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Last Tuesday we survived a rare earthquake in DC, and this weekend we braced ourselves as Hurricane Irene swept through with high winds and an incessant downpour.

So yesterday, when the sun was shining and the sky was blue, after a necessary afternoon nap, we had to take advantage of the day. Hugh and I ventured out to the batting cages at Woody’s in Reston where I proved to Hugh years ago that I haven’t lost my eye-on-the-ball talents and am not too shabby in the batters’ box.

Hugh showed everyone up in the “very fast” cage while I took blurry pictures of him and fielded compliments from on-lookers on his skill (not kidding).

And then Hugh made fun of me for looking crazy in Woodys’ helmets and complaining that the batting gloves smelled like feet.

I think I was impatiently waiting for someone to get out of my favorite cage, the slow softball pitch (I said I could hit, I didn’t say I wanted a challenge). Look at this professional [blurry] stance:

I got really intense as I started hitting line drives up the [imaginary] left field line.

When we’d both hit twice and I was sufficiently grossed out by Hugh’s batting gloves, we headed back to the car so that we could make it to Manassas in time to have dinner with my parents (and borrow their truck for our move this week!). While I was sitting half inside the car changing out of my sneaks and into my sandals, Hugh suggested that we take a walk to “see what’s in the woods over there.”

Sure, Hugh. Whatever you want to do.

There, we were actually surprised to find grills, picnic tables and this old camp site complete with a triangle for summoning the cowboys to dinner.

And a path leading to who knows where.

And while I was poking around, investigating the area, Hugh said

Well, Lauren.

I turned around to find him on his knee, reaching into his pocket and shock set in as he recited a modified version of the speech he’d prepared (he admitted to having forgotten most of it in the moment, understandably so), which ended with

Will you marry me?

I was in shock, I think I said “oh my gosh, really?!” a few thousand times before Hugh reminded me to answer him.

I of course said, Yes.

Before the whirlwind of calling family and friends began, we spent some time reveling in the excitement and each other, and I asked Hugh a few times if he was sure.

He of course said, Yes.

True to form, before we left I had to take some self-timer photos to commemorate the moment and the spot in the woods behind Woody’s batting cages where we decided to take on a pretty significant adventure together.

We celebrated over a home-cooked dinner and a bottle of champagne with my parents.

It was perfect.

PS: Who wouldn’t want to marry this?!


Getting Nostalgic on a Fifth Anniversary

You know how when you get older you get nostalgic about things? It starts off slowly with a longing for high school summers and football pep rallies. And before you know it, nostalgia graduates to celebrating the number of years gone by since this event and that milestone.

Well yesterday I got nostalgic about an anniversary like none other.

Yesterday I celebrated the fifth anniversary of my new jaw.

Yep, five years ago on June 15th, 2006, I went under the knife to fix an underbite that had plagued me forever and caused pretty bad TMJ disorder. It affected my breathing, sleeping, eating, speaking, candy-consuming and gum-chewing. I was in pain a lot of the time, had headaches that wouldn’t go away, and took a lot of ibuprofen.

It was not fun.

So for years we planned, met with doctors, waited for my adult teeth to come in (I didn’t get my last one until sophomore year of college) and I suffered through one orthodontic apparatus after the next. And finally, the day before surgery, I got scared. I sat on the deck re-reading a pamphlet on what to expect with orthognathic surgery, learning how many things could go wrong and anticipating that I might lose my sense of smell or never regain feeling in my face.

I was scared but I knew I had to go through with it. I had no choice. I wasn’t really scared of the surgery as much as the recovery: On top of recovering from the standard effects of surgery and anesthesia, I would have my jaws wired shut for six weeks which would keep me on a liquid diet (no straws allowed) until the wires were cut at which point I could attempt to eat soft foods. It was not a very easy thing to look forward to.

So we had a last meal of my choice — Chinese take-out — and Dad took a ton of “before” pictures. And because I have no shame, I’m sharing my before pictures:

Before my surgery, when I bit down my teeth looked crazy. My bottom jaw was noticeably much further forward than my top jaw. You may be able to tell why I hadn’t bitten into any sandwich or piece of fruit or anything in many years.

So there I was, full of sweet and sour chicken, well aware that I needed this surgery but shaking in my boots about the outcome. I resolved that it was going to happen regardless of whether I was scared or not, so I just decided to breathe and go with it. And the next morning I was in the hospital, tubes in my arm and nose, getting my bottom jaw moved backward 5 or so millimeters.

I looked absolutely gorgeous when I woke up.

My face was surrounded in ice packs and towels and my jaws were wired shut. I was in no shape to get up and walk over to the mirror in the bathroom, so I asked Mom [by writing on a notepad] if she could hold a mirror up for me. Even through the swelling and the cut, vaselined lips, with the nasogastric tube coming out of my nose, I could already tell that things were better. I opened my lips slowly and cautiously (they were completely numb) and the sight of my top teeth resting in a wonderfully average way over my bottom teeth brought tears to my eyes.

Despite the glimmers of hope I experienced before I left the hospital the next morning, it got worse before it got better. And because I have no shame, I’m sharing my it-got-worse pictures with you.

During the first 48 hours, the swelling got really bad and my upper half was overwhelmingly hot all the time. So my Mr. Fix It Dad rigged a double ice pack contraption to keep my face cool. In the above picture you can see that not only my face swelled, but so did my chest and neck. I was overjoyed about the swelling and the photo shoot.

