Trail Runner

We live in a rural area. To put it less delicately: we live out in the sticks. It’s only a few miles outside of the nearest little town, and only about 25 miles from the nearest big city, but it feels far out enough to forget about what’s going on there. I’ve started running again, after taking the winter off. There’s a lesson in giving myself grace in there somewhere, but I’ll save that for another day.
I’ve spent the last two summers training to run a 5K race in September. I’m notably the least athletic person in my extended family. My lack of coordination combined with asthma sealed the deal, and I spent the better part of 30 years believing I should stay on the sidelines. It wasn’t until after I had borne two children and pushed my body to its limits, coming out stronger and better, that I thought maybe it was worth more than what I’d been led to believe. I had faced down childbirth and finally felt brave and strong for the first time in my life. So, I downloaded a tracking app, learned how to stretch, and slowly, so very slowly, put one foot in front of another until I could jog 3.1 miles without quitting. I’ve always done the majority of my training on our country roads. They are familiar. I know the landmarks: the big oak tree marks half a mile, the house with the two big dogs marks a full mile. I take comfort in the routine and the sights I know so well. Recently, Adam, as a surprise, carved out a trail in the back part of our ten acres. He spent days clearing out small trees in the wooded area and brush-hogging the pasture to create a clear, 4-foot wide loop that comes out to be a third of a mile. “Isn’t it great? You don’t have to run in the road or worry about cars back here, or dogs. I even cleared an area I’ll keep mowed down so the girls can play right here while you run. I recognized this immediately as an act of love, but I felt a little misunderstood. Doesn’t he know that I like running in the road? Or that I’m kind of terrified of what is in the woods besides cars and dogs? He walked me back through the trail, giving me the grand tour. “I think there’s something that lives in this burrow, but it won’t bother you.” Gulp. “And I did my best to cut these flush to the ground, but there’s a knot right here that you should try not to trip over.” Great. “Okay, so I have seen a snake near this pile of wood, but not recently.” Are you kidding me?! “Yeah, no. I can’t. I’m sorry, but I know I am going to fall down, and I’m positive that every living thing in here will come out in the broad daylight even if they usually sleep all day, and I know for a fact that I will step on a snake and die.” I said this with what I’m sure was a wild look in my eye. “What are you so afraid of?” “Everything,” I said in a small voice. “Just try it. I think you’ll like it. Good luck!” And with that, he walked back up to the house and left me to stew in my own fear. I walked the trail once, muttering to myself and dodging imaginary predators the whole way. Then I realized, very reluctantly, that it was actually okay. Maybe even a little nice. No cars, no dogs, no witnesses when I get a weird cramp and need to stretch in compromising positions. Best of all, I’d be running around a field of wildflowers. I put in my earbuds, started The Office Ladies podcast, and slowly began to trod my way through the trail. Over the course of two miles, I didn’t fall once. I saw nothing with scales or sharp teeth. I didn’t even wind up with a bug bite. I was a little brave that day, and each time I have gone out since, I’ve done so with a little more confidence. I’m turning into the kind of girl who runs through the woods. That literally makes me laugh out loud to say, but there you have it. This summer, instead of only focusing on one foot in front of the other, I’m stretching my courage along with my hamstrings. Strength and bravery are in me, somewhere. I’m ready to bring them with me on the trail.

Winter, You’re the Worst

Captain’s Log
Winter: Day 267 (I think, I’ve lost count)
March 4. Wind chill of 5 degrees today. Thusly, I cannot. The crew is quickly descending into cabin fever, the littlest behaving the craziest of them all. When we brave the outdoor wind, there is whining and crying from all crew mates, so we stay in the hull, where there is also whining and crying.
Okay, but for real. WINTER, I AM OVER YOU, OKAY?! 
Today I let the girls get out their messiest craft supplies. There were tiny strips of tissue paper floating about like confetti. There were layers of glue dripping from paper bags turned puppets. Lucy ate parts of two crayons. Then I decided since it was too cold to play outside, we should make cookies. Yes, I thought to myself, let’s bake sugar cookies from scratch so I can scrub flour out of the grout once I’ve tired of picking up the bits of tissue paper. Then later, I can wonder why random surfaces are sticky before remembering the Great Frosting Fiasco of 2019. So, we mixed and baked and frosted and sprinkled. I feel confident I’ll be finding sprinkles in random corners of the kitchen for weeks to come. 
Bet you can guess which ones I decorated and which ones the girls did. Oh, you can’t? That’s kind of rude.
Anyway, tomorrow is a school day for Annie and a run-errands day for Lu and me. We’ll go to the library; it’s a little less busy than the Chick-Fil-A playplace, which I know they clean well, because it’s Chick-Fil-A, but even they cannot totally rid the place of flu germs. I figure less traffic means a slightly lesser chance of contracting a virus, even though Lucy always manages to pick up the toy another toddler just finished licking thoroughly. So, yeah. That’s quite enough of you, winter. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Gender Reveal Party

