Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas time

There was a tree, with lights and ornaments.
There were stockings hung and filled.
There were delicious treats and delicious drinks.
There were presents wrapped under the tree.
There was snow.

But it was no ordinary Christmas. The same things that we do every year were different. There was magic in our house this Christmas.

Until this year-love for the holiday was diminishing fast. It feels rushed. It feels too commercial. There is not as much family around. There is more traveling-to further distances. The magic and excitement just isn't there. Much like birthdays don't feel as special as they once did. (Although we still celebrate like they do feel just as special)

But when Christmas morning came this year it felt twinkly. Time was suspended.   As we sat in front of the tree with our stockings taking turns opening our gifts-the magic was back. As we ate our delicious food and drank our drinks-the magic was back. As we watching Christmas movies-the magic was back. All the way until is time for bed and 'I don't want Christmas to be over' -the magic was back.

It's the posse.

It's not Santa. Or his reindeer. Or the holiness of celebrating the Divine come to BE with us in our mess. Or the songs. Or the decorations.

It's the posse.

Not fully understanding what Santa is or isn't or what he does or doesn't do…and not really understanding why someone being born who we can't see is important. Or what any of the decorations and parties and food and songs really mean.

All they know is something is happening….something exciting is happening. Their wonder at the mystery is what brought the magic back.

What a gift to see the holidays through their eyes. Eyes that wonder over the decorations and what is going to happen next. And senses that have never tasted a candy cane or smelled an evergreen (inside their house) or heard Christmas songs (in a way they could remember). MERRY CHRISTMAS! (a few days late)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Side work.

Tuesday mornings come early. Hours before the sun early.

Most of the night is spent in a fitful state, startling awake sure that I'm late, only to find I can sleep for three more hours. But I only doze for 30 more minutes before startling awake again.

This Tuesday when I awoke for the final time I found snow. And the warmest temperature of the day. 21.

I bundled myself up and headed out in the dark. Into the snow. Into the quiet. Into the stillness. My footprints the only mark on the fresh powder that was still falling. Nearing Main Street little tracks popped up-seemingly out of nowhere-and then disappeared again. The cat was nowhere to be seen.

Opening the door a rush of warmth hits me, hugs me, welcomes me to my side job.

My day job, of course, is attempting to raise humans to be kind, intelligent, productive members of society who love well and think well.

But this, this, is something else. This is giving a hundred little gifts a day. 'Here's your 12 oz. skinny quad shot caramel delicious-wake-you-up-in-the-morning-treat' They smile, they smell it, they sip it and happiness spreads through their face and their bodies.

The regulars come in. They stay and talk about the weather, their jobs, their families, their holiday plans. And we become friends.

But it's strange because these are not natural friendships, outside of this place which brings people together united under the search for one thing (good coffee), these friendships wouldn't exist. The young, the old, the middle aged, the stern, the crazy, the put together, and the chaotic. And me. Watching it all unfold. Taking part in this story of how we are not all that different. This place bends the rules. I can joke around with a cop in uniform in this story. Or gluten-free cooking with a retired RN. I can bring my posse in and introduce them to regulars who are genuinely interested in meeting these little people.

And while my posse is full of riveting conversation about princesses and Spider-man, I enjoy these conversations too. Conversations that remind me that I had my own parents who taught me to love and think. (Occasionally I do these things well).

And when I come home to my day job, to my posse, my heart is a little fuller for having had the absence.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Moments that hold us.

Winter is here. The outside temperature has not risen above 25 in the last three days. Snow is not melting. It will warm up again before it settles down to these frigid temperatures again for months. But for now, winter is here.

There are other signs of winter besides the cold.

There are sniffling runny noses, headaches from the wicked temperature changes, long dark evenings that leave everyone searching for something to do-inside. There are people inside this house who are constantly wrapped in at least three layers of clothing and can be found, when time allows, covered up under a ginormous blanket in the living room where it is supposedly warmer than elsewhere in our baseboard heater heated house with old, single plane windows that are not weather proof.

We have cabin fever already. The summer was spent outside. We lived and breathed it. We let the laundry and the dishes pile up so we could be adventurous. So now, when we need to be heading in around 4:45 because the sun is coming down we are left with a restlessness to get back outside and explore some more, play some more, run free some more. We are left to turn the house into our adventuresome escape instead of the wild mountains. The toy box becomes a boat. The kitchen floor becomes grass on which to sit and picnic. The couch becomes a mountain that must be scaled. The top of the mountain must be jumped off of to catch the bear who is running away.

The pent up energy is released. In part.

The other part is released in whining. When the 'bear' doesn't do exactly what the 'captor' wants. When the picnic blanket is not perfectly laid out. When there is only room for one in the boat, but two want in. Whining happens. In loud obnoxious amounts. Fighting happens. Hair pulling happens. Pushing. Shoving. Sometimes biting happens.

This doesn't happen outside. Not where there is enough space for everyone.

The playing is encouraged. The imagination pushed to limits not otherwise thought capable 'What if we make another boat out of this rug and then there are TWO boats and Bubs can help you sail away from the crocodiles?' 'What if Bubs is just trying to start a dance? Could you get up and dance with him?' 'What if you take turns being the 'bear' and the 'captor' so then you can do what you want?'
Most of the time 'OH! That's a great idea! I like it.' is what I hear in response to my attempt at opening the imagination.

Daddy is working long hours. And lots of them. We don't see him for days in a row. And we MISS him. Daddy is the only one who can kiss bloody hands. The only one who can comfort and play. The only one that this posse wants. Which is wonderful.

But it is still exhausting. The colds, the fighting, the darkness, the longing for a person who is not here.

So yesterday when I heard 'Momma, my belly hurts. I just want to snuggle with you on the couch for quiet time' I put my 'I am the mom. I make the rules. You don't get to manipulate me by being cute' hat to the side. I scooped that girl up. I held her and snuggled her. She breathed deeply, soundly, rhythmically. I thought she was asleep-which has happened ONCE before in her tiny life. She cannot fall asleep with anyone holding her-she needs her own space. YES. Even as a two week old.
She looked up and said 'I just love my daddy'.
Looked back down and actually fell asleep.
And for the moment it was just me and her.
Just like before. In the womb. No words. Only touch. The deep deep knowing between a mother and child. I know her. She knows me-in a way I'm sure I do not know myself. I dozed off. And we slept. We breathed.

The moment held us. No thoughts about the next fight. Or how she would elbow my face and stand on my stomach and refuse to dress herself (even though she is entirely capable) and spill dinner all over herself and the floor and the struggles we would face this morning trying to get out the door.

These are the moments that I cling to. Our parenting journey has been a wild ride. One, that honestly, we wanted to hop off of in the beginning. It was moving way too fast and way too intensely. But we are coming down from that stage into a new one. It's still intense. It will always be. But we have built up so many of these moments. Moments that have held us and reassured us and spoke to us and whispered and built. And when things are ugly and intense and generally unpleasant (a great majority of the time) there is this pensive of sorts we have to draw on and remember who we have the pleasure and honor of knowing and parenting.

(although I really do wish I had an ACTUAL pensive because that would be amazing!!! And so helpful.)

We will face this winter like every other-get outside during the day as much as possible-play hard inside as much as possible-and make moments to remember for when things get ugly.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Warm Wyoming

This morning I walked outside in the T-shirt I was wearing to throw Bub's dirty diaper some trash away. The sun was shining, clear Wyoming blue skies, and I could not see my breath. That was at 830 this morning!

I came in and exclaimed 'It's going to be a beautiful day!'

We got dressed in the stop and start fashion that is our normal. 'But MOOOOOOMMMMMMM I neeeeeeeeeedddddd you NOOOOOWWWWWW. Where is my wand?' or conversely 'Do NOT touch soap. We don't need it right now. I said -DONT EAT IT!! Get it out of your mouth!' And so it goes as the posse and I do this uncoordinated dance of clothes, hair, make-up, teeth, socks, shoes, and coats. But I was feeling good about today because it was nice out. Winter comes in fits and starts up here and I will take all the sunshine and warmth that I can get before it starts and doesn't let up until April. At which time we all plan to be leaving the state and come back when it has settled down a bit. Thank you to my sweet and ever so thoughtful cousin who is getting married in April and is giving us a perfect reason to GET OUT.

We put vests on, and I put a jacket on. Not coats. It's going to be too nice today for that.

We go out to the car, and it's a little colder than I remember but that side of the house is super shady. There is still snow from our last snowfall three weeks ago. As I herd my posse down the steps and to the sidewalk I take note of the pumpkins leftover from Halloween that someone smashed while we were vacation last week. Thanks a lot. Every time I walk by I think 'I really need to clean that up'…and I still haven't done it.

As a lot of cars do these days, ours has a thermostat. And after we are all buckled and are headed down the road I finally think to look up. 36 degrees.

