The Nitty Gritty of Growing an Itty Bitty

35 weeks pregnant

35 weeks pregnant

When I first found out I was pregnant, I contemplated resurrecting this blog and posting about my pregnancy weekly. This is by far the most exciting adventure I’ve had in my life. It seemed fitting that I should regularly blog about it. Then, I decided against it. I had several reasons. One of which is that I suspected that my folks would be unhappy about me being unmarried and pregnant. For harmony’s sake, I decided to keep the news of my pregnancy low-profile for as long as possible. (Sidenote: My suspicions regarding my folks were correct, but that is a story for another day.) My other reason for not blogging throughout this pregnancy is that I am among the last of my friends to have a baby. I didn’t think I had anything to add to the conversation. If you search, there are THOUSANDS of pregnancy & mommy blogs out there.

At present, I’m 38 weeks pregnant and 2 weeks away from our due date. We’re expecting a little girl who for the purposes of this blog I will refer to as “Baby Darling”.  Now that I am almost at the end of my pregnancy, I did want to share a few of my thoughts. They’re a bit random, but I’ll try to organize them as best I can. So here goes…

I love being pregnant.

I never thought I’d say this, but I do love being pregnant. I have been very fortunate to have had a smooth and uneventful pregnancy thus far. Years ago when I contemplated becoming a mom, I assumed that I would be one of those women who gained 50 lbs, had weird cravings and had an altogether uncomfortable pregnancy. In light of my family’s history with babies over the last couple of years (my cousin’s passing after childbirth and my other cousin’s premature labor), it wasn’t that much of a stretch.

I have been presently surprised and relieved. I have felt amazing. Although, I’m a fairly dull pregnant woman. Sorry, no weird cravings here. I have my fair share of minor pregnancy complaints like stretch marks, heartburn, hot flashes, exhaustion, swelling, difficulty sleeping and carpal tunnel. You can’t put your body through the rigors of growing another human being without some side effects. On the upside, I have enjoyed feeling Baby Darling grow and move as this pregnancy progresses. When no one is around, I play little games and read to my baby bump and am always thrilled when Baby Darling responds.

I have never felt more beautiful in my life. I’m infatuated with my baby bump. I have gained 12 lbs thus far and it’s pretty much all in my belly. If you don’t believe me, you should see all the selfies I post to my Instagram. I’m really hoping I can carry this love of my body into my postpartum life.

I believe my overall well-being has a lot to do with being physically active and eating well through most of this pregnancy. I have not binged terribly or “ate for two”.  I’m still human. So I will have a large lemonberry slush from Sonic or doughnuts from Krispy Kreme or large Cajun fries with a milkshake from Cookout from time to time. Now that I’m much larger I’m not running anymore, but I’m still doing my best to do stretches and take walks.

The medical community makes a big deal about having a baby over the age of 35. Thankfully, because of my general good health, this hasn’t been a factor. But, it has given me some pause emotionally…

37 weeks pregnant

37 weeks pregnant

I’m going to be an “old mom”.

When I first discovered I was pregnant, I was panicked. I don’t feel particularly old, but I am 38 and pregnant. While many of my peers will have kids who are in high school and college, I will be changing diapers and teaching Baby Darling the alphabet. I did the math and realized that I will be in my 50s when she graduates from high school.

I never planned to have a baby at this point in my life, but I always wanted to have children. If things always went as people planned, I would’ve been a mom in my mid-late 20s. That, of course, did not happen. During my mid-20s, I had my “Must-be-married-and-have-kids-by-30” crisis, which led to a series of disastrous relationships. It left me emotionally spent and I put my quest to start a family on the back burner. Then in my late 20s, I met and married Rob who wasn’t exactly keen on starting a family. The timing was never right. Then, I realized that starting a family with Rob would’ve been a grave mistake. After the divorce, I thought I’d never have children and was preparing myself to be “Cool Auntie Anne” for the rest of my life.

Needless to say, I am thrilled to become a mom. I have embraced the idea that Baby Darling is arriving at exactly the right time. The beauty of having her at this point in my life is that I have had a full life thus far with many adventures. I’ve had my wild child phase, traveled, moved around, and been career-driven. I’m ready to “settle down”.  Although, I don’t believe that having children necessarily stops you from having adventures or makes your life dull. It just changes things a bit. The other benefit to having a baby at this point is I’m having this baby with the best partner possible. Which brings me to my next point….

