Monday, December 31, 2012

Sailing

I love New Year's Eve.
I love the new beginnings and the resolutions that, for me, are always the same: write, run, lose weight. I love having a plan to do those things that I care about. I love thinking about the year to come and how we will be different at this time next year.

 Last year, I remember being filled with hope and the feeling that 2012 was going to be epic. I actually said that aloud to Cory, and he agreed. And it was, I think, but not in the way I was expecting. For me, 2012 was about so many things. Adventure in Yellowstone, in New York, in mud volleyball. A goal reached through a half-marathon. A failure accepted in NaNoWriMo. Heartbreak through a miscarriage. And love- the true, messy, vulnerable kind from so many people around me. It was greatness. Sometimes painfully so, but still so worth it. I think my heart is a little bigger now.

I feel so lucky thinking back eight years ago- Cory and I left the Sanford's party and he took me home. The dining room was afire with candlelight and all my favorite love songs. Everything was perfect and beautiful and we were engaged. And still, I get that swept-away in love feeling of absolute peaceful joy.
I love New Year's Eve because it reminds me of all that I have. My friends and family are the ship that carries me along the wild seas of life, keeping me safe, helping me feel at home, and pushing me toward new adventure. My husband is an anchor who keeps me from drifting and feeling lost and alone.  And my daughter is the sail that flies exuberantly, full of joy and life.
And I think that was the point of 2012. That it was beautiful and painful. And though I hope for smooth seas in 2013, for once, the state of the seas will not change the fact that I will sail.

Monday, November 05, 2012

little red

I'm pretty sure that the idea for the Little Red Riding Hood costume came from an episode of the Wonder Pets. Since she saw that episode, she has been assembling her cast and directing a production of the story. On one trip to Ft. Stockton, we all stood in the front yard as she told us our roles: grandma, woodsman, big bad wolf. Of course, she was always Little Red. It cracked us up because even though she knew what would happen, and she knew who was playing the parts, she would still get a little spooked by the big bad wolf.
She made Micah and Bryan play this game with us once, and was frustrated with them for not knowing their lines. My, how she loves to be in charge!
Cory liked this photo. It's a little ominous...(Look out, Opa.)
 In front of Grandi and Opa's house.
 Love this look of absolute glee. That, folks, is what it's all about.
 This one is in front of our house. She made the door decorations at school (very proud that she chose a 'mean face' instead of a happy face on her jack o' lantern) and the results of our pumpkin painting project are to the right.
My awesome friend Ashlee made the cape. Perfect costume, perfect Halloween!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

NaNoWriMo Remix

It's November! I'm terribly sentimental about last November, my first waltz with National Novel Writing Month.  Writing 50,000 words in 30 days was exhilarating. What happened to the novel you wrote last year, you ask? Is it on the best-seller list? Ahem....no. It actually was not very good. I can barely bring myself to look at it, in all honesty, though I hope a few good short stories may come out of it.
So what's the point in doing it again, if it wasn't so successful the first time? Lots of things!
- NaNo last year built my confidence. It was the first time in my life I actually felt like a writer, like I could push myself to do something most other people hadn't.
- My creativity soared and took me places I never would have thought I would go. (Some of the story turned out really strange, actually, but I kind of like that. I don't want anyone else to see it! But it was interesting to watch my subconscious take over.)
- I learned so much about how to motivate myself, power through even when I'm not inspired, and write what Anne Lamott calls a "shitty first draft."
- "First get it written, then get it right," they say. And I needed so much to learn those things. That it was ok for me to write something that wasn't perfect (wasn't even good, really), because it was important to get the story down first, and add all those things that make a story great later.
- My writing buddy, Memzie, and I bonded over NaNo last year. We met together at least once a week, commiserated over the enormity of the task and encouraged each other. We texted our word counts back and forth, and had races to see who could write the most in a short about of time. That month set off a weekly meeting for the rest of the year, where we talk about our lives and about writing. And we feel like real writers. We discuss what we are reading and learning, how we stay motivated, and share quotes. It is wonderful. I don't think I would be a writer if it weren't for her.
Like I said, I'm terribly sentimental.

All that to say, it's here! It's November, and it's time to do it again!! I am unbelievably excited. I have made a few modifications to the contest to fit my own needs. The rules state that you have to begin to write something new, and you have to write 50,000 words. There are lots of things happening right now that make me feel that 50,000 is just too many words at the moment. So I'm going to ride the momentum of NaNo, but do it my way. First of all, I've already been working on a Young Adult manuscript and have about 20,000 words completed. I want to finish the first draft by the end of the year, so I can't set it down to start something new for a month. I am going to use it for NaNo. Also, my goal is to write 30,000 words in November instead if 50k. I think that will push me toward finishing, but hopefully still give me some time to stop for research and planning and things.  Hopefully that will help this novel turn out better than my first NaNo novel.
I need your help again! I need you to cajole me, encourage me, shake your finger at me if I'm not making my word count. I need you to ask me how it's going. It's a terrible character flaw that I perform a lot better if I know someone is watching me. So check in on me please!
And have a wonderful November, in case I don't see you because I'm stuck behind a laptop all month!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

