Saturday, March 14, 2015

From a mountain top to a race report down under.

This morning I woke up to a kangaroo outside my room. In Australia. Last week in Vail, Brian skied
off a ‘jump’ and chipped a bone off his shoulder joint. The week before, at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center in CA, I spent an hour riding my bike at 6.9mph up a mountain called Honey Springs Road. On the days in between there were trips to Indiana, Texas and 2 awesome days spent at our Dare2tri one day clinic and our Dare2tri elite team camp.

You could say the past 3 weeks have been a bit busy… And as I’m sitting here on the plane back from Australia, I am doing my best to stay calm, as it’s been 6 days too long since I’ve held sweet Dallas and I miss my boys. Go plane go.

And now a recap:

In early February, Dallas took his first flight to my parents place in South Carolina. It’s funny traveling with an infant because they are so strict about everything on the plane, but they let your child just lay cross your lap. In SC, he finally got to meet his cousins for the first time and was showered with constant attention. Now more than ever, I wish we lived closer so cousins could grow up together and do what cousins do.

The next week was out to San Diego for a week at the Olympic Training Center and a cycling specific Paratriathlon camp. I was hesitant to go because it was 4 nights away from home and that seemed like a lifetime. 
Not to mention that I wasn’t in top shape and I didn’t want to hold the group back with my slow cycling times. I talked with Brian and he both encouraged me and reminded me that he and Dallas were behind me on the dreams of Rio and that we were all in this together. So, I boarded the plane with a few tears off for a few days away from my family for some good training. I hope that as Dallas gets older he sees me with these big dreams and makes some of his own. When the time comes, I'll be his biggest cheerleader. But for now I'm lucky to have Brian and Dallas behind me as I pursue mine.

The camp turned out to be amazing and I got to ride
outside for the first time since last June. There
were tough rides, time trials, amazing coaching and I got to spend some quality time with some of my Team USA teammates that I missed last year. I came back home confident that I was one step closer to where I needed to be with my training and that eventually, I would get there.

The next week was a second flight for Dallas, this
time out to Vail, CO for the amazing week with the Vail Veterans Program a yearly highlight for Brian and I. If you are a frequent blog reader of mine, you’ll remember that last year in Vail we got the call that our house was on fire and most of our belongings were gone. Like it did then, the program put things in perspective and reminded us how much we have to be thankful for. It’s
remarkable to see newly injured veterans all out on the bunny hill the first day and then seeing them at the top of the mountain by the end of the week. I never cease to be inspired.

There was some extra excitement this year when Brian went off a jump he probably shouldn’t have jumped off of.  I mean, Brian has skills and all, but this ‘jump’ was more like a small cliff. I saw him in the air, I saw his skis cross and saw the aftermath of him, his skis and poles, as he tumbled down the hill. Not a pretty sight and even less pretty when we got the xray and saw
that he had chipped part of his glenoid bone. The jury is still out if there is any muscle damage and we are hoping there is no need for surgery. On an equally exciting note, while waiting for Brian’s xrays in the ER, Dallas rolled over for the first time. Apparently he knew we needed a pick me up and the exam table just felt right…

My friend and fellow wounded vet, Dawn, brought her 11 month old out to Vail and he and Dallas got to hang out. Here Dawn and I were, having met 10 years ago in the halls of Walter Reed, and we were back in Vail, with our kids, skiing down the mountain together. In a few years we’ll be out on the slopes with our sons, teaching them to ski too. We also got to hang with Boston marathon bombing survivors Patrick and Jessica and their service
dog Rescue, who Jake did his best to un- train. And the always great Cheryl Jensen, Dan Riley and Dave Rozelle. It is always was a week to remember.

And that brings me to now, my flight home from Australia where I just competed in my first triathlon in 9 months and another step back on the road to Rio. As a quick reminder, making the Paralympic team takes a few things. First, you have to earn points by getting into specific ITU races and doing well. The better you do, the more points you get. But in order to get into these specific races, you have to have a certain amount of points and a world ranking that will get you on the start list. Yes, it’s confusing.
One of the first races of the season was ITU Sunshine Coast right outside of Brisbane and I needed to race well and earn some points so I
could get into other races this year. It was going to be a ‘quick’ trip to Australia, and the thought of being away from home for 6 whole nights was not ideal. There were 7 Team USA athletes that were racing and 4 of us were from Dare2tri. My good friend and fellow Tri2 athlete, Hailey, was among the group along with Levi and Tom from Dare2tri.
We got to Australia with a few days to spare before the race. Along with getting adjusted to the weather, the time and getting some workouts in, we made a trip to the Australian zoo and got to check a few things off the bucket list. Hold a koala, check! Take the #worldsbestselfie with a kangaroo, check! Act like a complete tourist, check!
We also found the worlds best coffee shop and spent many hours there with our flat whites and long blacks chatting with the locals. If you are ever in Sunshine Coast go to the Bean there done that espresso bar. You won’t be disappointed.

