Sunday, August 29, 2010

Born to Run

I feel the need to start here by giving mad props (yes, I just said mad props. I am so 4 realz) to my friend Melanie who arrived at my doorstep last night fleeing from a socially awkward goat roast (?), who then crashed on my couch and decided to join me this morning to run a 10K with virtually no training. She is either the coolest person I know or the craziest. (Or could she be both??) Way to give new meaning to the whole "Couch to 10K" movement there, Melanie.

My friend Sarah arrived late and was getting her number AT THE GUN, and she still managed to catch up to run along with us.

So there's another 10K under my belt. This was the slowest time I've ever had and yet I managed to win a medal for placing 3rd in my age group (I believe there were only four of us, but still! An actual medal!). I'm thinking that perhaps running these smaller races is the way to go...

I had a really good run, like the kind of run where you feel like you could just keep running forever. I felt strong. I felt alive. I love that. And I guess that's why I run- to get that alive feeling. I live for those running days when my breathing becomes a mantra and I feel the strength in my legs propelling me forward and my feet feel light as the soles of my shoes seem to bounce off the pavement. And then my mind wanders to places where I don't normally let it go, like the times in my life when I have felt the most alive. Like the moment I watched as my mom took her last breath before leaving us. Or the intensity and crazy pain and joy of the pushes that sent my two babies from my body and into this world.

Birth. Death. Life. And so I run.

Jack is my number one fan. (Note the broken Polaroid camera which he decided to bring along to capture my moment of 10K glory.) I knew there was a 400 meter kids' run after the 10K and I mentioned it to Jack last week. I wasn't sure he would actually do it, but he talked it up for a few days prior, referring to it as "my big race" which was not to be confused with "Mom's big race".

Well, the time came to line up at the start and sure enough, there he was, with a look of fierce determination on his little face as he sized up his pint-sized competition. And then the cowbell rang and he sprinted off down the course like a bat out of hell. The race course curved around and I could see the focus in his eyes as he barrelled his way toward the finish line, mindless of the fact that he was in last place. And there I was, standing on the sideline screaming my head off and jumping up and down like it was the Olympics or something. And then I started to choke up because it was all so damn beautiful, you know? There's my kid running his fool head off and grinning from ear to ear because it's the "big race" and he's a part of it. And just maybe he's getting that alive feeling, too.

My little runner. I am his biggest fan.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Taking the Plunge

This summer I have been so over the pool. I don't know if it's the crowd, the chlorine, the "code brown" we were witness to last year, or what's keeping me away, but this year we've been all about Cottage Grove Lake.

There's really nothing quite like lake swimming in Oregon, is there? It's so brisk and refreshing. In other words, the water can be icy-effing-cold. But we Oregonians soldier on! Into the frigid water we jump- all in the name of aquatic fun! In fact, I remember being a kid and swimming in the ocean at Newport year round! (Um, why did my parents let us do this? Hadn't they ever heard of hypothermia?!)

But CG Lake is actually pretty warm. Not freshly-peed-in-Amazon-Pool-warm, but warm enough to wade into and work up the courage to take that courageous first plunge in a relatively short time.

Some childless friends of ours were recently talking about waiting for that elusive "perfect time" to start a family. I think it's just like working your way into that lake- sometimes you just have to take the plunge, hold your breath, and wait till you break the surface. It's beautiful up here.

In addition to a predisposition to swim in frigid waters, I have also inherited the uniquely Oregonian trait of actually liking it when the clouds start to roll in at the end of the summer. I know. It's weird.

And Monday morning will find me back at work. My other life. The one where I don't get to spend every waking minute with my kids, driving out to the lake on a whim, picking blackberries until my hands are purple and my feet are brown, strolling by the river to find respite from the heat, having to take the compost out three times a day because I am so busy in the kitchen, sewing little pirate pants and shorts for little boys who love pirates, and falling into bed with the sun's heat wrapped around my shoulders like a warm blanket.

And yet. It is a good life, this other one. I do love what I do.

But still.

It's that plunge again.

And so I dive, headfirst, eyes closed, and breath held.

It will be okay.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Scandia Pride! Represent, Yo.

(That title will make sense in a minute, kind of.)

Because I like to tempt fate, we trekked back to Bend once again. This time we had Brent along with us so of course nothing exceptionally horrible or funny happened, because apparently the kids save that sort of stuff for yours truly and yours truly only. In fact, the kids slept the whole way there and the whole way back. Relaxing for me but boring for you.

