Superheroes on the Run.

Ali has been running with me since last summer, and she’s shown a surprising amount of proficiency at it, along with enjoying it most of the time (that may be due to the fact that we usually run to the candy store, but no matter. We all run for chocolate, am I right?)

A couple of months ago I got the idea that it would be fun to run a race with her. Maybe she’d like the Color Run – what kid doesn’t want to throw paint everywhere?

Oh yeah – my kid.

“I don’t mind running with you, Mommy, but I don’t really want to get all messy.”

Fair enough.

So the next logical conclusion was to run in the Superhero 5K – it’s part of the Mercedes Marathon Weekend, so we would get to run the day before Chris ran his first marathon. It seemed right – nay, familyish – to all run in the same weekend.

(Except Noah. Who made it quite clear that he had no interest in running with anyone for any reason.)

So we signed up and, since it was a Superhero race, began modifying our Lego Movie Halloween costumes into running clothes.

(Because I did not wear leggings as pants to my Church’s trunk and treat. Nobody wants to see that much trunk to get their treat.)

I also felt a little weird putting makeup on for a race, but WyldStyle is not the type of girl that would leave her hot pink lipstick behind just because she might do a little running.

Plus, those freckles weren’t going to paint themselves.

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The whole family got up early for the race (seriously – we had to wake Ali and Noah up at around seven A.M. – they had no idea people woke up at that time of day), and then Chris and a sleepy Noah dropped us off a block away in the very windy, cold, and flirting-with-rain morning.

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(It was 42 degrees, for those Northerners who would like to mock us.)

We hurried to the Boutwell Auditorium to warm up before the race, where a photographer found us and told us to pose like superheroes245453_185443168_XLarge

Apparently Ali’s superhero needs to pee. Or is a superhero ballerina. Or both.

Within minutes, we heard the call to the starting line. We headed outside and were once again met with the wind. As we jumped in place to stay warm, it began to rain.

Ali looked at me with her giant, frightened eyes and said, “Why is it RAINING, Mommy??

As if there’s a good answer to that question.

Being that I am not enough of a homeschool Mom to go into The Water Cycle three minutes before a race begins, I promised her it would quit soon, prayed that I was right, and got back to my jumping in place.

It turned out that I was indeed right, and the droplets ended soon after. It was still the coldest Ali had ever run in, so there were occasional complaints about breathing in the cold air.

And the frigid breeze.

And the wet roads.

She also wanted to hold my hand while running as much as possible.

But yet, somehow, every time she saw a photographer, she smiled, looked straight at them, and quit holding my hand or looking like she was being tortured with frigidity.

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She’s a natural-born racer.

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Or at least a perfect poser.

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Chris and Noah situated themselves strategically at Railroad Park, where they would see us pass by twice. My Mom met them there to cheer Ali on in her first race.

Although Chris did not go to the trouble of rekindling his role as Lord Business, Noah was absolutely Emmet.

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They finally spotted us, and Ali continued her trend of looking like the happiest person on the race course.

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Like seriously – you can hardly tell that she’s begging me to let her walk right at that moment.

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Noah cheered for us coming and going,

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then immediately left the scene to go slide down his favorite hills.

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Ali and I proceeded onward, walking some and running most, her asking me to count down the hundredths of the miles until the end of the race.

But the last stretch made it all worth it for her – they were watching for bib numbers and called her name from the loudspeaker, then we received our medals and they made a huge deal over her doing so well, and THEN we even got free blue Powerade.

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I’m pretty sure the blue Powerade was the tide turner, and maybe the fact that we were done running.

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But whatever it was, she was thrilled, had forgotten all of her complaints, and informed me that she wanted to do another race in three weeks.

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…and then we went to the coffee shop for Strawberry Cake.

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Because all Superheroes need to be recharged, whether they ran or not.

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That afternoon, I had a mini-parent-panic attack when I realized that we left twelve minutes before the awards ceremony, that Ali’s time would have qualified her to place second in her age group in last year’s race times, and that they did not mail trophies.

If my personal racing newbie status disqualified my daughter from getting a trophy AND hearing her name called out at an awards ceremony, the Parent Guilt would never leave me.

I refreshed the race times page like a stalker as I heaped shame upon myself for not fully reading the race material.

Finally, the results posted.

