Category Archives: Briony


I recently stumbled across one of my most favorite pieces of running writing.  When I was in high school, there was a bit of a running fad that favored fewer miles.  Of course, this was the pre-internet age, but in my teens I was pretty convinced that I was “burned out” and other such nonsense when my times slowed down in 10th / 11th grade.  (Looking back, puberty and (healthy) weight gain had a lot more to do with it.)  In any case, it wasn’t until my junior year of college that I stumbled upon a community of running enthusiasts on the internet on the CoolRunning forums and became convinced of the opposite, that as far as running goes, more is almost always better.  The author of the piece above ran many, many miles and enjoyed the payoff.

The weather was warm enough to run in shorts and short-sleeves yesterday for the first time in, oh, six months?  Longer.  Who knows.  It was wonderful.  I took advantage and ran 8.5 miles, my longest run since before B was born.  It felt great, though I’m sore today.  I need to drag myself out for a shorter run this morning sometime soon before the rain starts again.

We’ve settled on a school for L.  We’re going to send her to a French immersion Kindergarten.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I wish we were living slightly farther North, in a better school district, but for a wide variety of reasons the cards did not fall that way.  We’ll re-evaluate the long-term path after next year.  You might wonder, why French?  Well, there are two French immersion schools near us and none in any other language.  I think there is a value in knowing any second language, regardless of what it is.  I also think that L is precocious and this will ensure she is challenged.  Hopefully, she won’t be TOO challenged.  Both B and I feel ambivalent about the whole thing, in contrast to how we feel about the preschool, which we love.  But we’ll give it a try.


L graduated from level 1 of swim lessons.  It’s been a long road, and I’m frankly just delighted.  It seems like a small thing, and she was beginning to tower over the other kids in her class.  It had just become obvious to me that swimming would be a challenge for her.  However, I have derived an enormous amount of joy from swimming and being in the water through the years, from just playing at the pool in the summer to swim team to being confident in deep water at Smith Mountain Lake and pool parties and on and on.  As an adult, I really feel water aerobics and my weekly swim were incredibly important to my mental and physical health, and I met one of my best friends in Seattle at water aerobics class.  Anyway, I’ve watched L gradually gain confidence and comfort in the water, and I see a clear path towards her becoming a confident swimmer over the next several years.  (A path paved with bribes and sparkly swimsuits, no doubt.)  Now, B is getting old enough to start swim lessons!

I myself have been swimming once a week.  I absolutely detest getting in the pool and swimming that first half lap.  It’s just torture!  After that, however, it’s quite pleasurable.  I always preferred breaststroke, but I’ve been swimming freestyle with an eye towards triathlon, and I’ve become so much more comfortable with freestyle.  I even tried some flip turns at my last session.  They went . . . ok.  I ended up with a nose full of water during one of them, and I basically found them exhausting.  But it was kind of fun to realize I can still do one, more or less.

My parents are visiting, and H is out of town.  My loyal readers will know that the latter has caused me a great deal of anxiety in past.  Today, I’m doing fine.  A friend told me to try and celebrate the small achievements, and so I’m going to celebrate how today has gone.  We’ll deal with tomorrow tomorrow.

kids and books

I’ve just started reading James and the Giant Peach to L, and we are both tremendously excited about it.  I think we were still in our old house when I first read her Little House on the Prairie, so she was just 2.  Since then, we’ve enjoyed reading a fair few chapter books with pictures – LHOTP twice, On the Banks of Plum Creek twice, some Galaxy Zack books, and a few of the Frozen books.  (Frozen is a very big thing around here lately, but more on that later.)  We still read lots of little kids books as well, and she enjoys listening to the books I read to B, too.

We tried Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last year, but she just wasn’t really ready for it.  She’s older now, though, and JATGP has more pictures than Charlie.  James is illustrated by Quentin Blake, unlike Charlie.  We’ve only read the first three chapters, and I’m delighted with reading it already.  I did have to gloss of James’ parents getting eaten by an angry rhino.  Eek!

