Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Summarized in 11 Photos

It was a tough call and I'm sure I left out important events (like getting accepted into our adoption agency--not a great photo for that) but here it is...our 2011 life in 11 pictures.

Wedding and cruise in Florida, January 2011

Record-breaking Snowfall that shut down our town for 3 days, February 2011

Venue Captains for True/False and E's birthday, March 2011

 Spring Break for grown-ups in Chicago, March 2011

 Graduation, May 13, 2011

Kids Club Intern, May-June 2011

 New Puppy--Gabriella Philip, July 2011

Joplin clean-up, August 2011

 Football Season and Mizzou's 100th Homecoming--Fall 2011

DTE!!!!!!!!, November 18, 2011

 St. Jude Half Marathon, Dec 2011

We were blessed beyond measure in 2011. We are thankful for our God, our friends, our family, and our church.

May the Lord bless you in unexpected ways in 2012. Thanks for being a part of our lives!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Of Christmas...

Short recap of Christmas: lots of rest, I was sick, awesome time with family, super great (and surprising gifts).

Long recap? Read on...

It is probably no surprise that I am not taking giant chunks of vacation at this point in my life. Yes, it could be three years before I need to take maternity leave to head to Ethiopia. It could also be shorter. And I can keep my vacay for a full two years. So, we're not planning big trips and we didn't take a ton of time off for the holiday. The time we took was great, though. So great, so relaxing that I don't even have photos. Sad but true. I looked through my phone today and I found one picture of some Ssekos I got for Christmas and two pictures of my dogs. Clearly, photo evidence of Christ's birth was not high on my priority list.

Regardless, relaxation was high on the list and that is exactly what Christmas looked like for me. I picked up a dazzling cold last Tuesday and was home from work Wednesday and half of Thursday. I was the "hey I can't breathe so I can't sleep but I don't have energy to do anything else" sort of sick. Which explains how I watched 21 episodes of "How I Met Your Mother." In. One. Day. Good thing I find it entertaining. And God bless Netflix. I was so thankful to just let it run while I rested.

By Thursday night we took off for my parents' house and I continued to rest, sleep, and do a whole lot of nothing for the next five days. Even though I didn't feel better, there was just something about being with my family that made it better. Even though I didn't feel better. I'll spare you each detail of each day. I really did nothing until Christmas Eve services.

Christmas Eve in my family always means someone in my immediate family is going to musically perform at service. This time, it was both my mom and my brother Pete. We got a double dose-- "Oh Holy Night" and "Mary Did You Know." Now, here's the thing. I love "O Holy Night." And I am a little worn on "Mary Did You Know." But there's something about my cowboy brother with nothing but his voice and his guitar that brought new life to an old standby. It was MOVING. SO. Moving. And of course, the final moments where we all held our candles high and sang "Silent Night" --It's just not Christmas Eve without it. Celebrating the light of the world with our own lights is just amazing. It always will be.

We opened our gifts on Christmas Eve because there are no children in our home. And because my dad is a pastor so we knew he'd be up early for Sunday services. Aside from lots of other cool stuff (I am spoiled), my parents got me a KitchenAid mixer. I was giddy. And when I was finished opening my gifts, I looked down to find one more bag in my pile.

Now you must know E and I were buying ourselves a bed for Christmas. It was already decided. So when he looked at me, told me he'd gotten a little extra cash at work that he held back, and surprised me with a Kindle, it was too much. Too much! I just burst into tears. I was so surprised, overwhelmed, overjoyed, and proud of E. I just lost it. The Kindle is great. The thought was greater.

Christmas day service was lovely as always. I was trying not to get close to anyone so as not to infect them with more than Christmas spirit. Imagine my shock when my dad called Eric and me forward to serve communion. Yeah, I held the cup for the packed house. I just kept thinking "the Lord will provide, no one will get sick." I hope.

