“[That thing you made] was amazing.”

My boss was referring to a printed media piece I’d made for a work event. I thanked him, but tried to downplay the compliment. And the reality is, the item wasn’t in itself anything close to deserving such a qualifier. When you factored in the very little time I had to produce it in the quantity needed? OK, maybe still not amazing, but moderately impressive.

No, when I think of amazing things, I tend to relate to the victories of parenthood, as often one does when one is a parent. Like when I was standing in my daughter’s third grade classroom during Open House and while signing up for parent/teacher conferences, I had the foresight to schedule her conference adjacent to her brother’s. Actually, I’d say those moments cause me to reflect and relish my sheer scheduling genius and make me think, huh, there are some brain cells still kicking around after all.

Or amazing might be that eight years and three kids later, we’re all still here, all digits intact, and we all still like each other most of the time. Or that we can somehow get everyone dressed and out the door most mornings, or that the cacophony of iPad sounds that comes from the backseat of my morning commute hasn’t driven me completely insane yet.

Or that my little boy is starting school in less than a week. Kindergarten. The big kids’ school.

Aaron and his cubby

I know, it’s so cliché to say how fast time flies, but it’s not even that. It’s more like every day has been mashed together, only a few distinguishable from the rest. One day you’re searching for real shoes for the kid, because he’s starting to walk on his own. And then suddenly you remember oh shit, he needs an extra pair of shoes for gym class. And then you pat yourself on the back for remembering this before you’re walking him in on the first day of school. (Another amazing parenting victory, right there.)

So many words that should carry so much more impact (“It’s so awesome!!”) have lost so much with overuse. Amazing is probably one of them. So many things we label as amazing are really just plain, ordinary things. The idea of language being fluid and changing has been a tough pill for me to swallow, as I’ve always been one to enjoy finding examples of bad grammar, and I cringe when words are accepted into our lexicon when every fiber of my being wants to scream out that it’s wrong. (Please don’t tell me about the time you literally died.)

But I’m changing, because that is what we do as humans. We adapt. And as parents, it’s a given: it usually doesn’t go the way you planned, but that’s not always a bad thing. And it might seem like it goes by in the blink of an eye, but at times, it really is an amazing ride. Literally.

A new view

I am attending a weekly running group. It’s been on my List of Things for years now, but Reasons have gotten in the way. A few weeks ago, I looked at my current running state, which was abysmal, and my current social state, also abysmal. I decided it was time to get out of the house one night a week for a standing date with other running humans. If anything, I hoped it would get me to commit to at least one more night a week of running, because I was averaging a single run per week.

Winter has been hard.

It’s not that I don’t like people, but it takes me time to warm up to new ones, and in a group setting, I have to fight the urge to move to the outside of the room. Even in settings like this, where I have a common thread, it turns me into a bundle of nerves.

I knew that the first month of my return to running wouldn’t be easy. My fitness has taken a hit, and I can’t keep up the same paces with the same ease I could over the summer. I’d put on some weight. So as I stood there with strangers, shivering and feeling slightly underdressed for the weather, yanking up the capris I bought at Walmart  (due to last minute ill-fitting clothing anxiety).

Me in capris that cost me $15, which is the most I’m willing to pay when my other running clothes don’t fit.

I felt like turning toward the parking lot and leaving. I’ve run over a dozen marathons and countless other races, logged thousands of miles, and as I stood on the curb waiting for the run to begin, I felt like I didn’t belong.

I didn’t feel like a runner anymore.

About a dozen people showed up, and off we went, racing across the parking lot. There was no warm up. There was no easing into it. By the time we crossed the lot and turned onto the avenue, which was on a slight incline, I’d been dropped.

In some ways, this was good. It took off some of the pressure of keeping up with people who were younger and faster and fitter. But then I realized that I was the back of the pack. And even though I am by no means a fast runner, I have never worn that label or sought it out. I have existed quite happily somewhere in the middle, a place I could hang easily.

But here I was, huffing and puffing up the hill, heart rate pounding away 20 beats per minute faster than where I run comfortably, my pace two minutes slower per mile than where it used to be. And while I wish I could say I was just taking it easy, it’s only partly true. I was taking it easy. But lately? Easy is all I’ve got.

runners on the road
This is what the view from the back of the pack looks like.

Something has happened. I feel like a Switch has been turned off—The Switch that turns on my love for running, my desire to be out there, the rhythm of my footfalls—and I’m having a hard time turning it on. It’s like it’s encrusted in a layer of crud, one I’m trying to scrape off, just so I can toggle The Switch back to ON.

I want to keep going to running group. What proves to be the biggest challenge, the one that makes it hardest to continue to show up, is to not think about what others are thinking. The ones who don’t know me (basically everyone) as the New Person, who can’t keep up with the rest of the group. The Slow One. The One who’s clearly packing on that extra weight that often comes with middle age and multiple childbirths.

