Wednesday, May 30, 2012

That's Better!

We had a great Memorial Day weekend around here.  It's one of the most fun weekends to live in Boulder, I think.  There's so much going on and the weather is almost always beautiful so although we are going, going, going all weekend it's all good stuff so totally worth it.  I found myself thinking, during a family bike ride (headed home from the Boulder Creek Festival) that it's a shame more people don't come to visit us.  Honestly, you people are really missing out!  ;-)

We did up the Creek Festival on Sunday during the day as a family and exhausted ourselves.  Then after the kids went to bed, Nathan and I hopped on our bikes and went back to check out the nighttime scene (relax, our friend Gretchen came to sit with the kids).  It wasn't what we'd hoped but we still had fun being out and about after dark with all the riff raff (anyone who can step out at night without planning way in advance to get as drunk as they want and stay out as late as they want now deserves this title in our eyes).
This is the kind of thing you stumble upon around here:  Zen stone towers.  I always love finding them, but this was a particularly impressive collection.
The highlight of the festival for Owen.  He didn't stop talking all day about how he rode a train with Zoe.  Please notice the ketchup stains around Zoe's mouth.  A sure sign of a good day at the festival.

The next morning, I finally got to run the Bolder Boulder!  The experience was everything I'd hoped it would be.  I had a smile plastered on my face the whole time as I took it all in:  the Elvis impersonator claiming to be Michael Jackson, the cutie pie kids handing out marshmallows to runners, the crazy costumed spectators blasting music and dancing, the muddy slip and slide (I didn't do it, but loved that I could have if I'd wanted to), the college students offering free keg stands and spraying us with hoses, the college kids' bands setting up and playing for us in their totally unkempt front lawns, the banner around mile 4 that read "Course Summit 5,391 ft.  Sea Level is for Sissies!", running through downtown Boulder through a growing crowd and fun bands and finally finishing up by taking a little lap in the packed football stadium.  It was so much fun!  The only bummer was that I somehow missed Nathan and the kids who were carefully watching for me with cowbells and outstretched high fives in the spot we'd agreed upon.  I was searching for them too and could have sworn I didn't see any people in that spot but they were there and have pictures to prove it.  I blame the group of crayons I was running near. I was with them the whole time and was actually becoming fond of all the cheering going on for them, but then they had to go and steal my family's attention for a split second which must have been when I slipped on by them.  Oh well! 

Later that day, we went BACK to the Creek Festival to watch the annual EXPAND Duck Race.  In the days leading up to the last day of the festival you can buy a duck for the race (all proceeds go to our local Parks & Rec) and if your duck is the first one of the thousands to make it down the creek to the big net where they catch them all on that last day, you win an AWESOME prize.  This year, the grand prize was an all expense paid trip to Cancun!  Alas, we didn't win but it was really fun to watch.  We buy at least one duck every year but have never made it to the actual race and we were so glad we did this year.  Tons of people crowd the banks of the creek to wait and watch.  Just before the launch, we heard people cheering up the creek a bit and a few seconds later we saw a real duck swimming down the creek, fast as could be.  It was like one of those crazy dudes who take their clothes off at baseball games and run as quickly as they can around the field before they get tackled by security.  So funny!

I couldn't believe how many people turned out for this event!
To top it all off, since I last posted about all of my unfinished business, I managed to get a bunch of that stuff done.  I thank all of you for that because telling you made me finally get my ass in are a couple of the results!
Princess bed out of cheap fabric, yarn and an embroidery hoop!

Finally making the tin can wind chimes.  So easy!  We used keys on the end of the string to make the sound but you can use anything.  I think it could even work to just thread the string through the hole you make on the bottom of the can and tie a knot to secure it.  If you hang them close together they bang around just fine without something on the inside too.

Thanks for the inspiration, eHow home and Red Tent Art!

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend too!

