Petting the Elephant
Hello sweet girl and belated Happy 92 Months! You are upstairs asleep and I am downstairs worrying about you. Just a little.

Several weeks ago you got a cold. No biggie. You got a cough. That's ok. But the yucky cough just stuck around and stuck around until we got a phone call from your teacher that you had a stomach ache and looked pale.

When I came to pick you up, I voiced my suspicions to her. Walking pneumonia. You had it a couple of years ago, with a cough much like this one. 

"Yep!" your teacher said. "She'd be the one! She'd be the one to have walking pneumonia."

At first I wondered if she meant you were sick more often than your classmates, but then I realized she was referring to your sunny attitude. Your lack of complaint even though you were ill.

The doctor confirmed my suspicion. We got some meds and we have a follow up appointment this week, so I really shouldn't worry. But I do, because I'm me.

I remember having a conversation about this with you one time. "Mom, you worry too much," you said. 

"I'm your mother," I replied. "It's my job to worry."

"You're the BEST mom in the world!" you said, which made me wonder if the compliment was because I was clearly the best worrier in the world.

In the Trees
Your illness was the low point in what was an otherwise great month. March is always a favorite around here, with spring in the air and plenty of St. Patrick's Day fun to go around.

Green Fountain in Forsyth Park
Nana came to visit for Tara Feis, and then we joined a bunch of buddies downtown for the big St. Pat's parade.

St. Pat's Parade 2014
The parade is full of traditions, one of them being the "kissing of the BC boys." The Benedictine Military School cadets march in uniform, and each year women of all ages apply layers upon layers of bright liptsick and then decorate the cadets with kisses.

Scoping Out the BC Boys
You and buddy Elsie were standing at the edge of the parade route as the boys marched by, scoping out "all the cute ones." Later, you told your Daddy that you had difficulty holding yourself back, and that next year you plan to don the lipstick and dole out kisses.

Oh dear. 

Thankfully, the only date you had this month was with your Daddy for the annual Daddy Daughter Dance at school. You picked out your dress months ago, a lovely purple velvet dress, which you paired with white socks in classic Camille style. Your Daddy chose a coordinating purple tie and wrist corsage.

Ready for the DanceDaddy Daughter Dance 2014
As I curled your hair in the bathroom before the dance, I thought about how different these dance nights will be when you're older. When your Daddy isn't your date. When it's a date.

Curling Her Hair for the Dance
I'm sure there will be years when you'll fret over your clothes and hair, and beg us to extend your curfew. But not this year.

We'd given you permission to stay up until the dance ended at 9, but you were home by 8:30, ready for bed. Daddy tucked you in, and then came downstairs to watch some TV. A band was playing on screen.

"DAD?" you yelled from your room. 

"Yes, sweetheart?" he said. 

"I hear music. Can you turn that down a notch?"

Oh how the tables will turn one day I'm sure!

Dancing with her DaddyFancy Dance Photo
One of my favorite moments of the month happened one Saturday night when we joined friends for dinner at a local restaurant. We were seated near the piano, and when the pianist took a break, your friend Oliver asked if he could play a song. 

Oliver is also 7, and has recently begun piano lessons. He played a song, and your wheels started turning too. We had just come from a viola lesson, and happened to have your instrument in the car. 

"Can you go get my viola?" you begged. "Pleeeeease?"

I wasn't so sure. I mean, these restaurant patrons didn't come here to listen to young children play instruments. They came to eat nice food and mostly ignore the piano player in the corner.

But how to tell you this? And your friend's piano song had been well received. Finally I asked the pianist if one quick viola song would be ok, and he replied with an enthusiastic yes.

So I brought in your instrument. As you played the first notes of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, most of the patrons grew quiet and listened.

You played the song well, and when it was over, you basked in the applause, gave a bow, and even collected a $1 tip. And to your great joy, the pianist asked for another song, and another.

Playing her Viola at B. Matthews
There are plenty of days when you get frustrated learning your instrument. But then there are days like this, when you shine. I was proud of you. Proud of your courage and poise.

