Monday, September 30, 2013

That Time I Ran a Race and Won a Truck

This happened on Saturday.

Yep. I won a truck.  A Dodge Ram. And the above is my photo from the newspaper where I was heading up to the stage after they called my name (and my handsome and excited hubby following behind me.)

All for running a half marathon.  You see kids?  It pays to run races.

Background: Adam works for Cummins (that's why we moved to the middle of the cornfields of Indiana).  Cummins was the main sponsor of the Inaugural Mill Race Marathon event this weekend, including a 5K, half and full.  A few months back, they announced that someone who finished the half or the full would win this truck.  Adam was like, "there's only supposed to be 3,000-4,000 runners.  That's better odds than the lottery."  Having never run more than a 5K race, he suggested this as his first half solely because of those odds at winning something.

We knew even then that we'd likely walk a lot.  Running his first half so soon after the wedding and honeymoon? There wasn't going to be time for us to train properly.  Honestly, neither of us have run more than 2 miles or so at once in MONTHS.

We showed up Saturday morning, and conditions were perfect.  We started off easy from the beginning, clocking 11:30 or so miles.  We pretty much ran most of the first 7 miles.  We then started incorporating more walk breaks.  We enjoyed the sunny, cool day.  It felt like fall!  I was excited to be running a race again (my last race was in early December of last year).

We had our bibs customized to say "Husband" and "Wife."  Someone even noticed and cheered us on saying, "there go the honeymooners!"

We finished in 2:39:58, which I thought was pretty darn good considering our lack of training.  Adam did so great for his first half, and I was so proud of him!

We changed clothes and freshened up.  We went and had some pizza and beer.  We wandered around the after party.  We knew you had to be present to win the truck at the big drawing at 3pm, and while we never dreamed we'd win, we knew we might as well hang out to be sure.

When it was time, there was a huge crowd.  We weren't too close to the stage, but we could hear ok.  They finally got to the part where they drew a number... and announced, "1864." And it hit me that it was one of us!  And then they said, "Melanie Riddick" and it took a second (I've only been that name for less than 2 months now) and Adam going, "that's you!" before it sunk in.

And then it was just a rush of adrenaline.  I was shaking, and I couldn't believe it.  It was so surreal.  I jumped up because I wanted them to know I was there (I'm short, and I knew they wouldn't see me if I didn't cause a commotion... plus, I was excited!)

I started making my way up to the stage, Adam behind me.  As the crowd parted, everyone was cheering and giving me high fives and fist bumps.  I got on stage and they handed me the microphone, which I was not expecting.  I said how exciting this was and pointed out Adam and said we just got married last month so this is a great wedding gift (this girl has a journalism degree, and I know how to give the media a good lead, haha) and thanked the dealer who gave it and then headed down off the stage still sort of bouncing around.

We were immediately surrounded by some photographers and reporters before being walked over to the trucks where we got to pick between black and red.  There were more pictures and questions, and they put me on the radio for a minute.  More and more people kept coming up to congratulate us and hug me and everything - another piece of evidence that the running community is the best.  These people were so excited for us!

Eventually, we drove away in the black one and got to spend the weekend driving around town in it.

Adam and I sort of have to laugh because nothing in our lives since we started dating last summer has been normal.  Seriously... who wins a car in a random drawing?!

The nitty gritty? We've already sold it.  Thanks to the ridiculous tax structure in our fine country, we still have to pay taxes on it as if it's income.  We'd have been fools to keep it and have to pay out of pocket for all the taxes.  This way we came out a little bit ahead.... because even though we sold it, we still have to pay the income taxes on it this year. UGH. (I'm sorry, but if you win something that is free, it should be free... not something the government gets to tax you on.  No political discussion needed - it's just dumb. End rant.)

All that's neither here nor there.  This has just been surreal.  And exciting.  And one of the craziest things to ever happen to me.  And while we can't say we miss living in Nashville any less, this did redeem Indiana just the tiniest bit for us this weekend.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

On Parenting

I can still remember the day I met Adam's son.  I pulled up at his house to find him, Connor, and Adam's mom running around in the back yard with the dog.  Connor was about 4 1/2, and his first question for me was if I was at Jessica's funeral.  Ah, kids... no censor or awareness half the time about the world around them... I knew he was just trying to figure out if he'd met before.

Of course, I had no idea at the time I would become this child's step-mom.  Ever since that day in June 2012 and in very different ways, I have fallen in love with this kid just as much as I have his daddy.

One of the ways I knew that Adam was the man for me was that he was an amazing dad.  I could see him firsthand parenting his son, and I knew that I would never doubt what kind of a father he would be to our future children.

I remember feeling nervous in the beginning... would Connor love me?  Would he enjoy me being around?  Would he listen to me?

Over time, we found that half the time he minds me better than Adam... we think because he loves women, haha.

Becoming a step-parent has caused me to think about parenting styles a lot more than I ever dreamed I would be this early in a relationship.  Adam and I of course had numerous conversations, and we quickly found that we have the same approach.

And I've quickly found that it's so easy to be critical of how other parents are doing it.  That's something I do not want to do or to have done to me.  There's no one right way... I think we're all evidence of that... But I do know that there are some key things Adam and I will teach Connor and our future children regardless of what everyone else in the world around us thinks.

Last night, we stumbled upon this article: What is Ruining Our Kids? You. Not Miley Cyrus.

When we are responsible for the rearing of a child, we have to hold ourselves accountable first before looking to anyone else that may influence that child.  I'm not saying that other people can't influence our children and that we should protect them from every bad influence... but I am saying that it starts with us and what we teach them.

The article resonated with us for many reasons.  Connor is closing in on 6.  He's in kindergarten.  He is smart. (Seriously, Adam and I both were bored in school... and we suspect the same will happen with Connor as he already reads above his level.)  We have felt for a while that he is "old enough" to do a lot of things... get dressed, make his bed, clean his room, help fold laundry, help with other tasks like cooking or putting groceries away..  Sure, there are some exceptions.  We're not quite ready to task him with getting out the milk and pouring his own glass.  But he's getting there.

In the article, Mother Cusser says, "If you never let your child have an opportunity to make a decision, he will have no self-esteem at all.  Because he will not believe in himself enough to know the right thing to do."

SO TRUE.  And it's baffling to me that there are parents out there who don't get that.

Connor has some rules in our home that I'm not sure are typical.  He's not allowed to talk or act like a baby, even for pretend.  He's not allowed to whine.  He's expected to act like a big boy.  We praise him when he does things for himself or to help us out.  Our conversations on the phone with him typically involve a few minutes finding out "what color he was on" at school that day and what he did wrong if he didn't stay on green.  We praise him when he does a good job, and we ask him to tell us what he needs to do better on the days when he's not on a positive color.  (And we also remember how much simpler life was when we were in school... you either got to play at recess or you didn't.)

Adam and I have high expectations for Connor.  And he knows it.  He's quickly learned how to self-correct... for about 3 weeks we had issues with back talking.  We explained why it wasn't ok, and we told him what will happen if he continues to do it (doesn't get pennies to put toward a reward, loses a privilege, etc.) and then started giving warnings.  It wasn't long before he'd start a sentence, stop, and then rephrase to say it correctly and not as a smart-alec.

I'm sure Adam and I will never be perfect parents - there's no such thing!  But we do want for Connor and our future children to grow up knowing we believe in them and believing in themselves... that they can learn what the right thing is and how to decide how to do it... that they understand and experience consequences when they don't do the right thing... that we are not overprotective and wind up with them all living with us into their 30s!