Monday, December 31, 2012

december in an instant

Does anyone else feel like November just ended? December flew by for me! It was full of friends and family (long distance once again) and so much fun and wonder I almost can't handle it. It was a month full of milestones reached, hurdles jumped and prayers answered - a month I will look back on fondly for a long time to come. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

9 miles in Leah's shoes

Today I ran 9 miles. 

I'm not sure why I was dreading it so much, but I was. It was supposed to be around 15 degrees, but I was going to go early enough in the morning that the forecast of snow wouldn't have started. Kate had a rough night, so I had a rough night and I just couldn't get myself to roll out of bed on time. I dreamed that I ran the 9 miles on two separate occasions, so when I woke up to realize I actually hadn't run yet, I was already exhausted. I was mentally going to run 27 miles that morning. Ugh. I spent the morning completely procrastinating before I finally put on all my winter running gear and opened the front door. 

It was snowing. 

And not just light fluffy flakes. The kind that are half melted and then re-frozen needles pelting you in the face. But, off I went. I had gone no farther than a tenth of a mile before I thought, "I should turn around to grab my Tuck key card. That way, I can run 2 miles to campus, 5 on the treadmill at Tuck and then 2 miles back." So, I turned around. I got about halfway home before I thought, "Maren, you wuss. Just run." So, I turned around again, and I ran. About a half mile out, my fingers were already frozen stiff, snot was dripping out of my nose and my face was raw. 

By this point, the snow was sticking and I really wished I had put on my stableicers. Even though I had 8.5 miles to go, there was no way I was turning around. So, I slowed my pace and basically tip toed on the icy spots.

At mile two, I saw another runner. He was wearing a ski mask. That was smart. 

At mile four, I saw another runner. She looked like me. Miserable. 

At mile four and a half, I was so beyond done. My right sleeve was covered in frozen snot and my nose wouldn't stop running. That's when I thought: 

Huh. Leah's nose does this a lot. I bet that's kind of annoying. 

A few moments later, a song came on my running mix that I wasn't really in the mood for, but, my iPhone was underneath my jacket's spandexy mitten flap and my fingers were too frozen to get it out. I was so frustrated that I couldn't move my fingers the way I wanted. That's when I thought:

Huh. This is just a fraction of how frustrated Leah must feel because her hands and fingers don't work they way she wants. 

I continually stumbled on areas of the sidewalk that had been halfway shoveled - trying to balance on mixtures of freshly fallen powder and old, icy, compacted snow. That's when I thought:

Huh. I bet Leah gets tired of continually stumbling because she can't balance very well. 

And after that third a-ha, I thought: You are a piece of work, Maren Layton. You are complaining about a 9 mile run in the snow and you have no idea how lucky you are to be able to run 9 miles in the snow. Who are you running for anyway? You wouldn't be out here on a 9 mile training run if you weren't running the Boston Marathon. And you wouldn't be running the Boston Marathon if it weren't for Leah.

And that's when I started to cry. Only passersby didn't even know I was crying because my face was already covered with snow that had melted and then refrozen on my face. 

Then I came upon a car that had slid off the road at a roundabout and into the snow bank. No one was injured, but the car was definitely stuck. As I fumbled to get my frozen fingers out of the mitten cuffs to help push, three others were already on their way to do so. I watched as I appoached - the car got out and the driver safely drove on his way. 

That's when I thought:

Sweet little Leah helps so many people out of ruts. I don't even know how she does it, but she does. 

The analogies went on and on. I'm not kidding. For the next 4.5 miles I thought of so many circumstances that I had been annoyed about that Leah deals with on a daily basis - my clothing had shifted and I couldn't fix it. Something got in my shoe. I was hungry (she only gets to eat when others can help her). I was tired (her seizure medications make her even more tired!). I was cold (she has horrible circulation). And on and on and on. 

If I hit an icy patch, I thought of Leah. When my nose dripped, I thought of Leah. When my fingers hurt, I thought of Leah. When I felt like I was too tired to run up the hill, I thought of Leah. When a song came on that made me smile, I thought of Leah. When I got a burst of energy, I thought of Leah. And as I turned the corner into my neighborhood, thinking of Leah, I was a mess. A sobbing mess. I got myself under control by the time I reached my house, but my perspective had definitely changed. 

Some days are hard. Some days are really hard. Some are hard mentally. Some physically. Some emotionally. But you would never know it by looking at Leah. She is so happy and easy going and patient and hard working. She helps me out of so many ruts each day. She helps me to find the strength to run up the hills. She gives me bursts of energy and makes me smile. And she is teaching me the value of hard work and patience and happiness.

So yes, running 9 miles (or 27) in a 14 degree blizzard wasn't necessarily easy and it definitely wasn't fun. Rett syndrome isn't easy and it definitely isn't fun. But I have a pretty good coach. And if she can get me through these training runs, I have full confidence that she can get me through whatever Rett syndrome throws our way. 

When I reached my porch, I knocked on the door (with my elbow - my wrist was too frozen), had Ryan take this picture (because today is a day I want to remember) and then immediately hugged my little coach. Snot, tears, frozen fingers and all.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Warning: picture overload. 

We woke up December 25th to a truly white Christmas. A beautiful blanket covered the ground. And then another blanket the following day. Ryan and Leah sledded around the neighborhood Christmas day and we all went out to play - twice - the day after. We sledded, showed kids the art of eating (clean) snow, made snow angels, built snowmen, and caught flakes with our tongues. The kids were mesmerized by the snow plow. And I even went running in it. 

