You made it! Here it is... the blog where you get to sit back and laugh at - or be completely horrified by - life with 5 kids, 2 parents, some frogs, a cat & a rabbit (and those are just the creatures we know about).


Big Kids Are Boring

Recently, I was thinking about the fact that I don't write much on the blog anymore. It's not necessarily because I don't have the time. Come on, 5 kids, full-time teaching, sometimes mother-runner and part-time baker leaves me plenty of time in a day for leisurely writing. (Where is my sarcasm font??) All kidding aside, it's not lack of free time that stops me from writing. It's because my kids are big now. And big kids are boring. First of all, I have to refrain from embarrassing my middle-schoolers since most of their friends follow me on Instagram. And secondly, big kids just don't get into the same kind of shenanigans that they did when they were toddlers. I'm lacking blog fodder. So I thought.

Sophie has this toy she loves called BunchEms. They're basically colorful Velcro balls that have little hooks on them so they can be stuck together in interesting ways. They remind me of those awful things the boys used to throw at us on the way home from school that would stick to our wool knee socks.

These are BunchEms...

...and these are the stupid burrs that the boys would peg at the girls when we were walking home from elementary school. Basically, the same design.

Now, we know these BunchEms can stick to each other, but they'll also stick to anything else. Charlotte's friend, Charlotte, put a bunch of them in her gorgeously long hair. It took Charlotte's mom and I quite a while to pull each one out.

Which leads me to my first story in ages about my ridiculous kids. Charlotte and Sophie decided to take a bath in the big jacuzzi tub. While they were in there, minding their own business, my other darling children decided it would be fun to chuck ice cubes over the shower curtain into the tub. (There's no torture quite like being one of five children.) I put a stop to the ice cube throwing. But, instead of saying "Don't throw anything into the tub," I said, "Don't throw ice into the tub." I should know better by now. Rookie mistake.

Someone, who has yet to own up to it, threw all of Sophie's BunchEms into the tub. Sophie and Charlotte didn't seem to mind. And continued washing their hair with all those little stickers floating around in the water. Charlotte basically washed her hair with them. Which is how this exchange happened between me and the other Charlotte's mom:

 As Anne was texting me, I was sending her the picture...

Poor Chuck. After spending 20 minutes trying to disentangle those stupid things, I was finally left with this clump completely stuck to the middle of the top of her head. They were totally embedded. So I chopped the entire chunk off. Luckily, it didn't end up looking too bad. She has some short hairs on the top of her head, but they're just long enough that they blend in pretty well. 

The lesson here is this: These fools might not be ridiculous as often as when they were toddlers, but, they're still going to keep me on my toes.



Death Threats and Such...

Life is not always easy when you're one of five children. Nobody knows you better than the siblings with whom you share two bedrooms. Which means there is no one else on the planet who knows just how to push your buttons. And, if I'm being perfectly honest, there's no better button-pusher than a big brother. Just ask my sister-in-law. She's still traumatized by all the ways PJ tortured her growing up. ;) (Although, now that I think of it, I'm fully grown and my sister still tortures me.)

Charlotte is unreasonably fearful. She's afraid of the dark and she's afraid of being alone anywhere in the house. In our family, we are all well aware of this. The other night, I decided to relax in the tub. Which means I locked the door to the bathroom that leads into my bedroom. Patrick being that big brother who loves to tease, decided to lock the door into the boys' room. Which meant that everyone was in the bedrooms and Charlotte had no way to get down there. She was out in the hall by herself. Surprisingly, she didn't completely freak out (which has been known to happen). Instead, she went into a quiet rage and penned a letter. And it may actually be one of the best pieces of writing I've stumbled upon in my house.

Now, my darling 6 year old has some spelling skills to work on, but the composition is solid.
For those of you needing a little inventive spelling translation:

"Dear Patrick Minihane (first and last name - how formal!)
I hate you so much. I will kill you with my best strength."

Mind you, I never knew about this incident at all. They must've worked it out pretty quickly, because it didn't even come up until I found the letter on the floor the next day. We've since had a discussion about not being mean to our little sisters and how we don't write threatening letters to our big brothers. (Because, come on now, we shouldn't leave that kind of evidence just lying around.) 

