Monday, October 18, 2010

If you can’t Beat ‘em, Join ‘em…and THEN Beat ‘em

Ever since I was about 12 years old I have absolutely hated Halloween. What a waste of a holiday! Progressively, over the years, I have increased in my ability to be annoyed at the silliness, excess of obligatory candy and junk we are overwhelmed by, and the endless amounts of advertising and products created specifically to keep us penniless.

I haven’t been outwardly miserly, just enjoyed a silent protest and an occasional negative comment here and there. As my brood has increased in quantity as well as mental ability to understand such a holiday I have had to gradually clear the cobwebs away from the cocooned fortress of annoyance I have created inside by head. Slowly the walls have been cleaned and scrubbed and piece by piece torn down.

Something tremendous happened this year, and a crack in the foundation erupted down the center. Swallowed up the whole darned fortress, buried it with a mountain, and sprouted a rose bush on top. I don’t know if it can be attributed to the weather, my increasing insanity, an early-mid-life crisis, or my increasing enthusiasm generated from the idea that my baby-making-days are over. Whatever the reason the conclusion is the same. I have decided to embrace this screwy, unnecessary, waste-of-a-holiday holiday. I even got a head start on it; bought all the kids costumes in September! What a weird-o I am. Oh well, such is my life.

So, funny thing happened. Because I started so early I have been more and more enjoying this whole deal. Costumes are bought; candy is bought, even planning a party! Yep, like I said weird-o. Now, on to my latest slap-in-the-face tribute to embracing Halloween: I have constructed a humongous black spider! It’s made out of wood, and each leg is 10 ft long. I’ve probably spent 40 hours on this silly thing; Planning, constructing, more planning, several trips to the hardware store, more planning, more constructing. It’s taking over my life. I eat, sleep, and breathe spider (weird-o). I’m sure my family will be overjoyed when I’m done, so they can have my brain back.

The holy-banana best part of the whole project—in my weird-o opinion anyway—is that the entire thing is costing me less than $20. Yep, I’m awesome.

Cut out the body base
(here's where I got to use power tools...)

Cut and assemble legs, attach hinges
(...using other various sharp objects)

Build wire frame for body

Cover wire frame with garbage bags

Attach legs

Glue on pine needle hair
(to spider, and to hands)
...then empty 8 cans of black spray paint

Mount on roof, one piece at a time
(the eyes have flashy lights in them)

(employ husband to do the hard stuff)

And there ya have it... very large, time consuming spider
(and now we eat M&M's and hope it doesn't fall off the roof)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

World’s Greatest Mom of the Century…?

Bah hah ha ha…Excuse me as I laugh to myself. Someone actually shouted to me “You’re the world’s greatest mom of the century” as I neared the finish line of a 5k race I ran this morning. I don’t know about world’s greatest mom, but I’m sure it must’ve been a pretty hilarious thing to watch. Me, pushing a 20 lb double wide stroller piled high with 3 kids (40 lbs each), 3 blankets (a few lbs each), 10 lbs of all the various necessities (snacks, drinks, sweaters, hats…) and a 5+lb single-stroller, folded up like a cherry on top. That’s what? 160-ish lbs, or so? Even funnier would be the fact that I was actually passing people as I went. Swerving in and out of traffic, passing between bodies like a typical Utah driver—which I am—wearing the expression of a mad woman. Actually, I think by the time I was on the final stretch I had Malachi lying horizontally across the canopy of the double stroller, on top of the blankets, that were on top of the other stroller. I held his belly with one hand to stabilize him, as I pushed the stroller with the other. He lay there very stiff, slightly upside down, and squinting from the sun blazing down on him; he may have looked as though he was in pain, but I think he was just trying not to move a muscle so he wouldn’t fall off. I ended up putting him on top because just prior to that I was carrying him on my hip.

The day started out with me waking up 8 minutes before my alarm, which was set to go off at 5am. I’ve been fighting a head-cold the last few days, and it finally hit me hard last night. So, I barely slept at all. Tired and achy I dragged myself along and packed everything into the car. I opened all the kids’ bedroom doors, and turned on some various lights throughout the house, so they would gradually wake up. By 530am they were all out of bed and piling into the car. So far, so good. The race was scheduled to start at 7am, and located about 40 miles from my house. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going, so I wanted to leave early enough to find the place, and get signed in with plenty of time for error.

