a beautiful day

Saturday morning I was ready to run my fastest ever 5k.  My training and my racing over these past seven weeks gave me every indication that I was ready to break 21 minutes in the 5k.  I had been doing my weekly tempo runs this fast (sometimes faster) week after week.  I knew I could do it.  It would NOT be easy, but it was absolutely within my reach.

My legs felt strong.  I was excited.  I had run this race twice before and though the course changed slightly, I believed with all of my heart that I could handle the added hills (both up and down) and that I would stay strong mentally as well as physically through them.

I woke up on Saturday morning and ran to the race start as a warm up.  My husband packed up the kids in the car and they drove there to meet me.  I LOVE having my family at a race.  Knowing they are there automatically puts a smile on my face and makes me feel more at ease.  I feel like I am not doing this just for me, but instead it is something our whole family can enjoy and take part in.

This was the perfect race for that.  The We’ve Got Your Back 5k in Reston is not just a race for solitary runners.  It is a race for families.  The start/finish area was busy with activities for children (glitter tattoos, crafts, games, and the “Fun Bus” – an old school bus that was painted with bright colors and hollowed out inside to become a mini fitness obstacle course for young children).  My kids had a blast before, during and after the race.

The Fun Bus!

It is also a race for people who have overcome back injuries and chronic back pain.  The cause is close to my heart, supporting spinal health and research.  As a Pilates teacher I work with people who suffer from back pain all the time.  Herniated disks, bulging disks, pinched nerves, SI joint pain, pelvic instability … and so much more.  I myself have dealt with lower back pain since becoming a mother, and I can tell you it is horrible.  There have been times when I have been stuck on the couch with ice wrapped around my back, watching my kids play all around me because moving hurt too much.  It is awful.  Thank goodness my pain has never lasted more than a week or two at a time – but even just one day of it is terrible.  This is why when I found Pilates, I became dedicated to it.  Pilates changed my life and has made me so much more aware of how to best care for my body and especially my spinal health.  It changed my life so much that I wanted to become a teacher, so I could help others.  My sister Jodi had back surgery in 2003 (she had a herniated disk) and as you can imagine she too is very passionate about this cause.  She really wanted to be there on Saturday.  I wanted her to be there too.

This was by far the best I had ever warmed up before a 5k.  I ran two miles at a comfortable pace (mile 1 – 8:33, mile 2 – 8:11) and then I finished with another half mile right around 10k pace (a little slower, averaging 7:11).  When it was time to start the race I felt physically as ready as could be.

But mentally, something was off.  Was it race day nerves?  Maybe.  The fact that there were some seriously fast looking ladies standing at the start near me?  Yes, that got me.  When chicks show up to a local 5k race wearing underwear and compression socks a la Shalane and Kara, well that is a bit intimidating.  Inspiring, sure, yet also intimidating.

The gun went off and the first 3/4 of a mile was straight down a hill.  I knew I was running too fast.  Way too fast.  I glanced at my watch and saw a pace of 5:17 down that hill.  WHAT!?  What am I doing?!  My legs were moving so fast down that hill that I literally felt like I was flying.  This would have been exhilarating and awesome had I not had another two and a half miles to run.  Or had I been planning to run that fast (umm, no).  I came down to the bottom of the hill and turned right onto the trail and the road was flat again, my pace “slowed” to a 5:45.  I was breathing heavily.  My shoulders were tense.  I still felt very much out of control.  I told myself over and over again to run my own race, to slow down, to calm down and to settle in.  I got myself into better place by the time the first mile ended.  It was still way too fast though.  Mile 1 – 6:11.

At the end of the first mile we turned onto a road with steady up hill.  This was good news for me.  It would help me slow down.  I wanted to find my happy pace around a 6:45, but the fact is — I am not happy at a 6:45.  That is still lung-burning pace!  Especially up a hill.  And then we took another turn into an office park which was basically ALL up hill.  I kept fighting up it.  When I looked at my watch at the end of the second mile I saw 7:15.  This was slower than I wanted to be running.  I still had a mile to go, time to make up for it.  I still wanted to break 21 and I could do it.  But I had to believe I could do it and that was the problem at this point.