I know, I know. It doesn’t matter. But it doesn’t make it any easier.

As for The Switch, I’m working on it. I’m chipping away, trying to move it. In the meantime, I’m still going to running group, even if I’m running by myself and my view is the ass end. I once claimed my superpower was showing up, and it still is. I’ll be there, even if that means I’m bringing up the rear, so to speak.

And I’ve learned this: it doesn’t matter your capris look like when everyone else is a mile ahead.

Vika, Warrior Princess

Before Hadley, there was Vika.

My knitting life has had surges and lows where I’ve destashed completely and jammed everything in a drawer. That was mostly due to life—babies, toddlers, then multiple babies and running. It was mostly due to running.

I have a hard time not getting completely consumed in activities. When I am training for a race, I’m all in.

And apparently, when I’m not training for a race (or it’s winter), I find other things to obsess over. Like my first cabled sweater.

I decided to go lower budget than Shelter, and Woolstok is the workhorse it’s advertised to be: consistent, sturdy, an all-around fantastic worsted wool yarn.

And I love it. It seemed perfect for Vika.

Vika was one of those projects I started around the holidays and kind of poked at off and on. It seemed an almost insurmountable task, which at times made me reluctant to pick it up. Why bother? It’s going to take forever.

At some point I decided not to focus on the end result but try to enjoy the act itself. As corny as it sounds, I wanted each stitch to stand on its own. Be a meditation. I wanted to enjoy knitting every single stitch of this sweater until I the very last stitch was bound off.

And I did. Really. And some stitches I enjoyed more than once because I lost track of the cables and had to rip back. *snerk*

In the end, after some seaming I’ll admit I just made up as I went along, I had my first seamed sweater.

And I am mostly pleased.

But it’s too big, and it is heavier than a sweater I want to wear on a regular basis for activities not limited to just sitting on the couch watching Netflix.

Lessons learned: ease is great, but I tend to go overboard. I also need to remember that I am 5’1″ tall and not as tall as the models often shown wearing these garments. Too much ease is overpowering on my short frame. So is length.

And it’s possible that if I’d knit this in a lighter yarn like Shelter, that the ease wouldn’t bother me as much.

So there will be a Vika 2.0, knit in the proper yarn, in the proper size. Until then, I’ll search for a worthy recipient; it pains me to see it languishing unworn on the shelf. unworn.

Hadley, banged.

Mistakes were made. Modifications to the waist shaping were made (because my waist has very little shape and it isn’t an hourglass). Sleeves were shortened. Color choices were second guessed and then mildly regretted. Expletives were uttered. What seemed like a million yarn ends were woven in. But in the end, Hadley.

I’ll admit I joined the #bangoutahadley knitalong, not because I was in love with the pattern but because of the challenge. Knit an entire sweater in the shortest month of the year. Add in new techniques. It had been ages since I’d attempted to knit with more than one color (at least ten years), and if memory serves me right, I was awful at it. I’d also just learned to knit continental style (more on that later) and this seemed like the perfect practice swatch. Plus, how fun is it to knit something with strangers across the Interwebs? Sign me up!

Not only did I use new techniques, but I used new yarn. Not having a yarn budget for the called-for yarn (Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, which is my absolute favorite yarn ever), I took a chance on a budget buy (Valley Yarns Amherst 100% merino). I wanted a blank canvas for the color work to shine through (or expose all of my flaws). Either way, it worked.

I don’t plan on knitting another, but if I did, I’d choose a darker yarn color to hide the increases and decreases. I also got a little off on one row of decreases above the color work, which may or may not be obvious.

Other new things tried during this project? A simple stretchy bind-off for the neck (found here). It doesn’t match the tubular cast-on I used for the sleeves and hem but in all honesty I just really wanted to finish this damn thing without breaking into another skein of yarn (I ended up with two to spare).

And can I add something about tubular cast-ons? They are my new favorite. They are absolutely worth the extra yarn and work, in my opinion.
I’m not the greatest with color choices and would choose different ones had I the choice to make again. But I wanted to work this from my stash and but as little new yarn as possible.

I have a lot to learn about colorwork. I was able to navigate two colors pretty easily, and there were only a few rows that required me to carry a third (which I felt was a PITA). But my sleeves ended up pretty tight. I hoped they would loosen a little after blocking. It’s possible they did a hair, but still, note to self: stay loose-er.

Never judge a book by its cover, and never judge a sweater before you block it.

I did promise to reserve all judgment until I’d blocked it; the pre-blocking try-on was dismal. Oh, so dismal.

Trying on right before I finished the collar.

