Sunday, September 29, 2013

Just Call Me the Runner Wannabe - For Now

When you grow up sandwiched between brothers, it's best to just be a tomboy. One thing's for sure; it worked for me!

Running and jumping, climbing trees, riding bikes with no hands and spending days in the woods were what my life was about when I was a kid.

I found trouble and I made trouble if there wasn't any to find, but it was all good fun - well, mostly good.

I don't remember this photo being taken, but it's clear that either three of us were thinking about a way to get all four of us into trouble or we were already in trouble.

Despite my lack of girly girl skills, my younger sister was quite a girly girl. But she still thought I was funny when I did silly tomboy stuff like ride a bike no hands or hang upside down from the clothes pole.

Not much changed as I grew older. I wore skirts and dresses to school because it was required. I wore makeup in high school because I thought it made me look oh so cool.

I was never a girly girl except maybe for a while in my teens. I wasn't a girly Mom and I'm not a girly Grandma either.

Despite all of my tomboy ways, I never played team sports. There weren't many of them back then and I wasn't terribly coordinated. But I played a ton of backyard sports.

As a Mom, I did a lot of Dad things for several reasons. I enjoyed being outdoors and playing ball. My kids' Dad worked in the evenings and he really wasn't much into sports anyway.

Some would say I lived vicariously through my kids, but I'd have to disagree. I was just there to help, however help was needed, but I will admit that I had a blast doing it all. Along the way I coached a lot of teams and learned some of the things I didn't know about sports from the other dads.

I never really thought about running or about becoming a runner. I'd watched my son competing in cross country when he was in high school. It looked like fun, but wasn't necessarily something I wanted to do.

When I began writing online content, my focus was on family topics. Then came the day when they were looking for writers to cover other topics. One of those was topics was local outdoor recreation.

The tomboy in me jumped at the chance to write about outdoors stuff. At the time the assignment started, it was running season. What I didn't realize then is that it's always running season!

It didn't take long for me to get bitten by the running bug. I was immediately drawn to the camaraderie I saw within the Lynchburg running community.

More than that, I got drawn into the excitement the runners felt as they competed and finished the course. I walked my first 5K to support a friend.

A few weeks later, I covered my first Virginia 10 Miler as a writer. I made a promise to myself that I would be running in the next year's 5K and hopefully the 10 Miler.

As I do with most things, I jumped in with both feet. Like many new runners, I didn't spend enough time learning the basics and warming up.

Hello, plantar fasciitis! Did you know that if you Google "plantar fasciitis" you come up with 5,555,000 results in 20 seconds? It's true!

Sidelined, I worked on getting my bad foot better. Therapy and exercises helped and eventually I got back to brisk walking. I walked multiple 5Ks and hoped to notch it up a bit.

Then, BAM! I got hurt at work, straining my back in a nanosecond while doing nothing wrong. A very painful week off from work and multiple doctor visits followed.

My back isn't as bad as it was in July, but it's sure not where it was before the injury or where it needs to be. So people were quite surprised when I joined the local running club AND signed up for the Turkey Trot.

A girl's gotta have a dream, even if she's not a girly girl. This blogging Grandma's dream is that I will get better and I will eventually run.

But I'm definitely not planning on the running thing happening any time soon. I am hoping to walk the Turkey Trot, just as I did last year, assuming the doctor says it's okay.

Walking is not on the verboten list, at least not at this moment. As for joining the running club, it makes me feel less like a moocher when I attend events and meetings.

I'm glad to be part of such a great group of people. So, yes, that's me posing with those runners on a recent early morning in front of Riverside Runners, my favorite running store.

Included in the photo are two world-famous runners, Kathrine Switzer and Roger Robinson, who I met on the morning of the photo.

As they all jogged off down the Avenue, I got into my car and drove to work. I'm no fool and my back's not healed enough to run, not even at a slow jogging pace.

But stay tuned, the story's not over yet. Time heals all wounds, or so they say.

For now, I'll have to live vicariously, writing about the mudders and 5Ks, half marathons and fulls, triathlons and fun runs that other people are running.

But one of these days, when my back's all better, you may see my smiling face in the middle of a pack of runners on the way to the finish line.

Until then I'll take what I can get when I can get it and do the best I can to face each day with a smile on my face, a prayer on my lips and a song in my heart.

Blogging Grandma Sandy, signing off for now.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Welcome to Wednesday, My New Saturday

As many of you in the working world celebrate "Hump Day" on Wednesdays, I am celebrating Wednesday, my new Saturday.

Since the mail processing facility where I worked closed in February, I have worked a variety of hours, mostly with split days off.