The weather at 530am was actually really interesting. It was warm, in the 60’s, and cloudy with various rain showers. It was a fun experience for the kids to see the sun rise and watch as the rain clouds turned from gray to pink to yellow; all the while long spidery strands of rain streaked the sky throughout the valley. The race was at the Young Living Lavender Farm, which is sort of in the middle of nowhere. The landscape along the drive was so peaceful, and the lavender fields with the lake and mountains as a back drop was such a neat place to have a race. I was really excited and had been looking forward to it.

I was surprised when I mentioned it a few months ago to Tad and he actually thought it would be fun. He is 10 years old, and doesn’t really enjoy any type of physical activity; especially running. While Tad is old enough to tend himself for a few hours—or run with me—I have 3 younger kids that are not. John was scheduled to go out of town on business, so I was sort of counting on Tads willingness to participate in order for me to be able to; and I really wanted to. I have a double jogging stroller and a few other various single strollers. My brilliant plan was to push the 2 heaviest kids in the jogger, and have Tad push the smallest in a single. We’ve taken 3-mile family walks, and Tad and I have even jog/walked 3 miles together. I was confident that it was a beautiful plan. I had originally planned to just jog ahead, and let Tad walk the whole time. But, as it got closer I thought about it and decided it would be more fun to just stay with Tad; and try to convince him to hustle along. Plus, with this dreaded head cold I was happy to have an excuse to walk.

As the morning progressed, we arrived in plenty of time and had no trouble finding exactly where we needed to be. While the temperature gradually dropped and it began to rain, Tad and I stood in line for our numbers.

The little’s began to realize they were tired, and with the cold rain they were becoming miserable. We bundled them up with blankets, got everyone snacks, found the bathrooms, and then proceeded to the starting line. Everyone was doing well.


The start time was actually delayed about 30 minutes—I think they were having computer problems—and by that time it had warmed up again, and the sky was mostly clear. We waited patiently for the race to begin, and I started to get anxious as minutes kept passing. They finally got things figured out and even with warning we were startled by the boom of the rifle shot, which signified the race had begun. Adrenaline started doing its thing and it was exciting, for the kids, and for me.

We had a hard time at first, trudging with our strollers through several inches of fine loose gravel.

Tad ended up pushing the heavy jogger because it is better equipped for the terrain, and I had to pull the single stroller backwards behind me, up a hill, until we got onto the hard-packed trail of the actual lavender field. From there it was still bumpy, rocky, and a little muddy, but not too bad for the strollers.

The scenery was beautiful. I was a little nervous because I knew it was difficult for Tad, right from the beginning. Definitely not what he is used to, or what I was expecting.

I have to say, though, that Tad actually did really good. We walked (with intermittent spurts of jogging) at an even pace up a gradual incline, on terrain that is non-conducive to strollers, for nearly a mile before he even began to fall behind. I could feel my inner competitive-nature begin to creep out, as we fell farther behind. We were almost dead last out of 1000+ racers. I expected to be slow, but reality was harder to face than the idea of it. We were still on an incline and as it was tough for myself to push all the weight up the hill I realized it was even harder for Tad, who is little, and not used to exercising. I knew we had to finish, and I knew I didn’t want to be last. So, I piled Malachi on top of Ati, in my stroller, and plopped the single stroller on top of my canopy. With an additional 45 or so lb pushing up a hill was not easy to do, but I can be pretty determined. Putting one foot in front of the other I pushed on. I was a bit discouraged when I realized I was still out-pacing Tad, who was now empty handed.

At the top of the hill there was a stand set up with cups of ice. I had Tad refuel and cool down along the now flat trail. After I caught my breath from the brutal hill, I started to feel pretty good. I was ready to take off along this new flatness. I gave Tad a final word of encouragement and thought we decided to run after the next corner where the trail sloped downhill. I know that was at least my plan, but I suppose I wasn’t really on the same page as my 10 year old son. I think he did have every intention of running, his little body just didn’t agree. We turned the corner, and I took off.

