Friday, October 10, 2008

Run for your life...

Running is hard. Why didn’t someone remind me of that when I made this ridiculous commitment to train for a marathon? It’s been over a decade since I’ve been in really good running shape. Let me tell you how things change in ten years:

Weight. It’s higher now. In high school, I could tip the scales north of 130 only after a large meal. Shortly after high school I had skyrocketed all the way to a buck fifty-five. Yahoo. No longer afraid to go outside in a stiff wind, I left distance running in favor of street hockey. My weight stayed pretty consistent until a few years ago, when I left the active retail floor for a job in a cubicle. In eight short months, I had found an extra thirty pounds. Then another ten or so snuck up on me and planted themselves on my midsection. So now, as I go thud-thudding down the road in what we used to call a “piddle jog”, my significant weight pounds my skeleton with every step. Places hurt. Places I was not previously aware of. I think my spine may eventually give up and leave me in an invertebrate puddle on the side of the road.

Speed. I no longer have any. At all. Mile pace? Try ten minutes. Last time I kept track of such things, it was closer to six minutes. I was never a speed demon, but good enough for mid-pack finishes in high school. 5K races in the 18’s were the norm. I would be thrilled to bust out a sub 20-minute 5K at some point before I die. At this point that looks unlikely.

Pace. Here’s a problem. You know how riding a bike is like…well, riding a bike? Your body remembers how to pedal, balance, lean into turns, etc. Well, a runner’s body remembers its pace. It’s that magical rhythm you fall into. It’s comfortable, safe. You can speed it up or slow it down some, but I’m convinced there’s a fundamental pace your body wants to follow. My brain would really like to settle into that pace. My body says “sure” but only for twenty seconds. You have any idea how embarrassing it is to be heavy-breathing after half a block?

Endurance. Again, I no longer have any. It is building slowly. Very, very slowly. I can make it about two miles now. Once I even pulled off a 1.5 miler with an 8.5 minute mile pace. Wow, we’re blazing now! Strangely I haven’t even been able to repeat that performance. A marathon is 26 miles folks. Do the math. At this rate I’ll be ready to go in roughly 254 years. I wonder if Noah was a runner.

Kimberly has started running now too. So the pressure is on. I have to stay in better condition than my non-runner wife. Although it would be extremely cool to run together. A friend of mine and his wife recently did the half-ironman in Boise. She kicked his butt. I don’t mind admitting, that would really freak me out. Kimberly is an artist. Her beating me in a race would be like me beating her in…painting. Can you beat someone in painting?

We’re taking turns running tomorrow morning (someone has to stay with the kids). If she goes farther or faster, I promise to lie about it in my blog.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I recently ran across a picture of a friend-of-a-friend on Facebook. The picture showed husband and wife in a hospital holding a newborn. Wow, they looked a lot like Kimberly and I. The guy even had a red-ish beard and glasses. Then I noticed that they didn’t look happy. The child they were holding was lifeless. I had chills, seeing another family having gone through the same tragedy we just went through. Turns out it was a lot like our situation. Their child had also suffered a cord failure, theirs at 35 weeks, and ours at 36. Both boys. Both just over 6 pounds. They are a strong Christian family. Their loss was their first child, ours our fourth.

I contacted them via email, as did Kimberly. Not how you want to make new friends. Still, it is encouraging in a strange way to know that another very similar couple within 20 miles is feeling a lot of the same things we are.

They asked how we were healing. Good question. Sometimes it feels like we’ve healed as much as we can heal. Our boy is gone, we don’t have lingering questions or anger, nothing really unresolved. So what else can heal? Other than time dulling the pain. I can make it through the days and most nights. Not sure I want to heal any more than that. I’m sure this is some kind of rookie griever mistake, but I want to feel some of the pain, if only to remind me how important Isaac is to us. I’ve heard people say that they grieve the loss of a child as long as they live. Stories of octogenarians found crying over stillborn children from 50-plus years earlier.

And I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing. It doesn’t mean we’ll be sad all the time, or that we have no joy, or that we don’t trust God. But in those times when his memory is strong and we are alone with our thoughts, I imagine there will always be room for a few tears. What kind of parents would we be if remembering our son never brought sorrow? I think anything else would be denial.

That said, we are grateful for the gift of Isaac. God blessed us with a beautiful boy, if just for a day. We are thankful for the memories we have of Isaac, for the spiritual growth this experience has afforded us, for the blessings of friends and family, the chance to see God’s hands and feet in action, for the promise of eternal life through Christ Jesus and the opportunity to see Isaac again, and for the things that God has yet to do through this experience.

