Saturday, May 31, 2008

Run Richards, Run!

Matt and I ran a 5K tonight. It was Matt's first run since Guillain-Barré.

Him: a year without running. Me: marathon fit. Result: a perfectly matched pace. (A first for us.)

(Riley, the party pooper, was home sleeping. But I'm pretty sure, considering her energy level today, she could've held her own.)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Guess We're Dog People?

Shortly after Riley was born (and named), I read a parenting magazine article on hip baby names.

It suggested using traditional dog names like Rex, Benji, or Riley.

Wha? Riley? A dog name? (And hip?) could explain her current evening ritual: fetching our shoes and demanding a walk.

Do dogs know how to postpone bedtime, too?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Return of the Monkey

That monkey in my kitchen is learning to climb. (And make her own popcorn.)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Elmo Needs an Elmo Band-Aid

Oh no! The Elmo stroller broke! 

I know a broken foot rest isn't the end of the world, but it's bad enough to be annoying. And our slightly OCD Riley was quite distraught.

The poor stroller has logged at least 500 miles, so we discussed buying a replacement. But we just couldn't do it. It's become like a family member. (And kind of iconic in our neighborhood.) 

So instead, Matt performed minor surgery. 

And now it's as good as new, no duct tape necessary. Hooray for resourceful daddies!

(We never imagined getting so attached to a cheapo umbrella stroller...)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Long Entry Ahead. Consider Yourself Warned.

It's May 21.

Last May 21, Matt woke up with tingly hands and numb feet.

Within a week, he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome and hospitalized for two very long months.

As summer approaches, I've thought a lot about last summer—our first one here in Portland. And how it didn't exactly turn out as planned. Those two months had such a lasting impression on our little family that it's something we think or talk about nearly every day.

I've never been naive enough to assume life would be perfect, but I never imagined that in one single summer I'd experience:

  • a hospitalized husband
  • single parenthood
  • running a business I knew nothing about
  • assuming role as the family's sole breadwinner
  • establishing life in a new city without my husband
  • having to ask for—and accept—help (lots of it) on a regular basis

People say everything happens for a reason. Sure, whatever. A year later, we still don't know why Guillain-Barré slammed our little family. And I doubt we ever will. Even though Matt is 99.9% better (still dealing with numb, painful feet), we still reel sometimes from the stress, worry, and uncertainty of last summer.

But, in hindsight, I guess we learned a few things:

If something crappy had to happen, it happened at the right time, in the right place. A few weeks earlier (before our move), and insurance issues could've kept us in Houston indefinitely. A few weeks later, and we could've had the extra expense of a workspace. My sister was in Portland for the summer. My parents and in-laws weren't overbooked travel-wise. They were all a huge help. Lots of little (and big) things lined up in our favor.

Crappy experiences don't last forever. They either end or you get used to them. We're glad ours ended before we got too used to it.

A penny saved is one less penny to worry about. Money in the bank minimized a HUGE stressor when the family breadwinner was incapacitated. Hooray for our miserly ways!

The healthcare system is screwed up. But don't trifle with it. Health insurance is non-negotiable. ($6,500 in hospital bills was crappy, but $150,000 would've been beyond crappy.)

It's ok to question doctors. Like if they think your condition is chronic. Or if they want to prescribe a lifelong steroid treatment. If your gut says otherwise, say so.

People are kind, generous, and thoughtful. We were recipients of so much kindness last summer that we'll never be able to repay it all. We're trying to at least pay it forward a little by being kinder, more generous, and more thoughtful, especially when others are having crappy experiences. Meanwhile, to all the kind people we're indebted to—the ones who provided kind words, encouragement, babysitting, care packages, prayers, phone calls, financial help, clean laundry, pampering, a listening ear, hospital visits, meals, notes, drawings, fun diversions, supportive e-mails, etc. etc. etc.—many, many, many thanks!

Life is good. There's nothing like a crappy life experience to help you recognize the good things in life. To ward off bitterness and self pity, I kept a running list of things I was thankful for. All the kind people mentioned above made the list. It was a very long list.

Take nothing for granted. Especially health. And loved ones.

So anyhow, here we are, a year later. Our day was unremarkable: Matt made mobiles, I did paperwork, and Riley spent the afternoon playing with Grandma D. But for us, after last summer, an unremarkable day is pretty darn remarkable.

The end.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

It's not always like this. Promise.

Grandma and Grandpa R visited for the weekend, just in time to experience Portland's record heat and Riley's record puke-fest/sleep-deprivation-athon*. (FIVE hours of sleep in a 30-hour period. Yowza.)

But they also got to witness this miraculous event:

Our child, asleep. Finally. In public, even.

