Saturday, June 23, 2018

Delilah Jones Z 10/9/2004~6/14/2018

After just over a week, I am finally ready to write about my sweet Delilah-girl.

When she was a puppy, she was hit by a car. She required a surgery that removed part of her hip joint, with the plan that the scar tissue would create a false hip that would serve her well. With this also came the reality that she would likely have severe arthritis as she aged both from being a large breed dog and from her accident. I suppose we were somewhat prepared then for what her aging included.

Scrolling through Instagram yesterday I found a photo of her on the couch from April 1, 2018. It is probably safe to say that this may have been the last time she was actually on one of the couches. She had been falling a lot, and it was right before our spring break trip to Orlando that she actually had trouble walking. I remember being afraid to leave her with N’s parents since she was so unstable. They were more than happy to take her though so we could go on our trip. By the time we made it home, she was much better. Still falling, but not as often.

During May and June, N was the one who cared for her the most. She was unsteady walking, but seemed less stiff when she did walk, so he always took her and supported her for the walk. It was when he went out of town during the week of May 24th that I realized just how much he was doing for her. She was tilting her head and seemed extremely dizzy. I was concerned and took her to the vet expecting the worst.

The vet did a thorough neurological exam that came back normal. Then she did some x-rays to rule out cancer, which they did. I shared that I wasn’t sure what was typical aging for a dog since I had not had a senior dog before. The vet said with some hesitation “while I don’t think we are there yet, have you thought about end of life plans for her?”

I was taken back because I actually did think we were there. She was falling all the time, had to lean on walls to walk and was barely able to go outside to the bathroom. If the vet wasn’t able to give me a treatment plan, what was the plan?

I left the office feeling uneasy about the next steps. Delilah would barely walk at all for me, and I had to heavily encourage her to drink water. She stopped eating her food completely, so I gave her hotdogs and other table food. N came home the next day and we just couldn’t figure out what to do. While on a run, which really is when I do my best brainstorming, I realized the vet couldn’t get a great look in her left ear to rule out the ear infection. She said it was unlikely because her head would be tilting to the other side, but I knew we had some antibiotics so I gave it a shot and wow did it make a difference!

Something made a difference anyway. She could go with N on a walk again, so that was at least something. We were almost out of the pills, so I called the vet’s office on May 24th and told then what was going on. The vet again said the ear infection was unlikely, but if we wanted to treat it there was a better antibiotic that wanted us to use. Another trip to the vet later and we had more pills and more hope for the best.

Unfortunately that hope didn’t last long. She continued to get worse, barely able to go outside and to use the bathroom. She wouldn’t drink anything but chicken broth and even that I had to help her do. She was full of so much spirit and life. She wanted to be with us and wagged her tail like crazy when she saw us, but her poor little body was just done.

Once we decided that we needed to make plans for the end of her life, I made some calls. First to her vet to see about taking her there, next to a vet that a dear friend recommended who would come to the house so as not to disrupt Delilah’s day. We decided we wanted to have the vet come to the house, so I scheduled the visit for the upcoming Thursday, June 14. It was one of the hardest phone calls I’ve ever had to make.

Wednesday night we took her on one last walk in the wagon since she really couldn’t walk at all by then. She wagged her tail and seemed as happy as she could be considering. Thursday the boys went to camp (we gave them the option to stay home but they wanted to go to camp) and N and I took turns laying on the floor with her and petting her throughout the day. We joked that she probably wondered why the heck we were bothering her so much! She usually has the house to herself, after all.

When the vet got there she was very soft spoken and kind. She noted that Delilah didn’t get up to greet her, but banged her tail on the floor in excitement to see a visitor. John Denver was playing in the background and the vet noted what a nice send-off his music is. I sat on the floor and Delilah’s nose was pressed against my leg. She was calm and curious about what the vet was doing. The vet had to shave a bit of hair off of her leg, which Delilah was curious about, but didn’t make a fuss over. She nuzzled into my leg and with a lot of tears and beautiful music in the background, she took her last breaths while in my arms.

As much as I thought I was prepared to let her go, nothing could have prepared me for the loss I felt as I saw her body in the absence of her spirit. The reality that I would never see her again set in, as did the intense grief. I went through this with both of my cats in the last 10 years, but this somehow was different. Delilah was different. Delilah and I were different. And now she is gone.

Grief is such an interesting process. It is very personal, and for me it has been coming in waves. I could barely be at home for the first few days without breaking down, then once work started this past Monday I was busy and distracted. Then Wednesday I picked up her ashes from the crematory and the grief came pouring back. It comes down to the fact that I just miss her so much.