Thanks for all the great moments this month - for the big ones, for the little ones, and all the moments in between. I love you so very much.
My Girl at 91 MonthsHello sweet girl and Happy 91 Months! You're upstairs getting dressed for bed right now, and part of your bedtime routine every night is this question: "Short sleeves, long sleeves, or feetie pajamas?"

It's a valid question in Savannah in February, where the weather is so fickle you can be in a light nightgown one night and fleece pajamas the next. You can be riding horses in short sleeves one day ...

Riding Toby
...and then released from school early the very next day under a winter weather warning. We were sure - SO SURE - that we were finally getting snow in Savannah. School was cancelled for a day and a half, but all we had to show for it was some cold rain. We were disappointed, but nonetheless enjoyed a mid-week pajama day that didn't involve anyone being home sick.

The "No Snow" Day
The cold rain stuck around that weekend too, but couldn't keep us away from race day out on Tybee Island. For 3 years now, we've made this a family & friends race weekend, with the grown ups racing on Friday, and the kids racing in a 1-miler on Saturday.

As usual, you were running with Team BDR JR, but this year there were 2 new faces on your team. Jacqueline and Maggie were about to run their first-ever mile. As we walked to the starting line, Maggie - typically fearless and tenacious - confessed to me, "I am really nervous."

When I told you what Maggie said, I was pleased to see you run up to her and throw an arm around her shoulder. "It's going to be fun Maggie," you said. "Do you want me to run with you?"

Pre-Race Pep Talk
You two grabbed hands. It was a nice gesture, but I didn't expect it to last. I know that sometimes once the starting horn blasts, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of your own run.

Ready to Race
Three ... Two ... One ... And off you went, still hand-in-hand. We parents craned our necks until you kids disappeared into the crowd and around a corner. Then we cut over to the finish line for the anxious wait.

We watched and watched, and then I felt relief to see your bright blue shirt coming up the final stretch. But what brought the tears was seeing Maggie beside you, and your hands still locked together as you crossed the finish line. 

Friends to the Finish Line
Would the two of you have run faster if you'd dropped hands? No doubt. But I couldn't have been prouder if you'd won the race. Being fast is nice, but being a good friend is even better.

We experienced another big milestone this month - it was the month you began wearing glasses.

It did not come as a huge surprise. We'd known since pre-K that your vision wasn't perfect, but the eye doctor didn't feel you needed glasses at the time.

I kept waiting for you to tell me you were having headaches or trouble reading, but you had no such complaints. But when you started playing viola, you sometimes struggled to see the sheet music and would sometimes miss the finger tapes on the instrument's neck.

So off we went to the eye doctor, with you repeating in the backseat, "I hope I need glasses! I would be so adorable in glasses!"

The doctor did not disappoint. Only after he'd made the announcement that you needed glasses, you mentioned "sometimes I have to walk to the front of the room to read what the teacher writes on the board."

Good grief. Why had you not told me this? 

Anyway, you picked out a purple pair of glasses and could hardly bear the expected 4-10 day wait for them to arrive.

Back home, your princess drawings began to include new accessories.

Princess with Glasses
And I found this note on the dry erase board on our refrigerator. You were counting down the days.

Counting Down the Days
The glasses did in fact arrive on Monday, and you were thrilled. I, on the other hand, need to get used to this. They look lovely on you, but they also make you look older than your seven years.

New GlassesNew Glasses
Tuesday, I admit I was apprehensive as you went off to school. Would the kids be nice? Would they agree that you do indeed look adorable in glasses? Or would your feelings get hurt? Your enthusiasm stifled?

When I picked you up that afternoon, I acted nonchalant. Asked all the usual "How was your day" questions.

Finally, I asked how you were liking your glasses. Did they help you see the board? 

"Yep!" you said.

"Did your buddies like them?" I asked. 

"Well, so-and-so said she liked me WAY better before glasses," you announced. 

I wanted to march back into school and find this so-and-so.

You, however, didn't seem upset by this. But I worried anyway, and started quizzing you about your other friends, listing them by name and asking what they thought (and they were complimentary, thankfully). 

But I quickly realized my mistake in asking you to tally their opinions. To care about what everyone else had to say. I only cared because I worried about your ego, but I didn't want to convince you that their opinion was so important. 

"Well, all that really matters is what you think of them," I said. "And what do you think of your new glasses?"