The race brought competitors from around the world and our Tri2 division had 5 women in it. Myself, Hailey, Kim from Canada and a girl from Japan and Spain. We had never raced against the girls from Japan and Spain and were anxious to see what they could do.
As the race neared, I started to get a little nervous. It had been 9 months since my last triathlon,
I only had 9 weeks of training since
having Dallas and I wanted to prove to myself that I was still in the game. I went into the race with the goal of being on the podium and a reach goal of being within 5% of the first place finisher. By doing both of those, I would earn points and be one step closer to being on the national team and additional funding for my races. But most of all, I was excited to get back out on the race course, to wear the USA uniform and to race for the love of the sport.

 A quick race report:

The horn went off at 9:10 and our group was off. I finished the swim in 2nd behind Japan and headed out to 5 laps on the bike course. Spain passed me on the last lap and I went into 3 laps of the run in 3rd place.  Hailey finished the bike and came back from behind running down all 3 of us to take first. It was a hot day, both my quad and calf were on fire an on the last lap I was still
behind Japan and Spain. A half mile from the finish I caught Japan. I was honing in on Spain and ended up finishing only 18 seconds behind her. I like to think I would have had her with another lap but I was spent. To the point that I couldn’t even sprint to the finish. I crossed the finish completely exhausted and unable to take another step forward.
I was helped into a chair, given some water and relished in the moment of being back. I. was. Back. And I was completely thrilled with my 3rd place finish, which is not something you’ll often hear me say. But after missing most of last year, having a 3.5 month old and training for 9 short weeks, I was pretty dang proud of myself. A 3rd place finish AND within 5% of Hailey’s time,
both my goals had been met and I was thrilled. Hailey and I gave each other high fives and hugs, both being equally proud of each other and our race. We will be great competitors for each other this season, but off the race course, we are great friends and that friendship always comes first.
It was the closest the Tri2 women had ever been
with Japan, Spain and I finishing within a minute of each other. Other Tri2 women that weren’t there, will just add to the great competition. The road to Rio is going to be an exciting one and I’m happy to say I’m back in the mix. I learned a lot from my first race back and what I need to work on and I can only get faster from here. It’s gonna be a challenging, fun year, proudly wearing the USA uniform with hopes of Rio. As my good friend Patty put it, it’s the #mommyroad2rio and it’s a good road to be on. Oh, and I got bit by a bull ant sitting in the grass after the race. That hurt.

When I get home tomorrow (or today? I have no clue what day it is) things get to slow down. I have some travel
 planned but nothing like it’s been. Brian has his bachelor party next weekend,because if I forgot to mention with all this other stuff, WE ARE GETTING MARRIED IN MAY! So wedding plans are in full swing.

My next race is in May in Monterrey, Mexico the 
weekend before the wedding and I’m happy to have 6 solid weeks of training before then. My days will be comprised of just that, swimming, biking and running, and spending time with my boys. 

Speaking of my boys, Dallas is more and more handsome everyday. For real. I think even when he naps, he gets cuter as he sleeps. He’s grown out of his 3 month clothes and with his long legs, he’s in the 6 month clothes. He sleeps through the night in his crib, he rolls over, he loves sucking his middle fingers and is on the verge of a giggle. I think I’ll melt when that happens. Like, actually melt.
Jake is still learning to love his little brother but we like to think he’s warming up to him. Well, maybe. And I am so fortunate that Brian is such an amazing dad and that I have them both to go home to after being away. Not only that, but that they believe in me enough to let me go chase my dreams.
As I often say, I am a lucky girl.

So there you are. The life of a girl on the #mommyroad2rio. Until next time,


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

#RoadtoRio #WithaBaby

Last time I wrote I was sitting next to my 8 day old sweet boy. Today, I'm sitting next to my 7 week old sweet boy. Seriously, someone stop the clock.
Remarkably, Dallas is still alive and thriving, it's almost like Brian and I know what we are doing. Well, kind of.

