Preparations for Four

My youngest turns four years old tomorrow, and while he and I snuggled tonight I thought back to the first time I saw him through the window of the hospital nursery. He was only hours old, wrapped in a newborn blanket with a cap. I wasn’t allowed to touch him yet, but I knew he was all mine. I quick-sketched his name on a blank sheet of copy paper and added an “I love you,” and the on-duty nurse affixed it to his bed. It would be one full night before I could hold him, but I wanted him to know he was already taken.

Preparations were made tonight to make tomorrow special for Jack, so stay tuned for birthday photos.

“Non-Specific Bacterial Infection”

You might have seen on Twitter/Facebook that the glands in my neck were swollen to the size of golf balls last weekend. It started last Friday, was terrible to the point of not speaking on Saturday, then by Sunday started to shrink. By the time I went back to work on Tuesday, my glands were like jelly beans. Totally manageable. I had no other symptoms than being tired and sneezing every  now and then.

The jelly beans were a little more noticeable by this Friday, and by yesterday morning, one golf ball was back. By noon, I got the worse case of the chills and proceeded to spike a fever. It was 102.3 by the time the nurse took it at the quick-care clinic.

Thinking I had strep throat, I got swabbed and waited. As I sat in the little room waiting for that positive result, I overheard the doctor tell the nurse outside my door that if the strep was negative I should be checked for mono.

My eyes bugged out because I CANNOT HAVE MONO. My life is not set up for mono, so I immediately panicked. Sure enough, she came back in with a negative strep result and took a vile of blood for the mono test. I was no longer shaking because I was fever-cold. I was terrified.

All I knew of mono is that if you have it, you’ll sleep all day. You might have flu-like symptoms, but generally, you’re too much of a zombie to care. As she took a vile of blood, I feared a positive result and ran through a million scenarios of how I’d make it all work.

Fortunately, the mono test was negative, but we aren’t out of the woods yet. The doctor explained that I could be that one in 20 people who have strep or mono and the test simply comes back negative. Therefore, I’m “non-specific.” Clearly I have some sort of infection, but since my symptoms are few, it’s hard to define. I left with a prescription for an antibiotic and a warning that should I not get better I must return in two weeks for another mono test.

Take notice that I’m blogging at 5:30 a.m. I slept a few hours last night but the body aches were too uncomfortable to bear. I have all of today to get better – and work on the book – in the hopes that I’ll be able to go to work tomorrow. God help me if the boys get sick. But thank God my mother arrives on Tuesday.

Hyde Memorial State Park

We had not been camping since 2004, when Jeremy was a mere 18 months old and Jackson wasn’t even a thought yet. And to say we went camping in 2004 is even a stretch. We packed up our things for a week, grabbed the dog and the toddler and drove to Pipestem, West Virginia, a place my parents used to take my sister and I as kids. However, I wasn’t able to relive the nostalgia because thunderstorms rolled in, and after one full day and one long night of raining, we packed up camp and headed to my grandmother’s house. We haven’t camped since.

Mountains above Santa Fe

Hyde Memorial is about seven miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, nestled below a ski resort among the beautiful aspen trees. It isn’t until you head up the mountain that you realize how dense the woods are and how secluded you are from the city, which is exactly what we all needed.

Because it was Jackson’s first camping trip, there were a few concerns I had for him, namely sleeping in a tent, hanging around a fire, general issues of having no fear, etc. Fortunately, the only misfortunes we suffered were the usual – boys not sharing, pushing and tattling, and being Mommy’s shadow. All non-camping related, naturally!

Fire sitting My favorite three boys Playing army guys Sweet brothers May 2010 Throwing rocks

Camping was just what I hoped it would be, minus the golf balls in my throat (that finally shrunk to jelly beans by Day 3), and the drastic drop in overnight temperatures that drove Chuck to the store at 3 a.m. for extra blankets. As an added bonus, I got to blow a bunch of money shop at Whole Foods on Saturday. Overall, the weekend was lovely.