But even with as much as I miss her, I am ever so grateful that I was able to spend nearly her entire life with her. She was only 13 weeks old when she joined our family, and what a gift it was to share her life with her, and to hold her while she departed this earth. It was an honor and a privilege to care for her throughout her whole life, and particularly during these last few weeks when she relied on us in a way she never had before. She taught me what it means to love an animal, and what it feels like to be loved with no expectations for return. While we are in no rush to get another pet, being with her throughout her life and now experiencing the intense loss in her absence, I know we will have space in our hearts and in our home for another animal sometime soon.

Rest easy, sweet girl. I love you so.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Tandem Bike Riding and a Lesson on Accommodations

Last week I had the pleasure of completing a visit to an agency I see at work which include a program where tandem bikers take off on their bi-monthly bike ride to a nearby park. The agency provides services to people who are blind or visually impaired. They have lots of adapted bikes where a person with sight sits in the front, and the person with the visual impairment sits in the back. It's a pretty awesome thing to see. N has been traveling a lot for his job, so I am often solo parenting a few days a week. Lucky for me I was able to bring the boys along to see the tandem riders.

I just love when I am able to show my boys how people with disabilities can do the same things as everyone else, just sometimes a little differently. On our way there we were talking about what to expect, and LBZ, who is 6, asked me whether or not people who are blind can work. We spent the rest of the ride there talking about job accommodations, supported employment, etc.

Yesterday at the dinner table, my mom (yes we had dinner on a random Monday!) told a story that a woman at Lowe's who helped them had a visual impairment, and she utilized a headphone set that read the words on the screen to her. BBZ, who is 9, looked at me and said "hey mom, that would be one of those...what are they called again?" "Accommodations." "Yes, that's it! That is an accommodation that helps her be able to do her job!"

So we were not only able to watch these folks with a variety of needs ride on the back of bicycles built for 2, but my boys became a bit more aware of what people with disabilities are able to do, with a simple accommodation.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Exciting News About My Parents!

From the time I was 9 months old until I was in college, my parents lived in the same house in the suburbs. They moved to another suburb in 1998, and in 2003 they moved to about 5 hours away. In 2006, my dad's job moved them to the far north, about 13 hours away, where they have lived since.

So it has been about 15 years since I lived in the same city as my parents. I don't know what it's like to have dinner with them on a random Sunday, or to have support of family nearby as our young sons grow. Well, that's about to change!

My dad is retiring and they are moving back to my city! It is a very exciting time for us. They will close on the house on May 11th, so only about 2 weeks away!

The college where my dad works threw a little retirement celebration for him earlier this week, and the news picked up the story. This wasn't the first time my dad was in the news. He also dad got attention when he wore head to toe pink to raise awareness of breast cancer.

You might notice in the video that my dad wears a button that says "Please excuse my intrusion". The story goes that when he worked at the Missouri Institute of Mental Health in the 90s, email was brand new. His boss at the time was quite aggravated with this new concept of email, and described it as an intrusion to his day. As a result, my dad begins nearly all of his emails in this way.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Running My First Ultra - Double Chubb 50k

"It's everything you ever want
It's everything you ever need
And it's here right in front of you
This is where you wanna be..."

Photo Credit: Mile 90 Photography

In December of 2017 I signed up for my very first 50k. Shortly before this, I was chatting with a running friend who I trust about my hesitation to run an ultra marathon. With complete candor he said "you haven't run a 50k yet? You need to just do it and get it over with."

This echoed in my mind from the time he said it until I finally decided to bite the bullet and sign up. My hesitation seems so interesting to me now that I completed the race. The race was tough, don't get me wrong, but as another trusted friend texted me the night before the race, I was "more than ready".

The week leading up to the race was an extremely stressful time for me. N is traveling every other week, and BBZ is having trouble at school determining what it means to stand up for himself physically and what it means to fight. This is a big topic for my deep feeling boy, and one that relies heavily on his dad's guidance. I'm doing my best, but N's absence is certainly felt.

While the week was challenging, it was also a great way for me to find strength in myself to be able to deal with things at home on my own. This was great strength to find before one of the biggest challenges of my athletic life.

N wanted to support me any way he could, and even considered bringing the boys to the race along with me and staying all day. I decided not to have the added distraction of trying to get them out the door with me or worrying about them being entertained the whole time. I took off from home on my own and was ridiculously nervous the whole way there. My hands were even trembling!

I was dealing with some serious self-doubt. I wondered if I could really do this. This was bigger than anything I've done, am I capable? Am I ready? Will my body respond to what I demand of it? Would my GI issues interfere? Every negative scenario crossed my mind. Until I stepped out of my car.

The minute I parked and my feet hit the ground, I realized something...I have logged miles and miles on these trails. This is where I belong. I know trail running, I love trail running, and trail running feels like my second home. The nerves passed and the strength I think I always knew I had overtook any self doubt.

It was a beautiful surprise to see my sister-in-law (SIL) and brother-in-law (BIL) at the start line! They came out to support me and stayed the whole day, even through the rain. They surprised me at the aid station at the tracks and even drove me home since my legs weren't working well and my hands were kind of frozen. Their support meant so much to me.

