A Mom, Two Daughters, and a German Go to Chicago, Part 2

Day 2…
As I said, this was to be a quick trip, so we crammed a lot in on Wednesday. We were up early, and hailed a cab to go to the Field Museum. Cab drivers are in abundance in Chicago, as one could imagine, and we didn’t know what we were going to get until we were well on our way. When we arrived Tuesday night and grabbed a cab at Union Station, the driver wore earbuds and didn’t speak at all. The driver who took us to the museum was a plethora of interesting facts. He described the sights as we drove along. I liked him!

The last time I was at the Field Museum was when I was in high school and my sister took me; I was bored. I hoped that as an adult, and as a teacher, I would have a greater appreciation for all the museum had to offer. I knew that Addison would like it as she enjoys history. We began in the animal section. Every species of bird, fish, mammal, etc is represented. At first we were fascinated, but soon became bored by looking at animals. The Egyptian display, especially the mummies, held our interest. The Native American section was also intriguing, Addison and I spent some time in Native American museums in Alaska, so we were particularly interested.

Even if one has no interest in history, just the building is incredible. It is massive, well-kept, and simply beautiful. Add to that the backdrop of Lake Michigan, and one is in for a memorable experience.

And speaking of memorable, we walked along the lake to Navy Pier (a little over a mile) when we finished at the museum. The girls weren’t thrilled about this, but I was not going to keep paying for cabs when we were capable of walking. Besides, when better way to really experience and appreciate the city but on foot? We walked along with the gorgeous skyline on our left, and the crystal-blue lake on our right. Yes, it was cold, but the sun was shining and the day was beautiful.

We had lunch at Navy Pier (along with about 50 small children), browsed the shops, and then walked (the girls are loving me by now) back to Michigan Avenue. We spent a couple hours shopping (more browsing than shopping since most of the stores are expensive), and then it was time to get ready for our big night out.

After dinner at Cheesecake Factory, it was time for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat! My girls and I love musicals; Bethany and Addison have always wanted to go to a ‘real’ Broadway show. And this particular musical was the one I saw in high school when the band went to New York. Just walking in the theater district was a treat for us small-town girls. And the musical? Wow. The Cadillac Theater was breathtaking, and the show was outstanding. It couldn’t have been better. Wait…it could have been better had the three women behind us not been obnoxious. They were not too bad during the show, until the end. Apparently they memorized the lyrics and then felt the need to sing along! Seriously. I can understand singing along at a concert, but at a Broadway musical? I certainly didn’t pay to hear three drunk ladies’ rendition of the finale. Other than that, the evening with the girls was perfect. It’s a good thing…things were about to fall apart.

Day 3…

Thursday morning. It was time to head back to reality…and a bus. We hailed our final cab, and arrived at the bus stop 30 minutes early. And waited. It was freezing and dreary, but our wait was not to be long, until the man who loads luggage announced that our 9:30 leave time had been moved to 11:00. Shit. We are on a street corner in Chicago with a lot of not-so-happy travelers, and didn’t know what to do. One of the reasons the Megabus is cheap is that they don’t have a terminal; everything is done online, so there aren’t even people to answer questions. They don’t give you a phone number to call because then they’d actually have to answer questions and explain their shortcomings. The luggage loader knew nothing. We went into the Dunkin Donuts across from the bus stop, sat on our suitcases, ate donuts, and waited; at 10:45 we went back to the stop. The temperature was dropping. And the luggage guy had another announcement. The time would now be noon. To say we were annoyed would be a massive understatement. The day before we loved Chicago, loved the diversity of people, loved the hustle and bustle of the big city. On Thursday morning, we hated Chicago, were sick of people, and found the impatience of drivers and constant honking of horns terribly annoying; we longed for our cozy, quiet, country home. And warmth. We really wanted warmth.

We went into Union Station and sat on our bags. Some young man was going around asking people for 62 cents. He was trying to get it from 100 people so he’d have $62 to pay for train fare. It was not the day to ask. Another girl came up begging for money. I really try to be compassionate, but these were young, able-bodied people. I wish I knew their stories so I could understand. As it was, I really wanted to tell them to get jobs.