I am really curious, though:

What does Charlotte's "best stranth" actually entail? We've been paying for karate for a long time - Patrick should probably be worried.



Monday, You're Such A Cliche

I really thought this was going to be my week. I got up well before sunrise and went for a run. The kids were up and ready for school super early. So early, that they got to sit and relax and watch cartoons (and I didn't even have to scream at anyone about brushing their teeth). It was going to be awesome.

And then Monday decided to be a stupid cliche. On my way to my classroom, I decided to use the 2 minutes I had to run to the ladies' room. I pulled down my pants and marveled at the giant hole in the crotch of my brand-new pants. As I was trying to figure out a.) how the hell that happened, and b.) would my sweater be long enough to cover it, my phone slipped right out of my back pocket and straight into the toilet. Totally submerged.

In the process of frantically trying to fish my phone out of the toilet (thank the lord I hadn't gone yet) and dry it off, I did something without even thinking about it. I blew straight into those little speaker holes to try to rid them of water. Which, of course, meant that all that toilet water splashed right back into my face. 

Please, don't even try to tell me your Monday sucked if you didn't get spritzed with LITERAL eau de toilette.

And, to top this fantastic day off, we got to report to a mandatory meeting after school to find out that our school has continued to fail and will probably be taken over by the state. After countless hours with some very dedicated teachers working tirelessly, we just continue to fail. It's a little hard to handle. Especially for those of us who CHOSE to come to (and stay at) this failing school and work extra hours with little support from the district.

So, I came home and sat on the porch swing and had a beer. 

Some silver linings: 

  • My sweater was, indeed, long enough to cover my stupid crotch hole. (Wow. That sounded so wrong.) 
  • The new iPhone is truly water resistant. They didn't just make that new feature up.
  • My students are still awesome. They may be at a difficult school that hasn't passed the right tests. Some of them may have behavior difficulties and they may not have the best reading levels. But they love coming to Science to learn and we are going to have an amazing year. Screw the fancy people in their fancy suits. They don't have a clue what it means to work there. And I will continue to teach my scientists and revel in watching them learn and explore.
Tomorrow is Tuesday. At the very least I'd like to make it through the day with out toilet water in my face.


Heres a clip from one of my favorite movies. Very apropos...



So, I tried something new today. Today, I went to my first November Project workout. (If you aren't too sure what that means, you can learn more about it here.)

I've recently become friendly with another mom at my kids' school whose two little ones are friends with Sophie and Sean. I had been admiring Erica's Instagram posts showing her November Project escapades and kind of wanted to check it out. I knew I couldn't be quite so hardcore as she and hit the workouts with kids in tow and then bring them to school. So, we decided to check it out once summer vacation started. 

Today was the first available day that we haven't had something going on, so we decided to try it out. The kids were surprisingly excited about getting up at 5:30 on a summer morning to head out. We left the house a little before 6am. With traffic and the fact that I wasn't too sure where I should park, we arrived a little later than intended. Wednesday's workout is the stairs at Harvard Stadium. 

Since we were about 10 minutes late, I just jumped in at the last section and started climbing. Those steps are huge. And I didn't even realize that I should use the small red steps to climb down. So when I got to the top of my first set, I turned around and tried to step straight down... and promptly fell on my face. I thought for sure (in those milliseconds when everything is happening in slow motion) that I was going to tumble all the way to the bottom of all of that concrete. Naturally, a few people ran over in a panic to make sure I was okay. I'm pretty sure that even if both legs were broken, I would've jumped up just as quickly as I did today out of sheer embarrassment. I had to assure these lovely folks that I was, indeed, alright, and proceeded to tell them that this is why my mother calls me Grace. Because I ain't got none. 

I made Patrick take a selfie with me at the top of the first set. Then, I fell on my face. (Mostly my knees, but I was definitely laid out.)
After my initial humiliation, I decided to keep going. The kids even did a few sets with me, but they were so disappointed that they hadn't found their friends. Luckily, Erica and her son, Charlie, found us. And brought us over to the nice, shady sections where the workout was actually taking place today. (I really need to show up on time so I know what to do.) At that point, I already felt like dying, but Erica is great motivation and I tried to keep up. It was a little hard to not be intimidated by the people who were running up those stairs while I felt like my legs would give out just walking. The kids were so motivated to keep up with Erica and Charlie, that Patrick, Sophie, & Sean did 18 sections. That's a TON of giant steps when you've got little legs. 

