Friday, October 17, 2014


The Chicago Marathon to be exact.  It finally came.  Lots of training and finally the day came to see what our bodies could withstand.  We headed down on saturday morning on the train to meet up with our teammates.  The team consisted of Jarad Bingham (Ryan's closest friend from his Nashville days, and an officiant of our wedding), Jarad's dad Terry, and Billy McMillin (Jarad's sister's husband).  Our fifth team member, Nadia Burke, had to cancel because her doctor told her she couldn't fly due to some health issues.  And it would have been a very long bike ride from San Francisco.

So the Bingham family played a pretty huge role in filling out the team.  They brought their families along for the event and all stayed at a hotel not far from our's.  So we left our bags in their room and headed over to McCormick place to pick up our race packets and bib numbers.  That place was huge, but there were so many runners coming and going they easily filled the whole place up.  Jarad picked up a new pair of running shoes.

We headed back and got checked into our place.  Then met up with Jarad and Ellen (the other officiant at our wedding!) and their kids Abram, Obed, and Bella.  We went for deep dish pizza at Pizzeria Due.  Totally awesome, but the kids were all so tired out they were passing out at the table.

Sunday morning was the big day.  I got up at 5:30 although he only slept a couple hours anyway from being nervous.  I walked over to Jarad's hotel room under a beautiful moon and clear skies.  Pretty cold, but not terrible.  Terry and Jarad and I walked over to the race start line as the sun was coming up.  So many runners!  the sidewalks were just packed full.  No cars to speak of, but more people than you can imagine.  Security was pretty tight, so you had to go through metal detectors and a bag check.

Once inside, we collected ourselves for a short prayer to remember who we were running for.  All of the WMer's who need a cure and Terry's grandson Judah who is suffering with a brain tumor and chemotherapy (and only two years old).

Here we are:

We split up and headed to our starting corrals.  That was a long wait.  I was in the last corral because i didn't plan to run very well.  So I stood there with teeth chattering as the sun came up for 30 minutes.  Then when the race started, it was another 30 minutes just to get across the start line.  Did I mention it was a lot of people?  45,000 people actually.  Whoa!  But once the race was going, it was amazing.  This is in the first mile:

We started in Grant park and headed north.  There were so many people cheering along the way.  It was like the whole city was giving me a big hug the whole time.  So many people cheering, for hours, for complete strangers.  I couldn't believe how many people would come out to stand in the cold and cheer.  It was really an amazing feeling to know there are so many great people out there in the world.

Here are some of my short cheerleaders (Jarad's kids) all in there Waldenstrom's Runners shirts:

I made it to mile 3 in pretty good shape and got some high fives from Don Brown and Dave and Cathy Perrin.  Thanks for coming out guys!  Seeing familiar faces in the crowd was so special.  All of the cheering strangers was nice, but seeing people you know was amazing.  And they had on my shirts!

I didn't really know how I would do, my goal was mostly to run until i couldn't run, then walk until I couldn't walk.  I did manage to actually run until mile 6 which surprised me.  I walked a little, then got back into running.  Up in Lakeview my coworker Lauren was there with some of her friends.  Great to see them, i really needed some help at that point to keep going.  They got a quick pic of me.

Then the course turned south back to the city.  I went back and forth between running and walking but managed to keep going.  Then at mile 11 were Don and the Perrins again!  This time I needed hugs and got them.

This whole time I had been looking for my family and I finally found them at mile 12.  That was the best cheering of the whole race!  High fives and hugs from Arthur and Gridley.  That definitely got some pep back in my step, although I really wasn't sure how much more I could give.

Here is Arthur giving high fives to people.  I tell you what, in this race if you hold out your hand, someone is going to slap it.  So many high fives along the way.  It really helps out the runners to get random high fives.