"I love them!" you said, unfazed. 

And you should. I love your confidence - it's one of the things that makes you beautiful on the inside and out.

My smart, beautiful, sweet girl.
Running is one of my favorite things. And then again, sometimes it's awful. Sometimes it's a chance to explore on a gorgeous day. Sometimes it's a freezing push through a polar vortex. 

Trail Run
At some point on nearly every run, my body says, "Are you sure about this? Wouldn't it be better to stop? To sit on that bench? To rest?"

And then I don't stop, not just then anyway. I go just a bit more. And THAT. That makes me feel alive.

I believe my friend Julie feels that way sometimes too. A few months ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She began chemo this month - and get this - RAN to and from her chemo treatment. She's committed to running throughout her chemo and even put up a Facebook page to document her journey.

I'm sure some people think it's crazy, but I think it's brave and courageous and simply brilliant. Instead of saying, "I can't," she's showing that she can. There is so much she cannot control, but she can still put one foot in front of the other and RUN.

I thought about her, and about running, when I was reading "The Time Traveler's Wife" this weekend. It's not a book about running, but the main character is a runner.

He says, "Running is many things to me: survival, calmness, euphoria, solitude. It is proof of my corporeal existence, my ability to control my movement through space if not time, and the obedience, however temporary, of my body to my will."

Survival. Control. Proof that we are alive and moving forward. Sometimes running is hard and sometimes I'd rather stay in bed. But when I lace up anyway, running can give so many gifts.
Camille at 90 Months
Hello sweet girl, and Happy 90 Months to you. Today I'm feeling so much better than yesterday, and I attribute a portion of my quick recovery to all the love you have shown me. I came down with a vicious stomach bug, and most of that day was spent tossing and turning in bed, feeling wretched. In between all of this, there was you, tip-toeing into my room from time to time. Always quietly. Always with a gift - a stuffed animal, a coloring page, a get well note. Always with a question, "Do you need anything Mama?" Then you'd disappear and appear again, with the glass of ginger ale I asked for, but with your special touches - served in a favorite Star Wars glass with a silly straw.

From Nurse Camille
Being sick was terrible, but being cared for by you was the opposite. It made me feel very loved.

Thankfully that day of illness was the only real bump we had in the last month, which included your 8th Christmas. It included a trip to Tennessee to be with my side of the family, and many Christmas get-togethers with your Daddy's side too.

Tennessee ChristmasSay Cheese!Making Cookies for SantaCaroling Christmas Eve
Christmas day, Santa was quite good to you and seems to know you well. The pile of gifts in our living room reflected a girl with many dimensions - one who loves Star Wars and American Girl Dolls. Books about Disney Princesses and prepared microscope slides, of which "human blood" was your favorite. Bumblebee legs are pretty exciting too.

The Millennium Falcon!Jedi Reading Princess BooksA Boo, a Huttlet and a BanthaA Closer Inspection of Human Blood
Our Christmas break travels included a trip to see the Leonards and a visit with them to the World of Coke, where the ladies of the group were not keen to wait in line.

Waiting in Line
But you later declared the wait was worth it, because you enjoyed the tasting room so much. You hated the Beverly flavor from Italy, and loved the Fanta from Costa Rica. And you got to sneak a kiss from the Polar Bear.

The Polar Bear
From Atlanta we traveled north to see Mr. Glen in the mountains of Big Canoe. How I love to look out his huge living room windows and see nothing but mountainside and trees. We spent a morning stomping around his backyard, with you jumping over creeks and using fallen trees as balance beams.

Big CanoeMr. Glen's BackyardNature's Balance BeamAdmiring the Creek
One of your favorite activities was a simple one - using a stick to dig red Georgia clay from an upturned stump. I don't know why this captivated you so, but it did.

I, on the other hand, was watching you with my teeth on my tongue, holding back reprimands.

Playing in the Clay
I very much want you to be an outdoor kid. In theory, I want you to get dirty and muddy because you are enjoying nature. But then there is this other side of me, the side that can't bear to watch you fling clay all over your adorable grey boots and your fairly new school uniform khakis.

Getting DirtyRed Clay
I knew if I sent you inside to change clothes, the moment would be gone. So I held my tongue.

