Monday, February 23, 2009

Starting with a Thankful (and Healthy!) Heart

Everyone in our home is healthy after a month of ear infections, pneumonia, bad colds and even the stomach flu! I feel like shouting that from the rooftops and then tap dancing around the kitchen! Good health is priceless. It is by far the thing I am most thankful for today because good health just oozes into all kinds of other good things . . .

1. A friend of mine reminded me that March 8th is International Women's Day. I'll be using the day to celebrate the inner beauty and strength of women who run - and if I can pull it off, gathering some girlfriends to head out for a casual 5K (if nothing else, I'll do it myself)! Know of someone who needs a pick-me-up or reminder of her inner beauty? Place an order for a signed (and personalized!) copy of We Are Girls Who Love to Run by Friday, March 6th and I'll knock $5 off the price for you in honor of International Women's Day. Email me at for details!

2. We took a walk with our dog this afternoon. We were gone for about 40 minutes, but only went about two blocks. Along the way we looked at rocks, examined buds on trees, kept Albus from following his nose too far (there are MANY good smells when you are a dog and the weather is nice!!), and practiced balancing along the edge of the sidewalk. Maybe this is the pure joy MizFit was describing today.

3. Everyone's appetite is back on track! After a few weeks of bland foods, we're slowly expanding our dining horizons back to normal. Tonight we're venturing into the truly exciting - taco salad!!

4. Now that I'm back on track with eating, I can return to my workouts! I walked for 45 minutes on the treadmill on Friday, took a break this weekend (I kept eating at inopportune times for running this weekend), and started back on my strength training today with a balance ball workout. I feel stronger already and look forward to a run tomorrow morning!

5. I'm going to an open house tonight for a preschool possibility for Little Sister. It is a cooperative pre-school, so I'd go with her one morning/week and then she'd go without me the second morning each week. There are also great parent education classes that are a part of the program. Everyone wins!

Have a glorious, healthy week everyone . . . and send in those orders so you can have your copy of We Are Girls Who Love to Run in time for International Women's Day!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nine Years as Mrs. Grant . . .

On Thursday my husband and I celebrated our 9th anniversary. While an outing of lunch at Qdoba and a stop at Target isn't necessarily the big romantic experience we had originally planned, we made the most of it and are thankful that we were able to get out at all after the recent string of illness. Despite the casual tone of the day, it was still special. The sunny blue skies and cool air were reminiscent of our wedding day in Charlotte, North Carolina, despite the fact that the date was 9 years later and we are now near Seattle. None of our other anniversaries have had that particular spectacular memory connection.

It was fun to pull out the wedding album and share the story of our wedding day with the kids. They knew who a good number of people were, but they were all significantly younger than how they know them now (most apparent in the pictures of their aunts who were in their early teens at the time!). We also enjoyed remembering those family members and friends who were there that have now passed on, treasuring their time with us.

As much as we are the same people we were when we married, nine years has a profound affect on personal development and life experience. I'm pretty sure my husband would agree that while our lives are definitely more stressful now than they were then, that we have grown in ways we never could have imagined then and that our challenges have brought us closer to one another.

I leave you with a list of 9 highlights from our years together . . . in relative chronological order:

1. Celebrating our engagement date every year and the 19th of EVERY MONTH since our wedding on February 19, 2000.

2. Purchasing and renovating our first house together

3. Taking up the sport of running (which transformed me in more ways than I even realize now)

4. The birth of our son

5. Moving our family from the East Coast to the West Coast

6. Landscaping and re-landscaping and re-landscaping our back yard (it is in a constant state of upheaval, which isn't always a bad thing)

7. Purchasing our pop-up camper and putting it to good use

8. The birth of our daughter

9. The decision to publish my book (I never would have OR could have done it without him)

I'd do it all over again and look forward to seeing what we'll add to the list.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

When it rains . . .

Thank you, Kind Readers, for your words of support and encouragement after my last post. Things actually got much worse before they got better (hence my extended absence) - and we're still on the mend here (though mostly better).

Here's a "fun" by the numbers look at our week:

1 - wicked ear infection
2 - cases of pneumonia
4 - cases of the stomach flu (I got it the worst, which is a mixed blessing)
7 - trips to the doctor in 11 days
2 - prescriptions for antibiotics
countless - trips to the bathroom
4 - home improvement shows on the DIY Network before the kids realized they weren't watching/sleeping through episodes of Curious George anymore
1 - night of my husband "sleeping" on the hallway floor so he could assist the rest of us through the horror that was Saturday night
2 - notes of appreciation for the star doctor and nurse that really came through for us
1 - cancelled vacation to Pennsylvania to visit family to reduce the spread/collection of old/new germs

The good news:

1. The ear infection is gone!
2. The pneumonia is gone!
3. The stomach flu is gone!

New challenges:

1. Getting Little Sister to take the last 3 days of her antibiotics (she gags, vomits, kicks and screams . . . often resulting in the need for doing doses more than once before they stay down - even after mixing the stuff in with other liquids).