autumn awesomeness

There was a time when many of these things would have their own separate posts, but y'all. I am ridiculously scatter-brained at the moment. I have no less than 6 unpublished posts waiting in my blog queue, and none of them are finished. So here, you have a condensed version of all the awesome things we've been doing since the season has changed. 
First up, Catherine the Great in all of her adorable glory.
And gosh, I knew I was going to post this pic on the blog, but I got antsy and posted it on facebook anyway. I hate it when I do that. But the kids loved painting pumpkins last week. They were even fairly clean about it. (Nobody painted their own faces, anyway.)
Mimi and Poppa, Uncle Gary, and Haley and Buck all visited the grand Hub City. We took them to the corn maze, watched lots of football, and ate lots of yummy food. LOVED having them here.
Over the weekend, we carved pumpkins with Mom and David, Bryan and Micah, and the girls. Loved these expressions:
 I was pretty impressed with our pumpkin if I do say so myself.

Also on the docket, we went trick-or-treating with Grandi and Opa. I plan on posting some of those pics soon, but they're all hidden away on Cory's fancy camera, which I don't even pretend to know how to operate. And y'all know I'm doing good just to get some pics off my phone. Cate had a blast with them, though. All day she practiced going to the door and saying, "Trick or Treat!" while Grandi and Opa doled out the candy. She had just as much fun going door to door as she did handing out candy to the other kids (careful to save all the Nerds for herself, of course). 
That brings you up to date! I am hopeful (if not confident) that there will be some trick-or-treating pictures coming soon!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Days 11-14: Trip Wrap-Up


We are home now, but I didn't want to leave the blog hanging without rounding out the trip. In a way, the trip home was a whirlwind, skipping through two other national parks like a stone through a river. In other ways, it was a slow crawl with Texas tugging me by my heartstrings back to the familiar.
When we left Yellowstone, Cate had made a friend from the Chech Republic. They spoke a similar language of giggles, hugs, and stuffed giraffes. They ran around our campsites, took walks, and shared flashlights. They colored pictures and read books. Even though they couldn't speak to each other, they had so much in common. That girl of mine is so inspiring. We hated to leave our new friends, the people we would never have spoken to if it hadn't been for outgoing, sweet Cate.
We stayed a night in the Grand Tetons. It was a picture-taking paradise for the hubby. Those mountains are indeed grand, y'all. Not one of them over 14k feet, but just so jagged and um, grand. Cory said, "You know when you're a kid and you're drawing mountains with crayons? They look like this." As we drove away, I literally could not get the song "America the Beautiful" out of my head. I'm cheesy, I know.

At the risk of letting you in on the fact that I'm not all that hard-core, I have to tell you that by the time we made it all the way back through Wyoming and into Colorado, I was done. The car was making a horrible rattling noise, the STUFF was closing in on me, and I wanted out of that car. And not in a tent either! I wanted back in my bed. In a car that worked. My gracious husband can spot that crazy look in my eye, so he pulled us into a hotel, stat. Cate and I slept in and swam while he took the car to get it repaired. It was a lovely little stop-over in Ft. Collins.
One more little stop in Rocky Mountain National Park was just enough of a taste to leave me wanting more. So much to do there, so many beautiful mountains. I wished we had another week to explore. I miss it already, the perspective that natural beauty provides. But we're settling back into the rhythm of routine, and that feels pretty good too.
Love this one. We're a little crazy-eyed, and well, you know how she feels.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 9-10: Geyser Basin


She's so cooperative.
We intentionally planned our trip so that we’d see the more developed part of the park last, thinking Cate would be ready for perusing gift shops and slurping ice cream cones after a few days in the ‘wilderness.’ Next stop: Old Faithful.
I was looking forward to this most iconic piece of the park. When we got there, though, I was a little beat down. We spent forever in the packed gift shop, stood in line for the bathroom twice, and having already promised Cate ice cream I had to stand in a line about 15 people deep. I was so ready to get out of there. We stood and waited for Old Faithful to erupt with about a hundred other people all with cameras at the ready. Though Cate had been excited to see the geyser when we got there, by the time the water starting spewing, she was already over it.
If you’re going to Old Faithful, here’s my advice: watch it with the crowd if you must, but then get on the trail behind it as quickly as possible. There is a fraction of the people there, and you can still have a great view of the most famous geyser as you hike. Once we got on the trail, I was able to see it more as an element of amazing natural beauty and less like an attraction at an amusement park. Plus, the geysers and hot springs along that trail are pretty amazing in their own rights. It’s so strange to be walking by what looks like a small pond and to see it boiling as if it were a pot on a stove. Pictures don’t even begin to capture it: the sound of trickling, rolling, or spewing water, the smell of sulfur, the oranges, blues, and greens of thriving micro organisms. Some of the springs look like a cave turned inside out. Some of them look like the cenotes we’ve seen in Mexico, with crystal clear water. Some of them look like a boiling mud puddle. It’s amazing the depths of the diversity of the world we live in. It made me feel the way I do when I stand next to the ocean: small. In a good way.