Communion always seems to provide interesting sights and this time was no exception. There was a little boy about six years old who came up, took the bread from my dad and looked right at me. He asked "what's in there?" I bent down and told him it was grape juice. He took his tiny index finger, dipped it deep in the chalice, and licked it. Then he ate the bread separately. It was all I could do not to lose it. His family was not as lucky. They were about rolling in the back row.

By Monday, we were full of good things--food. love. I made sugar cookies with my new mixer and immediately realized what a value the stand mixer holds. We decided to "tailgate" for the Mizzou game at home. Dad put up our tailgate tent outside and put the grill underneath. Since it was about 42 degrees, raining, and windy, we let Dad stand there by himself. He grilled while we watched, dry and warm. The game? A win. Not so exciting but we'll take it. The food? Delicious. Seriously. The company? Couldn't be better.

We came back early Tuesday and brought Grandma with us. A word about Grandma. She got a Kindle Fire for Christmas and is officially on Facebook. At 85. If I have half her gumption in my lifetime, I will be a proud woman. And yes, I have watched "The Holiday" twice in three days or I probably wouldn't have used the word gumption.

We're back to the grind but it's nice to know tomorrow's the last day before another long weekend. I really didn't do this week justice but I guess that's the joy. The feelings will never translate to paper. They're internal. And forever wonderful.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Little Man Monday

Hello, Sweet Little Man!

Merry Christmas! I know, I know, Christmas doesn't happen in Ethiopia until Jan 7. For us, though, Christmas was yesterday. We went to Christmas Eve services on Saturday night. Many of your grandparents' friends from church asked us about you--about when we would see your face and know your name. We don't know, of course, but it's lovely that they are already thinking about you. They told us they pray for you and for our family. We couldn't be happier about that. We know some day, you will be in your Christmas best, sitting right down the pew from us. We'll teach you how to hold the candle still during Silent Night so you don't drip wax. I can't wait to hear your little voice since along with the rest of us.

We opened our gifts this year on Christmas Eve and your grandma and Uncle Pete had similar ideas. They both got some fun books for your dad and me. Even though they were our Christmas gifts, I am pretty sure you will get to enjoy them. Here are the books from Grandma and Grandpa:

Aren't they neat? One is an alphabet book of Ethiopian culture. I've read it before and I think we'll enjoy reading it together for years to come. The other is an Ethiopian folk tale. It's a pretty neat story.

Your Uncle Pete took the book thing in a different direction. He got us four of his favorite children's books. If you can't tell, your Uncle Pete is a farmer at heart (but don't remind him he doesn't actually have a farm). He got some great books about tractors and steam shovels but he also picked up Where the Wild Things Are and The Polar Express. I have a feeling you will love them. They are great books full of magic and make believe.  If you ask me, that's the perfect kind.

Your dad got me a surprise "book" too. It's called a kindle. It holds all kinds of books and I can read and read all day. I am reading right now about parenting, in hopes that I might be more prepared for your arrival. I also know, Little Man, you will be surprising in ways I can't even picture or plan for. 

Of course, the presents are nice but we know what the real gift is: our savior. Little Man, I can't wait to share with you about Jesus. This year, on Christmas Eve, we had some friends over and their children put Jesus in the manger to signify his birth. Soon, you will get to put him in the manger, continuing the family tradition. We don't put him in our manger scene until Christmas Eve each year.  He's what we've been waiting all season for. He is the greatest gift of all.

We love you, Little Guy. Whether we wait one or two or three more Christmases before you arrive, you are already here in our hearts.  Merry, Merry Christmas. A day late here and a few days early for you.



Friday, December 23, 2011

The Temporary Pup

I mentioned earlier in the week we had a foster dog. I promised to explain. Here it is:

You may or my not know that E and I love animals. We also just have a heart for people/ dogs/ anything that needs a home. This led to a brief stint with a ferrel cat in our apartment when we were first married. She eventually ran away but we kept her warm one winter and she managed to claw all our furniture. This is not on topic at all--just to say, we hate seeing any creature without a family.

