Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cuddling Monkey

Emerson is my sweet cuddly Monkey.  She holds on so tight when going to bed and makes you feel beyond special.  Each night Emerson wants to read 3 books and will not fall asleep unless someone, most often me, is laying beside her cuddling tight. She puts both arms around my neck, pulls my head to her chest and breaths in about 10 breaths. By that point, she is in dreamland.

Sometimes it can be hard at night when thinking of what I have to get done to prep for the next morning timewise, but the nights I don't lay with E I end up regretting it.  We have said over time we will get her sleeping on her own again, but we haven't done it yet.  Maybe it is guilt from missing so many nights last Fall with E at home when Bug was at UCSF? Or maybe it is Jack and I know time is passing so fast and we don't want to lose any of these moments being "requested to snuggle" by our kids? 

Whatever it is, I know I cherish the words and sweet touches shared between us. I love feeling her little hands pull me tight for a hug; knowing that the hug is what calms her and brings her a nightly bit of peace for sweet dreams.  The snuggles are not only a means for her to feel secure, loved and safe...but for me too.

Emerson Talking loves
* I decided to record E's voice last night to have these sweet memories forever

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Noodle Swimming

I can still visualize the moment I looked over and saw the sea turtle staring at me.  That turtle made me think a lot about focus and swimming through the "noodles".

Two weeks ago tomorrow, I was training in Poipu, Kauai, and my body was getting limp.  I had done 100 burpees in the sand, 100 sand liners, countless push ups/squats and dive bomb push ups.  The beach was quiet at 6:30 am, it was the surfers and me.  Nobody else on the beach, the waves were nice and not to intense.  After doing sand training, I dove into the water to swim 7 lengths back and forth in the bay at the Wai 'o Hai.  I figured time wise it was equivalent to 1.3-1.5 miles and the Pacific Grove Tri is 1 mile.  Thus, perfect distance for training and for being in my happy place.  Swimming in open water is much more challenging than the pool, but incredibly powerful for the spirit. At least it is for mine.

I was born with the love of open water, started swim team at age 5 since I couldn't wait to hop whenever in my swimsuit...or without. I didn't care but for as long as I know water has been my healing place. It's where I feel strong, powerful, at one with myself and at peace.  It is different than running for me.  When swimming the methodic rhythm of moving one arm in front of the other, with only my inner thoughts to hear, eases me.  Jack learned this early on, and on days when I seem a bit stressed he encourages me to run to the Club and go for a swim, knowing that after I am bound to come home depleted like a wet noodle but with incredible inner peace.  My husband knows me to well and as often as I want to fight it, is right in regards to knowing what my body needs at times more than I do.

Thus, I dove into the water on this morning, stroke by stroke was feeling my lats and deltoids work.  My core felt strong, in addition to my hamstrings as I was kicking.  While swimming I was lucky enough to look at Parrot Fish, Angel Fish, the Hawaiian State Fish-Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, and many other fish and sea cucumbers.  During this time my mind started going to the question that seems to be on many of our dear friends and acquaintances thoughts these days.  The question of, "It has been almost one year since Makenzie got sick.  How is she doing and aren't you so happy it is all behind you?".  What they don't realize is how loaded the question is.  While I want to jump up and down and scream, "Life is perfect and she is forever healed!!!", it is not the case.  Is it as bad as the hospital days, heck no! We are beyond blessed and grateful for the rest of our lives that we are a solid family of four.  We have both our daughters at home with us, stronger each day, and getting more and more independent than we want to admit.  But is it all behind us, not yet, and it will be a process before it is entirely, if ever.

While we came home from the hospital right before Christmas, we have fought a long battle since.  We have learned how to live together as a family of four again.  We have learned what our real schedule of life is like with a preschooler and elementary school kid.  We learned that we all cope with stress and the various medical concerns of Makenzie differently...and it is OK.  We learned that medical bills suck, and 8 months of attempting to work hard at paying them off combined with still catching up on Emerson's medical bills when she was sick combined with a few lay offs and relocation will take a while to overcome, but is our life.  Are any of these situations horrible and horrendous in our opinion - heck no!!!  Are they trying- heck yes!!! Is that a bad thing, no, but a challenging thing when people assume months at home equal easiness of day to day life again. We are all forever changed.