Day 7-8: Lamar Valley


Today we drove out to Lamar Valley to see more wildlife. Everywhere we stop, someone says, “Hey, you’re the girl I saw doing a dance in the lodge” or “Did you get your pancakes for breakfast?” Today, Cate’s highlight was when we stopped to watch a bison herd. A car pulled up behind us and when the girls got out they said, “Hey, there’s peanut!” (The best way we’ve been able to get Cate to smile for photos is by saying ‘peanut.’) We ended up staying for around half an hour, listening to the bison grunt and letting Cate compare photos with the other young girls, who were so sweet to indulge her. She made them make silly faces while she took pictures with her camera.
We lunched by another creek, where Cate chased the chipmunks. At first she was coaxing them saying, “Come to Mama.” Then she said, “Get over here so I can eat you for dinner!” She’s got a little country in her, I think.
We also saw our second black bear today. We had less luck with the hiking. We got several yards up one trail, when Cate insisted that she had to go poop. (TMI, I know. Sorry.) Man, the bathroom situation is tough out here. My little lady’s not shy about tinkling on the side of the road when necessary, but it still feels like we’ve hit every bathroom in the park. If we’re blessed with another child someday, I hope it’s a boy so Cory can take him to the bathroom all the time. :) Later, we tried another trail and rain clouds started rolling in. Looks like hiking was not in the cards today. Cate had a random, short nap so she was fiercely grumpy when we got back to the campsite. Every little thing produced an onslaught of tears. After dinner, she went to lie in the tent and watch movies even though it was still daylight.
The next day, we hit the wildlife jackpot! We were driving along, deciding what to do next when we saw two elk right on the side of the road with huge fuzzy antlers. Cory said that it was a good omen for another wildlife day. I was skeptical of another day of driving slowly and scouring the tree line, but I agreed. We didn’t drive much further before we came to a traffic jam, people pulled off the roads, and some just stopped in the middle all with their cameras and ‘nocs (as we’ve come to call them) out. We were in the perfect position to see a grizzly bear lumbering along a creek. We stopped right in the road with the lot of them and stayed there to watch him until the ranger made us move. He was more golden than the black bear, and larger. Graceful and powerful, he just did his own thing- paying us no mind.
We were on a nice little nature high, having just seen a ‘Griz’ and would have called the day a success if it ended there. Oh, but it didn’t. We rounded a bend in the Valley to find another traffic jam. This time, the shoulders were packed with people with large scopes. They had just seen a wolf pack take down an elk. The camaraderie was amazing: people sharing scopes and guiding others to better views. Cory was struggling to capture it with even his longest lens, so another photographer let him attach his camera to their larger lens.
The previous night, we attended a ranger talk about the wolves of Yellowstone. Apparently they had become extinct in the park, and some had recently been brought down from Canada and rereleased, where they have been thriving. They are helpful to the park by keeping the herbivore population under control, which in turn helps the plants and other animals to thrive. They still are pretty scarce, so a sighting was a definite thrill. We couldn’t believe our luck.

Day 6: Hiking and Wildlife


We like it so much in Mammoth, that we’ve changed our plans! Really, we’re just tired of packing and unpacking our tent. We decided to stay at the Mammoth tent site for a few days and just drive to where we want to sight-see and hike. Cate seems to love the car, and the driving is a great opportunity for her to get a nap in.
We woke in the morning and Cate declared that she wanted pancakes, yogurt, and chips for breakfast. In fact, she declared it to everyone she saw. It seemed inevitable that we would end up at the restaurant for breakfast instead of delving into the cooler the way we had been.
After a delicious and hearty breakfast (with pancakes shaped like a bear) and claiming our tent site, we drove out the north east road, where the wildlife was promised to be most plentiful. We were not disappointed as a small dirt road took us past a black bear. We’ve also seen plentiful pronghorn, elk, and bison. Moose and wolves still prove to be elusive at this point, but we’ll continue to keep our eyes peeled.
We made it to Tower Fall, where we stopped for about a half-mile hike. (A few years ago, a half-mile hike would have been nothing, but having a preschooler along changes everything…especially hiking times!) After taking in the vista of the waterfall, we hiked down to the river.

We took our shoes off and soaked our toes in the chilly water. Cate and I threw rocks to try to hit a big boulder in the middle of the stream. I was really dreading the uphill hike back to the car, but Cate did great. She retreated back into an imaginary world where Rocket (from Little Einsteins) was lost. She would look for him with the ‘noculars and tell us that if we saw a moose chasing him to yell, “Moose!” We found it humorous that we’d be walking along, yelling “Moose!” and people would turn and say, “Where?!”