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Here we are at another transitional period (Nathan's craziest, busiest semester FINALLY wrapping up and the end of Zoe's school year) and I'm once again finding myself totally scatterbrained.  My head is a big jumble of halfway completed to-do lists and "don't forget to.." work stuff and I can't seem to finish anything I start, including thoughts.  It's okay, because I know this just tends to happen to me in times like these (am I the only one??) but also because I know I'm spending a lot of mental and a medium (so far) amount of physical energy on my running.  Also, I've been rediscovering my (love? not yet..) appreciation for cooking.  To be fair, I haven't actually cooked a ton yet, but my "Food" board on Pinterest is growing and finally has things other than gooey, chocolaty desserts on it.  No, no really.... you think you know me but I do go through phases where pushing "start" on the microwave isn't the most effort I put into dinner.  I'm happy about that, so I'm accepting (I was going to say "embracing", but that is just not true) the resulting foggy brain.  I have to give myself little pep talks all day to stay calm about it because normally, I really like to finish what I start and I tend to feel anxious if I have to leave a project or chore half done.

Here is a list of the things I've left on my plate (not abandoned) to be completed at a later date:

-Buy the bottom half of a swimsuit.  I finally went to the store today to commit to buying a more expensive but more forgiving (notice I didn't say "flattering".  I gave up on that even before having kids) bathing suit in hopes that I won't want to crawl under a rock while wearing it this summer.  I found a top and begrudgingly handed over my credit card to pay for it, but I just could not accept the fact that in order to get the bottom half, I'd have to lay down another $60.  I'd rather wear a pair of underwear, honestly.  So, I'll head off to Target sometime soon to fork over less money to buy something I'll totally hate wearing.  I really have been working on seeing the bright side to stuff more these days, but there's just no use trying in the "wearing a bathing suit" department.  Sorry.

-Learn to use all the cool features on our new camera.  Our camera broke last week and I was forced to go buy a new one (1: Why do all expensive technology related items have to break every couple of years?  2: Why do they all have to break within a month of each other?).  It's a "point and shoot" so I can get by with using the same basic features as our last camera, but this one has more manual options and I really want to learn to use it in a more versatile way.  With the purchase of the camera I got 2 coupons for free classes at the store and I can't wait to cash them in but.......when??

-Get a cheap pair of binoculars for Zoe.  Last week, I got The Young Birder's Guide for Zoe because she's been asking for weeks for a bird watcher's book.  She wants to be a bird watcher when she grows up and wants to get started right away.  She's also shown a lot of interest in actually looking for birds so I felt it was a good little investment.  Could be a great new hobby and I'm excited to get into that world with her.  We have dipped our toes in, but we need a pair of binoculars because we haven't been able to get close enough to many birds without scaring them away. 

-Make a princess bed for Zoe.  A few weeks ago, I stumbled across this tutorial for a DIY princess canopy and I tucked it away in my head.  A week or so later, Zoe coincidentally asked for one.  She and I (eventually) went to the craft store to get a couple of supplies.  The supplies are now sitting in the closet waiting to be thrown together.

-Make some tin can wind chimesI also stumbled upon this a couple of weeks ago and wanted to give it a try.  Looks so simple and we can make them out of things we already have.  I told Zoe about it and since we didn't have any cans in our recycling bin for some reason, she and I went dumpster diving and geared up to make them.  We ran out of time that day and the cans were set aside.  After a few days, I started prepping the cans (taking the labels off and putting masking tape over the sharp edges) and got about 3 done before getting interrupted, leaving the other 3 to finish "soon".  4 days later and I finally moved them from the kitchen counter to a bag in the craft closet.

-Come up with a plan for our next Art/Young Scientists Group.  The project is a toy hovercraft but this version doesn't work on water and we want to let the kids decorate them so I'm trying to figure out how to do that.  I fiddled around with it today and haven't had luck but I think I know what the solution is.  If the idea in my head doesn't work though, we might be screwed.

-Organize the toysI don't mind our house being overrun with toys, but  I like them to be in some sort of order.  Doesn't have to be perfect but I want everything to be easily accessible and our living room is officially a jumbled mess.  The play kitchen is a mountain of junk and the kids can't really play with it for fear of a toy avalanche.