Yes. I thought 36 degrees felt warm this morning. And at first I thought I was crazy, but then I remembered that I was just in Missouri and it was that cold one morning. And the sun was shining, like it was here…but it felt colder. 36 degrees in Missouri is colder than 36 degrees in Wyoming (with the sun shining).

So all you people that think you couldn't hang up here because it's 'too cold'…I would like to disagree. It starts snowing earlier, and it snows later, but the sun feels warmer (we are closer to it!) and is out much more frequently than winter elsewhere.

However, April is actual really terrible. If anyone wants to go on vacation with us in April..we are totally up for it. Every year from now until we move from here if we ever do. Anywhere south of here will do.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Smooth Sailing

Having 3 bedrooms has been amazing. We sleep! We are happy!

I hear about people who intentionally put their kids in the same room so they learn flexibility. I wish that was us. I wish that having the posse share a room was what worked for us, and that my inflexible-plan-in-her-mind child would have learned from that experience. It really would make traveling and life that much easier.

But, alas.

If anyone wants any sleep. If anyone wants to enjoy the trip/life. If anyone in the family wants to continuing liking other members of the family-we need three bedrooms.

Really, Sis just needs her own room.

We have just come home from vacation. It was so nice to be away. From the posse. From normal life. To rest and run and play and hike and antique shop. (Totally not my idea…seriously. NOT my idea).

Traveling was not nice. But it was the most nice that it has ever been EVER since having the posse. We drove. We flew. We drove again. It took 12 hours to reach my hometown. And Sis did great. Given the circumstances-great! I thought maybe it was because she had something to look forward to at the end of traveling-Grammy and Pop Pop's! So I was a bit more nervous about coming home. But once again they did great! Given the circumstances-woken up early with colds, not eating breakfast until after checking in and going through security, etc.

Instead of the usual cranky posse for the ENTIRE trip with little spurts of calm, we had a calm trip with little spurts of cranky-easily calmed by Peter Pan or a snack. (Peter Pan was the new movie of choice for the trip and they have fallen in love. Currently there is a flying competition going on in the living room while the movie is playing in the background-its the only reason I'm able to write this at the moment)

So we've learned a few things. Particularly about Sis.

1. They/she are growing up!

2. Sis needs PREPARATION. For weeks before our trip we told her in exact detail what was going to happen and what we expected of her. I let her pick out her 'airport clothes' so there were no fights about that. I packed a million snacks-although that was mostly to get rid of food that would have gone bad while we were away.

For the trip home we did the same thing-told her in detail what was going to happen. And when things didn't go as we had prepared her for-she got upset. Like when I had put her 'airport shirt' away and had gotten a different shirt out for the flight home. (not sure what I was thinking! That was the shirt she is supposed to wear at the airport-where we were going!). Or when we were supposed to be getting drinks and a snack at the airport while she went potty but they didn't arrive as scheduled because someone left their wallet in a bag that was in the bathroom with the rest of us. But (I think) bc of all the preparation and the constant reminders of 'You just need to listen to momma and daddy and have a good attitude. That's the most important thing right now' she was easily calmed.

She quietly watched Peter Pan on the drive home from the airport .

It seems that since she has had her own room again that she is actually learning to be a bit more flexible. The nights she doesn't sleep well are the days that are really rough. If she's sleeping than everyone is happier.

So maybe, having kids that will sleep in the same room is not the only way to teach flexibility (although it makes staying in a hotel much more convenient) Maybe having a kid who NEEDS to sleep by herself can also aid in the flexibility teaching-OR maybe she is just teaching us to be flexible-to get her what she needs to be happy….OR no one is learning to be flexible, only that we have to be really prepared and we need  a lot of sleep in order for things to go smoothly.

Hey! At least we are figuring out what allows for smooth sailing :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Club Vincent

Do you dance?

We do.

Unfortunately it is not a public affair.

And also, fortunately it is not a public affair.

The music comes on through the 1970's Marantz stereo that my brother graciously gifted to us the one of us who cares about things like speakers and receivers and quality of sound.

'Bigger momma bigger!'

I turn it up.

'Does it get louder?!' Which means 'Is it going to get faster and more intense as most songs do at some point?'

'It will, but it stats out slow'

Mumford and Sons is singing about being a Little Lion Man and waiting for you and awakening your soul. And we jump and twirl (LOTS of twirling) and head bobbing and knee bending.

We turned on the music as a background to an event that is difficult for everyone to endure. It's called 'making lunch'. Music is a good distraction. Unless you are Sis, then it works a little too well.

'I need someone to dance with me!!' 'BUBBBBBB!!!!! You want to dance with me? Come to the living room and dance with me! MOMMMMMMMMMAAAA COME DANCE WITH ME! I need someone to dance with me'

She is relentless. The music runs out of the speakers and into her little body and mingles with the rhythm already residing there. Her arms flap as she runs in circles and her head bobs and her mouth moves two beats behind the singers.

All the while Bubs bobs his head in perfect rhythm while helping to pour and stir and lick (the spoon) of a delicious fall treat: butternut squash soup. 'NOOOO SISSSSSSYYYYY. I help momma!!'

I twirl in between chops and pours and stirs.

She is not satisfied. She demands again and again that we forget what we are doing and just be. Be together. Be silly. Be rhythm. Take a moment to be in the moment. We will eat. We will do the dishes. We will take naps and go on with our day. But RIGHT NOW. BE HERE. THIS song. Not the next one. THIS one. Listen. Feel it. It's only us at home. Three quarters of our family. It's a safe place. Let go of what is going on and holding back from seeing the face of a child in her purest form. Life.

Bubs asks for help getting down from the counter and we join her.

In this moment she is ECSTATIC.  She talked us into the moment with her.

My posse most often remind me to LIVE. To stop and FEEL before moving on. Feel SAD. Feel THRILLED. Feel SCARED. Feel GRATEFUL. Feel OVERWHELMED and VULNERABLE. Feel LOVED. Feel FRUSTRATED.

And then, having felt the feeling without making it anything other than what it is, move on.

To butternut squash soup for instance.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Sledding Hill

On Thursday the second snowstorm of the season hit. With a foot of snow. It's melting but not nearly as fast as the first five inches that fell last week. We've played outside a lot. Built snowmen, built snow chairs and beds, knocked snow off the trees so the branches don't come off, stomped through the snow, and shoveled, shoveled, shoveled. (I'm still sore).

It was time to think of something else to do outside.

So, the other great thing about this time in my life, besides things feeling calm, is that my children are 2 & 3.

And that means they are one year older than they were last year when they were 1 & 2.

Which means that we can do more things this year with them than we could last year.

Like sledding!!!

Sinks Canyon has a sledding hill. It's famous. You hike up some old cross country ski trails to get to the warming hut. Which is just what it sounds like. Although I'm not sure if it's still open. There are signs posted at the bottom of the hill saying 'Sledding, inner tubing, etc. on the hill is not recommended. Proceed at your own risk' or something like that. So I don't think the Canyon wants the warming hut to be open to encourage people. But I also haven't tried to open it since last year when Brooklyn and I finally found the sledding hill on accident as we were hiking.

Once you get to the warming hut you stare up at this long hill that doesn't look too steep and kind of like 'whats the big deal about this hill except that it's long' until you starting hiking up to the top. Then you realize that not only is it long but it is actually steep with quite a few bumps along the way.

We got up there late in the afternoon as several groups of people were leaving. We were trying to figure out the best way to get the kids up the hill as these people were trying to walk around us. We tried to let them walk, but Bubs looks like the kid from A Christmas Story and falls pretty easily and then cannot get himself back up. So then I tried carrying him, and Sis and Hubs held hands. Then we tried putting them in the sled and dragging them uphill. Which mostly worked ok, except that Bubs kept falling backwards pushing Sis off the back end of the sled. He also stuck both hands out of the sled to brush all the snow that we passed.

The sun was shining, no clouds anywhere. The thing about the weather up here is that we are closer to the sun, so even when the air is cold if you are the sun it feels pretty good. And with no clouds it's easy to stay in the sun. The hill had a few packed paths made by several groups before us. It was so tiring getting us all up the hill and we started to realize how steep the hill was and our posse had never been sledding before that we decided to start halfway up the hill. Hubs and Sis went down first and flew over the bumps and off the path and into deep fluffy snow at the bottom of the hill. It was all smiles on the hike back up the hill. Then Bubs and I went. We got some air on some of the bumps! And we went far!!! And then the hike back up. Alternately letting him walk and carrying him was intense but so worth it.

We eventually got higher and higher on the hill as we felt like they could handle it. The last run we all did from the very top. Hubs and Sis crashed.  Bubs and I got WAY off track and were stopped not even half way down and a few seconds into our restart flew over a bump and we fell out but the sled kept going all the way down.

So the last run was a bust for everyone.

But we were all smiles and laughs. We pulled the kids down the hill in the sled which went much better than the way up. We are going to have a lot of memories made on that hill I think.