These kids busted their butts today...

Sweaty and red (& using a selfie with Charlotte as an excuse to sit down and catch my breath)
Erica coming down the stairs with the kids (& keeping them moving)!

Chuck's butt going up for one last set of stairs was my favorite shot of the day!

I completely lost track of how many I completed. I know it was more than the kids, but not by much. By the end, my legs felt like they were made of Jell-o. As they were rounding up the tribe for a quick chat and group photo, I realized that I couldn't see Patrick anywhere. The poor kid had pushed himself too hard in the heat and ended up throwing up at the top of the stairs.

Oddly enough, even though I almost killed myself and I made my poor kid sick with exhaustion or dehydration, I'd totally do it again. If only to look ever so slightly less new the next time. I can't imagine those stairs get any easier, but I'd love to try. I mean, if I can get 5 kids out of the house for a workout before 6am, that makes me a little hardcore, right? (Or just completely insane?)

Group shot - it was quite a crowd!

After the early morning wake-up and all the stairs (and the puking) they were still smiling.


Boston Marathon 2016

It's done. That crazy/amazing thing that took over my life for months is over. I ran the Boston Marathon. It wasn't pretty. And it definitely wasn't fast. But I accomplished the task I set out to do. I crossed the starting line in Hopkinton and made it to the finish line in Boston. Here's an extremely detailed recap of how it went.

Krystle's team was seriously rocking the jerseys! We're just missing Jackie in the photo. She had the luxury of staying at her parents' place in Hopkinton the night before the race - lucky!
I started the day at the Frog Pond in Boston Common to meet up with the rest of the team who was running for Krystle Campbell. This was my first time meeting the runners face to face. It was so nice to see these amazing people in person. Most were friends of Krystle's and this was not their first time running in her memory. One of our runners was even running this year, on her birthday, in between chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer. And let me tell you, she did it in under 4 hours. Totally amazing. 

I rode the bus to Hopkinton with Kelly. She was incredible. Funny as hell and full of so many great tips. Oh, and did I mention that she has run a marathon on every continent?? (My 12 year old wants to know if that includes Antarctica. I don't know about that. But, after hearing her story of running a marathon in a Kenyan wildlife reserve - where there are actual WILD animals - I feel like that should count as double!) **UPDATE** I talked to Kelly and she did, in fact run a marathon in Antarctica. If that's not total badass, then I don't know what is. PS she said the penguins act just like puppies down there. Best visual ever.

Walking to the starting line with Kelly
On the bus, I saw that I was tagged in this post on Facebook by my husband. It made me cry a little, so I'll blame him for my eventual dehydration issues. ;)

Those t-shirts were a surprise from my in-laws. I cried actual tears when I saw this on the bus!
One of the worst parts of the race was the port-a-potty line in Hopkinton. I'm not even kidding. Possibly worse than the leg cramps. I actually started to heckle people who weren't moving to their toilet fast enough. I was fairly certain I would die from a painful bladder explosion. It was pretty awesome.

As a charity runner, I was among the last group of runners to start the race. This meant we didn't even hear the gun go off until 11:15am. (And since there were so many of us, it took about 10 minutes before I actually stepped over the starting line.) It was hot that day, and after months of winter training, I didn't do enough to ward off dehydration. 

Props to the girl behind me who totally photobombed with the sweetest smile ever.
Around mile 7, I started to get intermittent leg cramps. I knew this was a warning sign, but I trudged along. It definitely slowed me way down. I've written before about the fact that I'm a slow runner, but I've never had trouble like that so early in a run. The cramps continued on and off for the rest of the race and added probably an hour or more to the (already slow) time I was hoping to finish.

But, I kept going anyway. Because the last thing I was going to do, after all of the support I had received from everyone, was to stop. So I trudged along. I high-fived a million little kids because I know my own kids have a competition every year at the marathon to see who can get the most high fives. Plus, you have to keep going when people are calling you by name. I had written Lissie on both arms. So I got lots of "Go, Leslie!" and delayed "I mean Lissie!" when they figured out how to pronounce it. It didn't matter. Every cheer sounded awesome! And I got to see friends along the way.