I feel like people can relate to this one. So, you know how sometimes you have a particular event in mind? And maybe you’ve thought about how perfect it will be, even daydreamed a little? And then, maybe it doesn’t go quite like you planned. Still perfectly fine, but not quite what you hoped. And then your pregnancy hormones get the best of you, causing you to throw an actual hissy fit in front of twenty people while even your toddler looks on in disbelief at your behavior?
Nope, just me? Oh. Okay, then.
Yeah. That happened. This week, I, a grown woman, threw a fit, shed a tear, and yelled. It all happened so fast. We hosted a cookout/gender reveal party for our families, so we could share the beautiful news that the little love growing in my belly is a girl. We had a low-key cookout; just a normal, easy event, where everyone brought food and lots of dessert. I turned my chalkboard wall into a voting station, where everyone joined team boy or girl and got a blue or pink clothespin to wear – plus blue and pink cupcakes!
Other than that, I tried not to stress too much over decorations. We had just planned to have a box of pink balloons that would pop out when we opened it in front of everyone. I wanted that moment to be perfect. It was a beautiful day, with nothing but blue sky behind us. It should’ve been a pretty photo op. Instead of letting the balloons fly free once the box was opened, I even taped their strings down so they’d stay put for pictures and for Annie to play with later. The problem was, it didn’t turn out that way.
The moment arrived. I carefully tore off the paper holding the balloons down, and, with some coaxing, they just … sort of.. floated up one by one. It was quite anticlimactic, and worst of all, not the moment I had in my head. I honestly didn’t even see my family’s reaction, because I completely and totally lost my cool. (If you’re following along and are confused – yes, to clarify, I lost my cool over some balloons.) I turned to Adam and immediately began lamenting the loss of my perfect expectation, by which I mean I yelled and flailed my arms around a lot and just generally looked like a completely crazy person. Apparently, at one point, I said I had wanted them to fly away, so Adam started snipping the strings, thinking that would help. Nope. I shouted, “Stop! Are you CRAZY?!!” He stopped. He didn’t know what to do, because when your clearly insane wife asks if you’re the crazy one, you just try to get out of the way until the storm passes. I eventually remembered there were twenty people watching this nervous breakdown. I was immediately overwhelmed. I felt so sad that I had ruined that moment. Besides myself, no one there cared AT ALL if those blasted balloons popped out with gusto. They were thrilled to see pink, and to find out there was another baby girl for them to love on the way. And then – I felt SO embarrassed. I couldn’t believe I’d let my emotions totally take over. We all know I’m dramatic. That’s not the issue here. The issue was I lost my head to the point where my behavior was earning looks of confusion and terror from everyone, down to my toddler.
It was over as quickly as it started, but the damage had been done. Pretty soon, everyone was trying to console me, when it should’ve been a happy, joyful time. I had worried so much about it being a disaster that I knocked my stress levels up and turned it into a disaster all on my own. The very worst part? No good pictures of our happy family smiling.
This is the photo I posted to social media.

This is actually what I looked like most of the time (grainy and zoomed in for the full effect )– borderline manic, holding back tears. Yikes.

So, there’s a lesson here. Just chill smooth out, Bek. But also, I remember thinking gratefully that Annie didn’t really know what was going on. She’s the current Queen of the Tantrums, but it won’t always be that way. She’s already emotional, and sensitive. It’s so sweet, the way she already fully feels some things. I don’t want that to rule her, though. I want to teach my girls that it’s completely normal to have strong, full emotions, and that sometimes they can be overwhelming. The important thing is to not let them overwhelm you with trivial, little things that push you to the breaking point and can, well, ruin a perfect moment. And when they do, accept it. Accept responsibility; apologize if you need to. And then write about it and move on. 