Meanwhile, B has mostly graduated from board books and is starting to enjoy simple children’s books.  She loves all the Jane Cabrera books, and Good Night, Good Night Construction Site is a new favorite.  We’re also reading Where the Wild Things Are, Chicken Soup with Rice, Ferdinand, Madeline, and Blue on Blue.  How I love Madeline!  Some of the old classics are just unbeatable.

why won’t my child fatten up?

B had her 15 month appointment today.  She has fallen to “Less than 3%” in weight.  In other words, she’s fallen off the curve.  It’s so frustrating.  I am still nursing her morning and night.  In addition, I give her as much milk as she is willing to drink.  Five times a day, she gets as much solids as she will eat – bread, peanut butter, jam, cheese, turkey, and fruits and veggies.  I’m not sure what else to do.  What I don’t understand is how some babies can weigh literally twice as much as my little chubster at this age.  I mean, she’s 18 pounds.  What do other parents do that I’m not doing?  Our meals last an hour or more, so it’s not like I’m rushing her.  It’s possible that our nanny is not being as proactive, and I’ll talk to her, but I doubt that’s the problem.  I know I was a skinny kid, but there’s skinny, and there’s “less than 3%.”

Maybe I’ll just start feeding her straight ice cream, morning, noon and night.

In addition, Bri is neither walking nor standing voluntarily.  She can stand but chooses not to.  Whether she could take a step, I have no idea.  In any case, it’s not like I can dismiss the weight thing because she’s doing so well in all other areas.  The idea that being half-starved is slowing her development is horrifying to me.

She seems like a happy child, and she does not usually act hungry.  What the heck?

In other news, we got our Christmas tree this weekend.  We cut down a beautiful Norman fir at a local tree farm.  Everything went swimmingly until we got home and couldn’t get the darn thing to stand up straight.  It’s still super tippy and I can’t figure out why.  We’ve been getting trees for 7 or 8 years now, and we’ve never had any problem standing them up.  It’s always been effortless.  I’m not sure what’s different this year.

independence day

B stood up unaided for a couple of seconds yesterday.  I could hardly believe it.  It may have been the cutest thing I have ever seen.  The poor thing had an eventful day which started by falling off my bed.  We have the crib sidecarred, and she basically has to climb over me in order to fall.  Normally, I wake up when she does, but she had some kind of allergy attack going on the night before and woke up a bunch of times, so I guess I was unusually tired.  We are lowering the crib today (so she’ll have to climb out of it).  Fortunately, she seems none the worse for the wear.

It is hard not to compare the kids.  Doing so does a disservice to both of them, I think.  They are so different, however, it’s hard not to.  For example, L stood up unaided for the first time at something like 13 months, maybe 14.  She was certainly more than a year old.  We had walked to the mailbox together, her holding my hand, and I couldn’t get the mail without letting go of her hand – so I did.  She stood for several seconds before realizing that she wasn’t holding on to anything at which point she started crying her eyes out.  From then on, she kept a death grip on my hand to prevent it from happening again.  I don’t remember when she first stood by choice – 15 months, maybe?  This continues to be L’s general approach to life.  I feel like I have to push her to step outside her comfort zone, which is quite limited.  I think this is going to present a lot of challenges for both of us.

(Making cupcakes)

B, on the other hand, does not seem to worry about or mind falling.  Yesterday, she was crawling on me, standing up holding onto my legs (I was on my side), and watching the festivities at our neighborhood fourth of July celebration.  She just let go, stood for a couple seconds, and then plopped down on her bum.  She was not the least bit phased about the whole thing.   She is growing up so fast!

On a side note, the fourth made me love our new neighborhood more than ever.  You may recall that our old neighborhood more or less turns into a war zone on the fourth.  It is quite unbelievable and unpleasant.  Last year we stayed at a hotel which we both agree was pretty much the best decision ever, given that I was seven months pregnant and not feeling great.  This year, we walked to our local park (less than a mile) and enjoyed music and the playground and just hanging out.  We didn’t stay for fireworks since they don’t start until 10 around here, but after putting the kids to bed, H and I were able to watch them from our guestroom window.  We could only see the top half, but they were quite beautiful.  They were not really any bigger than the ones neighborhood kids set off at our old place, but they were over the course of half an hour, not from 9 pm until 1 am, and I wasn’t worried about some tweenager setting fire to our house or themselves.