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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treatin: What a Treat!

The kids had a great Halloween, and we all had fun trick or treating tonight!
Jerry and Caleb at the start of the night:

Norah and Caleb taking a little candy break on a scenic bench:

Norah, Miller, and Caleb sharing a box of Nerds:

Caleb stoked that he scored another box of Nerds:

This is Norah on sugar:

We had a lot of fun, the kids got a HAUL of candy, and while everyone stayed up past bedtime, they still got to bed at a reasonable time, without much drama or sugar-infused fuss.  All in all, an excellent close to what's felt like an entire week's celebration!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fall Running

Following Sandy's innocent pass through our area at the end of last week, we have been graced with lovely weather: Cool, dry, 50s-60s.  Gorgeous!

Perfect for running.

Too bad there aren't more hours in the day.  I've been able to get out and enjoy short runs, but it would be nice to have the time for something longer.  Alas, with shrinking daylight and a busy schedule both at work and at home, it's hard to fit in even those short runs.

I hope the temperate weather lasts; I think Sunday we don't have anything planned...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Taking Kid Pics: A Mission Impossible

Getting one kid to look when you're taking a picture is a fate best left to chance; getting more than one kid to look at the camera at the same time?  Yeah, that's like this "Frankenstorm" -- happens once a century, I imagine.
Evidence?  Pics from today. 
Here are Norah (shorter version of Wedding Rapunzel) and Caleb (Spiderman) with their friends for a Halloween party today: I think each kid in each of these pics is looking in a separate direction.

So, you'd think the task might be easier if the numbers were reduced down to two, but nope, just as elusive a task.  This afternoon, we carved pumpkins, and I tried getting a few pics with the kids and their pumpkins.

Maybe because I watched the first half hour of "Talledega Nights" last night when it was on TV, but Norah, below, reminds me of Ricky Bobby in his first interview: "I don't know what to do with my hands!"

I tried taking Caleb's nook away, and this prompted him to come after me to retrieve it.

Jerry's pumpkin carving skills are impressive, but clearly distracting. (In case you can't tell, Jerry carved the Spiderman and Tinker Bell pumpkins and I did the artistically wonderous one on Caleb's lower left -- with triangle eyes and the "O" for a mouth.  Yes, my skillz are unmatched.)

And, sometimes, Norah just purposely ignores me when I'm taking pictures.  She can be a real gem.

And believe it or not, the above few with just Norah and Caleb were the product of bribery.  Yes, they each got a sucker for that performance.  If it weren't for suckers, I'd not manage any pics at all!

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Body in Motion

Everyone is familiar with Newton's 1st law of Motion: If an object is at rest, it will stay at rest; if an object is in motion, it will stay in motion. 

The same seems true of me and running.  When in a groove (training for a race or streaking), nothing can stop me from running.  But once I break that pattern, or routine, motivation is slow to return and I easily find excuses that allow me to skip running.

Thus, for the duration of my recent streak (3+ months), I ran more than 400 miles.  Then, I got sick, took 7 days off, and well; now the mileage is shaping up to be extremely pathetic (I may not break 50 miles for October).  It doesn't help that I'm at midterm in the semester, which aside from the end of the term, is the busiest few weeks of the semester, plus I feel like I have a bazillion other little things on my plate right now.  None of them big, but combined, I have felt overwhelmed lately.

Plus, it's raining.  It's called Hurricane Sandy -- have you heard about it?  (Read that question with dripping sarcasm; who hasn't heard about the news-hyped storm that has been labeled a "Frankenstorm"?  My god, news channels must be slobbering with excitement: election climax plus giant storm?  Jesus Jetfuel Christ, it must be the ideal ratings potential!)

So, I've taken the past 2 days off.  And today it's really rainy and windy...so, yeah, someone needs to shove me out the door and just demand that I run.

Dammit.  Guess I have to do that myself, huh?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jess: 4 Bugs: 0

Yesterday, in comically cliche running fashion, I gulped down two bugs.  It was the sort of ingestion that we typically imagine when we picture insects flying into our gullets: The two literally went THWAP! against the back of my throat as I inhaled them with my gusty running lungs.

Other than swallowing two bugs, I also got one in my eye, and one flew straight up one nostril.

