Country Miles

People don’t go running in the country.  Ever.
I mean it.
But I live in the country. And I go running. So now there is one person that goes running in the country– if you can call what I did tonight running.
There is a recent rash of people I know joining Couch to 5K programs. There are websites and podcasts and probably many other instructional forums that teach a person how to go from slug to sleek. I don’t seem to know where any of these instructions are. I thought about asking my neighbors for advice, but again–they don’t go running. So I was forced this week to come up with my own program for couch to 5K.

Day One: Get off the couch and go to bed. I did that one on Monday.
Day Two: Get off the couch and think very hard about exercising. Then eat Cheetos. I did that one on Tuesday.
Day Three: Stay on the couch and plan the exercises you will do on Day 4. That was yesterday for me. It went well.
Day Four: Get off the couch and do the exercise you planned yesterday. This was today. I ran–hobbled, really–to the Shell station down the road. It is exactly one mile from my house. So if I hobble there and back, I have hobbled 2 miles.

It was 6 o’clock tonight when this plan came together and there was no more avoiding the 5K portion of the Couch to 5K program. It was time. I put on actual running clothes and actual running shoes and I headed out the door with money in my pocket. If I was going to end up at the Shell station, I didn’t want to be limited by being broke. I was thinking I would reward myself with a cold bottle of water.

In my mind, I could envision myself completing this mission. I would be agile. Nimble. Impressive. Not at all winded. And as I started down my driveway, this was the picture in my head that i carried with me. Out on the main road, I shook my head to catch the wind in my hair. I actually had the “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick” thing rolling through my mind. There were a couple of problems with making that whole nimble thing happen: (1) I was running on a busy, busy road without much shoulder. This meant that most of my run was cross-country, in a sloping ditch. In the country, there are a lot of ant beds. Jumping over these ant beds on the side of the road was nimble one time. 500 times, not so much. Don’t even ask me about the incline.  (2) I haven’t gone running in 6 months. Maybe STARTING nimble was too lofty a goal. Let’s back it up to: Don’t throw up within sight of a passing monster truck.

I discovered a heavily guarded section of road as I lumbered along. It surprised me, too. I didn’t see that one coming. Perhaps the volume of my huffing and puffing kept me from hearing the bounding and barking of the largest german shepherd I’ve ever seen. When I did spot him, it was a “Whoa, nellie” moment and I immediately crossed the road to the other side. But as I did so, I got hit with a two-dog combo unit. A chihuahua and a rotweiler team. GET OUT, was the message. Go home, sweaty girl. People don’t run here. Clearly. These dogs were fenced, so don’t be alarmed. But I wasn’t totally convinced the fences would hold them. They did not like me being there.

I finally made it to the Shell station. I only stopped to double over and pant like 13 times. I retrieved a bottle of water as my reward and then began to think about lunches for tomorrow. We needed Ritz crackers. You know how convenience stores sell those, right? You get one sleeve of Ritz, boxed neatly inside a very expensive Ritz package. It’s like $11 for one sleeve of crackers. Still, I was there. And I needed them. And it was cheaper than the kids buying school lunches. So I took my bottle of water and my skinny little Ritz box up to the counter and smiled at the scruffy fella behind the counter. I decided not to shrink back from people, in spite of my smell and appearance. There are a lot of sweaty people in country stores. Many of them do not even have shirts, so I was way ahead of that game.

He rung me up and I handed him my five dollar bill. He handed me my change and slid my water and my crackers back across the counter to me. What? No bag? I guess this looks like a very simple and portable purchase. I, however, still had that final mile to run. I decided to take what he had given me and not ask for a bag. After all, a bag couldn’t help me now anyway. So, because the first leg of this journey had gone so well, I decided to add an awkward and delicate item to each hand for the journey home.

And off I went, with a half-empty sloshing bottle of water in one had and a sleeve of Ritz crackers in the other.
This was not in my Couch to 5K plan and this is not done in the country. People walk home carrying 12-packs of Miller Lite. They do not run home with Ritz crackers.