Thus back to swimming.  I started to get tired on the 6th out and back. While a competitive person, I began to question if I could make it to the 7th out and back. My arms felt like wet noodles and my mind was following.  I started to feel physically and emotionally spent.  I continued my freestyle towards the sandbar and looked over at a moving object.  At that very instant I saw a sea turtle look right at me.  This turtle, I'll name him Fred, looked me directly in the eye.  He started to swim towards me and I swam a bit deeper to look right at him.  Fred swam towards the rocks and then swam back towards me.  For those of you who know me, you know I love sea turtles like I love my family.  I even have a  sea turtle tattoo that my own daughters want to emulate (when they are 30 I say!), on my back and will swim with them at any chance.  This turtle got me.  I was depleted, so depleted. And he came to me at that moment just starting me down. He went out and came back, almost to make sure I was there. He was peaceful, and I swam up and down with him for a while. Fred, the turtle, was playing in his own way.  He also, without realizing it, stood for something.  That is inspiration.  The inspiration to never give up home and to always be at peace. To me, that is what I felt.

After we played for about 7-10 minutes Fred swam away and I continued on.  That little bit of Sea Turtle inspiration gave me the energy to swim the rest of the 6th out and back and finish the 7th out and back.  It also gave me the strength to allow myself to think all of my thoughts through in regards to the question "Are we OK, and it is it all behind us now?".  Yes, life has grown and moved on. But in the past 8 months, Jack and I have learned to fight and love each other on a deeper level, both healing in our own ways.  Emerson has developed night terrors crying for her sister to stay home, and not lose her pink blanket.  She has developed a fear of doctors offices and all things attached to them...even going with me to a knee MD appointment.  She thinks doctors equate her family going to the hospital. Makenzie is stronger than ever.  She is also fearful that when she shows symptoms of distress it means she will be back in UCSF in minutes. She downplays the smallest cold (with highest fever), and on the days leading to our plane trip to Kauai she had stomach issues but said they were nothing. My inner core was full of nerves but I tried to downplay it on the outside for Makenzie's sake.  I was on the phone with her medical team and she was almost admitted.  Jack has been working tons and doesn't like to talk about when Makenzie was sick, about how it has affected our life, but only when she is well. He doesn't wants to discuss the potential(most likely reality) of Type 1 Diabetes right now, nor think that anything else can happen.  We are all coping differently and growing as we move on.

That being said, we really know how to LIVE each moment now. We know not to sweat SMALL things and to have faith that things will work out. We know that money is money, and keeping up with the Joneses isn't part of who we are or want to be, even though we are in the busier Bay Area and it's easy to get caught up in that.  We again learned LIFE is the most important thing, as are the MOMENTS we have with each other.

Yes, I thought of all of that when swimming.  I know, my mind can be on overload quite a lot. But it is at these times that life gives us moments of inspiration.  And that is what the Sea Turtle, Fred, gave me.  He inspired me to keep moving on and keep moving my body. He gave me focus again on what I was to do and where my place was at the moment.

MY own life is evolving, as is yours, every moment.  Sometimes I want to hold onto the moment where I am at for fear that moving forward means potential for more questions that go unanswered.  But after swimming and feeling my inner strength, I again felt the notion to always move forward with noodle arms and all.  Even in moments of weakness, an inner deep strength will pull through and make all of us stronger in the end.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cycling On By- 7.26.11

It is true, we look back at certain times of our lives with memories of fondness, joy, compassion, laughter, and pure delight.  I feel grateful I can look back at many times like that, especially the time when I owned/taught Baby Boot Camp in Portland. I LOVED teaching classes, felt invigorated by influencing my own child with health and fitness while helping women take care of their bodies. Baby Boot Camp was my third child, so to speak.  My business wasn't just that, and it never was meant to be, which is how it became very successful. It was a way of life; those involved incorporated the ideals of the Portland classes and dynamic into their daily lives.

