Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


When it's suddenly 22 degrees outside and all I want to do is cocoon myself in a Snuggie and watch Law & Order SVU reruns instead of bundling up to go run 6 miles in the wind, or do sprints on the treadmill until my heart is beating out of my chest, or plow my way through another core strengthening workout-- I'll think about how I felt at this moment just a two months ago.

This feeling is what I'm always chasing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Growing and Changing and Utterly Fantastic

Juliana came home on the first day of school with a big yellow post-it note stuck to the top of the usual stack of papers that accompany the initial day back after summer break. It read: "SIGN UP FOR CROSS COUNTRY!"

At first I wasn't sure if it was some kind of joke. I mean, she pretty much spent the entire summer bed, on her bed playing Nintendo DS games, or talking about how she couldn't wait to go back to bed again. She participated in Girls on the Run a couple of years ago when I coached a team, but she never really expressed a lot of excitement for it. And I was totally fine with it. The last thing I want to be is the kind of mom who pushes my kids to do things they don't really want to do just because it's something I'm good at myself. But there it was scrawled in front of me plain as day. I guess I was signing her up for cross country. Let's go.

After the first couple of practices of her bursting in the door, face sweaty, big smile on her face and shouting "I FEEL AWESOME!" I finally asked her what made her change her mind about running. She replied something like this, "Well... I wanted to join a sport so I could be healthy and also... I need courage."

Basically she chose the thing she was scared of because she wanted to conquer it.

When I told Jason I was so proud of her for taking this approach and that I was relieved that it had nothing to do with the fact that I run a bajillion miles every week he said, "Of course it has nothing to do with you. She has her own world." Which sounds kind of jerky at first but really: IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT ME.

Whoa. My kid has her own motivation and fears and goals that don't have anything to do with me at all.

This may sound strange but one of the things I'm constantly surprised by with parenting is how my children continue to evolve as their own personalities. I mean, when you have a baby or a toddler so much of them is wrapped up in what you do and how you interact with them. They are completley dependent on you and emulate you all day long. Gradually over time these same little people that learned everything they know about the word by watching your every step start to formulate their own ideas about things and although in reality it's a slow process there are times when it feels completely sudden like you're being punched in the face. I find myself thinking things like:

What do you mean you came up with that opinion all on your own?

When did you become such a snarky/smart/astute observer of the world?


How did you become so awesome?

Taking it back to cross country. Juli is not a fast runner. At each meet so far she has been finishing somewhere a little after the middle of the pack. What is though is committed. And each time she crosses a finish line she does so with a little skip in her step and a WOO HOO! She runs with one of her best friends and they both complete the race with big smiles on their faces. It's fantastic.

Last week I was volunteering at a meet, directing the kids on the course at about the halfway point. I saw Juliana's usual running buddy come up the hill by herself and I was confused by the fact that they had separated. I wondered if Juli was feeling ok or if she had hurt herself. After a few minutes though I see her coming up the hill with another girl I didn't know who looked like she was struggling a bit. Jules was talking to her and saying "Almost there! You can do it!" as I snapped their photo:

Immediately after this, the cross country coach came up to me and gushed, "I'm so proud of Juliana. She's usually farther up in the pack but she stayed back to help T_____ so she wouldn't be alone."

I nodded my head and tried to form words in response.

I don't remember a time or place where I specifically taught her to do something like this but here she was being completely thoughtful and supportive and incredible for no reason other than she thought it was the right thing to do. The fact that things like this come out of my own kid- I don't even have the words to describe it.  When everyone had finished she went up to every member of her team to congratulate them, and give them a high five or a hug. There was a boy who was upset that he had missed a medal and she said, "So what? You did amazing! I got 127th place and I feel great!"

How did she become so awesome?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Working on it.

Seasons are changing. Back to school's a-happening. Schedules are filling up with classes, projects and volunteer work (for both me and the girls) faster than I can update my calendar. I'm contemplating what I want to do with my time- or my life in general- this school year and OH YEAH, my second 50-miler is in less than ten days. I'm lamenting what I didn't get done this summer but at the same time I've already starting putting things on the calendar in 2013.

Hold. the. phone. What is it that drives us to be busy busy busy all the freaking time?

Many things I want to do. For real. Searching for new races always makes me feel like I'm downing a cocktail of pure giddy with a splash of steely determination. It puts me in a kind of HULKSMASH sort of mood. But one where the Hulk is bouncing around excitedly in a cute outfit.

On the flip side though, because I have the luxury to TRAIN for crazy-super-ultra-marathon events with a more flexible schedule (due to the fact that I'm a mom to kids who are pretty darn self-sufficient for the most part) I feel a little guilty when I want to be lazy. I know so many people who bust their asses every day and the last thing I want to do is be some kind of privileged, spoiled brat-lady. So instead I'm constantly trying to be productive- whether it's with volunteer work, housework, projects, family obligations...you name it. I mean, I got to go TO EUROPE this summer and then celebrate our anniversary with a boozy blowout hootenanny with all of our friends and family. The least I can do is keep on top of my regular to-do list without whining right?

But I'm whining whiner. Who admittedly could probably do with punch in the face, but other times maybe I do need to give myself a break.

There'a line I like to quote from a little 1990s Steve Martin movie called "Mixed Nuts." In on scene Adam Sandler's character plays a song on his ukulele and then trails off at the end, stating: "It's a work in progress. It may never be finished." 

