Thursday, May 31, 2012

Preparing to Make Memories

In a few short weeks, we're headed to Colorado for our first family vacation in the Rocky Mountains.

We've been dreaming about what the adults and the kids want to do with their time. 

On the agenda for me will be a lot of scenic trail running, hiking, smore making, and trips to write in solitude.  My husband will probably be white water rafting, mountain biking, fishing and swimming.  And the kids...well, they want to do everything.

I can't wait to breathe in the mountain air, take in the geography, giggle with my family and make memories.

I'm certain that we'll take lots of photos and video, but I'm sure it's the pictures in my mind that will be the most know the random ones that arise out of the blue when there's no camera in sight and all you can do is treasure it.

So as we make our lists of things to bring, things to do, and places to visit...I am grateful for my family and for the beginning of these journeys...when Sam (7) will be able to recall experiences, Kate (4) will be old enough to endure a day's activities and Claire (17 months) is cute enough to help us withstand her screeches and still able to fall asleep in a front carrier.

Here's to memory making in Colorado.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Writer's Block

If you follow my blog, you've probably noticed that I haven't written in a few days.

Most of the time, I have stories brimming in my head that I'm desperate to get out. 

My blog has served as a tool encouraging me to get out of my head and into the world...allowing me to better understand myself and to minimize over analyzing themes.

But lately, every time I've gone to write, I'm met with a blank stare or a full body exhaustion that says, "not now, rest, consume, don't expel, there's nothing of significance here."  And to be honest, that makes me sad.

This post marks my 200th entry in eight months of hosting the blog...and so, I believe in my heart that I enjoy writing, that I'm motivated to put thought to paper (so to speak), and the commentary from all of you has been more than heartening.

So, what's wrong?  Where am I?  Maybe this is a normal part of the process?  To feel feel feel that the words are just words...and maybe aren't necessary to be shared.

I'm not sure.  Either way, I'm slugging through and waiting to see what emerges.  My hope is more creative juice...something more to chew on....something to keep me afloat.

The beauty of writer's block.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Summer Fun

I love, love, love summer, mostly because I love, love, love the pool.

I know that it petrifies many parents of little ones...but for some reason, I groove on it...even with three little ones under the age of seven in tow, and usually one of their playmates to boot.

There is nothing more fun than getting wet, splashing each other with water, making rafts out of noodles, seeing how long you can hold your breath, and that glorious feeling of laying on your belly to dry off in the sun.

And then for parents, there is that beautiful time post several hours in the sun when your kids are dutifully exhausted and ready to crash out to a movie or bed.

Today was our first full day at the pool and it was so much fun to talk about all of the things we didn't have to do this summer.

Get up for school.  Practice our spelling words.  Go to bed early.  Do math homework.  And the list goes on.

Summer is fun.  I just have to remember our times of laughing at the pool and forget about the sibling fighting, incessant sand strewn throughout my house, multiple smoothie and fruit roll up residue and trust that our sticky popsicle, chlorine filled swim suit, super soaker, scooter/bike memories are all worth it.

Here's to summer!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Relationship Do Over

Do you have someone out there...someone from your past that you miss?

A person, a friend that you used to be close to and now, for a myriad of reasons (or maybe for no reason at all), you're not.

Maybe it was complicated.  Maybe it wasn't.  Maybe it was cut and dry.  Maybe you had closure.  Or maybe there was nothing other than a vacancy, a void, a silence. And the connection was over. 

And sometimes, while you're driving to work, taking a shower, doing your thing, you think about them.  You'd like to share your life and find out how things have been going or how things turned out with that 'thing' that they were embarking upon. 

But you can't imagine saying, "I'm sorry."  You're not even sure why you don't talk anymore.  You just know that it's been a really long time and a phone call or an email out of the blue might feel unexpected, awkward or worse, rejected.

Should you reach out?  What's it worth?  Can your ego handle the response?  Would a rekindled relationship started anew be a good thing?

I have someone that I miss.  So, if you're reading this.  I'm sorry.  I hope you're well.