And it was with a huge amount of relief that I saw my daughter was one place away from getting a trophy.

Ali Race Stats

I heaped huge congratulations onto Ali for her fourth place finish, and onto myself for not robbing my daughter of a trophy.

And all was right in the world.

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Returning to Eufaula.

A couple of weekends ago, we returned to Lakepoint State Park in Eufaula, Alabama, because I tend to get antsy in January. After surviving the holidays and both my children’s birthdays, I find myself desperately needing to leave town.

Plus, for the last 365 days, my kids have begged me at least once a week to return to Eufaula, despite my repeated explanations that it will never snow in Eufaula, ever, ever again.

But I love the fact that our previous trip had been such a magical experience for them – especially considering how it started.

Despite that, though, I toyed with leaving them at home. I hadn’t had a night alone with Chris in a couple of months, and we were desperately needing some quiet time to reconnect.

Step in: amazing grandparent. Mom and I concocted a plan: she and I and the kids would go down Friday morning, then Chris would come Friday after work, she would leave with the kids Saturday early afternoon, and Chris and I would stay until Sunday late afternoon. A win for everyone – family time, vacation for the kids, for Mom, and a date for us.

Friday, unfortunately, had the forecast of rain over the entire state of Alabama. It was just drizzle, though, and there was no chance of it freezing and forcing me to re-learn how to use my defrost. We arrived around lunchtime to a fog-covered, beautiful landscape. The lake was so foggy, in fact, that it actually looked like snow after all.

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The kids immediately forgave Eufaula for the fact that there was no snow and set out to play on the beach.

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Oh wait – that’s a picture of geese, not my children. Close enough.

The effect of the weather was especially creepy at the “Caution Alligators” sign, and the crows added a nice touch, as well.

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The temperature outside was nice, despite the on-and-off drizzle, so we set out on a walk.

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Leading nature walks is what my Mom does best, and it doesn’t matter where we are – she identifies every plant and makes it exciting for the kids.

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In fact, if you can’t have snow, having Gramamma is a great substitute.

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…As well as a breakfast buffet.

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Another reason I had wanted to visit Eufaula again is that last time, due to the snow and ice, we hadn’t been able to go to the actual city of Eufaula – we had just stayed at the state park. I’d never been to Eufaula, which I had heard was a beautiful relic of southern history, and had been featured in the movie “Sweet Home Alabama”. I wanted to see this city for myself, especially since the state had just won a victory against the city to tear up their most historic and beautiful boulevard to four-lane it – I needed to experience it before it changed forever.

(Thanks a lot, Alabama.)

So the next day, we all headed into the city. It was just as I had hoped: I was only in need of a hoop skirt to feel like I’d traveled back 150 years.

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We went to the Shorter Mansion House Museum,

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where a lady with the most fantastic southern accent I’d ever heard (I mean seriously it was straight out of Gone With the Wind – not a trace of “modern southern” in it – she was absolutely an 1800s Southern Belle somehow transported to 2015) gave us a delightful tour.

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The house was paid for with the fortunes of the S.S.S. Tonic, which was basically 5 Hour Energy + 12% alcohol – loved by 1900s housewives everywhere.

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Also, apparently, they kept Rumplestilstken in the attic.

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We then took the kids to George T. Bagby State Park over the line in Georgia, where the Spanish Moss flanked the lake in a most haunting way:

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And drove across the dam, further enhancing the “school day” value of this trip:

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Of course yet another reason I wanted to go back to Eufaula was for the unprecedented fantastic view of sunset and sunrise – both over the beautiful Lake Eufaula.

Neither disappointed.

Sunset…

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And sunrise.

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After Mom and the kids left, Chris and I ran eleven miles together. Eufaula has a beautiful running trail, going over the water and through the town, yet…we seemed to be the first runners that Eufaula had ever seen.

…The only other person we saw on the entire trail was a guy halfheartedly walking his dog.

…I got honked at by two women when we ran through town – the only explanation we could come up with was that it was Sunday and I was wearing leggings and they have Blue Laws against that sort of behavior in small town Alabama.

…Chris got heckled by a lady driving by, headed for the Big H Chicken Buffet.

…And everyone else gave us quizzical looks, long stares, and cocked eyebrows.