We think we are a pretty fun family.

And then we had chili for dinner. The perfect end to a perfect day spent outside in the snow.

(I'm looking for pictures of the sledding hill. I might have to go back up there to get them. We were too busy having fun yesterday to stop and take pictures!)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fall

It's fall!

It's time to get cozy. Turn on the heat, start a fire, get a blanket, make some tea.

The leaves are changing. The temperature is dropping. The snow is falling. (If you live in Wyoming)

And things are peaceful.

The kind of peace that comes as the ripples in the water are dissipating. It's calm. It's quiet.

Three years, two babies, one BSN, one cross-country move, one cancer scare, one stressful-working-nights-for-months-and-months job, + a hundred other little things that came smashing into us over the last three years....The waves have seemingly stopped smashing. No more whitecaps. Just the little ripples.

Things aren't perfect. There are still some night shifts that mess everyone up. There is this thing and that thing.

BUT

It's calm.

And I'm grateful that having gone through it, we still like each other. Husband and I.

And we are going to celebrate in Napa Valley in November.

First real vacation since our honeymoon, which honestly, neither of us really enjoyed that much. (we discovered we aren't cruise people)

It feels like it's time to rest. And I'm going to bask in the calm of this time of life (Who am I kidding? I live with a 2 & 3 year old) I am going to recognize and appreciate that the extraneous circumstances of our life that can so often have a pull on us have calmed and quieted and not try to do so much that I miss any rest I might get.

Because who knows when the next storm is going to blow in?


But for now, happy fall!!



Saturday, September 14, 2013

Superheros

Spiderman and Firestar have recently moved in with us.

(If you are unsure of Firestar's identity please refer to 'Spider Man and his AMAAAAZZZZING friendSSSSSS!' circa 1981 Full episodes available on Netflix and YouTube)

They look like a typical American brother-sister duo but when superhero duties call they have costumes to identify themselves as who they actually are. Spidey-man, as he refers to himself, has a back pack and a T-shirt. Firestar has a green necklace with a big yellow star.

Recently Firestar and Spidey-man plotted together to save the day. To save Cinderella from her mean step sisters who ripped her dress.

They were going to go over there and say to those mean sisters: 'I'm FIRESTAR! I'm SPIDEY-MAN! THAT IS NOT NICE! That is Cinderella's dress.' And then do some cool superhero moves like throwing a punch (like a girl) into the air with an aggressive lunge to help add some power to the punch and growl/yell 'FIRESTAR!!!!' or like throwing both hands up in the air with a little half jump half step because this superhero has not quite figured out how to jump with both feet coming off the ground at the same time and exclaiming like the lottery has just been won 'SPIDEY-MAN!!!!!!!!!!!'

They totally saved the day. It was epic.

There is also a villain that visits our house on the regular. His name is Daddy-rex. Daddy-rex comes to seek and destroy with tackles and kisses and tickles. This is Firestar and Spidey-man's greatest nemesis thus far. He is probably 5x bigger than our resident superheroes and has been around the block quite a bit longer. He has some amazing tricks. (i.e. the fake-out. That's a really good one that gets the superheroes every time) But F & S have their amazing jumps, yells, kicks, fake-punches, web-throwing, fire ball making and their names backing them up.

It goes down like this. Daddy-rex shows up unexpectedly, while F & S are coloring let's say. He roars and grabs. They scream and giggle and run over to the woman responsible for cooking and cleaning and say 'It's Daddy-rex!!! We have to save the day! I'm Firestar. Ok? I go save the day!' 'ok, mom! I spidey-man. Get daddy-rex!' They run screaming into the living room where Daddy-rex is waiting. They run right into him and an amazing, equally matched battle unfolds. Right in the living room. There is a lot of roaring (One can only imagine how intimidating this must be for daddy-rex) and fire-ball throwing. Daddy-rex seems to always just dodge those nasty suckers. There is some spider-web throwing and only occasionally does the villain get caught in it but he pretty soon tears himself free. More roaring. More jumping. More giggling as the villain gets his victims in a tickle hold...It looks worse than an arm bar! But somehow they manage to roll/wiggle/scoot out of it. And before you know it F & S have outlasted Daddy-rex. He is on the floor. Spent. They taunt 'Come on Daddy-rex! Get us!!! Get us!!' But he can't move a finger. He isn't going anywhere. They have saved the day again!

Lately Batman has been making an entrance several times a day.. Firestar and Spidey-man really enjoy being Batman's sidekicks as he hops into the Batmobile to catch the Joker who has done it again. They are so good at helping Batman: they start his navigation system, and tell him how to get into the Joker's Fun house. They are Batman's eyes and ears as they walk through the fun house following the Joker's laugh and picking out the REAL Joker amongst some fakes and most importantly by helping him find the stolen diamond. Batman really could not do it without their help and they know it. They are an integral part of the super hero community.

And we love having super heros bunk up with us. Makes us feel safer.

And also makes us fall in love a little more with our posse every time because their imaginations are taking off and it is freaking amazing.


PS Batman shows up in a book that Spidey-man received for his birthday...this is how is able to show up several times a day solving the same crime over and over.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

This week I'm grateful for...

the moments when I am outside myself.

What?

Let me explain.

Things have been stressful around here. Transition everywhere. No routine...and we all know how I love my routines. Changing jobs, getting a job (!!), moving (a few blocks down to a three bedroom place!), having visitors, etc.

No one in this family does change well, even the good kind. We all get a little crazy. We try to be calm and kind and understanding that the others are not feeling so hot but its so easy to get carried away with our own kind of crazy and forget about everyone else's crazy.

The grown ups in this family have kind of, sort of, sometimes got this figured out. But the little people-the members of our posse have not. They get overwhelmed and can't sleep. They get overwhelmed and can't form a sentence without screaming. They get overwhelmed and I get overwhelmed  but I'm already overwhelmed because I don't like transition. And then everything feels like a train wreck.

In the midst of all the screaming, and not sleeping, and moving, and 'do we take this job or this job' my cousin who is here for an extended visit and I went out. We got ourselves some dessert and some red wine. We sat outside. We watched the people. We enjoyed the air. I enjoyed enjoying my dessert without having to share it. Not a single bite. It was all mine.

We both really loved our dessert. We really loved our wine. It didn't feel like it was quite time to go home yet though because I was just starting to feel the tension leaving. Sometimes it takes awhile of being in a relaxing place doing a relaxing thing before you realize that 'OH! I can relax now' and it starts happening.

Good thing we didn't feel like it was time to go home yet because at the restaurant/bar next door we heard some beats. And we both really love dancing. And this song was playing 'We found love in a hopeless place' You know. Rhianna. And really, I just love that song. There is something deep and profound about that one lyric for me. On all kinds of levels that are not the point of this story. When I hear this song I feel hopeful and excited and inspired. Which is funny because its  a pop song and I don't think many pop songs do that.

We decide we should head over and find out what's going on...A DANCE PARTY.  With glow sticks and everything.

We immediately joined. There was no question this was how we wanted to spend the remainder of our evening.

Young 20's mixed in with 50 year olds all moving with whatever rhythm they have. No one really paying attention to anyone else. Everyone feeling their own beat and moving to it- glow sticks in hand.

We found out later that we had totally crashed a wedding weekend event...but no one cared that we had. And there were no signs saying it was a closed party, no one checking our names on a list at the front door. We just danced our way right into the middle of it.

After awhile the crowd thinned out. And we became this crazy group of individual dancers. What I'm trying to say is that no one was being inappropriate and also that everyone was just letting in loose in their own way. And owning all their moves. So everyone looked cool. And also, did I mention the glow sticks?

What I will remember and am so grateful for about this night was being able to step outside my role was mom. As wife. And just be. Be lost in the beat. I closed my eyes. There was a freedom in that. A feeling of taking a deep long overdue well deserved breath. Here in this place, there are no expectations. No one needs me. I don't have to think. I don't have to talk. I don't have anyone touching me. I just feel the music in my bones and move.

What are you grateful for this week?


Monday, August 26, 2013

Backpacking

I have finally found a quiet moment.

To be perfectly honest I'd rather be sleeping, but alas, it escapes me today. So here I am to tell you about more Wyoming adventures.

We went backpacking.

Or sort of backpacking?

Our intention was to backpack. It did not turn out quite that way, but it was fantastic anyway. If you ask me. If you ask my husband whose only pair of boots got soaking wet within the first hour and whose (new) pants and socks (that were trying to dry) had embers fly up on them and burn holes in them he would  give you a much different response.

It was drizzling when we started out. Crossing a stream (where aforementioned boots were soaked) before getting on the trail that is supposedly 2 miles. However, we have heard conflicting reports that say it may be as many as 3.5. I'm a little confused as to why there is such variation in the numbers, but regardless its an intense(ly) beautiful hike.

