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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Favorite Things, Marathoner Edition

Just to drag out my triumph over the marathon a little longer, I thought I'd do a post on my fav running gear.  Before I get too far though, let me say, I am NOT one that buys all the good gear.  I hem and haw about it and only buy it if it's necessary.  I don't (and probably never will) look like a real runner.  I don't have all the cool gear and you all know I don't have the body.  I'm OK with that.  But, I have beat the marathon, and as a member in the marathon "crew" I thought I'd share some of what I believe is essential.


Good shoes!
Good shoes are a must.  If you don't have shoes that fit well you're going to hurt yourself.  Guaranteed.  I went to the Portland Running Company because they are close to my house and good at what they do.  I had two people measuring my feet, bringing out shoes for me to try, lacing them up the right way and watching me run on their track to make sure the shoes were correcting my "issues".  What are my issues?  Turns out that I like to run on the outsides of my feet which means I need a shoe with support in certain places.  They offered me 4 different shoes in every price range and I went with an ASICS shoe that fit the best and felt most comfortable.  My knee problems were much better after switching shoes, which leads me to believe these people know what they are talking about. 

Seamless Socks!
I bought a pair of expensive socks ($9 a pair!) and I wore them anytime I ran over 9 miles.  I also got the socks at Portland Running Company.  

Miriam (my running pal) gets her socks at the Fred Meyer half price sock sale every Friday after Thanksgiving.  She loves the Adidas ones, so if you have that option close I'd try it out.

Body Glide.
I didn't need this until we ran 20 miles.  Then I needed it.  Badly.  I've found from several people that the bicep area tends to chafe on the seam of your shirt after 20 or so miles, and this was certainly the case for me.  I bought it for the marathon and it helped.  I think it would have been better if I had reapplied it after mile 10 or so, but...live and learn.  I cannot say enough good stuff about this product!  It's pretty cheap, but so worth what you pay for it!

GU.  Vanilla Bean flavor (or lime if you're desperate).

I have tried a lot of different energy shots, and this is the best bar none.  There are several flavors available, but I have found this one and lime to be the least offensive.  Without getting into too much disgusting detail, I
will just say **try other brands at your own risk**  I had some major stomach issues with the other brands (particularly PowerBar) so I now stick to what works. 

An Awesome Partner
if you want to read more about how I feel about that, go here.  And you'll have to find your own because I'm not giving up mine.

A Positive Attitude!
Honestly, there are going to be days that suck...and I don't just mean suck, I mean suuuuuuck.  If you don't have a reasonably positive attitude you'll never accomplish your goals.  Now, I'm not advocating being unreasonably happy because no one likes that either.  Just be true to yourself.  Only allow positive thoughts to live inside your head and only positive words to come out of your mouth.  After a few weeks of training your brain to be positive and encouraging, you'll be amazed at how much easier it has become!

And last but certainly not least...

A SUPER DUPER TROOPER of a husband! (or wife).




The bottom line is that your significant other is going to be a marathon/running widower (or widow) until the race.  They will be picking up the slack on those mornings that you wake up and find that you can't safely make it up or down the stairs while carrying a child.  They will be the one massaging your aching feet and back.  They will be cleaning up after you and cheering for you.  It's an exhausting process.  They bear the brunt of it.  And you get all the glory.  So make sure your man/lady is on board before you dive in.



Happy Running!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

We Are MARATHONERS!!

That's right, folks.  We finished our MARATHON!!!  26.2 miles!!

Here we are the morning before thinking, "In 24 hours we'll be running!"






Here I am at 5:30 the morning of.  I was a little nervous and a little excited.



"If I was goin' somewhere, I was running."

Finishers!

Me and my biggest fan/groupie.

What every woman needs post marathon: a waffle cone and ice cream.

In accordance with my honesty policy I will tell you this:  I may be struggling a bit with pride.  I am practically wearing my medal everywhere.  I can't sleep in it (it's too big) but I'm sure if I could figure out how to without strangling myself, I would.  Mark hasn't begged me to take it off yet, but I have a feeling it may come to that soon.

Also, I am painfully sore.  I have a huge blister on my left big toe.  Strange, I know.  I may be losing a couple of toe nails...the jury is still out on that. 

But in spite of all that, I have to say that it was wonderful.  I felt good through mile 20, and then I did some walking.  I'll admit it.  I may have even walked all of mile 24.  And mile 25 was horrible because I had to pee so badly I was miserable.  I tried to pop a squat a couple of times but there were just too many people close.  And my shirt was bright.  I couldn't exactly hide.