Hyde Campsite

Hank at Hyde Memorial

Jennie Creates

So here is the official link to the official new website: Jennie Creates

Save it in your favorites, as this Xanga site will no longer be updated with new content. I’ll slowly start shutting this thing down, though we all know nothing ever fully goes away on the internet. I’ve had it for six years, so there’s content on here I hate to delete. Enjoy the “archive” for now.

There is only a small fraction of content that is public here. If you’d like to read/view previous posts, even as far back as 2005, please email me and we’ll set you up with a login.


The Beginning of Something

There I go again, right? A new blog, a new site to save on your favorites and remember to check. You can do it, Mom. I know you can. In short, I decided it was time to fork over the cash and buy my own little cubby hole on the internet, to have a place that’s securely and solely mine.

The rules are the same. Updates on the boys, photos of their adorable faces, and the usual glimpses into our life here in Texas. Things seem to be ever-changing, and for this new phase of life, I was ready for a new space.

So here you are. Welcome to Jennie Creates.

Who’s the boss?

Jackson (J2): Eat your dinner, Jeremy.

Jeremy (J1): Jackson, would you please not be the boss of me?

J2: What?

J1: Please don’t tell me what to do.

J2: Stop it.

J1: You stop, Jack. You’re not the boss of me.

J2: Yes I am.

J1: No you’re not.

J2: Eat your dinner, Jeremy.

J1: Stop it.

J2: I don’t want to.

J1: Sigh… Stop it, Jackson!

J2: I not Jackson. I Alice in Wunner-land.

J1: Well you’re not the boss of me, AL-ICE!

J2: Okay.

We all continue to calmly eat, until…

J2: Eat your dinner, Mom.

Me: You’re not the boss of me.


“Jackson’s a vetter-narian, Mom. Cause he eats no meat.”

We just wrapped dinner, which means we also ended tonight’s cooking lesson. Jeremy, entirely on his own, concocted a “dip” in which to dip his chicken tenders (which were marinated in buttermilk, crusted with corn tortilla chips and baked, for your information). In one bowl he mixed melted cheddar cheese, sour cream, bacon bites and Italian-style bread crumbs (really?). Then, “because there’s enough salt in there with the cheese,” he added freshly ground pepper. My little sous chef was proud.

As I dredged the chicken in crushed tortilla chips, Jeremy pondered the predicament of an animal lover like himself eating, ahem, animals.

“Mom, I don’t fink I can eat this chicken,” he says, sorrowful and distraught.

“Why not?”

“Because chicken comes from Chickens and I’m sad that they died to be food.”

Continue reading ““Jackson’s a vetter-narian, Mom. Cause he eats no meat.””

Six Years Old.

According to Jeremy, he’s almost 10, because soon he’ll be seven, then eight and then nine…

“And after nine, I turn ten.”

“What happens when you turn ten?” I ask.

“Then I can do whatever I want.”

This was just one smidgen of our conversation in the last hour as he and I strolled around the neighborhood together after dinner. We have a reoccurring problem every night of Jeremy “not getting his energy out,” or so he calls it, and usually we run him through a series of push ups, sit ups and jumping jacks in the living room. Since the weather was absolutely perfect today (Spring returned!), I asked him to join me on a stroll.

Here is a brief recap of only a few things Jeremy said in the last hour to the best of my knowledge:

“Mom, Demontre is the fastest runner in my class. And Caden. Look, a helicopter! Did you hear that dog? That looks like a real owl. Is it a real owl? It’s like the owl on Harry Potter. I like Harry Potter but I know it’s not real. Magic isn’t real, but what if it WAS real and we could really do magic stuff? I’m a fast runner, see? (he runs to the end of the street) See? I told you I was fast. Are you a fast runner?”

“No, not really…” I say.