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Day 5: Mammoth Springs

I swear, we spent all morning in the bathroom while Cory tore down the campsite. Cate likes it in there because that’s where all the people are. She makes friends with everyone she meets. I love watching her; people just respond to her. People of all ages stop and talk to her, and she’s not shy about answering their questions. Sometimes I think we have complete opposite approaches to life- I try to talk to/bother as few people as possible, and she’s not satisfied if she hasn’t met someone new yet.

We drove up to the Mammoth Springs hotel to stay for the night. It was so nice to spread out a bit and have showers on-hand. Cate still gets the words hospital and hotel confused, so she kept asking, “What’s this place called again?”
There is a boardwalk built all around the Springs, so it made for semi-easy climbing. (It turns out to still be a little difficult with a 45-pound child on your back.) Cate actually did great climbing up the springs because she and Cory got a head start in front of me, and spent the whole time trying to beat me to the top. When she got tired, I hoisted her in the child carrier. Describing the springs is difficult, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I heard a young girl telling her mom, “I guess it’s pretty. Kind of.” I think that pretty much describes it. It’s not so much beautiful as it is extraordinary, otherworldly. The pictures speak for themselves:

Dinner that night was at a picnic table next to a creek that we happened upon.
Then we hit the hotel for long showers, charging of all our electronic devices, and sleeping in a bed.


Day 4: We arrive at Yellowstone

This day was rough, y’all. It was our third big driving day, and was supposed to be our second day in a row of 5 hours on the road. Somehow, through miscalculation of mileage or decreased speed limit, or SOMETHING, it turned into around 10 hours on the road. We tried stopping frequently to stretch. Cate watched movie after movie after movie. We ate candy. We were pulling out all the stops, but nothing changed the fact that we were ready to be out of the car. Wyoming is gorgeous in spurts, but there was a big long stretch of road that looked just like the dirt-filled/flat/brushy land that is familiar at home.


We did find an amazing and completely unexpected stop at Boysen State Park. Here, the mountains rise around the road, and you drive literally through them in tunnels piercing the rock.

Fate would have it that there was even a playground and picnic area. We stopped for lunch and took a few pictures. We couldn’t deny the beauty of the place, but still we were not completely bolstered. The bugs were bad, it was 95 degrees, and Cate was having none of it. We had woken her from her nap to stop.


When we reached Cody,WY, the last city before entering Yellowstone from the east, storm clouds had rolled in and raindrops were hitting the windshield. I swear, we each checked the weather at least ten times before leaving and never saw rain in the forecast. We stopped to buy rain jackets. We strategized how to most efficiently put the tent up in the rain. We discussed alternate plans in case it was pouring when we got there.

It rained on us all the way through our first drive through the park. Our views were mostly of forest and Yellowstone Lake, beautiful. When we reached our campsite at Bridge Bay, the rain had slowed to hardly a sprinkle. Some friendly Canadians at the site right next to us informed us we had just missed the downpour. We had just enough time to put the tent up before dark. So thankful.

We cooked out on our camping stove, and finally got to roast the marshmallows Cate had been asking for. We’re here, friends! Hooray!



Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 3: On the road again!


After a stop, and little too much fun at REI, we were on the road again. I love the views in Colorado, but honestly Colorado Springs makes me feel a little claustrophobic. I can’t SEE where we’re going with all the twists and turns and ups and downs. The streets are narrow, and it all feels crowded. Denver and the other northern cities feel a little more spread out (and yes, flat!), and I actually found that refreshing. Still close to the mountains, still the gorgeous landscapes, but with a little more visibility. I seem to really like the northern parts of states: New Mexico, Colorado, California…but I digress.
We stopped for lunch at Ft. Collins, and walked around the CSU campus area. There was a huge flower garden on display. 
Cate found the groundskeeper and told him she liked his flowers. Then a great adventure began. We searched for and eventually found a baby dragon! He apparently was yellow, liked eating purple flowers best, and was joining us for the rest of our trip. Suddenly, we were all dragons!  Daddy dragon, Mommy dragon, Little dragon, and Baby dragon. Quite a little family. According to Cate, Baby dragon was locked in a stinky tower until we got there and saved him. Also, dragons like to drink sweet tea, and we had to buy 4 cookies at the convenient store- Cate said she’d make sure Baby dragon got his.
We drove through Cheyenne, WY, and into Casper (WY’s second largest city). I had never been to this state before, but it is beautiful. Wide open spaces, rolling hills, often not another car in sight.  We didn’t plan much time for our stay in Casper because it seemed rather small without much to do. We are loving the campground though- with a playground, indoor pool, and mini-golf course, it is a Cate-paradise! The mountains in the horizon are lovely, and there aren’t too many city lights spoiling the horizon. 

