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The Story of my Feet

November 28, 2012

I was not born to be a runner. I am not tall, I am not lean and I am not very fast. People consider me short and I dare say that my legs would agree. Sometimes I’m surprised when I realize that most people tower over me when in my mind, we were pretty close to the same height. Maybe my personality makes me feel a little larger than life, and I am cool with that.

I didn’t participate in anything as a kid. I never was a Girl Scout. I tried Brownies for about 2 seconds but after a dumb nature hike where the guide (a mom of one of the kids) told us to keep a look out for Indians I refused to go back. (Even at the tender age of 7 I wasn’t an idiot. I knew there were no Native Americans hiding in the woods behind her house in DOWNRIVER Detroit. Seriously.) I never danced, tried gymnastics or played soccer. In middle school I made the cheerleading team for the Brownstown Knights (I think?) and the Fenton Tigers after we moved an hour north. The only reason that I made either squad was because A) my socialized friends taught me cheers every day during recess during 5th and 6th grade B) my friends taught me gymnastics and C) I weighed about 90 lbs so I was tiny and could jump like a flippin’ grasshopper. But despite my moderate success as a teen cheerleader, I didn’t consider myself athletic.

But then all my friends joined the track team in the spring of 1996. And like any good follower, I wanted to be with them so I begged my mom to let me join up too. Track was a social event for me and I wasn’t very good at sprints so I spent most of the time flirting with older boys and cheering on my friends. But then one day my coach needed to find a freshman to run a relay that consisted of a 400m, 800m, 400m and 800m and she tapped me to run an 800m (half mile for those of you who could care less about the metric system). And shockingly, I was GOOD. Not going-to-states-as-a-freshman-good as my teammate Dru, but good enough to be part of the 3200m relay team for four years and place consistently in the 800m and 1600m run.  And then I joined cross country for three seasons, where it turns out, I was pretty good at that too. Even with feet covered in blisters, callouses and moleskin, I felt like a bad ass. I won’t lie. There is something powerful in being able to run a 6 minute mile or in our case, a few just over 7 minute miles.

But then I went to college and didn’t run for a while. I didn’t run a single 5k. I got married. I had a baby and I started to run again. I would wait at the door with my shoes laced and as soon as my husband pulled into the driveway, I would yell “Baby’s in the swing!” and literally run out the door. It was my 30 minute break from my life as a young mother. Motherhood is amazing but it is also isolating, repetitive and boring at time. Running gave me a chance to think without a small person interrupting, it forced me to use muscles that had become lazy and it gave me back a small part of the person that I had been in high school. A mother version of  a bad ass. But then I had another baby, and another a few years later and running never disappeared but it wasn’t the naughty mistress that I had remembered her as. Running after my third child was experimental. Five weeks after my c-section, I attempted to jog two miles. And I did it in 22 minutes. It was brutal and I struggled to breathe for every second of those 22 minutes but I did it.

And then I signed up for a half marathon that would be five months after her birth. I ran it. I haven’t stopped since. I’ve ran four more half marathons, more 5ks that I remember and in 10 days, I will attempt to complete my first full marathon. As much as I thought I was a bad ass as a speedy little high schooler, the thought of completing 26 mother loving miles will make me even more bad ass-ier. I have had three kids, all by c-section. My body has been able to create three beautiful, wild and hilarious little humans and it has ran hundreds of miles. My feet are ugly. The second toe’s nail on my right foot turned purple after my last half marathon a couple weeks ago. I don’t get pedicures anymore. But I run because it pushes me to harder, better, faster, stronger, to quote Kanye West. And to make me feel a little bit like a bad ass.

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My friend Kara and I right before a race during our junior year–I’m dating this by my amazing thick bangs and her awesome scrunchy.