2. Getting Mr. Music to pace himself with his new found energy so our days aren't as much of a roller coaster ride. Though putting my hands over my head and yelling, "Aaaaaggggggghhhhhh!" might not be such a bad coping strategy, at least for another day or two.

3. Helping my husband not feel so bummed about having to cancel the trip to see his family (see all 3 of his siblings at once and meet our new nephew, visit his grandma . . . you get the picture).

4. Returning to my workout schedule. I'm not eating much just yet, so I can't do too much too fast. Any ideas for how to get back into running/strength training after missing a week and having the flu???

I look forward to "visiting" with you all here and on your blogs as I get back in the groove this week. And thanks again for the bloggy love . . . this running mama really appreciated it!

I hope this week is a healthy one for you!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ending With a Thankful Heart

Didn't get a run in this morning as I had hoped, but I did tackle some things that were more deserving of my attention today:

1. The mid-year conference with my son's teacher

2. Doctor Trip #4 for the week (#3 for Little Sister)

(That's Mr. Music on the left . . . and Little Sister reading her favorite book below - photos by Jennifer Tai Photo Artistry)
As we inch toward Friday I am feeling quite worn down, but not nearly as much as I expected after taking care of two really ill children for so long. I'm sure it is because of these things:

1. The unwavering/unconditional support of our extended family members. My parents showed up to take care of Mr. Music so I could take Little Sister to the doc without having to entertain TWO children in the waiting room and exam room. PRICELESS! As if that wasn't grand enough, my mom made dinner for us twice this week. That helped more than she'll ever know. My mother-in-law (a nurse!) helped from afar with kind words and encouragement - also helpful!

2. The wonderful doctors/nurses/support staff at our local pediatrician's office. Each time I called for an appointment (they likely can identify my voice by now) they were able to get the kids in to be checked within 2 hours. Unfortunately we weren't able to see the same doc each time, but they are all fantastic and their careful note-taking made it easy to have the cases transferred from one to the next. We did see the same nurses a few times, so that was great. Our follow-up appointment will be with the same doc we saw today - hooray! Each doctor took the time to listen to my concerns, get feedback from the kids verbally and with careful exams, and then take time to explain how their illness had progressed and what steps we'd need to follow to get them healthy again.

3. My husband has been working like a maniac for the past few weeks, but he checks in with me a few times/day to see how things are going with the kids. He didn't have meetings one afternoon, so he came home in time for one of the appointments - again, so Mr. Music didn't have to endure the doctor's office during his sister's appointment (he's feeling much better and the two hour visits are more than his busy body can endure now that it is nearly back to normal!). Super Husband has also been knocking out the dishes each evening and put the kids to bed without me last night so I could take a few minutes to let my brain check-out.

4. I did workout 3 out of 4 days this week (and may be able to run like a hamster tomorrow - fingers crossed!!!). I'm not sure how I would have survived the week without my own good health and fitness. Between being up with the kids 87 times/night (well, maybe not THAT many times, but darn close), carrying around a 30 lb. two year-old and a 40 lb. 4 year-old, taking 3 showers with a toddler in one day (to rinse off the yack that landed on both of us) and holding down the two year-old for medicine taking time (a NIGHTMARE with that one!!!) several times/day . . . I HAD to be fit to accomplish it all.

Tomorrow will be Doctor Trip #5, but it is for a follow-up and will hopefully be the green light to get back to the basic antibiotic regimen. Pneumonia is for the birds. Heck, I wouldn't even wish it on birds (and I'm not a fan of birds - go ahead, ask anyone). But we're going to get through it, thanks to the team of folks pitching in to take care of these sweet kiddos.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sick House

This is the view we were treated to on Monday morning - surprise snow and an unusually beautiful/eerie sky. I didn't get a chance to share it with my usual Starting with a Thankful Heart post because I've been busy taking care of two sick kids.

I've lost count of the number of weeks our family has been plagued by some sort of cold/infection. We finally threw up (no pun intended) the white flag and I took the kids to the doctor.

The first trip was on Saturday afternoon after a morning of my son's incessant humming (which, as we learned last fall, is his "tell" for an ear infection). A quick visit to the doc (hooray for Saturday appointments!!!!) confirmed our hunch and we were able to get his antibiotics rolling right away.

Yesterday we went to see a second doctor (our regular one) because despite the meds, he got a fever. Turns out a mild case of pneumonia was lurking in his little self, too. And, Little Sister was starting to wheeze and her cough took a turn for the worse. Breathing treatments helped . . .

