Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chaos. Fun. Family. Friends.

I was really good at wrangling a 16-month-old on planes, trains, and automobiles, at church and friends' and family's homes, restaurants, fitness classes, and all the other places Asher and I visited on our trip to MN. I was really good at seeing so many people who mean the world to me and working out and laughing and hugging and enjoying my time.

I was not good at taking pictures or blogging. I picked the right things to be good at this weekend.

Now I'm home. Because I visited a place I will always love and will always have a piece of me and be the place our family became our family, but now I'm home. I know we made the right decision. I missed the mountains and our little town and our small, winding roads. Our airport reunion with Jim and the kids made my heart soar with happy because we were all home together again. That felt so good. Home. Wow.

We got back at 10:30 last night and I unpacked from MN and packed for Arizona and our A goal is to leave at 9 this morning for our big road trip and our B goal is to leave sometime when the calendar says Tuesday. More Chaos and Fun and Family and Friends.

I'm so glad so many of you fall under one of those categories.

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Minnesota, here we come!

Today I am willingly doing two things that most people would rather never do in their entire lifetime, much less in one day.

Dramatic much? Why yes, thank you.

First, I am choosing to fly with a toddler. As an aside, it pains me to write toddler. He is my baby. Always will be. Just like those three other big kids who are my babies. But this littlest one especially. Alas, toddler.

Second, I am flying to Minnesota in January. Back in our Omaha days, I was lonely and borderline miserable and I needed something to look forward to. Minnesota in January was that thing. I could get a flight using very few of Jim's points because, as previously mentioned, people just don't go to Minnesota, land of frozen tundra and deadly windchills, in January. Except me. Because my family and friends are there so away we go!

Let's just say I'm not bringing any books on the flight. At least not any books that don't have lift the flap pages or fuzzy bears or words to sing. Well, I am sneaking Little Women in my purse on the off-chance that Asher naps during the flight. Ha. I crack myself up just thinking that might happen.

Actually, we are hitting this flight at a really good time. When I booked the flight I was scared. Asher didn't like sitting for any amount of time beyond nursing and eating. Now he sits through church, which is a joyous miracle unto itself. He sits and listens to piles of books. So, I'm cautiously hopeful this will go alright and I won't make any lifelong enemies in the people sitting around us on the flight. The bag is packed with snacks, toys, and a few new books.

So, yes, I'm leaving on a jet plane. It's not nearly as glamorous as it sounds, but here we go!

P.S. I'll miss these kiddos something fierce. Our Monday reunion will be spectacular!

I know it's only Thursday, but I'm in weekend mode. Do you have any plans?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Run Happy. Be Strong.

Today we got our morning work done, had a nice little lunch, and got the kids settled down for reading hour/nap. Jim was working from home, so I quickly changed and dashed out the door to drive to one of my favorite new running trails.

I have a few races on my calendar for 2015. I get kind of nervous when I pencil things in on my racing calendar these days. The last time I got the pen out and made big fitness plans was 2012, the year I tore my ACL skiing, reconstructed it with surgery, worked my tail off in PT, and then got pregnant. So, yeah, I didn't really get to run many of my races that year. And then last year I had a baby who thought sleep was for the weak and we moved to lots of new places with our four kids and life was wild and crazy and running was not the priority. So, yeah, I didn't really run many races last year either.

Running remained a hobby, a sanity saver, time with friends, but it took a very necessary back seat to life.
This year I have a 10-miler planned for June, a half marathon a few weeks later, and my first full marathon in October. My goal for the first half of the year is to build a solid foundation through consistent running, strength training, and yoga. My goal for the second half of the year is to nail my marathon training runs and run a happy, healthy marathon.