I could honestly go on but you get the idea.  Please send calming vibes my way so I can continue to feel positive about my running and cooking.  I'm reminding myself that I can't be everything all at once and I'm finally taking some "me" time and doing things that make me feel good about myself.  That's allowed isn't it?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

We Always Win

Before I had kids and was able to do lots of races, my friend Bonita shared with me a tradition she and her husband have (he is also a runner):  after every race Bonita asks, "Neil, did you win?" and Neil says "Bonita, I always win."  I loved it right away because I am a very...slow....runner.  I was that poor gal on her high school track team who ran the 800m every meet, despite coming in last or second to last no matter how hard she tried.  When I started getting into running as an adult, I promised myself I'd never worry about being "fast".  As I got better I learned that sometimes it's good to push yourself faster than your comfortable pace, just for fitness sake, but I've made it a point to not focus on time too much but more on distance and endurance.  So after every race Bonita would, from then on ask me:  "Sarah, did you win?" and I would say, "Bonita, I always win."  We would both laugh a bit, knowing how corny it sounds but she said it every time, also knowing how true it is and what an important thing it was to remind me of.

Flash forward to present time:  We have a bunch of family photos in our stairwell (shocker!) and one of them is Nathan crossing the finish line of the New York City Marathon.  He ran it the year Zoe was born (actually just a few days before the day) and almost every time we go down the stairs, Owen likes to stop at it and clap and cheer for Daddy.  Today, Zoe was with us and she asked:  "Mommy, did Daddy win that race?" and I said "Well, he didn't finish the race before everybody else but he won because it was hard and he did it."  It was so nice to explain that one further and I vowed to remind her of that whenever I can.

It was good timing, because today was the official first day of my half-marathon training!  Zoe has even been caught up in the excitement of it all and is running a race of her own on June 2nd (locals: it's free and you don't have to register for the kid's run).  She has been talking about how we are both training for a race and is really excited about it, so while I was on my run this morning I decided to ask the organizers of my race if it would be okay for Zoe to hop in with me at the very end and finish up my half alongside me (it is--yay!).  That way, we can both be on a training schedule and have the same day as a goal.  The mere thought of crossing the finish line with her makes me get all teary so I was pumped to find when I got home that she is totally game.

I made up a "training schedule" for her that is similar to mine, just obviously more vague.  I told her that on her cross training days she can go swimming, ride her bike or just play on the playground.

Then she and I set off for her first training run.  She wanted to hold hands at first because it would  be "easier for us to stay together" but she eventually let go and we just jogged along side by side.  We did some laps around our apartment complex and I let her lead the way.  It was so special to me and I think for her too.  At one point, we looked at each other and smiled and I said "Love ya, Zo!" and she smiled even bigger and said "Me too!  Also, we love Daddy and Owen right?" and I said "Of course!" and she said "Daddy, cuz he works so hard and Owen cuz he's growing teeth."

Wednesday, May 9, 2012



Remember the paper mache volcanoes we made last month for Art Group/Young Scientists? Well, this month (today, actually) we painted them and made them erupt!  We had the kids paint them as soon as they got there and told them not to pile on too much paint so it would have time to dry.  We set them in the sun for about 20 minutes and then sprayed them with an acrylic gloss coat, let that dry for about 15 minutes and then made them erupt!  We didn't worry about exact measurements because part of the fun is seeing how differently they all erupt depending on how much of each ingredient you put in.  We poured baking soda in first, as neatly as we could, then used a funnel to add a spoonful of dish soap and about 1/4 cup of vinegar (taking the funnel away as quickly as possible for the best viewing experience).  We used the funnel for the baking soda on the first go 'round only to discover that the funnel gets clogged right away.  We wanted to give each kid a chance to show off their art work and to give them a dose of limelight so we did them one by one and ooo'd and aaah'd every time.

While we waited for the paint to dry, we made some sidewalk paint out of corn starch (1/4 cup), water (1/4 cup) and food coloring.  I really liked how it looked when it dried and the kids got super messy with it, which is the point, after all....anyway, it's really really easy to clean--nothing a hose can't take care of in five seconds!

One of my favorites from today...check out the little handprint on the sidewalk!

Also, just wanted to share a few sweet pictures of random fun lately:
Bananas, cartoons and sibs

Owen getting into the mud kitchen--look out, Emeril Lagasse!

Post-sprinkler snacks with buds, Cameron and Liesel

Marisa and sweet Ivy..boy will we miss this family when they leave in August!

Owen's first haircut!