The negative voice started to gain power over me.  Telling me I went out too fast.  That the first mile ruined me.  Why didn’t I take control sooner?  Why was I so foolish?  How did I let this happen!?  I felt like a crazy person trying to push through those negative thoughts.  I just wanted to feel good, to feel happy.  To enjoy myself.  As I turned the corner to go UP that massive hill that I ran down in the beginning of the race, I knew I wasn’t going to break 21 minutes and that it was really quite possible that I wouldn’t even beat 21:18, my current PR.  I was feeling really angry with myself.  I was hating on 5ks.  Mile 3: 7:27.

On the side of the course there was a woman holding up a sign.  It said “YOU LOVE RUNNING!!”  I smiled when I saw it.  She is right.  Nobody is making me do this but ME.  And why am I doing it?  Because I love it. 

I LOVE RUNNING.

That was all I needed.  My final pace for the final stretch was 6:34.  My family was on the side of the road, cheering me into the finish.  This made me smile from the inside out as I approached that finish line.

Official time: 21:40.  I missed my PR by 22 seconds.  What I am PROUD of — I ran this race 3 whole minutes faster than I ran it last year and almost 4 minutes faster than I did the year before.  Also, I was the 9th overall female and third place in my age group.  To be one of the top 10 females in a race like this – where the women who came in first and second finished in less than 18 minutes, and three of the top five overall finishers were women (yay!!!) – well, that is pretty much a dream come true for me.  THAT feels good.

I did not run the 5k race I am capable of.  I know that.  But I did push through some pretty dark thoughts, through moments where I literally felt like stopping and giving up the sport altogether (crazy, I know).  I did not give up.  And while each mile was slower than the last, I learned a TON about myself as a runner and as a person.

After my race was over, it was time for Abby and Will to race.  We had signed them up for the 1 Mile Fun Run and they could not have been more excited.  They had official race numbers, new “fast” running shoes (which Will proudly proclaimed would make him “faster than a car” when he tried them on) and more excitement in their little hearts than I can possibly describe.  The three of us lined up at the start, ready to go.

Thoughts of my 5k quickly melted away, and I was completely swept up in the joy of being with my children – participating in a running event TOGETHER.

three happy runners at the start

The plan was to stick together.  The kids did not want me to leave their side.  Will was even holding onto my leg as we waited for the race to begin.  He was especially nervous about having to run on his own.

So you can imagine my surprise when Will shot off like a dart, literally blazing a trail behind him leaving us in his dust from the start of the race.  I could see him powering up ahead, not relenting, and I was just completely shocked.  Proud.  Bewildered.  Amazed.  He just kept going and I could see his little head bouncing side to side as he ran.  I couldn’t see his face, but I could imagine it.  I knew he was having the time of his life.

I have seen my little boy run before.  He SURGES, and then pulls back and walks or even stops altogether to catch his breath before going full speed again.  The kid doesn’t have a middle ground.  He is either ALL IN, or he is not playing.  (This applies to all areas of his personality – he is the most determined and dedicated little person I have ever known.  It inspires me.  And terrifies me on occasion).

On Saturday, he was ALL IN.  He got caught up in the excitement and he discovered something wonderful about himself.

HE LOVES RUNNING.

Abby was not enjoying the run nearly as much as Will was.  She is very observant of every single thing – the most sensitive person I have ever known in all my life.  I love this about her.  It is one of her sweetest qualities.  She is also a THINKER – has to analyze everything.  And talk about it.  She spoke to me the whole way – giving me every detail about how she was feeling.  Her chest hurt.  Her stomach hurt.  She really needed to stop.  She WANTED to enjoy the race, but, well, WHEN would it be over?  I encouraged her to keep going.  I told her how I understood what she was feeling, that she was doing a great job, that she was the strongest most beautiful runner I had ever seen, and that I was SO proud of her.