My mother-in-law's best friend, Ditto, was waiting for me right at the end of her street in Natick (around mile 10). It was so great to see a friendly face! Then, when I was feeling slightly better than death in Wellesley (and realizing that I was barely more than halfway), one of my friends from college actually tackled me on the course. She gave me a quick hug and then physically pushed me and told me to keep going. Karen, that actual push through Wellesley center was just what I needed. We have good friends who live just off the course in Newton around mile 16. I was so happy to run up to them and see the signs their kids had made for me. What a boost! All along, I knew I was running much slower than any training run I had ever taken. It was so discouraging to worry about all of the people along the way who might be waiting for me. But I was so thankful to them for hanging around. I never could've gone all that way without them.

I finally got to Newton-Wellesley Hospital to see my friend, Erin, and the rest of the gang who organized the team for Krystle Campbell. Erin jumped right in the course and ran along with me. I think she would've kept going if I hadn't forced her to turn around at the firehouse. She was unbelievable. Erin ran along in her jeans just to keep me going (& offering to massage my leg right on the race course when it cramped up). I still laugh thinking about it. As she ran with me, I was talking myself through the rest of the course. I said, "Okay, you'll run me to the firehouse. Then, I'll do the hills and my family will be at the top of the last one. Then, it's mostly downhill after that. I've totally got this." I wasn't entirely sure that I had it at all, but I figured it couldn't hurt to fake it. Erin heard me and said one of the best things I heard all day:

"Of course you've got this. You're not going to quit now. You want me to do those fucking hills with you??"

And I don't doubt for a second that she would've. Erin is amazing. But, I sent her on her way and made my way up the hills. Those Newton hills were a bitch. I trained on them. I was ready. Until it was actually that time and my muscles were no longer cooperating. I could barely jog up - it was more of a power walk up with a run on the downhill. It sucked. Along the way, I was looking for a friend who is a Newton cop stationed along the route. That's when I realized that all of those guys look exactly the same when they're in uniform with their hats and sunglasses. At last, I found Rocco and he sent word along to my group that I was getting closer (finally!). 

I texted PJ to let him know that I was walking up the hills and that it might be a while. I was feeling pretty down about being so far behind schedule. But he reminded me to just keep going and have fun. That's when I watched a girl drop right to the pavement. She got up and said she was fine, but was clearly wobbling on her feet. The police came over and called the EMTs for the poor girl. And I realized that I might not be even remotely fast, but I was determined to at least crawl across that finish line.

PJ and Patrick met me at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill. They walked up with me to keep me company. Along the way, a very nice, drunk college girl offered me two dixie cups of beer. Knowing I was probably already dehydrated, I told her to give them to my husband. She also wanted to give one to my "friend." Apparently, Patrick looks older from behind because when he turned around and smiled with his 12 year old face full of braces and she said, "Oh, God, I'm sorry!" It was pretty funny. Hopefully we've got many more years before Patrick is actually drinking dixie cups of beer. 

At the top of Heartbreak Hill, I finally got to my squad. It was completely amazing. My mom, stepdad, stepmom, aunt, uncle, ALL of the in-laws, one of my nieces, two of my best friends from college (with family in tow), and my neighbor were all waiting for me in the t-shirts my father had made. It was quite a sight! I know they had been waiting a long time for me to make it 20 miles and it was such a relief to finally get to them. 

With my nephews included, it says, Go MOM Go!
Daddy & the gang
My squad. So amazing to see them all. Only sad that they didn't save me any of Lala's calzone.

After hugs and tears and complaining about the fact that everything hurt (plus a salty snack), I had to go finish this damn race. Patrick decided to run to the finish with me. I kept trying to talk him out of it because I really didn't think he could run 6 miles, but he was insistent that it wouldn't be a problem. Sophie was so upset with me that I wouldn't also let her go, but I had to draw the line at a nine year old in flip-flops.