The 9:30 bus finally arrived at about 1:00. Three and a half hours late. We managed to get seats together, and were finally headed home. The Megabus employees were impatient with passengers who had been standing in the cold for four hours. The first half of the drive wasn’t bad, but by the last half, I was really sick of loud people, and of young people who have no respect for others. Our area might be full of people who use poor grammar, but we are (overall) respectful of one another when we speak. Many of the people we were around on the bus threw the F word and every other swear word around with no regard for anyone, including small children. I am not a prude, but that just drove me crazy. And then there were the people who talked on phones so loudly the whole bus was in on their conversations; we needed off that bus! It was the ride from hell. Finally, we arrived in Louisville; I sprinted off that damn Megabus. We gathered our bags, and the prayed – really hard – that Bethany’s car would be where we left it. Thankfully, it was, and the tires weren’t flattened and the windows were in tact.

We kept telling each other it was a adventure. When one of us was ready to lose it, one of us would make a joke. Bethany had minor meltdowns, especially when she was sitting in Union Station putting socks on, and some woman yelled at her. We won’t soon forget this ‘adventure’. Would I do it again? The trip up wasn’t that bad. The trip home was ridiculous. The lack of communication was uncalled for. Bethany talked to a lady in Louisville who had been standing on a corner waiting for four hours, and Megabus had not contacted them at all. The thing is, if you are trying to return home, you have no place to go, and are at their mercy. Since our return trip fee was refunded, round trip for four was $40. You get what you pay for. I prefer to fly. Right now, nope, I could not depend on Megabus. Chicago, I still love.

Spring Break Chicago Trip is in the books. Next year I think ill spring clean.

A Mom, Two Daughters, and a German Go To Chicago…

…on a bus. The Megabus. This seemed like a great idea: big bus picks the four of us up in Louisville, drives us to Chicago, and deposits us right downtown. And all of this (four people, round trip) cost only $80. Heck, I couldn’t get gas for that price, let alone parking in Chicago. So, here we are, on a bus headed to the Windy City, with a wide variety of strangers.

Our bus was scheduled to leave Louisville at 2:30. We arrived 45 minutes early – I ALWAYS arrive early. It was cold and windy, but we wanted to make one more potty stop, so we wandered around downtown in the blustery wind. We were supposed to be at the corner (there is no bus station; you meet at a street corner in the designated city) at 2:15. We were there on time, but there was no bus. Now one thing I’ll admit is that I like promptness. Actually, I expect it. I was also a little paranoid that there was no bus. I had booked online, paid online, and talked to no one. The double-decker bus arrived at 2:40. Thank goodness there was actually a bus!

Because the bus had been traveling all day, there were several passengers aboard, so we are all separated. I am seated by a young couple, and the girls are somewhere behind me. Thankfully, there is wifi on the bus, and I brought my IPad.

Two hours or so later…
While most passengers are sleeping or quietly reading, the guy across from me has decided to play irritating videos on his phone, and he has no headphones. I, on the other hand, have earbuds. I can still hear his noise over my music. Four more hours. Our seats face each other, so I can’t even make my normal ‘you’re getting on my nerves’ face. In the past 30 seconds, I’ve heard the F word, N word, and a variety of other offensive words. Perhaps I’ll blast my Jesus music.

Later yet…
So now, the guy across from me keeps telling me about murders in Chicago. Thanks, Dude! Just what we need to hear on our way to that city. He continued enlightening Addie and me about the dangers lurking just outside of the downtown area, going so far as to tell us that before he moved to Atlanta, he had to pack an AK47. Sure. We do that in Perry County, too.

And still later…
We arrived, grabbed a cab, got checked in, and found our room. The hotel is beautiful, and only a block off of Michigan Avenue. Bethany was excited to see that we’re only a block from Bloomingdale’s – as if we could afford anything there! We arrived on a bus. ‘Nough said. We found our way – in 25 degree weather – to Giordano’s Pizza. I can easily say it was the best pizza I have had. It was a good experience, and we shared our stories about the bus trip. It was good for us to be around different people; it’ll make us appreciate who eye are and what we have.