I was loaded down with Bubs and gear on my back and gear on my front. One foot in front of the other in the rain. Something magical and romantic about the drizzle in the wilderness while pushing your body.

Enough time had gone by and we had covered a good enough distance when we heard a voice coming from behind us 'I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you guys went the wrong way'. Should have stayed straight at the fork.

So back we go, retracing our steps. It's raining hard now, and hailing a bit. We stop under trees when we can to see if the rain will let up. Sis is soaked. Bubs is under an umbrella, the driest of all. We are worried about Sis's body temperature since she wet and cold, and as the rain falls its getting colder. We decide to go back to the car and warm up. Eventually half of our group decides the same thing. Then we decide we need to just camp by our cars that night.

The wonderful dark beautiful wilderness sky brought with it clear skies with an open view to all the stars. And the conversation between a cow and bull elk (unlike any noise I've ever heard...except maybe a fax machine. Seriously.) And a warm fire. And some red wine from a bag that someone was smart enough to bring. And conversation with people who are becoming good friends.

The cloudy misty early morning brought 41 degrees and hungry kids and a rising sun making everything clear again and a long hard hike holding Sis (we left the other child carrier at home), lots of elk tracks, and a lake with breakfast and fishing and rock throwing.

I'm still a little sore from that work out. But it was so worth it.

I'm still wondering why. Why is that I loved this mess of a trip. Rain, cold, hail, interrupted plans, tired children (who were in fabulous moods loving the woods and the lake and the stream but 'did not want to see a bear!!'), little food...I would not have held up as well as my posse when I was young.

I think it's feeling alive. Things have been stressful for a couple of years and to feel something else is like taking a deep breathe. It feels like LIFE. To feel the rain. To smell the trees. To feel the cold water. To have no lights but the sun and the fire. To hear the elk. To taste dirt on everything. To get out of the cleaned up sterile spaces that we all abide in. To have space and time to think. To push the body.







Saturday, August 17, 2013

Cheers!

The weather is cooling down up here.

Sort of.

The high was ninety effing three degrees today.

BUT it took until about noon to get there.

AND it started cooling off around 5. The house didn't even get that hot.

It's cooling off at night. That's how you know summer is coming to a close and the wonderfully beautiful fall weather and colors is coming.

And on the heels of that will be winter. So we are SOAKING up the summer.

Instead of running everywhere these days, the posse and I get to bike everywhere because I have awesome readers. And one of those readers saw that I wanted a bike trailer and somehow magically pulled some strings to get me one.

We bike to the park. We bike to the store. We bike to the gas station to see if they have post cards. (They don't. Why does the gas station in a semi-tourist town NOT have postcards?) We bike to friends' houses and to other parks where the wheels pop off and the axels bend. (Dont worry we have a great friend whose husband was already on our side of town who stopped by and rigged it enough to get us safely home without me having to push us 1.5 miles) AND I biked to my first job interview in FIVE years.

I am now the newest part-time barista at our local coffee shop.


I love my posse. I think that being at home with them is best place for me to be. And if it wasn't me home with them, then I think at home with their other parent would be the best place for them to be.
I love that I get to set the pace and the tone for day (except for mostly I feel like Sis does a fantastic job of that for me). I love that I get to see their firsts. I love that I get to teach them things like how to treat each other and how to slide down off our extra tall bed and how to cross the street and how to climb the 'rock walls' at the park. I love that we read together. I love that we eat together. And I really love that we nap together in separate rooms everyday at the same time.

But I also love that I was able to get a college education and that I know some big words. I really love to read and to think and discuss uninterrupted. I love a little time to stick my head above the drowning waters of having young kids to take a few deep breaths before I get pulled back under to watch one more episode of Dora or Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. And honestly, Daniel Tiger has taught us some good things ('While you wait you can play, sing or imagine anything' 'It's almost time to stop, so choose one more thing to do' Anyone? Anyone?) so I don't really mind him. Or pulled back down to mediate another fight (we've been having approximately one trillion everyday for the last month. WTF). Or pulled back down to figure out if in fact Sis is ACTUALLY hungry or if she is just bored.

And I need something to do in the winter because I don't ski. Yet.

So when I saw Old Town was hiring, I jumped on it. Literally sent her my resume (which needed some serious updating) the next afternoon. And was emailed about an interview that night.

I'll work a couple shifts, make a couple dollars, make a lot of coffees, meet a lot of people, hear a lot about what is going on in town, hopefully make some more friends all without having to hear anyone scream or say 'MOMMMMM I made poop in the pottynowigetagummyBEARR!!!!!!!!!!!!!' (this is actually how she says it. And I actually laugh out loud every time) or 'hold me momma hold me hold me hold me hold me' while I'm trying to fry up some onion for dinner while someone else is screaming because they are, in fact, this time actually hungry and not bored.

And in the end, I think, it will make everything else all the sweeter for having been away for a minute. Particularly the 'mommy mommy mommy mommy!!!!!!' and ambush of hugs upon my return.

Sometimes you just need some space. You know? Space to breathe and come back in and really look at them and see them for who they are. These beautiful people that I am blessed to have in my life, who if I don't get space from sometimes make me want to pull my hair out and run away.

Just a couple hours.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that...

Here is to loving my kids, and loving myself, and loving independence and finding the balance in all of that.

Cheers!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Let it go

A friend came over today.

She has a daughter the same age as Sis. They get along splendidly. They are both intense and don't like to be touched, sprayed on, or looked at. There must be some kind of radar for this kind of thing because they get each other and are able to stay out of each other's space while still having a fabulous time. You know, exchanging shoes and skirts like normal friends.

I found myself saying a few times that I was learning to 'let it go' and telling myself to 'let it go'.
About things like the toys that are ALL OVER my posse's room. And the mess in our backyard. Also courtesy of our sweet little posse.

I like things to be in order. I like them to be organized. I don't like dishes piled up on the counter. I don't like things, stuff, toys, whatever on the floor. It drives me crazy when the pillows are pulled off the couch. It makes me feel chaotic. I have a hard time thinking clearly when my environment is so messy.

BUT cleaning up the floor 10x a day is exhausting, it is also exhausting to have the kids clean up 10x a day-rarely can they do it unsupervised with minute by minute prompting, although they are getting better at it.

And as we are trying to soak up every last single baby drop of summer I find myself, miraculously leaving the house when the dishes are piled up, and the blocks look like a rug on the living room floor, and laundry is thrown all over floor and Sis is wearing something that clashes and is on backyards and probably inside out as well with tangled hair that she refuses to comb and Bubs has on his stinky brown shoes without socks on again.

We are leaving the house like that to bike around town and hike in the mountains as much as we can before the road closes in a few months and explore dry lake beds and take walks and play hard before we have to be a bit more creative about those things.

As much as it drives me crazy to have a house like that, a place for everything and nothing in its place, it drives me outside a bit more and I think that is a good thing.

Learning to let go of things that are not so important but seem so urgent is a process. I still find myself in a flurry of 'putting things away' activity before leaving but less and less. And it bothers me less and less to leave the house like that.

I think this might be a good thing.
Or a sign of exhaustion??
Maybe both.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

This week I'm grateful for...

firepersons.

(firepeople?)

Firemen and Firewomen whatever the politcally correct term is, I am grateful this week for those that put out fires for a living. And those who volunteer to do so.

Particularly wild fires.

This past Monday brought a wildfire close to home. Nine miles close to home. As I drove down Main Street Monday night I could see flames on the top of the hill. Orange and red dancing. The next morning it smelled like smoke in our house and there was a haze that covered town.

Fairfield Hill is in Sinks Canyon. That's where we do most of our playing. It's where I ran like a bighorn. We love that place. It was devastating to know the place was burning up. It will carry the scars of this fire for years. For years, that hill will be black. And of course, in the long run wild fires are pretty good for and even essential to the health of wild places. (Do you know that a Redwood Tree's seed only opens up in the presence of smoke?)

But it was also scary to know that this huge out of control fire was only nine miles away. Nine miles with nothing in between us but dry grass and houses. The wind could blow the wrong way and destroy a lot more than a hill.

Now, I'm no stranger to natural disasters, my house was blown away by a tornado when I was 6. I was at school doing a tornado drill. On our way back to our classroom we were told to go back to the racketball court we used as a shelter because there was a real tornado. Later I got a note saying that I needed to walk home with my cousin/best friend/only sister I ever had and I was (we both were) excited. Like our parents just knew that we wanted to be hanging out instead of reading 'run spot run' for  our nightly homework.

Meanwhile, and what I discovered as soon as I walked into her house that evening, my dad was spun around in the tornado that destroyed my house in his truck. My mom watched him go off the end of the driveway and spin around. My brother and another cousin were eating lunch and watched the ceiling fan just DROP.

We turned out ok. My dad, who very miraculously was not hurt, was in construction for years and was able to rebuild our house. But I still know the very real danger that lies in things we cannot control: wind, water, fire.