But after blocking, I’m happier. I post the pre-block photo to attempt to show the waist shaping; I omitted the middle decreases and just worked enough along the side to give me a difference of two inches (instead of the called-for ten inches. Yes. Ten inches.).

Overall? It was a good knit. There are more details on the knitalong and Hadley over at Mason Dixon Knitting, if you’re interested.

Epilogue: I love you, Craftsy.

Craftsy saved the day. (This is not a paid enorsement.) I had not heard of Craftsy until I ended up at their site one day picking up (on incredible deal) what would end up being the yarn for my Snoqualmie (95% finished!). I have always believed I could find any lesson I needed for free on the YouTubes, so the idea of paying real money for lessons seemed unnecessary.

I don’t believe that anymore. Though you can still learn a lot from the webs, it just doesn’t compare to the instruction at Craftsy. The attention to detail, the close-up camera shots, the ability to rewatch a section over and over. Not  only that, but I’ve just loved the instructors. I feel like they’re sitting with me in my living room. For someone like me who lives in the sticks and doesn’t have the luxury of their LYS holding regular workshops, I’m a fan. In fact, I would still be working on the body of this had Lorilee Beltman not taught me to knit contenental style via her class on Craftsy. After I got the hang of it, I was able to fly through the sea of stockinette. Even the 2×2 ribbing went much faster when I finally gave up yarn throwing.

And while it’s a little embarrassing to admit, I’d never properly spliced yarn together or been taught how to weave in ends; I always winged it. Ann Hanson’s class on finishing handknits taught me how, and now I don’t fear that part of the project.

In short, the classes have made me a more capable, confident knitter. I just can’t say enough. Definitely check them out.

Unplugged and missing out on everything and nothing

I couldn’t find my Garmin watch this morning so I am watchless. I went running anyway—completely unplugged—which is something I would not have done this summer. Turns out that if the Internet doesn’t know about it while it’s happening (or has no Strava record of it after the fact), it still happened.

It also seems that the sun keeps rising and setting, even if I don’t check in on Facebook every day. Even better, my mood has improved. I’ve gone for over a week without yelling at my kids. Overall, my frustration level is lower. I’m willing to concede I might miss a few breaking news stories or pictures of puppies or my friends’ kids, but I’m okay with that.

I’m managing. I’m finding the Joy Of Missing Out.

Trees on M-123

On my mind:

  • Time: I’m thinking about it a lot these days—how much I have and what I want to do with that time. Going to a funeral can do that to you.
  • Poverty. I can’t stop thinking about this podcast series on poverty myths I listened to last week, how the story of poverty in America is so wrapped in lies and how much we interject personal bias. Also, how so many of us, myself included, don’t really know poverty. We know people who struggle financially, and we may even have been there at many points in our lives, but we always had a home to go to at the end of the day. Something to eat in the fridge. Heat. Electricity. Running water. We don’t know real poverty. We’ve never even seen it first hand. But the saddest part? It doesn’t have to be this way. And I’m not doing anything to change that. That needs to change.  (Listen to the Busted: America’s Poverty Myths by On the Media)
  • Privacy, specifically digital privacy and recognizing the argument of “I have nothing to hide, so I don’t care if everyone has access to my data” is stupid. Yup, another podcast series: The Privacy Paradox by Note to Self.


Open mind. Open heart. Be patient. Love fully.  Slow down. Eat well. Shed the bulk. Do more with less. Listen more. Reconnect. Be present. Get outside. Move often. Knit more. Be kind. Forgive. Give thanks. Try harder.

Low is the new high

When it’s easier to just embrace the messy hair, because it makes your post-lunch run hair seem…normal.

When your toddler licks or gnaws the frosting off all the mini wheats cereal, then hands you the bowl. And you eat it, without skipping a beat.


When it’s Friday and you recognize that your kids will probably stay in their pajamas all weekend, provided they don’t have a fantastic food spill or heinous bodily fluid explosion. And you’re totally okay with that.

When your car has made That Sound for the last few months, but you haven’t taken it to The Guy for him to fix it, because you know it’s not life-threatening and it’s easier to just turn up NPR than to schedule a few days without a second vehicle.

When you see another presidential transition news update in your inbox and it makes you want to scream, which leads you to do the thing that always calms you down: you bake things. And if you don’t eat the entire pie in one sitting (or standing over the pie plate with a rubber spatula with the refrigerator door open), you call it a win.

I know, not the most appetizing looking pie but seriously good filling. Crust? Needs work. Has not stopped me from eating an embarrassing amount of it. Someone save me from myself.

When you realize that even if The Bar is lower than it used to be (or maybe even dragging in the mud), as long as there is said bar, you’re doing okay. We are all still doing okay.