There is a reason people coined the phrase, “country mile.” It’s because one mile feels really, REALLY far. There is not a phrase, “country mile with crackers.” Well, maybe there is. But it means something entirely different.


Yesterday and Today were also anniversaries

May 23 and 24 might not seem special to you, but they are anniversaries too. They are 11 year anniversaries of my asking the question, “Now what?” about raising a child. What now? What do I do with it? What if it cries and I can’t help it? What if the neighbors call the police? What if the department of children and families decides to investigate our diaper changing techniques or how often we bathe? What then?

Eleven years later, I am still asking those questions. Now there are four children, instead of just one. We moved to the country so we wouldn’t have to worry about the neighbors calling the police. In fact, we are considering calling the police on some of them. There is a small boy that enjoys biking in his underoos. Is that okay? I kinda don’t think so, but I guess we’re in the boondocks now.

I digress.

I remember 11 p.m. on the night of May22. Mr. and Mrs. Informinator were the last people to leave our “homecoming party” for our new baby boy. We were petrified to see them go. Once they pulled out of the driveway, we were alone in our cluelessness.

Yesterday, I celebrated that anniversary of the realization that I know nothing by knowing nothing yet again. Beloved had been saying all day she didn’t feel well. She doesn’t feel well a lot, truthfully. I think she is afflicted with Middle Child Illness at least some of the time. Yesterday I logged her complaints as just that.  I tried everything. Tried to hydrate her. Tried to feed  her. Laid her on my bed. Hugged her. Sympathized with her. Unsympathized with her (suck it up, teeny one, you’re fine!). Etc.

I was bustling around with her not eating dinner when Todd called to me from the dining room. The unthinkable had occurred. I won’t describe it. I’ll just give you a few words from basic German Shepherd.

Carnage. Lysol. Pine floors (so thankful). Bucket. Emergency phone call to get a sub for my bible class.

Middle Child Sickness.
Not so much

Happy Anniversary to me. Maybe next year the knowledge will come.
Surely next year…

A continuance of the anniversaries

I can’t help it. I just can’t not observe this day. Sometimes I am inspired to write. Today I am not. But last year, on May 22, I was. So tonight, in remembrance of one of the greatest days of my entire life, I will link to last year’s post. I will also post a picture of the little weed, as he looked on Sunday. Still not an ounce of fat on the kid. Not one ounce. Oh, for that situation.

The Boy’s Sweet Homecoming

It’s the little things

This morning was slightly busier for me, since I was driving the kids to school and the little one had to be awakened for the ride along. Still though, there was very little stress and we were relaxed and happy. We left right on time. After being on the road a couple of minutes, Mama’s Boy piped up from the back of the van.

“Do you know what my favorite sound is?”

I didn’t know.

“You know the sound of the tires on the road? Well it’s that–with voices talking in the front seat.”

Wow. The boy likes a good road trip.

Mama’s Boy has always had a different perspective on the world. He’s special. I found a video of him at 4, “reading” to his little sisters. His voice is very much a live manifestation of the Linus character. I miss his voice as much as I miss anything in the world.


I just saw a commercial for knee replacement surgery. Sometimes circles just make sense, they said. So make sure to get a circle fake knee. is the website, in case you find yourself suddenly needing major joint replacement surgery. The whole thing was so weird that I found myself needing to blog, just to make sure some part of the regular world was still there.

I have been reflecting on things other than knees for a few days now. Today is May 21 (in case you didn’t know that). It is the 11 year anniversary of the happiest phone call I’ve ever gotten. It was our caseworker telling us we had a son. Usually people know they have a son without someone telling them. But our boy was hidden from us until the very last second.

It is 10:58 p.m. Exactly 11 years ago tonight, I was in Walmart with a friend. Todd was at the friend’s house, with her husband. We were both undone. We were purchasing things we figured new parents need, like diapers and receiving blankets and a single outfit to put a child in. A kid needs at least one outfit.

