Monday, July 27, 2015

Just 10

I am training for a marathon. That's 26.2 miles. Whew. It's hard. My longest run so far is 16 miles. I have had wonderful, inspiring runs where I felt I could run forever and ridiculously tough runs where I questioned all of it. I am doing it for the best cause I can think of. I am doing it to honor the beautiful and much too short life of my friend, Jenna. I'm raising money for pancreatic cancer action network so they can continue research to end the brutal, horrific disease that took her life at 40 years old. (If you're interested in donating, click here. Any amount is welcomed and appreciated.)

This week was a cut back week. That means that last weekend I did two runs and then a long run of 16 miles, but this week I did two runs and the long run was 10 miles. This allows our bodies to adapt to longer distances, gives us some mental space to breathe, and gives our bodies a rest. I thought about that on my 10 mile run. The chance to rest. Jenna did not have a chance to rest. Once she got her diagnosis it was doctor's visits, chemo, hospital stays, trips with family, lunch dates with friends, moments with her husband and sons, just soaking each other up. There were grand moments of joy and love and peace, certainly, but there was no cut back week for her. I can't express how much I hate that. I can say that no matter how hard cancer tried, it could not steal her joy, her spirit, her love of life. Suck it, cancer!
Three kiddos, a baby cuatro in the belly, Jenna, and me at her Jenna's Fight Club 5k
Those thoughts were running through my head as I got ready for my training run on Saturday. My mom and her husband graciously offered to watch our kids that day so we could do some work around the house. (side note: if money and time grew on trees this house would be divine. As it is, it's home sweet home. Home without trim, with terrible wall textures, woodpecker holes in the siding that have grown thanks to swallows who make nests in our walls, etc., etc., etc. Thankfully, the view really IS divine and the 2 acres suit us beautifully and the floor plan is great and it's full of potential. Just no money or time trees. Thus ends my side note.) I met my mom to swap cars, since Lord knows I wasn't going to move that many carseats/booster seats. We stopped in the parking lot and Isaac asked how long I was running today.

"Just 10."

He giggled. "Ten is a lot to me."

I shook my head. Why did I say that? "You're right. Ten is a lot of miles to run."

I do that a lot. I bet you do, too.

"Just 10."

"I just stay home with my kids."

Someone compliments you on your outfit. You don't say thanks. "I've had it forever. It was on sale."

Someone says you look great. You don't say thanks. "Ugh. I really need to lose a few pounds and I just found another gray hair yesterday."

Do you do that?

"Just this." "Only that."

Ten miles is a lot of miles to most people. Parenting is important stuff. When I give a compliment I am sincere and I should assume the same when they are directed my way.

We are not just this or only that. We are created with purpose. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are made in the image of God.

We mess up every day. All of them. Monday through Friday, plus weekends. Multiple times. Because we're humans.

But I did not run "just 10" and I don't "just stay home with my kids." I'm not just anything and neither are you. I am 100% me and you are 100% you. We're going to wake up and love and laugh and fall on our faces, perhaps both literally and figuratively. We're going to raise our voices when we should hug, hold a grudge when we should forgive, roll our eyes when we should apologize.

Gosh, I wish I didn't. I wish I were perfect. Like that person on Facebook who I swear always does her hair and make up and never shouts at her kids and always gets along with her husband and is going on ANOTHER vacation. Seriously. How is that her life? Come on!

Well, it isn't her life. It's a piece of her life.

Life, real life, all of it, is ugly. Beautiful. Brutal. Glorious. We're going to celebrate grandiose victories and endure the deepest depths of grief. If we're really lucky we'll have people surrounding us to hold our hands and wipe our snot, pick us up when we are weary and love us no matter what.

And those people love us because we are who we are. 100% us.

Life's too short. We all say it. We have to live it. We have to live it before we get the bad news from the doctor or before the car crash or before the marriage crumbles.

Let's stop apologizing for ourselves or minimizing our accomplishments.

Let's shine. Not to draw attention to ourselves, but to brighten the lives of the people around us.

Let's live boldly. Kindly. Lovingly. Purposefully. Beautifully. Brightly. 100%.