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Finding the words

October 6, 2012

When I go on long runs I spend a lot of time thinking about things I could write about. I’m afraid that I am turning into the character from The Snows of Kilimanjaro, a little short story by the great Hemingway. The main character is dying a slow death and he realizes that while he has always called himself a writer, he never actually wrote anything. Harry knows he’s a writer, he feels it in his bones that he’s a writer, but he spends his life studying people and prepping for a book he’s never written. Depressing, right? 

I haven’t really written anything of substance since the undergraduate days in college. Apparently getting a Master’s of Arts degree in English Literature just means reading a lot of literary theory, bumbling about with that theory, writing analytical papers that suck any creative juice you may have left out like rabid, frantic mosquitoes and crying a lot because you never dreamed you would spend so much time on crap that you hate like Chaucer, Milton and (so sorry American Lit lovers) Gertrude Stein. So while I’ve written actually quite a lot in the last three years, I didn’t really enjoy it and I can only think of about five people that would even want to read any of the term papers I’ve done. It is depressing. 

So here’s the deal and please, for the love of God, hold me accountable. I’m going to start writing down my little life stories in the hopes that I use them someday for the novel that lives in my head that I narrate when I’m at mile five or whenever I’m at the dentist and they gas me up. If I could just carry around a can of nitrous oxide I am 99% sure that I could write one very entertaining book. So here are the topics you may choose from:

  • 11 kids, but who’s counting? No, really. Is someone counting?
  • how to be a mother when your own mother pretends you don’t exist
  • Detroit
  • perils of being a SAHM when you’re actually a slacker at heart
  • perils of not being able to be a SAHM because your children make you stabby
  • Mom friends are crazy and why I love them 
  • or whatever. I’m up for requests. Request something.

Also, I still don’t have any money and I’ve sucked at budgeting (shocking, I know). So you’ll be getting more of that. Today was a bad, bad day. I worked from home ($), went to lunch with a friend ($), bought snacks for soccer because I totally forgot I was snack mom ($) and bought a giant box of chicken tenders for dinner because it was almost 7 PM and we were all starving ($).

Today’s Tally:

Money brought in $

Money spent $$$

Oh also, I’m no longer (f)unemployed but I’ve found a happy medium. I’m working 25 hours a week for my old company helping out with their social media feeds, newsletter, blog and whatever else that they come up with. And it’s not sales. And I haven’t even wanted to stab anyone. And they expect me to work from home sometimes. And between that and my other social job, I’m pretty much busy full time but I can do a lot of work on my new big ol’ PC (it’s a tax write off! Don’t judge me!) sitting in my makeshift office while Sissy Cupcake naps and I wait for the boys to get off the bus. Right now that part of my life is fab, which makes me think that something is going to go wrong. You know how the anvil always falls out of the sky onto the Road Runners head? That’s me. I’m going to put on a helmet. 

Dear Lu

August 31, 2012

I am not a mommy blogger. I consider myself a writer that just happens to write about her children once in a while as opposed to someone whose entire identity revolves around her role as a mother. But at the same time, since I’m not writing a whole lot of fiction right now (yep, still haven’t started the next Great American Novel, it’s coming though) sometimes I have a moment where I really just want to write about my kids. And today, the moment came when I brought Lucy in asleep from the car. So, here you are. A mommy blog-style moment.

Dear Lu,

I don’t know how it has happened but somehow you have grown into a little girl. You are the tiniest, lithest little thing and you amaze me constantly with your energy and attitude. You are beautiful. I carried you in from the car today, heavy with sleep and you wrapped your still babyish arms around my neck. I put you in your new bed and just looked at you for a moment. Your lashes are thick and black, contrasting with your now dirty blonde hair. Once you got past your bald moment, your hair grew in light brown but after a long summer in the South full of sunshine and swimming, you have little highlights in your pigtails. You insist on sleeping with your night-night blanket, the heart-shaped one from Aunt Jane and with your boppy pillow, the kind that is meant for infants. You have a light brown freckle in the middle of your forehead and another in the corner of your left eye that I look at when you’re throwing a tantrum. I wonder if you will have freckles all over your cheeks like I do.