“I am. I’m gonna run races like you, but I really want to play football or do karate. My dad’s teaching me karate and so is Jacob, but not my cousin Jacob, my school buddy Jacob. But I wish we had a basement like my cousin Jacob because basements are a lot of fun. I want a house with stairs. See that house? It has stairs. You know how I know that? Because look how tall it is. I know it has stairs. I like our old house in Georgia because it had stairs and a backyard. I miss Georgia. I wasn’t born there though. Look! Bird poop! Why is bird poop white? Dog poop isn’t white. Why does cat poop smell so bad?”

“I don’t know.”

“I know you want a cat and I do too. I got my watch taken away today because I left it in the baff-room, but Mrs. Cortese gave it back to me after school. Did you know that me and Jackson wore the same shirt today? Not my brother Jackson, my school buddy Jackson. He got a shirt at the zoo in Alva-turkey and looks just like this one.”

“Jeremy, your shirt isn’t from the zoo in Albuquerque. It’s from the Great Wolf Lodge.”

“But it looks the same. I love the Great Wolf Lodge. I caught a ball today that almost hit my penis but it didn’t. That would’ve hurt. Mom, can I have snack when we get back? I’m so hungry. Do you hear that dog barking? I bet he’s a big dog. I like that Hank’s a big dog but he doesn’t bite. Jackson bites. Not my school buddy Jackson. My brother Jackson.”

“Yeah, I know,” I answer.

“Can I have a sister?”


“You know what? I can drive when I turn 16.”

“Not unless you have a job.”

“But what if I can’t find a job? I won’t have to work if my wife has a job. I’ll just stay home with my kids and teach them stuff like karate and wrestling. Are we almost home? My legs hurt.”

— curtain —

Of this, I am not a fan.

This new schedule is not desirable. Fortunately, I am the only one complaining. Jackson loves his afternoon early intervention class and both boys like being home by 3:20 to play and run around the house half naked. (Yes, really.) I, on the other hand, feel like I’m short-changing my boss, racing out in the middle of my already short day to chauffeur Jack, then leaving uber-early to pick them up. It is additionally difficult during the weeks I’m on my own. I’m cutting off conversations and grabbing my keys mid-apology, speeding down the highway so I don’t get frowned upon by the gracious teachers. I perpetually arrive after the short bus leaves. This means the door is locked and I get to bang on it until they peek around the corner and I look at them apologetically, saying, “I’m so sorry! I hit every red light! And then I was attacked my the biggest tumbleweed I’ve ever seen and then…”

Something’s gotta give. Because now I’m sitting here in a clean house and all my laundry is done. I could watch TV but that doesn’t satisfy and the boys are off playing in their room together nicely (SHOCKER!). I have all this pent-up energy that I could expend on my work and instead I’m pacing the house straightening picture frames. It isn’t that I want to work until 6 p.m. and come home to a haired house, but this racing around business – then coming to a screeching halt at 3:30 – has to stop.

Really, in the scheme of life, none of this even matters because right now my sister and her husband are at a funeral and people are sick and there’s so many more important and grave circumstances other than my puny scheduling complaints. Yet, while I know “it could always be worse,” I still sit here stirring, wondering and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

If you haven’t heard yet, Jeremy lost his only functioning hearing aid at school yesterday. Many tears and a full search later (by the elementary school custodial staff and a crew of teachers), we are without any hearing aids. When we scrounge up a few thousand dollars, we’ll get them replaced. Honestly, it was only a matter of time.

Conversation with a Six Year Old

Jack is still sick, so that meant Jeremy and I were the lone two getting ready for the day this morning. Taking full advantage of my undivided attention, he began:

Him: What if I frow up at school?

Me: You’re not going to throw up.

Him: But what if I do? What if I cough and get a fever?

Me: Then the school nurse will call me and we’ll come get you.

Him: But my eyes hurt. I fink I’m getting sick.

I feel his forehead, just in case… : No, I think you’re okay today.

Him: I fink I had a heart attack last night.

Me: Another one? Wow.

Him: If Jack is still sick then he needs to go back to the doctor for a shot.

Me: Maybe. We’ll see. Please eat your breakfast.

Him: Mom, I need to read you my book.