It was an all out bug-assault, and I was like a Jess Tank mowing down the flying insect population.  Odd for this time of year; I don't usually think of late October, when we have cooler more temperate weather, as being the normal environment for spawning these small, black gnats.  But, nature sometimes surprises.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Running on Beat Legs

Yesterday, Michelle Obama visited the college campus where I teach.  For me, it felt like a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to see the First Lady, so I was excited to see her speak.  Her speech was good: She was articulate, intelligent, but she also felt very accessible and "homey," and she was by turns humorous, contemplative, rousing, motivating, and she even got me to tear up a little -- which is no easy task -- so by all means it was a worthwhile opportunity for me to see her.

However, seeing her basically took up my entire day, and it demanded a LOT of standing and waiting.

The standing and waiting began at 11:30 when my friends and colleagues and I went to wait in line outside the gym where she was speaking.  It wasn't a bad day to be outside (we lucked out that it was a temperate day yesterday), but still, high noon meant temps in the low 80s.  In the shade, we were comfortable, but in the sun, we broiled.  The line was a painstakingly slow crawl through security, and it took us 2 and 1/2 hours to get into the gym!

Once inside, it was another hour+ before the First Lady took the stage, and then she spoke for about 40 minutes.  So, by the time I left, I had been standing for nearly 5 hours.  I hadn't peed, I hadn't drunk much water (because I didn't know what the bathroom situation would be), and I hadn't eaten anything.  I was toast.

Standing wears me out.  I mean, I'm used to being on my feet for several hours a day teaching, but standing?  Standing is different.  It wears my legs out, but also my lower back.  And, I think I'm worse than a child about waiting; it's so mentally tedious for me, even with company to chat with, and I can be incredibly impatient about lines (just ask Jerry about me and theme parks; he says I'm worse than any kid).

So, seeing the First Lady was a good experience, but also a tiring one, both physically and mentally.  Thus, when it came time to run yesterday evening, I really wasn't feeling it.  But, I also knew that I wanted to get out there, so I trudged through 3 slow, hard miles on tired legs.  Once done, I was pleased I had gotten out there, even if it took what felt like for.ev.er. to run those 3 miles.  Next time, though, it would be smart to run before choosing to stand for most of the day!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Jell-O Faces, Puke, a Speeding Ticket, and the Zoo: aka, A Weekend with Jess

1.  I don't know if it's the excitement of Jell-O, or if he's just a natural goofball, but Saturday afternoon after some raspberry Jell-O for snack, Caleb was hamming it up for the camera.  Here are a few poses that struck me as particularly funny:

2.  So, you saw the red Jell-O, right?  Norah had that too.  After snack, we went to Target, and on our way home, Norah suddenly barfed all over the car -- bright red puke shot out of her, like the scene in The Exorcist.  We were seconds from home, so we were able to get her out of her puke puddle and into the house and get her cleaned up.  (The car was another matter; that took some CLEANING.)  After the volcano of vomit, I was bracing myself: Dear God, I just spent a month being sick, is this the start of a new round? 
Thankfully, it didn't materialize to much.  Norah was fine the rest of the evening; Caleb had one loosey-goosey diaper, and was fine; Jerry complained of feeling gross, but nothing much came of that but whining; and I had a bit of deuce juice first thing this morning, but a half dose of Immodium took care of that.  *Knock on wood,* but I think we just flirted with whatever this bug was.
3.  Today, we went to the Palm Beach Zoo for their annual Boo at the Zoo.  On our way there, I was busy talking to my SIL, who's down for a few days, and I wasn't really paying attention to my lead foot...until that damn highway patrol's lights came on in my rearview.  Nerds!  He wasn't willing to be lenient with me, and was even painfully sanctimonious, "Look at you, transporting such precious cargo at that speed"; save it dude, the ticket is enough, thanks.  So, I think I've gotta hire one of those ticket clinics for this one; the cost of the citation is outrageous, and it demands a court appearance.  Dang nabbit.
Otherwise, our trip to the zoo was fun:

Still, that ticket left a sour taste.  I suppose it's karma: I deliver a hard lesson to a student for cheating, and Fate makes sure I too get to learn a tough lesson.  Phooey.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Week's Wrap Up

Thanks for the comments on yesterday's student dilemma; you guys all had some strong, and insightful, opinions about the issue.  Truth is, as soon as I typed the post and hit "publish," I'd already confirmed my decision; sometimes, I just need to write a problem out to find my solution. 