I chatted with them a bit and visited with some other running friends. Trail running is a small world, so I finally got to meet some ladies who I heard of through mutual friends but hadn't had a chance to run with yet. The RD gave us the go at 7:30am and we were off!

The race takes off up a steep road and an even steeper trail for the first mile or so. I knew I started off too fast but I wanted to get in front of the crowd as much as I could so we wouldn't get bogged down at the single track. I'm happy to move over to be passed, but I didn't want to have to go around people, which is always a bigger challenge for me.

I settled into a nice pace and really enjoyed the trail! My goal was to get to the 7.5 mile turnaround at 1.5 hours, so I settled into a good pace and stayed on track. When I got to the flats I still felt strong, but definitely slowed down because of the mud. It was tough slipping around, but the high of being exactly where I was hadn't worn off. I was enjoying every single mile.

I got to the turnaround at 1:20:00ish and decided I probably came out of the gate too fast and needed to back off a little if I wanted to finish strong. My only goal in this first ultra was to finish. I had a loose time goal of  3:00:00 for the first loop and 6:30:00ish finish because I needed to give N a time to be there with the boys, but finishing at all was my only goal, no matter how long it took.

Photo Credit: Mile 90 Photography

I finished the first loop at right around 3:00:00 and was welcomed at the start/finish aid station by N and the boys and my SIL and BIL. It was so incredible to see them! My BIL asked how I was doing and I said I kind of wished I was done, but I was ready to go out for the next loop. It was true, part of me wanted to be done, but a bigger part of me knew I was capable of more than one loop. I grabbed some food and off I went!

The night before the race I set a playlist of only about 6-7 "power songs" to play if I needed the big push. Some were from the movie The Greatest Showman. The whole movie is about trusting yourself and being aware of what we are all capable and worthy of in this world. I turned the playlist on and listened to it off and on throughout the whole second loop. 

At one point, all was so perfect on the trail I felt as though I was floating along the single track. I felt strong, and powerful, and as though everything was just as it should be. In this exact moment, these lyrics played in my ear:

"It's everything you ever want
It's everything you ever need
And it's here right in front of you
This is where you wanna be..."

I was almost brought to tears. This is it. I am here. This is what I'm here for. What I have spent countless hours training my body and mind for. All three of my boys are here with me, waiting to celebrate this with me. It was one of the most beautiful times in my athletic life.

There were moments that weren't so pretty, but even in those moments where I needed to walk when I would have rather been running, I wouldn't call them lows. I truly felt a huge sense of gratitude throughout the entire run for just being able to be there. A very dear friend of mine has a disability that causes him to live in nearly constant pain. The strength he has to muster to simply breathe in and out each day is difficult to comprehend. I spent this race channeling his strength, and relishing in the fact that I have the legs to carry me, and the strength to be able to do this race, and I refuse to take it for granted.

 Photo Credit: Mile 90 Photography

I loved talking with runners on the trail who either passed me from behind or runners who were ahead of me and heading back to the finish line. I loved sharing the love with fellow trail runners. I fed off of their energy and I hope they did the same with mine.

As I closed in to the end of the run, I was again overcome with incredible emotion. It hit me, that I was really going to finish this thing. It was really happening!!

I came around the bend of the road to hit the last awful climb they stick in at the end, and my whole little family was there. My boys were covered in mud and splashing in the creek near the road. N and my BIL and SIL were clapping and cheering and I could feel how proud they were.

I climbed that last awful hill and circled around the loop and saw the finish line. The last little hill was super slick and I had just run nearly 30 miles and I was not going to fall in the last .10 mile mark! As usual on the downhills, my arms went out like an airplane, which should totally be my trail name!

Photo Credit: Mile 90 Photography

I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face and pride in my heart. I did it.

 Photo Credit: Mile 90 Photography

Two little boys, always watching :) 
Photo Credit: Mile 90 Photography

This was the 20-year anniversary of the Double Chubb, put on by the St. Louis Ultra Runners Group (SLUGs). I ran the 25k distance in 2016 and knew this was typically a well run event, and this year was no different. The aid stations were well stocked, the volunteers were kind and generous, and the vibe was a positive representation of this incredible community of which I am now a full part. They even got a personalized beer made for the occasion from one of my favorite breweries, 4 Hands Brewery, called Single Track.

Friends reached out from all corners of my life to congratulate me on this finish. Well versed ultra runners reached out to see how I was recovering. I am one lucky lady to have the opportunity to be a part of this community. And tonight my boys took me out for a huge dinner to celebrate. And now, to plan for the next goal!

Official stats:
50k (31 miles)
1st loop: 3:01:30
2nd loop: 3:38:23
Pace 12:54/mile
33rd of 55
4th female of 13
Age Group 2nd of 8 (1-39 years)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

When I know better, I do better.