Slow Down, Mama

This evening, I left work and headed to pick up Annie. She was with my family at my sister’s softball game, and I was going to get her there early so she wouldn’t be out in the heat long. I got there a little after the game started, and she was content, drinking her milk, just peering at those around her. I sat down next to her and said, “Hi, baby.” She turned to me, and I picked her up. She laughed and put both of her tiny hands on my face. My sweet daughter, who I’d missed all day, had missed me, too. Any stress I’d felt at work quickly faded, and we were content.

We loaded up and started the forty-five minute drive home. Annie was restless and cried, loudly, from the moment I put her in her car seat. I needed to get home, so I could unload the dishwasher, start dinner, pick up the house, feed Annie again. Instead, I pulled over and got Annie out of her seat. She looked so relieved that I had come to rescue her! She needed me. We sat in the driver’s seat, and she gnawed on the steering wheel and laughed at the cute baby in the mirror. We sat there for about ten minutes, and when I put her back in her seat, she fussed a little, but quickly calmed down and fell asleep.

I work full-time, and at 5:00, I switch gears. I put my remaining energy into being a good mama and a good wife. Those last five or so hours of the day is what I have with my family during the week, and I try to make the most of it. At the end of the day, I’m tired. And I sometimes feel like I haven’t done enough. My kitchen floor desperately needs mopped, and the laundry is piling up (how is it so endless?). However – not always, but usually – I have loved. I have loved my husband and I have loved my girl by taking care of them the best way I know how. Tonight, that meant pulling over and holding my baby for a few minutes before we hit the ground running again.

Annie has taught me so much already. Every once in a while, she gives me a gentle reminder to slow down. And then she rewards me with her lopsided smile.Thank you for that, lovie.

P.S. I have ideas on a post on being a working mother rolling around in my head, but surprise – haven’t found time to put it together! But for now, I’ll leave you with this: I really believe we’re all working mothers, whether you are away from your baby forty hours a week, or if you’ve taken on the full-time job of raising your baby. I think both ways can be so hard. So whatever you’re doing, if you’re doing the best you can, you’re doing a good job.

Things I Regret

That day last week when my menu for the day consisted of a cheeseburger, a chocolate shake, and popcorn. (Except - yum!)

Trying out Amazon Prime. I bought a couple of random things I didn't need just because of free shipping. Such a sucker! 

Stuttering through the end of my presentation at a high school senior assembly last week, which went something like this: "I wish you the best of wishes! I mean, um, luck. The best of luck.. Thanks." *sulk off stage in shame*

Ruining a cobbler because I can't do math. I was trying to not quite double the recipe, but numbers and I don't mix very well. So dumb. And so salty. 

Staying up too late three nights in a row. I need 8-10 hours of sleep. I just do. Big baby.

Flashing a dorky thumbs up on stage at an awards assembly at my high school. Yep.

Flashing another dorky thumbs up here. (But how cute are my matching coworkers?) 

In the future: probably more kitchen blunders, thumbs up incidents, etc.

I'm quite the charming young lady. 🙂 Hope you all are having a great week! 

Love, Bekah

Wal-Mart Revelations

So, I was at Wal-Mart a couple of days ago. The dreaded Wal-Mart. I was in a pretty good mood, because it was the first full day of my spring break (aww, yeahhh!), but still… Nobody actually likes going there, do they? I’d put off grocery shopping for a few weeks, though, and we were going to be stuck with nothing but PB&J sandwiches again, so I had to do it. Anyway, so I was kind of dreading it, but I figured I’d get it out of the way and enjoy the rest of my day.
I had just walked in and was heading to pick up some basic toiletries. Coming towards me from the other direction was a mom and her two teenage kids. The boy, maybe fifteen or sixteen, was bouncing one of those rubber (I think?) balls he’d picked off a shelf. It was about the size of a kickball and was pink, with Minnie Mouse plastered all over it. I didn’t think much of it. As we passed each other, I was consulting my list, and he, without making eye contact or even acknowledging me, slowly placed the ball in my empty cart and kept walking. I’m sure I had a really confused look on my face, and I shook my head. I went to put the ball on the nearest toy shelf and then laughed out loud. It was so absurd. I turned around and looked back at the boy as he was walking away and he had a mischievous, ear-to-ear grin on his face. I returned his smile and went on with my shopping. Later on, I ran into him again with a full cart, and he asked me where the ball was, feigning disappointment when I told him I put it away.
It was such a simple, silly moment, but it completely made my day. He took a risk. He didn’t know if he’d annoy me or upset me, but he acted on a random impulse, and it turned out to be a funny moment. It really made me think about interacting with others. Sometimes, I will make a point to smile at others. Other times, I’m completely guilty of going out and never even making eye contact with the strangers around me. In fact, more often than not, I’m annoyed. This guy is blocking the entire aisle. I wish this lady would control her wild kids. Why are there only two registers open? I know that’s a normal thought process, but I’d like to improve it. I know I come out in a better mood when I’ve made a conscious effort to go out of my way to be polite, to smile, to interact instead of making a mad dash to get in and out. I am a little old-fashioned sometimes, but I think I’d love it if it weren’t out of the ordinary to stop and have a conversation with somebody you don’t know. So, a new goal of mine: Be more engaging. It’s a step towards really and truly caring for others. I hope you’ll think about it, too. I have a feeling it’s not going to take a whole lot of extra effort, but I think it will be pretty rewarding.
Shout-out to the random kid in Wal-Mart who made my day. Also, my brief period of enlightenment came crashing back down to reality once I checked out with all of this (I even had to put things on that little, unstable-looking shelf at the bottom of the cart) and spent a million dollars.