Almost. At some point the laundress in me came out, and I found myself asking you not to get too dirty.

"But mooooooom," you said, "If you're not getting dirty, how do you know you're having fun?"

And you were right. The uniform pants were found on clearance at Target. The boots - you'll grow out of them soon anyway. The play is important.

Back home in Savannah, we returned to our usual routines, but with a few new challenges. We began biking to school some mornings, and I think it's going to take us some time to build confidence with this. We'd done several practice rides on weekends and holidays, but the first time we biked to school we were confronted with the realities of morning traffic. It made us both nervous, especially when you took a spill on Washington Avenue. But we're finding better routes - slightly longer but less busy, and I can tell by the singing that you do along the route that you're enjoying most of the ride.

First Day Biking to School
Another new challenge - you began taking viola lessons this month. Your father and I both thought it would be great for you to learn music, and fortunately we found a wonderful teacher through friends and began lessons right after Christmas. 

First Viola Lesson
You've had 4 lessons now, and while I think you're doing quite well, playing has not come as quickly or as easily as you would like. It's hard to watch you struggle - hard to watch you get so frustrated with yourself when the note isn't right or the bow slides over the wrong string. But I have to remind myself that this is good for you. We all need to learn what it's like to start from zero and build up. To struggle, to practice, and then to improve.

Just like you taught me in Big Canoe that it's important to play in the dirt, I'm hoping to teach you that it's important to challenge yourself and learn something new, even when it's difficult.

Thank you for this month - for being my willing student, who is also sometimes my teacher, and sometimes even my nurse. But always, always my very best girl. I love you so much. 
Pearl Jam: Charlotte
There were more than 20,000 people at the sold-out show, and they were all singing with the band. I added my voice, singing along to songs I've loved for 2 decades. I had been on my feet for hours and my legs were aching, but I couldn't have cared less. This was Pearl Jam. And I was in the pit.

I've been to lots of concerts and seen lots of bands, and most of the time proximity to the stage isn't terribly important to me. As long as I can hear well and see a bit, I'm good. But Pearl Jam is special to me - one of the rare bands of my youth that is still as important to me now as it was then. So on my bucket list - attending a Pearl Jam show and being close to the stage.

Lee and I entered the fan club lottery to be in the stage-front pit for the Pearl Jam show in Charlotte, and were lucky enough to get in. The night of the show, we filed in to the roped off section a couple of hours before the concert started, and found ourselves about seven people back from the stage.

In the Pit
And it was unreal. I've seen them before, from the comfort of an arena seat - but at that distance it's hard to appreciate how much fun these guys are having. They were full of energy, constantly interacting with the crowd, looking for ways to connect with the audience. Because the stage lights were so bright, I couldn't see much past the pit. That meant the rest of the arena was in darkness to me, and I could almost imagine we were in a mid-sized club. It was fascinating.

Pearl Jam on Stage
And then three-quarters of the way through the show, the band launched into Porch. During the guitar break, Eddie hopped off the stage and perched himself on top of the fence at the front of the pit. The crowd behind me began to surge, and I was pushed forward. And then this.

The band played for 3 hours - 3 glorious hours. It was one of the best concerts I've ever experienced, and it has ruined me. How can I ever see Pearl Jam again from an arena seat, now that I've experienced the pit?

A good problem to have.

Eddie Vedder
Camille at 89 Months
Hello sweet girl and happy 89 months! Right now we're heading over the river and through the woods - to Nana and Granddaddy's house we go! As I write, you are in the backseat devouring an Ivy and Bean book, and asking "How much farther?" about every 15 minutes. The answer: lots farther. 

But the drive is worth it. This is one of my favorite events of the season, getting together with your Uncle Jeff and his family at Nana and Granddaddy's house. We always have so much fun together.

We've been lucky to see a good bit of Nana and Granddaddy this last month. They came to Savannah for Thanksgiving and were able to stay almost a whole week! The first day of your Thanksgiving break we declared to be a low-key pajama morning, but apparently it was a little bit too low key for you. As I was in the kitchen trying to get ahead on some Thanksgiving cooking, you came in, plopped face down on the tile and declared, "This is how bored I am right now."