It's been a bit of a learning curve. After all the company left, I found myself home for full days with Dallas and Jake while Brian was back at work. The strangest feeling where the days go by so fast, yet they go by so slow. Where there is so much to do, yet nothing to do. It was as if Dallas was doing his own little triathlon of eat, sleep and poop with some pretty impressive transition times. If the weather was warm enough, we would get out for walks around the neighborhood and if I was real adventurous I would bundle of Dallas, get Jake ready and head out for some errands. The feeling of accomplishment after I made it to the the post office, Walgreens AND the dog park was pretty amazing. Oh, how things have changed!

We have so much love for our sweet Dallas. I can be holding him in the most awkward position with both arms asleep yet I find myself not wanting to move. Instead of getting up and having breakfast, I make sure that he is dressed, fed and happy before I make my way to the kitchen. For those that know me, that is love right there. I find myself awake at the smallest of sounds in the night and just stare at him in amazement of how handsome he is. I look over at Brian, holding Dallas with Jake at his feet and marvel at how those are my boys. I've laughed as Brian takes him and  dances around the room, I've cried with Dallas as he cries wishing I could do more to soothe him. I've become that mom that thinks the whole world wants to see every picture of her son and I have to hold back from posting multiple pictures on my social media sites every day.  I've witnessed Jake inching closer and closer to him, not quite in love with him yet, but maybe learning to love. Maybe. I've felt my heart fill when he hits the smallest of milestones yet ache knowing that these times are going to go too fast. His half a smile that makes us melt, his wonderment as he sees the world, his cute little whimpers. There is so. much. love.

On Christmas Day I gave myself a present by attempting my first run since July. Like I imagined, it was slow, I was so sore the next day I could barely walk, but I was running! My feet on the pavement, the wind in my face, it was glorious. I promised myself that I wouldn't get discouraged at my slow progress and I have stayed true to that promise. It's been about 3 weeks and I've been back on the bike, back in the pool and on the treadmill. Progress is slow, but progress is progress and little by little, I will get back to where i want to be. I've never been so determined and am motivated more than ever. The dream is Rio in 2016, the Paralympic Games where I can once again represent our country in the sport of Paratriathlon on the worlds biggest athletic stage. 

 To get there will take a few things. First, I have to get back into shape. Second, I have to compete at a number of races this year which will earn me points and those points add up to an international ranking of all the athletes in my disability class. The higher the ranking, the better the chance. Unfortunately for me, many of these races are out of the country and are not close. For example, in March I will travel to Australia for a race and will try and get there and back as quick as I can. A quick trip to Australia, ha. And to France and Mexico and Canada to name a few. It won't be easy to be away from my family but we knew that this would be the case. And I can only hope that it will be as good for my family as it will be for me. For Dallas to grow knowing that his mom has a dream and is doing what she needs to do to make it come true. I hope that he grows to be a dreamer, watching me and realizing that if he works hard enough, they can really come true. It helps immensely to have Brian on my side and to have his support. He has been amazing and has even agreed to incorporate a race in Japan for part of our honeymoon. So we will spend a few days in Tokyo first, travel to a town close to Tokyo where I will race for points, and Brian can race for fun, and then we'll be off to Hawaii for a few days. Sounds like the perfect honeymoon plan to me!

We have a part time nanny that started last week. 20 hours a week and 20 hours for me to get out, get some errands done, go to the gym, go to meetings, it has been great. The interview process for a nanny was not easy as leaving a stranger at home with your house and your child is a little nerve wracking. Be found this great nanny named Alyssa and she is so great with Dallas that I feel at total ease having her here with him.

Wedding plans are in full swing which is exciting. And scary thinking of all we still need to get done. My speaking will pick up again in Feb and somehow, when we thought things were going to settle down, the weekends are already getting filled. Dallas will be one well traveled young man at the end of this year.  And yes, as you can see from the picture, he is already a Spartan fan. Like father, like son.

So there it is. The Road to Rio has begun. This time with a baby, a soon to be husband and a best 4 legged friend by my side. It's going to be a great year.

Peace out!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dallas Patrick Tolsma; our All American Boy.

Finally, he has arrived!! As I write this, I have the cutest 8 day old laying by my side. Dallas Patrick Tolsma, our All American Boy.