D & Me - 32 weeks

D & Me – 32 weeks

D is an amazing partner.

When D and I talked about having a family, I didn’t really think about the details. Like me, he has always been family-oriented and loved spending time with his niece and nephews. I just knew he’d be a great dad. I never gave much thought to what he would be like once I actually got pregnant. To his credit, D has really surprised me. He has been wonderful throughout this pregnancy. When I was initially stunned and upset about being pregnant, he was a reassuring force and was so happy that it was contagious. Any doubts that I may have had were instantly removed.

I have always said that I didn’t want to have children unless I had an equal partner. D has exceeded any expectations I might have had.  He has been so loving and sweet. From kissing my belly before he leaves for work, tiptoeing quietly when I sleep in, and rubbing my ever swelling feet, he has been exactly what I need when I need it. When I am nervous, he is the calm voice of reason. Since we took our Birthworks – childbirth prep class, D has become even more involved with this pregnancy and the decisions we make for our child. This is a segue to my next thought….

We are going to be crunchy, granola, hipster-y parents.

I am just going to go ahead and own this one. We took Birthworks classes, which are an 8 week course on childbirth and postpartum in lieu of the 1-day Hospital education class. After taking classes and weighing our options, I’d like to have as natural as birth as possible with minimal medical interventions. We’ve hired a doula to help with labor and delivery. I’d like to labor at home for as long as possible and let my body do what it is meant to do. No, this doesn’t mean I’m trying to have a homebirth. Nor does it mean that in the heat of the moment I won’t change my mind and opt for drugs and whatever other medical interventions I’m offered. We’re flexible and willing to go with whatever the situation requires. I’m just glad to have had a chance to weigh all of our options and come up with some a gameplan.

Our cloth diaper collection

Our newborn cloth diaper collection

We are planning to cloth diaper Baby Darling. This has brought a wild array of reactions. We (meaning I) researched and felt like this would be a good option for us. Cloth diapering isn’t like it used to be and there are lots of modern options. If you’re curious about cloth diapering, you can find more information here.

We also would like to baby wear and make our own baby food. There’s more, but I think you get the gist of things.

What has surprised me is the amount of flack we’ve gotten for some of these choices.  While these choices are different from what our peers and family members have done, we aren’t saying our choices are better or that what others have done is wrong. We’re just choosing to do what we think is best for us. None of these decisions were made lightly nor without extensive research. Sometimes, I wish people would realize that. Because neither of us have ever been parents, we are trying what we think will work, but understand that sometimes you’ll have to alter your plans to fit the needs of your family.

These are all the random thoughts I can gather about being pregnant. If I think of anything else, I’ll be sure to write another post. With any luck, it’ll be before Baby Darling arrives ;)

A Welcomed Surprise

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
John Lennon
Sometime last year, D and I started to have conversations about “our future”. You know, the conversations about getting engaged, married and having a family. I was particularly anxious and nervous about the family discussion. D and I both loved kids, but I had been told by more than one doctor in the past that getting pregnant would be particularly difficult.  As one doctor put it, I would require “serious medical intervention” if I wanted to get pregnant. When I told D, he understood and said that we’d worry about that when the time comes. After further discussions, we decided that moving-in together was the next step. We’d see where it went from there, but marriage and family were definitely things we wanted.
D and I

D and I at the wedding reception

We attended the wedding of D’s best friend in November. It was a beautiful, intimate wedding. We were sat with the rest of his family at the reception and were teased about when would we be “next”. To placate them, we told his family that we were planning to move in together. They congratulated us.  D’s sister-in-law gave us one piece of advice “No matter what you do, don’t have a baby first…”

Three weeks later in early December, my period was late despite using preventative measures. I took a pregnancy test on a whim and it was negative.

A week after that, we got this..

pregnancy test

To say that we were stunned is an understatement. I initially reacted like a teenager who got pregnant on prom night. What are we going to do? What are my folks going to say? Then, it dawned on me that I’m 37. Then the panic switched to whole other array of reactions. How are we going to afford this? OMG! I’m going to be an “old mom”. What if the baby has problems because I’M SOOO OLD?!! We’re supposed to get married. THEN have a baby. I’m going to be someone’s MOM. We’re going to be parents. WTH?!! Blame it on the hormonal flux. Either way, I was a mess. Thankfully, D is the the calm and rational one. His reaction? We wanted to have kids eventually. We’re just having them earlier than we planned and we can figure the rest out later. Either way, this is a blessing and it was meant to happen. I couldn’t argue with that.