Please come again soon, Grandma and Grandpa! Maybe when it's more pleasant around here. (Weather- and health-wise...)

*The doc says she's got some bug that's going around. Wish her good health...and sweet dreams (please)!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

We won't return to THAT deli...

Riley wasn't feeling well yesterday, so we tried distracting her with a trip to the park.

It worked...

...until she puked all over a park bench.

Assuming she felt better, we grabbed dinner at a nearby deli. She proved us wrong by puking on herself, me, and the dessert case.

Poor girl.

But we knew she felt better when she woke up at 3 a.m. requesting, of all things, pizza.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wanted: Your Shipping Supplies

1. The bandages have, indeed, become a Riley Obsession. She wants 'em everywhere. So to stretch our bandage budget, we've substituted free mailing labels, compliments of the American Lung Association.

2. Riley has a room full of books and toys, but none have captured her undivided attention (30 full minutes!) like the box full of packing peanuts we received in the mail today.

But no, we will not substitute stamps for stickers anytime soon.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Daddy Who?

Matt spent last week out of town for his grandma's* funeral. Hours after he got home, we headed to Tacoma for my marathon.

Meanwhile, poor Riley has experienced Daddy withdrawal.

While we were in Tacoma, she called Cory, the male half of our babysitting duo, "Daddy." And now, when we're out running errands, she points to random men, and says, "Daddy?"

Methinks it's an opportune time to reclaim that Favorite Parent position. Hey Riley, want some candy? Or balloons? Or bandages?

*On a side note, Grandma lived a long, happy life. We (and the rest of her 90-plus offspring) will miss her!

Riley at 5 weeks with her great-grandma.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

26 Thoughts About 26.2 Miles

  1. Marathons are brutal.
  2. A $5 footlong (Subway) is the perfect pre-race dinner.
  3. An overcast 50 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect running weather.
  4. Miles 1-9 are deceivingly easy.
  5. No matter how great you feel, don't plan your victory speech (or boastful blog entry) at mile 9. A lot change change during the next 17 miles.
  6. Hills (at least 26.2 miles of them) are brutal.
  7. Chocolate Gu: yummy. Berry Gu: yucky.
  8. $95 running shoes are worth every penny. (Note: this from a tightwad.)
  9. $14 running socks are worth every penny. (Shhh...Matt doesn't know about them.)
  10. Mile 16 is challenging.
  11. Mile 17 is humbling.
  12. Mile 18 is demoralizing.
  13. Remembering you've posted "I'm running a marathon this weekend!" on your blog is motivating when you want to quit at mile 16.
  14. Knowing your nice husband (who's watched the kid during long runs every Saturday morning the past four-plus months) is waiting at the end is motivating when you want to quit at mile 17.
  15. The guilt of leaving the kid overnight to run this stupid thing is motivating when you want to quit at mile 18.
  16. Somehow thoughts of quitting dissipate at mile 19.
  17. A two-minute potty break at mile 20 isn't great on your time, but it's great on the body, mind, soul, and bladder.
  18. When the official marathon pacers drop like flies, you know the course is brutal.
  19. Tacoma isn't all that pretty. At least from a demoralized frame of mind.
  20. If you must run a marathon, and if that marathon must be hilly, at least make sure it ends downhill.
  21. Mile 26 is the longest mile ever (even when it's downhill).
  22. Seeing the finish line is the greatest feeling ever.
  23. No, crossing the finish line is the greatest feeling ever.
  24. Scratch that. Beating your best time is the greatest feeling ever.
  25. No more marathons for me. Ever.
  26. Except maybe one more...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ball o' Nerves

Guess what? I've been a little on edge lately. 'Cause this weekend I am:
  • running a marathon AND
  • leaving my little dude* overnight for the very first time
Which one's worse? I dunno. I'm not looking forward to either one...

*but we're leaving her with some fun/trusted/reliable/good-with-kids friends, so I doubt she'll even notice us missing.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Owie? What Owie?

Riley got her first real owie last night when she tripped outside and skinned her knuckle.

Since then I've learned that bandages aren't really to protect the wound or expedite healing.

They're actually to distract from the wound's pain (or, hours later, the memory of the pain). And bandages covered with Elmo or Care Bears are exceptionally distracting.

* I predict these will become the newest Riley Obsession.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Best Babysitters Ever

We just got back from a quick spur-of-moment trip weekend trip to central Oregon with our friends Ben and Alena.

We had a great time taking walks, playing games, visiting the local museum, and hanging out.

The trip was surprisingly relaxing, because their 5-year-old daughter Natalie and 2-year-old son Ian loved Riley enough to keep her well occupied and out of trouble.

And Riley's first words each morning were, "Een? Een?" ("Natalie" is harder to pronounce.)

I just might bring those kids along next time we travel...