Sunday, April 19, 2015

20 Years Remembered

April 19, 1995

Today marks 20 years since the Oklahoma City bombing.

I remember sitting in my 5th grade class and hearing a big boom of thunder around 9a.m. which was odd since it was a clear day. I remember the field trip we were supposed to leave for shortly to downtown Oklahoma City just blocks away from the bombing was cancelled but none of us knew why. I remember various friends leaving throughout the day to go find out the fate of one of their parents. I remember rumors of an explosion in downtown but not understanding how big or how close it was. I remember the day my state and home city was attacked, but I remember it through the eyes of a 10 year old who didn't fully comprehend any of it.

Now, today I am struck anew by the devastation of that day as I look upon it as a 30 year old instead. I see it now through the lens of a mother's whose children go to daycare and my heart aches for the mothers who lost their children in that daycare. It was not fair. I see it now through the lens of a wife whose husband goes downtown each day to work & runs by the site every week. My heart aches for those who lost their spouse that day. It was not fair. I see it now through the lens of a suburban Oklahoma family who wouldn't ever dream of something like this happening in our state much less our area. My heart aches for our state and the scar it left on so many of us.

And I see the survivor tree and I am reminded of the goodness of God. I am reminded that in spite of evil, our God is supreme and we have a Hope. I am reminded of the resilience of Oklahoma City and how everyone came together to support & love one another in the face of the worst tragedy we had ever and hope to ever know. I am proud to be an Oklahoman.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Run Free Mama Dash

You’ve heard of the Warrior Dash, the Color Run, and even Glow Runs.  Neat.  We have too.  But when we tried to think of what makes a person a true athlete…a true warrior, if you will, there was nothing that more clearly identified the kind of champions we strive to be than this little adventure race called Motherhood.  

When we saw the Run Free Mama Dash Adventure Race was going to be held on Mothers’ Day weekend, we knew we owed it to ourselves and our precious children to see if we had what it takes to test our mental and physical mommy strength.  So, we gathered the fiercest group of mothers around and signed up.  

Our adrenaline was really pumping as we geared up at the starting line.  Our first challenge was to carry babies in the world’s heaviest contraptions (aka infant carseats).  They loaded our little darlings down with full diapers to really give the obstacle the extra 3.5 pounds of weight it needed.  And let us tell you, carrying these while running 5K…not easy.  We just kept telling ourselves to pretend it was a Sunday morning sprint across the church parking lot.  Because we all remember those Sunday mornings of being 40 minutes late to church because of baby spit up, toddler tantrums, and poop…so much poop.  But, by golly, you got everyone dressed and to church and you were not going to let a simple thing like “being on time” stop you.  Once we channeled that, the 5K was a breeze!

The next obstacle was The Diaper Crawl.  This obstacle was built for us.  Sure, as new mothers the smell of a baby’s poop was enough to send us gagging.  But after changing somewhere in the range of 12,500 diapers, this obstacle was nothing we couldn’t handle.  A little mommy competition may have even come out as we set out across the soiled battle field.  

After The Diaper Crawl, we ran another 3 miles to The Grocery Store Challenge.  All mothers know that grocery shopping with children is its own special experience.  Sometimes the children are wonderful and engaged in the shopping experience.  Other times, you have to be ready to run through that grocery store like your life depended on it.  Because YOU KNOW you have exactly as long as the free Target cookie lasts until one of your children has a complete meltdown.

Public Service Announcement: If you own a pair of jeans that resemble these, THROW THEM AWAY!
Mothers of the world, give up the Mom Jeans. They are not flattering. At all. 

Why was this race so fun???  Because we had the loving support of our sweet husbands and children cheering us on the entire way!  Just like any rough day, a simple sweet phrase and hug from your kiddo can make you feel like you can get back up and go an extra mile…or 20. The goldfish and juice boxes also provided just the sugar boost we needed.

 After making record breaking time at the Grocery Store Challenge, we sprinted to the next obstacle.  While this one appears to be simple in nature, The Highchair Highway was trickier than we expected.  We strapped our youngest ones in and ran 3.2 miles.  We must admit, the Goldfish crackers being thrown from the trays became an obstacle in and of themselves.  If you think Goldfish dust isn’t a real thing, then you’ve never strapped a one-year-old in a highchair and run 3.2 miles.  It’s all kinds of real.

 But that Highchair challenge was only the beginning of the food throwing we were about to endure.  As mothers, we’ve all been covered in peas, corn, and multiple other foods on more occasions than we can count.  In fact, from the time our children were ages birth through 3, most of us didn’t purchase any new clothes because we just knew they’d end up covered in stains.  So, this was a challenge we were fully prepared for.  You aren’t a true mommy warrior unless you’ve been pelted with handfuls of corn and peas from multiple children all at one time!