But today Little Sister has a fever. So, back we'll go. Even though her ears were clear yesterday, some infectious bacterial bugs could be rearing their wicked little heads somewhere in her today. Lovely. Cross your fingers that we can get through this quickly!

Thankfully through all of these weeks of illness, I've been keeping up with my workouts. My sanity is intact (more or less) thanks to my treadmill sessions and balance ball work. I'm so glad I haven't thrown the towel in on those because then I'm sure I'd be next on the sick list.

I'm also hoping that this strong base I'm building indoors will transfer well outside when I'm able to get back out on the pavement and trails again. I'd like to do a few 10Ks this year and maybe even a half marathon in the fall. If we can get everyone healthy, I think this will be my year to get back into some serious running!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Part Pirate/Part Caretaker

My son wishes he could be a pirate. Anything made of wood is fair game to become a sword or hook - rhythm sticks, train tracks, cooking spoons, twigs . . . the list could go on and on. "Arg!" is a common phrase you're likely to hear bellowed across the house for no good reason (that I know). This drives me absolutely crazy, especially when Little Sister gets too close to said pirate weapon and gets whacked. And then you'll hear ME holler "ARG!"

As we get closer to Kindergarten registration, I get more worried that we'll be sending a pirate off to school, not a good-natured, run-of-the-mill likable kid. Imagine what his teacher will think about US as parents when holds his classmates at pencil-point while warning them, "Back off, ye scurvy dog, or I shall make you walk the plank!"

No joke, that happened the other day when Little Sister tried to swipe his pirate puppet!

But then, when I least expect it (and most need it), Mr. Music's true nature shines through, and I know that he will be fine.

Yesterday was show-and-tell at preschool. His little friend forgot to bring her "e" item and was feeling sad. Without hesitation he said, "Don't worry! I'll take care of it for you." He found paper and colored pencils and proceeded to draw her a picture of an elephant so she'd have something to share.

The amazing thing about that little scenario is that it was totally unprompted and he did it in front of her father who was trying to problem-solve with her. Her dad was so impressed with Mr. Music that he had his wife be sure to share the story with me this morning. Last night at dinner we asked for a show-and-tell report, but all we heard was that his friend showed an elephant - with no details about how it was an elephant that HE drew for her.

While he totally saved the day for his friend, he was humble enough to just be satisfied with being a helper without tooting his own horn at home. In 4.5 years of parenting, it seems we have done SOMETHING right and I couldn't be more proud of him.

If this is the kid that goes to school, I think it will go just fine! Though having a pirate in class could keep things interesting for the teacher . . .
Oh - one more thing! If you haven't sent me your dog's bit of wisdom about running for my We Are Dogs Who Love to Run adventure, please be sure to do so by February 11th so I can compile the quotes to share with you all on Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lost in the Pages: Review of My Body Belongs to Me by Jill Starishevsky

**Please note that today's post is a bit more sensitive in nature than my usual posts. If you are reading this with a child, I suggest you read the post to yourself first before discussing it with your child or choose a previous entry to read together. **

Today I received the news that there is a Level 3 Sex Offender that lives in our community. I was comforted to learn that a protocol is in place to alert the community and provide concerned citizens with an informational meeting about the offender, but it did send quite the wildfire of emails through our tightly-knit area.

The good news is that we know about him. He has a court order to return to his home if children pass his way and he is to report to his corrections officer if he is ever within 10 feet of a child (he is ordered to never be closer than 10 feet to a child).

The other bit of good news is that his presence in our town brings a heightened awareness to the serious and secretive nature of sex crimes. At the community meeting the Sheriff's Office representatives shared that 75% of child sexual abuse is from people the kids already know and trust -neighbors, family friends, etc (this particular offender's victims WERE people that knew and trusted him).

I was already planning to share the book My Body Belongs to Me by Jill Starishevsky, an Assistant District Attorney in NYC, with you. But the timing of our local news made it seem even more urgent that I post about Jill's book immediately.

While it may not be comfortable to sit down with young children to discuss sexual abuse, it is far better to discuss things BEFORE anything can happen. One ounce of prevention goes a LONG, LONG way.

My Body Belongs to Me is a priceless tool that supports parents and caregivers in the challenging task of addressing this sensitive and private safety issue. With a simple, rhyming text and calming colored pencil illustrations, the book walks children through identifying that their bodies have boundaries and that some parts of their bodies are for "no one else to see". A simplified, age-appropriate scenario demonstrates for children what to do if someone touches them inappropriately - TELL. Starishevsky's powerful message really comes through when the nameless character tells on an offender and her parents reassure her that she is BRAVE and that they are PROUD of her for telling them what happened. They also identify the child's teacher as a go-to person if she ever feels too scared to tell her parents about something.