I am thinking of doing it again next year.  We'll see where we're at, but I think it would be fun to try and beat my time.  Time will tell.

Sorry I didn't update before this, it took me about 2 days to get off the couch.  I'm just starting to walk like a regular person again...prior to this afternoon I kind of resembled an ape.

Have a good one!

Peace and love,
Jenni

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tomorrow

Tomorrow I cross a long time goal off my bucket list (if I had an official one, which I don't).

Tomorrow I run 26.2 miles. 
One right after the other. 
Without being chased.

I never, ever, not in a million years thought I could do this.

But I am.  I will.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow
You're only a day away!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cuidado & Compassion

I believe compassion can be learned.  That said, I also believe that some people are just born more compassionate than others.  Tate is one of those people.  Parenting compassionate kids can be very difficult for us less compassionate folk.  Whenever Theo cries because he's upset or hurt, it's inevitable that Tate will cry, too.  It's sweet because he's really upset that the babe is hurting, but it's also frustrating because he wants to be comforted, too.  We go back and forth on how to deal with this.

Yesterday, though, I was reminded just how sweet this boy is.  We had been out and about, running errands and then we went to the zoo.  We left after an hour and a half because Theo just couldn't hack it anymore.  Tate easily could have stayed all day.  When I got home I noticed that Theo was asleep so I unbuckled Tate and then took the groceries into the house.  When I came back out to get Theo, this is what I saw:



Tate said to me:

"Mom, Theo just needed a snuggle and some sleep.  That's all."

I was blown away.  I thought he'd hold a grudge about having to leave the zoo early because of his brother.  He didn't.  He gets it.  He understands that people's needs can effect us in a frustrating way, but that doesn't mean that we should treat them badly.

I am so proud of my boy!

*****

Theo said his first word in Spanish yesterday!  I am so proud of him!

He was trying to climb on Tate's bike.  He slipped and caught himself before he fell on the ground.  He looked up at me, smiled and said, "cuidado!" [which means careful].
So precious!

I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I day I say, "cuidado bebe".  That's how he learned it.

And, after receiving positive attention for that, he proceeded to run around the house until bedtime yelling, "CUIDADO!! CUIDADO!! CUIDADO!!" at the top of his lungs.

I may have created a monster.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

You're Doing WHAT?!

My thoughts on education...Parte Uno.



I'm not exactly sure that this will be a series, but I'm setting myself up for it anyway.  I have a lot to say on the subject and I want to make sure to say it all.  I also have a lot of questions on the subject, to I'll want to ask those, too.  Basically I'm giving myself the go ahead in case realize I've written too much for one day-it's OK.  I can abruptly stop. 

Up until now, and still now (sort of) I have avoided controversial subjects on the blog.  I do this because I've read other blogs where someone has a strong opinion about something and if we disagree it's just...ick.  We aren't necessarily friends so I can't defend my point to them [well I could, but I have better things to do than sit around all day monitoring comments on some random blog].  I end up feeling put down because we don't have the same view.  Many times this may not be the writer's intention, but when someone basically insinuates that I'm an idiot if I think differently than they do-well, to be blunt it pisses me off.  It's rare that I see a debate or argument [outside of religion, but don't even get me started on the horrible things that have been done in "God's name"] where I think one side is 100% right.  The problem is that even when someone is 100% right, if they treat the other side like an imbecile, they aren't 100% right anymore.  Does that make sense at all?

I think that's why God is so big on humility.  If you're humble in spirit you're not going to shove your view down anyone else's throat.  If you're humble and right, you may actually make people think and that may actually sway their opinion.  They may even be willing to admit being wrong if you're humble.  You see, I don't believe we have the power to change any ones mind with just logic.  Emotion is a powerful tool and if it is strong enough, it can blind even the most logical person.

So this is why I'm hesitant to bring up controversial topics.  And I realize I have in talking about immigration.  And I realize my thoughts are very strong on this and if we disagree I may have offended you.  Please believe me that offense isn't my goal, and I am sorry if that was the outcome of my posts.  The reason I brought it up on here is because I see this issue tied very closely to our lives with our adoption going on.  It's not just something for me to blow steam at, it's real and I believe it will affect us if we go there with our girls.  That's why I posted it.  Because as a trans racial family those issues are things we need to be thinking about. 