The night was Nov 23rd, more like early morning on Nov 24th. After the fact, Brian did a quick back story about the events of the evening. Instead of repeating the story, here it is through Brian's eyes:

Back story: I had a late hockey game Sunday night. I did my normal routine of telling Baby T to "stay put until I got back" and that he did, but not much longer. I put my head down on the pillow at 1:30 am Sunday night. Melissa had a couple trips to the restroom. On the third within 15 minutes, we got a little surprise... it was not urine, but her water had broken. 

A quick call to the doctor and we were off. A fun and frantic ride all in one. I may have run a few red lights in the middle of the night, but we made it safe by 2:00am

We spent a few hours in triage to confirm all was ready to go and off to delivery we went. She went from 0 to about 8 cm dilated in about 10 hours. She was a trooper trying to do it without an epidural, but after 4 hours of regular contractions, she went with the epidural to reduce pain. This was a good thing. It was hard to watch.
Melissa had spiked a small fever so they started her on some antibiotics. They told us Baby T was gonna need to go to the NICU for some evaluations right away. 

Jake was eager to help. He did great. 

She was slow growing for the final two centimeters and at about 9:00 pm it was time to start pushing. She was sooo strong. She needed a break and anesthesia needed to do some adjustments to the meds. By 10:15 she was back pushing. By 11:15 pm, little progress had been made despite some serious pushing from a strong woman. We had a discussion with the doctor about the babies position and Melissa's anatomy. Doctor wanted to give her a chance to push Baby T out, but at 11:30, she strongly encouraged she go in and get him. We were escorted off to the OR for a c-section. 

I was at her head and watching the doctor and resident struggle to get him out was one of the scariest events in my life. The resident had sweat coming from her forehead. The doctor kept grunting and saying "he just isn't coming out". Finally, they shouted "DELIVERY" and we heard a big cry. At that moment, we both lost it. Nothing can describe what I felt in that moment. They whisked him away to the NICU team in the next room. More waiting, I sat there holding Melissa's hand waiting for more news on Baby T while they closed Melissa up. 

Finally a NICU doctor came in, very calmly said that baby was doing good. He "had a little trouble breathing on his own, we are stimulating him to take better breaths. We are gonna take him upstairs for the night, but you can come see him". I met my son for the first time. Again, no words. They wheeled him into the OR and brought him down to Melissa's head, I saw my son get a kiss from his mama. Again, no words. 

Away he went, but Dallas Patrick Tolsma is here and he is ours.

And there it is. Moral of the story is things never go as planned. I went in thinking I would have the baby naturally. I was tough, I wouldn't need an epidural...until I felt those contractions. Boy do they hurt... I also went in begging not to have a c-section. It is a longer recovery and as you all know from previous posts, I am
anxious to get back into everything and patience is not my strongest virtue. But after almost 24 hours of being in labor, pushing and having no progress, I didn't have much of a choice. So a c-section it was and 7lb 10oz Dallas was born. An interesting fact is that my pelvis is to narrow to deliver a baby the so called 'normal' way. I could have pushed and pushed and he wouldn't have come out. This is why Dallas ended up stuck in my pelvis, causing the commotion to get him out. If I were to have another child, I would have no choice but to do it via c-section. The things you learn..

The days that followed his birth seem like they
were months ago now. He ended up in the NICU for 2.5 days. First from the antibiotics he needed from my fever during labor, then a concern of low blood sugar, and then high bilirubin. We would visit him in the NICU every 2-3 hours to see how he was doing and to feed him. Due to some excessive swelling from all the fluids I got, I was unable to wear my prosthetic leg and my right leg was huge. So huge I could barely move my foot from all the swelling. Not a pretty sight. And not an optimal situation in the days after a c-section, using a wheelchair and eventually my crutches to get back and forth to the NICU every few hours. But we managed and finally on Thursday night he was discharged from the NICU and got to spend his first night in my hospital room. A small panic attack of, whoa, this little guy is ours. And wondering if I'll be able to keep him alive through the night. But the hours pass and even though he slept in the bed with me much of the first night, he was alive, and that's all I cared about.
A quick thank you to all the nurses from the NICU (especially you Aime!) as they worked long hours to get our little one healthy
and back to us.

We had a steady stream of visitors starting with Brian's mom, then Brian's dad and then my parents who drove up from SC and some friends along the way. An unfortunate event with Brian's dad on Wed night is that he had a mini stroke behind his left eye and lost vision in that eye. He was rushed to the ER by Brian and admitted for a few days to run tests and see about getting his vision back. So Brian, went back and forth from me, the NICU, to his dad across the street. I'm always amazed at Brian's composure during a stressful time and I was so impressed by his ability to
handle it all. Not to mention that Jake ate a box of chocolates and he had to be dealt with also. Who knew that feeding a dog hydrogen peroxide can get them to throw up? Brian's brother drove down to help and my parents were here the next day but it was an eventful night. Keep Brians dad in your thoughts as his vision has yet to fully come back, we are hoping it improves over time.

