Thursday, April 3, 2014

We finished the kitchen and other happy news from April

Dear readers, I miss you, and I have a lot of little updates:

MARCH:  Since I last wrote, we suffered through the longest and coldest and snowiest winter on record, or at least on my record, which really put to the test my theory about how you can love March if you just think of it in positive terms. Blah blah blah, March was really hard this year and there were no magical mind tricks you could pull to make it lovely.  It got the best of my positive attitude, and was I ever glad to see the calendar roll over to April.  We don't ask for much in Spring in Maine, just a few 40 degree days, please and thank you?  April has been good to us so far.

We did get one more day of skiing in March, this time at Big Squaw Mountain overlooking Moosehead Lake with Lindsay, Andrew, and Leah.

Lindsay and Reedo

Skyler and her apres ski glow

RENOVATIONS:  Starting in February, we had the kitchen and the downstairs bathroom renovated which was an exercise in patience to say the least, however, I am a firm believer in not complaining about first-world problems like home renovations.  So I was having an internal battle with myself the whole time:  "THIS IS HARD!  STOP IT, BE GRATEFUL."  The "2-week" project turned into an 8-week project, and I am one of those people who feels that the state of your home is reflective of the state of your mind, so I was frazzled and out of sorts for the whole 8 weeks. I am also a victim of HGTV , which I love to watch, and in my mind, renovations take 60 minutes minus commercial breaks, so the seemingly never-ending nature of the work left me yearning for The Property Brothers.

Tim was a saint who always had his eye on the prize and didn't let the dust or piles of tools everywhere get him down, and when we had no laundry or no shower for 2 weeks, he often reminded me that we can shower at the gym, and how great it was going to be when it was all done.  WELL GUESS WHAT?  He was right.  It is so worth it when it's all done.  We really did enjoy the process of choosing the colors and tiles and design together, and are super proud of how it turned out.

And don't you love a good before and after picture?  Here you go.



Reed would stop every minute or so to say:  "Boy, am I good at this."


It is so much bigger and brighter, and you know, when you are standing in Home Depot all bleary-eyed looking at a million options for floor tiles and backsplash tiles and counter tops and paint colors, you're aren't sure it's going to come out just right, but it really did.  

LITTLE KIDS:  Skyler and Reed are doing really wonderfully in every way.  They are changing fast and growing tall.  Skyler auditioned for her school's talent show, playing a piece on the piano, and made the cut.  Reed plays in a guitar recital this weekend.  Skyler is saving up for a camera to take on her Girl Scout trip to Boston in May.  Reed is always busy making paper airplanes or rubber band bracelets or TALKING.  He talks non stop.  I'm serious.  

Reed made me laugh and broke my heart a little the other day when he told me how embarrassed he was by the love note I put in his lunch box.  He said that his friend Andy "LITERALLY READ IT OUT LOUD TO MY TABLE."  (He uses the word "literally" all the time now?).  He said "Seriously mom?  XOXO?"  Oh, the poor injustices I must suffer.  First, I can't kiss him in public anymore, and now, no XOXOs in the lunch box?

doing homework:  such good little writers.

RYDER:  We brought Ryder home in January and since then he has settled in so nicely and turned into such a wonderful dog.  He is a perfect family dog who adores the kids and allows all kinds of cuddling and wrestling and poking.  He's a total lover.  He sealed the deal last weekend when he ran trails with me off leash and just stayed right next to me.  As long as we exhaust him at the dog park, he's as good as gold.

TRAVEL PLANS:  Our daughter Hillary (love the sound of that) is studying in Rome for the semester and we are going there for April break, which means, two weeks from tomorrow, we fly to Italy.  I can't wait to hug Hillary, who will be the most outstanding tour guide of Rome after 3 months there.  She has been telling me all about the food, especially the pizzas, and has a long list of places she is going to show us.  Besides Rome, we will travel to Naples and the Amalfi coast.  (Click that link... oh my Lord.)  During March, when I was trudging through snow and ice, I would just say to myself:  Amalfi Coast.  Amalfi Coast.  And, on top of all the wonder we will see in Italy, it is warm there.  

Hills, we're coming for you! I stole this off your facebook.  Also, you're gorgeous. Also, I want your sunglasses.

RUNNING/PUSHUPS:  Tim and I are running the Sugarloaf 15K in 6 weeks, so I guess that means that I'll be running more than I have been.  I've been doing 3 miles here and there, and it's time to step it back up.  Instead of running, though, I've been doing these fantastic boot camp/ interval training classes at Bodies by Badger (more about Amy Badger coming soon.. she's amazing).  The classes are one hour of squats, burpees, weights, jumps, planks, push ups, and SWEATING and she has accessed some muscle areas in me that I don't think I have ever worked.  I could go on and on about how good these classes have been for me.  The Push-Up challenge is moving along.  I now do about 140 pushups in each pushup workout,  not consecutively, but in sets.  It's hard, but I'm liking the challenge a lot.  I have a wedding dress to wear this summer, after all, and my arms are tightening up just like I hoped.  I'm sorry, but yes, I did take photos of my arm muscles.
We are still talking about fall marathon plans and I'm still trying to convince myself that is a fun idea.