Me: You already read it to Dad and it’s packed in your bag. Please eat.

Him: Can I watch Star Wars before school?

Me: We don’t have time. Jeremy, please eat. We have to go in a few minutes.

Him: But Mom, I really fink I’m sick. Feel my forehead again.

Me: I already did. You’re okay today.

Him: I can’t burp.

Me: Keep trying.

Him: I have to fart.

Me: Okay.

(He lets one rip, followed by roaring laughter.)

Him: Did you HEAR THAT?

Me: Um, yes. What do you need to do?

Him: Excuse me. What if I have to do that at school?

Me: Then you excuse yourself to the bathroom and do it privately.

Him: But they’ll hear me.

Me: I doubt it.

Him: Mom?

Me: Yeah?

Him: Can you smell that?

– curtain –


2009 Running Report

Three half marathons notwithstanding, 2009 is ending with a pitiful running record and hope for a better new year. I waved the white flag this month by ending my efforts to run outside in Amarillo. I have not acclimated the way I hoped to, and getting to the gym on those single-mom weeks has become an impossibility. We finally bought a treadmill, so my excuses are now all invalid.

It’s difficult for me to believe, as I sit here after a pathetic three-mile run on the treadmill, that I ran 13.1 miles each in Oklahoma City, Albuquerque and Chicago this year. I do remember, however, suffering through horrible training runs in 30 mph winds, scorching heat, and some of the driest air I’ve ever breathed. Well, no more of that! I much prefer an air conditioned room, a bathroom down the hall and water at my fingertips. This may not be the ideal way to train for races, but running outside in this city is something I just cannot do. I give up.

The races I hope to run in 2010 will be in the spring and fall, in more humid, flatter cities. I can train morning or night, no matter the weather, no matter the wind. And while treadmill training isn’t normally my first preference, it is a must for now. We opted for the warranty, as I plan on logging plenty of miles.

Here’s to a medal-heavy 2010!

Photo Shoot Snafu

Michele (my boss and the editor of the magazine) and I had a photo shoot the other day for an online piece about our office redesign. We were in the goofiest of moods and cracked ourselves up before getting the actual photo we needed.

I had to share.

Here is Michele “asleep” on the job. Obviously, I’m a poor actress since I cannot keep a straight face.

 Michele is asleep on the job

Continue reading “Photo Shoot Snafu”

Trace Bundy

Just wanted to plug a phenomenal acoustic guitar player who gave a brief concert at PBC yesterday morning. He wowed the crowd, including me. Seriously, don’t just listen to the first 10 seconds. Press play and enjoy the whole thing!


Check out more of his music at his website.

Jackson Speaks

For a while it seemed like I’d never be able to say that, type that, or believe that, but I’m here to tell you that this child has found his voice. You would never know that Jackson spent his entire second year on earth in a state of perpetual screaming.

Today, he spent a considerable amount of time saying, “OH MY GOSH!” to everything. OH MY GOSH, a car! OH MY GOSH, a bird! OH MY GOSH, I peed!

He tells me he loves me without prompting and asks where HIS people are all the time (Where’s my Jeremy? Where’s my Hank? Where’s my Uniqua?) He also tells me when he doesn’t like something, when he DOES like something, going as far as to tell me, “Good dinner, Mom.” He says Good Morning and Good Night and all of those cordial things, but also says Please and Thank You and Your Welcome with very little reminding. Just a little while ago he noticed a scab on his leg and said, “OH MY GOSH! What’s WRONG with me?” I told him he had a boo-boo and he looked at me as if he’d been robbed of perfect health. “A BOO-BOO? OH MY GOSH!”


He’s a happy boy and full of words. For the first time EVER in his life, I asked told him to stop talking the other day in the car because he WOULD NOT TAKE A BREATH. I caught myself the instant those words came out of my mouth and felt guilty for asking such a thing. Like I said, there was a time not very long ago when all I wanted to hear were the simple things a toddler says and not the screaming Jack used to communicate. Holy mother of pearl. The screaming was unbearable.