Relationships/friendships are such finicky contraptions.  They're tender, fragile, and challenging because they're comprised of people who disappoint and fail each other.  But at the heart of it, the beauty is that we can try again.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Toast to Single Parents

My husband was only out of town for a short time.

It was a quick turn around, the problem was that we were out of practice.

It had been several months since he'd boarded a jet plane for work and many a moon since I had to manage the household sans a partner.

But heck, I've done it many a time before, so why was there so much yelling, crying, and subsequent apologizing on all of our parts?

" just hurt my feelings!"

"Well, I expect you to listen to me the first time and when I have to repeat myself, I become angry and frustrated.  So, in a way, you hurt my feelings too."

"When does papa get home?"

"Not for a while."

"Why do you always yell?"

"Because you and your brother aren't making positive choices."

"I want to watch TV.  I want a toy from Target.  I want to go to the water slides.  I want dessert."

"I want wine."

For those of you who do it alone, there is a special place for you in Heaven among saints, martyrs and the likes.  You are to be commended, cherished, nurtured, and rewarded for your efforts.  There is nothing more sacred than the sacrifices you make.  And because your kiddos probably don't remember to pat you on the back...visualize me doing so.  I stand in awe.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Your Last Day

I've been painfully aware of mortality over the past few days.

My 13-year old cousin has been patiently waiting at Children's Hospital for a bone marrow donor and after some less than encouraging news this past weekend...we're not any closer to a match and he and has mother may have to travel for the transplant.

Learning about his situation, he said, "I want to make a living will, so that I can designate presents to go to people who I love, so that they will remember me."

Heart broken on a run, Nickelback came on the playlist with the song "If Today Was Your Last Day."  Listening to the lyrics, I began contemplating...what if I only had the next 24 hours to be on this earth?  How would I behave differently?

Who would I say I'm sorry to?  Who would I forgive?  Who would I no longer dwell upon so that I could carve out space and love for those who matter most?  How would I spend my time?

We all know that tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.  At any moment, your time could be up.  So, why do we take it for granted.  Why don't we reach out?  Why don't we do that one thing that we're terrifyingly afraid of?  And why don't we acknowledge that this time is precious? 

My cousin is teaching me that life is for the living and not for the postponing.

What would you do if today was your last day?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Seven Deadly Sins

According to our good friend, Wikipedia:

"The Seven Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, is a classification of objectionable vices (part of Christian ethics) that have been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct Christians concerning fallen humanity's tendency to sin. The currently recognized version of the sins are usually given as wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony."

Don't ask me why I've been thinking about sinning lately....except that I find it fascinating that for most of my adult life, I've struggled with the same sinful tendencies and really haven't been tempted by the others.

Let me first say that I'm not challenged by wrath, sloth, or gluttony....but I am greedy, prideful, lusting and envious of certain things in this world.

Are these tendencies/behaviors/inclinations/desires something that overtime, can be prayed away...or are we destined to always suffer in some minor way from them?  Is it how we're hard wired?  Is it our cross to bear?

Do you have a favorite sin?

If I had to pick, I'd say that I fall in the lusting category the most.  I pick things and experiences and assume that if they were mine that I'd be happier, healthier, more engaged, content, alive, you fill in the adjective.

And yet, the more lusting that goes on, the more unhappiness that ensues.  Because as we all know, it's not what we have that makes us's what we think we should have and the gap that lies in between that's the problem.

Ah, the perils of the seven deadly sins.  They'll get you every time.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Craziness that is Mine

I have a few loves in life.

One of them is sleepily walking to the edge of my driveway on Sunday morning to grab my double wrapped, fat ass Sunday New York Times.

I plop it on the dining room table and walk with eyes partially open to the coffee maker to get my brew on.

Like clock work, the minute that I begin to unravel the plastic from the news, one of my three munchkins comes barreling into the kitchen requesting a hug, a kiss, a bowl of cereal and the iPad.