It's Monday. Instead of being in a Monday funk, let's all do one thing to brighten someone else's day. What will you do? Share in the comments if you'd like.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Boys playing baseball in the front yard.
Girls making birds' nests from mud and leaves, grass and pine needles.
Toddler following everyone around, waiting for his chance to get in on the action.
Trimming trees.
Mowing grass.
Girls switch to making fairy gardens out of moss.
Sun kissed noses.
Screen door banging open and shut as kids come in and out, in and out.
Sandal tan lines.
Lazy mornings, pjs, piles of books.
A raw spot in the yard for the pitcher's mound, rubbed bare from hours of ball each day.
Neighborhood bike rides.
Late breakfasts and late dinners with ice cream in between.
Girl reading her book on the front porch.
Bare feet in freshly mowed grass.
Watermelon for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Dirt in the bottom of the bathtub.
Evenings spent at the ball field.
Hikes and wildflowers.
Swim lessons.
Breeze through window.
Family read alouds at all hours of the day and night.
Exploring new spaces.
Fire pits.
Getting to know new puppies.
Getting gnawed on by new puppies.
Loving new puppies.
Farmer's Markets.
Sloppy Colorado peaches, juice dripping everywhere.
Aspen's bright green leaves.

Summer, apparently, is not for blogging. Oops.
beautiful photo, not taken by yours truly

What does summer mean to you?

Friday, June 12, 2015


She was due on June 10. Her aunt came from Michigan around her due date, expecting to meet a baby since her big brother was born one week early. But this babe was staying put. No amount of spicy food, pineapple, long walks, and anything else anyone has ever said would make a person go into labor worked.

I wasn't sad or impatient about it. I wanted the baby to come when the baby was ready and I knew from Isaac's birth that I'd miss being pregnant the second he was born, even while I was overjoyed at finally meeting my baby. I savored the time with my two year old and held my husband's hand while we walked the block yet again in hopes that Jim's sister could meet her new niece or nephew before having to drive back home.

We said goodbye to Jim's sister, put Isaac to bed, and hit the hay ourselves. I woke up at around 1:30 with contractions and went downstairs to fold some laundry. I was sitting on our basement floor folding when one of the contractions rocked me and I had to get on all four on the floor and rock back and forth. I decided I should wake Jim up and make plans to get someone here to watch Isaac.

Things went quickly and our baby, our little girl, our Audrey, was born even before her aunt made it back home. We met her, our little girl who decided to wait until she was good and ready to make her grand and quick arrival, and marveled her perfection and fell in love a million times over and wondered how in the world this could be our life.

And now she's nine. And she's had a really rough year with lots of uncertainty, tons of question marks, many ups and downs, and more addresses than a well traveled military family. So, so much has changed since we celebrated her 8th birthday, the one where Jim was out of town and approved a showing during the middle of her actual birthday party. Yet all the most important things remain the same. We love this girl. We celebrate her life and love and enthusiasm and smile. We thank God for the gift of her every darn day and count ourselves as the luckiest on the planet to share this journey with our loving, kind, silly, vivacious daughter. Of all the girls in all the world and all the parents in all the lands, we got her and she got us and we couldn't be happier or more proud or more honored to share this life with her. Just her.

We've learned a lot about our daughter this year. About what scares her and what makes her tick. About what makes her smile take over her whole face and what makes her open up her heart to share with others. 

The next year is her last trip around the sun before she hits double digits. I don't know how the time has passed so quickly. It's the biggest cliche in the parenting world, but that's because it's the truest. I only know that my love grows for her as she becomes her own person, finds her own way, discovers her own truths. 

Happy 9th birthday, Audrey. I love you because you are who you are! No matter what, forever and always.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


I read this book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, to Isaac approximately 30,528,539 times when he was one and two. And by 30,528,53 times, I mean per day, of course. He loved it. The rhythm and the silliness, the time spent on my lap and the love we shared. I loved it, too. When we went in the car and I forgot the book I would say it from memory because he just loved those words.

Now I watch him read it to my 21 month old and it stirs up all of these memories that are happy and beautiful and happened far too long ago. And I love all of it all over again.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Story of Bear

Meet Bear.

He's the cutest and we're in love.

Here's the implausible, yet true, story of how we for Bear. Or maybe Bear found us.

The kids have wanted a dog since our Sophie died, but Jim and I were not even close to ready. Then there was another baby and a few moves and it was not even an option. They kept asking and we kept saying when they were older and could really help with the dog. Now we are settled and the kids spend a fair amount of time with Koda and Khyah, my mom and step-dad's dogs, and they love helping with them.* They feed them and take them for walks and even help with backyard clean-up.