I'd been prepared all my life for tornados and big storms coming from the Mid West, but I had no idea what to do in the event of a wild fire gone rogue...err, more rogue?? I kept wondering what we would do or where we would go or what we would take with us if we got evacuated.

(Actually what we did do was get out of town! We took a mini vacation to Colorado Springs, but that was already sort of planned before the fire broke out)

But thankfully, because of those super brave men and women who look at something as wild and uncontrollable as fire in a dry place and say 'You will not defeat us today', that didn't happen. We didn't have to find somewhere to go or gather up our most prized possessions wondering whether or not we would see the rest of them.

Especially since the lives of several firefighters have been lost this year, I feel a deep well of gratitude for the intense scary work that they do.

Our fire is now 98% contained. It burned about 1500 acres, started by lightning. The road into Sinks is open again.

But other fires rage on, bigger and badder than this one. (There is one about 2 hours NW that has burned 4500 acres so far) And while I'm relaxed here knowing that this fire didn't get us, the firemen and firewomen are still hard at work keeping us safe.

Big THANKS!!! to all the fire people who keep us safe, and for me right now, I particularly want to thank those who work on wildfire, who volunteer a lot of the time.
Thank you thank you thank you!!!


What are you grateful for this week?

Also, if you want to read more about our wildfire check out county10... lots of pictures and day to day info on what was happening up there.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Run Like a Big Horn

1st annual 'Run Like a Run Bighorn' was this Saturday. As is obvious by the T-shirt, I participated.

Most fun race ever.

First a little back story. There is this bighorn sheep nicknamed Bam Bam who used to live in Sinks Canyon, about a 15 minute drive from our house. He got his name because of his reputation for ramming into cars in the Sinks parking lots. Here is a video that helped make him famous.

Sadly, Bam Bam was moved from Sinks a few years ago onto a bighorn reserve somewhere North of here. He died this past fall of old age and the people around here are sad about it. He was famous in the community. So the Sinks Canyon Visitor Center is doing a lot of fundraising to bring Bam Bam back! Yes, they want mount him. ALL of him, in the visitor's center.

One of the fundraisers was this trail run. There are a lot of hiking trails up in Sinks. We go there a lot. I've run some of the trails. I thought it would be easy!

Saturday morning came, my friend came and picked me up and we signed up, got our awesome T-shirts and water bottles (green with a huge bighorn sheep!!) and waited for the race to start. There were about 40 of us. 5-10 serious-I'm-in-it-to-win-it types. 25ish we-just-think-this-is-going-to-be-awesome types and a few scragglers. Families hiking it with their kids, a 10 yr old who was just trying to be tough...

The start line was in between two Dodge RAMS and the race started like this 'On your mark, get set, go!!' And the man dropped his hat. That was  our signal.

The route had us going basically straight up one rim of the canyon, back down, and up the other side, back down and up the first side again (up to a place called Killer Cave...what's the story there?) and back down running the last 3/4 of a mile going all downhill on the highway down to the visitors center.

When we crossed the finish line we were able to see where we placed right away bc we were being timed with a stop watch. No fancy timing chips for this race. It was low tech. And awesome.

Going up to the first peak we realized this was not really a run, more of a walk with a jump in our step. And while we were 'running' on a trail, it was a single file trail and I unfortunately had to let some people pass me. They were breathing SO LOUD. I couldn't handle it. So, 'please, go ahead just as long as I don't have to hear you breathing anymore'

We get most of our local news from County10. Every county in Wyoming has a number, we are 10. County10 is a bunch of journalist who roam the county looking for and covering the news and putting it online in real time. It's way better than the newspaper because that only comes out twice a week and the 'local' news covers the entire state so only rarely do the events of our little town come on the news.

County10 was there, strategically placed along the course taking pictures. We tried to look happy and like this was easy so maybe we'd get in the news. Turns out the only people in the news were the winners (which we were not) and a lot of group shots of people run/walk/jumping.

Coming down from the top of that first rim was tricky as I decided to wear my old running shoes. The ones I retired after I finished the half marathon because they have no tread left on them. I foolishly decided this because I did not want to get my new running shoes super dusty. Way to be super shallow. There was no trail coming down so we bushwacked our way down. sliding down big boulders and jumping over thorn bushes and falling about ten times because I kept slipping because my shoes have no tread. Fantastic decision to wear the old shoes.

But then we wear on the pavement for a 1/2 mile and that felt awesome. We got some water, and were encouraged to 'keep running like a bighorn!!' by a man with a bullhorn. We started running up the next rim, and decided we just needed to do a quick walk bc our legs were getting tired. It was beautiful and shady and smelled like pine. No one else around. Still early in the morning.

We crossed the river on a suspension bridge, which is not easy to run across when you are the number two. I felt like I was getting jumped on a trampoline. We crossed to the other side of the canyon again and decided before we got there that we were walking up to Killer Cave. My legs were totally feeling it by this point and if I had been a I'm-in-it-to-win-it type I would be so disappointed because I had not trained for THIS kind of trail run. Killer Cave is cool. It's a big black shallow cave in the side of the canyon wall. Climber's climb up it, I guess because we saw all their gear and post things stuck in the rock. They had us come down some switchbacks (trail!!) which I was so thankful for because it was a steep downhill even with them. I slid a few more times, no big deal. And then we ran through to the finish, almost passing the girls we let pass us in the beginning because of their breathing.

Turns out no one completed the race faster than a 12 minute mile. Even those super serious people. Next year we will all know what's coming.

But the real hero of all this is that 10 yr old kid trying to be tough. He came across the finish line with a bloody nose that had leaked all the way down his chin and a busted up hand. We were all pretty concerned about him (the five of us still at the finish line when he crossed) and asked how he had fallen. He said 'I think my nose just get a bit too dry'. Poor kid! But he finished anyway. Props to him...it was alot of intense quick elevation change.

From the visitor center we had to walk another 3/4 of a mile down to the car. And no one was there. No food for the runners, no families, no runners standing around talking about how they did. It was just...over.

But so much fun. And it was $10. Cheapest race ever.

Maybe next year Bam Bam will be in the visitor center to cheer us on.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

This week I'm grateful for...

my parents.

I have a friend who has been my friend for most of my whole life.

(Now you are wondering why I'm talking about old friends when this is supposed to be about my parents right? Patience.)

We went to the same school and the same church for most of our lives (and by most I mean we only really parted ways about seven years ago when she graduated college and I still had another year left) We even spent a year in the same house!
We aren't super good at staying in touch, but when we do reach out we always pick up just where we left off.

She's the kind of girl that growing up I was always intimidated by. She was smart. Super smart. Straight A's all the time.(which was no match for my frequent B's) She was super creative. (I did NOT want to sit next to here in art class because it was embarrassing. But really, I didn't want to sit next to anyone in art class because it was embarrassing.) She is tall and blonde and when we were 13 all the boys at the pool thought she was 15 and got all the attention. She was talkative and outgoing and popular.

We were friends, but I honestly didn't think I would ever measure up. I wasn't sure what I had to offer her.

Now that we are grown, she has done pretty well for herself. She lives close to her family, she has been successful in her career, she is still close friends with her closest friend from high school, she travels a lot with her husband, they own a cute little house, they have a dog.

The point is she is still super smart and super creative and outgoing and all those things that she was when we were kids.

But the past several times I've spoken with her she has said things like 'I'm so proud of you! I could never have done it (moved to Wyoming)!' And 'You've always been so independent. So proud of you for making the best of it' Things like that.

Things that are super nice to hear, and always have a little more weight to them when they come from A) people you like B) people who have known you a long time and who have been through things with you.

It was this weird sort of twist for me...here is this friend that I have held in such esteem that I could not ever measure up to and now she is telling me that SHE is proud of ME? How did that happen?

And how did I get so independent? And am I actually that independent? More independent than my peers, some of whom I grew up with and felt like I was not as good as? Has that really been a good thing in my life?

Answer: PARENTS! (did you see it coming?)

They ALWAYS tell me (present tense) that I can do whatever I want to do. People hear that a lot. It's a phrase that gets thrown around quite a bit I think. Some parents say it and I'm not sure that they mean it. Some kids hear it and they don't actually believe it because of what ever other stuff is going on in their life and in their mind and their relationships.

But, me, I BELIEVED them. AND they MEANT it. They pushed my brother and I towards that. We always had to finish whatever thing we started (hello 2nd grade gymnastics that I hated and third year of college that felt like was the worst decision ever). But after we finished the thing we could choose to do something else. And when I had been in private school my whole life and in 9th grade I asked to go to public school for a variety reasons but none of my friends were really thinking about going at that time, they let me go. They made me save my money to buy my own car. We had conversations about what we were learning in school and theological debates at the dinner table. Everybody's point was valid. My brother and I learned to play devil's advocate from our dad.