From there I made it another mile to mile 13 but had to give up.  My spells of walking were much longer than my spells of running.  And the walking parts actually weren't any better than running.  So rather than completely tear myself apart, I went over to the sidewalk and sat in the sun for a little while.  I headed back to the hotel to meet up with my family.  I stopped into a Starbucks and they gave me my coffee half price.

Here's an awesome picture of Jarad!!  He doesn't look tired at all.

The rest of my team did amazingly well.  Billy fully intended to finish the race and did so in 3:29:29.  Jarad (running in brand new shoes which I thought was a terrible idea) finished in 3:42:57.  Amazing!  he wasn't even sure he would finish at all.  And also had two big beers and deep dish pizza the night before.  Running books be damned, pizza and beer will power you through anything!  Terry finished too in 5:07:44.  He was the most experienced of the runners, but also the oldest.  He surprised himself and said he had "a God day".  No pain or soreness, just kept running and running until he crossed the finish line.  He even went to the field museum with his grandkids afterward  What a guy!  Here's Billy:

That night we all got back together at one of my all time favorite restaurants, Quartinos.  Team photo!

Gridley was tired from a big day at the race too.
I'm not sure what the final fundraising total ended up being.  Last time we checked it was over $12,000!  But it might be even higher now.  That's huge!  I'd call it a success.  Thank you everyone who donated!  We had over 75 individual donors which is great.  And many many thanks to Peter and Lisa at IWMF for helping to make it all happen.  They kept up the website and managed donations, I couldn't have done it without them.  Totally a team effort.

I got this email from the race organizers.  They had people with cameras all around the course and then a computer figures out who you are by your bib number.  These are pictures of me looking EXTREMELY tired.  not sure it they actually think I will buy these photos.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Proud Parents

Wow!  I have to start this story off with some background.  For the last two years at all of Arthur's preschool choral events, he sat in his chair and did not utter a word.  Nothing.  the guy is not a fan of being in the spotlight.

So this weekend, we were looking for something to do and Krista noticed that Ella Jenkins was performing at the Conservatory.  We were both like, whoa, we can't miss that.  Ella Jenkins is a very accomplished performer of children's songs.  She does a lot with songs from all over the world to introduce kids to different cultures.  She's amazing.  And she's from Chicago!  Anyway, we went to see her.  Turns out she is 90!  wow.  Anyway, she was doing her performance with lots of call and response with the kids.  Then she says, who can count to ten in spanish?  and a couple of kids went up and worked through it with her.  Then, before I can even notice, Arthur is out of his seat and walking up to stand next to her.  He takes the microphone and stands there counting to ten!  What!  I didn't even suggest it, he just popped up there and did it.  What was even better was at the end the kids went up to say goodbye to Ella, and Arthur said "Me Gusta" and "Gracias".  Her eyes went wide!  I guess that Spanish class is working out.  Color me proud papa.
 Here is Gridley enjoying the tube slide at the conservatory.  she did it once or twice kind of slowly, then it was off to the races.

 Here we are back at Willowbrook.  We wanted to show Grandma Diane our new brick.

 Arthur picked up some caterpillars.  Pretty fun!
 Gridley really likes this house.  She stayed in there for quite some time.  Teddy Bear got to see all of Willowbrook.  He was very impressed.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

two weeks of birthdays

So Arthur turned Five.  He told me he feels like a five year old now.  we celebrated first with a visit from Grandpa and Grandma Karen.  Grandpa always knows what kind of toy to bring.  This year it was a green Hess truck that had a lot of flashing lights and some loud noises.

 Arthur took his grandparents to the Planetarium.  Here we are after scoring some super cheap awesome parking in our super secret spot across from Soldier Field.
 Just outside the planetarium is a great little beach where the kids got to have some run around time.
We had a nice weekend with the grandparents.  Arthur got to practice his cake eating skills on some little cakes from our local bakery.  Mostly we just spent a lot of time around the house playing.  Gridley is in super cute mode now that she has so many words.  It was like cute blast off around here.