After the shock wore off, we started to make decisions about what to do next. We moved up our schedule for moving in together. Then, we decided to wait to tell anyone about the baby in case something should go wrong and I miscarry. I also wanted to buy some time before I told my folks who I feared would take the news badly. (As it turns out, I was right, but that is another story). So, we kept quiet for weeks. Christmas passed. Then, New Year’s passed. We went on vacation to Miami in January. Other than feeling very exhausted and being a temporary narcoleptic, I was feeling good.

Right before Valentine’s Day, we got a glimpse of our little bundle.

12 week Sonogram

Baby K-D- 12 Weeks

After that first sonogram, we entered our  second trimester.  We told part of our immediate families. They were ecstatic, especially D’s mom. Although, we still didn’t tell my folks. We wanted to wait until after we moved in together.

Myles in a box

Myles was excited about the move.

At the end of February, we moved in together. It went smoothly and we happily set about creating a homestead. We waited for the “right time” to tell my folks. In the meantime, I was like an actress on a TV show trying to keep the pregnancy under wraps. I became the master of loose tops, big purses and scarves. Despite the fact that I wasn’t drinking at social gatherings, no one suspected a thing. Even during D’s birthday which falls on St. Patrick’s Day, no one even raised an eyebrow when I refused to have a drink.

At the end of March, D and I finally met with my mom and told her the news. She didn’t take the news well and suggested we wait to tell my pops and my grandmother. We left it to her to decide when would be appropriate to tell them. So to give my mom some time to process the information, we didn’t tell the rest of our friends.

In the meantime, we were enjoying my pregnancy and planning for our baby’s arrival. While we were dying to tell everyone our news, it was nice to celebrate our impending arrival in private. We got a reprieve from unsolicited advice and sometimes inappropriate questions.

We finally got to a point where I felt like I couldn’t hide my growing baby bump any longer.  We started telling our friends who have been overwhelmingly happy for us and very SUPRISED. Turns out, I wasn’t showing as much I thought. I guess the props worked after all.

Baby K-D at 20 weeks

Baby K-D at 20 weeks

So here we are, 23 weeks into the greatest adventure of our lives. I’ll be posting more now that the “cat is out of the bag”. We know the gender of Baby K-D, but aren’t announcing it until my baby shower in June. Either way, our lives will never be the same after August and we couldn’t be happier.

Self-portrait at 20 weeks pregnant

Self-portrait at 20 weeks pregnant

Goodbye to my girl

I have written and re-written this post many times in my head. It is so difficult that it has taken me 7 months to finally gather my thoughts and take the words from my head and type them in this blog.

Dottie on a hike by robert rodriguez

Dottie on a hike by robert rodriguez

I have many posts about Dottie in my Anne K. in L.A. blog (most of which have been archived here as well). Dottie was a major part of my life in L.A. and my life with Rob.

I have the misfortune of losing her not once, but twice.

Losing Dottie was one of the most painful parts of my divorce. As I stated previously, who would have custody of Dottie was a major point of contention in my divorce with Rob.

photos by rob rodriguez

As a small concession, Rob agreed that I could see Dottie as much as I wanted when I was in the Los Angeles area. The last time I saw her was in September 2010. It was emotionally draining. I felt so much guilt for leaving her behind and for not fighting harder to keep her. I cried for days after I returned to Virginia. As a result, I could not bring myself to visit L.A. again.

As the time passed, Rob and I both moved on with our lives and into relationships with other people. I went on my adventures with D and Myles. I contemplated visiting L.A. to see Dottie, but wasn’t sure I was emotionally ready. Rob kept me informed of Dottie’s adventures. In semi-regular intervals, he’d send me photos of her.

I missed Dottie desperately, but was repeatedly reminded by my best friend that Dottie was loved, cared for and by all accounts happy. If she wasn’t with me, I couldn’t ask for more than that.

Dottie joins me for a run

Dottie joins me for a run – August 2010

In late March of this year, I received a call that no one ever wants to receive. Rob called to tell me that Dottie was suddenly seriously ill and they suspected she had cancer. She required emergency surgery on her liver and spleen. The vet diagnosed her with hemangiosarcoma, a very aggressive form of cancer. Even with surgery, Dottie was given only a few months to live.

