Friday, December 23, 2011

Silent Night, Holy Night!

I wanted to embed this properly, but the technology options available to me at the moment will not allow it.

Follow this link to see a special Christmas gift from Brother Bear:

Brother Bear's Christmas Gift

Merry Christmas from our den to yours. May it be Christmas not because of the number of gifts you unwrap, but the ones that already surround you in person and in your heart.

"This was the best Christmas we ever had. It had to be because it always is. I heard my mother say so every year. It was she who protested that she didn't want a present; she just wanted us all to be together and to love one another. It was she who feared that seasonal frenzy would overshadow eternal verities. She was apprehensive that we might get so caught up in the excitement of giving and, regardless of what anyone tried to teach us, of getting, that we would ignore "the true meaning of Christmas". Christmas Gift!, Ferrol Sams

May this be the best Christmas you ever had!

Monday, December 19, 2011

You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch!

Brother Bear:
Mama Bear, were you born in the 19th Century?

Mama Bear: Uh, no, sweetie. I was born in the 21st Century. What year do you think I was born?

Brother Bear: Hmm... I think, 1908?

Mama Bear:


Dearest Santa -

If you are anything like me, you despise last minute gift request. I understand you have a really long list, and scads more cubs to buy for than me. I get it.

But, would you do me a teeny, tiny favor and add one more eensy, weensy thing to your list? Just one thing:

I would like a lifetime's supply of Botox.

I've been very, very, veeeeeerrrry nice. I mean, I didn't say a SINGLE WORD when my sweet bear cub suggested that I am ONE HUNDRED AND THREE years old. SEE? I'm definitely on the nice list.

Thanks in advance for allowing this last minute request. I owe you.

Love and Kisses,

Mama Bear

Thursday, December 15, 2011

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

"...This was the year that I bribed five-year-old Sara Kate to say "Heehaw" in the Christmas pageant. I offered her five dollars, but she held out for seven. Her mother wanted her to be an angel, primarily because that costume is easier to make, but Sara Kate willfully insisted on being a donkey and her mother indulged her. She very nearly indulged me when the heehaw broke loose in the church." Christmas Gift! Ferrol Sams

Sugar Bear (the sheep) in the church's Preschool Christmas Pageant willfully refusing to be herded and instead admiring the "pretty red flowers," waving at her brother bear, and sitting when she was supposed to be standing (or visa versa).

I loved every minute. Because, all too soon, these are the minutes I'll wish for again.

"Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.' " Matthew 19:14

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Weary World Rejoices

The following "Dear Santa" letter came home in Brother Bear's folder yesterday:

I wish I (or Papa Bear) could take credit for instilling this precious giving heart in our cub. But we can't. He came hard wired with that heart for giving.

I've been a little off kilter this week. A little too much Scrooge and not enough Bob Cratchit. Thank goodness for my Tiny Tim. It's just what I needed to see today.

God bless us. God Bless us, every one.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sunday: Angels in my midst

(part 4 in a 4 part series)

SUNDAY (continued):

And the rain just kept coming.

It took me about 20 minutes to get to the start line (which was way better than last year's start line fiasco). I searched out Brother Bear and GrandDaddy Bear, gave them a wave and kiss, turned up my tunes and headed out.

I'll go ahead and get this out of the way first: The first ankle deep gully-washer puddle (between mile 3 and 4) was the worst. The other 9,462 puddles were a piece of cake. I mean, really, what's another puddle when your feet are already freezing cold and wet?

I felt like I was keeping a good pace early on but unfortunately the weather conditions had messed with the mile markers, so I couldn't keep a solid record of my mile times (I don't use a pace band or a GPS. I'm old school!). I tried to keep track of things in my head, but my math skills couldn't keep up for long. I decided to just keep plugging and recalibrate whenever I had a chance.

Let it be known that this really isn't the greatest running strategy in the world.

But in the words of the famous finned philosopher, Dory, I "just kept swimming."