It's warming up, the snow is melting, we're registering the kids for summer camps and mapping out plans for campin', swimming', and getting' married.  Tim and I painted another two rooms together and still enjoy each other's company immensely.  Baseball season opened this week, the Red Sox met President Obama, and I found a wedding dress, from J. Crew of all places, that I love (no, I can't show you yet!).  Our kitchen is done!  Yes, yes, and yes.

I love everything about this photo.

Happy April to all of you.  xoxo

Thursday, March 6, 2014

the good, the bad, and the pushups.

The good:   We have been home and back in the routine for a couple weeks now, and are still thinking happy thoughts about Utah.  Taking my kids on vacation is such a gift, and having family to visit in this stunning corner of the world is a lucky thing. 

Have you ever been to Park City?  You are going to think I'm exaggerating, but everyone is good looking there.  Every single person.  And they are all exceptionally fit and healthy with a nice sun-kissed glow.  You also can't help but admire everyone's clothes and outerwear.  I'm walk around, thinking:  "I want your jacket, I love your shoes, I want that vest, I love your haircut."  It is like walking through a hybrid of Whole Foods and the Title 9 catalog.  All of the children look like future Olympians, and I will say it one more time, everyone is good looking.  It's so weird.

We joined the good looking people for a second glorious day of skiing, during which the kids totally turned the corner into real skiers.  It was amazing to see the difference in the second full day.  Skiing WITH my kids is one of the great joys of my life.

Reed is eating a pretzel, in case you were wondering.

my beautiful sister and Skyler on the gondola at the end of our day. 
 My nephews are like rock stars to Skyler and Reed.
They think everything Grant says and does is funny.

And Cameron races slalom and giant slalom on the ski team, and gets a podium finish, as if he wasn't cool enough already.
Cameron, age 13, on the far right.
Skyler got a spa day with Aunt Liesel: mani, pedi, and haircut. 

it pays to be a girl in a family full of boys.
The Olympics were definitely on our mind all week and we watched every night.

Olympic fever, as evidenced here. 

The bad:

Two of my biggest fears as a parent are:
1.) losing a child in a crowded place;
2.) children throwing up on airplanes.
My number one fear, losing a child in a crowded place, was realized on this trip.  I was skiing with just Skyler and Reed for part of the afternoon.  I had given clear instructions that the kids always needed to be able to see me, and I tried very hard to stay right with them.  At one point, I got distracted by helping Skyler when she fell, and I thought Reed was still behind us.
Reedo cruising along.
We waited and waited and waited and he didn't come.  I had that moment when my blood ran cold and I thought I might faint; I had to make the decision whether to keep waiting there while time ticked on, and risk Reed getting farther down the mountain without us. I felt Skyler start to panic, looking to me and my reaction to know how to feel.  "Don't worry, we will find him," I lied.  I was certain that Reed in fact had skied over a cliff.

I reluctantly made the decision that we had to ski ahead, deciding it was out of the question to hike up the mountain.  We scanned for him on the slopes but did not find him.  My heart was pounding.  2 minutes later, we came upon the ski lift at the bottom of that slope, and Reed was standing right there.  Our "in case one of us gets lost, but please don't" plan had been to meet up at the next available ski lift. 

I grabbed him and squeezed him and kissed him on the mouth. "How did you get past me?  How long have you been here?"  He reminded me he did exactly as we had planned, and I agreed and praised him.  I asked him if he was panicked and he said:  "No, but I was getting close, and I was going to ask that ski patrol guy for help finding you."  Well, good boy for listening, and disaster averted. And we went up for another run.

When we were all safely together in front of the ski lodge at the end of the day, my nerves were a little fried,  I did a David Ortiz move, pointing up to the sky with thanks.  I was just so thankful to have the opportunity to expose them to the joy of skiing, and the joy of not dying by falling off a cliff, and the joy of finding your mom when you thought you had lost her. 

I guess a good adrenaline rush should be a part of every good vacation?

The second fear, of children throwing up on airplanes, is because I had a horrible experience when Reed was a toddler of having him sick all throughout a 6-hour flight to Utah.  It was awful.  Fear of kids throwing up on planes has now grown to an irrational source of travel anxiety, especially when I'm the only adult traveling.  It is seriously the thing I talk about when I'm going to travel:  "Just as long as no one throws up, I can handle anything."