So after I told him to be quiet, he sweetly asked, “Why, Mommy? Why?”

“Oh, nevermind, Jack,” I replied. “What do you want to talk about?”

Things I’ve Heard This Week.

From Jeremy:

– “Mom, if you’re still alive later, you can help me build my restaurant. It’s gonna have a green roof and logs like a cabin and a rainbow door with a blue doorknob. And you can make the turkey on Thanksgiving.”

– “You don’t have to say Dear God, or any-fing like that. You can just say God and start tellin’ him stuff.”

– (In an effort to convince me to cook more pancakes…) “Mom, I’m serious. I’ll eat ALL the pancakes. PINKY SWEAR!”

“Jeremy, you don’t have to pinky swear on everything,” I reply.

He answers, “But how will you know if I’m telling the truth?”

And from Jackson:

– “Pweese, Mommy, I don’t wanna go poopies in da potty. I sit right here.” (on the couch!)


My night will be quite busy as I have several mounds of laundry to tackle and a batch of butter cookies to make for tomorrow’s “Thanksgiving Lunch” at work. I also have a “Thanksgiving Lunch” at Jeremy’s school, so there is many a turkey slice to be enjoyed tomorrow. I’ve been working on an ingredients list for the real Thanksgiving dinner I’ll be making next week and I’m wondering how many new recipes I should try… The Food Network has me curious.

I woke up on the way wrong side of the bed this morning thanks to a very vivid dream I had about my Papaw who passed away at Christmas in 2001. I couldn’t shake the images of him I had in my mind from the dream and couldn’t understand the meaning of it – I was helping him stagger down a flight of stairs, holding him up so he could walk. Papaw is never far from my thoughts, especially at Christmastime, and the dream persisted in my mind throughout the day.

I have no business blogging right now since the washer has stopped and it’s time to switch and reload. The butter is softened and ready to be pounded into cookie dough. It’s 7:45, and as it stands, I don’t foresee bedtime for quite a while.

A hot air balloon ride, a crash landing and a little molestation

Being part of the media has its perks at times and yesterday is an example of that. There are only two days out of the entire year that hot air balloons can lift off from the Palo Duro Canyon – yesterday and tomorrow. Yesterday morning was media day so Michele and I, with the photographer, got up at 4 a.m. to meet the balloon crews at 5:15. We caravanned down to the canyon and after waiting for the winds to subside the balloons started inflating around 6:30 a.m. The photographer was definitely going up, but it was unclear as to whether or not there would be a spot for me. At the last minute, I was invited to a basket.

the glow

Continue reading “A hot air balloon ride, a crash landing and a little molestation”

Jeremy turns 6.

The first thing he asked me after climbing down from the top bunk this morning was, “Do I look bigger today?”

“Yes,” I told him. “You look six.”

He smiled and went to the bathroom (for privacy) to get dressed for school and enjoyed a surprise note from Chuck waiting at the dining room table. I sent cookies to school to share with his class, and according to the daily report, he was sung to three times. We opened gifts after Jack and I got home and went straight to playing while I got a haircut. We had dinner, where he was treated with Sprite (big deal!), and finished the day with his new Star Wars video game from Ethan. He said repeatedly, “This was the best day.”

(We had people over for a barbecue yesterday and decided we’d do the cake thing with them. More people to sing, you know?)


Continue reading “Jeremy turns 6.”

Conversation Overheard

Jeremy: Jackson, say what I say… Video?

Jack: video…

Jeremy: …Killed…

Jack: killed…

Jeremy: …the Radio…

Jack: the radio…

Jeremy: …Star.

Jack: star!

Jeremy: Now say it all together…

You may applaud my parenting skills whenever.


It’s been a rough morning, but at least the stress has been punctuated by the funny things that come out of Jeremy’s mouth.