About halfway through the mile, she decided it was time for a break.  Robert was on the side of the road cheering with baby Gus so she hopped off and walked with him.  At that point I caught up with Will and ran him to his finish.  He was still racing his little heart out.  The look on his face, now that I could see it, was one of pure joy and solid determination.  It was also a look of surprise.  I ran next to him.  Told him he was amazing.  So strong!  So fast!  He was running up the hill (the same one I had to run up for my finish) and I knew what he was feeling.  Watching my little boy run was INCREDIBLE.  He cracked a smile at the sound of my voice, when I told him I could see the finish.  That he was almost there.

Will crossed the finish line of his first real road race mile in 7:57.  They gave him a medal and I wrapped my arms around him.  His heart was beating so fast, I could feel it pounding on his little chest.  Those big brown eyes looked up at me and with a huge smile on his face he said to me “Wow Mommy, I am fast!”  My kid FOUND HIS STRONG.

Mister Will, who has life threatening food allergies and has to inhale steroids every single day of the year for his asthma – RAN A RACE on Saturday.  I think he felt like he could do anything after accomplishing that.  Running is a gift, pure and simple.

Will decided that he is a runner on Saturday.  Yesterday morning he woke up and wanted to take me for a run on Mother’s Day.  We ran 2.5 miles together.  It was one of the sweetest gifts I have ever received.  I will cherish the memory forever and I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to sharing this sport with him over the years to come.

After Will finished his race, we caught up with Robert, Abby and Gus.  They were still walking on the 1 mile course.  Abby was hanging her head.  I approached her and took her hand.  I asked her if she would finish the race with me.  She cried and nodded her head – yes.  We started to jog and she told me she really didn’t want to run, that she couldn’t do it.  I told her she didn’t have to go fast, that she just had to go, to move.  She had come this far and we were together and we could even walk if she wanted to.  My little girl cried the whole way up that hill and across the finish line.  And I held her hand.  I wanted her to know the importance of finishing something that you started.  I knew that if she didn’t finish, she would be sad about it later.

When we crossed the finish line, she smiled as I hugged her.  Later that day do you know what she told me as I tucked her in for bed?  She said “Mommy, you made me feel proud of myself today.”  Until then, I wasn’t sure if I had been too tough on her at the race, if I was caught up in my love for the sport and if maybe I had said the wrong things to motivate her.

All I want is for my children to feel proud of themselves.  To be confident and happy.  For them to feel GOOD about who they are.  I want them to believe in themselves.  To know that they can overcome difficult times – whether it be physical pain, emotional heartache, disappointment, whatever.  Life is full of rough patches.  I want my kids to be raised knowing that they are loved for who they are.  That they are strong enough to endure what comes their way.  That there is joy in persevering when all they feel like doing is shutting down and giving up.

As their mother, there is only so much I can do to protect my children from broken hearts and disappointments.  My first instinct is to want to put them in this little cocoon where I can shield them from anything bad or difficult, protect them from feeling pain or sadness.  To give them anything and everything their little hearts desire.  But I know that this not possible and I also know that it wouldn’t be the best thing for them – AT ALL.  That’s just not how life is.  I would be doing a disservice to them.  Instead, I will do what I can now to teach them to fight.  To teach them to believe in themselves.  To encourage them to follow their hearts.  To help them build their own wings so they can fly.

I am thankful to the sport of running for helping me with this.  This is one of the many ways that running helps me to be the best mother I can be.  It’s not just about what running does for ME and my own peace of mind, my inner balance, my self confidence.  It’s about what my running does for my children.  The example it sets.  They see me doing it and they know it is not easy for me.  They see the dedication.  They see the pain.  And they see the joy.  And this weekend, they not only saw it, but they FELT it for themselves.

I am so proud.  And so very grateful.

Will is FIVE

Today is a special day.  As special as they come.

Today I am celebrating the life of my sweet baby boy, Mr. Will.

The day he was born was full of magic and blessings.  My heart grew leaps and bounds that day and God showed me that LOVE is bigger and more beautiful than anything I could ever have imagined.  More wonderful than any dream I could conjure up in this little head of mine.