Hope you guys are having a wonderful week, and that you don’t have to go to Wal-Mart. But if you do, remember to smile at somebody! 🙂 
Love, Bekah

The Creatures

Hi, dear readers! Did you miss me? Hope all is well in your world. Things have been fine around here; just working, occasional fun events, and animal encounters. I don’t know that I fully thought about how living in the country meant living alongside animals.
A few weeks ago we were sitting on the front porch having dinner, and a hummingbird flew by super close to my head—I actually thought it was a bat, because I’m nuts. So, we put hummingbird feeders out the other night. Apparently they like sugar water, and they’re more likely to want it if it’s red. I only had pink food coloring (me, pink? duh), so I was a little worried. But, the next day I came home to a hummingbird flitting around drinking the sugar water! They’re pretty adorable. Not all the animals out here are sweet and tiny, though. The other night, Adam and I were running (more about that in another post), and out of nowhere I hear this weird noise. A deer blew at us! I mean, it just blew out hard and fast and took off! I wasn’t freaked out until I knew what it was and realized a deer had been a few feet from me. Apparently that’s their hey-I’m-right-here-and-you’re-in-my-space-so-I’m-getting-out-of-here-now noise. Of course, Adam knew what it was, wasn’t frightened, and told me to quit being ridiculous. Naturally.
So whatever, a hummingbird, a deer. Well, several weeks ago (and some of you have heard this, so bear with me), I came home from church one night. It was dark out and our pole light isn’t super strong, but I can see to get in the house and all. Well, I was walking up the steps to the back door and opened it, and as I was stepping inside, there was a SNAKE! A SNAKE! Just wriggling around on MY doorstep. Not his doorstep, MY doorstep. So obviously, I tore into the house yelling at the top of my lungs. I mean, I was screaming like the thing had taken my firstborn.
“SNAAAAAKE! There is a snake on the doorstep! Adam Wesley Warren!” He wasn’t concerned. It may be because it’s not uncommon for me to be yelling frantically about something—I need medication, I tell you—but either way, he was taking his sweet time.
After he had finished rummaging around in the refrigerator, he said, “Now, what? You think you saw a snake?”
This only infuriated me. “Uh, yeah. I know I saw a snake; I stepped right over it. Why does he think it’s okay to wriggle around on MY doorstep?! Well, go get it! Are you a crazy person or what?” He gave me a look that plainly conveyed just who he thought the crazy person was and went outside. He came right back in, and admitted that there was indeed a snake and that he had taken care of it.
I went outside to confirm the wriggling had ceased, and he had the nerve to say, “Well, it’s not like it was big or anything.” Now if you see him and ask about this, he will tell you it was no bigger that an earthworm. Do not believe this tall tale. The thing was definitely bigger than an earthworm. I’m sure it was almost a whole foot long! Either way, I don’t care. A nasty snake is a nasty snake, whatever its size, and it is NOT allowed in my home. Or on my doorstep for that matter.
So, I’m now very watchful anytime I’m outside. I think I’d like to get a little gun to carry with me while I’m tromping about the grounds, just in case. Chances are, I’d completely lose it and not keep my head long enough to aim properly, so that may be dangerous, but it’s a thought. I haven’t seen any of those vile creatures since then, but I know they’re out there, waiting for me. Ugh! Hope all of you have lovely, snake-free weekends.