For example, as I’m furiously scrubbing the white grossness off the shower walls left over by our hard water, Jeremy brings an issue of Glamour magazine to me, pointing to the cover photo of Jessica Simpson, and asks, “Is she on Bravo?” (Ten guesses as to which channel I watch the most.)

Then I lumber to the kitchen to do the dishes, specifically from our breakfast mess. He stands behind me and asks the MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED question from this child’s mouth: “What are we gonna do?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, what are we gonna do today. Just clean?” he asks. Just clean…

“No, we’re going to the gym in a few minutes.”

“But how long are you going to work out?”

“I dunno. An hour. Maybe longer,” I answer, trying to get the yuck out of Jack’s sippy cup straws.

“I think 20 minutes is enough time.”

And finally, he just asked me 1) if Hank is a grown up, 2) why can’t he speak English, and 3) if we can move back to Georgia.

Also on the agenda today is buying menial, UNfun things like paper towels, cocoa powder and pull-ups. It’s only 10:45 and I feel as though the day is going to drag on. I know everything would be different if my attitude was better, but that’s just not how I woke up.

If you could only hear the boys making Hank howl right now

Where are you from?

I hear this at least twice a week. Whether it’s from someone I interviewed, a co-worker at the paper, or the random person who talks to me at the grocery store, I have explained – on a weekly basis – that no, I’m not from here, nor do I know so-and-so, and I have no idea where such-and-such place is. Where am I from? I moved here from east Tennessee. No, that’s not my hometown. I actually don’t have a home, per say. I’ve lived in such-and-such cities, but I’m not really from those places either. Yes, it’s weird to not have the ONE place that I’m FROM, but it’s also WEIRD to have never left the state of Texas. (I keep that last bit to myself, but one of these days, I’ll let loose.)

Nevertheless, I do a lot of explaining myself around here. We’re like moving tourist attractions.

I don’t mind the questions, really, and I even don’t mind talking about my experience (thus far) in the Panhandle. I edit my honesty so I don’t offend, not that I have horrible things to say about Amarillo, but I’m careful not to complain about the wind, the flatness, the poop smell and dryness TOO much. (at least, when I’m talking to an actual person. The blog doesn’t count.)

Take today, for instance. I interviewed my first person for the October cover story, which is about the roots of Amarillo. The gentleman I spoke to is a fifth generation Amarilloan. His great-great grandparents caravanned (horse-and-buggy-style) with 40 other “settlers” in the mid-to-late 1800s from Chickamauga, GA – which happens to be about two miles from where we used to live. As we talked, and as I shared with this man that I just moved from that same area, he said, “Boy, I wish I could ask them why the hell they stopped here. Why didn’t they keep going?” I burst into laughter and said, “I was JUST thinking the same thing!”

Granted, when people ask me what I like most about Amarillo, I answer honestly and say the people. They really are a kind, generous and friendly bunch. Yet, I spent the rest of the afternoon wondering why a group of 40+ stopped here, why they settled in a place that seemed to have nothing to offer but a slew of tumbleweeds and a crap ton of wind. Whatever the reason, I think it’s entirely cool that they stayed. The family whom this man represents built a large chunk of the city, specifically his great-grandmother, who was the first woman in Amarillo to get a loan from the bank to buy land (in 1919). Very cool.

But I digress… I’ll transcribe that interview tonight and then tuck myself in for a long night’s sleep. I’m still trying to recover from two nights ago when I face-planted on the kitchen tiles in the middle of the night. My knee is bruised but seems otherwise all right.

The boys are ASKING for bedtime, as characterized by their wild behavior.


Sometimes all there is left to do is laugh.

So here’s what happened last night, from around 1:15 until 4:20 a.m.

A major thunderstorm woke up both of us out of what seemed to be a heavy sleep. For me to wake in the middle of the night is not unusual, for I have been blessed with the Treadway Insomnia. Chuck, on the other hand, could sleep through circus clowns doing cartwheels down the hallway at midnight. But that’s another blog entry.

There we were, at 1:15 a.m., remarking to one another about how loud the thunder and lightning was. Then – poof – out goes the electricity.