Because of them encouraging and pushing and teaching I had the freedom to have big dreams for my life. And I'm sure part of that was built into me already. I'm sure because I'm a first born, I was born with some sort of desire need for independence...but it was shaped by parents who felt like I really was capable of anything and who felt like their main job was to prepare their kids to live independently from them, succeeding in the world.

In all the things I've done, places I've lived, challenges I've faced... I've heard my dad saying over and over 'You can do it, you can do it , you can do it, Ami' it's a like a mantra in my head. With my dad's voice that has slowly become my own, because these days I believe that I can do it. Whatever 'it' is. And, unlike elementary/middle/high school, it's totally ok if 'mine' isn't as good as 'yours'...because I'm not doing 'this' to beat you, or to prove my worth anymore (which ALWAYS worked failed in art class and PE). I'm doing it for myself. So when a bunch of super creative-artsy girls get together on a cold winter night on the top of a mountain to hang out, do art, and drink some wine while getting buried under a blanket of snow, I don't have a panic attack and I'm not embarrassed (anymore). I can do my own thing which is not nearly as good as everyone else's but still take pride in how I express myself and enjoy comments from others instead of feeling them as attacks to my self-worth. Comments like 'Ami, this looks like you need more color in your life'.  Which is true, I do. My living room is getting better but is still pretty black and white. And my painting was just burst after burst of color.

So. This week I'm grateful for parents who believe in me, who encourage me, who have pushed me to become who I am. Grateful for parents who taught me to think for myself, taught me how to independent, taught me how to love and be kind. Grateful for a dad who put that super positive tape in my head 'You can do it!' So many don't have that, and I am truly blessed for it.  Grateful for a mom who  listened. Who listens. Hears what I'm really trying to say. Also a mom who when you call her late one evening and say 'mom, listen. let's get a tattoo together because I'm going to Africa and I don't know how long I'll be gone, so let's get this thing together so we always have that' says 'how can I say no to that!' And now has a tatoo with you. (I'm still waiting for my dad to jump on the tatoo train with me...he is the only one in the family without one)

I didn't understand until I had my own kids.
Thanks for everything! There is no way I could ever get it all written down or ever pay you back.

PS If you like my writing, you should check out my mom's! It's where I get it.

It's a gardenia. It means 'lovely lady'.




Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ugly moment.

If this is a blog about moments, then here is a moment that definitely needs to be shared.

Me yelling at Sis to stop yelling (err screaming? screeching? plus some whining? Ear splitting. Headache inducing)

Awesome.

She is intense.

I say it all the time, but it doesn't make it less true.

Sometimes I think I have a handle on it...as in, I have a game plan.

Plan: Day will go smoothly. i.e. no timeouts, minimal whining, and definitely NO fits of the screaming/screeching kind.

Scenario: Leaving a friends house. 'Time to get shoes on, go home and eat peanut butter and honey!!' (the only thing she wants to eat ever anymore..although I won't complain. She will actually eat and likes a wide variety of food. EX: on the way home from the farmer's market 'I WANT TO EAT MY BROCCOLI!!!!! Please.') Sis says 'Yummy! I love peanut butter and honey! while putting her shoes on.

Score: me 1 day 0

And I think, yes! I can do this! She just needs to know something MORE exciting than wearing her friend's green tutu is coming.

The plan works for three weeks until suddenly she is not into peanut butter and honey anymore (obviously this is a seriously fictional account as she would never actually NOT be into blessed pb and honey anymore) and we find ourselves back at square one.

Square one: 'Time to get shoes on, go home and eat peanut butter and honey!!' 'NNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I DONT WANT TO GO HOME!!! I dont like peanut butter!!' Followed by streams of unintelligible screams/screeches/noises. And I usually end up having to  either:
1. put her in time out
2. carry her all the way home (because she refused to move and/or put her shoes on)
3. combination of both

And the result is that everyone is stressed out. She is stressed out because she has a hard time switching gears...EVEN when we give her five warnings that its coming (that was for all you advice givers) or we give her choices (go home now or in two minutes. You put your shoes on or I put your shoes on. I carry you home or you walk home.) Giving her a choice used to work like magic. Now it just makes her more angry. 'Those are NOT my choices! I am NOT putting my shoes on. You NOT putting my shoes on. I STAY HERE!!!!!!!!!!!'

 I am stressed out because her screams are on such a decibel level that it automatically makes my blood pressure jump regardless of what else has been going on (i.e. she screams like that on an otherwise calm day and I still get super stressed). Bubs is stressed because we are both stressed...err well, ok that's probably not accurate. He's not paying attention to either of us, just the 'big rock momma!' or if he is paying attention he most likely is laughing thinking the scenario is 'Funny momma!!'

I realize that it is sometimes appropriate to be so loud. When something really horribly awful is happening. i.e. being kidnapped, being bitten by a wild animal, etc. So I don't want to give her the impression that it is NEVER ok to be loud.

But when you can't get the zipper to zip properly or Bubba is trying to tell you that the sign is yellow when it's in fact green (and you are older so you obviously know the difference) or your mother wants you eat your last bite of broccoli before eating strawberries...these are examples of daily frustrations that we all face, but not a cause for screaming loudly, continually, and not stopping until you get your way.

I've realized recently, like today when I was yelling at Sis to stop yelling, that I'm 'harder' on her than Bubs. I lose my patience quicker and she ends up in time-out faster. It's because of the screaming. The (few and far between) days that Bubs screams like Sis he is time-out more often.

Also, she is also not a cuddler-and never has been. Even when she was a baby she was not into it. And now, if you try to sit with her in your lap she just moves and wiggles and touches my face (which I can't stand for some reason!)

Between the screaming and the not cuddling...

I have been giving a fiercely independent creative sensitive gift of a child.

I think most people, when they see her in action and do not have an intense child of their own think its our parenting that is the problem. I can see it on their faces. The judgmental frown, the 'just get her under control' vibe.

But I can't. I don't think it's my job to control her in the first place, rather to guide her, giving her the tools she needs to navigate life successfully (which right now means figuring out what tools she needs in order to calm herself down when she gets so upset) And even if I thought it was my job to control her. I can't.

She has a thing with her daddy. They get each other in a way that I don't get either of them. He has that same creative sensitive spirit that is full of life and is untamable and beautiful.

But in a 3 yr old is overwhelming. And is particularly overwhelming for me when I am not intense like her. Like them.

I feel helpless parenting her...and I have worked with kids all my life and thought I knew everything there was to know about parenting.

So now I am faced with my own brokenness, my own humanity, my own shortcomings, my own 'stuff'. For a moment today I saw something ugly in myself. And now I need to let that go. How am I going to stay calm in the face of her screams? How am I going to see the real problem and deal with that rather than the screaming?

Patience.

How am I going to get more of that?

Yikes.

I guess I'll start by apologizing to her. And move on from there. One day at a day. Moment by moment. Right?




Monday, July 15, 2013

Running and bird watching

We have been living for three years as a one car family.

I didn't realize it had been that long until I wrote that sentence.

For one year out of three it has been hard.

We have two cars now, but one of them isn't working. It hasn't worked since December. The battery died. Then it snowed and snowed and snowed and nothing melted until March. Then it snowed again. And by that point it just wasn't an issue anymore. The car is never needed by more than one person at the same time.

But now, very often the car is sitting up on a hill at the hospital and we are down here without it. But it still has only been a problem once. When our friends were going up to the 'splash pad' at a local RV park and we couldn't make it that far.

Until I realized that my next goal, after running a half marathon, was to run 600 miles this year. I'm only 44% done. I haven't reached 300 miles yet.

So, while running with the stroller and two 30 lbs. children is a beast, I am now becoming the strongest I have ever been.

We run to the grocery store, to the bank, and to the post office. 4 miles. Check.

We run to the bank, to the farmer's market, to the 10,000 villages climber's festival sale. 3.7 miles. Check.

We run to the hospital, to get the car, load the stroller and the posse, and head to South Pass City.
We drive to the hospital, unload the posse and the stroller and run home. 4.3 miles (roundtrip). Check.

I walk into every errand with sweat dripping down my face. And it's ok. No one looks at me strangely. And if they did I would just say 'I have to stay sane somehow and also have you seen my leg and ab muscles?'

I live in an active small town. Everybody is biking everywhere. I've just decided to run instead of bike. Although, if I had a bike trailer I would totally do that. But it would not help me reach my 600 mile goal.

I feel good. It's feels good to feel so strong.

But what is better are the effects on my posse.

Sis wanted to run with me yesterday. She wore her running shoes and a dress (of course) and started out, swinging her arms in a wacky uncoordinated rhythm that matched her uncoordinated legs. She ran 'fast like a cheetah!'. And she is 'winning the race momma!' I'm jogging beside her, sometimes in front of her encouraging her on, sometimes behind her telling her how fast she is 'You running so slow momma! You can't catch me! I'm so fast!' She ran a good quarter of a mile, with a smile on her face, giving it everything she had. And then she got in the stroller. 'You run now momma.' And a little while later 'I want to run fast momma!' So she hopped out and ran again. This time a little slower and much more uncoordinated. But she gave it her all for three blocks until her run became a trot, became a stroll. And back in the stroller she goes.