We saw several homeless people huddled on street corners. As we were returning to our posh hotel, bellies full of pizza, complaining about the cold, it was heart wrenching to see these people who would be out there all night…and the next night…and the next. I wonder what their stories are.

It is late; I am tired; I must sign off.

Drumroll, please…

I know – I just blogged last night, and I usually don’t blog twice in one week. However, I finally made a decision, and I want to share what gave me the kick in the butt I needed.

After posting my whiny blog about being uncertain about my ability to complete the Derby Mini, I received a text from a friend. I have known Katie for many years; I kept up with her success as she ran cross country in high school, and then received a scholarship to run at Belmont. We have been friends with her family for a long time, so I won’t forget the day that we received the news that Katie had cancer. We were in Virginia Beach visiting my step-daughter, and Katie’s dad called my husband to tell him that Katie had been diagnosed with Hodgkins disease. Katie fought the disease and won; and then she fought it again – and won again. Despite joining the ‘survivor’ list, the disease and treatments took a toll on her young body. Katie’s lungs have scar tissue, which hinders her breathing during strenuous activity. Long story short – at this time, she can’t run. She is now a junior high science teacher, and she coaches cross country and track. While she is involved in running, she can’t get out there and do what she loves. 

So, last night I received this text from Katie:  Run the Derby! I would give up lots to be able to run it, even if it was an 11:00 pace! Do it!

That’s all it took. I had been complaining because I might have to walk a little, or I might be slower than I was in the past. I have no reason to whine. I can run, and I am going to run for Katie. I am going to tattoo her name on my arm (Just kidding! Permanent marker will do!), and when the race gets tough – which it will – I will look at my arm, think about the battle Katie won, and I will be her lungs and legs. I will never be half the runner Katie was in college, but that’s okay. I am who I am, which is a middle-aged nana who loves running.

Incidentally, Katie will be home that day with her four-day-old baby!

This morning (before I could chicken out), I registered. And since it cost $75, I’m not backin’ out! I had planned to run five miles after school, and because the forecast was for sunny skies and 60 degrees, I was really excited about the run. It wasn’t sunny, and it wasn’t 60, but it was a great run. I don’t know if it was because I was now officially training, but I ran better than I have for months. I wasn’t worried about my pace, but at the one mile mark the little lady in my ear said I had run it in 9:49. My pace felt good, so I just kept it up. I ended with an average pace of 9:29, and miles four and five were 9:16 and 9:18 – smokin’! It was one of those runs that when I finish I just want to cheer for myself. People give me strange looks when I do that.

Though my time was good for me, there was this group of fast runners out at the same time. They happen to be my friends, Jennifer, Kelly, and Tomi Jo, and I am oh, so envious. I saw them take off, and wished I could keep up with them. As I was flying down the street, I came up with this analogy: I am a senior on the freshman team, and those three are varsity. I want to be on varsity, but know I just don’t have the ability (or young legs) that they have. Seriously, they just blew past me when I thought I was running fast!  

When I arrived at our humble cabin in the woods, there was a box outside. My new running shoes had arrived! Maybe those beautiful shoes will help me make varsity! Or not. But I’ll look good! 

A Tough Decision

I made a deal with myself. If I could run nine miles this past weekend, I would sign up for the Derby Mini. I ran nine miles. I haven’t signed up. I just keep going back and forth and back and forth. I eeked out nine miles without walking, but at a slow pace; I averaged 11-minute miles. Last year – presurgery, pre-physical therapy – Jackie and I ran ten miles at a 9:20 pace while training. That’s super-fast for me. The last half marathon I completed, I ran a 9:09 pace – that’s smokin’ fast for this grandma! Saturday as I ran, I kept telling myself that the pace didn’t matter; I just wanted to see if I could run nine miles. I told myself (obviously, I spend far too much time in conversation with myself) that should I choose to run Derby, time would not matter. It would be awesome just to finish.