My first bearfriend sighting was somewhere between mile 6-7. I saw 3 Mama Bears from MOPS who were out cheering for their loved ones racing. It's possible I attack-hugged one of them. She did have a glittery sign with my name on it, though! (Side note: I realized several miles later that I got glitter all over me from the hug. I deemed it pixie dust from the speed fairy {speed as in, run faster, not the other kind} and would make me run fast). I was glad to see them as it gave me a nice lift.

Shortly after that, a complete stranger bear ran up next to me and said, "You are running in honor of your son?" (The back of my shirt stated this) I told her that I was. She looked at me and said, "Alright. Well, I'll run for him too!" I was overcome with emotion and really didn't have words for the kind offer from this bear. But I think I muttered out a heartfelt thank you and she disappeared into the crowd as quickly as she came.

I think it's possible she was an angel. Little did I know what was coming...

At mile 9.3 I saw the beloved angels bears from my awesome church manning the water station. I'll just stop right now and say that it was, by far, the BEST water stop on the course. Can you believe that they had someone specifically assigned to try and sweep away the puddles? Awesome. I hooted and hollered as I passed through and gave my dear bearfriend who thought the idea up a giant wet hug. Too bad she was wearing a fisherman's poncho or I would have really soaked her through!

Then I headed to the lake, also known as "THE GODFORSAKEN LONELIEST MILES OF THE RACE." There aren't many spectators, the miles are starting to add up, and the mental game begins. I suffered through. I sang "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" out loud in honor of my Survivor Bear Friend who suggested the song. Apparently, Mother Nature thought I was talking to her because the wind and rain came back with a vengeance! Urg.

It's about time I tell you that my "stretch" goal for the race was a 4:15. I knew it would be a stretch as it was 10 minutes faster than my previous best time, but I decided that I was going to reach for it. For those of you who aren't marathoners, you need to know that all large marathons have "pacers" who are paid to run in marathons at a certain assigned pace and help guide other runners who want to reach that pace. They run with some balloons on a stick that say the time goal they are running. I'll be totally honest with you right now. I can't stand the pacers. They drive this uber competitive Mama Bear crazy. CRAZY. My last 2 big races, I've been caught in the middle of them and for whatever reason, they just get in my psyche and get me off my game.

So, this year, I decided to outsmart them. Or so I thought. I started well in front of the 4:15 pacer knowing that, if I kept my pace, I would never have to interact with them.

The key in the paragraph above being, "if I kept my pace." Which, If you remember from earlier, I was having trouble keeping up with that data, therefore, I was unaware that around the lake I had slowed down a bit. So at mile 15 when I took a walk break and a crowd passed me led by a lady with balloons, I was utterly shocked. And totally heartbroken. It was WAY too early to have these guys on my heels. And it only meant ONE thing. I HAD SLOWED DOWN. Gulp.

I think it's time for me to introduce you to Kathleen, the 2011 White Rock Marathon Clif Pacer for a 4:15 marathon. Because, she is a key figure in the rest of this story. Cyberbears, meet my nemesis Kathleen:
(Okay, she was wearing a hat, coat, gloves and pants when I saw her. But other than that, this is exactly what I saw!)

Determined that I was NOT going to get caught up in a cat and mouse with the Pacer, I sped up. But I swear I could hear Kathleen's footsteps behind me. It was driving me crazy.

Luckily, at mile 17, I was surprised by a family very dear to us who had come out in the rain to cheer. I was so very grateful for them! I wanted to stop and chat with them, but Kathleen was still breathing down my neck. One of them snapped a picture. So you don't think I'm exaggerating, look at the upper right corner of the picture and you can see Kathleen and her stinkin' red and white balloons (you'll also see one of my running buddies smiling right behind me in the trash bag poncho. He had finished his leg of the relay and was cheering his other runners along. What a sweetie!):

That picture is likely the last time I smiled until the finish line. Because I REFUSED to get passed again, I dug in my heels, sped up, and dropped my walk breaks at mile 18. I have never tried this before in a race. The program I run says that you can do this if you are feeling good in a race. Which, I still was. I also knew that EVERY Wednesday for the entire six month training season, I would do 8 miles of speed work. So, I told myself that this was just going to be another Wednesday training session. I just had to convince my body.