So Bored.
Thankfully your boredom was short-lived. Thursday morning, Granddaddy ran in his first race, but not before cheering you on in the kids version of the Thanksgiving day turkey trot.  

Turkey Trottin
It was great fun to have Erin and her family in Savannah this year, joining us for Thanksgiving too. After the meal we had a rousing session of Thanksgiving karaoke. Jones provided percussion, Eli played guitar, and the rest of us pitched in with vocals. And thus a new tradition was born.

Jones on PercussionCamille on Lead VocalsEli on Lead UkuleleThe Granddaddy BlurGranddaddy Has a FanBoo, with Dave as Backup Singer and Fly Boy
Not long after Thanksgiving, you experienced a pretty big first - your first adventure with a sleep-away camp. Your Girl Scouts troop goes to a local scout camp each December, and I could scarcely believe I was letting you spend the weekend with a bunch of girls in cabins in the woods. But you loved it.

Packed Van
We packed up your clothes, a hula outfit and your sloth, and I tucked a love note in the suitcase when you weren't looking. According to the leaders, the note was a hit, and you propped it in the window by your bunk. "That way if I get homesick," you said, "I can look at this and feel better."

Suitcase for Girl Scout Camp
But I don't think you had time to be homesick, what with all the fun activities during the day, and the excitement of the raccoon trying to break into your cabin during the night. I snuck over for lunch and got to see you enjoying your friends and even watched you play your first-ever game of red rover. It's nice to know some childhood games don't change much.

Girl Scout CabinScout BuddiesCamille's Girl Scout Troop
Back from scout camp, our attention turned to all things Christmas. 

We decorated the tree. You and Daddy had a fake snowball fight in the backyard. You rode a trolley with your cousins, singing holiday songs and looking at neighborhood Christmas lights. 

Hanging OrnamentsPutting Stars on the TreeFake Snowball Fight!Launching Fake SnowballsTrolley Ride with the Cousins
You wrote a letter to Santa, including a picture of you and Mr. Claus.
Writing her Letter to SantaDear Santa
Last weekend, you had a chance to deliver the letter in person when Santa came to a neighborhood holiday party. I love your expression when you leaned in for a hug - one of pure sweetness and joy. 

Sharing her Letter with SantaHugs for Santa
There has always been so much joy and magic in this season for me, but experiencing it all through you only elevates that magic even more. I couldn't think of a gift better than the gift of being your mama. I love you so much.
88 Months
Hello my sweet girl, and Happy 88 Months! I am going to have a hard time with this post - not because of anything I will write. But because I will need to condense a month's worth of photographs - really great photographs. Halloween. Our annual family photos. Camping. Races. Horses. Buddies.

Photos like these. How can I possibly choose which to post? 

Family Photo ShootGorgeousNuzzle nuzzle
We did our annual family photo shoot last month (thanks to the talented Ashley!), this time choosing the trails at Skidaway Island State Park. But choosing the location for the session wasn't the hardest decision to make - the real nail-biter was wondering what you'd decide to wear. 

You see, you and I often make different style choices. I try very hard not to exert my will on your wardrobe, because I realize this is not a battle worth fighting. After all, you have to wear a school uniform 5 days a week. The least I can do is back off and let you pick your clothes on the weekends.

This is not as easy as it sounds though.

Over the past year or so, you have worn the same head scarf more times than I can count. This one.

Head ScarfIt's a cute scarf, but your head is cute too and I want to see it from time to time. I may have "lost" the scarf for a couple of weeks because it needed a break.

You have a closet FULL of beautiful church dresses, but wore the same one two weeks in a row because when you sit down really quickly it goes, "poof." 

You like animal prints, and in your mind, they all match. A leopard turtleneck with zebra capris? Match!

Last Sunday, you wore this beautiful, chic dress to church. And a pair of mismatched knee socks.

Dress and Knee SocksThe Socks
That same evening, you changed for a picnic in the park and put on another of your cute dresses. Then you accessorized by wrapping a chain around your head like a headband.

Most of the time, I just bite my tongue. I mean really, it's kind of cute how unconcerned you are about the fashion trends of the day. Blissfully unconcerned. 

