Friday, February 28, 2014

The Waiting Place

"You can get so confused
that you'll start in a race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on a miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting"

- Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

I don't pray for patience. I don't pray for patience because there is only one way to learn patience. It involves waiting. And waiting involves giving up control.

This winter has been a particularly good lesson in waiting. In Chiberia we have had the repeated snow-cold-snow sandwich since November. Often we hope for a snow fall before or around Thanksgiving. This year there were three snowfalls before Thanksgiving, and there has been some form of precipitation every 72 hours. I, like so many, am waiting for the weather to break. For Spring. For above freezing temperatures. It, however, is out of my control, so I wait. Waiting.

Two other factors in my life have made this the Waiting Winter. I'm waiting to heal, and I am waiting for our son. I have not run since Jan 1st. Tomorrow is March 1st. This make me sad. Thankfully, the weather has not been cooperative, but it doesn't still take away my desire to run. The healing road has been long, and although it is fruitful, there is still a distance to go. Just waiting.

I am also waiting to meet our son. Waiting for a match. Our dossier is filed, and I am paper pregnant. Unlike my past pregnancies, I don't know what I'm having or when I'm having it. I don't know how old my son will be, and therefore I can't plan. I don't know when I will meet him or what he looks like. It's completely out of my hands. I wait and pray. So much waiting.

Waiting wears on me. I think it wears on everyone. I have friends who are also in the Waiting Place. They are going through tough times, and they are waiting for change or relief. It can't come fast enough, and it feels like it isn't coming at all.

So what perspective can I offer as I see the forecast for snow again this weekend? Hope. There has to be hope or waiting will wear me away. Hope offers minor relief  and gives me strength to endure. The two days of above freezing weather when the sun shone remind me that Spring will come. It may take its own sweet time, but it will come.

My physical therapist asks me every week how I am doing and how my pain is. Although I can't run yet, I notice change. Last night I extended my foot in bed, and it didn't hurt. That's progress. The exercises I do at PT are often painful and take a lot of concentration. It's exhausting. And the exercises seem so trivial, but they are paying off. I got my inserts this week, and my physical therapist said I could run in two weeks. An end in sight. Hope. Strength to endure.

As far as our adoption. I am thankful for the woman at the agency who is working on our behalf. It is in her capable hands, and I have hope in that. I also have a full life plate right now. Distraction can be another form of hope. It reminds me that one thing does not have to be a consuming focal point. If I wait for the pot to boil, so to speak, I will miss out on all the other things around me. I don't have control over it anyway so I try not to worry about it. Distractions. Breaking up the waiting.

I'm also not alone in the Waiting Place. It is so easy to feel alone here. I'm not alone, and all it takes is a little vulnerability to find someone else was sitting next to me all along. Community. Yes, there is a temptation for group complaining. Misery does love company, but there is also a great opportunity to build one another up and encourage each other forward. Eyes ahead. Chin up. Arms locked. Waiting together. There is hope and strength.
"Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing"
-Dr. Seuss

To all the waiters, I wish us Boom Bands.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Honey, I made you a hat!

My husband has been wearing a hat around the house. Why? Because we keep the house cold, and he doesn't have that much hair. I had been making arm scarves like mad, and he said, "I wish I had a warm hat to wear around the house." Arm scarves take about an hour. My kind of craft is done quickly. "A hat, you say?" That takes actually knitting skill. "I'll make you a hat," said I. We scoured about for a pattern I could handle (men's hat), and I got some cozy full thick yarn (wool-ease thick & quick oatmeal). Then the fun began. I was trying to get it done by Valentine's Day, but it took me a little longer. I had to learn what the pattern notations meant, and I restarted it several times to get the hang of it. Learned a lot about knit and purl on this project. I hope it fits B.
Too big for these needles
About a quarter of the way through I had to get round needles because it wouldn't fit on my straight needles anymore.
Ready to sew it together. I looks a little big...
The result - a big warm huge hat. I hope he has a big enough melon to fit into it. It definitely is warm. He didn't say anything about it fitting.
Your Honor, I just followed the directions.
Almost stitched up
All done
Everybody has to try it on.
Still looks a little big
It is really really warm.
Try on your hat, Honey!

