Saturday, July 21, 2012

Kids & Mud

So a few weeks ago, a gal from the running club asked if anyone could take her spot for the Dirty Girl Mud Run. I took the spot and 'ran' with a stellar group of gals through the dirt. Our kids came to spectate, and my girlios were hooked. Playing in the mud is a kid's dream. They asked me to find a mud run for them. The Columbia Muddy Buddy race was today, and there was a special race just for the kids, the Mini Muddy Buddy.

The starting line

I've been trying to get my girls involved in running for a while. My oldest thinks it's just too much work. My girlios did a kids run a few years ago after one of my first half marathons, and my oldest said, "I'm never doing that again." My girlios love biking. My youngest, at four, can put in a couple of miles. My oldest has paced me around the neighborhood for 7+ miles with just one gear on her bike. Why would they want to run?

Mud changed everything.

They've been talking about the Mini Muddy for weeks. "Is it today?" "Can we get our stuff ready?" Since we've signed up my oldest has even asked to do a 5K with me. The girls have run as well as biked. They ask if the runs I am looking into have a kids race. The power of mud.

I do a lot of races during the year. I decided to volunteer us before the Mini Muddy Buddy. It was nice for me to be on the giving rather than the taking side for an event. It takes about an hour to drive down to Gilberts, Il, and after arriving at about 8:30 we made our way to the volunteer tent. We were put right to work in the registration tent handing out shirts and bags. My two oldest rocked. They kept up with the long lines handing out bags for almost two hours. And they took pride in their work. My youngest was tired and got clingy early. She did help me hand out the Mini Muddy shirts. One-by-one the girlios' blood sugar dropped, youngest first and then each older girl got glassy-eyed. They had bagels on the way, and we had protein bars still in the car. After two hours the registration line died down, and I was given permission re-energize the girlios. Before their race the girls had time to piddy, hydrate and snack. They were ready.

It was hot by noon. Really really hot. The kids were lined up by waves. The 4-to-6-year-olds had to have a parent with them so the littlest girls and I were front and side. The course is small for older kids, but just right for the little ones. There were saw horses, tires, a ground crawl, a climbing wall and the mud pit. My oldest started late enough that we were able to see her off as well as see her finish.

My youngest who does sand angels at the park stepped in the mud pit and flipped out. What?! I was crawling through the mud watching my two youngest walking through the mud. They had no desire to crawl once they put their hands in it. It was not going as planned. My middle child tried kicking mud on me. Um? No. If you're not crawling, you don't get to fling. My youngest started crying in the mud pit and didn't stop until we got in the lake to wash off. The mud in her shoes wigged her out. And she wailed. The mud dried on her legs. And she wailed. People were looking at her. She looks strained in her picture. However the moment she got in the lake she wants to go swimming, virtually erasing the mud memories. By the time we got home, she wanted to do another mud run.
This is not the face of joy

My other two girls loved the race. Everybody had a great time walking and washing in the lake. I almost lost my shoe. And a sock. We were some happy wet dirty girlios.

Still some weeping but the lake is just steps away...

The ride home was long, and we were on the hunt for a shake, which sounded fabulous. We had been outside for six hours. A shake sounded fabulous. Doesn't it?  There was great rejoicing when we finally found a McDonald's nearly an hour later, and my youngest finished a whole medium strawberry shake in no time. She may have been hungry. I finished mine pretty quick too. Everybody perked up.

The girlios wore their shirts all evening. They want to wear them again tomorrow. My oldest wore her medal for the rest of today too. She said that this was her first real medal.

They're hooked. Mud is powerful.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Minding the Gap

It's been quiet on the blog lately. We've had a big spring here at home. I've just had the chance to start to process. So join me if you will on working it through.

If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one. ~ Mother Teresa

Just about three weeks ago we dropped off our first Safe Family placement. We had the little girl, S, here for four months. It was a wild ride. The last couple weeks has been bittersweet. There's a gap in our house, and we can feel it. One of the girlios misses nap time, the quiet time in the afternoon. Another girlio has reminded me that S is her best friend. The house has also been quieter and calmer and less stressful.

She turned three here. We had a birthday party for her. She grew and flourished in our home. In her young life she has been seen homelessness, food uncertainty, mental illness, poverty, abandonment and addiction. It's a lot for a little life to carry. She has a great survival instinct and overall a very cheery personality. She's a fighter, for good and for bad.

I wish I could say that it was fantastic. It wasn't. It was hard and great at the same time. To their credit, my girlios were amazing. They loved, flexed, showed grace and took her in as a sister. S missed her mom and was angry about it. She felt comfortable enough around us to show her feelings. It was good for her growth because she could vent and learn to control some of her emotions. It was hard on us because of the physical nature of her emotional outbursts. I don't think she was used to boundaries. It's hard on everybody to catch up on those.

She came in February. It was cold and snowy. My girls love snow. S didn't exactly know what to do. We taught her how to play, that it was okay to play, and that it was okay to get dirty. The first time we took her to the park I took for granted that kids play at the park. She didn't want to step in the mulch. She didn't play in the sand. She didn't climb or slide down the slides. When she left in June she did all the things kids should do at the park. She slid, climbed and played with sand. I believe strongly that kids need to play for development. She loved being outside.

She tried new foods. She tried new things. She had new experiences. We took her on vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains. We took her to Pittsburgh to visit my sister. She loved going to soccer practice, and we got her her own ball. She showed some delays, but she also showed that she was capable of catching up. She could carry a tune better than all of us in the family combined.
She is highly verbal and often it made my eyes twitch. She couldn't track with all the words in a sentence that was said. It was hard. It took us a while to figure out that if she repeated the sentence after us she could understand what we were saying. She wanted to be prayed over every night. I still pray over her, and I think of her everyday.

My sister-in-law recently adopted her 24th placement. After walking in her shoes just this one time, I admire her even more. She's my hero. Talking through some things with her was so helpful.

So what did we learn?

We learned that sharing, really sharing, especially the things we love the most is hard. We love our family, so much, and sharing them was difficult. We learned to dig deep. And at points we learned we were pretty sucky at sharing. More than once we prayed for strength, grace and help, sometimes in tears.

We learned about love as an action word. We want to love and be loving. That takes action and faith to step out. So many people have encouraged us and told us what an amazing thing we were doing. I don't feel amazing. I do feel we made choices to live as we believe. Taking those steps of faith, day-in day-out loving is hard. We were blessed but growing involves stretching, tearing and healing. We learned about love.

So would we do it again? Yes and no. More to come. Our story isn't over, but you'll just have to wait.