Patrick came along for the run. Right by BC we saw a mom from the kids' school cheering for us. Then, at the top of Lake St., I ran into another one of my very best friends. Annette gave me the best hug ever and told me to keep going. Although, I thought she was going to give me a ride in her stroller (which would've been nice). 

Coming downhill into Cleveland Circle, my legs were toast and I told Patrick to slow down so I could walk for a bit. That's when we ran into some of my friends from work. This was around mile 22 and I felt pretty close to dead. I'm not even sure what I said to them. Something like, "I can't believe you guys are still here." and "Oh my God, everything hurts." It's a total blur, but I know I was happy to see them.

All along Beacon Street, I gained newfound respect for the spectators who hang on or come out for the late runners. It was so amazing to have these people camped out still cheering, high-fiving, and giving out treats along the way long after the bulk of the crowd has passed. I even saw some of the teachers from my kids' school and they had a great little cheering crew going!
Patrick was a real trooper. He ran the 6 miles in untied basketball shoes. He also spent those miles assuring me that I wasn't last and that there were, indeed, still runners behind me.

Sometime around Coolidge Corner, I saw my friend, Dawnie and her gang waiting for me with signs. There weren't too many people still cheering in that spot, so it was an awesome sight. Further down Beacon Street in Brookline, I spotted the Citgo sign for the first time. My breath hitched and I started to cry. It was just a tiny, red speck in the distance, but it was the first sign that I was actually going to make it to the finish line in my hometown.

Near Kenmore Square, the crowd got thick again. And thank goodness, because I had nothing left in me at that point. I was coasting on sheer willpower and the fact that I didn't want to stop in front of the crowds of people. As we were running under the little underpass outside the square, PJ texted me to tell me that the kids would be joining me at mile 26. Apparently, my father-in-law had asked the police officers if it would be okay, and they gave the green light. So, they handed the kids over the barricades and waited for me. 

Coming down Boylston St., I could see the finish line. Finally. At the 26 mile marker, I slowed down because I couldn't see the kids anywhere. Then I heard this piercing scream and saw a little letter M jumping up and down. Naturally, it was Sophie. Patrick and I ran to the kids and they tried, in vain, to line themselves up so their shirts said, "Go MOM." They kept screwing it up, which was some real comedy, but they finally worked it out and made the run for the last 2/10 of a mile to the finish line. 

It. Was. Amazing.

There were times during that run, that I was sure I couldn't possibly go all the way. But, to finally be jogging down Boylston, hand-in-hand with my five kids while crowds of people in the stands chanted, "Go, Mom, Go!" was a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life. All I could think right then was that I didn't even know these people and they were all cheering for me and my kids. 

Luckily, there was a photographer who works for Boston.com who just happened to be there to catch this shot of us just after the finish line.
People I knew were sending this to me after it went on the Boston.com Instagram page. I was the "Go, Mom" lady on the internet for a day. Fifteen minutes of fame, baby. Too bad Ellen never called. I thought, for sure, she'd want us on her show. ;)
And my husband caught this video so I can relieve those 40 seconds forever. It really was the most incredible feeling.

After we crossed the line, I got my medal, and a blanket to keep warm. I saw my cousins there, too, and Martha made sure the kids got the royal treatment for their 2/10 of a mile run.

Space blankets & snacks for everyone!
Lisa, Donnamarie, & Martha were the first to find us at the finish line. Love these ladies!
David Wade tweeted a picture he took of us just as we were crossing the finish line.
My sister was working the race course as a nurse, so I didn't get to see her until the end, but it was terrific.

Sisterly love right there!
I received so much support during my training and fundraising. Special shoutout to PJ for getting stuck with the kids for every long run I did on the weekends. Being a slow runner means they really take a long time. And a shoutout to my friend, Erika, for listening to me go on and on and on about running on every lunch break. She said she was relieved when it was over because she felt like she trained for it, too. And another shoutout to Tina for driving the kids to school way more than I drove hers, so I could squeeze my short runs in before work. A shoutout to Elliott, Erin, & Bonnie for organizing the team to memorialize their friend. And to all of my donors to the Krystle Campbell Memorial Fund. I feel so honored to have run in her memory. As tough as it was, I would totally do it again. (Hopefully a little faster next time.)



