather than in his class, doing what he’s supposed to be doing. She said he seems more stressed but he can’t express why. We have seen an increase in his anxiety level at home. I have no idea what the source is for his stress. He does tend to go a little sideways the closer we get to the end of the school year, but who knows.

I have no energy. I’m tired. I’m over the morning routine and homework battles. I’m tired of thinking about carpools, 6am cheer, and test scores. The kids are tired too.

You know, some years we come sliding across that finish line with a bang. We’re beat up, but we fight to the end. We might make it by the skin of our teeth, phoning it in on whatever we can. But this year, we’re limping. It’ll be a close thing. I know we’ll get there, but it ain’t gonna be pretty.

He doesn’t do anything

I pulled up  my Timehop the other day, and there were photos and video of Little Man on Opening Day of his rookie year of baseball. That was prior to him being diagnosed on the spectrum. He played soccer and baseball back then. All three kids were in multiple activities. He was challenging to say the least, but he did whatever we put him in, although often begrudgingly.

He gave up baseball first, saying it was boring and he was actually afraid of getting hit by the ball. He would have reached the level of kids pitching that next year, and the thought of it freaked him out. We pulled him out of soccer when it became evident he could actually get hurt as the skill of the kids he was playing continued to improve while his stagnated. He wasn’t exactly one of the bigger boys out there either, nor quite the fastest, which would have helped. We talked about other activities for a couple of years, but nothing seemed to interest him at all, and, quite honestly, I was hauling the other two all over town and beyond for their stuff. Having one kid not involved in anything was something of a relief.

So, he doesn’t do anything….no football, no baseball, no soccer, no music…nothing. He comes home from school, and goes to his computer. He isn’t alone – he has friends over all the time. And he does get outside frequently. But he has no extra-curricular activities. Sometimes I feel guilty about that, but most of the time, I’m totally okay with it.

It isn’t worth putting him in something he doesn’t want to do. That wouldn’t be fair to his teammates or coaches, because he would push back. So yes, we did kind of take the easy way out on this part of his childhood. Will he regret it, or hold it against us someday? I highly doubt it – he’s perfectly content with his lack of extra-curriculars.

We have sent him to camp during the summer. This past summer, he went to coding camp and he loved it. We’ll be sending him back to that program again this summer. He’s lately indicated an interest in learning to play the guitar. We’re working on that.  Big Man will have his driver’s license soon, and that will free up time for me to manage lessons and such for Little Man.

Spouse has started to take him running on Saturday or  Sunday mornings. He doesn’t seem to mind the running and it’s his preferred choice, given the option, during PE at school. We will put him on the cross country team when he starts high school in a year and a half.

For now, he’s not involved in any extra activities, and that’s okay. Do I miss seeing him in his uniform, out on the field? Sometimes, yes. But I certainly don’t miss the drama of making him get out there.

Bombarded

I have been feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted lately. Anyone else? I couldn’t figure out why for awhile, but then realized how frequently the news, posts on Facebook, tweets, and other television shows had me feeling I was on high alert all the time, constantly  reactionary. More than one friend informed me she’d stopped watching tv, listening to the news, and had gone on a Facebook hiatus for the very reason  we are being continually bombarded with news and stories we MUST react to, positively or negatively, and that is draining us.

I refuse to step away. I feel a responsibility to be fully informed, no matter how draining it might be. I’m wary of those stories and sites that are “fake news”, relying strictly on reputable, respectable resources, and always double-checking their value. If we bury our heads in the sand because we are feeling bombarded isn’t going to make it go away, or make it better. But we all must handle it as best we see fit.

I have learned I need to schedule my social media time, and not look at it last thing at night nor first thing in the morning. If I wake to the real world slowly, and walk away from it before going to sleep at night, I feel much more capable of an appropriate response, of not becoming overwhelmed or exhausted. I have enough going on in this household, managing two teens in  high school who are want to drive me around the bend as it is. I have to learn to deal with all the outside stuff at a level that doesn’t interfere with my ability to parent, to wife, to work. I have re-learned the capacity to compartmentalize to a certain extent. It’s made things much easier. I’m also running a lot more, have returned to yoga and Pilates, and make a point of taking care of myself. My kids are wondering why I’m in “real clothes” and heels (boots) instead of being in yoga pants all the time. Being dressed, make-up on, and with hair done makes me feel better, gives me more confidence, somehow makes me feel more capable of handling whatever life is going to throw at me that day.

The other thing I’ve forced myself to remember is that I don’t HAVE to react to every little thing. I’ve set the bar pretty high, and I don’t engage in debate, most of the time. I love my friends and family, and want to maintain those relationships. A lot of people have yet to learn the skill of scrolling right by a post with an opinion that doesn’t match theirs. Not every article, every post, every personal opinion requires a response. It saves a TON of angst to just keep moving along to those posts of your friend’s kids saying funny things, or what your mom is eating for dinner, or that sunset on the beach in your favorite town in the world. If we focused on how we are the same, instead of how our opinions are different, maybe we’d all be a lot less stressed out. Just my two cents, for whatever their worth.