I remember looking at this baby boy of mine for the first time, tears streaming down my face.  His eyes: they were big and bright right away.  His cry was raspy and precious.  I was so in love.  I did not think I could love him any more than I did in that first moment, but every day since he was born I have been proven wrong on that measure. 

My love for him grows more and more each and every day. 

When Will is happy, I am so happy I feel like my heart will jump out of my chest.  When he is sad, my heart breaks for him.  My emotions are completely tethered to his.  I want my child to know how wonderful I think he is.  But putting my love for him into words is impossible.  Thank goodness he still lets me hug him.  I am more than blessed to be his mother, to share this life with him.

At five years old, Mr. Will is the most expressive, funny, sensitive, sweet, creative, intelligent, crazy, energetic, and caring boy I know. He is passionate and he is fiercely dedicated to the things and people he loves.  He is a clown and an entertainer.  He has some wickedly awesome talents, too.  Like that at age 4 he taught himself to whistle (he is good at it, let me tell you) and to snap his fingers.  Will also loves a dance party and will cut up the floor with some killer moves given the chance.  It is beyond fun to be around this guy of mine.

We have been celebrating his birthday since about 4:30 this morning, when he rushed into my room and woke me up.  I thought there was some sort of problem – a bed wetting or a nightmare.  But when I asked him if everything was okay his reply was “I’m FIVE!” and he jumped into bed with me for an hour of sleepy snuggles.

This past year in particular, my baby boy has grown up so much.  His legs are getting bonier and more muscular – he is losing that soft baby pudge and starting to look less like a baby, more like a boy.  I’m grateful that he is still cuddling with me and that he considers  our time together “special time.” He would rather sit on the bathroom floor and chat with me while I shower than play with even his most favorite toys.  I am still his number one companion and believe me, that means a lot to me.  I know it won’t always be that way.  I cherish this time so very much.

I’m enjoying watching him grow, getting to know the person he is becoming.  I’m so proud of him for who he is and feel incredibly lucky to be his mom.  I promise, I DO want him to grow and change and eventually move out and explore the world on his own…but I can already tell I am going to miss him when all of that happens.  I will miss him in a crazy-heartache kind of a way.  These past five years have just flown by – life is going by so quickly!! – and I have loved every single minute of them.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Will! 

I love you from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, with all of my heart and all of my soul.

and tomorrow he turns 4…

my little buddy turns 4 tomorrow.  i cannot believe it!  the time has just passed by so quickly and ever since he was born our lives have been overflowing with love, adventure and sheer happiness.  i love my little guy so much and am grateful each and every day that he is in my life.  i can’t wait to celebrate his birthday tomorrow!  i have always loved birthdays and admittedly go nuts over them but as soon as i had kids my excitement went to a whole new level.

i have breakfast muffins in the oven (pumpkin, his favorite this time of year), made a giant “4” out of cardboard and glitter to hang from the ceiling above his seat at the breakfast table, am decorating the kitchen with birthday banners, lights and streamers and tonight while he is sleeping we are filling his room with a slew of helium-filled balloons in every color of the rainbow (a family tradition we started when his older sister turned 2) so he will wake to a happy celebration.  i’m not sure who is more excited…me or him!!