We decided to get a dog, but said we'd get one in the fall after I'd trained for and run my first marathon, which will include another road trip to MN. Then Jim and I got antsy and thought about it some more and decided that our schedules are a lot more flexible in the summer so we'd rather do it now. Plus, puppies are really cute and if you look at pictures you will need one.

*Now, we know the kids will not be fully responsible for Bear Bear. We'll be up with him at night and potty training and all of that fun stuff, but they can help with the feeding, watering, walking, and clean up.*

Audrey and Elliot have been the most vocal proponents for getting a puppy so we decided to surprise them for their June birthdays. Jim and I started looking at our local puppy adoption center's website and found two pups from a litter that we wanted to meet. We filled out the application for two little girl puppies. Our requirements were puppy, female, medium sized, meaning 30-50 pounds. We know a puppy is more work, but we'd rather start with a clean slate than get an older dog with unknown issues, especially since I have four kids home all day with the pup.

We waited to hear back from someone about the dogs, but didn't hear anything. I called again and left another message, then they left a message with me, and on and on.

Then our next door neighbor came over to introduce herself on Wednesday. She apologized for how long it took her to come over to say hi, but said she'd been fostering some puppies since Mother's Day. I pointed right into her face and squealed/shouted, "Are you Spice and Splash's mom?" She said she was and I told her that we'd been trying to meet those puppies because we wanted to adopt one of them. The kids looked really confused and I realized that cat (dog?) was out of the bag. I had to quickly tell them that we were surprising them with a puppy in June instead of October so. . . . "SURPRISE!"

Then it got really noisy as they jumped and screamed and hugged. We put our shoes on and walked next door to meet the pups. Oh, the cuteness! We learned that Spice was already going to another home, but Splash was still available. Splash looks so much like our Sophie girl and has a very sweet demeanor.

But then there was Bear. Brown and fuzzy and calm as can be, falling asleep in Jim's arm almost the moment he held him close. The foster mom said she almost named him PJ because he slept so much when she first got him. He is more playful now, but still very sweet and relaxed. We tried to want Splash more and almost decided to go with her because she'll likely stay smaller and she's a girl. And she really was so, so sweet.

But there was Bear.

We went home and talked and cast our votes and talked some more. The boys were in camp Bear and Audrey didn't care because PUPPY! Jim and I said Splash, but really only because she is a she. We loved Bear. So Jim brought Elliot to baseball and we said we'd think about it some more, but I called him and told him that I thought it had to be Bear. He agreed wholeheartedly. Well, actually, he said maybe we should get both and I, for maybe the third time in my whole life, was the voice of reason and said there was no way we could handle more than one puppy. Aren't you proud of me? Voice of reason? So out of character. It was like we swapped personalities for a second there.

So, our next door neighbor had our pup all along. Can you even believe it? Which is weird enough on its own, but gets almost creepy when you consider his name. A few months ago we started talking about dog names and Elliot wanted to name our dog Bear. He loves the story of Lewis and Clark's giant, adventurous dog, Seaman, and his interactions with American Indians on their travels. He especially loves the story of when a group of American Indians saw him and said, "Bear?" because they'd never seen such a large dog. Lewis tried to explain that it was a dog so the story goes, "Bear?" "Dog." "Bear?" "Dog." "Bear-dog?"

We said that Bear was a boy's name and we were getting a girl dog, but if she looked a lot like a bear we might name her that. We picked our girl name for the someday moment we'd get a girl dog.

So, our next door neighbor had our pup all along and he had the name that Elliot wanted to name our dog. Now, really. Can you even believe it?

Bear will be ready to come to his forever home on Sunday. We are beside ourselves with excitement. The good news is that we get to visit him when he's outside playing with his siblings. He will go to lots of baseball and softball games, get lots of cuddles, and require the grown ups of the house to give him some space since the kids will want to be all Bear all the time. His mom is a mutt and his dad is unknown, so Bear is a mystery pup. Bear, his mom, and siblings were strays when they were picked up and sent to a shelter to be euthanized. The local animal shelter swooped in on Mother's Day and found a foster home, our wonderful neighbor, for all of them so they could be adopted out. Hooray! Making it all the more crazy is that this is the first time she has fostered puppies so, really, Bear was meant to be ours and we're meant to be his. He'll likely be much bigger than we wanted, but then again, so far we're batting about 0% in getting what we thought we wanted, but we at about 1000% for getting just what we need.