I stuck to my initial decision, and syllabus guideline, that the student fail the class.

There are details here that I've excluded for simplicity's sake, but basically, the essay's plagiarism was deliberate and blatant, and my syllabus clearly defines this and its consequences.  Ultimately, it's not fair to other students if I allow one person to circumvent my policies.

And, yes, I've had other students plagiarize before; in fact, I've had MANY cases of plagiarism -- each, I've treated in the same way, but occasionally, a student reacts in an unexpected manner that gives me pause.  Thankfully, plagiarism has actually declined it the past few years (due in large part to software detection that professors have at their disposal), but it still crops up about once or twice a year.

I've taught at the college level for 12 years now, and one of the biggest challenges is remembering to treat students as individuals.  I teach either 5 or 6 sections per semester, each class with a seat capacity of 25 students, so on average, each semester I have somewhere around 125-150 students.  It's easy to think of them, and their work, as a mass: As the cliche goes, "It's hard to see the forest for the trees."  So, sometimes when a student pleads with me or complains to me about a decision I've made, it forces me to remember that this student is unique, and I have to step back for a moment and make sure that I've considered them thusly.

Anyhoo, like I said, I made what I believe is the fairest decision and I informed the student of that decision, and she seemed to accept that.

In other news, I stood in line this morning for an hour and half for tickets on Monday to see the First Lady speak on our campus.  Now I just have to finagle some other instructor to cover my classes so I can actually go see the First Lady's speech.  That and find parking on Monday -- our campus is likely to be a quagmire in all regards because of the event.

Lastly, in actual running business, I decided to rest yesterday.  Part of me wanted to jump straight back into another streak, but after the time off, I think I need to work back up to that.  But, I do plan to run today and through the weekend.

So, happy weekend to everyone -- hope it's filled with some good running!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Last night, I ran another 3 miler as a follow up to Tuesday's start back to running.  My legs were a little stiff at first but they warmed up enough and the run went decently (slow but steady).  Today, though, I can really feel the back-to-back runs in my quads.  It's been awhile since I've felt sore from running; strangely, it's kind of an enjoyable feeling.

Am I sick in the brain or what?

In other news, I have a student issue weighing on me, which has been making my brain sore.  I had a student plagiarize an essay.  My policy on plagiarism is very rigid: Students who deliberately plagiarize (submit work that is not theirs -- and this student's work was NOT hers, it was copied from various websites) fail my class.  End of story: failure.  But...the student is now pleading with me for a second chance, and I'm on the fence about it.

Part of me feels like I need to stick to my syllabus' policy, which is harsh (I take the hardest possible line of punishment the college allows because I feel plagiarism is a serious affront to academic integrity), but I typically feel that students who plagiarize need the harsh lesson -- you steel, you pay.  However, another softer part of me feels that people do deserve second chances, and that perhaps a merciful approach provides just as much of a "teachable moment."

As I was running last night, I tried to sort through a solution, but I felt like I could argue with myself for both sides and 3 miles weren't enough to come up with a way to solve my dilemma. 

What's your opinion?  Deliver the hard lesson, or take the opportunity to allow someone to learn from her mistake and correct it?

Man, to even be thinking about allowing her a second chance means I'm getting to be a softie.  Some colleagues and I were talking about how parenting has changed our teaching the other day, and I said I didn't think it had changed me much: Now I see how it has. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Running to Decongest

Yesterday, after 7 days off, I went for a run.  Not only had I taken 7 days off, but before that, it'd been weeks of nothing but 1-3 milers.  I don't feel like I'm "starting over" with running, but I do feel as though some ground was lost due to nearly a month's worth of illness. 

Thus, the 3 miler last night was a bit laborious: My lungs burned a bit at first since I still have some major respiratory congestion, but I am the sort who believes that running is a good decongestant, so I figure the running is just loosening some of those goobers up.  After I warmed up some, though, the running went smoothly and it felt good to be back at it: My legs and my brain had missed it.