It was about this time that Mother Nature decided that I was too dry and needed more of a challenge. The sky opened up with what I could only describe as the biggest, fattest, coldest raindrops ever. It's quite possible that I called Mother Nature a very dirty word. But, in my defense, she deserved it.

I kept digging and ran some really fast splits. In all honesty, they were too fast. As I hit the hills at mile 21, I knew I was in trouble. But I REFUSED TO GIVE UP.

At mile 23, Kathleen and her taunting bunch of balloons caught up with me. She was literally behind my left shoulder. I heard someone ask her "are you ahead of pace?" and she said, "yes, one minute." But that gave me no confidence because I knew I had started ahead of her. I kept her behind me.

Until mile 25.

At mile 25, I SWEAR she sped up. I SWEAR IT. She took off past me like a bullet. It was at this point that I realized my gas pedal was already on the floor, and I had nothing left to give. I was already physically beat, but seeing her pass me took away every bit of my mental stamina. My goal was literally running away from me.

I was toast.

It was at that point that this bear from the crowd started running beside me. He looked at me and then he pointed at the pacer and said, "You want to do 4:15 don't you?" All I could do was nod my head and sob a pitiful yes. He then said, "Alright. Let's do it. You can do this. I'll run it with you!" I looked at him in shock! Here was this COMPLETE stranger who was willing to make this sacrifice for someone he'd never met. I started to cry in earnest and just continued to nod my head. So he started running beside me.

And, miraculously, I started to speed up. I started to feel power in my legs again and the possibility that I might still have some gas in the tank. The stranger then looked at me and said, "You don't need me. You've got this. YOU CAN DO THIS!" and then disappeared.


I'm still trying to process this experience. It's likely that this bear could have been a regular Joe off the street. It's also likely (given my physical and mental state at the time) that he was a figment of my imagination. It's also highly likely that he was an angel sent to remind me WHY I was running this race and setting this lofty goal.

Whatever he was, he motivated me. I began running with a force and passion I thought I'd left behind at mile 4 and zoomed past Kathleen. It was about this time that I noticed a god-awful sound. I then realized the sound was coming from me. I was crying, no, sobbing. We are talking wailing wall sounds uncontrollably coming out of me. So much that a guy in front of me looked back to see what was going on. Not my finest moment.

I took a couple of deep breaths in an attempt to regain control (and not scare my fellow racers away). I said a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift I've been given to run. I prayerfully thanked each person who had physically, emotionally, and financially gotten me to this point. I thanked our mighty God for the opportunity to make a difference with 26.2 miles.

And then I waddled my fluffy behind to the finish line as fast as my legs could carry me. I started screaming before I could see the finish line. I was overwhelmed with everything this day meant to me, to my family, to all the patients at TSRHC.

I came across the finish line, stopped my watch and saw this:

I then walked approximately (or, what felt like) 13.1 more miles to receive my medal and my finisher's shirt. Then I made the tortuous return walk back to find my family. Who, by the way, made the wise decision to stay in the dry hospitality area instead of the freezing cold downpour. Hugs and tears were dispensed. Brother Bear brought me a steaming cup of coffee with a peppermint stick in it and I gulped it down.

I was in heaven.

Save the freezing cold, sopping wet clothes. Luckily, in my crazy panicked packing state the night before, I had thought to pack an entire outfit including undergarments, socks and shoes. Y'all. I've never been so happy that I inherited the overpacking gene from my Mother Bear as I was right then. I stripped those wet clothes off as fast as I could. And, for the record, my feet looked like white prunes. It was disgusting.

While my race was a whirlwind of emotions culminating in achieving my goal, Papa Bear's race wasn't exactly what he wanted. The crowd, the wind and the weather really affected his race and he came up short of his goal of qualifying for his 4th Boston marathon. He was very disappointed. I reminded him that 1) conditions were sub prime 2) he had started a new, stressful job 4 days before the race and 3) oh yeah, HE'D HAD HIS APPENDIX SURGICALLY REMOVED a mere 48 days prior. After all that, these were his dismal results IN THE PAPER the next day:

Yeah, 337th out of 4570 runners is pretty awful Cyberbears. HE SHOULD BE ASHAMED. But, as a competitive person myself, I understand his disappointment and share it with him. The good news is, he'll live to run another one. And, if I know him like I do, he'll qualify again. (Even if he says that he'll never run another marathon.)