That's me. I'm a work in progress. I may never be finished. And I need to be (more) ok with that.

Monday, August 27, 2012

15th Anniversary Photobooth Shenanigans


Best friends and family ever and no you can't have them they're MINE.

I Made This

In case you somehow missed this all the other places I posted it:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey

This week has been a bit strange. Not only are Juli and Ava out of town for their yearly summer camp with the cousins in Illinois, but I've also been spending a lot of time digging through old photographs and keepsakes for a video I'm making for our 15th wedding anniversary this month. I'd be lying if I didn't say I feel a bit like I've been thrown down a wormhole of some sort.  Getting sucked into old memories for hours is kind of disorienting- especially without the the girls to yank me back to reality.  In addition to scanning stacks of photographs from the nineties, Jason and I also spent Sunday evening pouring over old issues of our high school newspaper. And drinking cocktails. (Wouldn't you know it, every time a headline jumped out at me as something funny and/or interesting I then saw "by Jason Gessner" printed beneath it.)

Don't even get me started on the baby pictures.

Looking through all this stuff makes me so happy but at the same time I've also been walking around feeling like I could almost burst into tears. I don't know why I'm acting like such a fragile little flower but it is what it is. Some of these photos seem like a lifetime ago and others I can describe to you exactly what I was thinking and feeling right then like it happened just last week. I guess what I'm trying to say is, "Is this real life?"

I'm planning on showing my completed video at our anniversary party. I'll be the one in the back with the cryface.

Monday, August 6, 2012

I saw London, I saw France

I finally posted my gallery of vacation photos on Flickr. Most of these were taken on my phone so they're not the greatest quality but I'm happy with how a lot of them turned out. Besides, I leave the "real" photo taking to Jason. He's got a bazillion more shots on his camera but I'm not even going to wait for him to sort through all that.

Here'a few of my favorites from the trip:

Olympic rings! So exciting when those showed up.

Buckingham Palace, the girls at Hyde Park, and Juli wandering the streets with Jason.

Highgate Cemetery. I read this book so I wanted to go to there.

English History nerd alert! At the Tower of London.

Finishing my 15 mile trail race in Wadhurst! So happy.

First full day in Paris. Montmartre is gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

The neighborhood we stayed in. Basilica Sacre Coeur was just a few blocks away.

Tour Eiffel!

The park I ran in. Butte Chaumont. Butte means hill. Ouch.

Rest in Peace, Jim Morrison. Love, 15-year-old me.

Juliana took this photo of Jason and me at The Louvre. It's one of my favorite shots of us.

Phew! Now I only have to catch up on what's been happening the month since we've got back. Epic Summer 2012 continues!

(The rest of my photos are all up here.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Team Paxton

I probably don't have to tell you that cancer sucks. I lost my mom to it 11 years ago. My best friend also lost her dad to it, and just last year my cousin passed away from this stupid stupid disease. So when I heard about Paxton Andrews, the four-month-old son to John and Danna Andrews who lost his fight with cancer a few weeks ago, I wanted to punch things. Hard.

Paxton's Angel Network Fund was formed by some friends of mine right after little Paxton was diagnosed at only three months old. Although I don't know the Andrews family personally, they are dear friends of some people I know and love in the Milwaukee fitness community so I wanted to find a way to get involved. Also, as a parent it breaks my heart that any family would have to experience this. So when I found out that I could fundraise with Team Paxton for the MACC Fund (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer) at the Brewers Mini Marathon in September, I knew it was the least I could do.

Paxton passed away on July 2nd, but our battle against cancer continues. Please consider making a donation to the MACC Fund in honor of Paxton Andrews. No parent should have to lose a child. Team Paxton has a goal of raising $10,000 collectively and we're already more than a third there. Could you donate even $5 today to help other families dealing with this awful disease? 

Team Paxton is described as "an army of love." Join the fight.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


So I've been back from our incredible trip to Europe for over a week now.  And last weekend I ran another trail 50K that will easily go down as one of my favorite races ever. Basically, I've been having the most fabulous summer on record so far but right now I'm too cranky and tired to write about any of it because it's approximately elventy hundred and sixteen degrees. Or something close to that.

It's nearly triple digits here in Sweet Home Milwaukee once again and we live in a a hundred-plus-year-old house without central air. Lately Juliana and I have been hiding out in the attic with the window a/c unit watching episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer all day- which is really kind of awesome except for the fact that I'm the type of person who hates being unproductive. I feel lazy. And blobby. And HOT.

In the grand scheme of things, my suffering is minimal, I know. But I'd be lying if I didn't say I was putting on my pouty pants every morning when I wake up and look at the forecast. Or my pouty shorts really.

London and Paris pics to come when I pull my sweaty head out of this funk.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Montrose Beach: 2001/2012

At the finish of the 198-mile Ragnar Relay from Madison to Chicago, Krista snapped this photo of me as I made a beeline for the water at Montrose Beach. I love this shot, as well a this picture of the four girls on our twelve-person team enjoying the water while we waited to cheer in the arrival of Van #2 at the finish line:


As I stood on this beach I couldn't help but think about how Jason and I used to take Juliana down to this very sand when she was a wee little baby. Upon returning home after the race, I dug through my old picture albums and alas! Photographic evidence was found:


Time sure flies. It never would have crossed my mind back in 2001 that eleven years later I would be in the exact same spot- at the finish line of a nearly 200 mile relay race.

Also I no longer cut my own hair.