backing up a bit, part of the reason i have been bad about the blogging is that we had a big scare this weekend with will’s health.  we were in va beach at my in-laws’ for a close friend’s wedding.  robert and i left for the wedding saturday evening along with his parents and a babysitter who has watched my kids many times (and who we know well and all really adore) came over to watch the kids for us.  the babysitter is very familiar with will’s allergies and is trained to give epi and handle anaphylactic reactions if she needs to.  my point here is that we completely did (and still do) trust her with our children.  i prepared the kids’ dinner before we left and made sure it was all “safe” for him and that the sitter had the emergency kit with benadryl/epi just in case.  anyway, despite all of that we got a phone call just after the wedding ceremony — when the sitter was feeding the kids dinner he asked for some milk (he meant soy milk, that is all he knows) but she reached in my in-laws fridge and poured him a glass of cow’s milk without thinking.  as soon as will took one sip he immediately said his throat was hurting and that he was itchy and actually asked her if it was cow’s milk!  she called me right away as she realized her mistake and how dangerous it was (my son has several life-threatening food allergies and milk is at THE TOP of the list).  we were 40 minutes away.  it was agony.  long story short she gave him 2 tsp of benadryl right away and then when she was getting ready to give him epi (at this point his whole face and his top lip were very swollen and he was bright red all over and was having difficulty breathing…although he was acting ok telling her he wanted to go play on the beach!) he began to vomit violently so i just told her to CALL 911 right away and hung up the phone.  robert and i hopped in the car with his parents and we sped to the hospital.  i was beyond scared and upset and we had TOO FAR to drive to get to my baby.  the ambulance came right away and took care of him and rushed him to the hospital.  he had to go in the ambulance all by himself though, which i was so upset about – my kid hates even going to the doctor! – and i was imagining him feeling so scared and traumatized the whole way there.  the babysitter gave me one of the paramedic’s phone numbers and it was great to talk with him on the way.  he assured me will was going to be ok and that he was not scared.  we got to the hospital just as will did (thanks to my father-in-law driving 90mph on the way there!) and it was so wonderful to see my baby boy.  i could not stop crying and was just so grateful he was ok.  i hopped right on the hospital bed with him and snuggled him and he looked at me and said “mamma, why are you crying?” which only made me cry more.  he was so brave.  his face was still red and puffy and his big brown eyes were all blood shot from such violent vomiting (he even had popped little capillaries in his cheeks) but he looked so sweet and calm.  when i asked him if it was scary in the ambulance he said “actually, it was kind of exciting” and went on to tell me that it was not scary and that the guys who took care of him were so nice.  the paramedics loved him and you could tell…they even gave him fist bumps when they had to say goodbye!  it was a terrifying experience for all of us and i feel like in a lot of ways i’m still recovering from it emotionally.  i have known about will’s allergies and the severity of them since he was 9 months old…and we really have a good handle on things i believe.  but that was a wakeup call.  i try to make sure he knows about his allergies and that he is careful and self-aware but i also want him to feel free to be a kid like every other kid out there.  just the day before i brought him to one of his classmate’s birthday parties at chuck e. cheese’s.  what do they serve there?  pizza.  covered in drippy cheese which would be deadly for him.  but i was NOT going to let him miss out!  and he had a great time!  i packed his lunch, made him special cupcakes, and was there to watch closely to make sure he was safe and he had just as much fun (if not more!) as every other kid there.  i guess you can never be too careful and can’t let your guard down.

a few things i learned from the experience:

1) always go with your gut when it comes to your kids.  i knew in my heart what had to be done that night…but every bone in my body did not want to do it!  i had to go with it though and am so glad that i did.
2) even when you cover all your bases…things can go wrong…and you need to be prepared for that JUST IN CASE.
3) my son is amazing amazing amazing. that little boy is the strongest, bravest, smartest, most self-aware person i have ever known.  i am so proud of him every day and am so grateful to be blessed to be his mother.  we have so much to learn from our children.
4) my 5 year old daughter is completely incredible.  she looks out for her brother and steps up when she needs to (and when she is not expected to).  the paramedics (and the sitter) told me that she was calm and comforting to will the whole time.  she was very worried about him though and the next morning and for a day or two after she would not let him out of her site, even if he wanted her to leave him alone!

i am going to celebrate will’s birthday with extra zing and gratitude tomorrow.  and to top it all off, on saturday we have a spider man birthday party happening at our house in honor of him.  i can’t wait.

making the time

Two years ago, as we were packing our belongings up to move into our new house, my husband and I agreed that it was time to have a yard sale and sell some things on Craigslist.  We have so much STUFF.  We were exhausted from the move though and just couldn’t organize ourselves enough to have the sale before we moved.  It was a stressful time full of changes and challenges…so we put it off and decided we would have the sale after we got settled into our new home.