Finally, mid morning on Fri Nov 28, we got to head home. An exciting car ride with a newborn in the car for the first time. We walked in with the car seat, Jake in tow, and the realization slowly set in that this was our new life, we were a family. And we were home.

That night we laid in bed with Jake at our feet, holding Dallas, and Brian and I looked at each other
as waves of happiness passed between us. I never knew there could be so much love for a little man. We were a family, we had a healthy little boy and my heart felt like it might explode.

Since then, our time at home has been a learning experience. From how much we need to feed him, how often, realizing that a baby can poop 3,412 times a day, sleeping patterns, never ending laundry, etc. My parents have been here all week and have been so helpful. From meals, to laundry, to wedding planning, it will be telling to see how I do with all this once I am on my own. Brian's mom will be back for a few days next week and then the true test will begin.

Jake has been tolerating Dallas. I can't say he's in love with him yet, and any pictures you see are staged. But he's licked his head a few times, he ignores the crying and has his moments wanting a
little more attention than usual. I have hopes that Jake will come around, and he will love Dallas as he loves us. I have yet to see any new gray hairs so I'll take that as a positive sign.

And lastly, a little Presidential bragging..
Last week Brian heard that former President
Bush was going to be in town for a book signing. We are friends with his aide and contacted him asking if we could get tickets and bring Dallas to meet the president. We were thrilled when we got VIP tickets for Dallas, Brian, myself and my parents. So this past Monday, on a cold 30 degree day, we all made a trip out to Naperville to see the President. A bundled up Dallas made his way through the line with us. As we entered the room, we got a big smile from the President and I got a quick hug and kiss from across the table. We told him that here was the youngest member to ever ride his mountain bike trails. He asked his name and as Brian said Dallas, his smile widened and he reached over the table to hold him. A kiss by the President at 6 days old... Dallas has already started his
life out with some excitement and a pretty great picture for show and tell someday. We had some quick conversation and the President asked if I planned on getting back in shape. I had to chuckle and responded with, I sure hope so! I've said before and I'll say it again. Regardless of your political preference, President Bush is a great man and it is always such a pleasure to see him.

So, there you go. We have a baby. And he is all ours. Everything from his long arms and legs, his perfectly round head full of hair, his beautiful face full of expressions and wonderment as he sees his
surroundings, his cute whimpers when he's a little
upset, his loud cries when his diaper is changed, his perfect face with what we think are dimples. He is absolutely perfect.

And Brian. Oh how I love him. A hands on dad that has so much love for his family. I truly hit the jackpot having him by my side.

As the days go on, I know things will get easier as we settle into lives as parents. My scar will continue to heal, I'll learn that while a post baby body might never be the same, I can still work to get it back in shape, and I will eventually get back to the active lifestyle I've been missing. This time, with a little more motivation for fast runs and bikes and wanting to get home to my loving

I have the perfect family and a wonderful life. Welcome to the world Dallas!


Monday, November 3, 2014

An overcooked bun in the oven.

Well....I was hoping by now I'd be writing about some beautiful baby boy that had made his way into the world. Even though I'm still 3.5 weeks out, I was sure that he was going to be here by now. And to say I'm ready is quite the understatement. But... I. Am. Ready.

I mentioned before that the 3rd trimester was my favorite. As I enter these last 3 weeks, I'm not so sure anymore. The uncomfortableness of my enormous belly, the carpal tunnel, needing a bathroom every 10 minutes, the swollen feet and hands and the inability to be as active as I want is getting to me. Especially on these gorgeous fall days where I would do anything to get my running leg on and go for a run, but can only look at my running leg collecting dust in the corner. Plus, I miss my feet, which I can't see much of anymore. And apparently I snore now. And lets not forget the difficulty of getting my shoes on, bending over and getting out of bed. Jeez, am I a downer or what!