Moving on. Drinking pictures from Bend:

Yep, that's all I got. You try dealing with four kids under the age of 4 and operating a camera. Besides, since we were attending a party with a bunch of people we didn't know, Melanie and I both agreed it would be weird if I went around taking a million pictures. So take my word for it, we went to a party in Bend. It was fun. Again, zzzzzzzzz for you.

Moving on. Let's all take a moment to recognize the quaint little part of the earth known as Scandinavia, which I believe includes Denmark, Sweden, Norway and possibly Finland (depending on who you ask). My dad and I ran what can only be described as a quaint little race, the Scandia Run, earlier this month. I feel the need to tell you that I did not push the stroller in this race, as this picture might imply, but I have pushed that damn stroller while running many a time and so you can feel free to be impressed if you want.

So the race ended and there we were at the Scandinavian Festival. And, I know this is hard to believe, I actually had never been to the "World Famous" Scandinavian Festival before. Oh, then I remembered that I am Scandinavian! Danish to be exact, which I think is probably the best kind of Scandinavian to be, you know, for the pastries and all. Although those Norwegian trolls are pretty cool, too...

(Where are vikings from? Vikings are really cool.)

The other side of my family is Scottish. That's an easy one because everyone loves Scotland- the drinking! The kilts! The bagpipes! The haggis! What's not to love? It's cool to be Scottish. Scotland rocks! I've done a pretty good job connecting with my Scottish heritage, but the Danish, not so much. But here was my chance to identify with my fellow Scandinavians, right here in Junction City, Oregon!

So the kids and I stuck around and wandered the festivities for awhile until we came upon a standstill line that snaked all the way down the main drag and around a few corners. I figured whatever it was must be really good, so we went ahead and joined the epic line. Turns out we were waiting with the masses for Apfelsshnisschensomethingswedishsounding. Whatever, if it's a pastry I'm game (it's the Dane in me). So we waited for a good 15 minutes in The Line That Would Not Move next to a chatty older guy whose interest in his own Scandinavian heritage was mind-numbingly dull (way to give Scandinavians a bad name, buddy). Finally we got our deep fried apple dumpling thingies and sat on a bench to taste our treat. I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to fried dough, but I have to say that the Apfelsshniss... whatevers were just meh.

Next we found our way to the stage and watched some traditional children's dancing. Oh man was that ever cute, especially the little girls in their pinafores. Too bad my own kids were totally over the Scandinavian Festival at that point.

(I think Scotland wins here. I'd tell you all about my wild and debaucherous trips to Scotland here, but this is a family blog. Ahem.)

Still, if I ever did have a little girl, I would totally dress her up in one of these outfits for the Scandinavian Festival, because c'mon, pinafores and knee socks?! So freaking cute.

Moving on. Some people wish for friends in high places. We just wish for friends with a sweet Airstream and 2o something acres of land with a swimming hole who would invite us out for a day of picnicking and swimming.

(And I wish for photos that did not accentuate my tan lines. Whatever. I have fair skin. I am Scandinavian after all.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The True Confessions of a Chronic List Maker (Alternatively Titled: The Plan That Actually Worked!)

Oh how I love to make plans. (That opening statement didn't seem nearly as dorky when it was still in my head...) Anyway, it's true that I love nothing more than to compose a list of tasks and ceremoniously scratch off each accomplishment as the day goes on. Sometimes I make little boxes and checkmark the tasks as they are completed. Always, always I throw in some really easy starters just so I have something to cross off my list right away. These are the confessions of a chronic list maker. Anyone else wanna own up to this? It would be nice to know that I'm not alone here...

In my family we make plans by discussing, at length, the various options, scenarios, pitfalls, and benefits of any possible situation. Don't ask me why, but you always start your sentence with a breathy "Well, we could..." Oh, and there's a slight hint of southern accent to this, as well. (Note: we are not southern.) So I think I was born to plan things. It's in my blood.

But the funny thing is that my plans rarely work. Sure I can plan the heck out of a day and it will look like I have some serious accomplishing to do and then one little thing will throw the whole day out the window and suddenly it's 9pm and the breakfast dishes are still in the sink, nobody has clean underwear, and I'm sitting there staring at my list thinking It's a good thing I added "get the mail" to the list so I could check at least one box today.