As a quick side note, I was able to have a great conversation with my Father in Law about the Arizona situation.  We don't see eye to eye per se, but we were able to talk about it and agree on this: the law (and nearly any other like it) will be very limited and nearly useless until we can get the border under control.  The first priority in solving the illegal immigrant problem is deciding what to do with the people who are already here illegally and solving the border crisis.  We may not have agreed on how or what, but that's OK.  He understood where I was coming from as a mother of Latinas, and I understood what he was saying about the illegal immigrant problem.  And in all honesty, I trust his assessment of the situation in Arizona.  He's lived there.  He knows what it's like. 

So what does all this have to do with education?  Specifically my views on education?  Well, I believe education is as tricky of a system as getting legislation through on immigration.  Everyone has opinions (and likely strong ones) about the logistics of educating children.  It's my job to decipher fact from fiction, form my own opinion and figure out where to go from where we are now. 

There are so many options...public, private, home school, bilingual school, Spanish immersion school, christian school...I could go on and on.  And I'll be honest, I don't really think there is one right answer that is going to fit all of my kids.

In closing (you like that abrupt transition?  I knew I'd use my 'out'!) I'll just say this: The education of my children is my responsibility.  Any school or opportunity out there is a tool that can be used in addition or to compliment what they are learning, but it's still my responsibility to make sure they are in an environment that holds education, self esteem and moral values in high esteem.  This will ensure that my kids have every chance to succeed, grow and achieve their individual, self determined goals.  And as I share my thoughts about education on here in the future, this is going to be my guiding principle.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tate Quotes

Why we aren't homeschooling:

Tate: Mom, people have two legs.
Me: You're right.
Tate: But Mom...dogs have 3 or 4. 
Me:  [long pause as I try and decide how to respond] well...
Tate:  And Mom, people have two eyes.
Me: Yes they do!
Tate: But cats only have ONE [holds up one finger for clarity.]



Perhaps being a veterinarian's grandson is causing some confusion...?

The cat pictured above is my parent's cat, CC who recently went from "CC" to "C".  We talked about it quite a bit to prepare Tate, and judging from his reaction I'd say that he got it!


Also, for the record, we have two dogs.  One has three legs and the other has four.  The three legged dog is appropriately named Skipper.

********************
Tate:  Mom I have the GREATEST Grandma and the BESTEST Nana!!
Me:  Yes you do!  What about Grandma Annie?
Tate: [giggles] Moooom, she's the cutest!

********************
Tate and my dad were in the car driving from our house to McMinnville.  It's about a 45 minute drive.  They were both getting a little tired, so my dad decided to sing to pass the time.  He went through his entire repertoire of "A Boy Named Sue", "Big Bad John", "Jeremiah was a Bullfrog", etc.  After finishing all the songs he could think of, he asked Tate if there were any songs he wanted to sing.  Tate responded,

"Ummm, Grandpa? 
I think we need to start singing about God."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Junk Funk

I've been in a funk all day.  I'd like to blame the weather, but I know that it's more from the crap food I stuffed myself with this weekend.  I feel like today is a detox day-like my body is righting itself from the overload of sugar, caffeine and junk.  Hopefully tomorrow I feel better.

Now, of to a healthy dinner of green smoothie!!

Peace and love,
Jenni

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Before I get started, let me first give a shout out to my dad.  He is an amazing man of integrity, an incredible father and I am blessed to call him my dad. 

Also, let me give a shout out to my father in law.  Through his example, he taught my husband how to not only be a be a great dad but also a great man, and I am forever thankful for that. 

Dads, our lives are richer because of your love for us.  Thank you for showing us a glimpse of God the Father by the way you live your lives.  We love you.

*********************************************
Mark's special plate after his delicious dinner of spare ribs, garlic mashed potatoes and spinach salad.

I have not always been a sappy mess.  I promise, I haven't.  But something happened during my first pregnancy that really ruined me for life. 

I became sentimental. 

Not the 'oh, I shed a tear occasionally at happy/sad movies' kind of sentimental, but rather the 'I sobbed nearly uncontrollably on the airplane while watching The Blind Side' kind of sentimental.  It used to embarrass me, but after about four years, I'm starting to come to terms with my sentimentality (is that even a word?)

We got an email this week that got me thinking, which then got me crying.  This email was from OrphaNetwork, which is how we found Casa Bernabe which is where the girls live.  The email was sent out to sponsors and was talking about fathers and how the kids at the orphanages in Nicaragua (and everywhere else for that matter) typically will have some good memory of their mom, but it's very rare that the kids have a good memory of their fathers.  The email went on to thank the sponsors for being a father to these kids who have no father, and encouraged the men to continue to faithfully answer to the call to father these kids in any way that they could.