On a happy note, I do still enjoy feeling the baby kick and the general kindness and generosity of the public is pretty great. I can drop something and someone will run from across the room to get it. People open doors, offer seats, give me a compassionate look... and as much as I am trying to eat better, I can still rationalize the extra 2 (or 8) pieces of candy I eat. Not to mention the apple juice which has been my main craving. Obscene amounts of it to be honest. Probably not the best for my sugar count but it sure is tasty. That picture to the right..that's all gone. All of it. And decorating the nursery has been pretty fun. Brian is quite the handy man and aside from waiting on our new rug, it's all done and ready. I've even taken the stroller out around the neighborhood for some practice. Now I just need that baby...

I've made a few trips in the past month and they have all been awesome. One to Minnesota where I got to see all my high school friends and Megan threw a spectacular baby shower. Megan and I also got a full day with our moms and the 4 of us had lots of laughs and good times.
We made a trip to a bridal shop where I tried on some wedding dresses. Note to self, that trying on wedding dresses while pregnant is not recommended! While we found a few decent ones, I won't make any final decisions till I can see it without the belly. 

Then a last flight to Atlanta to see my sister and her kids and my parents. I don't get to see my nieces and nephews nearly enough so to have a few days with them was pretty great. I even got to see my nephew Jackson play some soccer and the laser light show at Stone Mountain. Good times. The last day I was there my mom and sister threw a baby shower for some friends from Atlanta and as usual, it was a fun time. Games, and gifts and tasty cake and seeing some old friends. And I always enjoy seeing my parents and sister with her family.
And then a 'baby moon' as some call it down to Nashville, TN. A surprise weekend by Brian and one of our last trips before we expand. Think country music, cowboy boots, delicious food and more country music in this crazy town. He even threw in a Wilson Phillips concert that was nothing short of amazing. Yes, Brian, went to a Wilson Phillips concert with me. I'm a lucky girl.

In some exciting news, the disability classifications for Rio were announced and my class, the Tri2 women made it in! As a reminder, there are 5 disability classes for both men and women and they were only taking 3 of the 5 to Rio. It was dependent on the number of countries and athletes each class had and to be honest, I thought Tri2 wasn't going to make it. It is unfortunate that all the classes can't compete and when they announced the classes, it was exciting that Tri2 was a go but I felt for my teammates who had a similar goal and would not have the chance in 2016. Rumor is in 2020, all classes will be involved but too many have to sit out of 2016.

The whole reason of trying for a baby this year was in hopes of getting back into shape and the possibility of the Rio Paralympics in 2016. This won't be an easy feat, as I will need to get back into shape ASAP and by the time I am able to run again, it would have been over 6 months since I put that running leg on. I'll need to get into races with virtually no points from this year and do well
enough to get points at the races I am at. The more points, the more likely you are to make it to Rio.  To add to it, many of the races are international, meaning time away from a newborn.. But.. this has been the goal and still is, and I am ready to give it a shot.  Thankfully, Brian is on board and willing to help with the logistics of making it work. If it all works out as I hope, the timing couldn't be any better. And maybe this new addition to the family will give me some extra motivation. I'm dedicated to this goal and ready to tackle it head on. Even more reason for this baby to come out now!

And last, but certainly not least, having a baby is a great excuse for a stellar Halloween costume. Brian and I were pretty proud of our creation, my first homemade costume ever. In case you can't tell from the pictures, it's an oven with my belly in it. If you still don't get it, it's a bun in the oven with Brian as the master chef. Clever? Why yes, thank you. And of course, our thrilled bumble bee, for the 4th year in a

So, the next few weeks will be spent waiting for this little one. I've just decided that I can't be miserable for the next month so I will do what I can to embrace it. The pool continues to be my best friend and I'm in it 4-5x a week. And if you guys can run on these awesome days, do a few miles for me. In return, I'll eat an extra bowl of cereal for you.

Next time I write, there will be a baby. That I'm sure of.

So here's to as much sleep as I can get, more laps in the pool, warm baths and spicy food. C'mon Baby T!

Until then,


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Baby BOY 'T' and a sweet pair of cowboy boots.

Well, well, the months just fly on by…is it really the end of September already?

You can probably gather by the title that gender of Baby T has been revealed and it’s no longer Baby T but Baby BOY T, whoop whoop!

We knew we wanted to find out the gender but had the ultrasound lady write it on a sticky note and put it an envelope that was pinned to our bulletin board for a solid 6 weeks. Brian’s sister in law Karla had offered to throw a gender reveal party so we were waiting for the big day, to share with family and friends before we found out. Brian and I had talked about what we hoped for and both decided that all we really wanted was a healthy baby, gender didn’t really matter. I know everyone says that but after the adventurous 1st 14 weeks of pregnancy, we are all about the baby’s health.