When I go out in public, I do as I have from childhood—I try to blend in. Not draw attention to myself. Be invisible.

Maybe they won’t realize I’m not white.

I often joke that I don’t like people, but the truth is, I do not seek out interaction with strangers because I’ve been conditioned to expect a racist response. I have lived this for as long as I have memory. I have endured the second glances, the outright stares, the taunts, the slurs, the intimidation. And unless you’ve been through it, you cannot possibly understand how it trains you to be afraid of people.

I am an Asian American woman, who when she goes out in her white Upper Peninsula town, breathes a sigh of relief that her kids look more like their Irish/English father than their Korean mother. That maybe they’ll be spared the subtle (and not so subtle) racism she’s experienced as an Asian American growing up in America.

This election was about many things, I get it. And you may be reading this and think, I am not a racist. That is not why I voted for Trump. But must realize that for many of your fellow Americans—who love this country just as much as you do, who worry about the economy and jobs and clean water and community safety, as you do—that there is an extra layer of fear after this election. Not that we didn’t know racism was still alive and thriving in America (because we live it daily), but that this Trump win can’t help but feel like an endorsement.

An elderly white woman struck up a conversation with my son and me at Walmart the other day while we were waiting in the checkout line. It was one of the most pleasant interactions I’ve had with a stranger in a long time. Perhaps she saw us and was trying to reach out in a way she normally would not have done. It didn’t strike me until she left the store that I was grateful for that simple act. That even though my son won’t remember it, maybe it will help shape his experience. And for me, that light exists in places you least expect to find it. And that you have to come out of the shadows to see it.

I am trying to find more light in my life.

Age: Seven. Training Wheels: Zero.

Confession: we forced her to do it. And maybe it was cruel, telling her TODAY IS THE DAY instead of letting her come to it naturally. But if it’s the biggest fail I have as a parent right now, I’m willing to take it.

She was physically able to do it. She has terrific balance. She’s athletic and strong. It was completely mental.

Sophia and her bike

A 2.25 mile ride to the grocery store achievement unlocked: Go big or go home.

I’m still figuring this parent thing out, and maybe I will never truly get it. In fact, I’m sure I won’t. But some days you have to gently prod. Okay, maybe a little extra force and refuse to put the trainers back on. We pushed her from the nest, and she rode all the way to the end of the street.



During the months of June through August, I had a series of ultrasounds that detected the presence of an ovarian mass. It was scanned and measured to be “about the size of a walnut,” so I gave him the name Herr Walnut, which only seemed right since we’d already spent about four years together.

He’s about 45cm long and about the size of a walnut. Hence, Herr Walnut.

Yes, it took four years for a doctor, the right doctor, to listen to me, to stop dismissing my complaints of intermittent pain and go beyond palpitating my lower abdomen and saying, eh. Doesn’t feel like there’s anything there.

“OK, let’s run some tests,” she said. We did. And here we were, scheduling surgery to remove the mystery mass.

On Tuesday morning, two days after the Twin Cities Marathon, I went in for surgery. I also lost the ovary, but that was always part of the plan. It turned out that the tumor was inside of the right ovary. Snip it. Bag it. Remove it. The tumor was tested and declared benign. The process ended up being a simple one that wrapped up three months of worrying that I had cancer. Every single damn day.


Scheduling surgery, even if it’s only outpatient, two days after you make your body run 26.2 miles is probably not ideal. Lesson learned. Recovery has been slow, though never before having anyone cut into my gut to pull out organs, I didn’t have a benchmark. I do have a new appreciation for mothers who deliver via caesarean. And hernia surgery patients.

Heated, inflatable hospital rack, I mean, gown.
Heated, inflatable hospital rack, I mean, gown.

The discomfort that Herr Walnut has caused for the last four years (yes, that long) has been minimal compared to the mind fuck that waiting for medical test results for three months will do to a person. And even though it feels like I just gave birth all over again—partly because I look newly postpartum from all the bloating and it’s reflected on the bathroom scale as well—I feel lighter; a weight has been removed. I am relieved to end this chapter with no added content on what it’s like to have a hysterectomy at age 41, or working while undergoing chemotherapy. That this was merely a large dermoid cyst, resulting in me being short one ovary that was the size of a mandarin orange is a fortunate situation that is is not lost on me one bit.

A little larger than one's ovaries are supposed to be
Because I am all about visuals. A little larger than one’s ovaries are supposed to be.

It’s too early to tell if I’ll feel any better or different after removal of this Thing That Wasn’t Supposed to Be There. Nor can I say that I will never need to go down this road again. But I will admit that when I see a walnut or an orange, I can’t help but think how grateful and lucky I am, which is how you should feel after something like this.


And how I am 100% in support of celebratory Late Birthday/It’s Not Cancer Carrot Cake.