But for our family photos, I was hoping for something a little more mainstream. Thankfully you agreed to an adorable dress and sweater, and did not attempt to wear a head chain. I thought the danger was behind us, but then I sent you to put on socks and shoes. You came downstairs with BLACK shoes and NAVY socks.


Your Daddy raised his eyebrow and said, "You ok with the socks mom?"

"Yep," I said, somewhat unconvincingly. 

The thing is, I know there will come a day when you won't be so cavalier and carefree about these things. So when I look back on these pictures years from now, I think I'll love the navy socks and black shoes. I'll probably wish I'd let you wear your head scarf or your chain in these photographs. This is part of who you are right now - you aren't afraid to be your own person. And that's beautiful.

Family Photo Shoot 2013Navy socks. Black shoes. Just right.
As always, Halloween is another season ripe for picture-taking. First, Boo threw a Halloween bash in her backyard which we've now decided must be a tradition. BooFest was full of great games like apple bobbing and "pin the wart on the witch." You and your cousins loved every minute.

BooFest 2013Bobbing for ApplesCreepyNot-So-Spooky Story Time
Then Halloween night arrived, warm and humid. This was unfortunate weather, since you had decided to be a fuzzy ewok. But what an adorable - and fierce - ewok you were, ready to take on "Harry Potter" Jones and "Fireman" Eli.

Ewok CamilleEwok and Harry PotterTastyWatch Out Jones!
We gathered with buddies and headed into the neighborhood, but it wasn't long before you were covered in sweat with flaming red cheeks, ready to go back home.

Halloween Crew 2013Headed Home, Hot and Sweaty
A couple of days later, you were invited to come ride at the barn in costume, and it still wasn't fuzzy ewok weather. Fortunately you have a lot of costumes, so you opted to be a Jedi. Here you are on your favorite horse, Cassidy, light saber in hand, ready to take on the Dark Side.

Jedi Camille Atop Cassidy
There has been excitement at the barn this month, with the birth of a half dozen baby goats. One of them, beloved Eddie, has to be bottle fed - a task you thoroughly enjoy.

Feeding Eddie
On this day though, Eddie's siblings wanted a snack too, but were more interested in your costume. Silly goats.

Delicious Jedi RobesTaking a BiteBring it On, Goats!
This month was also the annual Rock n Roll race weekend in Savannah, which happily brings friends together from near and far for all sorts of shenanigans. That Sunday, you and a crew of buddies ran the kids' race, representing Team Brew Drink Run Jr. More good photographs. More good times. 

2013 Team BDR JRCousin ChokeholdRun Camille! Run!Proud Finishers
I'll close now before this letter gets any longer or before I come across any more pictures I need to post. Thanks for giving us so many reasons to smile this month. I love you so much.

(Ok - just one more)

Hunting Island, SC

Finish Lines

Pre-race Pic with Team BDRWhen I lined up in the starting corral of the Rock N Roll Savannah Half-Marathon, I was afraid.

Every race comes with unknowns. You can train well and still not predict all the obstacles you may encounter on the course. Despite that, I usually feel ready when I'm at the starting line.

But that Saturday, I had no idea what to expect. My longest run of the previous 8 weeks had been 5.5 miles. Were my lungs and heart ready for 13.1? And my achilles had only just stopped hurting. Would this race un-do all my recovery? Would there come a point in the race when I would have to make that judgement call - would I have to quit?

My first post-injury run had been only two weeks prior, and I had been a nervous wreck taking that first jogging step. My achilles felt a little sore and tender, but with each run I noticed it less and less. And it felt so gloriously good to run again. 

It's funny - when I first injured myself, I was in a panic about my upcoming races. They seemed so important, and were the focus of my recovery plan. But over the weeks of therapy, I thought less and less about the races, and more and more about just going for a run. Running my neighborhood, running a trail, running on vacation - all the little runs I'd always taken for granted. I was so tired of feeling fragile, and just wanted to be able to run again.

I still had a goal of running the Rock n Roll, mostly because my best friends were running it too. And I wanted to prove to myself that I really could still do it. But the Rock n Roll finish line was no longer my top priority. The finish line I cared about most was a figurative one - the one at the end of long life of happy running. One race seemed small in comparison.