I was devastated.

When I walked out the door on that last visit in September 2010 and Dottie woefully watched me walk down the driveway, I suspected I might never see her again. I had hoped that I was wrong. I hurriedly made plans to visit, to see my girl. I was told on many occasions that I should postpone my visit because Dottie was improving. I got the distinct impression that I was being given the runaround. Despite the five years I spent with Dottie, I was not given the opportunity to visit her. I will deeply regret not fighting to see her.

I wanted the opportunity to tell Dottie I loved her and even though momma had been away, momma hadn’t forgotten her. I wanted to run my hands through her fur and rub her belly. I wanted to care for her as I had countless other times she gotten sick or injured.  I wanted to plant kisses all over her and snuggle with her one last time.

I never got that chance.

On Saturday May 5, 2012, my beloved pitbull Dottie Dots succumbed to canine cancer.

I did not know of Dottie’s passing until I saw a friend’s post on instagram the following Tuesday. It was the worse way to find out that a dog I loved and had been such an important part of my life had died.

It was a cruel blow especially since I had made arrangements with a tech-savvy friend to meet with Rob to allow me to Skype or Facetime with Dottie should she take another turn for the worse. I never received a call. To add insult to injury, I had to call Rob repeatedly to get confirmation of Dottie’s death.

Rob made a weak apology. To make up for his mistake, he sent me some of Dottie’s ashes.

Even though I didn’t get to say “goodbye”, I would like to believe that Dottie knew that I loved her deeply and that I didn’t abandon her, that she was always “Momma’s Girl” and that she knew that I left a piece of my heart with her in California.

As much Dottie’s passing hurt on many levels, I will focus on the good.

Dottie - January 2005

I will never forget that she was the best part of my life in L.A…

that I was very lucky to have her in my life for 5 years…

how she used to do her happy dance whenever I came home from work, no matter the hour…

how I always felt safe with her by my side….

how she was always so happy to see our family and friends like my brother Nate, our friends Lu and Ben and countless others…

how she was the perfect “heater” on a cold winter’s night…

how she was the perfect companion at the office on weekends when I had to work…

how she could never have enough balls in the house…

how she used to scare the living daylights out of our UPS delivery man…

how she loved the water and the snow…

how she slept on my chest those first few weeks that we had her…

how she taught me that pitbulls were just as lovable as any other dog.

Dottie & Me - Spring 2005

So until we meet again, sweet Dottie Dots, I will see you in my dreams….

Aftermath

Instagram Self portrait

Self-portrait with Myles - Instagram

Before I start talking about my adventures, it’s only fair that I discuss what happened after the divorce was finalized. If you were to peruse my blog and possibly my facebook posts, you might think that life was all sunshine and roses once I left Rob. My life is certainly better, but that wouldn’t be an accurate description.

I would liken my first year post-separation/divorce to the summer between high school and college — carefree and filled with revelry. I had spent years putting my wants second to Rob’s wants and needs that I felt deprived. I did the typical divorcee thing and made up for it with a vengeance. Some women party and go on dating sprees. I traveled and started running. If there was any opportunity to pack my bag and get out of dodge, I would take it without a moment’s hesitation. I never thought I would see so much of the United States in a single calendar year. If not for my new beau D and Myles, I am certain I would’ve been wandering the country visiting my various friends.

Man with dog

D and Myles at the beach

If I wasn’t traveling, I was running or traveling to run. I had it on good authority that becoming a runner was in “The Divorcee’s Handbook”. I didn’t question it. I loved the way running was shaping my body and I became addicted to feeling of satisfaction that came from finishing races. Running was my therapy. It gave me a sense of accomplishment that I hadn’t felt in quite some time.

Additionally, I was making new friends and reconnecting with old ones. Movies. Festivals. Concerts. I attended as many as I was invited to.

It sounds great, right?

The second year came along and reality came banging on my door. Until the divorce was finalized, I put off thinking about or planning for my future. Years of running a household and struggling to make ends meet had left me exhausted and inert. I had put all of my focus on getting out of my marriage and none on what to do once I was free. Once it was finalized, I was left asking myself, “What now?”.