So, I think that about covers it. Aren't you glad? That was a NOVEL! But I didn't want to leave out a single detail! I wanted each of you to have a small taste of the entire weekend, the entire experience. It was a precious, awesome, humbling, honor of a weekend.

I call that a success.

Thanks for taking this ride with us. We couldn't imagine better companions.

The End.

Or not.....

Sunday: Runners on your ARK!


My first thought after I shut off the alarm that morning was, "IS IT STILL POURING RAIN?" I tried to convince myself that it was reindeer on the roof, but one look out the window told me differently. The forecast the night before called for "light rain." Let's just say kindly that the forecaster needs to be fired. Tout de suite. Noah built an ark for this kind of weather.

This is a hysterical historical chart of the weather we endured throughout the day:

(Side note, the commentators on the local news' race coverage kept saying these were "ideal running conditions" or "runners love this weather." I'm going to go out on a limb and say his email inbox is currently full of emails to the contrary. Papa Bear and I had discussed that we could handle rain OR we could handle cold. But the two together? In NOAH'S ARK type rain conditions? WORST. RUNNING. WEATHER. EVER.)

But I digress.

Team Four Bears headed down to the race in 2 shifts. Shift 1 (the early shift) was Brother Bear, Papa Bear, GrandDaddy Bear and moi. Shift 2 (the late shift) was GrandMommy Bear and Sugar Bear. Shift 1 took the train, Shift 2 drove in later so that Sugar Bear could get her beauty rest.

The train was packed with runners and by the time we reached the race location I was a nervous wreck (more than the night before). I've never had race jitters so bad. We were lucky enough to have access to the VIP Hospitality Area, so we could get out of the weather. And (more importantly) we had access to REAL potties! Not porta potties! But speaking of weather, it was starting to show signs that the rain might actually stop. Which was fantastic. And, it turns out, a big fat lie. We waited in the hospitality area until the last minute possible. I was so nervous that I was nauseated and the smell of the food buffet almost sent me over the edge! If anyone ever tells you that race jitters go away after a few marathons, I'm here to tell you it's not before marathon number fourteen.

GrandDaddy Bear kindly took the reigns of watching Brother Bear since Papa Bear and I were running the marathon. Apparently, Brother Bear had a blast hamming it up with other patient champions, TSRHC employees, Marines, local Bar Association members trying to break a pancake serving record, and generally anyone who would look in his direction. We've always bemoaned the fact that he's such a shy cub. (Snort, snort, guffaw.) While I wasn't there to see it, word is that he and GrandDaddy Bear had a blast enjoying all the start line festivities.

About ten minutes before the race start, we headed to the start line. We found a perfect spot for Brother Bear and GrandDaddy Bear to watch it all and Papa Bear headed to his start area (waaaaaaaaay up front). I then hugged my cub tight, felt a knot rise in my throat as I looked him straight in the eyes and said, "I want you to know that this race today, this is for you. For all you've endured. I'm running today for you."

Then I headed to my starting spot (waaaaaaaaaaay in back).

And then the sky opened up.

(To be continued...)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Saturday: Pasta Found, Mind Lost

(Part 2 in a 4 Part series)


GrandMommy Bear & GrandDaddy Bear arrived. They kindly watched Sugar Bear and got her in bed on time while Papa Bear, Brother Bear and I attended made an appearance at a wonderful annual "Angel Tree Party" hosted by a dear bear friend (we had taken the opportunity earlier to shop for our angels as a family...but we hated to not stop by for this very special event). We then hopped in the car and drove in a TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR to the Annual Pre Race Pasta Dinner. I believe we were the last to arrive due to traffic. I was mortified. But we found our seats and had a wonderful pasta dinner with some other Patient Champion families and a TSRHC employee and his lovely wife.