We ran to the hospital again this morning, because actual grocery shopping, for the week, takes a bigger vehicle than a double running stroller. And we will run home again and Sis is totally prepared to run again. It slows me down, but I am all for being slowed down by my preschooler who wants to join in.

And I think what I love most, is that to her, this lifestyle is normal. It is normal to run to do errands, or walk even! (because honestly, sometimes I don't want to run four times in a day. Sometimes a nice stroll, where the posse can hang out on the sidewalk while we walk down to the coffee shop for a smoothie is just what everyone needs) It is normal to look up and see the mountains, normal to drive up them, normal that I ride my bike anywhere that the posse isn't following (if only I had that bike trailer!!! Anyone want to buy one for me? They are only like $400 ha!) It's normal that we are more active than inactive.

And it's also normal that everyday we stand in awe of something else in nature. Today Bubs and I were inside for a quick minute. Sis stayed outside and when we rejoined her she was standing still staring at the sky, awe and wonder on her face. I asked what she was doing. 'Watching the birds momma!!!' I looked up. 30 beautiful white birds with brown wing tips swirling around and around in circles around one another. Going higher and higher until they looked like little white airplanes dancing together in the sky. It was an ordered chaos of beauty. I have no idea what they were doing or what kind of birds they were (but would like to find out) but it made up stop what we were doing. It made us pause. It made us forget the laundry and the hurry to get to the store and the sidewalk chalk and toys strewn across the yard. It made us remember something bigger is always going on here. There is always a bigger story than just our own being told.

(Bubs is also into running and the birds. His attention span is not quite so long and he is, at the moment, much more interested in things that have wheels. He got a Tow Mater truck in the mail this week. It's glued to his hand. He puts on the ground, gets on all fours and says 'Voom Voom Momma!' And while running any branch, stick, flower, fence, truck, car, dog, cat, squirrel, cloud, and ESPECIALLY rocks will stop him in his tracks...curiosity abounds in this one.)


Sunday, July 14, 2013

South Pass City

Today we ventured out of modern Wyoming life and into pioneer Wyoming life.

We drove over South Pass, where you can still see the ruts made by wagon wheel after wagon wheel carrying homesteaders out West on the Oregon Trail. The great unknown.

South Pass is, as it's name suggests, a mountain pass. It goes south, as you would guess, around the Wind River mountain range.

As the elevation climbed the temperature dropped and the wind picked up and I realized that I forgot where I live when I got dressed this morning. Wearing a tank top and shorts the wind and 60 degree (but sunny!) weather was a bit cool. But then I remembered that as long as you are standing in the Wyoming sun, you will be fine. And I was. Almost hot as the temperature climbed into the 70's as the day wore on. All to say, it was much cooler up there than down in the valley that Lander calls home.

We passed Atlantic City, population 'about 57'. Tiny mountain town tucked into the sides of mountains.  A general store, a restaurant, a community center that boasted 'free wifi for everyone!'. And we were out of town. Two miles later we hit South Pass City. A very creative name. I'm sure it was the men who rushed to this spot in 1867 who named it. They were too excited about the gold to think of a better name.

The town sprung up over night into a thriving community. A butcher, saloon, blacksmith, mercantile, bakery, the first jail in Wyoming, the pony express even came through...everything that you could want to ease the isolation of the wild west. Now,however, the town boasts a population of 'about 5, 4 dogs and 2 cats'

(I'm not sure why these tiny towns feel the need to preface their numbers with 'about'. Maybe it's just a ploy to get you thinking that maybe this town could be bigger than you think it is. Boosting their own ego)

We parked and paid our admission fee and walked down the gravel 'main' street. Carved logs mark the places where the butcher and other buildings stood before time got the best of them. The length of the street is about 1/2 mile, tucked into a beautiful little valley. From the town you can't see much or very far except a few of the taller Wind River peaks in the distance.

Today, with people milling around, a baseball game going (South Pass City has their own team!), music playing, and sweet women baking cookies just like the would have to do in the old cast iron stove and long dresses with bonnets, it felt like a peaceful place to be. No traffic, except that of the two horse carriage giving rides up and down the hillsides that protect the little community and over the hill to get a good view of the Carissa Mine which the town was built around and the pony express horse. The only sounds made by birds, banjos, guitars, an 'on the hour, every hour' anvil drop, and a very interesting demonstration of a stamp mill. It crushed rocks to get the gold out. No clouds in the sky. I thought 'I could stay here for a while!' But as we continued down the street and talking with the 'residents' of South Pass City, who all had back stories and traditional clothes for the era I realized that while I love the west and Wyoming in particular, I'm not sure South Pass would have been it for me. The summer would have been great! Sunny and warm but not too hot. But the winter, at almost 8,000 ft was/is brutal. Wicked, was actually the word used to describe it. And a lot of these families were headed way out west on the Oregon Trail and heard about the gold and decided to get of the trail and find South Pass City and try their luck. Once they got arrived they used canvas tents as their homes until they could build one. The blacksmith showed us how to make nails. He said he could do 100 in hour, but still. It would take awhile to get all the nails and other supplies plus the time and the right weather to get your house up. So one family stayed in their canvas tent (beds and all!) for THREE years. Through the icy snowy cold windy mountain winters. We learned some tricks about how to keep the wind out (poor water on the canvas, it freezes and becomes a wind blocker for the tent residents.) and keep the inside warm, but it would have taken a lot of work.

And because of how things worked back then, you know, how the women didn't really have a say in anything, the men could just decided to leave their wives in town with the tent and the kids and go off to the mine. These women were basically dropped off in the wilderness. Thanks honey.

I admire homesteaders. They were strong strong people. They built the West. And sometimes I feel like I want to be a pioneer. Some things are cool. The community, how you have to depend on your neighbors and they on you. Making your own bread and jam and things like that. Being resourceful with what you have around. So much work, but also how rewarding!

It was such an isolated community . 45 miles from the nearest town (Lander). And during the winter that would have seemed FOREVER because you probably weren't going to be able to across the pass. See you the spring civilization!

And also, because the town sprung up around gold mining, I bet you can guess what happened. The town died. The last nail in the coffin was driven in around 1872. The town was built up for 5 years and then it just died. Some people were still around, and some new people came in the 1890's to mine other minerals but it was no longer thriving. People had to move on. All those years spent in tents, and building a house...let's do it again!!

No thanks.

So I'll learn a lesson from the homesteaders about strength and resiliency and resourcefulness and enjoy hearing their stories and all the while be thankful that I am living in the modern Wyoming where I can sit inside my (non-air conditioned) house that I did not build with my own hands at a table I did not build with my hands typing on a computer telling you all about my experiences out here. Which, while I'm not homesteading out here, still including some pretty fantastic things that are uniquely Wyoming.

PS I also learned about how mining for gold, coal, etc etc...whatever other minerals you can think of that we mine, has been the springboard for much of our technology. How to best get the earth's resources. I was not aware of how influential mining has been to our lives. Of course, I cannot think of the examples the 'mining man' said right now....


Friday, July 12, 2013

Friends: Gold and Silver

I've been thinking about my friendships this week. New and old.


What's that saying about friends? "New friends and old friends. Which is better? One is silver and the other gold"

I experienced that this week.

The beauty of a relationship that just picks up where it was left. A relationship that has already been built so you can legitimately, honestly, and not-awkwardly ask about the tough things and just legitimately, honestly, and not-awkwardly share the answers to those tough things because there is this foundation of trust. A place where you feel good and yourself and calm because of that foundation thats already there.

And the beauty of a friendship that is just getting started. You don't have that trust built up yet but sometimes it doesn't even feel like work because it's just fun to have new friends. To hear their stories. To hear their perspectives and opinions and be challenged by them. And it's exciting!


Regarding the second, I read a blog this week that was talking about having friends who support YOU and not necessarily your ideas. Friends who you can and do disagree with but can continue to love, support, encourage one another. As some of new friends and I are getting past the 'getting to know you' phase of friendship to the place where you are actually friends and not feeling each other out anymore, I am realizing the value of this. You wouldn't think it but there are a lot of very different people up here and most of them are open and willing to tell you what they think. Willing to have hard conversations, controversial conversations where you can actually say the words (and not couch it some other flowery-debate-type language) 'I dont agree' in one sentence but in the next say 'let's have margaritas tomorrow night'. These interactions, conversations, friendships give space. It feels like there is space to think. Space to test out ideas. Space to not have it all figured out so let's just talk about all sides of it. Space to be wrong (because we aren't trying to prove who is right) Just space.

Which is something I apparently value quite a bit. I was asked earlier this week what bothered me most about my brother growing up and I answered 'He was always in my space!' And then I was asked what bothers me most now and I answered 'when people are too much in my space'. ha! That was an interesting revelation.

