Friday, May 31, 2013

you never know.

It would be hard to total up all that I've gained from writing on this blog, because the value of connections with people far and wide, and motivation to write so much that I started to see myself as a writer are two things that are unquantifiable.

 I've made friends that I only know through the blog, and I've made friends that started through on-line interactions and ended up as in-real-life friends, and I have, maybe most importantly, gotten to know myself (as woman, mother, teacher, writer, athlete) because I have challenged myself to write and write often about all of these things.

The free stuff is pretty cool too, which started to come after time:  free canvas prints, free shoes, free shoes for the kids, free hydration systems, free juices, a trip to Smuggler's Notch in Vermont, t-shirts, stickers, Tommie Copper calf sleeves (my favorite).

And then there are the opportunities to write elsewhere and to teach.  I'm teaching a graduate class in writing and blogging right now at the University of Maine. By the way, I have assigned my students to post something to their blogs every day for 7 days.  Today is day 3, and I'm trying to stick with them so that I don't feel too guilty about the assignment.  The point of the assignment is to train the brain to always be looking for content, to always be crafting your next piece in your head as you go about your day. 

Because of the blog, I had the confidence to submit my work and get published on real paper.  I don't think I would have even said that I hoped to be teaching a graduate class or to be a published writer some day, but I know there was a seed in me that wanted it.

I had my first article published this winter in Marathon and Beyond magazine, a piece about long distance running and mental demons. 

I now have a monthly column in Bangor Metro;  every month I'll write an article about wellness and healthy living.

The first one came out yesterday, and I saw it for the first time when Tim texted me a photo of it.

No no, not the medical marijuana ad.  Over to the right.  It's about juicing.

This column came about because the editor of the magazine reads my blog.  Blogging is a lot like teaching.  You just keep talking and writing and showing people things you care about, and you don't exactly know who is listening carefully or what will stick or what people will remember.  You never know. 

Thank you all for reading and for your continued support.  I'm going to try hard to post every day this week, so check back for more soon.  In the works:  a post about my crushes on Red Sox players.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

eating outside and grilling pizzas

One of the best things about summer is eating outside.  Coffee tastes better outside on summer mornings; a peanut butter jelly sandwich that you eat with dirty hands on a break from the shovel tastes delicious; dinner hot off the grill and a big salad is the best, especially after a hard run or bike ride.

Plus, right now, we have pots of rununculus on the deck that are such pretty little things.

 I'll put anything on the grill.  Those potato wedges we par-boiled and then grilled, brushed with melted butter and salt.  Yes.

Lately, we've been grilling a lot of chicken marinated in olive oil, salt, pepper and lots of lemon juice.  I also will eat any night:  grilled portabellos, grilled zucchini, grilled pineapple, grilled sweet potatoes.  

My summertime favorite is grilled pizza.  I use these great flavored dough balls from Portland Pie Company that I get at our local grocery store.

First stretch out the dough, brush both sides with olive oil, and place on the grill (medium heat) for about five minutes, then flip.

Once it is flipped, cover it with whatever you want to cover it with.  Close the lid for a few minutes and let things get all melty.  Be careful not to burn the bottom.

This one is barbeque sauce, chicken (that I grilled the night before), red onion (that I sauteed on the stove first) and mozzarella.  The crust gets all chewy and delicious.  It tastes smokey and sweet and chewy.

Here is another one I made with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, grilled veggies and fresh mozarella.  OMHG.

AND THEN (this is for you, Rowgirl)... there is the dessert pizza.  Plain pizza dough, grilled and then covered with nutella, strawberries and blackberries. 

Go outside and grill up something delicious.  And then stay outside and eat it.  I'll join you.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

in a blink

From this
 to this.

And from this

to this.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

dirt, mud, rain, bike grease, paint, and bug spray

From now on I'm going to judge the success of a weekend on how much stuff I can get on myself.  I somehow managed to have a ton of fun while still getting really messy.  Last night when I got my kids ready for bed, they had a dirt line where their socks stopped.  I call that a sign of a good day.

This weekend, Tim and I painted, so I had splats of white paint all over my arms.  It rained all weekend so we were pleased to have many projects to keep us busy and productive.

Last week, I committed to and registered for Pumpkinman Half Iron Triathlon which takes place in early September.    I am supposed to be getting in two or three bike rides a week, and if I was going to bike this weekend, I was going to bike in the rain.  My girl Jess joined me for an eventful 25 miles that included 35 minutes on the side of the road and a lot of bike grease after Jess's chain got stuck in her chainrings until we were saved by the boyfriends.  I now know to keep allen wrenches in my bike pack. 
Jess flashing her greasy hands.