I was teary after reading the email.  Teary and proud. I couldn't help but feel that Mark has knocked the ball out of the park.  Nicaragua is where our hearts are-they have been removed from their comfortable home in our bodies and transplanted in the dusty soil in Veracruz, Nicaragua.  When we first went there I had no idea what to expect.  Mark didn't speak any Spanish and up until that point, he hadn't had a lot of interaction with Latinos.  I hoped that he would feel as strongly as I do about Latin America, but I didn't really dare to hope about a long term plan.  I didn't want to be disappointed if Mark wasn't as passionate as I am.

But his response blew me away.  He did care. Passionately.  He did see the need.  He got it.  God blessed me with the opportunity to watch him perform spiritual open heart surgery on my husband.  I saw his heart leave his body and be planted in Nicaragua, and I have since witnessed his transplanted heart flourish. 

He saw the desire in the kids' eyes to have a dad.  He knew he was being watched intensely, and instead of putting on a show or constantly worrying about how his actions were being perceived, he just stayed true to himself and did what he's best at: he treated me with love and respect and parented our kids with love and consistency.  As the days passed in Nicaragua, the teenage boys began to flock to my husband.  Boys who were initially against holding babies and had been worried about losing their macho image began to call dibs on my boys.  They cradled, rocked, kissed, hugged and loved on my babies.  Because they allowed their hearts to open to the boys, they slowly began to allow us to hug on and love them

I couldn't believe what was happening in the course of just a few weeks.  Boy who had no idea what a father did were learning how to be a dad.  They began to voice their desires confidently, saying things like, "When I'm a dad I want to be a good dad, like Mark.  I want to carry my babies, love on my babies.  I'm not going to just let their mama's do all the work."

I'm sure you appreciate the significance, but allow me to explain something that may make your jaw drop even more.  This is completely counter culture for these boys.  Typical machismo culture doesn't allow for dads babying their babies.  Yet, these boys desire to live counter culture.  They desire more than what they've seen their fathers do. 

On this Father's Day of 2010, I simply marvel at my husband.  Yes, he is the father of two little boys here.  And he's a great father to them.  He's the father to three little girls in Nicaragua, and he's a great father to them as well.  But still there is more.  He's fathering 72 other kids in Nicaragua, too.  He's teaching them how to be a good father, one day at a time.  And that is one of the best gifts any dad can teach their son.

Mark, happy Father's Day.  You are truly an inspiration.  May we have many more kids and many more years to celebrate you!

All my love,
Jenni

Friday, June 18, 2010

That's What (s)he Said

This is a well written post by Kristen Howerton over at Rage Against the Minivan.  If you're interested in solving the world orphan problem, this is a great read

Please, take the 5 minutes necessary to read the article, ponder it, pray about it and let it change your thoughts on adoption and let it change your life.  There is so much that can be done even if you're scared to death about adoption.  So go and read it!

And have a great weekend.

Peace and love,
Jenni

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Feeling Accomplished

I was down a child today.  Tate went to play with his grandma and the greats.

That means that Theo and I got in some good bonding time, and I was able to be a little more productive than normal.

My greatest accomplishment of the day? 

Washing Theo's blanket.

Seriously.  It was filthy.  I've tried to snag it from him multiple times and he's managed to foil my plan each and every time.  But today I was able to finagle the nasty blanket from him using bribery [in the form of cheese, of course].

The blanket made it through the wash fine, but when it came time to switch over the laundry I made the mistake of letting Theo "help" me.  He saw his blanket go into the dryer and after I shut the door and started the dryer he began to pound on the door while yelling [presumably at me].  I was able to stop the yelling and pounding long enough to warrant taking the blanket out of the dryer and giving it to him before the cycle was over.

Thank goodness fleece dries quickly!

For pictures of my beloved urchin and his formerly nasty blanket, see the pictures posted below.

Peace and love,
Jenni

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What 1:45am Looks Like at The Stearns' House










What does it look like at your house?

Never mind.  Don't answer that.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What a Mighty Fine Man

What a man
What a man
What a man
What a man
What a mighty fine man!

I'm talking about Lt Wonderful, of course!
He's tops, and I mean that sincerely. 

The only reason I finished my 9 mile run (it ended up being closer to 10 actually) is because of Lt Wonderful.  He got up with the boys on Saturday night/Sunday morning so that I could get a restful night's sleep and wake up ready to run. 