Which brings me to today's run. My goal is to get three good runs in each week as I work my long run mileage up. Today I had time to get six miles in, so I headed to a local trail. Just me and my thoughts. I have never been one to listen to music while I run. I did it periodically back in Minnesota, but I usually ran with friends or used that time alone to think and be. There is so little time to be. Here I never run with music because I am either on a tight mountain road or I am sharing space with elk and deer,which I see often, and bears and mountain lions, which thankfully have stayed away while I've been in their vicinity. Obviously I need to be alert and aware while running so no ear buds for me. The added bonus is that I can hear the twigs snap and the wind swish, the rocks skitter away and my breath get heavier and slower, depending on the particular hill I'm working at the moment. There is a depth to the silence that surrounds me as I run that I wouldn't trade for the best beat-thumping song that JT could craft. Time to just be. It's one of my favorites.

Today as I ran I thought about blogging and I remembered that I needed to call my Grandma. I thought about my marriage and my kids. I thought about how running here is finally feeling almost normal. How on the rare occasions that I'm running on flat ground, the altitude no longer bothers me. How I no longer think I'll die from the hills. I thought about all that running has taught me, mostly that I'm tougher than I thought and that friends you run with turn into friends you trust with all of the best and worst of you. My lungs burned. My legs burned. I looked around at the beauty surrounding me and I felt like the luckiest person in the world.
I had this trail all to myself today

And this view.

Mostly I thought, I get to do this. I am healthy and strong enough to rely on my lungs and legs to carry me up and down mountains and through trees and around curves. I get to feel my lungs beg for more air and my legs power up a steep incline and then fly down the other side. I get to crest a hill and see beauty as far as my eyes can see. I get to rest in the accomplished silence, punctuated only by my slowing breathing, that follows a tough run.

Last night, Elliot and I finished The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. The last paragraph describes almost perfectly how I felt on my run today.

"As Louis relaxed and prepared for sleep, all his thoughts were of how lucky he was to 
inhabit such a beautiful earth, . . . and how pleasant it was to look forward to
another night of sleep and another day tomorrow, and the fresh morning,
and the light that returns with the day." 

The running goals I have for myself this year are my biggest yet. I plan on seeing them through. But I also know that injuries and babies and life happen. So I'm enjoying every run. I'm working hard and appreciating the beauty around me and the beauty within me. And it is just absolutely fantastic.

What do you do that makes you feel happy and strong? That makes you feel better at all the other parts of your life? 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Parenting: Art, not Science. **

I am not a bad mama. I do have bad moments.

I do not have a bad life. I do have bad days.
Sometimes being a good mama is a day planned with all of the kids' favorite games and pasttimes and sometimes being a good mama is hearing, "mama, watch this," for the 37th time in one hour and saying, "OK" when under your breath you're mumbling, "I really don't want to."

Sometimes being a good mama is the birthday party the whole neighborhood talks about for ages and sometimes it's a candle in a Twinkie and a day of love and hugs.

Sometimes it's french toast and eggs and sometimes it's a granola bar on the way out the door.

Sometimes it's words of wisdom and understanding and sometimes it's walking away instead of shouting.

Sometimes it's PTA president and sometimes it's help with homework after a long shift at work.

Sometimes it's setting the table for your tired child and sometimes it's having them finish their chores even though they're tired.

Sometimes it's notes in the lunch box and sometimes it's lunch.

The other day I was remembering back to when we were a teeny, new, little family of three. Every decision felt so big then. I thought I'd ruin Isaac if I did this wrong or waited too long to do this or did this too early or on and on it went with what I thought I had to do to get it right. As if there were a checklist. As if one bad decision or wrong move would make or break my parenting deal.

A friend from Oklahoma called one day and gave me advice that I didn't really get at the time, but that I understand more and more each day. She said, "Parenting is an art, not a science."

There is not a set of beakers waiting to be filled with just the right ingredients in just the right quantities in just the right order to ensure a successful child experiment. Nope. There is finger paint and pencil and eraser markings. There is clay and crayons and papier mache. And you add a dab of this and a smear of that and along with your child you create a masterpiece. An absolute masterpiece, I tell you. There will be mistakes along the way. (Oh wow, will there be mistakes.) There will be flashes of brilliance. There will be moments so beautiful you will cry. There will be moments so awful you will cry.