Well, fast forward two years and we are (fairly) settled in and are finally having this massive yard sale.  It’s great.  I’m excited.  I hope people will come to our sale and find treasures and great bargains on just the things they are looking for.  I hope we’ll make some money and be able to put it towards some of the things we really need right now, especially with another baby on the way.

The reason I’m talking about this here though is because all the energy, effort and time it has taken to orchestrate and organize this sale has been completely exhausting.  We moved everything into our garage starting last Sunday and all week long I’ve been pricing, sorting and moving things around to get ready for Saturday’s sale.  All while keeping an eye on my two young children and growing another one in my belly!  Today my little boy was in the garage hanging out with me while I worked and the next thing I knew he was racing around the front yard in his underwear singing a song about a superhero he invented named “Penis Man”… ooooh my Goodness.  Thankfully my next door neighbor who was out watering her garden found him cute and funny.  At least he had something on!  Anyway, a run or even a walk would have been a nice stress reliever for me all week but the last time I hit the pavement was on Monday morning.  A matter of only 3 days, but with all the stress of getting ready for this sale while balancing everything else in my world, minus making time for myself to run — let’s just say that I am one grouchy mamma!  Tomorrow morning I need to get out there and SWEAT.  I need to just make it a priority for myself.  I know I will not regret it and that I will feel so much better because of it.

It is times like this that I am really reminded of how much I need to move, at least in some way, every day if I can.  Even if it is just for 20 minutes – I owe it to myself and to my family to make time to do it.

Will’s Story

When my little buddy Will was born almost 4 years ago he spent his first week of life in the NICU at Georgetown University Hospital because of the threat of bacterial infection.  He was only a week early but when I went into labor I came down with a high fever and the doctors were concerned about infection.  They gave him a spinal tap quickly after I held him in my arms (that was scary) and then he stayed in the NICU all week so they could give him antibiotics and make sure he was strong enough to go home.  They decorated his isolet with a polka-dotted sign with his name on it and did an amazing job of welcoming my sweet baby into this world while caring for babies who were seriously fighting for their lives.  The nurses called Will the “little line backer” in the NICU (at just over 7 pounds) and they said they loved holding him and snuggling with him because so many of the babies that were there were not able to be disconnected from their tubing or taken out of their isolets for more than a minute or two.  It was an amazing experience and I was so very grateful for the angels who cared for him and for the fact that my baby was home in just one week.  I met a lot of moms who had been visiting their babies there for months and still had a long road ahead of them before they could bring them home.  These women were incredibly strong and so supportive of me which I simply could not believe given all they were facing compared to me.

After we brought Will home from the hospital we started to notice his skin was incredibly red and itchy.  He had awful eczema all over his face and body.  We had to put tiny socks on his hands so he wouldn’t scratch himself during his sleep.  We had to slather him in Aquafor a few times a day (he was always pretty greasy looking!) to protect his skin.  He developed a horrible skin infection at just a few months old and this recurred every couple of months during the first two years of his life.  He was on a LOT of antibiotics.  Will also was the “spit up king” and seemed to have really bad reflux.  Despite all of the discomfort I was sure he was in, he was a trooper.  Always smiling, always chill.

When he was around 8 months old I began to feed him solid foods.  I immediately noticed that something was not agreeing with him…he would get hives all over his face and vomit.  I called the pediatrician and he told me they don’t like to test babies for allergies before they are one year old and just to avoid giving him foods that caused any kind of reaction.  The problem was, almost every food I gave him seemed to make him uncomfortable in some way!  When I went in for his 9 month check-up my doctor took one look at him and said “wow, he has a lot of bug bites”…um no those are hives and he has them daily I replied.  So my pediatrician broke his rule and ordered a blood test right away.  Turned out Will was severely allergic (life-theatening levels) to 7 of the top 8 allergens (dairy, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish) so we were referred to an allergist and tested further to find out that in addition to these 7 he was also very allergic to peas, garlic, bananas, beef and tomatoes.  Yikes.  It was tough.  I was nursing him so had to take all these things out of my diet as well.  I kept a food journal for both of us so we could figure out what he was reacting to.  When he was one and it was time to introduce him to milk we switched to rice milk instead since we was so allergic to dairy and soy.

