Monday, January 31, 2011

The Past Few Days

Have been busy.

Somebody had a baby.

Someone else has been doing schoolwork, walking the dogs and trying to be a good daddy.

The little bundle didn't sleep at all last night, and the wifey is tired. I slept just fine, though, thank you very much.

The dag's have been adjusting just fine.

They still get to hike and play in the snow:

And Chopper still enjoys a solid snuggle or two.

Times are good in our house right now.

Andrew's 2011 racing plans and a birth play-by-play from my perspective coming later this week.

Out like Chief Ron in TDB.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Weight and Waiting

There are two things in my own personal life that I’ve never liked: gaining weight and waiting for things. Fortunately I’ve enjoyed good health and a wealth of activity for most of my life and therefore gaining weight has never been a big problem. I enjoy the self-discipline of training for long running races and love to be outside. I’ve taken it for granted that I’ve been fit enough for the past seven or eight years to go out for a ten mile run on a Saturday without much thought. Even though my fitness since I’ve graduated from college has experienced highs and lows, the scale hasn’t fluctuated more than a few pounds.
Waiting is something that I’ve never really had much control over. I don’t enjoy waiting for Andrew to pick me up from school. I don’t like to wait for people who are running late. I don’t like to wait to give people presents at Christmas. I’m obsessed with tracking packages on the internet and when they are “out for delivery” I feel anxious.
When Andrew and I found out I was pregnant a million months ago, I knew that the entire pregnancy was going to be a challenge because it combined my two least favorite things. Forty weeks to grow a baby and as many pounds to match? How was I going to begin to survive? I don’t like waiting three minutes for milk to heat up for hot chocolate!
Surprisingly of the two parts of pregnancy I dreaded most, gaining weight has been the easiest. I will admit, the doctor’s appointment I had back in November where I’d gained eight pounds (yes EIGHT pounds) in four weeks nearly brought me to tears, but I know there is a healthy little (or perhaps he is enormous) boy growing inside of me. Now when I go in for my weekly weigh in I have to chuckle at the numbers on the scale. Never in a million years did I think I would weigh more than a friend of my husband’s or that the weight I’ve gained so far is the equivalent of our puppy. I look back at pictures from early in my pregnancy and am amused by what I once thought was a bump and where I am today.
13.5 Weeks
39 Weeks, 2 Days
Now I am at the most difficult part: waiting. Ben is due any day and I just want him to hurry up and get here. Every day I wake up and wonder…will today be the day? Every night I go to sleep a little grumpy that it hasn’t happened yet. To me, waiting for Ben to arrive is one of the hardest things I’ve ever waited for. I don’t have a countdown. I can’t check off days on the calendar. Instead I just wait and wait and wait and wait…

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Parenting and Puppies

When I was in eigth grade, I was a pudgy, hormonal pain in the butt. This was taken at my sixth grade birthday party. Not really.

My sisters and parents will back me up on this. Trust me.

On a day at the end of that year of school when I didn’t have finals, I was not studying. Not surprising. Instead, my friends Dylan, Jorey, and Alex went down to the Canadaway Creek and goofed off. This still sounds like a good way to spend a day off to me.

While we were down at the creek, we started throwing stuff at each other. Why? Who cares. We were middle school boys. Throwing stuff at each other is pretty much what you do.

I don’t recommend lobbing a seven foot long, four inch round piece of hardwood someone's head, though. That’s what Dylan did to me.

He hit me right under my right eye, and gave me an honest-to-goodness concussion. My otherwise kind and sympathetic mother was not terribly impressed, and I was left at home to convalesce by myself.

I was lying in my room, feeling awful, when I heard the phone ring. The nearest phone was in my parents room, and I hustled in there in an attempt to answer the phone.

I never made it.

Instead, I vomited, lavishly and with great enthusiasm, onto my parents bed, which did not have any sheets on it. After I finished, I had the decency to call my mom (at work) and tell her that I “barfed all over your bed.”

Why do I tell this story?

Chopper Reed Brautigam, the newest Ornery Dog, has spent every night of the past three weeks snuggling with me all night long. He does this with great aplomb, and some might say downright flair. I’ve woken up with his head on top of mine. Seriously.

There haven’t been any problems with this setup, except when he burrows under the covers and wakes me up with his hot puppy breath. All in all, a pretty good deal for everyone. (Until he weighs 75 lbs, but that’s a long way off.)