So, both of my children threw up on this trip, both at airports, both minutes before we were boarding a plane.  One on the way out, one on the way home.  Both involved dramatic running scenes through the airport to get to the bathrooms (we made it) while leaving another child alone attending all of our bags.  And both situations left me having to make a calculated decision about whether or not we should actually board the plane.  My heart just started beating faster while I wrote that paragraph.  And I'm sweating a little again.

No one got sick on the plane, but I am telling you that I was a hot, nervous mess for part of the flights as I sat staring at my kids, anticipated the worst.  Because of getting bumped from our original flight, our new return flight was a 14-hour day that involved 3-hour layovers in Phoenix and Washington DC.  On our last flight home, both kids were in tears because they were so exhausted.  

When we finally landed, it was midnight and they had just passed out.

Skyler opened her eyes enough to walk, but I carried a sleeping Reed off the plane and we all landed in Tim's arms.  So good to go away;  so wonderful to come home. 

The Pushups.

I am moving right along on the push-up challenge.  I do the workout given to me by my phone every other day.  The app that I am using is called "Push Up Trainer" and it looks like this.  The first version is free, but after Level 9 you have to buy the app for 99 cents. 

I have done my pushups in the living room, in the hallway while Reed is in the tub, at the gym, in the waiting area of Skyler's piano lessons, and (my favorite) in the middle of the Phoenix airport.  

I was a little over confident as I cruised through the first 5 levels.  The workout gives you an ambitious total number of pushups but broken into sets, with 90 seconds of rest between.  You can see the sample workouts below. 

At first, I wasn't even using the rest breaks.   Then the workouts started getting harder and now I am begging for rest.  I sweat and grunt and grit my teeth.  This is the one I did last night.  That's 102 pushups right there (with breaks), which is a lot more than where I started.  But wow that was hard.

That smiley face is not what my face looked like when I finished.  Holy.

One evening this week, I was part of a presentation to an auditorium full of parents of in-coming high school students when my phone reminded me it was time to do my pushups.  I was like, "Geez, smarty phone.  I'm a little busy right now." Phones telling us to exercise.  What next?

I now understand what a true challenge it would be for anyone to do 100 pushups in a row, and it was a tad ambitious of me to set my goal so high.  I have serious doubts and my arm muscles quiver at the very thought.  But I'll just keep on doing one workout at a time and see how far I get.  As my friend Suzanne says, we're not sure we will ever do 100 pushups, but our arms will look good regardless.  We just want to have arms like Michelle Obama.  I bet she can do 100 pushups.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Our trip to Utah: We are not mad anymore.

If I had written this post last Saturday, it would be a whole lot different.  Last Saturday is when the kids and I were supposed to leave for our vacation to Utah to see my sister and her family.  And when we got to the airport, all packed with ski gear, snacks, plane activities, and excitement, we were told that our flight was oversold and there were no seats for us.  The next hour was a blur of tears and arguing with airline agents.  They told us the next time they could get us out on a flight was on Tuesday, three days later, and that would be out of Portland, 2 hours south of us.  We were so mad. 

And so, we went home.  We made the best of a few more days of February vacation at home (bounce houses, roller skating, dinner out, and then the Children's Museum and a hotel with a pool in Portland) before we finally boarded our flight. 

Over the course of those days, I also was totally able to turn this travel debacle into a positive turn-of-events.  We were reimbursed for the flights.  My sister was flexible and was able to just have us come a few days later, and then stay a few days longer than we had planned.  And, when we arrived, the snowy days they had in the first part of the week had turned into sunshine and blue skies.  So, when we were finally skiing the glorious mountains of Utah, we were basking in the sunshine, looking out at miles and miles of snow-covered mountains,  and I was watching my kids ski on these long winding trails that completely redefine skiing for them, we had completely forgotten about our airport debacle.

Hello, Utah.
 All's well that ends well, happy endings, silver linings, etc.

My kids have had a fabulous visit with their big, cool cousins.
an early-morning duet from Reed and Grant.

rubber-band guns = heaven
my sister's house is pretty in every single corner and out every single window.

Skyler is drawing by the window.
For our ski day, we took the kids on the beginner slope for a few warm up runs.  After 4 lessons in Maine, both kids had pretty good control on skis and we were excited to head to the top of the mountain to try out the long cruisers you can only get out west. 

Skyler was fine right from the start.  She knew how to make good, wide turns and to stop and slow down when needed.  Reed (surprise, surprise) had less control and was going too fast.  When he kept falling every time he tried to turn, he was frustrated that he seemed to have forgotten everything he learned in ski lessons.  

Cameron, on the left, and his golden sunshine smile.

After watching him ski, Liesel diagnosed the problem.  Reed was trying to keep his skis together on his turns even though he should be snow plowing ("making pizza").  You know why?  He's been watching too much Olympics and he was trying to imitate the Giant Slalom skiers.  Once we convinced him he was not Ted Liggety, and he stopped trying to be an Olympian, he got much better.   But I'll tell you what:  Reed fell about 100 times and never complained once.  He was such a trooper. 