Day 2: Colorado Springs


The next morning we explored Garden of the Gods, which is basically a huge, amazingly awesome(free!) city park. It has huge rock formations and mountains, and a lot of it is paved side walk. Cate was so excited to hike; she was leading the way, always wanting to go exploring off the trail. We climbed rocks, on top of which she said she could “see everything.” She loved being the leader, hollering, “Come on, team!” or “Bend your knees!” She was identifying cacti and animal tracks, and was particularly interested in horse poop.
Later in the morning her enthusiasm waned, and she wanted us to carry her. In the more paved area, she seemed less interested. Luckily a group of musicians was taking a group photo there and let her check out their instruments. One guy let her push the valves on his trumpet while he blew it. Then we carried her around in the child carrier.



Our next item for the day was the cog train up Pike’s Peak. It was packed and the seats were smile, a perfect opportunity to make some of those “new friends” Cate was talking about. We got about 10 minutes up the mountain when the train came to a halt. At first we all thought it was a joke. When the driver said, “Oh no, I think something’s wrong,” everyone on the train laughed. When he radioed back to the station and spoke about dropped oil pressure, we knew it was a legitimate break-down. Luck would have it that we were seated one  row behind the driver. Cate turned to him and (quite loudly) asked:
C: What’s wrong?
Driver: I don’t know, it just stopped going.
C: Well, you need to fix it!
D: I’m trying.
The whole train was laughing at that. Everyone around us was suddenly very friendly. One guy kept saying that Cate was the one who broke it, until finally she said, “Well, if I did, it was an accident!” We sat for probably 45 minutes while they figured out a way to get us back to the station, and Cate kept morale high by telling stories and singing songs. I think the highlight was when the same man asked, “Where are you from, Cate?” And she said, “I came out of my mommy’s tummy at the hospital.”

We finally made it to the bottom, and decided maybe the train wasn’t for us after all. Cate was restless with all the waiting, so we got a refund and went on our way.
Next stop: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.  She was pretty tired by this time. But let me just say, I. loved. the. zoo! There were so many animals I had never seen before like grizzlies, moose, a bald eagle, all sorts of crazy lizards and bright blue poisonous frogs. The reptile house looked more like an art museum. The gorillas and orangutans would get right next to the glass and stare at you while they chomped their fruit. It was captivating to see them so close and realize how big they are. We fed the giraffes and even got to see a newborn giraffe who was just 2 days old.


Cate’s favorite things were the pony ride and the little ground squirrels that run around and beg for food from the other animals and visitors. This one came right up to us, and held its arms up to Cate for food. She said, “Him wants me to hold him.” She wanted to take him home. 


 Dinner at a pizza joint, then swimming at the campsite. A jam-packed day. We were all exhausted. We fell into bed around 10 and didn’t wake up till 7:30 (Colorado time), and if you know Cate, you know that is an amazing amount of sleep-in time!
 

Grand Yellowstone Adventure: Day 1




The last time I blogged my way through a road trip, I was able to give each day its own post (at least in the beginning). This time around, I’m finding that to be a lofty goal. I’m inclined to blame it on having a 3-year-old along, but really she’s been a champ about it all. She is excellent on the road. 




We headed through the northern parts of both Texas and New Mexico. We were pleasantly surprised by the terrain in the Clayton and Raton areas. Grassy and hilly, they look quite a bit different from the land in our part of the world. We made it all the way to Colorado Springs the first night. Google maps indicated that it would take us eight and a half hours to get there. We left around 11:00 am and finally made it to our campsite around 10:30 that night. We wanted to knock out the longest part of the trip first. A lot of times, Cate kept us going with her enthusiasm. She kept talking about seeing her new friends over and over, to the point where we worried that she thought someone was meeting us there. We asked her who she thought would be there, and she just said, “I don’t know; we’ll see when we get there!”
We were starting to get moody after a stop at Wal-Mart for some forgotten items. I was put out by the state of the restrooms, (Cate wants to spend an inordinate amount of time in public restrooms!) and honestly just walking into a Wal-Mart makes me grumpy. When we got back to the car, we had this conversation:
Cate: Where are we going, guys?
Cory: We’re going camping.
Cate: (singsongy) I can’t hear you!
Cory: We’re going camping!
Cate: Both of you say it. Louder!
All of us: We’re going camping!!
It was impossible not to smile after that.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

poptarts and pickles

Today I ate poptarts and pickles for lunch. No, I'm not pregnant, which would be the only resonable explanation. This is particularly disheartening because I think poptarts are disgusting ridiculous excuses for a meal.* There is nothing nutritionally redeeming about them. They are 200 calories per "pastry." Just eat two Hershey chocolate bars instead and be done with it. What about the fruit filling? Ha, fruit filling. That's just sugar, corn syrup, and red die #42.
But I ate them for lunch because I am a textbook stress-eater. I actually did have Hershey bars in my pantry and chose "strawberry" poptarts instead. (What is wrong with me?) Cate was in the middle of the second half-hour of a screaming fit, and my will power was gone.  To make matters worse, she kept hollering pitiful mid-sob phrases like, "I don't feel good!" or "I'm so hungry!" or "I can't walk!"
Let me respond to each of those exclamations in kind:
1) I don't feel good.
Me: (looking very sympathetic and maternal): What doesn't feel good? (checking for fever)
Cate: (sniff, sniff, sob) My finger naaaaail!!
So I'm pretty sure she was faking it.
2) I'm so hungry.
If you would stop holding my leg and blocking my path to the refrigerator for half a second, I would have lunch ready a helluva lot faster. Also, you had a snack an hour ago. Just sayin'.
3) I can't walk.
Yes, you can.

