Sunday, July 28, 2013

This week I'm grateful for...



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 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 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)


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 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?


How am I going to get more of that?


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.


SO grateful for weather I can really love. And having lived through fall before I know that it's awesome as 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...


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.


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.