Such a big boy


Mastering the monkey bars...the latest accomplishment: skippin' one!  Now, she's determined to skip two but her little arms aren't quite long enough.  She's still spending every spare moment trying though.  Hello, blisters!

With Ainsley: Owen's most enthusiastic playground caretaker (besides his sister, of course) .  Cheese!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


I was at the playground yesterday when my friend asked me for advice about training for a race.  She knows that in the last few years of my past life (pre-kids), I had become really hooked on running.  Even though I'm not disciplined at all these days, I still have memories of the strategies that worked for me.  I told her about Hal Higdon, the first training guide my sister Jill recommended when I signed up for my very first 3 mile race way back when.  I still recommend that website to people who are just starting out because it wasn't at all intimidating to a beginner like me at the time.  Something about the way he set up his programs made me think "Yeah, I could totally do that!" and following a program made it so much easier for me to get into a groove with running.

Anyway, my friend is training for the Bolder Boulder, a very popular and pretty well known annual 10K race here.  Nathan and I first heard about it when we knew we were moving out here and immediately signed up.  I can't remember what happened that first year, but for some reason we didn't do it.  I think it had to do with not having anyone to watch Zoe or not being in shape...(excuses, excuses in other words).  The next year, I walked it with my friend because we were both pregnant and last year we watched from the sidelines because Owen was so little I hadn't even considered signing up.  As it turned out, I actually ran my first (post-baby #2) 10K all on my own the morning before the race.  I felt proud of myself that morning, but disappointed because ever since walking it the year before, I had harbored this wish to be able to say "I walked it with my big belly last year, and ran it a year later!"  I consoled myself by promising myself I'd do it the next year...

If you read my blog regularly you'll know that over the last year or so I've had bouts of Wonder Woman like motivation here and there.  I've had weeks where I pushed myself and succeeded and felt so proud that I was sure I was on the running/working out track for good...only to find myself wiped out and/or short on time the very next week (or day sometimes, honestly).  On those days/weeks I find it just as rewarding (in the moment only) to scarf a whole bag of mini chocolate chips and waste time on the computer during the 45 minute window I have to myself on Zoe's school days (after I put Owen down for a nap).  Of course, we all know that the satisfaction felt post-workout is much longer lived than the "sitting on my ass doing nothing but eating chocolate" one but being a stay at home parent leaves you feeling so exhausted and lonely sometimes that you just need instant gratification.  I've been known to hurriedly shovel down a whole chocolate Easter bunny over the kitchen sink while the kids were momentarily preoccupied in the other room, as a matter of fact.  These kids do that to you sometimes, I'm telling you--it's really crazy!

I had already been slightly entertaining the thought of signing up this year when I had this conversation with my friend yesterday.  I'm in good enough shape right now that if I just make sure to get out running a handful of times over the next couple of weeks, I'll be able to complete the race and probably enjoy it so I decided to go ahead and sign up (thanks for that last nudge you didn't even know you gave me, Marisa!).  The thought of running it got me excited and prompted me to take a look at Hal Higdon's website just to maybe bring back some memories....a half hour later I had convinced myself that what I really should be doing this summer is training for a half-marathon.  It all became so clear.  I realized that yes, the challenges I face running-wise are much different now that I have kids but I certainly faced plenty of challenges back when I had actually never run a race before.  I was able to pull it off then, so really this isn't any different.  I know I can mentally handle the distance because I've done it a couple of times, and I think I'm even more mentally tough now that I've given birth naturally not just once, but twice.  No, I have no idea how I'm going to fit the training in but I know that I'm going to.  I'll figure it out.  I signed up for the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon on August 11, 2012 and there is no turning back.

There are tons of people who inspire me and keep me sister-in-law Catherine is gearing up to do the Atlanta 3-day walk (Team Warrior Princess--please take the time to click on the link and make a donation!) to benefit efforts to find a cure for breast friend Kerry has a niece living with Cystic Fibrosis.  Every year Kerry and her family travel down to Florida to participate in Great Strides, a national fundraising event benefiting CF research.  Kerry told her niece Ella that she would always walk with her, but she unfortunately can't make it down there this year.  Instead of sending a check, she and her family are doing the event here in Denver.  (To donate or to find out more about participating, click on either of the links I just provided).  These amazing ladies along with a handful of Facebook friends who are fellow exhausted short on time moms doing amazing things like training for their first 5Ks, running marathons and doing triathalons have lately gathered together in my psyche and encouraged me back out the door with my running shoes on once again.

