Friday, February 27, 2015

Oh Hey, Friday

This was a weird week for us. Boys had co-op on Monday, Jim and the big kids skied on Tuesday, Audrey had co-op on Wednesday, and here it is Friday. Add in about one foot of snow, another rejected house offer, and lots of extra schoolwork on the days the kids were home, plus some in the car schooling on the ski day, and we are ready for the weekend. Here are five random things because my brain is fried.

1-French Braid.
I french braided all of Audrey's hair for the first time last night. I have done partial braids and the cute kind she loves that goes along her hairline from one ear to the other. I took it to the next level last night with a top to bottom french braid and it confirmed my hypothesis that if God intended for us to french braid, we would have eight arms and octopi would be stuck with only two tentacles. Seriously. How do those pinterest hairdos happen? Are they called hairdos anymore? Is it really 14 people getting together to do someone's hair and then one person takes all of the credit? These are the questions that keep me up late at night. And by late I mean 9:30. Yaaaawwwwwnnnnn.
Pinterest, showing off again.
2-Soup swap.
I have professed my love for soup on this blog before. I am a cold weather soup person only. Don't try to feed it to me during the summer, but during the winter I would gladly eat it multiple times each day. So warm and hearty and good for the body and soul. Therefore, you can imagine my delight when I saw this blog post about a soup swap. Doesn't this sound wonderful? Now if only I had friends nearby to do this. Eventually. Must put make friends on my to-do list.

I received lots of support and love when I wrote about my less than stellar return to skiing here. Well, this week I'm going back for more. My mom is coming over to watch Asher boy while the rest of us hit the slopes. This time Jim, my talented skier of a husband, is going to be my personal coach. I'll keep you posted.

Isaac's writing curriculum is pretty intense, but he is up for the challenge. I love watching it push him and see him try to pull back, but eventually get it. He is learning about the different ways to describe a person beyond just physical appearance. His assignment for today was to take what he's learned so far this week and describe a person in our family. He chose Asher and this is what he came up with. . .

My eighteen month old brother Asher has blond hair so crazy it looks like he just got electrocuted. That is because he loves running through blankets. His favorite game is to have us (me, Audrey, or Elliot) hold a blanket in the air like a curtain and he runs through it. One of his favorite things to do is throw balls (which he calls ball-balls) all over the place. Another thing he loves to do is carry TV remotes wherever he feels like going.

He is the goofiest baby that I have ever known and when he dances (which he calls DAN DAN DAN) he rocks back and forth adn shakes his hands and yells DAN DAN DAN at the top of his lungs. It is hilarious. He usually wears wunzies and pants with socks that are very tight on his very chubby ankles. If you ask anyone who knows him how he sleeps they will always answer, "He is the worst sleeper that I have ever had the privilege of knowing."

He has a crazed laugh and smile that he always does when he is dancing. He does what we call man-burps sometimes and we (Audrey, Elliot, and I) always crack up with laughter.

FYI: He nailed it! (yes, a few grammar issues, but the lesson was on describing people and he got it.)
I mustache you a question. . . 

do you think my brother is adorable?

5-Date night.
I gave Jim the gift of one date/month for Christmas and we are cashing in on our February date this weekend. We're going to see my friend perform improv. Technically other people will also perform, but it's probably kind of like watching my kids in a musical. . . what? Other people's kids are in this? You had me at adult conversation, laughter, and time with my husband. Then my mom took it to the next level and said she'd bring dinner so now I don't even have to make dinner or wash dishes. Wow. I just realized how little it takes to delight me.

That's a wrap.

Happy weekend. What are your plans?


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Ants Go Marching One by One

I don't know if this will matter to anyone else, but it is a day I want to remember for its simple goodness. I want to be more aware of these little happy days that make up a life.

Tuesday tried to stink. It really did. That's what happens when the baby wakes up at 5 am and the mama can't get back to sleep. That would be fine and dandy because 5 isn't that early, but I sat in bed and wrote some items in my planner (yes, paper planner. I'm old school). That would also be fine and dandy, but apparently I didn't put the cover on my pen when I rolled over to read for a while. About 30 minutes later I sat up to see blue ink spots on my cream colored sheets. That isn't a huge deal since we have extra matching sheets, but then I saw blue spots on our cream colored comforter also. Surprisingly, we do not have an extra comforter. What is NOT surprising is that laundry is not one of my strong suits. (What? you say. The domestic goddess known as DeNae does not excel at laundry? Impossible!) Into the washing machine it went with fingers crossed. (FYI: stain didn't come out. I really am pathetic at homey things. Crud.)

