12, going on 27.1.

Guest Post by my daughter, Ali Callahan.

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So I decided to become an ultra marathoner.

An ultra marathon is anything over 26.2 miles. I don’t remember why I wanted to do it originally, but I have been training for a year. The first race I wanted to do was the Lake Martin 27.1 mile “fun run”, a trail race which my mom has done once and my dad has done a few times. So this year, Mom, a few of her friends, and I were signed up for the 27.1 mile fun run, and Dad was signed up for the 100 mile serious run. Nobody under 16 had ever done any of the distances at Lake Martin, and since I am 12, I was feeling kind of nervous about it (and a little impatient to get it over with,) until it got there and I felt -mostly- better. We were all staying together in a rental house on the night before the race and I went to bed really early.

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In the morning, we woke up at 5:30, filled our packs, tied our shoes, encouraged each other, and drove to the start/finish line. It was very cold so it was nice to find that the bathrooms were heated. We all got in a huddle in front of the start/finish line, then Mr. David, the race director, fired his gun in the air, and we all started running.

The race was divided into four sections, with an aid station between each one, and then a final 2 miles after the last aid station. It was easier to think about it as four separate trail runs than 27.1 miles as a whole.

First Eight Miles (0-8.2):

There were lots of water crossings and hills, and it was very fun because Dad, Mom, and I were together. However, there was a creek crossing and you had the choice of crossing on rocks or on a log. Mom wanted to cross on the rocks, but Dad and I wanted to go across the log. I stumbled and barely made it across and was about to tell Dad that he really shouldn’t do that because it would be worse if he fell in since he had like 95 miles left, but he was already halfway across. He stumbled in the same place I did, except his foot slipped, both his legs went into the water up to his calves, and he was okay but was frustrated at himself and went ahead for a bit – “to blow off steam”, according to him. At the first aid station I used the restroom, grabbed some pretzels and pickles, and we kept going.

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Next Five Miles (8.2-13.6):

I was happily skipping, singing, and talking to Mom and Dad. This was probably my favorite loop because we went through/over: a forest where there had been a controlled burn and had lots of burnt pinecones, a wide red road, a trail through tall reeds, and by a lake.

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When we came back around to the aid station and I did exactly what I did last time: used the restroom, grabbed some pickles and pretzels, oh! And stretched – it feels so good to do a backbend when you have been on your feet for four hours!

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Next Five Miles (13.6-19):

I was still very happy but tired. Dad was ahead of Mom and I now, because he left the aid station before us. There were way less water crossings. We didn’t think we would catch up to Dad, but we saw him at the top of a hill and I screamed “Dad!!”, and ran ahead until I caught up with him. When we got to the aid station, I got some Mountain Dew and a banana slice.

Next Six Miles (19-25.1):

The first couple miles were okay, but very hilly. Around mile 21, after an especially high hill, I got so tired that I was crying and I couldn’t think. It was so hard. So Mom pulled out her phone and played all my favorite songs, like “High Hopes”, “Hall of Fame”, and “Havana.”

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I barely made it back to the aid station where I got more Mountain Dew, the volunteers filled up my pack with water, and we left.

Last Two Miles (25.1-27.1):

I was better, but exhausted. It was more fun because Dad was with us again (he got ahead of us when I was crying, but we caught up to him at the aid station,) and the trail was super easy – it was just the first mile of the course again and back. At the one mile turnaround point, we had a group hug and we cheered and encouraged each other, and Dad kept going (since he was doing the 100), and Mom and I turned around.

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After one mile, we finished!

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We ate, drank, got our medals, and cheered our friends as they finished.

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The race took me eight hours, one minute, and 59 seconds. Afterwards, I was glad to be done, and sore. I was so tired the only thing that made sense to say was “ow.” It took a little while to feel satisfied – I had so many emotions I didn’t know what to feel.  The next day I felt better except for my shoulders, which felt like I had carried my cousin Andi for ten miles. But I was able to run/walk the last 1.5 miles with Dad Sunday evening as he finished his hundred miles.

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I think I’m glad I did it, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for other kids. However, I might do it again – if other kids did it with me.

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Inside the Mind of a First Grader.

Ali is guest-posting for me today.


(Yes, there are two bows plus arrows in her apron. If you want to complain, I wouldn’t.)