It wasn’t long ago that the idea of ever being able to run 13 miles again seemed as impossible as winning the lottery. I don’t play the lottery. Saturday, it seemed within reach. My run was difficult; I still don’t have my endurance built back up. At the four mile mark I said some not-so-nice words because I couldn’t believe I had only run four miles, and still had five to go. And then I got to five, and thought Only four more to go! I thought about the cheering crowds lining the streets of Louisville, and the drunk frat boys who always stand outside their house yelling as we run past. I thought about the little kids holding their sweaty hands out for high-fives as we trot by. I thought about my husband waiting for me at the finish line, and the pride that would be in his eyes as I cross the line (he truly is an amazing source of support for me). I LOVE the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon! There are 18,000 runners, tons of crowd support, and a beautiful course. I want to be there, and I don’t want to be on the sidelines. But (here I go) what will happen when I run through Churchill Downs? Will I have heart palpitations as I remember that point last year when my knee finally gave up? Will I cry? Would it be really cool to run that particular race because I haven’t run a race since last year’s Derby mini, and I returned to that same race? Is my knee really ready or will I just reinjure it by pushing too far too soon?


I have an appointment with my gyno this week (TMI?), and I will ask for his opinion. While that might sound odd, the reason I go to this particular doctor is that he is a marathoner and triathlete. No, he isn’t an orthopedic doctor, but I trust his opinion. He helped me through the half I ran after my hysterectomy. Funny story…last year at my appointment, I was sitting on that lovely table in my stylish paper towel gown, and we started talking about the IronMan that Gary and I had gone to watch. Doc whips out his Iphone and shows me pictures of him in that IronMan! Awkward. After talking with him, and attempting a 10-miler this weekend, I will decide. I will have to because they have a cap on the race, and if I wait too long, I won’t get in. And then I’ll be pissed.

In other news, Tabata Bootcamp is becoming quite the popular class! Breanne is starting her next session, and had to add another group because there wasn’t enough room in one class. My crazy-early-morning class also filled up, so I will also be adding another group. I will be teaching two classes before school on Mondays and Thursdays, and one class on Wednesdays. I see some early bedtimes in my near future. I am really enjoying having my evenings free to be a mom. After school today I was able to get groceries and fix dinner before the girls came home from tennis practice. While that might be typical in your home, it isn’t in mine. And I don’t have to feel guilty about not working out because I did Tabata and ran two miles before school today. Who knows? Perhaps I can do a better job at keeping up with this blog.

These will make me faster!

These will make me faster!

By next week, I will post my decision. Just in case I register, I ordered some super-cool new Asics! Although I had planned to get the Cumulus, the Asics 2000 come in a neon yellow that I just love, so that’s what I bought. I bet they make me really fast! When my daughters will little, any time they got new shoes, they would take off running and swear that the shoes made them fast. Now, who wants to run ten miles with me Saturday? And feel free to comment if you have an opinion on the Derby.

Random Running and other Gobbledygook

It’s one of those nights that I feel the need to write, but don’t have anything very specific to write about, so prepare to read random crap in no particular order (feel free to click the little X in the upper right-hand corner). This evening I was determined that once I got home, I was going to plop on the couch with a blanket, and be lazy. I haven’t had any down time recently, and I am just tired. I am trying to get through the book Divergent (which I really like) so I can pass it along to Addison, and can’t even seem to find time to read for any length of time. I typically read before I go to sleep; the problem is I read only a few pages before my eyes become heavy and the light too bright. Once I finish this blog, I will read. I will keep my eyes open. I think I can…I think I can…


Why am I so tired, you wonder? Like most of you, my life is non-stop. Because this is my first year teaching eighth grade, I have to put more hours in to develop curriculum and research materials, and because I teach language arts, grading can take ten to twelve hours out of a weekend. I try to get to school by 7:00, and leave by 4:00.  Sometimes I get out earlier and go for a run, and sometimes I stay later trying to stay ahead of the game.  Add to that my job at the gym, a husband, four dogs, two 17 year olds (who are in numerous extracurriculars), and an attempt to increase my running mileage, and time is limited. I do not complain (openly – I complain in my head all the time) because this is the life I choose, and I am so very blessed to have a job I love, to spend my day with kids who inspire me, to have a family that needs me and wants me around, and to have a home to care for.