I assessed my situation. It was depressing. At 36, I was nearly broke, working part-time as a home attendant for my grandma and living with my parents. I went from living in a place of my own with my husband and dog to my family’s bustling, noisy household. I wasn’t just living with my family. Being in this household has brought many demands and expectations. I scarcely have a moment alone or time to think. I suspect this is why I haven’t blogged much nor have I done much design work. I’m pulled in many directions and don’t have as much time as I used to for myself. I can’t clear my head. Running gives me a little “me time”, but not much. I am definitely a person who thrives on being alone.

To add insult to the situation, I’m treated like a 18-year-old. I have a curfew and have to account for my whereabouts at all times. I’m not exactly sure how this came about. It may be because the last time I lived in this house I was still in college and the 12 years I spent living independently have been stricken from everyone’s memories.

For a time, I was even “forbidden” to date. My bad marriage apparently was a sign that I had poor judgment and couldn’t be trusted to make relationship decisions for myself. It was also suggested that my marriage to Rob was my only shot at marriage. To say that this has made dating D difficult doesn’t adequately describe it. Luckily for me, D has been very patient and understanding. This is why my relationship with D has been so low-profile. Another reason for the low-profile relationship was to keep some of the gossip and criticism at bay. I was bombarded with well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning comments about it being too soon for a relationship and that D was probably just a rebound. I hadn’t planned on getting involved, but sometimes life has other plans. D has been one of the best things to come into my life in a long time.

The adjustments that I had to make were not limited to my living quarters. When I packed up and moved from Los Angeles to Virginia Beach, I changed my lifestyle drastically. Because my 1st year in Virginia Beach was such a whirlwind, the gravity of what I had done didn’t hit me right away. Out of the blue, it hit me. I miss living in a city. I can’t say that I miss L.A. exactly, but I miss its resources. I miss the ability to find nearly anything my heart desires within a drivable distance. I miss being able to get REALLY good Thai at 1AM. Hell, I miss getting really good Thai food without paying an arm and a leg. I miss the food trucks and the immense variety of food that I had available. I miss farmers markets and all the fresh produce my heart desired. I miss having an enormous flower mart and garment district as my creative playground. I miss all the great paper and stationery shops. However there are things that I don’t miss. The traffic. The pollution. The crowds and the incredibly high cost of living.

So where does this leave me?

My inner circle let me gripe for a bit, but then basically gave me an ultimatum. Make a change or shut up. {Tough love goes a long way.}

I sent my résumé to the four winds and nothing happened. Not a call back. Not an email. Nothing. My years of work experience in L.A. left me in a weird position. I had paid my dues in an industry that was non-existent here. I was not qualified for the design jobs that were available here. I had zero experience with web design and that’s all most employers wanted here. I could try my hand in another metropolis like D.C., Philadelphia or New York City, but I lacked any of the capital to move again.

I was crushed and heartbroken. I guess I believed that magically everything would’ve fallen into place once I left Rob or put in a little effort to getting my life in order. In a way, I thought the mess my life had become was caused by the “mistake” I had made in marrying Rob. This for a short time translated into me not wanting to do anything for fear of making another mistake that I couldn’t remedy or digging myself into a deeper hole.

Thanks to Cicely, I got moving again.

I decided to go back to school to learn web design. I applied for grants and loans. I enrolled at my local community college last fall and managed to finance the endeavor on my own. Presently, I am taking a full course load. It is a lot of work and took a lot of adjustment. Prior to this, I hadn’t been in a college or university setting in over 10 years. I’m doing well and am enjoying the learning experience. I’m really hoping that this will be what gets my career back on track and gets the rest of the pieces to fall into place. I love my family, but am ready to have the degree of separation that allowed us better to appreciate one another. I’m looking forward to living in a place of my own again. More than anything, I miss my independence.

As rough as this sounds, I don’t regret marrying or divorcing Rob. It’s an experience that has shaped me, but not crushed me. I’m not where I want to be, but I know I’ll get there… eventually. Until then, I’ll keep fighting hard to move forward and live the life I’ve always wanted to live.

Wish me luck :)

Hello Again

Hi… Remember me?

I’m a blogger… I think.

I went from 100+ post a year to 5. As in, one, two, three, four, FIVE posts last year.

With a blog named “the Adventures of Anne K.”, the lack of posts would imply that I don’t have any adventures. That’s not the case. I’ve had quite a few adventures. I simply didn’t feel like sharing.