And you will need help. From family and friends and nurses and teachers and mentors. And if you're the praying type, you will beg the heavens to give you a sign that these hard decisions will pay off.
And just when you need it you'll get a glimpse. There will be times you're sure you're getting it right. I always feel quite proud of my parenting skills when my kids tell me which National Public Radio show is their favorite. I'm nerdy and pompous like that, I guess. Maybe it's when your kid holds the door open for a stranger or reaches for your hand across the couch during movie night. Maybe it's when they ask for advice or when they talk about the church service in a way that lets you know they were really paying attention. Maybe it's when they show good sportsmanship during a tough loss or when they pray for a sick friend.

You know if you're parenting out of love. You know if you're doing your best. You know the days that are harder than others and the things that trigger your impatience or anger. You know your child's favorite book and how to rub their back just so when they're having trouble sleeping.

And that is enough. The bond formed, the relationship nurtured, the love shared. That is more than enough.

So let's dish ourselves up a heaping scoop of grace, love, and forgiveness. Let's keep plenty for ourselves and let's share it abundantly with those around us.

What glimpses do you get that let you know you're doing a good, no, great, job? 

** Please know that I am talking about a regular day of parenting with its ups and downs, joys and frustrations. When mental illness, abuse, addiction, single, divorced, or widowed parenting, chronic illness, and a host of other very real and very difficult situations are added to parenting, it takes it to a whole new level. If you are going through any of those situations, please know I do not meant to simplify things. And you are a rock star. Like Bon Jovi status.

P.S. I mentioned that I was making a french toast bake and writing a blog post in my mind and got a request for the french toast recipe. So, here you go. Baked Pumpkin Cream Cheese French Toast. Oh yes I did! FYI, I do not make the crumb topping because it's enough like morning cake without it, we do not serve it with syrup for the same reason, and they always eat eggs with it because a morning without ample protein is a tough morning indeed. Enjoy.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Operation Order. 2.

The first full week of 2015 is in the books. We had a great week getting back into our school groove after a bit of a tough start on Monday. So far I love having my One Word. Order is always in the back of my mind and I'm always on the lookout for ways to implement it. This week I focused on getting everything ready for our school day the night before and getting the house cleaned up before I went to bed each night. I wasn't perfect, but that's not my intention. My intention is to use my time to reflect my priorities. In essence, to order my life so that people know what is important to me without me saying a word. Keeping my house more orderly is a piece of that since clutter and mess add stress and waste my time.  

Here are some things that are very important to me: people. Relationships. 

I am not a host or party planner by nature. Clearly this skipped a generation because my mom and Audrey are in their glory when they are planning menus and designing invitations and creating elaborate table settings. As for me, I am uncomfortable having people over and I never feel like I get it quite right. We live in the age of Pinterest perfection, but I'm more of a chips and queso, bonfire and BYOB, jeans and hoodie kind of girl myself.

But we are in this new place on our little mountain and neighbors are spread out and kids aren't playing in the yards right next door and across the street and around the corner, so we have to take matters into our own hands. If people and relationships are important to us, we have to make an effort. So we did.  

Yesterday we hosted a Meet the Neighbors Bonfire and S'more party. We were hoping to meet some neighbors with kids and specifically invited people with swingsets in the backyard or where we'd seen buses drop kids off. Alas, no kids came, but we did get to meet lots of great neighbors, including one who brought over the most delicious homemade oatmeal molasses bread we ever did taste. Even Isaac, who was really hoping for kids, said, "We have really nice neighbors."

The weather was wonderful at sunny and 50, the company was delightful, and the s'mores were tasty. I'd say that's a really great day, living our priorities.

How are you doing on your One Word or your resolution? Link up below or leave a comment. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Oh Hey, Friday

We are in such a time of transition. Our New Year is still New. We have found our new hometown, but have now started the daunting task of finding a house to turn into our home. All of this New got me thinking about things I'm missing and things I'm looking forward to.