We celebrated the amazing story of the Junior Race Director, wished everyone a great race, oh, and saw the dancers for a local professional sports team. UP CLOSE. AND PERSONAL. Cyberbears, I'm here to tell you that I now know the answer to "who wears short shorts?" Wow. I'm guessing they didn't partake of the pasta that evening. Papa Bear might have possibly used his precious, cute child to finagle a picture with said dancers. Brother Bear (and the dancers) were happy to oblige. AND I TOOK THE PICTURE. I am nothing if not a loving wife and Mama Bear.


We then headed home in the STILL pouring rain, BUT NOW FREEZING COLD TEMPERATURES. (Is the caps lock helping at all with the foreshadowing?) Brother Bear headed to bed. Papa Bear quickly, calmly and methodically packed his race day bag. I, on the other hand, RAN AROUND THE HOUSE LIKE A CHICKEN WITH MY HEAD CUT OFF trying to figure out all the myriad details for the next day, cursed blogger for deleting my race day post AGAIN, and became a general, wheels off, nervous wreck. It was not pretty. We finally headed to bed where I tossed and turned until my alarm went off.


(To be continued....)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Friday: T Shirts, Turkey Necks and Toe Funk

(Part 1 in a 4 part series)


Friday started with the family gathering around the newspaper to see the sweet article in the local insert to our metropolitan paper. Since Brother Bear reads the paper at breakfast every morning, this was truly one of his highlights. I then reminded him that he was a regular cub with a regular Friday spelling test and sent him off to school for his test. I picked him up shortly thereafter to begin the weekend festivities.

The events started with the annual pre-race tee shirt signing event on Friday. They have the patient champions and several race celebrities sign tee shirts for the patients. Fun was had by all. Brother Bear took his role very seriously. See here:
(He had been working for weeks on the smiley face and peace sign that went along with his signature!)

Sugar Bear hammed it up, fussed it up, ate a bag of popcorn and then commandeered the camera. See here:
(This is your camera)
(This is your camera with a 3 year old)
(Um. Why haven't any of you CyberBears told me about the turkey neck I'm apparently growing?)

I, all the while, beamed with pride. Oh, and I might have also possibly used my cute cubs to finagle a picture of myself (oh, and the cute cubs) with 2 of the elite Kenyans. It's also quite possible that I squealed like a teenage girl at a Bieber concert when they said yes.


We then headed down to orthotics to discuss a rash that had recently developed on Brother Bear's legs where he wears his night braces. I was kindly informed that the rash was due to nothing more than simple BAD MOTHERING on my part. I left the hospital in shame. Shame, I tell you. (Bottom line: real Mama Bears don't let their cubs' braces grow "things" in them. Ew!)

(To be continued....)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Living to tell the story


I've been working on the weekend recap in my head since Sunday. Unfortunately, I've been rudely interrupted by this:
and this:

Did you know that laundry and dishes don't give a hoot if you ran 26.2 miles the day before? Well, now you do. Bah Humbug!

I will try to recap the highlights of our weekend. I'm afraid I just won't do it justice. If I don't, then call me. I'll walk you through every detail. In depth. With hand motions.

Until then, I've broken the weekend down into a four part series. There will be one post for Friday, and Saturday and two for Sunday. I hope this will make it a little more manageable.

First post is tomorrow morning...


Monday, December 5, 2011


Getting out of bed just might be my biggest accomplishment of the day today (that first step was a doozy). Can't wait to tell you all about yesterday! More details to come!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


...The Hopis consider running a form of prayer; they offer every step as a sacrifice to a loved one, and in return ask the Great Spirit to match their strength with some of his own

(Born to Run - Christopher Mcdougall)
Today Papa Bear and I both run 26.2 miles in honor of our son and all of the patients at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children (TSRHC). We run so that each of the (over) 120,000 patients seen per year at TSRHC has the opportunity to receive the same excellent care our son receives. For each of these patients, we will keep moving.

We will not quit.

We could not have made this journey without your support, your love, your friendship, your sacrifice. You have encouraged us along the way. You have listened to our endless discussions of all things marathon. You have sacrificed financially to support a cause that means so much to us. Tomorrow as we run, each step we take will be a prayer of thanksgiving for your gifts to us.