{GASP!}

What?! Did I actually say that?

Or let me be accurate, I didn’t share them here. I  facebooked and tweeted to a select group of family and friends.

For years, I shared my life with Rob.  Post-divorce, I wanted my privacy for a while. With so much of my life out in the open, people felt compelled to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do post-divorce. Some advice was good; some bad. Most of it was unsolicited.  Worst still were the judgments and recriminations that came. I can’t believe she got divorced so quickly. She didn’t give the marriage a chance. She ditched Rob and moved across the country. It’s too soon for her to start dating again. She’s having too much fun. Shouldn’t she be doing something more meaningful with her life? 

I don’t care what most people think. However, it was all so annoying. I didn’t feel the need to defend myself. It was unnecessary and futile. So, I went radio silent.

So, here’s what you missed…

2011 was a good year.

I traveled. I will blog those trips, btw.

I ran… A LOT. I got my first marathon in the books. That is quite a story as well.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what came next. My first year post-divorce was spent reveling in my newfound freedom. It was like the summer post-high-school, pre-college. Lots of fun, no responsibility.

The second year post-divorce was a rude awakening. I sacrificed a lot to get out of a bad situation. I left my home and was now living with my folks in my childhood bedroom. That is as awkward a situation as you might imagine. I am in my mid-30s living like a high school kid. I gave up city life for the suburbs. The stationery business that I put so much work into building was almost non-existent. I had a few potential clients back out. I applied for design job after design job with no response. I have no web design experience, which is in demand. I was now employed as a caregiver for my grandma, which I enjoy, but doesn’t pay enough to cover the debts I incurred during my marriage.

It’s not all bad. By no means am I complaining. Like I said, I was out of a bad situation. However, I was floundering.

To get my career and the rest of my life back on track, I decided to go back to school to learn web design. I enrolled at my local community college. There was a lot of paperwork and A LOT of adjustment. College had changed radically since I attended 10 years ago. Despite the differences, I am enjoying the learning experience. {Hi, Mr. Clement}. Let’s hope this means I’ll be at a job that I love and pays well by the end of the year.

In the meantime, I’ll be blogging again :)

For Bill

I met William “Bill” R. Walker and his lovely wife Evelyn in the fall of 2001. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, it should. They are my best friend Cicely’s parents. Meeting them was like meeting the real-life cross of the Huxtables and the Cleavers. I was instantly envious that Cicely had such great parents. They had come to Virginia Beach to visit Cicely and me in our rented condo, the condo which we now refer to as the “Argo Ct. Experience”. Bill and Evelyn were warm and effusive. They instantly whisked us off for shopping and dinner. I remember that first dinner distinctly. We went to Bangkok Garden, a local Thai restaurant. The food was so authentic that Evelyn and Bill were instantly transported back to when they lived in Thailand. Bill even spoke to our waiter in Thai, which delighted and startled him. If that wasn’t funny enough, Bill declared he was going to drink the sauce directly from the bowl of his Ginger Chicken. Evelyn was mortified. Cicely and I laughed. He didn’t do it. Although, he was “this close”. It was a wonderful evening – the first of many unforgettable times spent with the Walker family. It goes without saying that Bill and Evelyn became like second parents to me.

Bill worked in North Carolina after having spent a few years in Kuwait. Evelyn split her time between NC and Nashville, TN where she was caring for Cicely’s grandmother. Cicely and I would frequently visit Bill in NC. We would go to get mini-escapes from college work and our jobs as waitresses. It was serene and peaceful. I nicknamed their home the “Fortress of Solitude and Naps.” As a bonus, we were able to do our laundry, too. As college students who hated laundromats, this was the epitome of luxury. We once arrived while Bill was at work, loaded up our laundry, and fell asleep. Bill woke us proclaiming that he thought he’d been burglarized, but burglars don’t do laundry.

Cicely and I celebrate her birthday during one of our many visits

I relished these short visits. They were mostly spent relaxing, enjoying meals and having movie marathons with Bill. He’d regale us with stories from his work overseas and embarrass Cicely with stories from her childhood. Because Bill was also a photo enthusiast, we would “talk shop” about photography while Cicely read. We would make plans to go on photo safaris. Bill was very athletic and we’d trade adventure stories. Even in his 60s, Bill was still an avid cyclist and tennis player.