To make matters worse, Eli started imitating her, (fake) crying and saying pitiful things. Only, he hasn't exactly mastered the heart-string-tugging manipulation tactics like Cate, so he just whined, "I don't like penguins."
Honest to God this really happened in my kitchen today. I am not embellishing a single thing.

Why the pickles? BECAUSE I had wasted 400 calories on nasty pastries and I was still hungry. And pickles are low-calorie and scrumptious, of course.

*Except for the brown sugar cinnamon poptarts. Those are delicious.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

happy birthday

Happy birthday to my beautiful, smart, independent 3-year-old. My soul keeps whispering how deeply thankful and lucky I feel to have such a healthy, happy child.
Being with you is the definition of joy.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

snow

It's been a couple of weeks now, but it was a regular winter wonderland around here. In a stroke of genius-stupidity, I invited all my siblings over. It was stupidity because I invited them early in the day, and by the time they got here the roads were covered in snow and very icy. But it was genius because we had so much fun. We played games while Cate was napping. Cate was dying too make a snowman, so when she woke up we went out for a snow romp. The snow wasn't packing, so we didn't get a snowman, but we did have great fun with the snow fights. And my dear family was so sweet to entertain her even though many of them did not bring proper coats. They loaded up on all our extras and headed out anyway.
 I stinkin' love these people.


And don't worry, we got our snowman the next day.

We built him in the morning, and he was melted by naptime. That's how quickly the snow is gone in Texas, but we sure enjoyed it while it lasted.

Friday, February 17, 2012

my first 14k

Last weekend I ran my first race in preparation for the half-marathon. It was a 14k, which is about 8.7 miles. Every long run that I do from now until the half-marathon sets a new personal record for me. Each added mile is one more mile that I haven't ever run before. It's a pretty amazing feeling once it's done, but it's a little daunting when I set out.
I knew that it was a morning race in Februrary, so it was going to be cold. When I did my 7 miles the week before, I ran outside when it was about 40 degrees with a decent amount of wind so that I could prepare. Unfortunately for me, even that was not enough to prepare me to run in the freakin' blizzard that blew in over the weekend.
At racetime, it was 22 degrees with 15 mph winds. That's a windchill factor of about 7 degrees. SEVEN! I thought it was pretty crazy cold as we stood around in a huddle, but I had no idea how cold it would be once we started running against the wind.
First, a note on apparel. I hate to be cold, and I don't mind looking a little wonky. Yes, I wore 4 layers of clothing. Some of the hard-core runners had on shorts, Under Armour cold gear, and a hoodie. Here's what I wore:
That would be: silk thermals, Under Armor cold gear, a hoodie, a jacket, and a toboggin. Overkill? Perhaps. It did get a little musty in there. But hell, I'd take musty over ice-covered anyday.
You think I'm exaggerating when I say ice-covered, but I'm not. The four miles against the wind were absolutely awful. I think if Cory would have slowed down when he drove by and honked (really!), I would have hopped in the car and gone back home to climb into my toasty bed. During these miles, it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. My muscles were tense and angry. A girl who started running beside me had a bottle of Gatorade that was freezing into slush. I could feel ice crystals on my lips.
When we turned the corner, it got a little better. The wind was still blowing at our sides, but Mom, Cate, and Cory were cheering me on and keeping the stray dogs away. I ran harder because I knew they were watching. Finally, we turned again and the wind was at our backs. Hallelujah! I started to warm up, and I fell into my stride. I would never have thought the last few miles would be easier than the first. I was just so grateful to be running with the wind. The girl beside me asked me to hold her frozen Gatorade; that's the first reason I knew we were now BFFs.
The last .7 mile was against the wind again. I had fallen behind my BFF because I stopped at a water station, but she waved me ahead to catch up with her. Somehow, I picked up my speed. We struggled against the wind, and she yelled at the two spectators that we saw, "Where's the finish-line, dammit?!" That's the second reason I knew she was my BFF. We crossed together, and fell into a triumphant embrace. We did it!
I tried to turn my music off and stop the timer on my phone, but my iPhone was frozen. Cory hugged me and took me inside to warm up. He looked so proud of me. I don't think I'll forget that.
One hour, twenty-eight minutes. Not too shabby, for a first-timer.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

yoga with a side of delusion

Six weeks of half marathon training, and I've got to say I'm a little sick of it. I wrote this cute little post about how I was so excited to be getting healthier, and how it was kind of funny that I hadn't lost any weight.
It ain't funny anymore.
I've alternated between dispair and anger at my layer of fluff around the middle, but it doesn't budge. It does bulge, but it doesn't budge. Hmm.
Anyway, I'm not giving up. The goal is still running a half marathon, not losing weight. I'm making a few changes in my eating patterns and workout schedule that will hopefully give me a boost.