We got a half second smile out of Kate before she realized she hates the snow. 

No seriously, hates it. She much preferred to be held. So we obliged. 

Here's to hoping for more snow and less blah this winter. 

p.s. remember the hat!? it is serving us well!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

I don't really have the words to adequately sum up our 2012 Christmas Day. Magical doesn't quite seem to do the trick. It was, by far, the best Christmas Ryan and I have had in six years (um, that would be Leah's entire life if anyone was counting).

2007 was fine, but still a little tainted by our concerns about her not moving. 2008 was happy because she was crawling, but concerning because she still wasn't walking and was beginning to lose words. If I sum up 2009 I'll probably just end up crying and shouting expletives, so... 2010 was the beginning of our acceptance to our new little Leah. Parents shouldn't have to open their nearly four year olds presents for them. 2011 was quiet and we were, as usual, blessed, but there was no wonder or excitement from Leah.

But 2012. That is a different story. At 8:30, we still hadn't heard Leah stir (Kate had already stirred and been put back to bed). So, we I went to wake her up only to find her sitting up, quietly, in her bed. "Leah!," I said, "I think Santa came!" That's when I realized that I think Leah had forgotten it was actually December 25th. Because immediately after my reminder, she squealed with delight and started to giggle. And those giggles didn't stop for probably three or four hours. Each new present - for her, for Kate, for mom and dad - got a giggle. Breakfast got a giggle. The yule log got a giggle. So did the tree and the stockings and the freshly fallen snow.

Kate went down for a nap about an hour in, so we even got to spend some one-on-one time with Leah. We read new books, wore new clothes, played with new legos and ate new treats. Ryan and Leah went out to sled in the snow and had a great time. We took naps and then played some more. And that night we had dinner with two other couples who we've come to know and love here at Tuck - and they are in love with Leah and Kate (and Kate was enraptured by their dogs). We video chatted and talked on the phone with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, and just felt so blessed.

I'm sure Leah has felt the magic in years past. At least I hope she has. But this year, her body decided to let her show that she felt the magic and that was the greatest gift by far. A Merry Christmas indeed.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The best night before Christmas...

Twas the morning before Christmas when all through the house, 
the littlest creature was stirring (but not quietly, like a mouse). 
So mama wiped the sleep out of her eyes and got up to play
and listened to stories of Jesus' birth to start out her day. 

There was no school at all for the other young lass. 
Though she assuredly would rather have been in class. 
So together we all cooked a rather delicious feast. 
We were all happy to be eating crab instead of roast beast.

That night our resident elf brought back from the north pole
A package for two little girls he did know. 
Both  couldn't wait to see what was inside the box. 
And were excited to find matching jammies (and for mom, matching socks). 

The girls settled down quickly, all snug in their beds, 
While to the kitchen their mama did head. 
To make fresh cinnamon rolls, (her new socks she did wear). 
Daddy played elf and assembled presents with care.

After an hour or two, the elves chores were complete.
They were satisfied with their work and smiled at their feat. 
The stockings they "hung," the tree they did trim, 
The cinnamon rolls were rising way over the brim.

It was a perfect night before what would assuredly be
The best Christmas this little family ever did see. 
They joy they felt for their happiness one couldn't have guessed.
To be celebrating the birth of Christ they definitely felt blessed. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

that's what a new hampshire fall is made of

Well, we made it to December 22nd, which means two things: the world didn't come to an end {shocker} and our second and final fall in New Hampshire is now in the books. Sigh. I've always loved fall, but fall in New Hampshire? You basically get to experience all four seasons in the span of three months. You aren't yet sick of the cold winterish days and you relish the lingering warm ones. You think your kids look oh so cute in their winter gear more than you are tired of putting it on them. The views are breathtaking and the air is still. And there's always yummy food to eat. What's NOT to love about fall in New Hampshire?

It’s cold, crisp mornings and warm afternoons.
Clear starry nights, staring at the moon.
It’s brilliant colors on every single tree.
Yellow, red, orange, purple and yes, still some green.

It’s early morning runs on the neighborhood terrain
So many hills – it’s impossible to refrain.
It’s picking the last berries the bushes produce.
And then filling our tummies with fresh apple juice.

It’s baking inside - some warm pumpkin bread.
And cuddling under multiple layers in bed.
It’s Halloween costumes, parties and parades.
Thanksgiving turkeys and pies that are homemade.

It’s picking pumpkins with our family of four
And stocking up on items for soup at the store.
It’s creating goodies for the holiday season.
Crafts, treats and gifts – there’s no better reason!

It’s two baking classes at King Arthur Flour
Back to school dances until the early morning hour.
It’s walks around Sachem in our new John Deere wheels
The cool breeze on our cheeks – how good it feels!

It’s spending a weekend on the cape with friends,
A half marathon that we all feared just might never end.
It’s making preparations for Hurricane Sandy’s demise
Thankfully we’re okay, no damage to our surprise.

It’s quiet morning walks up to Boston Lot Lake
And devouring a birthday pie – so much better than cake.
It’s chilly trips to the bus stop each weekday morn
A few flakes of snow and some really great rain storms.

It’s flip flops and rain boots both worn the same day.
And watching the wind blow all the beautiful leaves away.
It’s rainbows and brilliant colors in the skies up above.
That’s what a New Hampshire fall is made of.