For now, Wednesday is my new Saturday. Starting next week, that will probably change to Tuesday, but nothing at the Post Office or in life is set in stone.

It's always good to remember that nothing in life is set in stone. As humans, we become accustomed to things happening on certain timetables, but we sometimes forget we are not in control of the universe.

I consider myself an amateur writer. Although I love writing, I'm still learning and often get deeply engaged in what I'm doing. With the columns I write on, freelance writing I do on various websites and editing the Lynchburg Macaroni Kid newsletter and website, I stay pretty busy during my non-work hours.

I recently moved my writing area from a dark corner in the living room to the bright family room, where sunlight streaks through all of the windows from morning until night. I love the sunny location, even when there's a little glare on my computer screen.

As I sat deeply engaged in adding events to the Lynchburg Macaroni Kid newsletter this morning, I glanced out the window and saw this absolutely gorgeous morning sky. Wow! I grabbed my camera and headed outside to get a better look and, of course, to take a couple of photos.

We often overlook the beauty that's right under our noses, at least I know I do. The simple moments in life are what we remember when we look back. Taking a few minutes away from the task at hand to just be present in the moment is a good thing.

As you get ready for work, I am preparing for an errand day. There's a lot to do, but there will also be time to just enjoy the day. Here are some of the simple pleasures I can enjoy on Wednesday, my new Saturday.

  • Lingering over an extra cup of coffee
  • A visit to Lynchburg Community Market for Green Market Wednesdays
  • Lunch with a grandchild at school or a friend at a local restaurant
  • A visit to Accents Flags, The Fresh Market, Givens Books or another local store
  • A walk on the Blackwater Creek Bikeway
  • An unhurried drive to wherever I want
  • An afternoon 'date' with one or more of my kids or grandkids
  • Dinner at a reasonable hour
I'm sure there will be errands to run and I already have a long to-do list, but I'll be sure to take the time to make memories too. After all, isn't that what life is all about?

Enjoy your Wednesday. I know I'll enjoy mine! Tomorrow will be another busy work day.

Until then I'll take what I can get when I can get it and do the best I can to face each day with a smile on my face, a prayer on my lips and a song in my heart.

Blogging Grandma Sandy, signing off for now.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Tribute to Grandparenting: Yesteryear and Today

I feel so blessed that photography was one of my Dad's hobbies when I was a child. If not, this photo of me and my younger brother, Mike, with our maternal grandparents and great-grandmother would not exist.

As an Army family, we lived far away from both sets of our grandparents and saw them rarely. When we visited Wisconsin, where they all lived, there were happy family gatherings and time spent with cousins and with our grandparents.

During one period of time, we lived in Wisconsin for a while. I don't remember a lot from those days but have a photo taken of me and my Grandpa on the stairs of our house.
This photo brings back happy memories of my grandpa, whose love for his grandchildren was obvious to all. By career, Grandpa Kraus was a high school principal and I'm sure his love was equally felt by the students he mentored.

My Mom's parents lived in the same house for all of our lives and I have many happy memories from our visits. We played cards on the porch, played in the back yard and listened when we could to the stories the adults told.

There was always a wonderful smell in the air at their house. As an adult, I think it was probably from cookies baking. As a child, I identified the scent as 'Grandma's house.'

When we visited Wisconsin, we also visited my paternal grandparents, who lived on a lake. I don't have any photos of me with my Dad's parents but do have one photo of me running to the boats at the lake. I'm sure this photo was also taken by my Dad. Kids did their own thing in those days. The adults talked while the kids played. Everyone gathered together to eat meals.

I wish we had lived closer to our grandparents so that I would have known them better. But, we kept in touch with them by writing letters.

During my years in Girl Scouts, I had to learn more about how my grandparents grew up. I wrote letters to Grandma and Grandpa Kraus and to my mom's grandmother.

Each sent me a letter in return, telling about what life was like when they were growing up. Grandpa Kraus' letter spoke about how good kids had it "these days" compared to when he was a child.

As a young adult, I continued to write to my grandparents and was blessed that they were able to stay in touch. Sadly, my last visit to my grandparents was when I was a teen. I don't have a good photo of me with either of my grandparents from that visit, but I'm sure that my Dad does. I do have a photo I took of my Grandma with my younger brothers and some of the boy cousins. Grandma was so short that she looked more like a playmate than a grandmother. I also have a photo of my Grandpa with two of my cousins from that visit and many other photos I took with my own camera.


After I married and moved away from home, my vacations were spent going to visit my parents, much as my parents' vacations had been spent visiting their parents.