I usually oblige as I am desperate to read the "Modern Love" column featured in the Sunday Styles section.  It's a fantastic column that highlights a different writer each week exploring some aspect on what it means to love..usually its a personal story...and as a collector of stories, I can't get enough.

Slumped over the counter reading, waiting patiently for the magic potion to brew, I hear another little one coming in to shake a leg, cry out a demand, needing me to be his mama...when, all I really want is to sit quietly and, what I really want is to be a writer drafting these columns.

Then, yet again like clock work, my husband comes bounding down the steps and saves the day...answering their questions, gathering their favorite cereal choices and kissing me on the top of the head while I feverishly try to reach the end of the ink.

And then it starts.  Out of the blue, Sam kicks Kate.  Kate cries out.  She gets pissed and hits back.  The baby starts belting out for good measure.  Someone dumps over a perfectly good glass of milk.  Rice Krispies tumble onto the floor.  My husband starts doling out consequences like it's cash.  I can feel my temperature rising and the frustration ensuing as I yearn for just a little quiet on this Sunday morning.

But quiet is not a part of my world right now.  So I wait.  Until bedtime.  Every night during the week so that I can devour a column, an article, a book, my husband and the craziness that is mine.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Moments after my husband left to take our oldest on a cub scout camping trip, our youngest daughter, Claire (17-months) woke up from her nap with a raging fever. 

So we spent last night up and down interchanging ibuprofen, acetaminophen, water, rocking, singing, walking and in general, sharing exhaustion.

Our middle child, Kate (4 years old) has been an absolute trooper.  Entertaining herself with oil pastels, painting, building forts, reading Dr. Seuss, eating Bomb Pops, and watching Toy Story... I owe her big.

We haven't left the house.  It's 5:00 pm and we're still in our pajamas.  Claire's had three  tubs.  I've drank copious amounts of coffee and eaten more dark chocolate covered espresso beans than I care to admit.

And, all in all, we're winging it and trying to breathe in and breathe out until bedtime.

Do you ever have those days?  You know the ones.  Where they don't go down at all as you'd expected.  I had planned to take the girls and their friend to the park for a picnic lunch.  I was going to paint Kate's toes and my own.  We were going to order in pizza and watch a movie.  It was going to be a fun girl's weekend.  But with a baby attached to my hip and crying ringing in my ears, I'm trying to remember to be in the moment.  Even though I wish the moment would pass before I lose my mind.

Friday, May 18, 2012

"Fifty Shades of Grey"

Have you read this book?

Let me preface my comments by saying that I one, couldn't put it down and two, felt like a closet whore the entire time desperately waiting for nap time so that I could indulge in one of the most sensually descriptive relationships between a dominant and a submissive.

Now that I have your attention, let me also say that it's a trilogy.  "Fifty Shades of Darker" and "Fifty Shades of Free" are the sequels.  Guess how I'm spending nap time...or don't.

I can't describe the plot or really the characters without you thinking that I'm a freak or some kind of kinky hoe...but if you've read it, you know what I'm talking about.

Just for curiosity sake, I threw it into conversation this morning with my besties at coffee, only to discover that half of us had been "closet" readers.

I'll leave you with a hysterical SNL skit describing it and the temptation to grab a little summer reading for the tub, the bed, or a dark corner of your universe.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Beautiful Sweat

My plan was to do six miles this morning.

My husband is taking a group of wild and crazy little cub scouts camping this weekend, so I'll be doing the single parent thing with my girls and I knew I needed to get my ya yas out.

I revamped my play list last night, laid out my clothes and set the alarm for 4:30am.

By the grace of God, I made it to the gym and jumped on a treadmill.

All was well by mile 3...grooving to lots of new tunes, feeling the endorphins, enjoying the morning and then wham...out of no where, I start sweating like a stuffed's dripping into my eyes stinging like a bitch and pelting the treadmill.

What in the hell?  Did someone turn up the heat?  Is it 100 degrees outside?  What happened?

I look down at my Garmin and my heart rate is off the charts and all I can think is...where's the hot guy?  Unfortunately, no particularly hot men in sight. 