As the days passed the swelling shifted to just my cheeks, giving me that irresistibly cute chipmunk look, and the bruising started to appear. It was green and yellow and all over my face, neck and chest. Also, my eyes were bugging out. Gross.

After a few blender recipes gone awry (the effort was appreciated Mom!), countless mugs of chicken broth, and sneaking tiny pieces of cheese in through the cracks of my teeth, I got the wires clipped 6 weeks later. I was hungry, 15 pounds lighter, and headed straight for a spoonful of mashed potatoes. By the time I moved in to the Blacksburg apartment with Jessie and Jess in August I was eating peanut butter toast on the regular.

And another month later I came home to get my braces taken off.

Dad took more pictures.

It was weird. I looked like everyone else, I could eat what I wanted to eat and I wasn’t in pain.

And now, five years later, that struggle seems like it was just yesterday and a million years ago at the same time.

I smile like a normal person now.

Though my left cheek is still numb.

Happy anniversary to me!

Learning to Run (And Learning to Like it)

To stay in shape — or rather to shape up — I’ve forced myself to exercise in all sorts of ways. I did Zumba for a while, but it was too much money for only one class per week. I did and loved Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred back in January and February, but then I got sick a couple times and never got back on the horse. I ran once last fall sometime.

I’ve said before that it’s not a matter of hating exercise — I love sweating, feeling my heartbeat rise with the effort I exert, and relishing the muscle soreness of hard work. I enjoy this in the form of the occasional hike, city tour, or trip to the batting cages. But, like I said before, you can’t do those things every day. And if you can’t do it every day, it’s not a good enough form of exercise to keep your mid-twenties from creeping up on your rear end and setting up shop on your hips.

Most people go to a gym or run or do a combination of both. But I don’t like running and I’ve never been comfortable in a gym [at least not since I got elbowed in the forehead playing basketball with the boys at open gym night during high school]. Okay, I’ll concede that gyms are not that bad — who would want to buy all that fancy equipment for themselves anyway?

But running? It doesn’t seem logical to me.

I know plenty of people who like to run for fun. Or they run for exercise and tend to enjoy it, I don’t know which is true. But if there is nothing chasing me, no giant animal or crazy person, no prehistoric reptile squashing skyscrapers in its path, then why should I be running?

I’ll tell you why.

  1. It requires little equipment
  2. It is free
  3. Those other forms of exercise are not cutting it
  4. I like to eat
  5. Hugh and I signed up for a 10K

I’m not going to lie and say I’m on the running bandwagon, but I have to agree with the logic that if you sign up for a race, you will run. Because sign up we did and running I am.

And I have to admit.

Wait for it…

I’m kind of liking it.

<<Pause for gasps>>

It’s been two weeks, so don’t hold me to that, but it’s been a welcome lesson in discipline and benefits so far. It’s also been a lesson in running. A person might think that because she’s relatively athletic, or at the very least has a history of being athletic, running will be a piece of cake for her. Silly girl. It is true that I’ve been a flag football MVP in recent history and I’m not too bad at backyard wheelbarrow races, but I’ve learned that this does not automatically translate into a 7-minute mile pace. Accepted. I’m okay with that. I learned quickly and moved on.

My default run is a 1.5 mile lap in and out and around my neighborhood. Until this weekend, I hadn’t really attempted a longer run. On Sunday Hugh and I had the bright idea to run straight up Washington Blvd. into the middle of Clarendon — a 3.1 mile distance. At 11:45 a.m. it was close to 95 degrees with standard East Coast sticky humid air, we’d been out late the night before, had consumed little water and eaten little real food. The odds were stacked against us and rightfully so. We had to walk most of the last mile because I was really close to passing out on the sidewalk from heat exhaustion or dehydration or embarrassment at the bright red color of my face or something.

But after Sunday’s failure, still believing that I should really be able to run 3 miles, I set out last night to double my lap. I had a lot working in my favor: The weather cooled down to the mid 60s with little humidity, and finally the air was breathable; I know my neighborhood route now — I don’t like running it alone, but I know it and it is not dark and lonely and scary; And I had the added motivation of having to wear a slightly form-fitting dress this weekend. Woof.

Once the motivation struck me, I was dressed and hitting start on my endomondo app within minutes. At 2 miles I was still feeling great and I knew that I was more than capable of making it through three (and kicking myself for not trying harder before). At 2.5 miles I was already back to my starting point (I think I cut my first loop a little short), so I started running smaller loops around our building. I was determined not to stop until I’d hit 3 miles, no matter how crazy I looked to the kids playing whiffle ball and the couples walking dogs.

And then the endomondo robot popped up in my earphones and said to me

“Three miles in thirty-one minutes, thirteen seconds.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I know everyone else in the world runs a million more miles than that in the same amount of time. I was just happy that I knew I could do it, so I tried, and I did it.

To me, that’s something.

As I cooled down, I realized that I couldn’t wait to run more. I couldn’t wait to try to run further, for longer, at a faster pace.

And for the first time I really thought to myself that a 10K may not kill me.

I may actually be able to do this.

Am I starting to like running?

Have I gone to the dark side of endorphin addicts?

Only time will tell.

Stay tuned…

Man in Hat Walking

Yesterday, my blog popped up in someone’s search results for

man in hat walking

I can only guess it was because of this picture and this post:

Googler – I hope you found what you were looking for (I’m certain this isn’t it).

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