While this freedom to express my thoughts and to learn about others is good, we are still in the beginning of friendship. We haven't been through things yet.

Where as our friends who came up for the night on their way to Washington (state) we have known for 4 years. We watched and lived along side them while they were in school and while they had a baby and while this hard thing happened and that happy thing happened. And they watched and lived along side us while we had two babies, actually being there for the birth of the second one, were in school and had hard things and happy things happen. We had four years of sharing hearts and lives and that builds something.

I can't say I value my new friends over my old friends or vice versa. They both bring such good things to the table and to our lives. And it is so refreshing in very different ways to be with each.

What about your friendships?

Also, this happened today. Poor Sis missed out on her smoothie bc she was snoozing in the stroller. (Don't worry. We saved her some)


Monday, July 8, 2013

This week I'm grateful for...

summer in the Cowboy State.

It took a LONG time to get here.

March was full of hope as we started to see one or two green blades of grass here and there and the weather was sunny (as usual) and in the 50's. My cousin was here and it was Easter and we walked and hiked and played and picnicked without coats or jackets on.

BUT then came April. With three snowstorms. Big ones. FEET of snow. Digging the car out. Stuff we thought we were done with.

And then another huge snowstorm on May 1. We even made snow ice cream. On May 1.
                                                             


Obviously,  our clothing choices were informed by what the weather SHOULD be that time of year (in the Midwest at least) and not by what was happening outside.

But now. It's here. The heat! Which I love. But what I really love is that it cools down. Every night. If we stay out past 930 or ten, I need a jacket and maybe trade some pants in for shorts. If the sun is hiding behind clouds I need a jacket after 8. We leave our windows open all the time because we don't have AC. It's rare up here. So we hear the birds and the bugs and the motorcycles too. (For which I am the opposite of grateful) Fresh air inside all the time. Not the recycled cold stale AC air. It gets warm inside during the day, and we close the drapes to keep the sun out as much as we can in some rooms. But mostly, this is my favorite weather ever!

In the midwest I was always freezing from the AC inside and sweating and suffocating from the heat and humidity outside. Never comfortable. But here, there is no real humidity...and mostly can easily find a way to be comfortable. Be in the sun in the morning when its still cool, be in the shade in the afternoon, jacket in the evening.

AMAZING.

SO grateful for weather I can really love. And having lived through fall before I know that it's awesome as well...so here's to six months of awesome weather!!


What are you grateful for this week?



Saturday, July 6, 2013

Run half marathon. Check!

For a long time I have thought about and talked about running a marathon.

A half marathon.

The whole 26.2 miles scares me a bit. That is LONG way.

I found out soon after moving to Lander that every July 4 there is a half marathon, on (the only) a tough but beautiful loop outside of town. I decided in late February to just go for it.

I didn't run much in April because we had our three biggest snowstorms three weeks in a row. (and on May 1!!) and then the past three weeks or so, I haven't been running much because of Brad's parents being in town and Brad switching to days and Sis no longer napping (I can't run during nap time anymore!!!) It was a bad time to have a schedule crisis, but I made it work taking the posse out for runs in the stroller. They weigh 60 lbs. together. I usually try to avoid this at all costs.

As the 4th grew closer, and I still hadn't registered, I wasn't sure about it. One 10 mile run was my longest run and I wasn't running very regularly and it cost $50. I'm going to PAY $50 to RUN 13.1 miles?

In the end I realized a few things.

1. I've wanted to do this for a long time. I should just DO it. So that I know that I can and that I have done it and I can stop wanting to do it. It's just ONE 13 mile run and then I never have to do it again.
2. I turn 30 this year...what better way to do that than by pushing myself?

So not having run in 7 full days, I was up at 540 on Thursday morning walking the 10 blocks to Main Street where the race started.

A group of 180 or so of us started out at 630 heading through and out of town with a police escort  (you know because there is so much traffic in Lander at 630AM on the 4th of July). When we hit our first mile there was a man in the middle of the road yelling 'Good job! You look great! only 12 more miles to go!' Thanks man. Super helpful.
Mile 2 brought the start of a 640 ft rise in elevation. That number does not seem accurate. Those hills are so intense that it feels like it's a 1000 ft rise. I made it up the first hill, but in the middle of the second I realized I would not make it all 13 miles if I kept trying to run up these hills. So I walked the hills. And ran everything else.
I was feeling so horrible, and 'WHY AM I DOING THIS?' and 'This is a BAD course to run my first half!' It's not just me, everyone thinks its a tough course. But I made it to the 6 mile mark and saw spray painted on the road 'You are almost at the top!' Which means, the killer hills are almost over! By the time I hit the 6.5 mile water station the road was already starting to tilted downward. And was starting the backside of the loop where it was shady. And I started to feel really good, and actually be able to enjoy and take in what I was doing and where I was doing it. Green mountains, red butte, wildflowers, beautiful. At mile 8.5 my friend Jill was waiting to jump in with me, which was just what I needed to finish the race. There were a few more hills, and an unfortunate event in which I ate a few bites of a chocolate waffle energy thing that we were given and it was SO sweet that I felt like throwing up for the rest of the race. Brad and posse passed us and then were waiting for us at mile 11.5. And we decided to grab the stroller and Jill pushed it the rest of the way. Sis was excited because she has been talking about running 'her' race after mine, so this way she got to sort-of run a race.

I was feeling so tired and ready to be done, but I gave it all I had left going into the last block and a half and friends were waiting for me at the finish line. A good feeling for sure.

I didn't do it fast. I wasn't pretty, or exactly what I was hoping it would look like...but I DID IT. And my legs are super sore.
Mile 10



last mile! Running with kids

gatorade and watermelon!
Time to figure out what the next goal is....

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

This week I'm grateful for...

I DONT KNOW!

It's been a stressful week. My jaw is sore and tired from being clenched. My brain is so tired from thinking.

It's the same old stuff.

We aren't sleeping. Everyone who lives in this house is exhausted by lack of uninterrupted full night sleeping sleep. Our friends built this awesome extra room/office/space behind their house. It is really just the size of a very small room, but its well insulated. They have been taking turns sleeping out there so that one of them gets a full night's sleep. This is such an unbelievably fabulous idea.

The deer keep eating our strawberries.

My orchid is dying. I have no idea how to save it. I tried...well, I tried reading about it and got so confused that I didn't know what to do. I do not have a green thumb.

BUT...

Sis was running around the backyard trying to catch two butterflies in her hands.

The Cowboy state has super fab summer weather.

We had friends come visit for the day!

And I got to go on a solo bike ride around town.

Sis is now eating carrots. She has hated them with a passion since she was five months old.

Bubs has a book that he likes to sleep with, 'Lovebug'. Super cute.

Bubs is speaking sentences now. Clearly! And knows his colors (mostly).

I have had several good conversations (two today!) about grown up real life controversial things that make you think and are so good for me and make me feel alive

We slept in until 8freaking30 this morning!!! (that was not without the 3am wake up. But at least it was really sweet. Sis was laying in Bubs bed. They were snuggled together and she was telling him a story 'And snail. And butterflies. and snakes. and bees.' in a very calming soothing voice. Bubs answered each with an 'uh huh uh huh uh huh'. And then she started singing 'Come thou fount' which is the newest song of choice.) We are catching up on the exhaustion and that feels good.

In one of my grown up conversations this week a new friend asked if I was crafty or artsy at all. I answered truthfully, I am not. But I do really like words (even though I don't use many big ones. I still like them!) And I like to write. She asked what I wrote and I said I started a blog...I know, everyone has a blog. But this is my space to decompress and remember what's important. She asked what it was about 'just life with the kids?'  And I said 'yes, but moments. I am trying to remember the moments in the midst of the chaos that is life and hold on to those' Which, I didn't know that was what I was trying to do when I said it. That happens often to me. Where I sit down to write or sit down to talk and all of a sudden words start appearing on the screen and words start pouring out and I didn't know that was how I felt...I mean I did....but I didn't. And once words have been put to something, once something is named, you can understand it. You can appreciate it. My pal Richard Louv wrote this in his book that I still have to review for you sometime 'you cannot truly appreciate it until you name it' (or something like that anyway) He was talking about nature and being able to name birds, flowers, trees, rivers, creeks, bends in the road...but I think it's true of life. Once you name the situation, once you put words to the feelings it is no longer quite so overwhelming or daunting or scary. It then has a presence you can deal with. FEAR. LOVE. HURT. ANGER.

So. I guess what I'm grateful for this week are moments. The moments listed. And the ones I've already forgotten about that gave me pause if even for a second.

I am grateful for the moments of every day that help me to remember what I'm doing and what life is about and that my little posse is actually really beautiful. The moments that break up the mundane of making peanut butter and honey sandwiches EVERY SINGLE DAY.