We've had raccoons in our attic before, but because their entry point didn't cause immediate issues, we were patient and managed to successfully encourage them out. This time was different.

The night before we left for Orlando, we heard and saw a raccoon causing some trouble on our roof. We chased her off, but the next morning I saw some roof shingles on our deck and investigated. I saw that she had dug a hole directly into our roof! We did our typical steps to try and get her out, but we had to be on a plane and did our best to cover the hole in a way that didn't trap her in, but would protect the soffit from too much rain damage.

When we returned from vacation, we figured out that not only had the mama not left, but she also had babies. We did a lot of the same things to try and get her to move her nest that worked last time, but we had to get our roof fixed, so we became impatient.

We called a company that helps in these situations, and trusted them to take care of it. They covered all of the possible entry points and set a trap at the main point and covered it with a tarp. Yesterday morning, I saw some shingles on the deck again, so I went out to investigate the hole. The tarp had blown off of the trap, and the mama raccoon was caught, and she was dead.

Suddenly it hit me. This was their plan all along. We had been so naive. We didn't ask enough questions, and now we had a litter of orphaned baby raccoons in our attic. Nate tried to contact the company, but they did not call him back. It became clear that the intention was to let the babies starve to death.

This was heartbreaking. I understand that a lot of people see raccoons as a nuisance and that's okay. Nate and I live near the woods and want to coexist with the animals who live around us. We had no intention of destroying this little family, but that's exactly what happened.

After some research we found that the Wildlife Rescue Center helps in situations like this. I called them and reluctantly told the story, and asked for their help. They connected me with a man who dropped everything to come out to the house and get these babies out of the attic, and into the hands of people who will care for them. My only wish is that I had thought to call him first.

My goal now is to tell everyone I know that there are humane ways to remove wildlife from our homes. It is just as easy, and there are people who dedicate thier lives to helping us live side by side with the animals we see as a nuisance. Lesson definitely learned.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Spring Break 2018

We had an incredible trip to Orlando, FL for spring break!

This was the first time we have traveled over spring break. My best friend from high school is on an epic adventure with her family where they sold their house and most of their belongings to travel in an RV. They knew they would be in FL during our spring break, so we coordinated a trip to see them, and made a vacation for our family out of the 6 days we were there.

All of the kids at the RV park  

 We went on lots of our own epic adventures!

And enjoyed lots of swimming in the much warmer temps 

We visited a cool place called Disney Springs, which has lots of restaurants and fun things to do without the cost of a park. It was super fun, and hot! 

One of the highlights of our trip was going to Universal Studios and the Isle of Adventure. We bought the 2-park pass so we could ride the Hogwarts train from one park to the other. The whole day was magical! 

 This was the first Harry Potter ride we rode, and continued to be my favorite one! It was a roller coaster with a simulator aspect where we had to escape from griffendorf. It was SOOO much fun!

Then we ate at the leaky cauldron, which was pretty much the best thing to ever happen to BBZ. I was a little grumpy about going there because it was pretty far away from where we were in the park and I was hungry, but I am so glad he insisted. The food was awesome and the eating there was a huge part of the experience. 

We spent another day driving to the coast of Florida. We couldn't be that close without visiting the ocean! We toured the museums at the Kennedy Space Station, and saw the spaceship Atlantis. It was incredible to see the actual space ship that went into space! It was also cool to see photos of many of the people who played a small part it meeting their goal of making a spaceship that could fly into space and reenter without being destroyed. It only took them 12 years :)

We made a quick trip to the beach, where BBZ jumped into the cold water without a second thought. I had no idea how much he loved the water! We hope to go on another vacation in August and plan to go near water since he loved it so much. 

Our last stop before heading to the airport was the Ripley's Believe it or Not! museum. This place was so cool!

We are so lucky to have jobs that not only allow but encourage us to get away and recharge. Well, since N is working for himself now, he can do whatever he wants, really.

This was an absolutely perfect trip. We relaxed, swam, rode a bazillion rides at Universal and were able to connect as a family. 

“In matters of healing the body or the mind, vacation is a true genius!” 
― Mehmet Murat ildan

Saturday, January 13, 2018


That's my word for 2018. Stretch.

Each year I choose a word that will be my mantra for the year. 2018 is stretch! Both literally as in working in a good weekly yoga and cross training program to keep my muscles loose and healthy, and also figuratively as I stretch myself beyond what I think I am capable of.

I have a 50k race on the calendar for April 2018! It was a bit of a quick decision, and N is now pursuing a job contract that will have him out of town every other week. This was not the case when I signed up, and could impact my training, so we'll have to see! I'm nervous and excited and

Bring on 2018!

There is no passion to be found playing small - 
in settling for a life that is less
than the one you are capable of living.
~Nelson Mandela