The core of my inspiration for this latest goal of mine, though are my three sisters.  I couldn't get them out of my head last night as I tossed and turned in the excitement of this latest burst of motivation.  The very first thing I did this morning was write them this email:

Late last night (I don't know about you but that's always when inspiration strikes me...then I can't sleep!) I decided I'm throwing this woe-is-me crap out the window and doing a half-marathon at the end of the summer. I couldn't get the three of you out of my head and will be keeping you there as I train this summer for these reasons: Jill, you inspire me to get off my ass and get moving. Rach, you inspire me to push myself further than I give myself credit for. Ess, you inspire me to do it all MY way. Along with all of that I know you all love and support me no matter what.
I love you guys.

Every time I re-read it I get motivated all over again so I printed it out and will hang it right next to my training schedule in the kitchen.  It'll be my mantra this summer:  Get off your ass and get moving, push yourself further and do it all YOUR way.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Trip

...and we're back.  Yes, hello--we made it in one piece!  I'd been dreading the flight there for months and months and wouldn't you know it was more than fine.  Zoe was her usual professional traveler self and Owen ended up feeling nervous during the flight and dealt with it by cuddling with me and falling asleep during the first half of the journey.  Once he relaxed, he spent the last half watching a movie, snacking and reading books...and making friends with his neighbors, of course.  I imagined that I had somehow bottled up all of that nervous energy I'd burned in the months preceding and decided to just take it back and save it for a rainy day.  I felt a little annoyed at myself for wasting all of that time, but mostly I was so thrilled with and proud of my kids that I was able to just sort of marvel at the irony.

It was a good thing I visualized taking all of that energy back, though because boy did I need it on the actual trip.  Don't get me wrong, it was wonderful to spend so much time with my family but my kids were so out of sorts that I ended up in tears more than a handful of times.  Partly out of exhaustion, partly out of disappointment, partly out of guilt, partly out of frustration and partly out of confusion.  Add to that the 2 or 3 times I cried happy tears and you have yourself one basket case of a mother, sister, daughter and auntie. All I can say to my family is:  I'm sorry, please forgive me--I promise I'll be more prepared for the inevitable funky kid behavior during Cape Week.  Love you guys, and I DO miss you already!  ;-)

Luckily the trip ended with an occasion to cry happy tears (which I don't mind so much).  Wally and Katie's wedding was a marathon of a weekend and I was so grateful to be thrown a dose of reality as I sat in that church watching my brother walk down the aisle.  In all the rush to get there, and the emotion of my personal journey to that moment I had lost track of the reason we were all there.  Weddings make me feel emotional, but I always forget that they do and am surprised by the lump in my throat every single time.  I've watched Wally live his life to the fullest for as long as I can remember and he's ended up with an adventure filled, happy one as a result of his fearlessness.  Now he has a partner in crime who embraces life and the adventure of it all in the same way.  How could I not cry?

Anyway, now that we are home I'm happy to say that in hindsight, the trip was great.  It was more of a roller coaster than I'd anticipated but what I'm left remembering are the high points.  There is no denying that I am possibly one of the luckiest people on the planet to have been born into such a loving, supportive, fun family.  Before I show a few pictures of those high points, I have to just say to my family (in the words of Paul Simon):

And we talked about some old times
And we drank ourselves some beers
Still crazy after all these years
Oh, still crazy after all these years

The Highlights:

My kids LOVED of the sweetest dogs on this planet.  Owen even at one point grabbed Jackson's tongue and pulled on it and Jackson didn't even whimper.

Playing "Pickle" at Grams

Sandbox bonding

Mud Mountain


Loving good old Whiskey (technically our cat...we can't have him in Colorado, so Gram is taking care of him for us...we miss him tons)

Cleaning with Auntie Jill

Finally meeting little Lucy!

Owen sandwich!

Walking the big boys to the school bus

Wedding Marathon!