During one of our visits, Bill was considerably less energetic. He dismissed it and stated his doctor diagnosed him as being anemic. In March 2002, Bill was headed back to the doctor because he was feeling worse. That visit brought the worst possible news. Bill had Leukemia. It was a shock. How could someone so healthy and vibrant get so sick? Bill immediately began chemotherapy. We were all hopeful he’d pull through. Bill was a fighter. He had been a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War and followed that up with government work in many of the world’s hotspots like Panama and Kuwait. If anyone could fight Leukemia, it was Bill.

I was wrong. Leukemia had gotten a head start with Bill. Even with the chemotherapy and other treatments, Bill deteriorated quickly. By the summer, Bill was physically half the man he used to be. He was frail and thin. It was heartbreaking. All the while, he was very upbeat and determined. The months and treatments passed quickly.

Before we knew it, it was Thanksgiving. Because I knew Bill loved pie, I had found a local pie maker and brought an extravaganza of pies.  I bought 6 different pies – all his favorites. He cried when he saw all the pies. I told him that pies are not supposed to bring tears and that they must be terrible pies if they made him cry. He laughed. We had a pie party. By then, Cicely had moved back home to spend more time with her dad. At Thanksgiving dinner, I announced that I was moving to California. Bill and Evelyn were both very encouraging. They told me it was time for me to have my big adventure. It was the last time I saw Bill.

Between the holiday rush and packing up to move, I didn’t get another opportunity to visit Cicely, Evelyn and Bill in NC.  In January 2003, I arrived in Southern California. Shortly after that, Bill passed away surrounded by his family. I was unable to attend his funeral.

I knew then as I know now that Bill’s positive influence in my life cannot fully be measured. At the time, I was estranged from my father and had broken up with an emotionally abusive boyfriend. I was on the road to being what one might call a ball-busting man-hater. I’m not kidding. Bill doted on Cicely and was the kind of father I always wished I’d had. Bill and Evelyn frequently teased one another and “drove each other crazy”, but you could still feel the love after 40+ years of marriage. He actively volunteered and was an upstanding member of his community. Bill reminded me that there are good and amazing men in the world. If that wasn’t enough, he treated me as well as his own daughter. Bill’s time in my life was brief, but it left an indelible mark on my heart.

Because I was unable to attend his funeral, I wanted to find some other way to honor Bill. Initially, I thought I’d participate in the MS 100, which was an event that Bill regularly participated in. I quickly scrapped that idea when I discovered that I was in no way shape or form a cyclist.

My awesome friend Ben

My friend Ben trained for the L.A. Triathlon with Team In Training. Helping him fund raise and seeing him train inspired me. I was all set to train for the Nike Women’s Marathon with Team In Training. Then, life got in the way. I had a career that took all of my time. I stopped being active and put on weight. Years passed. I got married. I got divorced. I moved back to Virginia. I forgot about Team In Training and fundraising to commemorate Bill.

Regina and I after the Rock N Roll Denver Half

It wasn’t until last year that I thought about Team In Training again. I ran the Rock N Roll Denver Half Marathon with my friend Regina. Seeing her with the rest of the Team In Training Denver chapter convinced me.

Newest member of Team In Training

Here I am. After 8 years, I think it’s time I finally honor a man who meant a lot to me. I’m raising money for an organization that is fighting to find a cure for the very disease that took him far too soon. I don’t think any family should go through what the Walkers went through.

Please support me as I train for my 1st Marathon. It’s always been on my “Bucket List” to run one. I’ve tried to lotto into the Nike Women’s Marathon twice. This felt like my year.

Of course, donations will be greatly appreciated. I’ll have several fundraisers in the months coming up.

For those that would like to donate now, here is a link to my Team In Training page.

This will be quite an adventure. If you’d like to follow along with my marathon training, please feel free to read Anne K. Running Away.

Let the good times roll!

February 9-15, 2011 – Houston, TX and New Orleans, LA

Cicely and I on Bourbon Street

For a good portion of my life, I have had a small obsession with New Orleans, LA.  It has always had a certain allure and mystique. Then, I discovered Cajun and Creole cuisine in college. I was sold. I had made several plans to visit through the years. One year, I was supposed to go with some college friends to Mardi Gras. An overprotective guy friend put a halt to that. He didn’t like the idea of me “earning beads”. Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. For a moment, I thought I would never see the city. New Orleans recovered slowly, but surely. At one time, Rob was working on-location for the “Great Debaters” in Louisiana. We made plans for me to meet him in New Orleans. Again, those plans fell flat. Last year during our cross country roadtrip, Cicely and I were going to make a side trip to New Orleans. Our driving schedule fell apart and we didn’t make it. I was beginning to feel like it just wasn’t in the cards for me to visit the Crescent City.

