the catch

Something that will stick with me....

Today I made a phone call that I thought would "help" someone. A family in a neighboring ward, who lived a block away from us for a time and were one of the first families we met when we moved here, found out last year that their youngest son has an inoperable brain tumor. The past year has been full of ups and downs, sorrows and miracles, as this family has watched their little boy's condition both deteriorate and improve, both by great strides and by the narrowest of margins. The past few weeks have been especially hard, as it seemed that the end may have been near, only to have his symptoms decrease as he entered yet one more period of limbo, his family watching and waiting for whatever will happen next. Throughout this time, we (DH and I) struggle with the desire to help in some way, but are at a loss - we are no longer in the same ward, we don't have as close of contact with the family, none of our abilities seem to be in the realm of what would be useful to them, etc.

This boy's older sister is one of my piano students, and a very enjoyable one at that. I love her personality; it is as unique as her bright red hair is in a sea of blond- and brown-haired kids. She has been a no-show for her last few lessons - understandably, as her family life must adjust constantly to each change in her brother's condition. I decided to call her mother today to let her know that taking a break from piano for awhile would be fine, that she wouldn't have to worry (as if piano lessons were the utmost of her concerns right now) and that she could call whenever she wanted to start up again. In just this smallest of offerings, I thought this would be one way I could "help". I had my words all carefully chosen before I called, and dialed dutifully, only to be greeted with a harried "hello?" on the other end from my student's mother. My composure fell away as I stumbled out some words which I hoped conveyed what I was calling about in a compassionate way, something about "if you want to take a break for awhile, that's okay with me". What I heard next was a brisk, short compliance, obviously in response to ill timing of a phone call, but the part that stood out was the catch in her voice as she said, "Yes, that's fine. Bye." That catch is a sound I cannot get out of my head tonight and probably never will.



mission accomplished!

I am writing this entry seated at the table instead of at my usual computer "work station" (standing at the kitchen counter). There is a good reason for this: my knees don't work anymore. Okay, that's in need of rephrasing - my knees work better today than they did yesterday, which was when they didn't work anymore. But the 13.1 miles are run! I successfully crossed the finish line 2 hours, 18 minutes and 57 seconds after I started. Hooray! It was tough - cold, lots of hills, sore knee - but totally worth it. There are a few sights my eyes have witnessed during my whole life that rank highly in my book. Here are some of them: my husband's face when we first kissed as a married couple, each of my kids' faces the first time I held them in my arms, several canyons, Arizona sunsets, snowy mountains and autumn-adorned trees, and the finish line at that race yesterday. DH had told me he wasn't going to be able to come to the race (it was an hour away from home), which I understood. But I secretly hoped he was planning to surprise me, though. Anyway, as I rounded the last corner and the finish line came into view, I was so happy I thought I would cry. And then, from the sidelines, came, "Go, honey! You can do it! Go, Mom! Go!" and I did cry. My line-crossing photo should look interesting.

But it's over! I would like to thank the following: DH and kids, for showing up in the cold; Lisa, my running buddy who stuck with me the entire race; the rest of my running buddies, for getting up early to run with me; the nameless volunteer who gave my family and me a ride to our parking garage after the race (and drove us around for 15 minutes so DH could remember which one he parked in); Jelly Belly Sport Beans, for giving me a much-needed boost at mile 8; and whatever factory made my bed mattress, because that is where I stayed for the rest of the day after I got home. So what is number 1329 out of 2378 total finishers going to do next? Go to bed. Good night.


the countdown continues...

According to www.cowtownmarathon.org, there are 9 hours, 1 minute, and 48 seconds to go until the Cowtown Marathon/Half-Marathon! From our group there will be 3 of us doing the half and 2 of us doing the full. We are all going out tonight (minus Jenny, a marathoner) with our husbands to carb-load on pasta at Olive Garden, and then home to sleep so we can meet at farggin' 5 o'clock in the A.M to drive to Ft. Worth. Race start time is 7:30. Say a little prayer for us (and our poor legs) tomorrow! See you on the other side!


chefs for a day

Stuntman got a kids' cookbook for Christmas and has tried a couple of recipes. Last night, he asked if he and Dad could make dinner. Dad and the boys cooked while Mom and Miss Bee went outside for a bike ride (twice around the block). They made beef stew, which is one of the recipes we've made before, and it is SO GOOD that I have to share it. It has to cook for a long time, but believe me, it makes the biggest difference. It cooks down quite a bit, too, so if you think you'll want seconds - and you will - you'll want to double or even triple it, depending on how big your family is. One batch of it gave each of us 1 serving and left us wanting more.

(serves 4)

1 T. flour
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat, cubed
2 small or 1 big onion, chopped (looks like a lot, but it's okay)
3 slices of bacon, chopped
2 T. vegetable oil (divided)
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 3/4 c. beef stock (we made it with Better Than Bouillon and water)
1 T. tomato paste (we've found ketchup works just fine)
1 clove garlic, minced or put through garlic press
2-3 strips of orange peel
1 large pinch Italian seasoning
2 T. parsley, chopped

Dredge beef cubes in flour, salt and pepper. Heat 1 T. of the oil in a large pot (3 qt. or larger) and cook the carrots and onions for a few minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Heat the remaining T. of oil in the pot, then add the beef and bacon, cooking until it is lightly browned all over. Return vegetables to the pot. Add tomato paste (or ketchup), garlic, herbs and orange peel and stir. Add the stock and stir again. Cover and cook on low heat for about 2 hours (yes, a long time to wait for such tasty stuff, but your patience will be rewarded) or until the meat is tender. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with baked or mashed potatoes and a salad or vegetable, and your tummies will thank you.

I think you might also be able to try this in the crock pot - just cook the veggies, brown the meat, then put them in a crock pot with the rest of the ingredients. I'll have to try it sometime. Let me know what you think!


countdown to cowtown

The Cowtown Half/Full Marathon is this Saturday, and this girl is running the half. This girl (I don't feel too old to use that word) hated P.E. K-12, put off her P.E. credit in high school until her senior year, never did sports or anything remotely athletic (unless you count marching band) in her life, and she is running a half marathon on Saturday. Sounds a bit dotty, doesn't it? Well, I'll know exactly how dotty when I scrape myself over the finish line in 5 days.

I started running with some friends back in April, purely for social reasons. One might say I'm doing this race for the same reasons, since I've acquired pains in places I've never felt pain before - I couldn't be doing it because I enjoy it, could I? Well...there is something to be said for being outside, hot or cold, sunny or foggy (no, we're not the kind that run in the rain), having some "mommy" time. It's a good feeling when you're out there and you pass another runner who gives you a "good morning" or a "hi" as you lope by, and even if you're only on mile 4 of an 8-mile run and you've just begun the ascent of that confounded hill you hit on your loop every dang Saturday, that little greeting can give you enough of a feeling of belonging to a group - the group that gets up early to run - to push through the rest of your run. Or at least the next half-mile, until another one "good-morning"s you.

So we'll see how it goes! Five days to go!