YOU are spreading the word.

YOU are lighting a fire.

YOU are making a difference.

YOU are Team Four Bears.

Thank YOU.

Erin & Brent Basden - Emily & Ben Guthrie - Jill & Julian Vigil - Laura & Ryan Prejean - Holly Smith - Robyn Lilly - Maggie Lamberth & Family - Mary & Kenton Keller - Charlotte Allen - Jeanne, David, Emma & Lottie Vickers - Lydia & James Perry - Sarah Thompson - Abbey & Chris Adcox - Christie & Iain Michie - Kerry & Travis Dunbar - Anonymous - Maggie Funk - GrandMommy & GrandDaddy (Carole Jean & Maxey) Abernathy - Virginia DeMent & Family - Sheila & Gene Moore - Jill & Larry Granberry - Papa Ross Franck - Jewell & Paul Abernathy - Emily & Seth Kenton - Kathleen Alverson - Brenda & Gwin Morris - Kristy & Vic Iaconos & Family - Eric Horstman - Kim & George Mason - Geri Cortinas-Long - Lauren & Bill Hollis - Hillary Campbell - Kendra Hallett - Akli Tabti - Karen Hurtado - Della Mae & Perry Smith - Mimi & Poppa (Sandy & Ross) Woodbury - Kim & Russell Williams - Mary Hope & Derry Burns - Monica Citilan - Mary Pat & Joe Czajkowski - Jamilia Abdashimova - Ashok Settyvari - Goldman Sachs Matching Gifts Program

...there was some kind of connection between the capacity to love and the capacity to love running. The engineering was certainly the same: both depended on loosening your grip on your own desires, putting aside what you wanted and appreciating what you got, being patient and forgiving and undemanding.
(Born to Run - Christopher Mcdougall)

Friday, December 2, 2011





Words escape me.

Wait, no they don't.





(You get the picture)


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Moved by the Music!

Team Four Bears is now only $635 $610 $585 $575 $475 $450 away from our $5000 goal!
Want to help us reach our goal?
Just click HERE!!

Are you moved by music? I know I am. Music helps me pass the time, think about something other than the pain of a long run, inspires me to run longer, faster, and not give up.

My choice of music is incredibly eclectic. My play list ranges from rock, pop, bluegrass, country, gospel, and Glee (that's a musical genre, didn't you know?). I tend to gravitate towards songs that have inspirational words versus great musical prowess. Given that I have NO musical skills whatsoever, that kinda makes sense. Most people would think that I need fast, upbeat music to get me across the finish line. For a 5k, maybe. But not me. I need the words, the inspiration. Are any of us surprised by this?

These are the current top 5 on my running playlist:
  1. Marchin On - One Republic
  2. Hey Hey Hey - Michael Franti and The Spearheads
  3. I'll Fly Away - Allison Krauss & Gillian Welch
  4. I Will Rise - Chris Tomlin
  5. Less Than Perfect - Karmin
(I think my 16 year old niece-bear just passed out from the uncoolness of that list. So very sorry EBear! I promise I'm still cool. Sorta.)

So, a few marathons back, I wasn't feeling the motivation I needed to get myself across the finish line. So, I asked my bear friends to help me. I had them email Papa Bear a song they thought would help get me across the finish line. He then loaded them on my music player and I listened to them the whole race. IT. WAS. AWESOME. And hilarious. And downright fun.

So. I'm doing it again this year. With a twist.

Donate at least $10 to Team Four Bears and you can suggest a song for my playlist. If it's not already on my playlist, I'll download it and be forced to have the opportunity to listen to it during the race on Sunday. No matter what. Sweet, sappy, funny, obscene. Even if it's rap.

"Official" Rules -
  1. Donate $10 or more to Team Four Bears
  2. Put your song suggestion in the comments on this blog or in the comments section of this link on Facebook.
  3. If you have already donated to our team, just put your song suggestion in the comments on this blog or in the comments section of this link on Facebook.
  4. One song per donor.
I'll then put a return comment to each of you confirming that your song selection has been added to the playlist.

Help us reach our goal of $5000 and musically motivate me across the finish line!