Afterward, I coughed for about 10 solid minutes, but it was "productive" coughing, so it was annoying, but probably good to get some of that gunk out.  Now, if only running could help unplug my ears; I'd like to be able to hear again.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pumpkin Patch, October Crafts, and Miscellany

After 100 consecutive days of running, I haven't run in 6 days.  It pains me to have such a huge gap, but I have been sick, yo.  I'm healin', though, bit by bit.  Right now, I'm feeling better but my congestion is awful, I have no voice, my ears are plugged, and I have a cough that sounds like I've been smoking for 20 years.  Not sure when I'll be completely healed or when I'll try for a run, so I figured I'd go ahead and fill the silence with fun pics of the kids.  Who doesn't like that?

You'd never figure that I've been sick by all the activities we've been up to lately (which is maybe why it's so tough for a mom to get over being sick); it's been lots of fall festivities!

This past weekend, we made a pilgrimage to the pumpkin patch.

Here's Norah selecting a pumpkin; she pretty much wanted to take all of them home:

Caleb thought the pumpkins were cool too:

Here's the whole fam damily on the tractor ride; if Caleb weren't giving the camera the stink eye, I'd blow this up to an 8 X 10 and frame it since it has to be the first pic of all 4 of us where we're all looking at the camera:

Caleb being used as a periscope in the corn maze:

Norah and Caleb doing their best to pose for one of the many pictures I'm always demanding of them.  They did a decent job: Caleb is smiling, Norah was willing to put an arm around him, and wave: One day I'll have these monkeys fully trained!

Aside from the pumpkin patch, we've been getting in the Halloween mood with some crafts.  Here are the kids sporting their spider hats:

And here are some pumpkins they glued faces on; Norah's cracks me up.  It looks so menacing, which is the effect of turning both the smile and the eyebrows upside down.  Not sure if she intentionally wanted this effect or not:

And here's how Caleb markers his witch's mask:

Which shouldn't surprise us since this is how I find him all too often:

Sidenote to the above: The pictured deodorant later went missing and has yet to be found.  Our home is a blackhole where items simply disappear.  I assume the deodorant went where the lid to the mayo jar did.  Yes, we are missing the lid to our mayo.  That's our house. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


There's only so long one can continue to wisely run when so clearly sick.  I don't necessarily think that streaking has prevented me from getting better, but it probably hasn't helped either, so yesterday...I didn't run.  And I don't plan on it today either.

Thus, endeth the streak.  Made it 100 days.  Guess I'll try and break that number some other time.  For now, I need to rest and get over this bug.

Plus, I'm sick of writing about how sick I am, so expect silence on my end until I'm over this thing.  If the silence lasts longer than a week or so, assume "this thing" killed me.

Monday, October 08, 2012

100 Days

Friday night, Jerry woke me up to tell me that I felt "like lava."  Then, he rolled over and went back to sleep.  7 or 8 years ago, I think he would've stayed awake long enough to offer to get me something.  As it is, after 7 years of marriage and two kids, I guess I'm on my own when sick.

So, I got up to check my temp (102, BTW), got some aspirin, some water, and went back to bed.  Later, I woke up so drenched in sweat that I had to get up, change my clothes, and chose to go to sleep on the couch rather than get back in under the sweaty sheets.

In a sense, that was my weekend: Fever, accompanied by sore throat, congestion, and ears so plugged I can barely hear.  Yippie!  Isn't that how everyone wants to spend their weekend?

Meanwhile, as for the running, on Friday night, Jerry says to me: "Do you think it's a good idea to keep running?"

Argh!  I've been asking him that question for 2 weeks and the gist of his advice has been: "Do whatcha want, honey."

I told him: "Well, I'm only a few days away from reaching 100 days; I can't stop until at least then.  I'll just run 1 milers all weekend."

Him: "Yeah, but...are you really gonna stop at 100 days?  That's your record.  I don't think you're gonna be happy just tying that; you're gonna want to go to 150 days or 200 days, or 365 days."

Ummm...so after 7 years of marriage I guess he won't fetch aspirin, but he does know me.