2007- Teaching Plank with Makenzie
That may sound odd to think about right now, but it was a huge part of our lives in part because of the girls. I started Baby Boot Camp just before Makenzie's first birthday.  I vividly remember my first class with Makenzie bouncing along in Washington Park, singing and playing, and the excitement the Moms and their families felt after.  Jack said to me, "Erin, you found your nitch.  This is incredible and so perfect for you".  It was the first of it's kind in the Pacific Northwest and the Moms took to it; classes grew fast. Jack was right. Baby Boot Camp was my helped me learn Portland and our family get immersed in many aspects of the the city and community. 

The classes were a blast and Makenzie, and later Emerson, knew nothing but fitness as a way of life. They knew of Moms (and Dads) being healthy with their kids. They knew that playing games can be fun in working out; sprinting when pushing a stroller is what all Moms and Dads should do.  They thought having friends play tag  in the park after class was a great way to spend a Saturday morning, or going to the Zoo to see animals while in a jogger with Mom teaching is tons of fun. I loved seeing the kids mimic their Moms by doing lunges and the bonding with my own daughters doing push ups with them.

Riding Home with Barbie riding with us
On Monday, Makenzie and I were going through photos.  She asked me if I missed teaching Baby Boot Camp, and I said I really did. I missed many things about it, and owning that business.  I missed the community, and how it was what we did as a family on weekends.  The routine of teaching with Jack on Saturday mornings, followed by Barnes & Noble story time was so sweet to start the weekend right.  The little toes kicking in front of the jogger, combined with the girls laughing with their little friends as we taught class makes me smile still.  Starting the mornings with boot campers who became some of my best friends, exercising together, was incredible.  But knowing that what I was doing as my profession, truly helped inspire the Baby Boot Campers to live healthier and more active lives, made the work hours beyond worth it.  While I was reminiscing on the aspects of Baby Boot Camp I loved, I said to Makenzie, "While I miss that part of that chapter in my life, I cherish it and love the chapter we are in now too.  Each part of our lives have their own stories and we are in a new one now that we are writing to be great!".

After talking about those special times, Makenzie asked if she could ride her bike with me to the Club. I was going to do a swim workout and run there to get more miles in, but she wanted to ride along side and read while I swam. A first for her, but why not. While I was excited, honestly I also was thinking I hope I can get a solid mile swim in since this is my training window.  I know it may sound selfish, but I had visions of a great ride there, with me being stopped each lap for a typical kiddo"Are you done yet?" question.  Yes, I did feel bad with these thoughts too because my normal Mom guilt of always wanting to be easy with my kids.

Post swim ride/run home!  New chapter...
It was after dinner, and with just the two of us it felt like we were in a new, more big kid, world. Makenzie on her two wheeler and me running alongside carrying the backpack with our swim gear.  She was steady on her bike and shared stories the entire ride, sounding so much older than I wanted to realize. We got to the pool and true to her word, Makenzie pulled a chair up at the end of my lane and started reading her book.  She knew the time on the clock to check for when it was time to pop in and swim with me. Makenzie patiently read and then hopped in and we swam, played and laughed for another 45 minutes.  We did underwater tea parties, bobbed, and relished just being mermaids together.  We watched the sunset while swimming and Makenzie said to me, "Mom, this marks a new chapter for us. Now you can train with me and I can train with you! Just us- our special time together".  Heart  = melted.

We got dressed, riding/running home in the dark.  I didn't want the night to end for the incredible conversations and time we were sharing, just us, but was excited about this marking a new tradition we will do together.  Soon she'll be comfortable to swim laps beside me too, but I don't want to rush anything as each moment of our lives marks something new. For me, to have her mature, patient and eager to "train with me" gave me another sense that our chapter before helped shape who she is now.  Seeing me always determined to be strong and active, leading my clients along the way, gave her a strength and confidence she carries with her.  I look forward to the next memories to be created during our training sessions.  Again, my little workout partner is leading my way, writing her own story with fine detail.  

Sweet Nora- July 2011
*** Fun addition- Anne, the first instructor I hired for Baby Boot Camp, who became a dear friend didn't have kids for her first few years of teaching. She now has two gorgeous daughters.  Her youngest, Nora, is a baby and when we got home from our bike ride, I opened my email to find a picture of Nora in a Ride Alameda Tricycle onesie we sent her.  The active Mama book continuing being written...