On visits back home, it was hard to get photos of my Mom with her grandchildren because she hated having her photo taken. I have many photos taken of Dad with my kids and all of their grandchildren. There is still always a baby or toddler around and they all seem to be drawn to Dad. My children were blessed to have their other set of grandparents living nearby so they were able to see them often.


As in many big families, the older grandkids were blessed with the 'best' grandparents. My parents were very actively involved with the grandchildren who lived the closest. With almost 20 years separating my parents' oldest and youngest children, the younger grandchildren are almost like great-grandchildren to them. Some of the younger grandchildren are the same ages as my parents' great-grandchildren.
Unlike my parents and grandparents, I'm blessed that all of my grandchildren live nearby. Like my parents, I'm an active grandma. I don't often share photos of my grandchildren because I'm very protective of their privacy; however, I will share these photos of me with each of them as babies.

When my first grandson was born, I cried tears of joy. I was in the room for his birth and was overwhelmed with emotion. I was blessed to spend a lot of time with my older grandson because his parents worked overlapping schedules. As he got a little older, every Wednesday was marked on our calendar as "Grandma House Day" and I have many happy memories of time spent together with him.

By the time his younger cousins were born, I was an old hand at being a Grandma. Because my son-in-law was deployed when my younger grandson was born, my daughter and grandson lived with us for a period of time. I loved coming home at the end of the day to a baby in the house. First words and first steps are among the joys of living with a little one. Being Grandma instead of Mom to my grandson meant that I could do the fun grandma things and not all of the work things that moms do.
Later, after my granddaughter was born, the entire family lived with us for a few months when they were between homes. They now live just a few blocks away so we see them often. Playing Candy Land and Fish, helping them ride bikes in the driveway and baking cookies are among the fun activities we enjoy together. Being a working grandma wasn't in my plans but it's the hand life dealt me so I deal with it. We see all of the grandkids as often as we can and love them immensely. Although Kenny isn't their biological grandpa, you'd never guess it from the way they interact. The two younger grandkids come running for 'Pa' and are very excited when he's here and not on the road.
I have taken thousands of photos of my grandchildren and spent countless days sharing time together and making happy memories. Life is good when you're a grandparent and I'm truly blessed. 

On this special day known as Grandparents Day, I owe an immeasurable debt of gratitude to our family's grandparents who came before me and showed the way to be loving grandparents. To my grandparents and parents, thanks so much for the examples you set. 

I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to my daughters and sons-in-law for allowing me to have such a huge role in their children's lives. Happy Grandparents Day to all grandparents everywhere. May you always enjoy the love and joy of the grandchildren in your lives.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Summer, Where Did You Go?

I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to say farewell to summer yet. There are too many things on my summer bucket list that I've not yet done.

Believe it or not, I haven't been to the beach for even a day trip this summer. I've only been to visit my parents and siblings once this summer.

I didn't enjoy nearly enough spendovers with the grandkids this summer. The combination of working later hours and hurting my back made it more difficult to have the kids over.

This picture of my son and his cousin playing in the sand many years ago is the way I picture summer. A carefree time spent making memories.

I guess it's true that time goes faster as you get older. It seems like summer just started, then I blinked my eyes and it was gone.

Both of our grandsons have started school. Today, our granddaughter starts preschool. The day after Labor Day was once when all of the kids started school.

With all of the kids in school, I guess that means that summer really is over. Life is a lot like that. Blink your eyes and the years fly by.

I've always loved summer better than all of the other seasons. As a child, we spent summer days in happy play, at the pool or at home.

As an adult, I loved having the kids home and few schedules to keep. It's always a little sad for me when summer ends.

But all good things eventually end and it's the same with summertime. Despite not having enough time to do all that I wanted, it was a good summer filled with happy memories.

A trip to visit my parents, a few trips to Smith Mountain Lake, a day at the Peaks of Otter, some afternoons at the American Legion Lake and some family dinners in Kansas and here at home make for a good summer.

Now, it's on to September's glorious days. Those crisp mornings when you can almost taste fall on the way. Those dog day afternoons when it's still hot but there's no pool or lake to use for cooling off.

A few leaves have begun to change colors and soon the beauty of autumn will be everywhere. As one month ends and another begins, I guess I'll have to go along with the change too.

I'm grateful for an entire week of vacation this week. Maybe by the time the week ends, I will embrace the month of September and let go of August and summer.

Until then, I'll take what I can get when I can get it and do the best I can to face each day with a smile on my face, a prayer on my lips and a song in my heart.

Blogging Grandma Sandy signing off for now.