Running…I am still on the fence about running the Kentucky Derby Half next month. I ran eight miles Saturday, and it went surprisingly well. During the run I went through a plethora of emotions. At several different points, I thought This is so stupid! I can’t possibly run 13.1 miles! My knee still hurts. Even after surgery, the stupid thing still hurts. And then a mile later my thoughts would evolve to Maybe. Just maybe I CAN run 13.1. I don’t feel that bad.  Another mile and I would begin to panic about that particular race because last year I had to drop out. Would I hyperventilate in Churchill Downs? That’s where my knee gave up and the pain became too much to handle. Do I really want to face that possibility again? Honestly, no. If the timing were different, I would try the Flying Pig Half in Cincinnati in May, but we have a wedding that weekend. The only spring half that works with our crazy schedule is Louisville.



So, this weekend I will try to run nine miles. If that goes well, I might sign up. Might. Might not. I have to work on getting it through my rather thick head that it is okay to run slower, and to be grateful to finish. I have completed four half marathons, and my times were 2:13, 2:09, 2:04, and 1:59:43. I am very unlikely to ever break two hours again; this I know. Can I be satisfied with 2:20 or 2:30? I am going to have to be. I plan to run with a friend, and I want to be able to just enjoy the time with her – to enjoy HER moment. I think my soul needs it. Stay tuned…

Zumba…I haven’t taught Zumba in two weeks, and it’s okay. I miss the people who were in the classes, but am enjoying more freedom in my evenings. I have taught Monday and Tuesday evenings for the last two school years, and am grateful now for time to run, fix dinner, and do what I choose.  I never dreamed that I would enjoy teaching early morning classes, but am now teaching three 5:30 am classes a week, and I love it! I get up early, teach Tabata or HIIT, shower at the gym, and am still at school by 7:00. It’s a great way to begin the day. I am so very grateful for the people who get up early to come to the classes; they make my job fun!

I bought Oreos today. That’s a confession. Benita and I were at Walmart, and there was this big, beautiful display of Oreos. I have said before that though I am great at working out regularly, I am not so great at eating healthy foods. And I am awful at passing up temptations. Just call me Eve. Only my tree would have had chocolate, not apples, and I wouldn’t have shared with Adam. Thus far, I have only eaten five Oreos, but the night is still young, and I haven’t poured a glass of milk yet. I saw that someone had posted some broccoli recipe on Facebook, and there was a caption that said ‘This recipe should be illegal’. Broccoli? Seriously? There is no flippin’ way broccoli can be that good. It could possibly be tolerable and puke-proof, but that’s it. Oreos and milk…that’s good.


Here’s a list of the upcoming events for the next two weeks (I know you don’t care, but I’m on a roll, so I am going with it):

  • Baby shower tomorrow for a dear couple who are adopting a baby boy in a couple of weeks.
  • Addison is in the high school play this weekend, and she and her best guy friend are playing twins. I cannot wait to see her acting debut!
  • Going to the in-laws Saturday, and will not only get to see them, I will get to see my totally gorgeous, sweet, intelligent step-daughter, whom I adore.
  • Next week is the last week before spring break. After state testing this week, we are going to do some FUN writing assignments.
  • Going to Chicago – my very favorite city – with Bethany, Addison, and Benita over spring break. Taking a bus (a bit apprehensive about that) .  I have a surprise for the girls, but they might read this, so you all have to wait.
  • And then?  Tennis season starts! I love tennis season. All of the girls have played, and I so enjoy watching them. This year our German daughter will also be playing, so I will be trotting back and forth between courts.
  • BIG wedding in May. Cathy Gelarden and I not only owned a business together, we also raised six girls together. Her oldest, Baylie, is getting married, and my oldest, Morgan, is in the wedding. My two year old grandson, Layne, is also in the wedding, which should be…interesting? It will be a great weekend!

I told you it would be random, and if you made it this far, you are probably wondering why you bothered. There is nothing enlightening, entertaining, or awe-inspiring. I’m just a regular nana with a regular life doing the regular old things. It’s time to get the Oreos and milk now! Have a fantastic Wednesday night.