The biggest challenge we had to face was the emotional endurance test – the Mile Long Nag. We ran as fast as we could through this obstacle, gathering our patience and endurance to help us push through. It was tough. It was draining. Even now, I can barely speak of the challenge without my head tilting slightly and forehead vein popping out.

Once we made it through that obstacle, we were tired.  We were worn.  We were exhausted.  This race of motherhood isn’t for the faint of heart.  But we kept running because that’s what mothers do.  One foot in front of the other.  One step at a time.  And then we looked up and remembered why we do it.  Because the blessings for which we run are completely worth it.  And as we crossed that finish line, we were met with their sweet little faces eager to say, “GOOD JOB, MOMMY!”  There, waiting at the finish line were our adorable children with their homemade medals. They were so proud of us!

You see, our children were waiting for us at a streamer that marked the end of this little adventure on pavement. But the true adventure of Motherhood never ends. From the day you find out you are expecting a bundle of joy, you are a mother. And you get the privilege of having that tile for...forever. No matter the age of your baby or the stage of life they are in, you will always be "Mom." What a blessing. What a privilege. What a journey. And so on this Mother's Day Weekend, we are reminded that this job - MOTHERHOOD - it is work. It is hard. It is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And there is nothing better than getting to do it each and every day.

Disclaimer: No children were harmed during the course of the Run Free Mama Dash Adventure Race. Blog post was written in conjunction with 2 Kids Playing House.

Friday, June 14, 2013

29 Before 30

In just a few weeks, I will celebrate my 29th birthday. My husband's 29th birthday was just a couple weeks ago, so we have been talking about what it means to be approaching the end of our twenties. These are the years we are supposed to look our best, have tons of energy, live a super active life, and savor our youth. However, the more we talked, the more we realized something very true about the Pyles. We are boring. We haven't been adventurous in our twenties - not even before our son was born. When people ask us, "What are your hobbies" or "What do you do in your spare time?", we both struggle to come up with what to say. The truth is we don't have any hobbies. We just spend time together, doing day to day things. Even before Nash came, our "hobby" was eating out and drinking a lot of wine. Not really something to brag about.

So, we have decided not to waste our final year in our twenties. Each of us is making a 29 Before 30 list of 29 things we must accomplish before we turn 30. Some of these are big undertakings, while others are minor life pleasures or accomplishments that we have never taken time to enjoy. Here are some of the things on my list, in no particular order:

  1. Sew one thing for our soon-coming Baby Girl - I have an awesome sewing machine that I got for Christmas about 4 years ago. I have yet to use it. To be honest, I'm scared of it. Time to face that fear and bust it out! What better excuse than a baby girl?!
  2. Memorize 10 Bible verses. I don't mean just regurgitating words that I know. I mean really ponder them, know them, and use them in life. I want to know God's Word better.
  3. Cook real Pad Thai - none of this "from a box" stuff. I want to try to make the real thing. 
  4. Make a new friend. Who doesn't want a new friend? I'm now accepting applications. ;)
  5. Be able to label all 50 states on a blank US map. I cannot even come close. I am terrible at geography - it's really embarrassing!
  6. Create a love drawer. This is something Dave Ramsey taught us in Financial Peace University that is so important should something ever happen to Nathan or me. We have never taken the time to do it. Now is the time.
  7. Visit all of the Oklahoma Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives restaurants within an hour of us.  
  8. Have a healthy BMI. The above goal is pretty much contradictory to this one, but there has to be cheat days in any diet, right? I don't need to be a supermodel by any means, but I do want to be healthy. 
  9. Read a classic book. The classics are consider classic for a reason right? I read some in school, but most likely I really just read the Spark Notes. Any favorites out there? 
  10. Successfully hard boil an egg. Yes, I know there are plenty of Pinterest pins and blogs that tell you the fool-proof way to do this. But somehow, I find a way to always mess it up. Not this year.  You will not defeat me!

These are just a selection of the 29 things on my list, all aimed at improving myself, trying new things, and spending a year finding an answer to, "What do you do in your spare time?" So, here's to a more active final year in our twenties. This is going to be fun.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Daily Blessings

Two days ago marked another tragic day in Oklahoma history as a 2-mile wide tornado tore through miles of Moore & South OKC. I have been overwhelmed by the destruction, the loss, and the helplessness of my beloved state. However, through this, an outpouring of love has come from fellow Oklahomans, Americans and people all over the world who are hurting along side our state and stepping up to care for us. It truly is amazing and humbling.

So, today I am choosing to see the blessings - the small moments that make up the larger moments that are our life - and thanking the Lord for another day with my loved ones. The things I usually take for granted are sweeter today.