I keep trudging through hoping and praying that I can double my mileage and endure my radical perspiration breakout...AND that I'm not dumping buckets of sweat on others around me.

At mile 5, I say, fuck it.  Jump down, towel off and start stretching.  I have no idea what the scoop was.  My hope is that my body decided to dump the remaining weight needed to get into my swim suit.  I could only be so lucky.  But either way, beautiful sweat.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fumbling Through Yoga

I used to take a lot of Bikram or hot yoga.

I didn't fancy myself a yogi, but I could endure temperatures of over 100 degrees and do a decent Camel pose.

That was in my 20's, when I had both disposable time and money.

So, on Mother's Day, I thought it would be a cool gift of time for my mom (who is fitter than I am) and me to take a yoga class together. hard could it be?  Vinyasa Shimasa.

I walked in, rolled out my mat, and was greeted by the darling, seemingly 22-year old girl who would lovingly guide me through poses that would serve as nourishment for my weary runners body.

So, when she said (in some sort of Canadian/British/Australian accent):

"I want you to root your hands deeply into the earth, find your focal point, concentrate on the breath, and very slowly pull from your belly to move into thrusting the legs up as to get momentum...this is coming from deep the process."

Trust what process?  As I began to try to engage my innards, I had a spiritual aha that felt more like me trying to keep in a fart while I swallowed my pride watching my 59-year old mother pop into a handstand like it was her job...while I couldn't go up to save my life.

Reaching over to me, she said, "I'm going to give you a boost and I want you to simultaneously, pull forth everything you've got."  With a primal grunt and scream, I went up while my arms were shaking and my head was dizzy.

At the end of class, I turned to her and said, "Is it possible to ever retain a strong core (enough to do a fucking handstand from scratch) after having three kids?"  To which she replied, "I have three children... so, yes."

Of course you do...moments of humiliation and love only on Mother's's to trusting the process.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Gift of Mother's Day

I remember when two lines came up on the test.

I had just turned 29 and was recently married.

I took test after test wondering, is this possible, could it really be true, I'm going to be a mother?

I remember the labor and delivery of each of you.  I remember the breathing, the pushing, the praying and the counting of all 10 fingers, all 10 ten toes, and brief pause before you screamed and cried and we knew that you would be fine.

I remember fumbling my way through nursing, pumping, taking your temperature, and trying to get that damn front carrier to fit just right.

I remember countless times of reading "Goodnight Moon" and singing the A,B,C's and You are My Sunshine and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

I remember fevers, ear infections, sleepless nights, exhaustion.  First steps, first teeth, first smiles, first words, first sentences, and the day you learned to read and write.

I remember being so angry because you would not listen the first time and being so tired of repeating myself over and over and over again.

I remember cuddling with you in the chair when you first woke up from your nap and you weren't yet ready to greet the world and still needed time to adjust.

I remember hearing the word "mama" uttered from your lips and thinking that's me...and no one else.

Today Sam, you are seven.  Kate, you are four.  Claire, you are 16-months and I am 37.  You are my children and I am your mama.  Thank you for blessing me more than I could have dreamed possible and for teaching me that love in all of its forms is what matters most.  I love you beyond words.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Polarizing Positions

It's interesting.

When my husband and I first reconnected as friends, he and I shared fairly similar political view points.  And what we didn't agree on positionally, we felt grounded in regarding our, family, equality, justice, and opportunity.

Over the course of my adult life, I've yet to physically meet a person who holds a political position from a place of malice or evil.  In fact, anytime I take the time to probe non-judgmentally and ask them to share their story, I better understand why they believe what they do and essentially, why they fall down on either the red or blue side of the line. 

But when I really start to dig, I see even more clearly that no one truly falls into one camp or another.  People are complex creatures.  Situations that we never thought we'd experience define us, change us, and consequently, ask us to cope with circumstances that were once theoretical and now are real...and subsequently, we live most of our life in the gray.

As we consider social mediums like facebook, Twitter, gPlus where we see our friends/followers political preferences come to life, it seems more useful to probe, to garner more, as opposed to assuming that we know where they're coming from and that a snarky comment will change their mind.