Naturally, Chuck goes back to sleep while I mull over all of the possibilities of the next day. How does one pack lunches with spoiled food from a warm refrigerator? How would one get her car out of the garage if the automatic opener won’t work? How could one hope for a frizz-free hair day without the use of a hair dryer? I toss and turn for the next hour. My impatience and worry grow from lack of electricity to having not received the immunization affidavits from the State yet to nationalized health care to trying to remember what time my interview is today with the manager of the oldest cemetery in town…

Chuck re-wakes around 2 a.m. and I burden him with my thoughts. At this point I can’t decide if he’s truly worried about our lack of electricity or if he’s excusing himself from the bed and, subsequently, my ramblings, but at any rate, he goes to the living room to call the electric company. He returns to bed saying the automated lady on the other end of the line is fully aware of our outage and will have it repaired by 2:42 a.m.

At 2:38, the automated lady calls Chuck’s phone to say the power won’t be restored until 6:34 a.m. This is when I full-on panic. What if Miss Automatic has no clue what she’s talking about and calls back at 6:15 to say it won’t be back on until tomorrow? The secondary reason for my panic was that Chuck was leaving for a trip, and I’m not a girl who can work a generator.

Because neither of us can sleep, he gets up to secure the house. We decide to pull down coolers and pack meat and dairy on ice for as long as we can (survival mode apparently comes with panic). Chuck rigs the generator to the garage door opener so he could pull both vehicles out. (I supervised.) We discuss options for getting out of the house and securing it without electricity, and I wonder how long I could manage my life without electricity. At one point I wandered back to bed, but without the white noise of my humidifier I couldn’t fall asleep. I tossed and turned, mulling over all of my worries and welcoming back that right eyebrow twitch that went away for half a day. I get back up and walk to the garage and scare Chuck half to death with my silent onlooking.

“Geez, you scared me,” he said, putting the generator back in the garage. “I’m gonna go get ice. You want my flashlight?”

Feeling confident, I say, “Nope. My ninja skills help me see in the dark.”

“Okay then. Lock the door behind me. I’ll be right back.” He leaves through the back gate, I lock the side garage door, and walk back into the kitchen. On my way back to the bedroom in total darkness, at 3:14 a.m., I catch the corner of his suitcase – which is lying on the kitchen floor – and fall flat on my face.

Scratch that – I fell flat on my left knee, the same knee that I iced four times Sunday afternoon post-run.

I resist the urge to scream so I don’t wake the boys, but it occurs to me that if the thunder and generator didn’t wake them, my whimpers wouldn’t. So I screamed. And cried. And sent an angry text message with profanity.


He writes back, “Who’s the ninja now?” which completely cracks me up, even though my knee cap is swelling like a marble.

“A ninja, I am not.” I reply.

He had to traipse all over the city for two bags of ice at 3:30 in the morning, and I just WENT FOR IT and opened the freezer so I could get an ice pack for my knee. I positioned myself on the couch with my leg iced and elevated, wondering if this was a sign that I should drop out of the race. Twenty minutes later, Chuck walks in with the ice and two little jugs of milk, because in an emergency, you can never have enough milk.

He inquires about my knee and I lecture him about suitcase placement, and no sooner does the man put the ice in the coolers and lights a candle so we can see each other’s face in the dark living room, that – poof – the electricity comes on.

“You’ve got to be shitting me,” he says.

I burst into side-stitching laughter. It’s 4:10 a.m. We have ice in a cooler, I have a swollen knee, and Chuck’s alarm clock will be going off in an hour. In a situation like this, all you can do it laugh.

“Alright, Ninja,” he scolds me. “I can’t believe this…” and he, too, bursts into laughter.

I went to bed within minutes, once I made sure my computer and laptop worked. (The router is questionable.) I don’t know what happened to Chuck because my humidifier quickly sung me to sleep. I imagine he left on time and in one piece, as I don’t see his suitcase in the middle of the floor anymore.

Trust me, I looked.