Which is why, when our friends who own a natural pet food store posted on Facebook that a sweet two year old female, white boxer who was deaf needed a temporary home to get over kennel cough, it took less than 24 hours for her to be in our home.  Meet Boo: 

Here is how the conversation went:

Me: (On FB) Oh! She's so sweet!
Friend: (on FB) Do it!
Me: (to hubs via text) Hey, do you want to foster a dog who looks like Gabby? Look at the photo!
Hubs: (via text) When can we pick her up?

Our foster application was approved at 9am on Thursday morning and by noon, E had picked her up, taken her home, and made her comfortable. I mean, look at that face above. Not Mine. The sweet white, dopy one. NOT MINE! The puppy (oh I am so funny!). How could you say no!?

Amazingly, our sweet visitor bought some peace to our house. Since Boo can't hear, she's not much of a barker. She's actually pretty passive in general. So when our seven-month-old monster came in contact with her, Gabby learned some manners. If she attacked Boo (playfully), Gabby just bowed down and played nicely. No barking. No roughing her up. If she got tired, Boo just put her weight on her gently and kept her calm. It was amazing! They became fast friends. Really they were perfect buddies.

Except at night. When Gabby refused to sleep. UGH! 

But, this was all short-lived. Friday morning we got a call asking to go on a meet and greet.  We obliged on Saturday morning.

Here's where I have to admit to you that as I went on a meet and greet, I didn't love Boo's new owner. They weren't horrible but I just didn't get a good vibe. If I got a choice I probably wouldn't have let her go to them. Yet, I didn't get a choice. The shelter said the family could have her and we had to let her go. We got to love her well for the rest of the weekend, knowing the end of the weekend would be the end of our time with her.

On Sunday night, we took pictures. We loved her well. She snuggled in our bed.

And then, on Monday morning, I took Boo back to the shelter for her surgery and new home. And I cried. And tried not to lose it in front of our sweet friend.  We pray her new owner loves her well. We feel lucky we got to show love to her for just a short while. The shelter also told us that we saved a puppy's life that day--aside from helping Boo to get over her sickness, the shelter could not have held one more dog that day. They would have had to lose one. So we feel blessed to have taken care of one who needed a home.

Will we foster again? I don't know. It was one of the sweetest, hardest things we've ever done. And no, I don't think fostering a dog is the same as fostering a baby. Not even close. But foster moms (of real, human babies/ kids/ teenagers), you are officially on my prayer list. May the Lord bless you for loving a child for as long as you get him or her. You truly are serving him selflessly.  I am amazed at what God is doing in you and through you.

We love you, Boo. You will always be a part of our family. We wish you well in your new home.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Little Man Monday

Little Man,

Hello on this fine Monday! Christmas is coming quickly, and as my bloggy friend Katie mentioned, Christmas while waiting for you is a whole different experience. We miss you, even without knowing who you are. Your dad and I went Christmas shopping this weekend and tried to finish our shopping for our family and friends. We couldn't help but get a little something for you while we were at it. So here it is, bud. Your first Christmas present from us:

His name is Teeter because he teeters on the ice. That means he kind of wobbles. He is so soft and cuddly and he looks just darling in your room. We'll keep him safe and warm in there until we get a chance to keep you safe and warm in there. He's just waiting for you, little one. 
I imagine, like Teeter, you will wobble on the ice when you get here. Surprisingly, the temperature in Ethiopia today is only about ten degrees warmer than it is here. We're having an unseasonably warm day. We do get snow and ice, little man, and I plan on putting you in a hat much like Teeter's. I think you'll be beyond cute. It will keep you warm, too, so it's a win-win.
For now, we think about you often and talk about you almost as much. We pray for you and for your birth family. We pray that you are loved and that God holds you when we cannot.