So, I ran the requisite 1 milers all weekend, which was disappointing when I'd had high hopes mid-week last week, but c'est la vie.  I'm trying not to dwell on what I'm not accomplishing and trying to remind myself of what I am accomplishing.  

And, today?  Today is day #100.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Stop Typing Now

I think I have to think twice before typing the sentence "I feel better now."  Karma sees that sentence published so boldly on the interweb and is like, "Oh yeah?  Well, then, hows about we fix that!"

So, yeah, I'm kinda feel crappy again.  This time, I think it may be something new since it now comes outfitted with a sore throat and some mild congestion.  Caleb is super snotty and has a horrible, wet cough; Norah is also vaguely sick, but these things don't affect her like they do Caleb.

Apparently, all of our immune systems are like eager puppies who just want to roll onto their backs and let these viruses tickle their bellies.  That, or I suppose I should stop licking the snot of their faces.

What?  That's not a legit method of child nose cleaning?  Did you just mouth vomit a little?

Happy to make your Friday.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Looking Back at September

I know, I know, we're already 4 days into October, but I never had a chance to review September, so here goes:

The month started strong, and then I was struck down by disease and was basically reduced to running the bare minimum for 2 solid weeks.  I went from running 40 mile weeks to eeking out 15 mile weeks.  I'm not sure which upset me more: Feeling like crap every single day for 2 weeks, or having to reign in the mileage so dramatically.

In the end, I ran 113 miles in September -- the lowest monthly mileage in my streak so far -- but, hey, I still broke 100 miles, so that makes me feel decent.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any real long runs done as I'd hoped, so while I had tentatively been thinking of an HM at the end of this month or beginning of next, I think I'm going to have to skip those opportunities and aim for a late Nov or early Dec HM to round out the year.

Ultimately, it sucks that I spent 10 of the month's 30 days suffering from a mysterious illness, but the streak survived.  There were a few days there last week when I almost threw in the towel, but phew, I sure am glad I didn't!  I may have run more 1 milers than I would've liked, but at least I ran them.

So, on to October!

I plan to continue streaking (especially now that I'm a mere 4 days away from reaching 100 consecutive days), and this month, for serious, I want to start logging some long runs.

This week, I have been taking it pretty easy.  Each day this week I've been feeling better by small increments, but I don't want to push myself too hard when this virus has clearly sucker-punched me.  So, I've been sticking to 3 milers, but hopefully, tomorrow and this weekend (fingers crossed), I'm feeling good enough to log a little farther distances.

One thing I can say for certain about being sick for a long period of time: It makes you appreciate feeling healthy!  For the past couple of mornings when I wake up and don't feel totally awful, I'm like "Yay!  This is awesome!"

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Welcome Surprise

Today, for the first time in about 6 weeks, I turned on the shower in the faculty locker room and...BLAMMO! 

H-O-T water!

The maintenance gnomes who work in that building must've finally gotten around to fixing whatever had been ailing the hot water heater, and I was blessed with the most glorious post-run shower since the start of the semester.

Halleluja and holy shit!  Things must be turning around for me.

Monday, October 01, 2012

And on the 12th Day of Viral Infection, My Fever Gave to Me

This morning was the first morning in 12 days where I woke up and didn't feel entirely like warm turd.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't wake up feeling like unicorns had been kissing me all night, but to wake up and feel even a smidgen like myself was a welcome feeling.  I still took two Advil to ward off the small undercurrent of crud I could still feel, but I think I may be on the mend (*knock on wood*).

Coincidentally, the dr. called this morning with the results of my blood test, and it showed that I had nada.  No mono.  No bacterial infections.  Nuthin.  So, again, the dr. reiterated that I was probably just fighting a particularly clingy virus. 

Incidentally, Jerry said he woke up this morning and felt a little icky.  He said his throat was sore.  Uh-oh.  I hope I didn't pass on the 12 Days of Ick to him!  Ah, the gift of marriage: Wherein you get to share EVERYthing.

In the meanwhile, I haven't let this bothersome bug interrupt the streak.  Over the weekend, I did my best to rest as much as possible so I just stuck to 1 milers, but today I ran 3 miles, and felt pretty decent.

Today is Day #93.  7 more days and I tie my 100 day streak from 2010!  Virus, schmirus!  I gots to keep running, yo.