Rain and 40 degrees still somehow made for a very lovely ride.  I am loving being out out my bike again, and loving having quiet, empty, early-morning roads so I can chat with my friend while riding.

I returned home covered in mud and rain, and instead of showering, I just stayed out in the rain and worked on the garden for a couple hours. I scooped 12 buckets of beautiful, black composted dirt into our new raised garden bed.  It's still a work in progress.  Photos to come. 

On Memorial Day the sun finally broke through.  We took a break from digging dirt to hike Chick Hill with Suzanne and her girls. We added layers of sunblock and bug spray to our dirty selves.

 The view from up there is incredible.  The new green trees look velvety soft down below, and you can see forever. 

the muscle shot.

lunch always tastes better on a mountain. 

Nice spot for a rest, huh Maya?

heading down, Suz in the lead.
Amidst all the dirt and paint, we still had plenty of time for giggles and down time and swing time.

This week:  Last week for seniors and end-of-the-school-year craziness.  I have PILES of papers to get through.  Piles.

Come on, summer.  Almost there.

Monday, May 20, 2013

3 Laughs for your Monday

Overheard in the back seat:
Reed: "I'm going to be a billionaire!"
Skyler:  "How are you going to do that?"
Reed: " I'm going to be a PE teacher!"
Skyler:  "Well.  I'm going to be the Queen of England."

Reed found a photo of me with a newborn Skyler (8 years ago): 
Reed:  "Mom, I can't believe how different you look."
Me:  "Really?  Do I look better or worse now?"
Reed:  "WAY better now."
Me:  "Aw, thanks, Reed!"
Reed: "I would actually be crying right now if you still looked like you do in this photo."

Reed got his summer hair cut from Ellis, Tim's son.  Reed ADORES Ellis.  I think Reed was just so happy to have Ellis' undivided attention for 30 minutes.  He would do anything Ellis asked him to, including sit very very still.  Miraculous.

Reed was concentrating so hard to sit still that he didn't even notice that Ellis had walked away for a minute.  He just kept sitting still.   This photo kills me.

If you want a bonus laugh:  the most popular post I've written about Reed is when he was three and had an imaginary friend named "My husband Matt."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On being whole.

[Dedicated to Kristina, Meredith, Jenn, Jessica and Becca, and all the other mamas who don’t have their kids everyday.]  

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” — Rumi


I have survived almost a whole year as a divorced mom, my first year having my two kids with me only half of the time. I fixate on the word half.  I miss out on half of their meals, half of their sleepy yawns, half the silly questions from the bathtub. I live to pack little snack bags of baby carrots into their lunch boxes, bandage their skinned knees, and neatly arrange the next day’s outfits on the dresser.  And now on half of their days, I don’t even know what my kids wore to school, or what they wondered about, or what funny jokes they made.  In every moment that I am awoken by a cry in the night, I am both relieved to give comfort and haunted by the nights I don’t even know about their bad dreams.  After a few days without them, my arms start to ache for their little bodies.  

A few months ago, even, I could not have written that paragraph.  I wouldn’t have wanted to define so clearly the way in which I changed my role as a mom, to admit out loud what I sacrificed by getting divorced.

Emotional life as a divorced mom is untidy, and trying to sort every feeling into right or wrong, fair or unfair is tempting, but futile.  It’s easier to be angry about what happened; it is much more confusing, though I’m sure healthier, to feel sad and vulnerable, and perhaps even dip a toe into regret.  People ask me:  “Are you happier now?” and I think:  “Do you really believe that is a yes-or-no question?”   I like to answer with a line from Macbeth, when the witches describe Banquo as “Not so happy, yet much happier.”

I am learning to come to terms with the ambiguity of emotional truth, of missing my kids,  yes, but also stretching out into that other 50% of myself.  While my kids are happily with their dad, I sometimes find myself flying down a hill on my bike, miles and miles away from anyone who needs me or even knows where I am. It feels good to wander through a bookstore without looking at my watch, or make a last minute decision to go to a yoga class, or stay out too late on a Friday night.  I believe that my losses exist side-by-side with my happiness, and that if we are honest with ourselves, then we admit that our lives are defined by a tender balance between sacrifices and gains. I can now turn and look at my past without covering my eyes.  It’s okay for me to feel loss and sadness all tangled up with freedom and strength.