No, it's not for the guy on Fat Albert. (It could be)
Well, it's warm. Hot even. :)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Off on the Wrong Foot at PT

So this week was my first week of PT, and I have to admit that I was a little nervous about going. I've never been to PT before and didn't know what to expect. I can say now that I have a very nice physical therapist, Josh, and although it may seem so at the time he is not out to destroy me.  At our initial visit he asked questions, took measurements and checked my flexibility and strength. Then he gave me exercises to do and walked me through all of them. Most of the exercises involved doing things that I have avoided doing because it is painful and then extending them fully deep into the movement. I had to concentrate hard and at one point I broke a sweat. It stirred up the pain pot known as my right foot.

After this, in the last 10-15 minutes, I get put on the electrical stimulus machine. I know you are thinking, "It's about time." Not that kind. Electrodes are attached on either side of the affected tendon and an electrical charge pulsed through the tendon in an effort to force the inflammation and stagnant fluid to move. I know this because I asked. I'm like a little kid. "What are you doing?" "Why?" "What does that do?" I try to restrain myself, but I get so curious. I do this often. Salon. Restaurants. Doctors. "So what do you do?" "What does your day look like?"

Back at PT, he put an ice pack around my foot during stimuli and gave me a lecture on soreness. I only really paid attention later in the day when my foot felt like a hot achy mess. I drove a lot that day and stood to teach. Stirring up the pain pot. I had to do the exercises again before I went to bed. I slept hard and woke up exhausted the next day. It was amazing how much energy was expended from those exercises.

As I've gone back Josh adds new exercises with the old strengthening my hip flexors, quads, and my ankle. He's worked on my foot and my calves. I've done my best not to yelp, but I have not been able to hide my scowl. I have more work ahead of me but I've already noticed how much better my foot feels throughout the day. My foot is not as flexible as the other one; there is work to do.

One of  the things I've noticed about this healing process is how hard it is take time to take care of me. I've been chastised by the podiatrist for not putting on my pain/inflammation cream 3x a day. "When am I going to fit that in?" I thought. It's a cream and takes two minutes. Ridiculous, but sometimes the day flies by. Now I have exercises that take 20 - 30 minutes 2x a day. I am supposed to things 20 times. Honestly, on many exercises I get interrupted somewhere around 10, and I'm not sure how many I do. Finding time and girlio care for my 1.5 hour appt 2x a week has also been stressful. Where am I going to find that kind of time? I am very thankful for the help. I feel so selfish. It does feel very selfish.

I guess running is selfish too. I'm trying to be patient because this is what I've got to do to get back out there and be strong.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What I'm Getting for Valentine's Day

First of all, we are not a mushy couple. We don't do much for each other on Valentine's Day. We have three girlios who do daily crafts, and there is so much pink, purple and red in my house we practically live in Valentine's Day. My husband gives the girlios gifts every year* as my dad did for me when I was a kid, and I fondly remember. The girlios get a little chocolate and a piece of clothing. Clothing is normally clearance during February (bonus), and we figure it lasts longer than candy. They use it and remember when they got it.

Anyway, we do ask each other what we want for Valentine's Day. Some years I've gotten jewelry and, there is definitely chocolate. I couldn't resist getting B a mug this year that says "A beer for my dear." I told my husband that I wanted a marathon for Valentine's Day. I don't know which one because we don't know when we'll pick up our son, I start PT tomorrow, and things are up in the air. I have my mind on Grandma's or Milwaukee. I'd just like to do one marathon this year.

I work part-time five days a week usually at night. For the last couple days, I've been coming home from work to a cleaner house. The clothes are put away. The dishes done. Everything is tidied. My husband asked me last night if I figured out the gift that he's been working on. I said, "A clean house."

He said "Well, partly. You said you wanted a marathon for Valentine's Day. I'm giving you the gift of time. If I get these things done, you will have more time to workout, train, or get other things done."

This morning I came downstairs, and the more organized house settled me. Things I would do first thing in the morning are done. I already notice more time. Quite a gift.

He is such a keeper.

Imagine this all over my house all year round :)

*Ok, I buy them, but I'm the shopper.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Adventures in Soap Making

At Thanksgiving, my sister introduced me to the blog Offbeat and Inspired and gave me a bar of walnut honey soap for Christmas. She had made the soap herself and showed me this tutorial on the cold press method of soapmaking. As a former chemistry teach now teaching math, the introduction of a "lab" element into my life besides cooking intrigued me. I do love cooking, but it also involves eating and then the need to workout. Vicious cycle.