Anyway. Here are some literary masterpieces that I’ve found lying around the house lately that she’s graciously allowed me to share.


One day two lite’s played.
Anathor lite came and toled them to be friendly and come togethor.
They did not want to and the other lite left.
2 years later….
They becam friends!
The End.

That totally should have been a Beatles verse.

Speaking of song lyrics, they’re often inexplicably documented at our house.

Henry Hugglemonster

It’s a brand new days in rorsvil
The flawrs smel swit and her comes a monster you rele wont to mete.
His name is Henry and as you can see
He’s got a rili rorsom famole.
Hay hay hay have a henry hugl monster day
Hay hay hay have a henry hugl monster day
Wen thengs or going rolng and everytheng sems gray
Henry huglmonsteor can olways find a way
Hay hay hay have a Henry Hugl Monstor Day!

I think the basic idea is that when it hasn’t been your day or week or even your year, Henry Hugglemonster’ll be there. For you.

She heard this song one time, in a Christmas production, and hasn’t stopped singing it yet.


Welcoe to the place I will sing my song
I can-not wat to sing it to you
O no I cant wat to sing my song here it
Holy, Holy, Holy,
God is coming ner
Onto us a saveyer is born
On a midnite clear
Holy holy holy
God is coming ner
Onto us a savyors born
On a midnite clear
Ho-ly Ho-ly Ho-ly
God is coming ner
Onto us a savyor is born
On a midnit clear.
The End…

…And just when you think it’s over, you turn over the page…

Song End

This math answer, considering the information given, makes complete sense.


Did they ask “how many weeks of the year”? No. They said how many weeks. We’d need to know the exact age of the earth and the dates of any climatological events that might have changed Norway’s sun situation to answer this inane question.

Other great school finds recently have included this cheery reading passage:


(This turns out to be “good news” because the sailor had been making fun of them…clearly the author’s gift wasn’t mercy.)

We also found this fantastic moral reminder, which I hope Ali remembers when she starts dating.


Sometimes we all need the opportunity to make a confession. Ali finds that writing hers is most effective.


I droped a tamato on my dress on purpus
And then siad: What am I doing?
Then jest cepe watching TV.
Name: Ali Callahan Age: 7
Favorite Color: Pink

I have no idea why her favorite color needed to be brought into that crime, but I’m sure she does.

I got sick in November with laryngitis and stayed sick with a various concoction of bugs until the end of January. I could tell that Ali thought I was dying, because she would give me these sad little hugs and leave lots of loving notes (illustrated with sunsets) laying around for me to find.

This was my favorite.


Dear Mommy
I love you sooooo
ooo much I like dowing craft’s
with you and you roeding wimey kid
I hope you get beter
love Ali

The disturbing part of the note was the missing “soon” after “I hope you get better.”

Then again, I guess it’s best to set one’s expectations low.

On to another story.


Ons apan a time a fiary went to see here friend’s
They herd a suond
it was a monster!
They ran and ran and ran and ran
Tile tha lost him.
The End.

Sometimes a simple story is best.

Other times, it’s better to get the long-term picture.


One’s apan a time a lake was with no island
Suddunly a tiny tiny island startid to form
It grew biger and bigger
tile it was big anaf to billd 10 ten houses
pepole ol over the world started to liv thare and bilding housis

I love a good cliffhanger.

No, no I don’t. I need closure.


A Tiny Writer’s View of Her Year.

For her past five birthdays, I’ve been writing her birthday posts for her.

But she’s seven today. And after keeping a diary for over a year, Ali is now a prolific writer (and, as the year went on, became a creative illustrator) in her own right.

(After all, she did tell the bat story better than me.)

So I felt it only fair to let her write this year’s recap herself, with some of my favorite pages out of her diary – giving a somewhat three-dimensional view of the growth of the world in her eyes and mind.

January 2013

She had a great birthday. And fell in love with the Curlz Font.


She also vlogged with friends and lost body parts.

IMG_6380AJ ckam ovr
we mad vidios
I lost my secint toth.

And her flood renovations made progress.

IMG_6382(I totally think that awesome should be spelled “osm” all the time. Because in the south, awesome often rhymes with possum.)

February 2013


Some things don’t deserve deeper explanation. Or an osm.


She got to help my Mom with her Valentine’s Cubbies Party. It was marginally exciting.


March 2013


Her ballet career seemed to be waning.