The House...

For about 300 years now, we’ve been trying to build a house. At least it feels that long. We have the floor plan picked out, all the options, etc. We had submitted our info to the mortgage lender just before Isaac was born. “Everything looks great”, our lender said. I was changing jobs soon, would that be a problem? “Nope, you’ll be doing the same line of work for more money, right? Even with partial commission you’ll be fine”, our lender said. Our lender, we should note, is NOT an underwriter. He has NOT been scrutinized and slapped around of late for all the screwy deals he made over the last few years. As it turns out, actual underwriters are very skittish these days. My estimated income is well within range needed, however since about 40% of that income is coming from commission on contracts, they are treating us like lepers. “Don’t touch the icky commission guy, he might infect you! What’s that? WE’RE on commission too??? Oh. Well, we already have houses, what do we care?”

Bottom line, they will only count my base salary. Nevermind the last four years doing exactly the same work and proving myself capable. Or the ten years before that doing almost the same work. Or the fact that nobody leaves a good job to take a lower-paying job doing the same thing –duh! They want proof I can do it with my new employer. Imagine this in any other line of work. “Sure, Mr. Clown, you can dress up like a freak and make balloons for Ringling Brothers, but we need to see you in action with Barnum and Bailey for at least a year before we believe you can really do it.” (I don’t even know who I’m quoting anymore…it’s late and I feel goofy, gimmie a break)

It’s not like we’re trying to build some over-the-top fancy show-off house. It’s a stinking Hubble Home for crying out loud! Functional, decidedly NOT pretty, but exactly what we want. Plus, it would be 5 minutes from the new church site. A nice bonus considering how often we’re there. Did I mention this is a Hubble?

So now we are starting the ever-exciting game of shuffle-a-lender, where we throw our intensely personal information at every starving mortgage freak within gagging distance. More likely, though, we will end up getting our loan from – get this – The USDA. Yeah, that’s the United States Department of Agriculture. We, who cannot grow weeds on purpose, might end up with a home loan courtesy of people who can…well, grow stuff on purpose. Or at least regulate those who do. Deal is, our house would be in Kuna (stop laughing), and as a small town they have signed up for the Rural Development program under the USDA. Essentially, this is a program designed to help vitalize small farming communities…like Kuna. The loan would be basically like any other loan, except that we’d pay it to the government (yikes), our interest rate would be slightly lower (hooray), and there is no mortgage insurance to pay (huh?). Evidently you don’t need to insure taxpayer money. Hey, I don’t feel bad. It will be some of the only tax money ever invested in something that pays back! With (considerable) interest!

So yeah, we’re doing that if possible. If the good ‘ole government is so eager to bail out greedy banks, why not take a chance on a family who has never, ever, ever been late on a mortgage or rent payment?

Stay tuned…working with the government is like fishing with toothpicks. You might eventually accomplish your goal, but you’re guaranteed to feel like an idiot in the process and the results are rarely up to expectations. Sigh.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Trying again...

One of the questions we get a lot now is whether or not we will try again. We’ve said for a long time we wanted four children, so why not go ahead and try again for a fourth child? First off, we have four children. If we try again, it will be for number five. I think Kimberly would be open to it right away. Somehow, it doesn’t feel quite right yet to me. I mean, our kids are all about two years apart. I may feel differently later, but right now what I want to do is wait about a year and then start trying. That way Isaac would always have his spot in the family. And kiddo #5 would not feel like a replacement. Not to us or them. Kids grow up and figure stuff out. It wouldn’t be fair to leave our child with questions over whether we really wanted them, or if we were just “righting a wrong” after Isaac’s death. At the same time, there is room in our family for another child. And neither of us really feel like we’re done having kids.

For now, maybe a puppy. The kids would love one, I would love one, Kimberly would…tolerate one. We planned to get a dog when we moved into our new house anyway (which may or may not ever happen…more on that later). Anyone know a good Mastiff breeder??? =)
For those who don't know, I have hounded (pun intended) Kimberly about a mastiff for years. She thinks they are "too big". Yeah, yeah, whatever. Like a 200-pound dog is that much different than any other...indoor horse. She's heard all my arguments, please feel free to offer new ones.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Still awake...

I’ve been taking a lot of sleeping pills lately. Since we lost Isaac, it’s been hard to fall asleep without thinking of him or worse, melting down again and being up half the night. Tonight I was tired, so I didn’t take anything. That was a mistake. It’s well after 1:00am and I’m nowhere near being able to sleep yet. Crying gives me a headache, and then it takes forever for the Advil to kick in. I feel weak and out of control, like I should be able to handle this better. I don’t try that hard to keep my emotions hidden. I just need to keep doing the things I need to do, and it’s not like I can take a break every few minutes to mourn my son.

