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.  :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

39 years and 364 days old: in search of red pants.

I'm turning 40 tomorrow, so I'm writing to you from my last day of my 30s.  How do I feel about saying goodbye to my 30s?  Pretty damn good.  My 30s were very, shall we say, stretching;  I guess that is a good thing to say about a decade of your life. 

I lived all of my 30s without my dad, I nursed my mom through cancer, I made two amazing little human beings (!), I learned to run and then ran 4 marathons and 2 half iron man triathlons, became co-chair of the English department, had my first therapist, learned to surf in Mexico, cried a lot, finished two graduate degrees, became friends with people that will be my friends for life, and met my truest love.

That is a pretty remarkable decade right there. 

On to my 40s!  There are a few things that are true about how I have changed, besides all that wisdom, gratitude, perspective and patience I have honed.   At 40, I can't pull off the no-makeup look anymore, and I have these wrinkles around the eyes.

For years and years, I prided myself that my students would guess my age WAY younger than I was.  Throughout my 30s, students would always guess that I was in my 20s.  Lately I have noticed their guesses are getting older.  They are like:  "You are almost 40?  I can't believe that!  You don't look a day older 38!" I like to think that is because I carry myself with an air of experience now.  Or, maybe it's the wrinkles. 

My favorite thing that is different about me at 40:  I can outrun, outswim, outlift, and outlast my 30-year-old and my 20-year-old self.  I didn't have those leg muscles when I was just a kid. 

More importantly, I know my body and what to do to maximize its potential. I know how I want to spend my time, and I know how I don't. I say "no thanks" to extra committees and negative people. I know when to brush things off and when to confront conflict.  It's not that life is easier, really, but there is a new confidence in how to deal with things, and there is also unapologetic happiness.  Just imagine how awesome and self-aware I will be when I'm 50. 

This weekend we will celebrate.  Then on Monday my swimming crew, who likes to commemorate big birthdays with customized swim sets,  is going to swim 40 x 75s with me in an hour, starting at 5:30 am.  Join us if you want to!

I have four plans to implement during my first year of my 40s. 
-  I will run another marathon, this time with Tim and Hillary.  Considering I basically stick with the 3-4 mile distance lately, this feels like a giant leap.
-  I will get married!   We are planning a small family wedding this summer.
-  I will work up to doing 100 push-ups.  As of this morning, I can do 15.  But I got a 100 push-up app on my phone, so I'm making real progress now.
-  I will obtain a pair of red pants.  I feel like at the age of 40, I need a really kickass pair of red pants, and I can't find a pair anywhere.  I'm taking suggestions of where to shop.

So, go ahead and hold me to this.  By my next birthday, I will be a happily married woman (with 4 kids and a dog) with stronger arms and abs wearing a marathon medal and red pants.

Hey 40s:  Let's go.