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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Club volleyball

We are entering our first foray into "elite" sports. Nathan tried out for and made a local (St. Louis area) club volleyball team. That's pretty exciting. He has a lot of potential to be a great player. The excitement, however, was quickly followed by stress.

Club volleyball is not only a huge financial commitment (and, honestly, we couldn't do it without help), but it also requires a large time commitment. Practice three times a week in St. Louis, I knew that before signing on. But last night I got an email about athletic training, uniform fittings, etc., all on top of the 2 hour parent meeting I have to be at this week. I'm hopeful that once things are set and they're on their regular schedule I won't have this ball of panic in my chest. I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that the other local boy who made the team has practice at the same time so that they can carpool.

Someone who also did the Tour de Coal ride on Saturday kindly emailed me with some suggestions for my first century. The main thing, of course, is to keep riding and get in at least one ride of a good distance. I'm hoping to manage something on Sunday, but with the way my week is shaping up I can't imagine how I'd get in a weeknight ride...and I'm tooo chicken to ride in the dark before school. (Not to mention the fact that getting up at 5:40 is plenty early for me!!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tour de Coal

Yesterday was the Tour de Coal in Benld, IL. It's a metric century, or 63 miles. Last month, I rode in a "60-mile" ride that turned out to be a 68 mile death march. I had terrible leg cramps from about 25 miles on, largely, I think, because I didn't drink enough. It's pretty easy to stay well hydrated when it's hot outside because you're dying of thirst. Cooler days, while great for riding, make it a little harder to remember to keep drinking.

The Tour de Coal was my warm up for the Ride the Rivers century next month. My first century. Gulp. I was a little apprehensive how it would go after struggling so much last month. I even told the friend I rode with, "I should have sent my century registration before this ride!"

Despite a rainy forecast, we had a really nice day for a ride. The sun was out a lot of the time, and it was fairly cool. The route was advertised as flat to rolling hills with some substantial hills. Pretty accurate. I love the rolling hills. They're a lot of fun. Not so much a fan of the bigger ones, though!! At one point, I went down a pretty steep hill. I've gotten braver than I used to be, but this one made me a little nervous. At the bottom, I thought, "Boy, I'm glad I didn't have to go up that hill!" And then I came around a corner and was facing its evil twin!
One of the nice things about the organized rides is you always find people to talk to. This one was no different. I rode the last 20 or so miles with an older man who passed me. After he passed, I decided I was going to at least keep up with him and so pedalled along behind him. After a while, I pulled alongside me and started chatting. Nice guy, but he managed to unintentionally insult me twice in our time together. First, he told me I was good to ride behind because I'm big. Okaaaayyyy. Then, later, he told me it was good that he came across me because he had been starting to break a sweat!! So...I'm fat AND slow. Haha. I know he didn't mean it that way, but it sure came across that way. If he was someone I was going to hang out with in "real life", I'd have called him on it for sure!!
Overall, I was slower than I'd like to be, but I felt great until the last ten miles or so. Then, we hit a very unwelcome headwind that really slowed us down. That's when I had to start the self-talk: "Only 10 miles...you can ride 10 miles...you've done it before....only 9 more miles...you can ride 9 miles...you've done it before..." And I did, indeed, do it. :)
The rain started about 10 minutes after we got into the truck. Great timing! For us, anyway. I'm sure it was a little disappointing to those attending Benld's fall festival. All in all, it was a good ride. Well marked, nicely spaced SAGs, and a good route. I'll likely be back next year for it.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Casey Kaili

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are never far from my mind. Both my nephew and my brother are serving in the Middle East. Both are on their second tours of duty. That's my nephew above in the picture with his daughter, who is now 5. He's a gunner on a helicopter crew serving in Afghanistan.

At least, he was until Thursday night. On Thursday night, a missile hit the back of his helicopter. The pilot was, thankfully, able to land the helicopter safely, but Casey was seriously injured by shrapnel. The war has been made far more real to our family. We read in the papers all the time about people who are killed and injured, but this person is ours.

He was sent to Germany, where he had six surgeries, and arrived at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., tonight, where he is undergoing yet another surgery on his abdomen. At this point, the tests show that no vital organs were damaged. He has a lot of therapy and healing in front of him, but the outlook is positive. Please pray for him.

Families sacrifice for each other. That's just part of the job. Military families have an even bigger burden to bear. I've watched my niece live though her (single parent) father's year-long deployments and regular absences for trainings. I've watched my nephew's young marriage fall apart during his first deployment. Seen his young daughter live without her daddy. It's hard. You know it going in, but you know it like you know labor pains hurt. The knowledge is intellectual until you're in the middle of it, and then you have a whole new awareness of pain.

And through this ordeal, I've seen my sister-in-law's sacrifice and love for Casey. He's not really my nephew. He's not really her son. He's the baby a friend of hers gave birth to...a friend who wasn't really prepared to have a child. He's the baby that she raised for several years until her friend decided that she was ready to parent. And "ready", here, is a relative term. My sister-in-law has been a constant source of love and support for Casey. She's been the one at his high school events, at his boot camp graduation, and even more...she's been the one to care for and bear with him through the day-to-day stuff of raising a child. Not the "fun" stuff, but the real stuff.

And I've watched as his "real" mother has pushed herself to the forefront at his wedding, and now again as this drama unfolds. And watched as my sister-in-law, out of love and a desire for Casey to be happy, to avoid feeding drama, steps backward. She is the embodiment of the real mother in the story about Solomon's wisdom, the one who is willing to give up her child to avoid him being cut in half. And she'll be the one who is supporting him once the "excitement" is over. And, in the long run as well as the short, she's the one who gains. Because though she didn't give birth to him, she's the one who's had him, in a very real way, for most of his life.