Cameron took Skyler, Grant took Reed, and we all took off for a wonderful day of skiing.  The little kids listened to direction from their big cousins.  Liesel and Craig and I just followed happily along.  We skied on beautiful wide trails that wove through the woods.   And skiing in Utah means that on each run, you are skiing for sometimes a half an hour at a stretch, tons of time to get the feel of your legs on skis. By the end of the day, Skyler was skiing like a little pro, and Reed was making wide smooth turns all the way down that mountain.  

lunch break.
The four kids on their own.
Top of the world.
sisters who ski together.
The only time the kids gave me any hard time at all was when we told them it was time for our last run because the lifts were closing.  They skied the whole day with total joy.  And their mama was exhilarated by completely exhausted by the end of it.

a charming apres ski dinner in the style only my sister can pull together.
So no, we are not mad anymore.  We are surrounded by happy kids with a house-full of new toys to play with, mountains, good food, and our family.  I won't even complain about the fact that our new return flight has us getting home at midnight the night before we all go back to school, if, in fact, our flights have a seat for us and arrive on time.  We are lucky to be able to travel at all.

We miss you, Tim.  We're coming home soon.  xo

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Birthday Parties and Push Ups

Reed at 18 months eating blueberries at Jordan Pond
 Last week, Reed turned SEVEN.  I love watching this guy grow up.  But I miss that little blueberry-stuffing cherub that he once was, too.

Being mom to Reed is one of the very best parts of my life.  He is both totally Reedo and totally unpredictable.  He surprises me with his witty comments and sharp memory every day.  He knows how to be as sweet as sugar and how to push all of our buttons.  He can make amazingly complicated rubber-band-loom bracelets but he can't stay seated on a stool without falling off.  He's a lover and a goober and charming negotiator.  I love my one-of-a-kind boy. 

We all joined together to throw Reed a skateboarding birthday party that Reed declared to be "THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER."  All the kids skated on the ramps and got all sweaty for an hour, and then there was pizza and cake. 

My friend Amy of Sweet Hart Cakes made this adorable skate park cake for Reed.  The chocolate cake under that home-made fondant was so delicious.

Among other things, Reed got a beginner's snow board:
 And he loved it so much that he fell asleep with it that night.  That makes a mom feel good.

For my 40th birthday, I had breakfast in bed, a fun day with my kids, and then we had Pakistani food with our friends Ange and Matt.  After dinner they led me across the street to a bar where Tim threw me a perfect birthday party.  It was a surprise, except for the fact that all my best friends had been awfully elusive about whether and when they were going to see me on my 40th birthday. Turns out they were all there, along with my mom, running friends, swimming friends, teaching friends, former students, and life friends. 

On the cake was a photo of me when I was 6.  Everyone said it looks so much like Reed. 
 I had a wonderful night bouncing from group to group and seeing so many of my people in one festive room. 

A million thanks to all the people who made the effort to pull off such a great night.  And I told Tim he didn't have to do all that again until I was 50.  Phew. 

In my last post, I mentioned some goals for the year and there is more to say about each of these:

--Another Marathon:  Meredith (in the yellow pants above) will join us too, and it will be her first marathon, Hillary's first marathon, and Tim's first marathon in a long time.  First marathon stories make me weepy and I'm excited to train with these fine people.  We are currently looking around for the right fall race that has both good scenery, good crowd support, and not too many hills. To be completely honest, I feel equal parts of the following emotions about this marathon:
1.  Can't wait to cross that finish line.  2.  What am I thinking?  All the parts before the finish line kind of suck.

 I'll work on getting my marathon fire to spark again.

--100 Push Ups:  I got this idea because I've heard of others taking the challenge to build up to 100 push ups. I thought it was a great idea to build some upper body strength, because we all want that, right?  I downloaded the app on my phone and have been doing the training every other day.  It is a slow build up and feels very doable so far.

Suzanne is going to join me on the challenge, and is starting from the same place I am, at 15 consecutive.  Sandi wants to do it too, even though when I told her about it, she wondered aloud how many push ups she could already do, and dropped down on the floor and DID 68 pushups right there.  GEEZ.
Then last night, I told Ellis of my plans and he said that he couldn't do 100 push ups, not consecutively, because of lactic-acid build up.  Have you seen Ellis? Besides Tim, he is the strongest person I know.  He thought that I should aim for 50 instead.  Thoughts?  Any 40 year old women out there who can do 100 pushups?  People telling me I might not be able to do 100 push ups = extra motivation. 

Ellis has these arms. I have some work to do.

--Red Pants:  You guys are serious about your shopping tips and I love you for it.  Thanks for all the ideas.  I have some direction now, and I'm going to find some good ones.  :)