I have my kids half of the time, but they are 100% their own selves, completely whole, just like me. When I catch a glimpse of my kids in the rear view mirror, looking dreamily and cheerfully at the passing landscape, I remember that their identities stretch far beyond just being my children. They are smart, funny, charming little people who see the world as beautiful and loving and safe. When they draw, they color big yellow suns and rainbows and trees bursting with fruit; they draw themselves with wide, bright eyes and crazy hair, their hands reaching straight up in the air.  Sometimes they draw me onto the page too, holding their hands or sitting with them under the fruit trees, and in other drawings, I’m just outside the margins, and you can’t see me.  I’m riding my bike down a hill, or drinking a third cup of coffee on the porch.  I’m out for a long run.  I’m writing.  I’m taking the stairs two at a time.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I love a man in uniform.

I have a thing for baseball, and obviously, I have a thing for Reed.   Reed playing baseball is just about the cutest thing I've ever seen.

Watching Reed's baseball practice is hilarious because of all the 6-year-old boy antics.  It also makes me panic a little at the thought that there are 8 other kids just like Reed.  What if Reed were one in a set of octuplets?  I'm sweating.

But it is also reassuring that my son isn't the only one who needs to be told:
"Keep your hands out of your pants!"
"Eyes up here when I'm talking to you!"
"Try to stop wiggling for one second!"

The coaches are the most gentle, patient, kind, supportive group of adults I've ever witnessed.  All the kids are like Reed, and somehow, they are all paying attention and learning to play baseball.

Well, most of the time.

I am struck as I watch from the sidelines what a charmed and timeless scene this all is, cute little boys trying to be bigger, more coordinated boys, just growing into their long legs, ball caps and smiling parents, freshly-mowed grass fields and coaches yelling:  "Nice one, buddy!"

 Americana.  Our favorite pastime.  I can practically smell the roasted peanuts. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

growing up here.

In May when Maine transforms into the best and most wonderful place to live, I feel guilty for having complained about it in March and April.  It's true that I tire of the winter and the greyness, but it's more true that the (late) Spring and Summer are such a huge payoff, and the rewards are all the sweeter because we waited for it.  The work-hard-to-earn-rewards is one of my favorite New England attitudes;  it's true that there is a ruggedness in our blood here.  Things don't always come easily, but we put our heads down and work hard.   I'm proud to be raising two Mainers.

We are in the midst of a crazy-long stretch of beautiful weather, and it is all anyone is talking about.

My kids are clearly pleased about the warmer temps. This started as an early-mother's-day car wash for me and ended with two soaking kids.  All of this sunshine makes everyone a little lighter on our feet.

I don't know if I can expect that my kids know how lucky we are to live close to Acadia National Park.  But I take a lot of photos just so I can show them where they spent a good chunk of their childhoods.

Sunday, we took on Acadia Mountain with Meredith and crew.  
We packed trail mix and led them up a mountain to eat it.

The kids were so good on the hike up, which is a mile of fairly steep terrain.   Reed got too tired for the last quarter mile, so I put my pack on my front and my Reedo on my back for a while.  Roz, all dressed up for the occasion, did just fine on her own two feet.

There was a fair amount of "WHERE IS THE TOP OF THIS MOUNTAIN?" from my two as they got tired.  Once again, the reward is sweeter if you work for it.  Or if your mom carries you for just a little bit. 

Everything looks better from up here!  When you get to the summit of the mountain, you flex your muscles in victory.

And then relax in the sun.

Next up:  hike down, find a spot to eat our lunch.  Meredith introduced me to a new corner of Acadia:  Compass Harbor.    I've driven right by the entrance to it a hundred times and never even knew it was there. 

Killian and Beckett, dwarfed by the horizon.  Hello, beautiful world.
 Theses two besties can't stop being cute together.

Not a bad spot for cheese and crackers.
There is actually a very precarious drop off behind us, so I'm holding on tight. 

This is their playground, wide open ocean dotted with islands, climbing up and over the point, exploring tidal pools, and lying on sun-warmed rocks.  Because I didn't grow up in Maine, I marvel at all of this wonder every time. 

It was almost 5 pm when we dragged everyone away.

On the way home, I was rewarded with my most favorite day trip grand finale:  I listened to the Sox game on the radio while my kids slept in the back.

Thank you, Maine.  Thank you, dear friends.  Next year, when I start whining about March, remind me of days like this.