The gender reveal party was amazing and way more than we ever thought it would be. Starting from balloons on the mailbox, to a pink and blue themed party filled with all sorts of cute additions. Think pink and blue candy, a tally station for the guests to vote on what they thought it would be, boy or girl, mason jars wrapped in pink or blue ribbon with fun sayings on them, and of course, the cake, which was filled with a pink or blue frosting, and would reveal to us what it would be.
When the time came, we skyped in my parents and sister so they could be part of the fun. We picked up the knife, dug in and as many had predicted, we saw BLUE! We were having a boy! There were many hugs, maybe a few tears and much excitement, as we will be having the first boy on Brian’s side of the family. Everyone was thrilled, even my parents who can already boast of their 7 grandchildren!
It was a moment that made everything seem more real. Instead of this ‘thing’ growing inside my belly, it was a boy, and he was going to be our son. A little surreal still and an idea that is still sinking in. And some added excitement as one of my best friends Keri, just had sweet Baby Boy Benji and knowing that they will grow up together, living only blocks apart made the idea of a boy that much better. He isn’t even born yet and already has a best friend.
Brian did confess after that deep down he was hoping for a boy. He wants to teach him how to play some hockey and my guess is the kid will be up on the ice as soon as he can walk. And although Jake pretends to care less, we know that deep down, he too is excited for a baby brother to protect. As long as he doesn’t take his tennis balls…

So a boy it is. The next step was to register for a baby registry as a few baby showers were planned and we needed to get going on it. We walked into Buy Buy baby one Sunday having no clue what to expect. We were given that little gun thing to register the items, a checklist and set out on this 4 hour adventure. Yes, I said 4 hours. Who knew that there are 5,238 types of swaddles and just as many types of bottles, and car seats, and strollers and bouncy seats, oh my. I mean really, does anyone really know the difference between all this stuff? We walked out dazed, not really sure what we had done but convincing ourselves that we were all set. I mean, we had checked almost everything off the list, that meant we were good right?

To take a break from this baby stuff, lets go back a few months to an exciting announcement. As many of you know, I love country music. Love. it. And as far as artists go, Garth Brooks is near the top of my list. When I wrote out a bucket list about 20 years ago, seeing Garth was a top priority. And much to my excitement, a few months back it was announced that Garth was going on tour for the first time in 20 years and his first stop was Chicago! Beyond amazing and something I was going to figure out a way to make happen. Tickets went on sale at 10am one random day and like the rest of Chicago, I was online and on the phone trying to get tickets. He had a total of 10 shows and my goal was the Sep 11 show because what could be better than Garth Brooks on Sep 11. In my mind, nothing. After calling ticketmaster a whopping 140 times I finally got through and was able to get tickets for Sep 14th. Not the 11th, but that was OK, I was gonna see Garth! After posting it on facebook (the miracle site) a friend offered to trade her Sep 11 tickets for my Sep 14th ones and a dream was gonna come true. Whoop!

But let’s go back again, this time to Saturday July 26, around 2pm. Yes, I’m getting specific. My phone rang, caller id said somewhere in TX, I picked up the phone and a guy on the other end of the line says, ‘Hi, my name is Walter and I heard through a friend that you were hoping for tickets to see Garth Brooks on Sep 11.’ I replied with a ‘Yes, I was, but thanks to friend I already had them’. After a few awkward minutes Walter offers up the information that we have a mutual friend in high places and that Garth himself wanted to give me 4 tickets to his Sep 11 show. After a slight heart palpation and a stunned moment of silent, I replied with, ‘Um, what?’ Walter went on to explain that he and I had met before at the W100 (high places, eh?) and that someone would be in contact later on that month with more details but that I was going to get 4 tickets from Garth to his show. I hung up in disbelief. I couldn’t breathe and being home alone and not knowing what to do, I danced around the house in excitement wondering if this could all be true. I called my parents who immediately asked if they could have the other 2 tickets and would make the drive up for the concert. We speculated on if there was more to it, maybe a backstage pass, maybe front row seats, who knew really…

My first action was naturally the purchase of some pretty sweet flag cowboy boots that I’ve had my eye on for years. Finally, an excuse to buy them! And then waiting in anticipation for the concert and the wonder of if this was a hoax or if tickets would actually be at will call, like I was told they would be.