The last page of the children's portion of the book shows the child smiling as she does a "strong arm" pose. The text asserts that the abuse wasn't the child's fault and that she is a caretaker of her body and will grow big and strong. It is a powerful and uplifting way to end such a serious book, one of the things I appreciate about the text.

The most helpful part of My Body Belongs to Me is the information for adults shared after the story. Starishevsky includes a letter to the reader about the book and how it was designed to help children, a full page of discussion starters and tips for making the subject of sexual abuse approachable for children (these are EXCELLENT and made ME feel more comfortable about talking about it with my own children), and a thorough list of reputable resources for finding help. These three elements alone make the book a worthwhile purchase.

Don't be fooled by the size of this book (just 6" x 6", I believe) - it packs an incredibly strong punch that we can all use to help keep our children safe. I have already shared this book with my close community of moms and will be recommending it to our local school district for inclusion in their resource rooms.

Please take a few moments to visit the My Body Belongs to Me website to see sample pages from the book and to order a copy for your family (it is not currently available through This really is a book that can save lives.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We Are Dogs Who Love to Run - 2nd Installment

Albus is proud to continue his influence on my writing of We Are Dogs Who Love to Run. Be sure to read the 1st Installment of We Are Dogs Who Love to Run before you read further.

And now I give you:

We Are Dogs Who Love to Run - Part 2 (a spin-off of We Are Girls Who Love to Run)

by Brianna K. Grant (c) 2009

"I take care of my body.

I gulp down the nutritious kibble provided by my family, supplementing my diet with only the most flavorful morsels that fall to me under the table. I sleep peacefully several times a day and all through the night, dreaming that my swift paws are racing across the fields at the dog park to retrieve balls. My health radiates from my bright eyes and fast-wagging tail.

I express my feelings.

I sing and bark with friends when we meet to walk the trail with our humans. I retreat to my crate for alone time when I'm feeling overwhelmed or frustrated by the high energy of the children in my house. I show compassion when others are in need, brightening them up with gentle kisses or climbing into their laps for snuggles.

I am strong.

My body becomes more flexible as I run. My ears flap and my spirit soars. I gently pull on the leash to encourage my master when she starts to feel sluggish on a long run and acknowledge her fortitude with nose nudges when we cool down. On days when I am not chosen as a running buddy, I offer my support with a welcome home wag upon my human's return. I let myself take extra long naps in the sunshine to let my body recover from its physical exertion.

I am lovable.

I share my energy with everyone around me. I can fly over a bush in a single bound as I play chase with my family in the yard. I splash muddy water onto innocent bystanders after glorious swims in the river with my fellow canines. I have the patience to have my wiggly little humans crawl on top of me to read me their favorite books and the creativity to work my cuteness for extra treats."

And now, Kind Readers, I'm collecting "quips" from dogs who love to run to complete the book. The 3rd (and final) installment of We Are Dogs Who Love to Run will be posted on Valentine's Day. If you would like to contribute (on behalf of your dog) a statement about why he or she loves to run, please email me your submission for consideration by Wednesday, February 11th:

Monday, February 2, 2009

We Are Dogs Who Love to Run - 1st Installment

Saturday our trusty dog, Albus, joined me for a run. It was glorious. After weeks of having him give me sad looks while I ran on the treadmill and the kids climbed on him in his own bed, we were both thrilled to get back outside. The fresh air was just what we both needed. It took him a full day to recover from the adventure (he is eight years old, after all), but he'd be the first to tell you that it was totally worthwhile!

This reminded me that I commented ages ago about a silly spin-off of my book that I'd call We Are Dogs Who Love to Run. Over the next week, I'll be sharing a few blurbs of this fun little treasure from dogs' points of view, modeling it off the text of We Are Girls Who Love to Run (Albus is on the cover of it, so this version is long overdue!).

Here we go.

We Are Dogs Who Love to Run by Brianna K. Grant

"I am a dog who loves to run.

Some days I run quickly, my padded feet carrying me swiftly like when I chase squirrels out of my yard. Other days I walk, allowing my master's children to run their fingers through my thick fur while they pretend to lead me with my leash. Whether I run, trot or meander, the time with my humans is mine to enjoy.

I am beautiful.

When I am happy, my eyes brighten, my muscles flex and my tail wags for the world to see. My tongue droops out of my mouth as I pant excitedly for playtime. My coat shines in the sunlight.

I am a good friend.

I love to be boisterous. My family counts on me for waggly dances, welcome home kisses and lap running around our big back yard on good days. I'm a good listener, and my family counts on me for knowing looks, lap time snuggles and comfortable silence when they have bad days. I value my family's feelings and take time to apologize when I let my nose take charge of my decisions."

Stay tuned for the next installment of this blog-only version of We Are Dogs Who Love to Run.

Happy running to you and your four-legged friends!