All our love, Little Man!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

1 Month DTE

 Today marks one month of officially "waiting" for our son. It's funny. We've been waiting, in our eyes, for years. Yet, today marks the official one month on the waiting list.  In some ways this month has gone fast--we've kept super busy. We've gotten tons done. Thanksgiving took a week in and of itself. In other ways, it makes me understand how 20-30 more of these waiting segments could really grate on a family. We don't know how long we have. But we do know a month is in the books and we give thanks to the Lord for giving us patience and faith in this time.

Ever since we started, I knew I wanted to do a paper chain to count off the months of our wait. I've actually been waiting for the past week or so, excitedly wanting to make the first link in our chain. And today I got the chance.  Here it is, friends:

Front side: date and how many months it commemorates (this one is in the Christmas tree to reflect the season)

Inside layer: I decided to place a Bible verse on the inside to remind us of the promises in God's word on our wait. So here's our first one, a super favorite of mine.

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."

Yes, we will need to call upon this many times in our wait. I can already tell.

I made it into a chain (kind of lousy chain at this point with only one ring) and put it in Little IC's** room, to commemorate the first month we waited for him.

As God would have it, we "just so happened" to get a gift from some friends today. You can call it a Christmas gift, if you want, but I shall call it our one-month DTE gift. Our awesome small group friend Jenna had been plotting to surprise me with this for a while. The suspense got to her and she told me about it a few weeks ago at a crafting party. To see it was something totally different, though, and at our Christmas dinner tonight, she and her husband presented it to us.

What is it? It is a word cloud, made of all the most-used words on my blog. The bigger the word, the more prominent of a theme it is in my blog writings. How cool!! Jenna also happened to know I needed one more piece of art for the IC's room. Sneaky, Jenna. Very sneaky. E and I couldn't love it more. Here it is in the room:

We may or may not have purchased our own one month DTE/ Christmas gift for the IC this weekend. I'm actually going to save it for tomorrow's post so it can be a surprise for the letter. You know, it is his present. He should get to hear about it first. And yes, I know the IC can't read these letters yet. But it's the principle of the matter.
I am headed to sleep. There are plenty of things to catch up on, but we happen to have a foster puppy (ahh yes, one thing that needs a post) that keeps things lively at night here so I am going to try and get sleep while I can.
Happy one month DTE to us! Here's to many, many (maybe one more many) more.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Little Man Monday

Hey there, Little Man!

Today I saw some cute blue and orange socks and I wanted so badly to get them for you. Since I don't know how big your cute little feet will be, it seems a little illogical to buy you socks. I wonder what your favorite colors will be--will you be a turquoise and orange fan, sticking to the bright, vibrant hues like your mommy? Will you be all about browns and olives like your dad? I have a feeling, at least for a while, you'll let me put you in fun and colorful clothes. I can't wait to shop for you. Just as soon as I know what size you will be, no one will be able to stop me:).

Our church has an advent devotional out and on Sunday, we talked about what kinds of animals might have been in the stable when Jesus was born. Christmas with you is going to be so fun. I can't wait til we can share animal sounds and talk about the amazing stuff that happened when Jesus was born.  We don't put Baby Jesus in our manger at home until Christmas Eve. I look forward to the first time that your chubby little hand gets to hold the delicate, porcelain baby and put him in his crib.  Christmas traditions with family make Christmas even more special. I used to love to lie under the Christmas tree in the morning, looking up at the lights sparkling above me. Little IC, I haven't done that in years, but your first Christmas here (and for as long as you'll let me) I hope we can lie under the tree together, looking up at the twinkling lights and share the message of the bright light that led the wise men to Jesus. Oh, the things you have to learn about Jesus. I don't feel adequate enough to tell you but I have a feeling He'll help me out.

Little man, Dad and I prayed for you just tonight at dinner. We prayed you would be safe and come home to us soon. We prayed for your birth family.  I also often pray God will prepare you for us.  And us for you.  It's a long road we have ahead of us, buddy, but it's the best of roads. The road of family.