Jim took the three big kids skiing today so I took advantage of having only one child at home to head down the hill (that's what people here say when they're heading to "town") to get my CO driver's license. If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen this sarcastic little remark:

I'm putting on a touch of make-up before going to the DMV for my new driver's license to ensure that no police officer will recognize me if I get pulled over. I thought about blow drying my hair, too, but that would have been too much glamour for one little Tuesday.

Well, let's just say I'm glad I didn't blowdry my hair. First, let's talk about an 18-month-old waiting in the DMV office for 50 minutes. We read books. We drove toy cars. We walked up and down the aisles. We smiled and said hi to strangers who like adorable little boys. Then, when all of that got boring, he looked for other ways to entertain himself. If you know children, you know this is about to get bad.

He tried to go and stand in front of the entrance door with his face smashed up against it. Then he tried to find the wettest spot on the floor to sit in. To make it really festive, this particular DMV had floor to ceiling windows covered with aluminum blinds. Asher accidentally bumped them and realized they made a really fun noise. Game On! His new mission in life was to swipe at noisy blinds and my mission in life was to keep him from trashing the blinds and making that annoying noise. I did what any sane mother would do. I brought him over to the door so he could press his face against it and sit in shoe slush. Judge away, but it was the only thing, except for the obviously exciting blinds, that would entertain him!

Finally, FINALLY, they called my name. I brought my baby, my MN license, my money, and my proof of address up to the counter. We started the process and all was going swimmingly until we got to the social security part of the equation. They said my name didn't match that number. It's a long story and, no, it doesn't involve me being on the lam from the law and, no, it doesn't involve witness protection program. It just involves me changing my last name about seven years after I got married and not notifying all of the proper agencies. It hasn't been an issue until today, when my baby and I had been at the DMV for an hour now and would have to leave empty-handed.

The DMV is a bummer of a joint on a good day. This was not a good day. Another day I get to go to the social security office and let them know that I am me and then take their paperwork along with my other paperwork back to wait at the DMV for my license. I have already informed Jim that on that day I will have zero children and one book with me.

So, Tuesday didn't start off so great. Or so it would seem. But really, Asher was great at the DMV, all things considered. He made friends and didn't make a fuss and that's a win for me. And then I drove home and there was over a foot of snow and the blue sky shone beautifully over the snow-topped trees and snow-capped mountains all around me. I drove my little mountain roads back to my little mountain town while I sang loud and proud with my baby and I got a happy little tickle in my soul because I'm where I'm supposed to be.

Asher and I took advantage of the 1:1 kid to parent ratio and went to baby storytime at the library for the first time. He loved it. He clapped and waved and swung to the music and looked at the other little people like they were aliens. It was so fun. I'm going to try to incorporate it into our week by having the kids pack up work they can do independently at the library while Asher and I sing and dance with the other babies and toddlers.

We came home for lunch and nap. I used naptime to get soup ingredients chopped and cooking, to make the grocery list, and to fold some laundry. Exciting? No, but it was pretty sweet to have some uninterrupted time to get stuff done.

Asher woke up for snack, then we played for a bit and took advantage of our beautiful day by going for a walk.

I pushed Asher in the stroller for a while. He looked for vroom vrooms (cars) and listened for tweet tweets (birds). He looked up and said, "moom" when he saw the white crescent against the bright blue sky. We heard airplanes and looked for woof woofs.

There is a spot about halfway down our little mountain that offers majestic views of a white-capped mountain. Since I had my camera I took a few pictures. Seriously. We live here!

Once we got closer to home Asher got out. We held hands and I sang "The ants go marching one by one." My heart was so full. I was relishing this gift of another toddler with whom to walk and explore and discover. Another chance to sing The Ants go Marching One by One and make up silly rhyming words. Once we were close to home and on a stretch of road that rarely has cars, I let go of his hand and he zoomed ahead and looked back at me, proud and big and beautiful. He laughed and smiled with all of his little being.