I’m feeling less bombarded the last few days. I’ve retaken control. It’s refreshing and a relief.

 

Commit

Since our kids were little, we’ve spoken consistently on commitment – if you say you’re going to do something, you do it; you finish what you start, and you don’t half-ass it. If you can’t or won’t abide those rules, you don’t even start. You can’t tell your kids one thing and do something else, so we do our very best to live this out. This means that even when we’re tired, or overwhelmed, we have to suck it up.

I’m training for two races right now, with the goal of finishing the half marathon in June at or just under two hours. That means work, because I have to take over 8 minutes off my best time. I have a training plan I’m doing my best to stick with. Travel and illness have derailed it a bit, but I’m back in the saddle this week, getting miles in. I’m even doing speed work, which I completely detest. More shocking, I’ve run in the rain. I’ve always been a fair-weather runner. I hate being out in the rain. But I have to put the miles in, so I shove a hat on my head, put on sunglasses to keep the rain out of my eyes, and get out there. I’ve also never run back-to-back days, much less three days in a row, but I’m doing it. I actually feel stronger, and have fewer issues with my hip and IT band than when  I was just running three days a week. It helps to have a friend holding me accountable, but I’ve committed to a goal, and it’s on me to finish it. That means there are nights I don’t go out because I have a long run early the next morning. That means getting up on a Saturday morning when I’d much rather sleep in. That means squeezing in runs even when I have a billion other things to get done. That means taking care of my body so it can carry me through 13.1 miles/

Big Man had some struggles with fully committing earlier this school year. He was out there at practice, but man, talk about phoning it in. Granted, he was struggling with growing pains, but he just would not push through. It came back to haunt him, and he learned a valuable lesson, one that didn’t come from us.

The Princess has been about commitment for years. When she chose dance over competitive soccer, she was mid-way through a soccer season. She knew she had to carry it out, finish the season with her team. Her soccer family was relying on her. They needed her to remain fully engaged until the end. It was rough….she was exhausted, but she fought until the very end of the very last game of her very last tournament. She decided to cheer in high school, so for nearly a year, she’s been at school almost every weekday morning at 6am to practice. That doesn’t begin to cover all the extra hours at camp, cheering at games, making posters and putting together gifts for athletes, working hard on pep rally routines. In the midst of all this, she’s done her best to maintain  her dance schedule.

Here’s the deal – your kids are going to learn to be committed to things if you aren’t showing them how. You can’t tell them to commit if you aren’t committed to whatever you’re doing. Some days it’s much harder than others, but you do it, even when it’s difficult, and you’re tired, and you’d much rather sit on the couch watching baseball movies all day.

Olympic Back Stories

I think one of my favorite parts of the Olympics is hearing/watching all the backstories they do on individual athletes. I love finding out what challenges they’ve overcome, how they started, how they came to this point – an elite athlete competing on a world stage. Every time I see one of the back-story segments, I can’t help but think what my kids’ back stories would look like….

My kids and their cousins face multiple challenges amongst the group. A few have already overcome so much….prematurity, hearing loss, autism, anxiety…..I watch them excel in school, in running, in golf, in acting, in being amazing, funny, brilliant human beings, and I’m moved. I write their Olympic back-stories in my mind all the time, and it can (okay, frequently does) make me cry.

Big Man was born over 3 months prematurely, spent over 90 days in the NICU, was diagnosed with asthma at 5  years old, and ADHD at 8 years old.  He could have, and probably should have, faced hearing or vision loss, heart surgery, developmental delays/disability, Cerebral Palsy, or a host of any other issues. Instead, he can hold his breath underwater for over a minute (so much for preemie lungs!), ran a half marathon at 15 years old in under two hours, and golfed on the Varsity golf team as a high school Freshman. Can you just hear that Olympic story?

Little Man was diagnosed ADHD and Autistic when he was 8 years old…pretty late, comparatively.  He continues to be mainstreamed in school, and his brilliant mind often scares me. He’s smarter than the rest in this household combined. He can code like a fiend. He has his own YouTube channel on which he regularly posts gaming videos. He seems to finally be coming into his own, more secure in his abilities, in his friendships. There may  not be an Olympic sport for coding, but if there were, he would win, so I write his story in my mind too.

One of my niece’s is hearing-impaired. She was late-diagnosed as well, but she hasn’t let that hold her back. She accommodated for herself before anyone knew to accommodate for her. She’s a wicked-fast runner, competing at a high level in cross country and track at her high school. College recruiters started contacting her a year ago. Yeah, I write her story every time she wins or places well in a race.