If the social sphere is polarized, why would we expect that a place like Washington would be harmonious?  It is simply filled with people like us that we elected.  Polarizing positions will always exist until we decide to authentically learn more about the why's in people's lives, the stories that comprise them, and the ways that they view the world...before we're hell bent on sharing why they're wrong.

Monday, May 7, 2012

What's Next?

After completing the half marathon, everyone keeps asking me, "What's next?"

Since I've dubbed it "The Year of Kelly,"  I need to have another dream...another pie-in-the-sky.  So, what should it be?

I've been on a roll with running, so I was thinking that maybe I should register to run the Omaha Half Marathon scheduled for the end of September.  And maybe this time, I could strive for a personal record instead of just simply to cross the finish line.

My mom is pushing me to run a marathon by the end of the go big.  But damn, 26.2 miles is a lot especially to ramp up to that, but I'm definitely not ruling it out.

My friend thinks that I should train for a Half Iron Man which is a 1.2 mile swim followed immediately by a 56 mile bike course followed immediately by a half marathon.  She's getting ready to do her first one next month and continues to inspire me to no end.

Maybe I'll shoot for the second half marathon first, the marathon second, and the Half Iron Man in another lifetime.

Whatever is on the radar, I want to keep getting stronger.  I want to keep fitness and activity a focus.  And I want to encourage others to invest in their bodies, so that they can be better for their loved ones.

Anyone have any ideas on next steps?  I need to invest in a new training plan soon.  Gotta keep the momentum going.  Maybe, we could do it together?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I Did It!

A little over five months ago, right before the new year, I decided that I wanted change.

I was ready to focus on me, to invest in my health, and to stare fear in the face,

At the urging and encouragement of a friend, I reluctantly signed up to run a half marathon.

The cool part was that the race was on the morning of my 37th birthday.

The not so cool part was that I hadn't run a mile continuously in over a decade.

So, with the registration confirmation in hand, I started training.  Over the course of days, weeks, and months, I lost 26 pounds and gained confidence and strength.  I trained six days a week primarily at 5:00 am when everyone in my house was in bed and was done by 6:30 am.  I had a lot of set backs.  The winter months, brought two sinus infections and back-to-back urgent care visits with ten day antibiotic doses.  And then six weeks prior to the run, I injured myself with a nasty case of shin splints that took an act of God to make better.

And then this morning came...the day I'd been waiting for.  The alarm went off at 4:00 am.  My friend was picking me up at 5:00 am for the 50 minute trek to the race.  And by 4:45 am, it was hailing, thundering, lightening and sheets of rain were covering the streets.

My first thought was fuck me.  I'm screwed.

By the time the gun went off 7:00 am, the weather completely cleared.  There was no rain, barely any wind, and sunshine...but it was definitely humid and got hot as the morning wore on.

Equipped with an awesome play list, gu and sports beans for nutrition, and a head/heart full of mantras of strength...I set out to run 13.1 miles with 10,000 other runners.  It was amazing.  Two of my favorite signs read, "You've now run longer than Kim Kardashian's marriage lasted," and "Call me...clearly you have stamina."

The fans were incredible.  The streets were lined with people giving high fives and loads of good will and encouragement.  I crossed the finish line at the 50 yard line of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln's football stadium with my picture across the enormous Husker Vision screen while my family watched in the stands.

This journey has taught me so much.  But if there's one thing that stands out head and shoulders above it is beyond a shadow of a doubt...that our greatest advocate lies inside of us.  There is no one on this earth who can do more for us than we can do for ourselves.  We just have to believe and we have to practice.  Life is about the doing, the being, the now. 