It was another of my favorite moments in one of my favorite days where nothing really happens, but everything happens.

Then we came home and Asher ate "nack," his current obsession being unsalted cashews, and made silly faces at me. Then he pulled out all of the games with spinners and went for "theeeee!"

The skiing kids came home tired and hungry and full of stories. Asher greeted them with squeals and requests to be pulled around in his laundry basket chariot. Now teeth have been brushed, books have been read, prayers have been said, and kids are snuggled in for a good night's sleep. Well, 3/4 of them are. We never know what the wild card will throw our way.

Tuesday didn't turn out so badly after all.

When our family did small group bible study back in MN, we started each week with each person going through and saying a high and a low. My Tuesday low was DMV and my high was my walk with Asher. What's your high and low from the past few days? 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Motivation and busting the myth of the summer body

Yesterday I went for a 4 mile run. It was 5 degrees and snowing and my eyelids tried to freeze shut and I had snotsicles. It was actually world's better than it sounds on paper. Or, you know, internet. In fact, I loved it. The world was quiet and clear. My breathing was labored and my muscles burned. I felt alive and whole. Isn't that weird? I wondered why something that can be painful and is definitely difficult and ridiculously humbling makes me feel so full of life, clears my mind, and makes the rest of the day feel so much easier to handle. I started to think about motivation and what would make a perfectly normal (ok, we all know that's a joke!) woman leave her warm and cozy home on a Sunday afternoon during the only hour of the day that all of her children are napping or resting to go out and run.

I thought of this saying and all of the accompanying airbrushed pictures that often go along with it:

Let me start off by saying that if this motivates you, then go with it. If you find something that works for you, go for it.

But to me, it's crap.

Summer bodies are the bodies we have in the summer. And they rarely, rarely, RARELY look like that. I mean, .000000000000001% of the population might be a huge exaggeration. RARELY!! Summer bodies are the bodies we have in June, July, and August. The ones that wear shorts and t-shirts because it's hot. The ones that wear swimsuits because we're at the beach. So for goodness sake, put on a swimsuit and swim with your kids or build a sandcastle. If you don't have kids, sit at the beach and read a book and soak up some Vitamin D. If you have a significant other, splash in the waves and flirt a bit. Don't wait for that someday when you have a "summer body."

Does that mean I feel smokin' hot when I wear a swimsuit? Ha. Ha. hahahahahaha. Friends, let me remind you that I am currently breastfeeding my fourth child that was born from my body. My body parts have been flatter and perkier and smoother and rounder in all the right places than they are today. But I still put on the dang swimsuit and slide down the waterslide and splash in the waves and get buried in the sand. Because it's fun, silly time shared with my sweet kiddos and because, please, sweet Jesus, let my sons and daughter know the difference between airbrushed, pretend perfection and real live women's bodies. The ones with dimples and curves. The ones that feel and show the effects of gravity and time. The ones with muscles and cellulite all right there mingled together in a beautiful, human body.

But this body has birthed and nourished our four kids. It has run races. It has come back from injury. It has shot hoops. It has hiked rugged trails. It has made mistakes and loved and forgiven. It has done hard things, all the while looking not one little bit like the picture above.

All of that to say that it's safe to say having a "summer body" doesn't motivate me to get out and run when it's cold and stormy and my book and blankie are an option. Here is what motivates me.

Health: I want to be part of my family's life for as long as possible and I want to be active for as long as possible so I am doing what I can to stay healthy and fit. So long as Monster Cookies are part of the equation. Seriously. For the most part, we eat at home and fill our bellies with lots of fruits and veggies and healthy fats. We play together and move together and think together. Mental health plays a role in this, too, because I am my very best version of me--a kinder, calmer, more productive, energized human--when exercise is part of my week. So I run.

Finishing what I start: Medals are handed out on race day, but medals are earned when we train in the five degree, snowy weather and the 90 degree, steamy weather. I do not have grand goals for my races this year. I am training and racing new races in a new place with new altitude and new terrain. My goals are to run happy and finish strong. I want to be physically and mentally prepared. That requires my time and effort right now. So I run.