Another niece faces anxiety and depression. She’s also a beautiful, talented dancer, in  her second  year on her college dance team. On top of that, she writes, oh my does she write. I’ve had the great joy of reading multiple articles she’s written this summer. I’d like to think she gets that from me. Hah! When she’s a national news reporter, sportscaster, or journalist, someone will write a segment on her life. Back story…..I’m already writing it.

Then there’s my nephew B. He’s an actor. He also is a runner. He’s bloody brilliant as well, but six years ago he was an entirely different kid.  He writes too. His FB posts are witty, sarcastic, thought-provoking. He heart is huge, particularly for the underdog. Some day, when he is up for an Oscar, they’ll do a back story on him. They can thank me, because I’ve already written it in my mind for them.

Now, I didn’t call these five out to say the rest in our family aren’t amazing as well. My brother, sister, and I each helped produce great kids. They are all extremely talented in their own ways. And I have an Olympic backstory for each of them.

Walk-Up Song

I love baseball – love watching it, going to games. One of my favorite parts of going to a baseball game is hearing what each home player’s walk-up song is. What’s a walk-up song? It’s the song each player from the home team has chosen to hear as he approaches home plate for his at-bat. It’s a song that pumps him up,  helps him get in the zone, and it’s personal to each player. I can tell who’s coming up to bat for my favorite team just by what walk-up song is playing.

My running playlist is full of my own personal walk-up songs….songs that help me run faster, stay focused, or just keep moving. There are the songs that help me through that last miserable mile of a long run, songs that help me bust it up a hill, songs that make me feel strong, songs that help me cool down. Some of them are angry and full of foul language. Some are inspiring, lifting me up when I think I can’t run one more step. Some of them are those songs that get your fist pumping, head bobbing, nothing-can-stop-me-now songs.

I use walk-up songs in day-to-day life as well. If I’m going into an event, class, or meeting by myself, I’ll play a song in the car before walking in to help boost me up, give me confidence. If I’m giving a speech, or talking to a group, telling  Big Man’s story, or going into an IEP meeting for Little Man, I’ll play a song I know will make me feel strong, confident, focused. The kids have songs they like to hear before games, competitions, presentations. We used to play “Eye of the Tiger” on our way to the soccer fields every Saturday way back when. They still laugh when they hear it now. Princess chose one of her walk-up songs for her contemporary solo last year.

Do you have a walk-up song? What is it?

Friday Favorites 6.17.16

First off, I just had to laugh at myself, because, the day before my birthday, I had to look at the calendar to check what the date was for the title of this  post. Good golly, yes, it’s summer! The Princess’ cheer coaches blessedly decided Friday morning practices weren’t a necessity. Can I get an Amen? The Herd (excepting Spouse) was able to sleep in this morning. It was glorious!

How’s your week been? It took me three days to recover from the end-of-school insanity and the big fundraiser we hold every year – which was last Saturday. I was that deep-reaching kind of exhausted. I took a 2 hour  nap Sunday, a 1-hour nap Monday, and I was still completely out before 10pm Monday night. I’m giving myself a week to get everything in the house back where it goes. I think I’m finally back to normal.

This week, I have a complete mix for you as far as posts I’m sharing. Kinda goes along with my theme of being all over the place this week.

  • I’d picked all my favorites for the day, when a few new posts popped into my feed. I, of course, checked them out before starting in on this. And I found this on kelzbelzphotography which is ironic as I was having one of those days of “uh, yeah, not really sure I like him much today.” If you’re married, why did you marry your spouse?
  • Sarah at Running on Healthy is one of my running heroes. She’ll be running a marathon tomorrow, and leaving her precious baby girl for the first time. Go cheer her on, and if you’re a parent, share some advice how to manage the guilt the first time you’re away from baby.
  • Sunday is Father’s Day. I haven’t written my Daddy post yet, but trust me, my Daddy’s kind of amazing. Peg at Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings  wrote an awesome post in honor of her dad. Love this one. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!
  • Joeyfully Stated captures just one way having children will humble the heck out of you.
  • The title for today’s post on Fisticuffs and Shenanigans had me completely intrigued. Then it had me spitting my water all over my computer screen.
  • I must need humor today, or am in a funky mood and am finding the most random stuff completely amusing. This at Square Peg in a Round Hole also resulted in some water-spitting.

I have no animal photos this week. Have I mentioned the level of tired going on around here? I will tell you the Damn Cat has been leaving more “treasures” around the house this week. Today, there was a mouse butt in the entryway. I kid you not…just the back end of a mouse. I can’t make this stuff up. I think he’s still trying to prove  his worth after we fired him  upon returning from our Hawaiian vacation to find a mouse had taken residence behind the refrigerator. Oh, and we finally captured the lizard that had been trapped in the dining room for two weeks. He’s been safely re-homed outside where he belongs. He seems the type to be a repeat offender though. Time will tell.

Happy weekend!