Training, So Much Training...

For the most part, the marathon training has been going pretty well. I've definitely struggled in the last two weeks to fit in some of my short runs because of weather and life, so I'm trying to keep an eye on that. I have a new-found respect for all of the lunatics who've done this year after year and trained through a New England winter. I can't even imagine what last year must have been like with our record-breaking snowfall. It's a huge pain in the ass (and calves, and hamstrings). We had been having an unseasonably warm winter, but Boston stayed true to form and went straight-up arctic. 

I now take it personally if you don't shovel your sidewalk because running over bumpy, frozen snow is like running at the beach and my legs just can't take it. Also, I try to avoid running in the street because Massholes are aggressive drivers (where do you think that name comes from?) and I'm trying not to get run down. My last long run was 12 miles of icy, slippery, snowy crap and it sucked. I started giving the finger to every house that didn't have a shoveled sidewalk. And I may or may not have shouted something passive-aggressive (or aggressive-aggressive) to the lady getting into her fancy Range Rover with 6 inches of snow on her entire sidewalk. If you're too fancy to shovel, hire someone.

My long run day is Sunday which means I should've put in my miles yesterday. Except for the fact that the wind chill was -30* and I am not that stupid dedicated. I figured pushing it off to today was no problem. Until I checked the weather and realized that today was going to be 5*. So, now I'm moving it to tomorrow which is supposed to be 50* and raining. (Go home, New England weather, you're drunk.)

Feels more like -29*?? Come on.
My fundraising has been going really well. If you haven't had a chance to donate, I'd really appreciate your help and support for such a great cause. Go to the Krystle Campbell Memorial Fund and mention runner Lisabeth Minihane in the comments. Thanks so much for any bit of support you can offer. It's helping my team to reach their goal!

Last but not least, if you have any amazing music that I should add to my playlist, send along the suggestions. My long runs take forever at my pace, but it's always great when someone's song suggestion comes on. I think of that person and it keeps me going!



My First Marathon

So, a few months ago, I ran my first half marathon. It was the first time in my life I'd ever gone a distance like that. Until that point, my longest race had been 5 miles. After accomplishing the whole 13.1 (& still feeling well), I started toying with the idea of doing a longer race. Like, a full marathon. Which is completely insane, because one half marathon at my snail's pace hardly qualifies me to think I could ever do such a thing. But the idea had been stewing in the back of my mind. 

Being a lifelong Boston resident, I kept thinking how amazing it would be to have my first marathon be one of the most prestigious marathons in the world - right here in my hometown. But, who was I kidding? That was just a crazy idea in my head. And really, even if it ever happened, it was just all about me. Something I would like to say I had done (or attempted to do). 

Enter my friend, Erin. Erin and I have taught together for almost 7 years. A few nights ago, she posted this on her Facebook page:

It was a sign for sure. This marathon wasn't just going to be some goal I wanted to accomplish for myself, anymore. This was going to be so much bigger than just me. I messaged Erin right away and quickly became part of the team of eight runners who will be running to raise money for the Krystle Campbell Memorial Fund. 

I am so honored to help raise funds in Krystle's memory by running the 2016 Boston Marathon. Which is where you all come in. I am going to need so much help. Maybe you have a great song  that I can add to my playlist. Or maybe you can like one of my many posts about running that will pop up on Facebook (or Instagram or Twitter). All of that is sure to keep me going during my training. 

What I will also need is your help in raising money for the Krystle Campbell Memorial Fund. If you'd like to donate, please click on the link.

****In the comments section, be sure to mention "26.2 in the City She Loved" and runner Lisabeth Minihane. This is very important. Without using my name, the donations can't really be tracked. 

If you prefer to send in a check, it should be made payable to “The Boston Foundation”, and should reference the Krystle Campbell Memorial Fund in the memo line & runner Lisabeth Minihane.  Please mail checks to:

The Boston Foundation
Fund Administration
75 Arlington Street, 10th Floor
Boston, MA 02116

Please let me know if you have any questions. Any amount you can donate will help me reach my fundraising goal for the team. 

Thank you so much for all of your help, love, and support. I'm so excited & slightly terrified to take on this task, but I know the adventure will be worth it!