During my run I wanted to stop and go back home several times.  I can't find my ipod right now and I was running by myself.  Without anything to distract me and no music to help when my endorphins weren't enough, I was really struggling.  Then I would think about how Mark got up 3 times during the night to get the boys back to sleep and I would step it up.  I wanted to honor the sacrifice he made by finishing.  I know it sounds cheesy, but it really helped!

Let me just say: I never would have thought this way a month ago.  I would have felt like Lt Wonderful owed me or something like that.  Then I started reading this book, "Created to be His Help Meet" by Debi and Michael Pearl.  It's really changed my outlook on this whole wife/mom thing.  I've been learning a lot about honoring my husband!  It's exciting! 

I could write an entire novel on how I feel about this book.  I don't agree with some of their theology (namely how they take a few verses completely out of context) but the bulk of what they say is great.  Lt Wonderful has even noticed how well I'm doing, so that's something!

All this to say that I have a great husband, and I ran 9 miles on Sunday because of him.


Peace and love,
Jenni

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tate's New Hair


What did he say when he saw it in the mirror?

"Mom, I look AWESOME!!"

Friday, June 11, 2010

Adoption Update

Yes, friends, you were right!  The letter below was telling us of our home study approval!! 

I picked up the home study on Wednesday, assembled everything for immigration yesterday and sent out the immigration paperwork today!

We still have no idea when our beautiful daughters will be home with us.  I'm OK with that.  I know the Lord is in control. 

After this immigration approval we will be approved for adoption by the US government.

We'll then be waiting on approval for the girls by the US government (they do meet all of the criteria so hopefully it won't be too difficult).

And, the big unknown is waiting on our approval from the Nicaraguan government.

But today I do not think about these things. 

Today I choose to celebrate another milestone in the process! 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Do you know what this is?



I'm sure you have an idea...but care to venture a guess?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

We aren't pregnant.

Sorry for the confusion in the last post.

We're not pregnant.

We're not adopting a baby.

I just think that Theo's going to outgrow Tate very soon.

And, on a side note, Mark did say that he'd be open to adopting a baby in the future.  Up until last week he wasn't even willing to talk about another baby.  He likes his sleep too much.

Again, sorry for the scare!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Biggest Owie for the Littlest Stearns

Post-Owie snuggle

Theo got hurt today.

Again.

It was the most blood I have ever seen come out of one of my children.  It was terrifying and heart breaking.

He was playing on a chair (a kiddie chair, not a regular sized jobbie) and it fell over and he hit his nose.  He may have broken it, but I doubt it.  It bled for a few minutes then stopped.  He's also got a nice fat lip to show for his adventure.

He snuggled with me for about 10 minutes, then got down and started running (yes, running!) to the stairs.  I about had another heart attack.

I have a feeling that the littlest Stearns (who won't be the littlest for long) is going to have more trips to the ER/Urgent Care than any of the other littles.

Monday, June 7, 2010

20=Done!

Let me first give a shout out to God-the weather on Saturday was INCREDIBLE!  Friday and Sunday were cloudy and rainy, so I know he was blessing us for our run. 

We set a best time in our half!  Super exciting!  I was really impressed with our ability to keep pace through mile 16.  After that we hobbled along to reach 20, but overall we were right on.  We did have some fast miles in there.  Especially 10-13.  Knowing that we were going to get a personal best really helped us kick it into gear.  

Let me just say, if you're going to run a marathon (or any distance that intimidates you) my best advice is this:

FIND A PARTNER.

14, 16, 18, 20 miles is just too long to be in your own head.  Even if you start out with a positive attitude it's hard to keep it up for 14 miles.  If you have someone else there with you, you're less likely to wimp out.  You want to save face.  So you keep going.  Partners make the run so much more enjoyable and fun.  Plus, you get to catch up and do something healthy-check out that efficiency!

The taper has begun!!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

It's Coming.

Tomorrow I run 20 miles.

20 miles, back to back.  Without stopping (except to go to the bathroom, of course).

Today I will be resting up and getting ready.

7am comes awfully early!!

http://rtv6blogs.com/rtv6_stormteam6/files/2009/05/sunclouds.jpg

And, it's not supposed to rain tomorrow morning!!

Have a great weekend!

Peace and love,
Jenni

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Is it summer yet?

It's nearly summer and we've had nothing but rain.

Seriously.

Rain all the time. 

Don't get me wrong, I love the rain.  But I also like change.  Change in the form of some nice weather would be amazing.  Especially since I have a long run this weekend.  And I want to have a garage sale soon.  And the boys would surely like to play outside in the near future. 

So, for the time being, I would like it if the rain would just go away and come again another day (but not Saturday).