No parent ever really thinks they will have to bury their child. No parent would ever want to. But on some level, I think we’re all at least a little afraid it might happen some day. Over the last few weeks we’ve heard from all kinds of people, some with stories similar to ours, some much worse. One couple lost their two-year-old after losing their baby a year before. As hard as this is, I can’t even imagine surviving that. I love Isaac so much. Still. I’m sure I always will. It’s weird even to me, but I feel like I love him as much as Allie, Emily and Ryan.

I’ve heard mothers talk about how they long to hold their children. I’d never felt that, until now. I can’t explain it, I just feel like I need to hold Isaac tight one more time, kiss his head, rock him to sleep. I try not to look at his pictures, but I have to. My perfect baby boy. He was so beautiful.

I’m sure in the morning I’ll wish I hadn’t posted this. But then, I doubt anyone reads this blog anyway. Even I had forgotten about it. I quit caring if people think I’m weak because I can’t hold it together emotionally. If I am, it’s how God made me. You don’t like it, take it up with Him.

I have to admit, before this I was really blind to the suffering of those around me. I mean, I knew about people who had experienced loss, but it never really registered. I had no point of reference. Everything is relative, so the roughest stuff I had been through seemed pretty hard to me. Now I think about people who I know lost children who were older, or any number of other tragic circumstances that are all around us. Not that it makes losing Isaac any easier, but at least now I have an idea what life is like for some of them. We mourn the loss of the infant we held and the memories we would have made. Some people have to mourn the loss of real memories, history, all those funny things kids say, their unique personalities, their affection, their laugh. In a way, I think it’s easier to not have that with Isaac.

And now I need to find some Advil. Maybe Advil P.M….

Friday, March 7, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mr. Motivation

Funny how things come about sometimes. We recently had a health scare when Kimberly’s doctor discovered a “mass” during a routine checkup. Long story short, it’s benign and we have nothing to worry about. But the high-cost biopsy came at a time when things were already tight financially, and that prompted Kimberly to start exploring ways to bring in some extra income.

Several weeks ago, she started creating paintings on canvas to sell as household decorations. Hand-made splashes of color for your walls. As it turns out, she’s pretty darn good at this stuff. I have to say I’m impressed with this ability she has hidden for so many years. After sending a quick e-mail to some friends and family, she has sold over a dozen paintings. This is a great creative outlet for her, and she will probably keep it up in the future whether we have medical bills to pay or not.

Makes me wonder, what if we had not had a biopsy to pay for? Would she ever have been motivated enough to start taking her painting more seriously?

And what about the rest of us? What things are we hiding or ignoring because we don’t have time or don’t think we’re good enough to pursue? I think too often we are afraid to fail, so we don’t “waste” our time trying. Song-writing is like that for me (I know, I know…drummers can’t write music). I have a sliver of writing ability, but risk of failure and the fact that I know some very, very talented song writers is enough to keep me from trying. I know I’ll never be as good as my friends Jesse and Scott. But should that really keep me from exploring my potential?

I would venture to guess we all have something like that. Maybe you don’t even remember yours because you’ve ignored it for so long. Whether it’s lack of confidence, lack of free time, lack of resources, or for whatever excuse you’ve given yourself, something is inside you waiting to be released.

Kimberly has inspired me to start writing again. So far I have one very crappy song about half-way done. Probably nobody will ever hear it, but that’s not really the point, is it? Maybe I’ll learn through the process and end up writing something worthwhile someday, or maybe my song writing will just be an experience for me alone. Either way I will be better off having explored the dusty corners of my brain. At the very least, it will be like discovering empty shoe boxes in your attic. Worthless? Sure, maybe. But isn’t it interesting to know someone bought a pair of Air Jordans in 1998 and threw the box in YOUR attic? Work with me, people…Monday is a rough day for analogies.

Cranking the Congregation

This weekend I once again pressed the limits of acceptance in our church by wailing on my drums louder than usual. It wasn’t on purpose, it was the song’s fault. How do you ride on a crash cymbal quietly? At least there was no doubt that everyone was fully awake for the start of the sermon.

You know you’ve done your drumming job well when people ask you if they make taller drum shields. With lids.

Hello World!

Welcome to my new Blog, the Pensive Percussionist. Where sarcasm rules and the subjects are as deep as an Arizona mud puddle. Read these posts, and you will eventually begin drooling, dragging your knuckles and forgetting to use deodorant. Continue at your own risk!