IMG_6388Today is ballat day today.
O. I am not exided.
Basids hers the box for it.

(A checked box is certainly the ultimate mark of sincerity.)

April 2013

Her recital dress and makeup(!!) helped rekindle her excitement – at least for a day.


And the prospect of Spring rejuvenated her.


May 2013


Her renovations were complete, and she approved of her new flooring pattern.


June 2013


After finishing a long year of Kindergarten, we took a complete educational break. As such, no entries were made in June.

July 2013


She realized the fun of illustrating for the first time, as well as in-text sticker placement.

IMG_6391We went to the bech.
And playd seshels.
And more.

August 2013


We took a trip to the neighboring states of Jorja and Tinase/Tinasy, started school, and had a couple lazy diary entries.


September 2013


She realized that it’s much more fun to illustrate your brother going to the doctor than yourself.

IMG_6393Today we did math handwriteng rideng 1C helth and histore.
Noah hed to go to the doctor today.

October 2013


Ali had fonder memories of the pumpkin patch disaster than I. And also remembered the pumpkins to be quite larger than reality.


She lost her head over a long day.

IMG_6398Friday me and Daddy went to Daddy’s work together!
It was fun!!! Then me and Daddy went to chocy ches and at pizza.
Then came home and watcht a movee for playtim.
Satrday me and Daddy went to football!
Today we went to Kids Church.
Lolng Day.

(For the record, that was the weekend that Noah and I went out of town. Hence the only reason she got to go to Chuck E. Cheese again.)

She illustrated my sunset stalking.


And depicted perfectly the pastime of meeting new neighbors.


And she depicted me rather creepily giving out candy to children at Trunk and Treat.


But her biggest leap forward in October was the ability to portray suspense and intrigue.

IMG_6416Today suprise!
Mommy tacs us to lunch with……
And and we get sucrs.
Then we go to Micls
And I spind my alawins.

November 2013


We had a school field trip where we got to meet our favorite weatherman, James Spann,


In her illustration of our field trip, Ali gave James Spann a generous amount of hair (because he told them it hurt his feelings when people made fun of his lack of hair), and apparently all of the children dressed identically and clapped manically.


In “A Christmas Story”, Xed out eyes meant death. In Ali’s stories, they apparently mean intense excitement.


She also reported on the fact that on some days, our house is a revolving door.


Also? Compared to January’s entries, she got a LOT more loquacious.


Wensday we went to Nabeel’s.
We hed Thanck’sgiving.
Shosday we watcht the parade!
The day before that
we made plasmats!
hehehehe that rims. hahahaha.
We helpet Daddy with Crist-mas lights!
Amanda helpet with decorating the Christmas tree!
We hed a fotball party and Grandmamma Pop and Nick came to our home!
We went to Church Sunday and we had a difrint Daily News!
Jessy came Monday to babbysit.
Today Gramamma is cuming during qiit time cus she neds my help with cubes craft’s.
he hu ha he he.


December 2013


She accurately depicted our family portraits, but conveniently leaving out the fact that she dirtied her knees before a single shot was taken.

IMG_6430Today we get pictshr and if we be good we get my 4th favrite candy…
on with the story.
To um yestorday
Noah did not want to try my
that rims te he
So my 4th favrit food and got as dancing.

I’m sure all of that made perfect sense to her.

Anyway, on with the story.

Most of her posts in December had to do with candy.


Or candy and TV. Because I’m the best of Moms.


I felt like her illustration of Santa was on par with the actual events,



And her excitement over her brother’s birthday was quite touching.


But her real illustrative talent didn’t show through until this extraordinarily graphic entry. Which is my favorite diary entry in the history of the world.

IMG_6446Today Mommy me and Noah feel sooo sick.
I relley did not feel like eating and I did not eat much.
I pewey! I jest hed a big toot.
Mommy lad dawn a lot.
And Noah has big poop’s.

(Dear Sixteen-Year-Old Ali: Let the record reflect that I had your full permission to post these entries.)

(And you were quite proud of them.)

She did a great job of portraying mine and Chris’ great illness in both font, picture, and her spelling of Saturday.


And she continued documenting as my illness wore on. I told you I’ve always cried ugly.


But thankfully, everyone found the joy in their hearts in time for Christmas.



Happy Birthday, dearest Ali, and thank you for chronicling the year with more flair than I could ever hope to have.