But maybe one person in that town saw us and thought, “Huh! Moving ones legs fast for seemingly no reason. That looks fun! Maybe I’ll try that.”

Or maybe they didn’t.

But either way, we were proud to be Eufaula’s pioneer runners.

It’s worth noting that the bridge going over the lake on the running trail (that has never been used except by out-of-town city slickers) was closed.

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We couldn’t for the life of us figure out why – it looked plenty sturdy to us – so we walked across trepidatiously, saying our goodbyes as we did so, but miraculously surviving.

The walking trail is a Rail to Trail project, so there were leftover relics of days gone by, adding charm and character,

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as did my husband.

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We ran past every fantastic and amazing house in town,

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As well as ancient (for Alabama) churches,

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a Carnegie-endowed library that has been in service for over 100 years,

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And charming city squares.

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The trip was perfect and just what I needed to refresh and unwind.

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So if you ever need a break from the usual, I know a great collection of cottages along a lake in South Alabama.

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With or without snow, with or without kids, they’re fairly fantastic.

The Birthday Post.

Today is Ali’s eighth birthday.

And, in my ongoing effort to lazify my life, she has to share it with her brother.

(On here, anyway.)

His birthday is six days before Christmas, and hers is 14 days after Christmas. This unfortunate timing may make me the worst sort of Mom when it comes to actually focusing on my kid’s birthdays, but I do try.

Noah had a small family birthday party for his fourth birthday (Hot Wheels Themed by his request – who knew Party City carried that?),

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And Ali had two dear friends spend the night for her birthday celebration.

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Although I may have fallen down on the job of spectacular Pinterestified birthday blowouts, I think they both had fairly decent years…

In January, we had our #SnowChasers adventure, where we desperately sought snowy adventures, only to actually leave behind the most apocalyptic snow and ice event to ever hit Birmingham.

(Seriously. While we were down in a cozy cottage watching the sunset over the lake in Eufaula, Chris was sleeping in his office for two nights – because he couldn’t leave.

But I’m off track. This post is about the children.

Ali was all in on our adventures,

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Fully embracing the snow,

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…and sand.

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Noah…was not as confident in my vacation planning skills.

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But he managed to have a few moments of happiness where he, also, appreciated the beauty of our journey.

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And he also got to learn how to use a wine glass, because apparently the State Park restaurant has never had children.

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In February, Ali just focused on looking pretty,

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While Noah was forced to do this.

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Eventually, potty-training was indeed achieved – but only because my Mom asked him.

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However, in a show of serious logic issues, his first dentist’s visit didn’t bother him a bit.

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In March, Ali met her new best friend.

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And Noah did he did what he does best – spreading mischief and bringing chaos to his sister’s perfectly aligned world.

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In April, Noah met his hero and celebrity crush.

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And Ali perfected her hipster artist waif look.

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In May, we went to the beach with friends,

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Where much bonding took place.

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And Cheez-its.

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Wave-hopping became a skill to be mastered,

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And everyone did indeed do just that.

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Other happenings included Noah perfecting the art of not listening to his sister,

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And Ali disapproving of her cousin’s idea of fun. Because someone might get hurt, obviously.

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In June, Ali repaid Noah for all of his brotherness,

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Noah studied the physics of liquid,

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And they were both agreeable to my photography attempts.

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In July, Superheroes abounded at our house,

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as the world always needs new heroes.

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There were also many playground trips,

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And Ring Pops.

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In August, Noah managed to get himself into more sticky situations,

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was the model birthday party guest,

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And started preschool.

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And Ali started…Second Grade.

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September was football season,

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And popsicle season.

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In October, our family morphed into The Lego Movie,

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including a Princess Unikitty,

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And Emmet.

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November brought leaf piles and hiking,

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Along with a little bit of exploring.

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Our surroundings seemed to highlight how giant Ali was getting,

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And how tiny Noah still was.

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December was a month full of adventure and intrigue, including an awkward visit with Santa,

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A new excitement about running from Ali,

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(including running her first unofficial 5K),

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And a full appreciation for our wonderful late Alabama Autumn.

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And here they are now, both another year older – eight,

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And four…

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And maybe a tiny bit wiser.

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Maybe.

And now it’s time to set off on twelve months of new adventures.

Happy Birthday, kids! Maybe next year you’ll even get your own posts.

Maybe.