The failure of my plans is particularly evident when it comes to the kids. I am constantly scheming up ways to get them to nap simultaneously if I want to get something done in the afternoon or to go to bed early if there's something going on that night. Sometimes my plans are so simple, like I'd just like everybody to be dressed and out of the house by 10am. Or I just want to get through breakfast without anyone crying. Or maybe, just maybe, we could somehow orchestrate synchronized napping in the car (It happened ONCE! One glorious time that will live on in my heart. My one perfect car trip. It was amazing.)

So when Lauren and Audrey were here with us, naturally there were plenty of plans to be made (due to our genetic predisposition to overplan, of course) and a lot of room for error due to the fact that we were dealing with three kids under the age of 4. We planned to drive from Portland to Eugene during naptime. We had timed it all so perfectly! The kids would just sleep all the way! And... no surprise here, the plan failed miserably and we ended up with tired and screaming kids and a really, really, (and I mean really) long drive home.

But then! Later on during the visit, Lauren and I planned out THE PLAN of all plans. This plan would not fail! And guess what? It actually worked. The plan was beautiful in its simplicity: we took the kids out for ice cream and then to the park. When it was obvious that all was going according to THE PLAN, we threw in a scenic trip up to the rhododendron garden. Sugar + park + hike = all kids in bed early AND an actual adult dinner. Where nobody threw food on the floor or cried. Where food was eaten before it got cold. Where adult beverages were served. Where conversation occurred that did not include the question Why? five hundred million gazillion times.

For your viewing pleasure, I present to you THE PLAN:

Well, I'm off to plan for tomorrow. First thing on my list? Update the blog. See, I can check that one off already.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Photos from the Party, My Thoughts on Weddings, and The Coolest Thing Since Sliced Bread

Party crasher! (The short one in front, that is, not my Grandpa Jack.)

Want a real buzzkill? Invite this guy to your next party. He'll entertain/horrify your guests by scaling the bar, destroying electronic gadgets, and putting his grimy little fingers into all of your hors d'oeuvres. He might also interrupt a heartfelt toast by teetering on the edge of a folding chair while attempting to steal a bottle of champagne.

Who invited him anyway?

But in spite of Sawyer's blatant attempts at ruining the festivities, we all had a splendid time celebrating my Aunt Jacie's marriage to Bill. They actually got married earlier this year in a small ceremony with some friends, and this party was a reception. I really think this is the way to go.

I hate weddings.

Isn't that awful?

I try to like them, honest I do, but I'm always filled with so much anxiety for the bride. It's her special day- the BIGGEST and the HAPPIEST DAY OF HER LIFE, what if something goes horribly wrong? I sit on the edge of my seat waiting for her to step on her gown and rip the skirt completely off, exposing her underwear. Or for the groom to topple over because he had too many the night before. Or maybe there will be lightning? Or a freak tornado? An outbreak of food poisoning? An embarrassing drunken toast given by a disgruntled ex? I guess I am a worst case scenario wedding guest.

So thank you, Jacie and Bill, for sparing me from my completely neurotic wedding guest tendencies.

Do you even know how hard it is to get this many people to face the camera and not look like they are pissed off or in pain? (I had another great shot but it looked even more like Nick was strangling Jack- maybe he was? Whatever, I'm sure Jack had it coming.)

(Look at these dresses! My Aunt Bobbi is an amazing seamstress and she definitely has an eye for fabric. Check out her work at Frizzlebean, especially if you have a little girl- you won't be disappointed.) (Oh, and Bobbi, what can I do to get you to make some boy stuff every once in awhile??)

Look at us! High rollin' with the fancy shmancy champagne. OMG so delish. I may never drink the cheap stuff from a bottle while walking down the street on New Year's Eve ever again. Maybe.

We ate, we drank, we celebrated. When the party died down and the little kids went to bed, a group of us sat under the stars and sipped drinks and talked until late into the night, reminiscing about the past and talking about the new memories that had just been created. I am so lucky to be a part of this family.


You know when you hear about somebody who had a brilliant, yet simple idea that earned them a bazillion dollars and you think to yourself Why didn't I think of that? Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Hopworks Urban Brewery.

They brew organic beer! It tastes incredible! (I recommend the Ace of Spades, and not just because I am a closet Motorhead fan.) They have sustainable food! And.. and.. just get this! They have a PLAY AREA WITH KIDS' TOYS!! Hands down the best brewery/restaurant idea ever. The place was awesome. I am a fan.

And just why didn't we think of that?

So, I guess, um... in conclusion, Sawyer was a real pain in the rear at the party, I have weird issues with weddings, my family is awesome, and we should all go out for a beer at Hopworks really soon.

The end.