So my friend Evan is really hip and cool and tiny, and she recommended on a couple of different occasions that I try a centergy class, which is basically coreographed yoga. I have this preconceived notion about yoga: that it's for really hip and/or cool and/or tiny people. Like Evan. And I'm self-aware enough to know that those words don't necessarily describe me. Or, at least I thought I was.

Ok, so I'm in the yoga classroom which has floor to ceiling mirrors on every wall. I have a love-hate relationships with said mirrors. I don't exactly enjoy being able to see all the bulges and fluffy bits as I work out, but it does help with form. Usually it's my back that's the problem. The instructor's back is as straight as that nerdy kid's in class who thinks if she raises her hand as high as she possibly can and wiggles her fingers that the teacher will call on her for the answer. And even though I was that kid, my back doesn't look like that. Go figure.
So anyway, since I'm new to yoga, I was checking the mirrors a lot. And that cute girl with the pixie haircut and the shoulder tattoo, too. She knew what she was doing. Probably because she was pretty hip, cool, and tiny. I'm toward the back of the classroom, trying to be as invisible as you can be in a room full of mirrors. When I check the front mirror, though, I'm pleasantly surprised. I'm lookin' pretty good. Look how strong my legs are...and my arms are looking sculpted. When I check the mirror closest to me, I just try not to laugh at my flying legs and strange poses. But that front mirror...Look at my tiny waist, I think. I look so thin! I'm going to do yoga everyday! Or walk around in warrior's pose or something! This is excellent. I am excellent! I'm really good at this. Even my hair looks nice while exercising...that never happens. Oh wait. I don't work out with my hair down.
Yeah, the girl I was admiring in the mirror was NOT me. At some point, probably when I was helicoptering my arms trying to keep my balance while I stood on one foot, someone slipped in behind me who was wearing almost the exact same thing I was. Her hair was the same color and length as mine, only she didn't have hers pulled into a ponytail with a head wrap. She was a little to the left of me, and there was a giant fan blocking my view of myself from the front mirror. Geeze.

So yeah, maybe I'm a little delusional, but I can't shake the feeling that I'm really good at yoga. I think I'll go again very soon and pretend to be someone else.

Friday, February 03, 2012

jammies

My girl is very rarely cold. I think the standard rule for dressing children for playtime in cold weather is to dress them in one more layer than what you wear. But I do the opposite. Usually I wear one more layer than she does.
Anyway, today she was eating a well-balanced lunch of yogurt and milk and decided she was cold. She didn't want a jacket. She didn't even want a blanket. She wanted these beauties.
And did I mention that while I was trying to zip them up, I unintentionally toppled her over and she twacked her forehead on the ground? Whoops. Sweet thang still managed a smile for me (after she was done crying for her Daddy for awhile, of course).
Then when I put her down for a nap, I heard some rustling about in her room. I just let her be, hoping that she'd fall asleep. Later I walked down the hall and panicked when the door to her room was wide open but she was not in her bed! A quick glance around the corner and I found her here:
Not a bad napping spot, I suppose. I've napped in that chair quite often myself. Plus, the only evidence of misbehavior I found was a half-eaten tube of chapstick.
Parenting win, I'd say.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

discipline...it's a four letter word

So this whole mom thing... sometimes I just don't feel very good at it. It's been a rough couple of weeks. Our plumbing went out (has been in the process of going out since September) and we had to have the whole sewer line replaced. Additionally, for no apparent reason, Cate's just been grumpier than usual. It seems like we go through seasons, really tough stressful ones and really beautiful soul-nursing ones. And honestly, I don't know if they're caused by her or me. I tend to blame it on her, but something inside nudges me to think it's me. Hmph.

During the tougher seasons, it's so hard to figure the discipline thing out. I never know which route to take. Each situation necessitates a different response, and people who deal with disciplining children (parents, teachers, daycare employees, etc.) have to be very intuitive, responsive, and perceptive, I think. Let me give you a run-down of my morning and all the different techniques I floundered with.