I'll talk to you next week, IC. Until then, all my love.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Week After

After a weekend like last weekend, this week was fairly uneventful. I make it a habit to take a week (or sometimes a month) off from training after a race. It allows me mental and physical recovery. And more sleep.  Which I never argue about.  Anyway. we sort of committed on race day that we'd do a full marathon this spring. We'd been kicking it around for months and the high of a personal victory on race day caused me to temporarily lose my sanity and officially agree to running 26.2 miles this April. Because I hate my life, I guess.  E is a great motivator but sometimes he gets a little overzealous. On the ride home all he wanted to talk about was our running plan for the week. In reality, the only running plan I had for this week was running to the grocery store to restock our fridge. With anything I wanted. So I placated him by letting him talk, having no intentions of actually running at all this week.

I did set my alarm on Monday. I even laid out clothes. But I whined and in the end I won. We slept in the extra hour. By Tuesday, I told him my evil plan: we weren't going to run this week. We were going to take a week off. He protested. He tried to motivate, encourage, complain. But I won. He didn't even attempt persuasion by Thursday.

He does have a calm persistence about him, though, which is one of the reasons I married him. That sounds bad. He only had to ask once, ladies, and three months later, we were husband and wife. So the quality is why I married him--not because he literally was persistent. Anywho, he convinced me today we'd go on a run. In his head, it was a 10 mile run. In my head, it was 7. His head won. Which explains why two hours later I was crouched over at Hobby Lobby begging the cashier to just hand me my receipt so my BFF and I could go get water and make my life seem worth living again. OK, that's a little dramatic. The run itself was not so bad. Good, in fact. It was the whole, "oh I will just jump in the shower and run to get some Christmas gifts without thinking about drinking any water" thing that really got me. But I have an understanding friend who did manage to get me water and didn't complain at all when I was all crouching Jess, hidden stomachache at Hobby Lobby. It worked out. I got two frames for grandparent presents at half off.

If you are wondering if I am seriously going to talk about running for this entire post and if you should just skip it because no one cares, I am officially done. Read on, Sister. The rest of the week's events could be summarized quickly: I worked a lot, some people hit my car (see two posts ago) during the first snow, and we did some fun things. Because I am all about words, I will spell out those fun things.

Wednesday night was Family Christmas Celebration night at our church. E and I have volunteered with it for the past three years and it is just a hoot. Our children's ministry staff is so very creative and knows exactly how to tap into the hearts and minds of kids. I can't wait until our little ones can attend these events because they have the amazing capacity to draw kids in, make them feel whimsical and fun, and still drive home the true meaning of Christmas (or Easter, when it's an Easter event obviously). This year was spy themed. So, of course, we dressed in all black. Luckily, we were given the easiest, best job ever: we managed the dessert tables. This meant two awesome things: 1. we got to greet all the families and see the adorable children and their excitement 2. we got first dibs on all the food. Kind of kidding on the second one. But seriously, tons of great desserts there. The kids learned that Jesus came as a spy in enemy territory to save the enemy (that's us folks). Such a cool way to put it and I had more than one family tell me how much their kids loved it and how it may have been their favorite event ever. I'd say that's a win for sure.

Thursday we spent in our favorite Thursday night position: parked in front of the couch to watch Thursday night TV. I made a pretty delicious dinner (if I do say so myself. Am I allowed to even say that?) and then we just chilled til bedtime. Wow. So needed.

Which brings me to yesterday evening. I got off work just a tad bit early and E surprised me at the dry cleaner. That's an odd sentence but it is 100% true. From the dry cleaner, we went to Starbucks, had some coffee and bought my new favorite Christmas mug (which I plan to use all year) and checked movie times. And then we saw a movie I have been waiting to see for approximately a month.  I have been DYING to see it. I have asked every weekend. Take your guesses. Are you ready, people?