Your brothers adore you, even James. Your dad is wrapped around your finger. Your daring antics include jumping off the bar stool (Ben caught you), threatening to jump off the bunk beds (‘I jump, mama!’) and climbing dressers, couches and using the old changing table as a ladder to reach the light switch. But right now you’re asleep and you’re so sweet, so lovely that I can barely believe that I made you. I can sit and stare at your face and try to see myself in you but it’s not there and that’s ok. I see your grandmother and your father and a little of my sister, so every time I look at your face, I see all the people who love you. The stubborn and sassy gene is strong and that seems to be a maternal trait, so I know that you’re all mine on the inside.

 

The Summer of Suck

August 25, 2012

That’s the easiest way to say it: our summer sucked. There were a few bright spots here and there but overall, it was terribly horrible and horribly terrible. It sucked emotionally and financially. I still cry about some of the events and I’m hoping this post will make me feel a little better by making you feel like shit. I kid, I kid.

Event 1: My husband’s grandfather died in mid-May. He was beloved and almost 90 years old. I had a trip planned to New England to visit my former nanny kids so I missed the funeral but Don and the boys spent five days in Michigan with his family.

Event 2: The boys came back from Michigan with lice a couple weeks later. We had received a note from the school where they kindly let us know that lice was going around the first grade and it decided to make an appearance in James’ head late one Thursday evening as I was getting him ready for bed.To make it even worse, my best friend had flown in from Michigan the weekend before so I had to call her and let her know that she needed to go get checked for lice–because my kids love Aunt Jane so much James had crawled into bed with her in the middle of the night, snuggling his little lice head up against hers. (Hi Jane, I need to talk to you. Don’t freak out, it’s something that happens when you have little kids, it’s totally not a big deal, and I hope we’re still friends after I tell you that James has lice and you need to go get checked out. Love you! Bye!)

After I found it on J, we shaved his head (hey bud, do you want a really cool super short summer haircut?!) and make an emergency trip for some lice shampoo. And then in the morning I promptly found nits on the second son and the baby girl. OMG. We bagged up everything in the house that was cloth (all stuffed animals, pillows, comforters that were too big to be washed), washed everything in the house, sprayed the couches/mattresses and basically I didn’t sleep for three days while I scrubbed my house and scratched my head incessantly. I never found anything in my head (but HELLO if you know me, you know my thick, curly, slightly dreadlocked hair) but I washed it once a week with the lice shampoo for a month just in case. and then….

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This is the Jack memorial tree that the boys decorated with his toys. Notice the shaved head on son 1.

Event 3: Our puppy died. His name was Jack, he was a year old and we’d adopted him through a friend at UAHuntsville. He was nuerotic and crazy and the cutest little dorkie ever. We came home from a friend’s birthday party and he was seizing in his crate. I thought he was choking, Don grabbed him and took him outside until he stopped but he never really recovered. He went in and out of his seizures while we held him and brushed his fur and did what we could to keep him calm. I frantically called a friend to come stay with the kids so we could take him to the after hours vet. They thought at first it was epilepsy but he only stopped seizing when they gave him anti-toxins and he was so sedated his was unconscious. After 36 hours of seizures, Jack was put down. Don said it was the hardest thing he’s ever done and the kids were devestated; except for Ben who said that we shouldn’t be upset because he was playing catch with great-grandpa and Jesus and maybe now we could get a cat?

Event 4: A few weeks later, my grandmother died. I have so much to write about her that I can’t even start. I will say that she was the most amazing person I’ve ever met and since I’m not close with either my mother or my (adopted former step) father, she was my person. I adored her and I still cry once a week when I think about her. Like I told my friends, the smallest thing can set me off. It can be the smell of Tide, a breeze when I’m running or when I look at the picture of her on my fridge where she’s sitting on Price Edward Island, picking wild straw berries and looking so happy she could burst.