I have found that in order for me to have a successful craft it has to be done in short time. Scarves, yes. Blankets, no. Cold press soap involves an hour or so of work and then a 4-6 week waiting time. Perfect for me. I also like crafts that are consumable and usable. When the soap is done, it's gone. Sweet. When ordering Christmas gifts, I looked for soap making equipment like an immersion blender, a digital thermometer, a silicone loaf pan, and a digital kitchen scale. Soap making involves more of an investment than knitting but less than woodworking. After investing in equipment there is also the ingredients; lye, oils and essential oils. Essential oils are the most expensive ingredient. Since lye is involved I wore goggles, lab apron, face mask and gloves. The children were kept away. I shudder to think if they came in contact with the concentrated lye mixture.

Here's my soap box
I followed the recipe for Orange Olive Soap. Here's how it went...

I put out all my ingredients.
I mixed my lye solution. It gets very hot (165 F) but cooled off quickly in my 44 F garage.
As the lye cooled, I measured my oils and heated them in the microwave.
The oils and the lye have to be between 100- 125 F to mix.
Ready to mix the lye with the oils
Blend with immersion blender until "trace" occurs. Trace is when it starts to set.
Adding orange essential oil at "trace"
Pour the soap into mold and wait 24-48 hours for it to set

After 24- 48 hours the soap is set enough to cut.
Out of the mold and ready to cut
11 bars and ready to cure

My first batch is almost ready. I've made second batch of the same recipe since then as well as this peppermint mocha soap.

Peppermint Mocha

For the first week of curing the essential oils in the soap are so strong. Certain areas of my house smell fantastic. Next time I will be trying my own recipe. My husband has asked for a more masculine soap so I'll be making a lemon eucalptus coconut soap. I will probably have some available for sale too. It's fun to make, and I can't wait to try the first bars just after Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The DNS and the Podiatrist

So 2014 starts out with a DNS. For those of you playing along at home, a DNS is did not start, and a DNF is did not finish.The Frozen Gnome 10k was not to be. I have not yet had a DNF that I can remember, but I know that it can happen to anybody, just like a DNS. And although they both evoke feelings, there should be no shame in them. At least that's what I tell myself.

This is not my first DNS. I signed up for the Chicago Marathon twice long ago, once prehusband and once dating husband. Injury took me out both times, and I didn't even go down to pick up my packet. I have called myself a two time 'contributor' to the Chicago Marathon. I didn't know the term DNS at that time. In fact, back then I gave up the thought of the marathon. My body couldn't do it. Little did I know that a decade and a half later I'd have six marathons under my belt.

I also had a DNS for the American Birkibeiner cross country ski race a few years back. It's coming up this month in Hayward Wisconsin. That DNS was the weekend that I learned about pink eye. My father has done the Birkie for many many years. That year was his 25th Birkie. The race is 50K+ long and I find it pretty amazing that he's done it for more than 25 years. In fact, my dad's marathon PR is better than my PR, and he was in the 60-65 age group. I really wanted to do it with him as my first Birkie. My girlios all had fevers and nastiness oozing from their eyes. Since I'd never had or seen pink eye I just cleaned it with tissues. Then when I asked the nurse about it she practically yelped and told me to bring them in right away. I thought I'd dodged it. The day we were supposed to leave to go up north with all the girlios on antibiotics, I couldn't open my eyes and felt horrible. It was awful. My antibiotics didn't kick in until the day of the race. DNS and still at home in bed.

So my foot pain was really annoying. I went to the doctor early in January. I met with the PA, and it was one of those conversations between a runner and a nonrunner.

"I run about 500 miles on a pair of shoes"

Eyes widen

"It hurt intermittently before my marathon in November"


"I've put about 100 miles on the new shoes, and it still hurts"

I've got to go talk to the other PAs.

And then I got a referral to the podiatrist. The PAs okayed me for the race, but I didn't want to start at square one. It still hurt to stand. I got a new pair of shoes for flat footed runners and put my feet in shoe prison.

I have not run since New Years Day. The pain in my foot has diminshed greatly. I did go to the podiatrist. As so many things, the problem wasn't the problem. My calf is the problem, and it causing tendinitis in my foot. The podiatrist was kind enough to say that the "older models" need a bit more up keep. I want to keep running and was happy to have some direction to keep this machine running. He recommended a topical anti-inflammatory, custom inserts and PT.

After much insurance checking, calling up and down the chain, (still) trying to find childcare and resting up, appointments have been made, and I can see running again on the horizon. In the meantime, I'm excited to hit the pool tomorrow as I have been okayed for cycling and swimming. I'm even wearing my sandals around the house some days.

I've made some changes on the blog and am trying to beautify it all up. In my time off, I've been cooking, crafting and soapmaking. When Spring finally breaks, I want to play outside.