Cate asked for more milk, so I opened her cup and began pouring. She did the ol' flail and wail right there in the kitchen chair. Wait, what? What just happened here?
"Stop. Stoooooop. What's wrong?" I ask.
"I wanna drink the milk!" (more wailing and flailing)
I'm already a little exasperated, but I'm trying to be patient (technique 1). "That's what I was doing. I was getting you milk."
"No, the old milk!"
So, she wanted to drink that last bit in the bottom of the sippy cup before I added the fresh milk. But it was too late. I had already tainted the "old milk" with approximately 2 mL of fresh milk. Meltdown ensued.
I tried to ignore (technique 2) the fit, but her screaming was starting to scare E, and she was moving M's chair with her foot as she flailed about, making it hard for him to eat. After listening and ignoring, and supressing my boiling blood, I removed her from the situation (technique 3) by telling her she could go to her room and come back when she's calm.
She obviously thought that if she did what I said, she would have lost, so she went to the bathroom and shut herself inside. After about 15 more minutes of screaming, I went to check on her. She's laying on the bath mat, pants around her ankles, crying. (She had used the potty, but apparently found the task of pulling her pants up to be too daunting considering her emotional state. Plus, she probably knew it would bother me.) I just feel weird about her being all bare-bottomed with the boys there, so I tell her she must pull them up this instant. (Talking firmly, technique 4). I don't know why I picked this battle to fight. It seemed important at the time. When she refused (and continued to wail) I pulled them up myself. To which she graciously responded by kicking me repeatedly.
Sigh. Here's where it gets ugly.
I pulled her up into my arms, and she tried to wiggle free. I spanked her bottom (technique 5) and said, "We don't kick each other." (I know... the irony wasn't lost on me). I plopped her in bed and told her not to get up until she was ready to stop crying and be nice. So she continued to cry.
To keep myself from dissolving into tears, I had to call Dani, just so she can say, "I know, I've been there, I'm sorry, eat some chocolate." She always makes me feel better. Finally, Cate came back into the living room. She wasn't exactly crying, but she wasn't a ball of sunshine either. If I tried to talk with her or even look at her, she'd make a loud EHNT! noise just because she knows I don't like it. I decided it was best to not make matters worse, so I didn't tell her to stop. I just gave her my mom look (technique 6) and kept playing with the other two kids.
Finally, she came over and started pushing my arm. She was being kind of rough, but I think she was just trying to get back close to me and wasn't sure how to do it. I ignored (technique 2) her jeering looks and less than gentle love-taps, and let her sit in my lap. I know that feeling. Sometimes you want to hit someone and make them hug you at the same time. Just ask my husband.
Finally, we were getting somewhere, I distracted her (technique 7) by asking for help with the shape-sorter. When she finally calmed down, I gave her some love. (technique 8) That's my favorite technique.
So I don't know. I don't know if I did it right; I don't know how to do it right. Kids are so adaptive that as soon as you think you've got it figured out, they change on you. You try so hard to avoid things that will cause a meltdown, make sure they're fed and napped, get the appropriate exercise, not too much tv, and the right amount of play dates and then here you are, trying to figure out how the hell you were supposed to know that they wanted to drink old milk before you put the new milk in.
And you know, as I go back and reread this post, I guess maybe it is about me after all. Because the meltdown didn't hurt anyone. She's ok now (and asleep, praise the Lord!) and the other two kids barely even seemed to notice it was happening. So I guess maybe the question is whether or not I'll let it ruin my peace today. Will that hour of stress ruin the remaining twenty-three? Maybe I'll choose not.
Thanks for listening.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

There's a demon in my bathroom scale.


There has to be. That's the only logical explanation.
I have been working out like I have never worked out before. Dani and I are training for a half-marathon, the Rock and Roll Dallas. I am really excited about it because "Run a Marathon" is on the bucket list, and this is a step in the right direction. There have been times in my life where I was a runner, where I could run on a consistent basis. But there has never been a time when I felt like an athlete. But now I'm going to weight lifting classes and riding the stationary bike on my cross training days. I'm doing long runs on the weekends and working on my pace during the week. I'm starting to feel like... that a-word above. It's crazy.
But the scale refuses to budge.
I am a good seven pounds over what I like to think of as my "normal" weight, and twelve over where I want to be. I have been working out at least 5 times a week for the past three weeks and counting calories. And that [choose your own expletive] scale even dared to edge up on me today.
It's infuriating.
However....I am not going to give up. I am so glad that I have a goal other than the weight loss, because if that had been my only goal, I would have thrown my hands up and drowned my lack of progress in pizza and wine. But there has been progress. It just hasn't shown up on the bathroom scale.
-I feel better, stronger. My muscles feel more defined, and my butt doesn't jiggle quite as much. My pace is getting better, and I'm adding a mile to my long run every week.
-My daughter sees a woman who excercises. When we see someone running at the park, she asks, "Is that you, Mama?" She likes to pretend she's doing squats with a tupperware lid.
-My marriage is better. Even though spending time at the gym means we don't spend quite as much time together, it has made that time together even better. Cory has always been the one who inspires me to exercise, and now I get to do that for him. We're both happier when we're together because we feel like we've accomplished something outside of our normal routine.
-I have a lovely running partner, who makes those long runs fly by and keeps me motivated during the week.
-I'm finally getting it, that little addiction to the runner's high. Today is supposed to be a rest day, but the weather is glorious, and I keep thinking maybe I'll just slip outside for a little jog. It's crazy how working out went from being a burden to a pleasure. (Plus, the whole gym membership thing is fabulous.[Thanks, Mom!] They watch Cate, she gets some playtime, and I get some precious alone time.)
So hopefully the weight loss will come in time. In the meantime, I'll relish the other victories.
(But if you know of a good exorcist, send em my way.)