Family: I want my kids to see women and men as strong, capable, kind, loving people. I want them to see fitness and health as part of every day life, not a way to lose weight for a reunion or fit into a dress. Not as a test to pass to see if they are worthy of wearing a swimsuit and saying they have a summer body. My kids will never play in the big leagues of any sport, but they can lace up shoes and run or play a game of horse or ski down a mountain. They can find an activity they love and keep moving and shaking for as long as their bodies allow. That's my plan and I'm sticking to it! So I run.

Body image is messed up for so many of us. I've touched on it here and here and they are two of my most-read, most-commented on, and most-shared blog posts to date. We know we are dealing with plastic surgery and airbrushing and lighting tricks, yet we compare ourselves to pretend perfection. And we lose every single time. I mean, really, how could we possibly compete with pretend?

I was playing with my kids at a park while we were in Arizona and I overheard a conversation between two moms. Their little kids were playing in the sand a few feet away. The mom turned to her friend and said, "I used to at least be able to photoshop myself to look good. I can't even do that anymore. Why can't I look more like Jennifer Lopez? I know she has personal trainers and cooks and help with her kids. I just can't look good anymore no matter what I do."

I was so sad. I was sad for that mom and the story she tells about herself and believes hook, line, and sinker. I was sad for the day her kids are old enough to overhear that and get a false picture in their heads of what beautiful is. I was sad for women and the toxic thoughts we have about ourselves. I was sad for men and the images they are bombarded with and the times they tell us we're beautiful and we don't believe a single word they say. I was just so sad.

Maybe running isn't your thing. No big deal. Find your thing. The thing you love. The thing that makes you smile when you talk about it. The thing that leaves you happier when you're finished than when you started. Then do more of that thing. Gardening or pottery. Walking or yoga. Cross country skiing or swimming. Biking or martial arts. Strength training or hiking. Dance or kickboxing. Something that gets you moving and makes you feel whole.

Then do it. And feel your life expand. Your capacity for good. Your outlook on life. Because you are filling your life with strength and beauty and good and then you are better able to share your strength and beauty and good with others. At least that's the plan. I like to think that it's working for me. Some days better than others. But I'm going to keep at it. I'm going to keep moving and working for my health and my goals and my family.

What do you do that makes you feel alive? How does it make you a better version of you? What motivates you to keep going even when it's tough?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

What fourth children don't get

They don't get baby massages before bedtime

They don't get set nap and bedtimes.

They don't get mama's and dada's undivided attention.

They don't get up-to-date baby books.

They don't get timely well-baby visits.

They just don't.

They do get sisters who check out board books to read to them before bed.

They get brothers who, when told I was pregnant, say, "I never thought I'd be a big brother. I just never thought I'd be a big brother!"

They get brothers who lay on the floor so they can sit on his back to play bumpa-da-bump.

They get experienced, more laid back parents.

They get many, maaaaaannnnnyyyyy games of Little League Baseball.

They get family road trips and vacations.

They get lots of homeschool lessons.

They get love. So very much love.

They just do.

Asher is 18 months old today. Inconceivable. Impossible. Perfectly wonderful. He talks up a storm. He runs. He climbs up on chairs and spins the Game of Life spinner and throws his hands in the air and shouts, "Three!" which sounds more like theeee.

He laughs that unfettered belly laugh. He smiles with his whole body. He eats everything and especially loves apples and kale chips and raw green beans and homemade pizza. When he gets hungry he asks for "nack." (snack) He nurses and asks for "mip" (milk) every so often throughout the day. He sleeps like a train wreck. He worries about his siblings when they are hurt or sad and runs to them to give hugs. He loves his siblings, aka I-I, Audy, and Ot. He dances. He tolerates car rides much better these days. He likes to run through blankets and crawl under bridges. He loves deer and books and music and food. Not necessarily in that order. He wakes up happy and goes to bed happy and lives happy in between. Unless he can't get his hands on his mama when he wants her. Or if his siblings are playing and he can't join in on the fun. Those are game changers. He likes hiking and tries to keep up with his siblings in everything.

He is a delight. Jim and I had forgotten the joyous fun of one-year-olds. Don't get me wrong; they're a lot of work, but, goodness, everyone should always have a one-year-old around to remind them of how wondrous life is. That laughter is contagious. That the world is full of curious and beautiful mysteries. That hugs solve a lot of problems.

Asher means happy, blessed, fortunate. That describes his family. We are so fortunate to have our baby cuatro in our lives.