Last night, at 2 am, I put my arm under Chopper’s sleeping belly to scoot him over on the bed. I wasn’t awake.

That is, I wasn’t awake until my arm hit the huge, and still warm, puddle of pee on the bed.

He is sleeping in his crate from now on.

This kind of thing is why people have said that puppies are good training for babies. Just like babies, puppies have accidents. They pee at inopportune times. They get worms. They poop in the house. They want to eat stuff that is poisonous. They gnaw through laptop power cords.

Maybe some of those things are only done by puppies, but I wouldn’t put any of those activities past Baby Ben.

I am looking forward to seeing the havoc the little one wreaks as a toddler, and I’m looking forward to loving the little grubber as a newborn.

Countdown to due date: 14 days. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

On: Grace

Unless you've been living under an e-rock for the past couple of weeks, you've probably e-followed the Ted Willimas story.

Last week, the following video went "viral." Click here to watch, if you haven't already.

In case your ADD kicks in, here are the basics: A Homeless dude has an awesome radio voice.

After his video got infectious like ebola, Mr. Williams' situation changed completely. Job offers came flooding in. He appeared on Good Morning America. The Cleveland Cavaliers want him. Kraft wants him to be the voice of Mac'n'Cheese.

There are good reasons for this stories popularity. It's a great rags to riches, diamond in the rough, "redemption" type story. What is most poignant about this story is what it lacks.


Biblical Grace.

Even though I've heard it described as a story of grace, of redemption, this story is not true grace.

The 3 famous parables of Luke 15 describe God's grace: A lost sheep is sought by a shepherd, a lost coin is sought by its owner. A spendthrift son is welcomed home by the father he despised.

Each of these stories illustrates the paradigm shift that is New Testament Grace.

Ted Williams' story does not.

Mr. Williams is, essentially, Susan Boyle in different packaging. He possesses talent that has gone to waste, but has recently been discovered. He is the happy beneficiary of lucky circumstances. The change in his situation is the result of his talent, of his exceptional qualities. Furthermore, his situation has changed because of his tremendous popularity, as he's become a famous person.

The biblical parables that illustrate grace are totally different from this story. The recipients of grace are not exceptionally valuable or talented. One sheep is not more valuable than the other 99, one coin is not more valuable than the other 10.

The spend-thrift son is no more valuable than the dutiful son who works for the benefit of the father.

In these parables, though, the seeker seeks the lost thing and treats it as something or someone of great value. Overwhelming value. The shepherd leaves the rest of his livelihood, the woman seeks the coin despite its lack of exceptional value.

The father runs to the son. The son who told the father "I wish you were dead" by taking his inheritence early. The son who squandered the fathers wealth. The son completely without external value to the Father.

Ted Williams is getting a kind of twisted "justice." Right now, he is getting what he deserves: compensated for his "golden voice." Grace for this man will be continued opportunity when he goes on a binge.

Grace is active. Grace seeks.Grace does not seek the exceptional, but the mundane.

Grace pardons the guilty, not the wrongly convicted.

Biblical grace is not just avoiding getting what is deserved, it is getting more than is deserved.

That's why Ted Williams' story is not true grace, but helps us to realize what grace really is.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Race Report: Frozen Sasquatch 25K

On Saturday, I participated in my first race of the year, the Frozen Sasquatch 25k, in the Kanawha State Forest, near Charleston WV.

I had signed up for the 50k in September, back when I was feeling fit, the sun was shining, and I was unreasonably optimistic. As the semester wore on, my schoolwork piled up, and my wife got more and more pregnant, I modified my agenda, and started planning on running the 25k.

That was a very good idea.

While I was reasonably active through the past 3 months, my longest run was about 10 miles, and that was on flat roads in November. I’ve been doing some Crossfit WOD’s over at the House of PAIN (aka Pumphouse Industries), running here and there, and riding my bicycles occasionally.

I woke up at 4:00 am on race day feeling very unprepared, despite my pre-game carb loading. (3.5 slices of pizza and chicken fingers. Very Paleo.)

The drive down was fairly uneventful, aside from crushing redneck monster-truck egos in my little purple-blue Mazda 3. As I got closer to Charleston, the snow got deeper. I was one of the first cars in the parking lot at around 7 am.