Last summer, Cicely put her foot down and said that we were definitely going to go. One way or another, we were going to make it happen. New Orleans is a short drive from Houston. I was told that if I found my way to Houston, we would find our way to New Orleans. While I was in Denver, I signed up for the Mardi Gras Half Marathon in New Orleans. I sealed the deal.

I flew into Houston where Cicely happily awaited my arrival. I won’t bore you with the Houston portion of my trip. It was brief and not particularly noteworthy. Besides, I’d visited Houston several times. The only thing I like about it is that Cicely is there. The only things worth mentioning is that I finally met… FRASIER! (Cicely’s Boston Terrier)

Frasier C. Puppykins

and I had some heavenly Chinese food.

Pan-fried Noodles with Chicken and Chinese Broccoli from Tan Tan

Beef and Scallions on Flat Rice Noodles from Tan Tan

Once we handled some business in Houston, we headed for New Orleans.

Bridge on the way out of Houston

After a few hours on the road, we had arrived… New Orleans! At last!

Jackson Square

We met up with a few friends. I met the lovely Julia Pretus who I knew from Twitter. Our friend L joined us and eventually D rounded out our party.

The guys give their approval to the highlights of a NOLA bar

We had a simple agenda – enjoy a few sights and all the food and drink our stomachs could handle. Oh yeah.. and I was supposed to run a half marathon.

A motto I could live with

It wasn’t difficult to stick to our agenda. We ate a lot. New Orleans is a gastronome’s dream. You can’t get a bad meal anywhere and you don’t have to spend a lot for a delectable meal. This put my eating in Denver to shame. In New Orleans, I ate like someone who had been lost in the wilderness for months and ate nothing but nuts and berries. Here are a few of the tantalizing meals.

Shrimp and Grit Cakes from La Bayou Restaurant

Seafood Gumbo from Coop's Place

Oyster Po' Boy from Coop's Place

Rotisserie Beef with Burgundy Mushroom Glace from Zea Rotisserie & Grill

Thai-style Ribs from Zea Rotisserie & Grill

Mini-cupcakes from Kupcake Factory

Cobbler from La Bayou

Bananas Foster from Palace Café

Beignets from Cafe du Monde

For more of my food exploits, feel free to checkout my Foodspotting account.

You can’t go to New Orleans without drinking. Alcohol is plentiful and readily available. Again, I won’t say exactly how much we all drank. It’s not because I’m being discreet. Frankly, I’m not sure how much was imbibed. All I can say is that this is the most inebriated I’ve been in YEARS. I am a happy, giggly drunk who loves everyone. So, Cicely, L and D were in for quite a treat.

Daiquiri Shop - the daiquiri bar in the 'Hood with the awesome drink names

Hand Grenades from Tropical Isle

Hurricanes from Pat O'briens

I won’t share any more photos. I think you get the drift. Don’t worry.  Despite being blitzed beyond belief, I retained my dignity and didn’t try to “earn beads”. Besides, it was cold out ;)

It’s not a startling revelation that this was not my most stellar half marathon performance. Between the eating and being hungover, I did not fare well. In fact, it set me up for some serious asthma issues in the middle of the race. There was a moment were I even considered pulling out of the race. I was given the option, but decided to continue and finish. The course while flat and scenic was peppered with potholes and very uneven roadways. I saw quite a few people take spills and roll ankles. It wasn’t pretty. The worst part is that many of the water stops were undermanned. There wasn’t enough cups of water ready for those of us that started towards the back of the pack. It was such a rough go that D and I didn’t even stay for the post-race festivities. This is easily my least favorite half marathons of the ones I’ve done thus far. I’d be hard-pressed to run it again.


On a slightly sappy sidenote, D and I celebrated Valentine’s Day in New Orleans.

enjoying popsicles from Meltdown

The verdict? New Orleans was better than I could’ve dreamed. Although, I couldn’t live there. I’d be bigger than a house even with all my running. Also, I won’t be running any races there again, but I’ll certainly be back to eat.