It was...


Seriously. I love me some Muppets. We carried in our favorite candies (rulebreakers--I know) and laughed our little heads off for the entire movie. It was adorable!! It was cheesy enough to know it was cheesy and it made fun of itself. Every character you can imagine made an appearance. Plus, there were tons of cameos. I laughed all the way through the credits (where they sang my FAVORITE) Muppet song. I am definitely going to have to buy it.

If you are wondering on the content, I would say it's fairly appropriate. There's some violence--punching to be specific--in a couple of scenes. They make reference at one point to a TV show called "Punch Teacher" and then show a kid punch a teacher. And there are some "fart shoes" which make farting noises in a couple of scenes. All in all though, I would say it's fairly child-appropriate. You might need to talk about why punching isn't a good choice.

So yes, if you had any question as to whether or not we were just big kids at heart, worry no longer. It was just the best date night ever! I would say I'm way past my word limit so I am going to rest up for E's work Christmas party. Enjoy your weekend. Go see the Muppets:).

Monday, December 5, 2011

Little Man Monday

Well Hello Little Man,

We are officially waiting. Waiting. Weeks. Months. Years. And all we have to wait with are our dreams of you, sweet little one.  This weekend, we traveled to Memphis. Your dad and I both ran 13.1 miles. In fact, both of your grandparents did, too. We all are a little crazy, I know, but we love it. We thought of you and wondered who you would hang out with on future trips when we go to Memphis to run for the kids at the hospital. We decided that your Uncle Pete or Uncle Mark probably need to get married so their wives could play with you. We keep hoping...:).

Christmas is coming up. I can't wait to spend Christmas with you and make new traditions and rekindle old ones. I want to have an advent calendar where we mark off the days we wait for Jesus' birth together. I also imagine you and I will make quite a few mean batches of Christmas cookies. I love to bake cookies. I will let you lick the beaters; don't worry about what your dad says. We'll have a blast. We can make sugar cookies and the ones that taste like heath bars, the chocolate peanut butter kisses, and as soon as you have a favorite cookie, we'll make those too.  You can sit on the counter just like your grandma used to let me do. We'll listen to Christmas music together. I wonder what your favorite Christmas song will be.  I have a feeling our first Christmas with you will be like re-experiencing Christmas for the very first time all over again. I want to see it through your eyes--the wonder and the joy. Our time will come soon enough, though it really can't be soon enough for me.

Little man, it's starting to get cold here. We all have to bundle up with big puffy coats and hats and mittens to go outside. I know I don't know what you look like but I can already picture how adorable you will be in your winter coat and hat. Your Aunt M. has promised to make you a cute animal-shaped fleece hat. I've seen so many cute ones lately. Giraffes. Sock Monkeys. Cute puffy balls on top of knit hats. I have a feeling you'll have several to choose from. I picture your cute, chubby cheeks smooshed somewhere in between the big coat and the warm hat and I can't help but smile. It's enough to make me swoon for my little man.

I am off to bed, IC, to pray that you will be with us soon and that we won't spend too many more Christmases without you. Whether you know it or not, we've got all kids of love for you. We'll see you soon.  In the eternal sense, anyway.


Mom (and Dad)

Runnin Maniacs

Well, I didn't plan to have time to write this post until after work today. And then I got ready, headed to work, had to pull over on the side of the road due to snow and sliding. And got hit. Twice. By two different cars. So, I am at home, happily working on plenty of work things. And here's a little update about the weekend.

Last weekend was the event we had been training for for months: the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon. While it was the third time for E, Dad, and I to run it (and the second time to raise money for the hospital) it was Mom's first go at it. Each year, it becomes a bigger deal for our family. This year we spent a little longer in Memphis than in years past. We also had more team members and raised more money than ever before. Here, our journey in pictures:

In the Suburban, taking the lovely journey toward Memphis. Yes, my mom is on Facebook. We also watched "Friends with Benefits." I do not recommend watching this, let alone with your parents. It's pretty vile for the first hour. You've been warned.