I don’t know the exact mileage or distance of any of these turning points, but I’m guessing there was about a mile left when I began to actually run this race that I came to run (or at least I had originally planned to run). I chuckled along the way as I passed walkers, and I could hear most of them commenting once they realized who had just passed them: some crazy lady pushing 2 strollers and a pile-o-kid. I don’t know why I suddenly became so motivated, and also so selfish. I left Tad way behind, eating dust (almost literally, cause the path was dusty). The downhill was just so much easier, and passing people was sort of exhilarating. There was probably a quarter-mile left when the kids started to complain; and my momentum began to slow. Ati was hurting, so I had to adjust her. Then Malachi was too heavy, so I switched him to Eli’s lap. Then he was too heavy for Eli so I carried him on my hip. I was so close to the finish, and when I approached the cheering people shouting encouragements is when I threw Malachi on the roof and sprinted to the end. At least, I tried to sprint. I was having much difficulty maneuvering through groups of slow walkers, and I had to slow down a few times. Then, I went through a patch of mud. Then, the trail crossed the highway. And that was it. There was the finish line. I was done. The insanity was over.

And Tad was nowhere in sight. My heart was heavy as I realized I left him behind. I let my pride take over, and I left my baby behind. I made my way back to the finish line, and waited and searched for him. Until, there he was. And he didn’t look very happy. I tried to encourage and cheer him on as he neared the finish. I could see he was holding back tears, and he was worn, and tired, and hot. He dragged his feet at the end, as he slowly crossed the finish line.

The other kids were happy to be out of the stroller, and they were running around excited to see Tad. We made our way to the grass where the crowd was gathered, found a spot to sit, and rounded up some refreshments. The kids were all able to relax and cool down a bit as we waited for the results of the race.

We waited patiently through all the technical difficulties, and all the awards for every division—they had a division for every age group, in ranges of 5 years, from ages 12-70+, both male and female—even though I knew neither of us was getting an award. I really was just waiting to find out our exact times and ranking so we could keep it as a fun record. With all the people I passed on my last mile I was hoping to see a rank number to smile at. I wasn’t expecting to be very good, just wanted to know how many people I was faster than. Sadly, they didn’t have any print-out of our individual times; and even sadder was that the master list of times, which was taped across a long rectangular table, ended at 39 minutes. I don’t really understand the technicalities of these things, but I do know that the last time I raced I was given a business-card size piece of paper printed with my name, race number, exact time, overall rank, and individual category rank. This time I was at least hoping for a physical time I could right down myself. I will likely never know the exact times. But, I do know that I was #1 in my individual-self-created category of “crazy women pushing a 160+ pound pile-o-kid”. And I did wear a stop watch, which I wasn’t able to stop exactly as I crossed the finish, due to my unusual juggling situation, but close enough to get an approximate time, which was 53 minutes. I didn’t time any further once I finished, but I am guessing Tad was a little over an hour.

Definitely an adventure.
Possibly a good experience.
May be memorable, in a good or bad way.
And for sure, there is a very good lesson to be learned: It is not a wise idea to wake up my kids at 530am. For this mistake, I began to pay the price around 9am, when the sleeplessness took over and the beastly-beasts came out to play.

**update (10/19/2010)**
..i just found a list of results for this race! so cool. here are our actual results:

Jen: #779 out of 875 over all, #85 out of 93 age group, time 54:05.3
Tad: #833 out of 875 over all, #22 out of 23 age group, time 1:01:30.7

A minty-fresh haircut

We have a little Yorkshire Terrier. She is 5 months old, and her name is Peppermint. She was looking a bit scraggly, so I decided to give her a haircut.

Here she is, looking scraggly:

And here she is, nice and fresh:

I still think it's the funniest thing that she changed color.She turned into a little old lady in one afternoon. The kids were sort of confused when they first saw her, and it took a little while to get used to the new gray instead of black. But, overall, I think I did a decent job...for my very first doggy-haircut.

Friday, April 30, 2010

April Showers bring May…Snowmen?

Friday..April 30, 2010

Eli--who is 3-- just made the biggest snowball, EVER. Entirely by himself. Alone. Solitary. I wasn’t even outside with him.
(Never mind the fact that it is almost May, and we got 3 inches of new snow this morning).

...then, he made a second ball. All by himself, mind you.

I was so impressed that I just had to get in on the action.
I stacked the first two, and helped make the head.

Gotta have a picture hugging the product of your creation. duh.

Ati came home from school, and we finished the job...
Meet the mostly edible: Mr Spring Snowman

Ati and Mr Spring Snowman.

More of Ati, and Mr S.

I, of course, have to take some credit, so here I am--with Ati as my newest photographer.

...and then, up came the sun, and dried up all the snow! just like that.

Green in the morning, green in the afternoon,
 snowman in between.

Spring Snow is officially..AWESOME!