As I picked up my race packet, my spirits lifted considerably at the sight of two dudes in Five Fingers. While I’m a fan of the toe-shoes, they suck in the snow. And they’re really, really cold. Plus, one of the barefoot brothers was wearing a kids hat with ears. I felt pretty darn good about my trail-slippers (New Balance MT 100’s) and girlie hat with a pony-tail hole.

After an encouraging PRP (pre-race-poop) I sat through a boring, standard pre-race meeting, while chatting with Michael Owen, a total stud runner who got 9th place at TNF 50 miler in San Francisco in December.

The race started, and I was near the front of the pack. The first climb/hike was uneventful, and I honestly don’t remember too much from the race itself. All trails look pretty much the same when covered with snow.

After the first hour, my faux-fitness started to dissolve. The downhills hurt more and more, and my fast hiking kept getting slower.

I got chicked at least 3 times. I only avoided the 4th by a furious kick in the last 400m. I call it the ego-sprint.

My finishing time was 3:00:34. Not exactly world-beating, but fast enough for a big dude with minimal running experience. At the Mohican 100 (2009 edition) Jeremiah Bishop beat me by about 3 hours. It’s good to know I’m at least 50% slower than both top ultra-runners and ultra mountain bike guys.

The race was fun, and I’m looking forward to a summer of trail running adventures. Next up: Big Bear Lake 20k.  

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Non-Consensual Blogging

Andrew decided we should share a blog to embrace our year of new beginnings.  He failed to ask me, his very pregnant wife, if I wanted to participate in this venture.  I've tried blogging.  I love to write but the pressure of a blog proved too much and I failed--it has been nearly two years since my last post.  Though he didn't ask if I wanted to be a part of this blog, or have a very silly picture of me posted, I guess blogging as a couple is less pressure than blogging all by myself.  Maybe the competition of posting more than my husband will spur me on to share our adventures in parenting and dog loving in the weeks and months to come.

In the five and half years that we've been married, if any year warrants a blog, this is it.  We are leaving West Virginia to return to New York, we've embraced having two dogs, Andrew is graduating from law school, we are looking for houses to buy, Andrew is beginning his career at Brautigam and Brautigam, and oh yeah, we are having a baby boy.

For now, apart from the dogs, we are waiting for everything to happen.  It feels like we are waiting for Christmas but do not know when Christmas will come. While we are waiting, our lives are slowing embracing the inevitable changes that are coming:  my belly is enormous, it has been eight weeks since I last ran , and our second bedroom is no longer filled with bikes but instead is covered in safari animals with tiny clothes and toys filling the shelves.

Even though I didn't consent to this blog (and neither did the dogs), I am incredibly excited about what this next year holds for our family and am thrilled to share a glimpse into our life with our far away friends and family.

Friday, January 7, 2011

With a Bang!

2011 will be a big year in our household. Like big big big.

A baby is on his way.

We're leaving our home of the past three years, Morgantown, WV, for the snowy, windy, and relatively flat town of Dunkirk, NY.

I'll be working, instead of goofing off full time. The goof-off role will not fall to Shelley, though, who is going to be a full-time, stay at home runner next year. Instead, the goof off duties will fall to the Ornery Dogs, Tessa and Chopper, and the child, Ben.

This pile of digital detritus will be infrequently updated, and will principally serve as a way to keep in touch with family and friends that are mostly far-away.

The subjects will cover the entire spectrum of human thought, emotion, and experience. Seriously. There might be some emphasis on childrearing, storytelling, and outdoor adventures, but since those three things, along with dog-world, encompass the entire human experience, I will not hear complaints.

The principal cast of this ongoing story will be as follows.

Andrew: Husband, Father, Cyclist, Dog Shouter, Mastermind.

(Despondent after 19 hours of climbing in Harrisonburg, VA, with SO-PRO Christopher Michaels.)

Shelley: Wife, Mother, Runner, Dog Cuddler, Enabler.

Ben: Baby. Pictures Forthcoming, ETA 1/26/2010

Tessa: Border Collie Bossy Bitch Extroadinaire, Frisbee Killer, Chief Ornery Dog.

Chopper: One Goofy Aussie Puppy, Principal Under-The-Covers-Snuggler, Softie with Spots. Apprentice Ornery Dog.

So that's the crew, at least for now. Coming up later this week, or at least this month, or hopefully this year, posts about future plans, racing aspirations, fitness, lifestyle, cooking, dogs, dog training, excellence, the law, justice, injustice, ethics, and who knows what else.

And hopefully very soon, the birth of our baby.