Once we got checked in, our first stop was the expo. We got our race numbers, turned in the last of our fundraising money, and did a little shopping. This photo is from the Heroes area (the fundraising runners). How can you see that sweet face and not want to raise money? Impossible, I say.

Some of the St. Jude staff from the expo. They were excited to be photographed. They were also super nice.

One of E's purchases. I can't really say no to shopping when it benefits the kids. Who am I kidding--I rarely say no to shopping:)

Doing a little pre-dinner running strategy discussion. Dad, E, and Ken are seriously strategizing (or something)

I did a little hydrating. With wine. Then I drank water for the rest of the night. Promise!

My ticket to the Heroes pasta party. The best, most inspiring, emotionally exhausting dinner I attend each year.

The Mizzou Maniacs in full force. We're only missing E. We managed to meet our team goal of $4,000. I also met my goal of $600. Woo hoo. All for the kids! The dinner included speeches from the president of the fundraising portion of St. Jude, Hal Higdon (one of racing's biggest coaching names), and a family whose son is currently in treatment at St. Jude. What an amazing night. This was promptly followed by sleep. Or it would have been. But it took hours to get sheets for our pull out. So, basically, sleep followed as promptly as we got our sheets. 

Up and at em early! Hubs shows off his excitement for the run. And his new shirt:).

Here I am at the start of the race. Perfect weather!! It started at about 45 degrees. I'm excited. And a little nervous.

I would love to show you pictures of me running. Unfortunately, I was busy running. You can check the website and put my name in if you really want to see me in action. Instead, here we are at the finish. We had our fastest race time ever: 1:52:00, beating last year's time by 8 1/2 minutes. Yes, E ran with me the whole time. He's awesome like that.

Mom and Dad finished together as well. Nice job, you two!! They finished faster than expected and were still madly in love at the end. I'd call it a win.

Naturally, the first thing you want to do when you finish a run is replenish and rehydrate. Two-in-one with a nice glass of Coors Light. But really, the metabolism is going so fast at that point, it's mostly just a big glass of carbs. 

I don't even like beer. But seriously, friends, the carbs. I tell you. The Carbs.  In total before we left the arena I had a banana, a piece of pizza, a cup of soup, a gogurt, beer, a chocolate milk, and a water. And then we went to eat lunch:).

I saw these two ladies and their tutus and had to take a picture. My challenge to my mom was to wear a similar costume next year. She promises to comply.

Once we got cleaned up, we headed to our favorite celebration spot: Rendezvous. If you have not been to BBQ at Rendezvous, you need to go. No really. Go now. And ask for Robert Jr.'s section. He's awesome. And he's Justin Timberlake's favorite so how could you go wrong? He promised me I was just as good as Justin Timberlake. I thanked him for his honesty.

Mom and I celebrated her first half marathon with a miniature bottle of champagne. Because there is no better place to drink champagne than a BBQ spot with checkered table cloth.

A half slab of ribs. Dry rub. So. Very. Tasty. MMmmmmmmm. I dream about them all year and get them every December!!

When we finished, we ran around and looked at the sights in Memphis. Like the Christmas tree at the Peabody Hotel. 

And the Peabody ducks. If you haven't heard about the Peabody ducks, you can read about them here.

Famous Beale Street. We run down it but don't have time to see much. So we took a closer look.

Here's the Hard Rock.

And some Hard Rockin' Men. Or Hard Running ones.

When it was all over, we took the first train back home. And by train I mean Suburban. It's such a hard weekend emotionally. I high fived lots of kids. And cried at the pictures of those we're fighting for. And those we're fighting in memory of, whose fight is over. I met amazing people and heard the stories of kids wise and brave beyond their years. I can't wait to do it again next year. Next year's personal goal: $750. All of it for an amazing organization.