One of my best friends Megan made the trip down from MN for the concert and a group of us decided to take a limo to Allstate, arriving in style. Brian in his cowboy boots and belt buckle was a sight, I always said I wanted to marry a cowboy and I couldn't keep my eyes off him.
 It was Sep 11th and what greater American way to celebrate my love for this country than with Garth Brooks. The limo pulled up and I anxiously waited in line at will call hoping the tickets were there. A huge sigh of relief that not only were 4 tickets there, but in the 3rd row! We made our way to our seats, preparing for the show of a lifetime. And let me tell you that at 53 years old, Garth dances around like he’s in his 20’s. Never a dull moment as he runs back and forth, up and down off his knees, sweating 
profusely and singing so many of his old tunes that we all wanted to hear. A great concert no doubt, even better to be there with Brian and my parents and Megan, all dancing away in our seats. The only bummer was that he didn’t acknowledge that it was Sep 11. Maybe I talked it up too much in my head, maybe I’m more patriotic than some, but even when the crowd started to chant USA, there wasn’t a word about it. So a little bit of a downer but still a phenomenal show and a check to add to the good old bucket list!

And before we get back to this whole baby thing, we had an awesome 
Chicago weekend back in August when one of my best friends Tiff and her boyfriend Tim came for a visit. Think the air and water show, architecture boat cruise, Kayaking to the pier for some fireworks, Some wine and paint, lots of tasty food and some good laughs. How I wish we lived closer, it's always a great time when we get together!

Ookk, back to the baby. As I write this I am at 30 ½ weeks, so 9 ½ weeks left and I know it’s gonna go quick. Aside from some pretty bad headaches and this weird rib pain, I can’t really complain too much about the pregnancy. Although my prosthetic leg doesn’t fit as well as it used too, I’m still able to manage getting around pretty well, I haven’t had any sickness or too many cravings and things seem to be going well. As much as this pregnancy thing is not for me, I’ve come to slightly enjoy the 3rd trimester and the reassuring kicks or body parts that make their way around my belly.

As an athlete, I think the hardest part for me is the body changes and not being able to be as active as I want to be. My running leg is collecting dust as it doesn’t fit well and running just doesn’t work anymore. I’ve been told by my doctor to do no core work and my biking leg no longer fits. Sooo.. I’m left to the pool. Not a bad thing as I’ve always loved the water but stepping away from athletics for 5 months has been harder than I ever imagined. Seeing my USA teammates compete at World Championships while I’m home with my feet up staring at my growing belly. A sacrifice that I know will be worth it come Nov 28, but still a tough adjustment. Especially on these beautiful fall days when there’s no better feeling of a cool morning run.

Next month we will hear what classifications will be going to Rio in 2016. If my classification, Tri2, is in for Rio, that is the absolute goal. To have a healthy baby, an uncomplicated birth and to get back in shape as quick as I can. A process that will be a tough one after not running for 6 months but one that I am prepared to tackle. The goal will be to get back into shape and competing as soon as possible to get the much needed points that could eventually pave the way for Rio. Next year is a crucial year and I need to come back quick. A lofty goal but one that I’m excited to give a try.

And if it’s not in for Rio, well, I still have a wedding to get in shape for. That’s right, next May, I get to marry Brian and I am already counting down the days for him to become my husband. We have the venue set and are getting all the big stuff done before the baby is born. Including trying to find a wedding dress, which I would NOT recommend when you’ve gained 25 pounds and are 7 months pregnant. But it will all get done and it will be a wedding to remember as my dad will finally get to walk me down the aisle. And this time around, our son will be there to look on. It’s gonna be a good one.

Some exciting stuff for sure. And now doing some last minute travel while I still can, getting the nursery going and realizing that ready or not, I am going to be a mom. Crazy? yes. Scary? yes. But rumor is, its an adventure well worth taking on. And lucky for Brian and I, there are all sorts of baby classes offered to we can figure out what we’re doing. Or maybe we’ll just learn as we go. Can it really be that hard?

I cant help but share a quick link that aired on the Today show on Labor Day... A story of myself and 3 other female wounded warriors who were all at Walter Reed together 10 years ago. All of us having lost a limb and becoming the first females to be injured in Iraq. And now, 10 years later, all having kids of our own. A story I am honored and proud to be a part of. The ‘Band of Mothers’ and a truly happy story. How I love these ladies.

And lastly, but certainly not least, a huge THANK YOU to Debbie Tolsma for throwing such an awesome baby shower last weekend! My mom and
soon to be mother in law, what great ladies they are.

So there you go. Baby BOY T and a sweet pair of cowboy boots. Until next time.