My daily blessings:

  • Family worship time reading a simple toddler Bible story together followed by snuggles in bed and more books to read. 
  • A cupcake date with my son.
  • Assembling a new rocking chair for our baby girl's nursery as a family, working together to make sure she is well cared for when she arrives in just a few short months.
  • Quiet moments in the house with two loving pups curled up at my feet.
  • Chaos moments in the house as we scramble to get everyone dressed, fed, lunches packed, teeth brushed, and out of the door on time.
  • The constant assurance of a Savior who is sovereign in the midst of all of life's moments - big, small, minute, and catastrophic - He is in control & He is good.

I hope you too will pause today and see your blessings through routine. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Cluttered Living Room

As I sit here enjoying the silence of my home and my tasty bagel with cream cheese, I look out across my kitchen and living room with a sigh. It is once again cluttered with toys on the floor & tables, blankets strewn across the couch, dishes in the sink while the dishwasher awaits emptying, and an empty milk carton sits smack in the middle of the island. It's easy to get frustrated as a mom with young children when our homes do not look the way we imagined them to be. But this morning, I am choosing to find joy in the clutter instead of frustration. You see, when Nathan and I were pre-kids, we swore we would never have a cluttered house. Our children's toys would stay in their own rooms and they would not invade our adult spaces. Ha! There is so much we didn't know.

I didn't know that the green ball in the middle of the kitchen floor would make me smile as I remember the joy on my toddler's face as he brought it up to me and declared it was pink. I didn't know that the books on the table would not be a point of annoyance but a reminder of the sweetest moments with my son when he carefully selects a book and without a word, backs into my lap to snuggle and read. I didn't know that the disheveled blankets would be because we were crawling through a fort the night before and then after bed, they served to help me snuggle up to my man while we enjoyed some quiet moments just the two of us reminiscing about the day and our wonderful life.

Yes, we give up a lot of personal domain when we welcome children into our families - but we get so much more. So today I choose to find the joy in the clutter - even the dirty dishes which continue to multiply because there are more mouths to feed and to love. We are blessed with clutter and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Run Free Marathon

Today was the long awaited Run Free Race. I could not have asked for better running mates than my fabulous gal pals Sara & Elizabeth. They kept me motivated through all 26.2 nonexistant miles. Now this was not a race like any other race. We faced obstacles, injuries, and wild animals along the way.

Pre-Race: Carbing up
It's very important to have proper nutrition before a big race. We took this quite seriously with homemade buttermilk biscuits & bacon gravy, banana bread, sprinkle donuts, and a little extra bacon for good measure.

Preparing our Bodies
Not just anybody can run 26.2 miles. It's important to prepare your body for what's to come with proper stretching.

 Team Hot Sundae is ready to rock this!!

Off to a good Start
The way you start a race is just as important as the way you finish. We had immense concentration as we kicked off the morning.

We got this!

We're serious about running.

Police Escort
The local police were there to get us going as well. Officer Miller helped set the pace and make sure the roads were cleared for us to run. Clearly, we started out in the lead of all the other runners.

We should have gotten a ticket for speeding!!

Wild Animals
A flock of ferocious birds blocked our path but we did not let this deter us. No wild beast could stand in our way!

The Rock Wall
We had to scale a rock wall to continue on. We took that wall by force and gracefully mastered it to continue on.

Agility Test
Each of us had to face our own agility test around the traffic cones. We had to prove that we were the fittest of the bunch by leaping, weaving and hurdling these obstacles.

Staying Motivated
When the going got tough, we were encouraged by fans and our team mates alike. It's important to have a strong support system during a marathon. It's also important to have someone dangling Thin Mints in front of you to keep you going.

You can do this, Sara! (E was our motivational coach)

Thanks for the motivation, Cooper. I will run like I am chasing the ice cream man.

The Zip Line
As we approached the end of our journey, we had to face the gruesome zip line. Once again, we faced our fitness fears with grace and ease, mastering this enormous challenge.

No Pain, No Gain
Our journey was not without injury. Luckily, Dr. Nash Pyles was there to nurse us all back to health.
Dr. Pyles is so kind to his patients. You're going to make it, Miss Elizabeth.

I desperately needed a shot along the way - just a little adrenaline.

An ice pack for Sara's hamstring

Finishing Strong
Finally, after 26.2 long miles, we approached the finish line. It was a feeling like none other, to know that we had accomplished something amazing.

26.2 miles really is exhausting

I rock!!

The Recovery
It's important to hydrate and consume nutritious calories after a long run.

So there you have it. My first 26.2 Run Free Race. It really was the greatest race that never was.