I was in that 24-hr Walmart until after midnight. At that point, I went home and cleaned my house until almost 3. I will never forget staring at my ceiling in wonder. Wondering how it could be that my son was waiting in a hospital 2 hours north. How it could be that the next day our lives would change so drastically. How it could be that people with absolutely no experience with a baby could come home with one without some sort of license. Wondering how I’d ever get to sleep.

I finally did.

And in that 11 years, with 3 extra blessings added, I’ve gotten about 6.5 hours of sleep. And it’s been well worth it.

My Birthday Boy

May 19, 2012

Dearest Boy,
Eleven years ago this night you were on the brink of being born. I didn’t know my missing piece was about to be placed into the wedge nothing else could fill. I didn’t even know you existed. I certainly didn’t know you were about to be mine. I get weepy just typing this note to you. You cannot know how much love was sewn into your life’s garment. It’s baffling, really. It took almost 4 years of thinking I knew exactly how God was going to bring my children to me–and failing utterly–to bring me to a quiet, humble place where I could grow into your mom. Without those years, without the emptiness, without my casting around in desperation, I would not have been ready. I wasn’t ready before you. I didn’t know this.

God knew.

Four years of powerful aching was pacified by a wriggling 7 pound baby with big red lips and a deep, beautiful dimple.

Four years of pain now buried under 11 years of the greatest joy your dad and I have ever known.

You were the perfect baby for us–hand-picked by your Creator.
You were perfect.
You are perfect.


Happy birthday, sweet son.

Observations from a mostly country life

This morning I was set to hold a garage sale at my old house to sell off what we didn’t take with us. Instead of staying at the old house till all hours like I would normally have done, I came home–home–and went to sleep. I set my alarm for 5:45 a.m. to get up and get back over there for an early set up. I never sleep well with looming deadlines. I sat up in the night no less than 4 times, absolutely certain that I had overslept, only to discover it was 4:38, or 5:05, or two other non-5:45 numbers.

When it was actually 5:45, I got up and gathered my stuff. I needed my shoes on the back porch, so I went out there for them. That’s when I discovered a new level of carnage. Small-disgusting-creature-in-the-trash carnage. We’ve had many, many racoons in our trash over the last 3 weeks. We’ve even housed a possum in one of the trash cans.  But today was different. Walking out onto the porch in the dark minutes of pre-dawn, I felt like I had interrupted a profane feast. The trash can was on its side below the deck and pieces of the trash were everywhere. Some of it had been dragged up onto the deck where, if I squinted just right, I could see the slight outline of a furry butt print. Had that bottom been there just moments before? I couldn’t stay to find out. Todd got a rude surprise when he went out on that deck after the sun was up. Sorry, dear. I had to just walk away from that one.

After a long, strange day of very formal occasions and play dates, I picked all of the kids back up and went to pick up Todd for a dinner at Buddy Freddy’s. Yes. Buddy Freddy’s. Because we live in the country now. It’s just what you do. Mama’s Boy ate 63 pounds of food. It’s really astonishing to watch him. How he isn’t 6 feet tall OR wide is amazing. Yet, he is actually quite tiny.

The most interesting sighting of the day came at dusk after the very pleasant dinner at Buddy Freddy’s. We were on our way back home. The light was soft and hemming every leaf and every blade of grass with a deep, blooming green. I was drinking it in.

And that’s when I saw him.
The guy.
Sitting by the side of the road, at the end of his country driveway.
He was in a metal folding chair that was positioned there as if it were the most normal place for a chair in the world. Out there. At the edge of a busy road. On his feet were cowboy boots that came to his hairy bare shins and the rest of him wore jean shorts and a turquoise tank top. At the top of this mysterious figure was a light gray cowboy hat that was pushed down over a whole bunch of white hair.

Todd saw him too at the  precise moment I did. This old timer with the long hair and long, white beard was leaning over a styrofoam cup with the straw in his mouth like he was sucking down the very source of life.
He never looked up.
He just kept drinking.

“Whoa,” Todd commented.
“I know,” I replied. “What do you think that was about?”

I have no answer.

We’re in the country now.

I do have to wonder what was in that cup…