Then for the next weekend, Grandma Diane came to visit.  She was delayed 36 hours though by that control center sabotage incident.  that kind of stunk.  Here is arthur and gridley helping to make Arthur's cake.  He wanted a rocket ship cake, so Krista made it happen.

 Pretty great, huh?
We did the same thing we always do for Arthur's birthday.  We rented a pavillion and invited all of his friends for a big play date.  Pizza, apple cider, fruit, beer and lots of fresh air.  There's Laura in purple looking pretty good after having a baby just a week ago.  Judah came to the party too!
 Wow, there were a whole lot of presents.  we have piles of new plasticy things at our house now.

Great party as usual.  Lots of games of Sharks and Minnows, as well as The Planets (the kids run around Dad who is the sun).  Also my favorite, duck duck goose.  We had a lot of fun with that one.  Turns out if you get caught you have to sit in the middle, which is called the Cookie Jar.

In other news, the Orioles won the American League East, so Dad is super pumped up for some playoffs games.  I even bought myself a fancy new Orioles shirt.  Go Birds!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I hate it when I let the blog go for two weeks.  So much catching up!

We went to the West LaGrange Art Festival.  Great weather, and we always find some art to bring home with us.  this time the kids made some pretty decent art themselves that we'll be hanging up in the house.

 Check out the awesome shirts we made for the marathon!  Chad Holland designed them and Jarad had them all printed up.  We didn't have one Gridley-sized, so she had to wear it as a dress.  They went over really well at the group picnic.  we sold about half of them.

 So one of my all time bestest friends was in town this weekend.  Joe Shelby.  he flew in from Georgia attend Riot Fest with me.  Riot fest is a three day music festival focusing on heavy metal and punk rock.  it also tends to focus on bands that have been around for a really long time.  So we got to see GWAR on their 30th anniversary.  Still spraying fake blood at the crowd after all these years.  While we were at the show (which was rainy, cold and windy), Krista built a fort with the kids.

 The next night we had a block party.  After it settled down a little, Joe and I headed inside to play guitars.  What a wonderful night.  I haven't felt that good in years.  Arthur was playing with us a little on mandolin.
 Krista went to Wisconsin for a couple nights to help the EPA do some field sampling.  here she is standing in a stream.
 Here we are at Riot Fest.  That was just the camera's flash making us look bright and cheerful.  Actually it was dark, rainy, cold, and windy at that point.  I was actually shivering.  Still a lot of fun though.  Spending two days with Joe was really great.  Everyone had a great time.

Friday, September 5, 2014

 I think these are all out of order.  Still struggling with computers after all these years.  Here is Gridley showing off her skills of feeding herself.  Getting pretty good with utensils.
 Here we are at the Field Museum.  They have a really great kids area in the basement.  The stroller Gridley is sitting in was a huge hit.  i bought it a few years ago thinking an umbrella stroller would be handy.  then we never used it, mostly because Arthur was so huge.  Anyway, we pulled it out of storage for the museum trip.  It seemed cool because Gridley loved it so much she wouldn't get out of it.  Then she learned how to push it.  But the wheels are terrible, so pushing it is really hard.  Anyway, this lead to some serious meltdowns for her.  Like, laying on the ground flailing around.  Then Arthur wanted to push it, and that turned into a super crazy crying meltdown.  Just a huge mess.  The stroller is headed for the garbage at this point.
 Arthur as a bat
 When asked to have is picture taken with any object, this is now how he does it.  head upside down.
 At the Arboretum.  So buggy.  we had a million mosquito bites.  Super bad.  but we ran into some friends we haven't seen in a while, so that was great.

 Arthur is back in school.  New room and one new teacher.  some old pals from last year.
 This is Gridley trying to roll down the only hill in our town.  It is the dirt piled up against our historic water tower.
 Gridley's new favorite lovey is a little bear she got at Ikea with her nanny.
 Here is Arthur at school with his buddy Trip.