Event 5: My social life went down the tubes. All my closest friends from Alabama are either not friends with each other or me anyone. It is a big huge mess and I don’t know if we will ever all be able to be in the same room with eachother. It sucks.

Event 6: I’m unemployed. It really is a double edged sword. I love that I have time with my kids and my house is the cleanest it has ever been (don’t hate me, Adrienne Rich). But I was supposed to teach a class at UAH (it was dropped) and I was supposed to babysit (they cancelled) and I haven’t had anyone calling me from the four other colleges where I’ve applied. What.the.heck. If they would just call me and set up an interview they would see that I’d make a fabulous instructor as I can speak the language of normal people and it’s not all fancy academic talk (who am I kidding, I can’t fancy academic talk to save my life).

But there were a couple of bright spots: the boys spent a ton of time in Michigan with their grandparents, we were able to spend time with their good friends Ashton and Dane, I saw Jane more than once, we attended an insane family reuinion and the kids ran wild and free with their 25 first cousins at the farm. I’m closer with my neighbors and one of my closest friends in Huntsville moved into our ‘hood. It wasn’t all bad. Just most of it was. But this fall is going to be the fall of awesome, so help me God.

(f)unemployment

August 18, 2012

Hi. My name is Theresa and I am (temporarily) unemployed and it feels delightful and scary and weird. I’ve worked for 3 years, 2 months for a car dealership doing Internet  sales and it burned me out. I have three small children at home and the customers (and some of the salesmen, let’s be honest) were more annoying and demanding than my young children. If you follow my twitter you would be aware of the situation as I threatened to stab myself/others on a pretty regular basis. So I finally quit, for the final and third time–the first two times I quit somehow I got suckered into staying and never actually stopped coming in to work.

I have a side job doing social media for a local Fortune 500 company (doesn’t that sound fancy?) so I’m not destitute. Yet. Here’s the thing about me not working a standard full-time job: I REALLY can’t spend any money but I’m hoping that now that we’ve eliminated the $200-$300 a week that I’ve been spending on childcare it won’t be that bad. Right? I’ve promised to keep the house clean, make lunches for the husband, plan a dinner menu, you know, all those good wifely things that I never do. I’ve never had time. We were good back in the fall for hot second and then the school year got going, I had a lot of school work to do and my former work decided that I had to work from office and not from home like I used to which is pretty much why I lost my shit. My office was the size of a medium closet, which is terrible for my claustrophobia, and annoying people constantly talked to me, which is terrible for my tendency to want to stab people with blunt objects.

I have resumes, applications and transcripts all over greater Huntsville (and some in TN) so I’m really hoping that someone thinks I’m a genius and picks me up to teach some freshman comp or whatever the kids are taking these days. Ideally I’d like to teach sophomore lit so we can get to the good stuff (which is anything challenged or censored in the last 100 years for racial/feminist/historical reasons). BRING IT ON. Also, hire me and let me tell you how wonderful I am.

So back to the whole budget premise: Saturdays are a day where I generally shell out $70 to my sitter (who is amazing and totally worth it) and if I don’t sell anything, my day is a draw. We have soccer all morning and a birthday party this afternoon so the kids will stay busy with little cost to me. Yay. I’m hoping I’ll only be (f)unemployed for a little while but I plan to enjoy it while I can. This can only mean more blogging, more time to work on my actual writing (I have so, so many stories in my head) and maybe my bedroom will stop looking like the mother of all hurricanes has blown through. Hahahahaha.

DI$NEY?!

February 22, 2012

I’m baaaaaack! And because my life is just that ridiculous, I’ve decided that I am going to LIVE TWEET my experience at Disney this weekend. Are you ready for that? I actually hate twitter but I need to learn for work related reason so I’m going balls to the wall and I’ll be LIVE TWEETING about how I’m going to try to not spend any money at the most ever loving expensive place on earth. Why are we going, you ask? Well, my very nice in-laws purchased tickets for my children so we could take a trip for the kids’ birthdays last spring on the first weekend of May. But then a little thing called an E5 tornado hit our town and we didn’t have power for 8 days so we canceled that trip and rescheduled for this February so my very nice mother-in-law could meet one of the goals on her bucket list and run/walk the Disney princess half marathon. I’m running it. For sport. Yep.