5 Things I'm Missing:

1-sweet itty bitty squishy babies
my first itty bitty baby boy, almost 2 months old

my itty bitty daughter, ten days old

sweet baby Elliot, one day old

my littlest squishy, a few weeks old
 A friend posted this article on facebook and, just yes. I know how stupidly fortunate I am to have these four babies, but that doesn't stop the ache I feel when I look at Asher and see my baby grow into a little boy. I just love babies and their little coos and their little sleepy smiles, their curled up fingers and their squishy snuggles. And I want about a million of them. Job wanted: baby snuggler. Call me.

2-my BRFs (best running friends for the non-runners in the group)
I went from running with friends 90% of the time to running by myself 99% of the time. Thankfully the scenery has improved and I'm working so hard on conquering hills and breathing that I don't have much oxygen left over for conversation, but I sure do miss my tribe.
These are just a few of my BRFs. Man, I miss all of them.
3-the show Parenthood
Ok, technically it's still on. Did you see last night's episode?! It hurt me so. Yes, I know it's fiction, but still. . . hurts me. 

4-The holidays and the family who made it so incredibly beautiful
I didn't go nuts 2 days into having company over this year. Maybe this means I'm almost a grown-up? And I want them all to come back as soon as possible. Maybe this means I'm not the worst hostess on the planet? Elliot wants his cousins from Michigan to buy a house on one side of us and his cousins from Minnesota to buy a house on the other side of us and all would be right in the world. I can't argue with the kid on that one. 

7/8 of the cousins sledding on death by driveway
winter bonfire and s'mores

A hot game of Ticket to Ride

the family 
goofy cousins
Asher has taken it to a new level. We are trying to gently help him sleep better. I am not a Cry It Out person. I just can't. Not my deal. So, we are up. Repeatedly. Trying to help him back to sleep without nursing him and without picking him up, but also without screaming. It is exhausting. And not really helping. Ugh.
Displaying IMG_20141231_224700690.jpg
for the record, I would gladly co-sleep if it meant he wouldn't wake up 14 times a night.
He still does. It's brutal. But dang, is he lovable.
5 Things I'm looking forward to:

1-Visiting MN and AZ to see family and friends
Asher and I fly to MN soon to see family and those BRFs I mentioned before. Then we fly home and the next morning the whole family drives to Arizona to catch some rays and visit grandparents while Jim works. It will be a whirlwind, but we are all really excited. I am thinking of making a CD of myself singing so I don't have to sing the entire 12+ hours we'll be driving in order to keep Asher-boy from screeching my name for 12+ hours. It might be my best idea yet.

2-Watching my kiddos grow
As much as I miss the little squishy baby stage, this stage is so fun. The conversations we have, the games we play, the books we read. It is so amazing to watch them grow into their own people. It is seriously an honor.

3-Buying a house to make our home in Colorado
We have started this process and we're so excited. As with every church we visit, the kids think we should buy every house we see. They are just so eager to get settled. They have been such troopers through this whole crazy adventure. We have honed in on a few neighborhoods that we like so we will see what happens. No matter what, we're trusting we'll end up just where we're meant to. 

4-Running consistently to get a solid base for my first go at marathon training!
Yep. First marathon, baby! So far I am signed up for a half marathon in the mountains in June and the Twin Cities Marathon in October. I am so excited for this mental and physical challenge. Any advice? Do tell. 

5-Life. Opportunity. Adventure. All of it!
One day you'll wake up and there won't be any more time to do the things you've always wanted. Do it now.
Let's do this, people!

What are you missing? And looking forward to? Happy Weekend!

It's link up friday. 


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Healthy kid snack

Current kid snack obsession:
3 cups raw nuts. (We like pecans and almonds)
1/3 cup honey.
2 tsp cinnamon.
teeny little bit of cayenne pepper.

Stir together and bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.
Unless it's me today. Then forget about them and bake them until the house starts to fill with smoke and the smell overwhelms you. Remove from oven and bring to the deck. Once they cook, feed them to the kids who remark, "They're a little burnt, but it's ok." Domestic goddess. All the way.

What are your favorite healthy afternoon snacks? I'd love some recipes to mix it up a bit.