On race morning, as our corral crossed the start line, I had beside me the best running aide a person could hope for - a good friend. Nicole had nailed an impressive PR two weeks prior in the Athens Half, and for this race decided to just hang with me. I'd warned her I'd be slow. And possibly a mental basket case. But she signed on anyway, because she's great like that.

The miles began to slowly slip by, and we talked. And talked. About everything and nothing. And the longer we talked, the less I thought about my achilles. The fear began to lift.

For the first time in any of my races, I could also look forward to seeing friendly faces in the crowd. At mile 5, my heart leapt to see Camille and her buddies on the sidewalk, holding signs and yelling for us. I stopped for a hug and a kiss, and my steps felt lighter. 

Sweet smiling faces at the Rock n RollCheering for Andrew
Around mile 8, I was so pleased to still be pain-free that I really began to enjoy the race. Nicole and I laughed together at the creative posters ("I thought this was a Law and Order Marathon!"). We stopped for pictures. I rang the bell in Gordonston. I turned on some tunes and even sang a little (I'm sure the other runners appreciated that).

Like tourists, posing in front of the CathedralRinging the Bell for Power
When a spectator was standing in the road, offering up a cup and yelling, "Beer! Beer!" I thought, "Why not?" She seemed excited to have a runner take her up on the offer. It was cold and delicious.

Beer Stop
By mile 11 though, the fatigue was really starting to kick in and the remaining 2 miles loomed long. Then off to my right, I saw a bright pink poster that said, "Go Go Ginger!" 

"How neat!" I thought. "Another Ginger is running this race - I'll wave to them and pretend it's for me." Then I took a closer look and realized Boo was holding up the poster, flanked by Erin and Eli. Just when I was starting to fade, their smiling faces brought fresh energy.

Feeling the Love
In the final half mile, I saw another familiar face. It was Ernie, my physical therapist, having finished his race and come back to cheer for the rest of us. I ran over to give him a high five. "I'm so proud of you!" he said. I was proud of me too.

Then we made the turn to the finish line, and I couldn't stop grinning as Nicole and I crossed under the arch together. If you just look at my finish time, the race was a personal worst as my slowest half-marathon ever. But considering all the difficulties of the previous months, I think it was one of my best finishes ever.

And finally, waiting there in our designated reunion spot, was the face I needed to see most. Lee had run his first half marathon and I'd been thinking about him all morning, hoping all had gone well. He had a finisher's medal hanging around his neck and a congratulatory kiss just for me. 

What a great day it was.

Running on Air

This weekend, I will go for a run. A real run, in the real outdoors.

I am terrified. 

It has been 6 weeks since my last run, the run during which I injured my achilles. After a 2-week rest period did not provide relief, I've been in a month of physical therapy.

In an effort to maintain my endurance, and with the hope of still running the Rock n Roll Savannah Half Marathon, I've continued exercising. On the days I should've run, I instead did that same amount of time on an elliptical, stationary bike or in a pool. Two and a half hours running on a road takes you all over town. Two and a half hours on gym equipment takes you nowhere except the mad house. Thank goodness for Netflix, Mission Impossible and The Avengers keeping me entertained and sane.

Last week, the physical therapist thought I was ready to try running on the anti-gravity treadmill. I  must say, that is a pretty cool machine. You pull on some funky pants and zip yourself into a bag around the treadmill. Then it inflates until it lifts your toes right off the tread. You can adjust the amount of assist, and I started out running at 75% of my body weight. 

It was like running on air, in my own little bubble. I was hyper-aware of my achilles, and while it seemed a little tender and stiff, there were no sharp pains.

I've run on it three more times, and today was up to 90% of my body weight. So I've been cleared to run on Saturday.

I am excited to go for a run, but mostly I'm scared. I'm scared it could hurt, and then I'm fearful of the disappointment that would follow.

But I'm also trying to keep some perspective. If I do run, and it does hurt, it doesn't mean the end of running for me. Or the end of my healthy lifestyle. I can keep working on getting stronger. 

Being at the physical therapy office, you see a lot of people in various stages of recovery. Some of them just want to be able to stand up. On their feet. And take a single step forward on their own. 