We got used to removing all these foods from our diets, to keeping them out of our home, and to not going out to eat as a family.  I’m not going to say it wasn’t hard – because it WAS – but we eventually got used to it and became vigilant, but relaxed.  I made it my mission to learn to bake without butter, milk and eggs and got tons of excellent cook books and great advice so that my kids could enjoy food the way kids who don’t have any allergies enjoy it.  My husband is an AMAZING cook and he came up with lots of great creative recipes – even made rice milk ice cream that we all loved! – and he continues to do so.

When Will was about 20 months old we were in a groove and felt really good about how we were handling everything.  On Abby’s third birthday we had a few close friends and family over to celebrate.  All the food in our home was “Will safe”…to our knowledge.  But during the party my little baby developed horrible hives and was irritable.  I gave him Benadryl right away and took off his clothes so I could see what was happening with the hives.  I did not see any signs of difficulty breathing but we were all watching him closely to make sure the Benadryl was working.  A few minutes later I was holding him in my arms and he began to vomit – violently – and it terrified me.  Then he started to pass out in my arms and we called 911.  The ambulance came right away and my baby would not wake up.  It was so scary and I could not believe it was happening.  Once we were in the ambulance they gave him a shot of Epinephren and he immediately came to consciousness screaming and terrified.  My mom stayed at our house with my sweet Abby while Robert and I headed to the hospital with Will.  He was fine – but had experienced an anaphylactic reaction to something IN OUR HOME and we had NO IDEA what it could be.  After visiting the allergist and doing more testing we discovered that in addition to all the allergies we were aware of, he was also severely allergic to both mustard and sesame.  That day Robert had made a vinaigrette that had mustard in it.  Will didn’t even eat the salad, but he was picking food off of my plate and must have gotten some that way.  In retrospect I should have given him the Epi pen as soon as he started to vomit, but I was looking for distress with his breathing and didn’t see any so I thought he was ok.  Now I know that if more than one system is reacting (hives, vomiting, loss of consciousness, swelling lips/mouth, breathing distress….), whether it is involving his breathing or not, that is a sign of an anaphylactic reaction…so if there ever is a “next time” I now KNOW what to do.

That was two years ago and thank God we have not had any other scares even close to that.  I don’t even think he has had hives worth mentioning since then.  We see an incredible allergist (Dr. Robert Wood at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore) and test him each year and monitor things very closely.  Last summer Will outgrew his wheat and soy allergies and we had a big celebration at our house!  Our world completely changed when we could add those foods to our diet!!!  All the other allergies still seem to be trending worse, but we are used to this lifestyle and as long as we’re not adding new ones to our list I am OK with that.

I know this post has nothing to do with my running really, but I wanted to share.  And actually, I will say that I hear all the time from friends and family that they admire how calm I am about everything and I feel that I owe a lot of that to my running.  It keeps me cool…helps me put everything into perspective.

I am SO PROUD of my little buddy.  He is strong.  He is happy and secure and silly and fun. I’m also so proud of his big sister, who looks out for him and gets excited about recipes that are “Will safe.”  When we go to a friend’s birthday party and I have to bring Will his own cupcake, Abby wants me to bring one for her too.  She wants one that is safe for her brother.  She could not be a more sensitive or supportive big sister.

So this morning I made some delish “Will safe” vegan banana chocolate chip muffins and I thought I would share the recipe with you guys.  It is EASY and they are so yummy!!  Another great thing about baking this way is that since there are no raw eggs my kids can lick that bowl like crazy without me worrying about salmonella or any other gross things that could happen when eating raw eggs.

Enjoy!!!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

ingredients:
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup nondairy semisweet chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand is our favorite)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Lightly grease muffin tins or use muffin papers.  In a medium size bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the sugar and oil, then add the mashed bananas.  Stir in the water and vanilla and mix well.  Add the flour mixture and the chocolate chips and mix.  Fill each muffin tin and bake for 20-30 minutes, until they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Makes about 12 muffins.