So we knew this trip was coming and apparently we failed at budgeting and we also forgot that we both work on commission (big fail) and so now, we are going to go to one of the most expensive places that exist in the United States of America. I plan on bringing lots of granola bars, water bottles and other snacks to keep the children at bay. I stocked up on Think Thin bars for a quarter at Publix (on sale for $1.25, $1 off coupon) so I should be good. Right? As long as I have some knock off five hour energy whatevers I should be good for my run. It’s at the unholy hour of 5:45 AM and if you know me in the slightest, you’re probably making a stink face imagining me awake at 5 AM. Generally it’s only when we’re taking a plane somewhere and I am grumbling/yelling at Don something along the lines of “this is the ONLY flight we could have taken? NOTHING else existed? WHY ARE YOU HAPPY!”

On a happier note, I had my a great trip at Publix on Saturday. I spent $25 and saved $70. WOO HOO. I was able to give my sister and my babysitter each a couple bags of groceries and stocked up on cereal, pasta, canned veggies, protein bars, etc for me. All in all I bought 36 items and everything was on sale.

Oh and to follow me on the twitters my handle (is that the right word? I hate technology) is @TheresaMoira. Follow me, people!

Lessons Learned

December 31, 2011

Things I can live without:

  • pedicures (I run too much anyway for them to last)
  • meat
  • fancy cable (as long as I have E! I’m good)
  • my data plan for my phone
  • new clothes for myself
  • 3G for the ipad
  • dining out
  • expensive teacher gifts (Alabama, because clearly the state doesn’t have any other problems, passed an ethics law which forbade parents and students from giving their teachers expensive gifts, which saved me from looking like a broke ass next to the parent that always gives teachers a $100 gift card)

Things I could not live without:

  • Joyce. God bless her. She comes every two weeks to do a good scrubbing on the house and she didn’t come for my 6 week fast and we missed her. I simply could never get caught up.
  • New clothes for the kids. It got cold, James got bored at school and cut up a few shirts (yep, while sitting in class he cut a few quarter sized holes in a couple of shirts we had a talk that went like this. Me: “If you put so much as a pin hole in anything I will take every dollar out of your piggy bank and make you buy yourself replacements!” James: “But you bought it on sale!” Me: “THAT’S NOT THE POINT.”
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables. Or as we’re going to refer to it around here as fre$h fruit$ and veggie$ because when you’re on a budget DAMN that shit is expensive. And there are never any coupons.
  • Haircuts for the boys. I’m growing mine out but the home haircut look is not one I want my kids to have, so happy hour half haircuts at Spoiled Rockin’ Kids is where we’ll be every three months. Thank goodness I like the shaggy look on my boys.

It wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. And now that the new year is upon us, it’s back to the budget. We veered off course a little with Christmas expenses, but we used cash for most of the kids’ presents, used coupons for the stuff for the Seraaj foster kids (and it’s a tax deduction) and stuck to our guns. The only reason the boys got their much wished for 3DS thingies is because Best Buy had a “buy one get a $50 gift card” so I did two online transactions (naturally) so they got their 3DS and a game for each for the price of two 3DSes, or however you’d make that plural.

Our money related 2012 resolutions include keeping weekly expenses down, paying off credit cards, shopping locally as much as we can (suck it Connor’s, we’re going to 1892 East!) and learning to live on less. This may be the year that we finally are free of our Michigan mortgage (it’s being listed as we speak!!) and when that happens, I’m going to throw a party and get drunk. It will be a celebration unmatched.

Happy New Year, everyone!!