You could say I was unlucky when I hurt my achilles. Or you could say I'm lucky that this has been my challenge, and not something more difficult. I like that perspective best.
87 Months
Hello sweet girl! Tonight you are sleeping well, completely exhausted after spending the day climbing all over a "hay castle" at a local pumpkin patch with church friends and Jones. 

Kids for Sale!Though the pumpkins are ready, it sure doesn't feel like fall yet. But you didn't let the heat deter you from sliding down hay bales over and over until you were completely covered in hay, sweat and dirt. And smiles.

Sweaty Sweaty Pumpkin PickingPumpkin Patch
We did experience a hint of fall weather a few weeks ago when we traveled a little farther north to go camping with our buddies the Valleses. The weather was perfect - fleeces by the campfire in the morning and at night, but short sleeves for romping around during the daytime. 

Lake Delano
You all played catch, built nature shrines and made dolls from sticks and leaves. You filled out Junior Ranger workbooks and were sworn in as mini-protectors of the state park. 

Stick FairiesJunior Ranger Swearing In
The campground was set around a small lake, and Nicole and I rented a canoe and supervised while you, Nia and Nate took turns in your kayak. Flipping the kayak is one of your favorite games, but it was too cool for that and thankfully you all kept the boat upright. I was even more thankful when I found out there were leeches all over the bottom of the boat. Eeek! Happily, we escaped leech-free.

Kayaking Lake DelanoCanoe BuddyWith Nia in the KayakNate's Turn
You also ran a trail race while we were in the campground, earning medals with your buddies.

Trail Race Finishers!
It was one of two races for you this month. The other race was your first mud run - something you'd been asking to do ever since I ran one last year. We cajoled Ellanor into running it with you, and I'm so glad we did. The teamwork I saw between you two girls made my heart happy.

Pre-raceOver the WallUnder the Tape
You ran it together, giving a boost over an obstacle if needed, and always shouting encouragement. And you finished the race side by side, muddy, beaming and ready to do it again.

Finished!Muddy Medals
We also spent a good bit of this month with our noses in books. We finished up the first Harry Potter book and launched in to book 2. I ADORED these books when they were originally published, and have enjoyed re-reading them with you. So the timing was perfect when the Savannah Children's Museum held a Hogwarts party, including a ride on a real steam engine like in the books! 

All Aboard the Hogwarts Express!On the Train
I think the highlight of the evening for you was a visit with the fortune teller. Hand outstretched, palm up, you listened with rapt attention as she examined all the creases and folds and interpreted what each meant for your life. She said you had a strong career line and then made this prediction: "When you grow up, I believe you will be an amazing fortune teller."

At the next activity table, you could write a wish - any wish - on a piece of paper to place in a wishing star. Your wish: "I wish to be a fortune teller."

Well, it's not exactly the career path I would choose for you. Maybe it means a career on Wall Street or something. Or maybe it's just the musings of a 7-year-old make-believe witch who enjoyed the make-believe fortune teller. Let's go with that.

With the Fortune Teller
Remember last month when you got your ears pierced? And didn't shed a tear? 

As it turns out, you were saving all those tears for this month, and for the first time we changed your earrings. 

You'd been eagerly awaiting the day you could finally put in new earrings, and selected some sparkly dolphins leaping over a pearl. You'd been informed it might hurt, but were apparently unprepared. After I removed the first earring, the tears started to flow, along with the protestations and pleadings not to put a new one in. The only thing that made you cry harder was my promise that without an earring, the holes would close.

I do believe it was nearly as painful for me, the one having to inflict the pain and listen to you cry. I hated it. After the first earring, you requested your Daddy's presence, wanting the comfort of his lap for round 2, and I think it helped. I believe those dolphins are going to be in your ears for a while, as your eagerness to change earrings has abated.

Speaking of your Daddy, you sure do love that man. The other day I put a note in your lunchbox that said, "You are my sunshine." I drew two smiley-faced sunshines. 

When your Daddy unpacked your lunchbox that night, he was delighted to find your revisions. The little scrap of paper went directly onto the refrigerator.

Don't Forget Daddy!
Maybe if that fortune teller gig doesn't work out, you can have a strong career as a diplomat. 

Thanks for all the light you shine on our lives, little sunshine. I love you so much.


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