And that, my friends, is the story of Bear. Can you even believe it???

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

celebrating. time.

We celebrate milestones. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Graduations. We mark growth on the little piece of trim that used to be in the boys' closet in their blue room in Minnesota, but made the trip west and now resides in Asher's closet in Colorado. We take pictures on the first and last days of school and marvel how they've changed, their hair length, height.

Yet some things can't be measured. Yet they matter just the same.

Isaac. Eleven years old. Tall and lean like a blade of grass blowing in the wind. All elbows and kneecaps, baggie shorts and flat brimmed hats. He stands next to a few boys his age and towers over them, yet others dwarf him with their broad chest and muscular arms, their thick legs and man feet. He is at that age where change seems to happen overnight and the school pictures look like a mismatched collection of kids from many different ages.

He was telling me a story last week. He was excited and his hands were gesticulating as he's seen mine do all these eleven years. His voice was rising at the end of the sentence as he gulped a quick breath to continue speaking.

And then it happened. Just a flash. A glimpse. He made this expression and I saw him, my Isaac boy, but also him, the man he'll be. It was over, the moment passed, and I think my face fell in renewed recognition of this light speed passage of time. Time that I am so beyond honored and delighted to be a part of, but that I am also so beyond confused as to how the clock has ticked so many ticks since I first held that boy and professed my love in all the words I could muster up. I tried. I really, really tried, yet none of those words even touched the depths of my love for him. It is an easy love that will stay with him for all the days, all the nights, all the mistakes, all the triumphs. It is a complicated love that will ache when he aches and burn with anger when he burns, want to protect him from the harsh winters of life, but instead arm him with a giant, wool parka to make his own way through those winters.

There's no place in the baby book for those moments. Those moments you see the future and it fills you with excitement and fear and joy and dread. Those moments that quietly make up a life.

What moments, quiet or noisy, are you celebrating today?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Belonging. Running. Life.

For the most part, I'm an encourager. I look for the best in people. I try to find it in myself. I am not and never will be the smartest, cutest, best, the funniest, fastest, kindest. Maybe you aren't all or any of those things either. (Actually, you probably aren't. Sorry if this is new information.) And that's just dandy because I'm just me and you're just you and we were made for special things in this glorious, horrible world.

I'm in this weird space in my life. Hmm. I am always in that space, now that I think about it a bit. To be more specific, I am over the moon thrilled at where I am. I feel like I am in just the house in just the neighborhood in just the town for my family and me. I've loved where I've lived before, but it's always felt like a stopping point on a bigger journey. Now I feel like my roaming days are over, but my journey is just beginning.
I mean, really, what's not to love. This is my front yard!
Yet something is missing. We haven't quite found our people here yet. We are getting to know many great families through sports, church, and homeschool events, but we haven't found our tribe. I miss my running friends. I miss coaching Moms on the Run. Not running with that group has been a big adjustment for me this spring as I tackle runs on my own and miss the fun, laughter, and support that has accompanied my runs since I began running five years ago.

A few weeks ago I went for a run, knowing the Moms on the Run season was about to start without me. I was grieving my place there, missing my friends, feeling jealous of the people taking my place. It wasn't a pity party; it was just a lot of emotions. My mind went to the introduction I would give on the first night of class. There are so many people there who wonder if they belong. Who have never run before and feel like they're sticking out like a sore thumb. Who haven't run since college and about 30 pounds and four babies ago. Who wonder if they have the right running shorts or shoes or if everyone's going to stare at them like a middle school dance.

In my mind, I was telling them that they belong. There is no dress code or prerequisite. There is no test to pass and no hoops to jump through. There is just strength and determination and love and the guts to do something new and push themselves harder and be the best version of themselves they can be.

Isn't that all we can ever do?
I bought this print from Story People and it will hang in our school room because it is perfect!

Whatever you're facing today, wherever you're second guessing yourself and beating yourself up, please know that you are loved. You are cherished. You are appreciated. You belong.
believe this!
So let's go out there and be the best version of ourselves we can be. Let's overwhelm the world with good and love and forgiveness, including forgiving ourselves when we falter. The world needs more of that. The world needs more of you.