If you haven't gone for one thing in your life that feels it.  The feeling will be indescribable and you will know forever that unbelievable strength lies in you.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Finish Line in Sight

Per a really good friend and pro-racer, I'm preparing for my half marathon with the following tips:

  1. Hydrate like it's my job...drink, pee, drink, pee, drink, pee
  2. Cut toenails to avoid blisters
  3. Familiarize myself with the course and know where the aid stations are located
  4. Body Glide is my friend...every nook, cranny, crevice, corner should be coated
  5. Get really good sleep's not the night before the race, it's 2 nights prior that make the difference
  6. Pour over the play list and make sure that the first song isn't the fastest...biggest mistake is going too fast, too quickly...conserve energy
  7. Wear supportive, comfortable shoes today and tomorrow....but NOT my running shoes...they need 48 hours for the cushion to spring back
  8. Minimize alcohol or cut it out period
  9. Eat healthy...don't just load up on carbs
  10. Pray for joy, fun, and minimal wind
And so here I am...I've been waiting for my 37th birthday, Sunday morning, May 6th for five months.  I've been getting up early to train and hoping that I would be able to run.  And, barring anything crazy looks like I should be at the race at o' dark thirty Sunday morning.

If I forget to tell you because I'm exhausted, dehydrated or beaming...thank you.  Thank you to everyone who has loved me and encouraged me on this journey.  I will carry you with me whether it rains, it shines, it's windy....I will hold you in my heart forever grateful that I'm not alone.

Here we go...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Made to Love You

Inspired by a song and my thoughts lately on marriage and motherhood, I've been hyper aware of my purpose in this world. 

All too often, I look at others and assign demigod status to those who hold special titles, occupations, or vocations and when asked, "What do you do?"  I retort with, "Oh, I'm only running a half marathon...I sell fashion jewelry...I am a stay-at-home mom."  I respond somewhat sheepishly and meekly.

But when I think about it...when I really think about it...some people were made to be surgeons, attorneys, research scientists, philosophers, entertainers, athletes...the only thing that I am certain I was made to do was to love you.  I was made to wrap my arms, legs, heart, soul, tears, smiles, hopes, dreams, and joy around my husband and my children.

That's it.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Everything else is icing or filler or superficial or frivolous.

They are the only beings that I would lay down my life for, stay up until wee hours of the night, endure whatever it took, and expect really not a lot in return, just to be loved.

It's taken me a while to realize that this is a good thing and that there's really no need to justify, rationalize, or shy away from it.  It's why I was made.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Craptastic Day

It all started very normal.

The alarm went off at 4:30am, I turned on the coffee, got ready for my last run before the weekend race, and headed out the door to the gym.

Upon opening the door, I knew I was fucked.  It was a hot box and I was toast.  I jumped on a treadmill and hoped for a strong five mile run.  And low and behold, I eeked out the mileage after sweating half my body weight out on the belt.

Arriving at my abode, I turned on the kitchen light to witness a festival of freakish, hybrid alien, flying ants near my back door...and thought, no big deal...I'll spray and all will be well.  Until I opened the back door to discover that alien ants had attacked.  The south side of our house was coated and I started to get nauseous probably due to the fact that I was dehydrated.  I woke up my husband who went on an ant extermination rampage. 

Somewhere in the middle of the counter attack, he informed me that he was derailed by a project at work and that he couldn't accompany our middle child on a preschool field trip to the Botanical Gardens.  Feeling the guilt that only a Catholic mother knows, I threw on semi-clean, non-sweaty yoga pants, grabbed some cheerios for the baby and headed out the door.

The Botanical Gardens are beautiful, don't get me wrong...but over 100 acres of them and a million secret gardens with a 24 pound baby on the front of me made for another thrilling work out...exacerbated by a dad who would not stop talking to me about shit that I did not care about. 

At this point, I was dehydrated, delirious, and despondent.  I thought I may fall into the tulips.

Kate invited a friend over for a play date post her field trip which really was lovely.  They had an elaborate princess party while I disinfected the house and tried to get the ants out of my head. 

Somewhere in the mix, I remembered that the dishwasher broke last night and that I would be doing the breakfast and lunch dishes by hand...which seemed therapeutic at first, and then, wasn't.

I'm tired, apathetic, and ready for the day to end with a bath, some booze, and a prayer that tomorrow I'll have more patience and less piss and vinegar.