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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Embrace the Hills

Everyone said it. But deep down, I thought, not me though.

Ha Ha.

So the time had come when 'soft' wanted to make its presence known. Tummy. Triceps. Muffin tops. Yesterday, I'm like twenty-something, fallaciously worried about my weight. Then I wake up and I'm in my forties! And it did happened. I couldn't just walk twenty minutes and burn off the ice cream I ate last night. It was gonna take decidedly more effort...heart-pumping exercise and focused diet restraints. (It's no wonder all my friends are running marathons these days. It's not because they want to–it's because they HAVE to.)

Percy ponders the first hill.
I actually used to jog. Then we moved to the country with all these freaking hills, so I stopped. It was simply too hard. But now that I'm starting to appear like I'm in my first trimester (despite the hysterectomy), I determined to boost my workout by jogging. And tackle those freaking hills. And they are not just hills. They are freaking hills.

At first the inclines nearly killed me. Admittedly, I needed to stop a few times. But now, I'm proud to say, I can run the two miles non-stop. (Hey, no judging. Two miles is an awesome feat for me! I'm thinking of getting a bumper sticker that says "2 Miles.") And what's more? I embrace those hills. I go faster on those hills than any other part of the run.

Another part of my jog that was once an annoyance has now become a pleasing ritual. Mud stomping. Navigating mush feels a bit adventurous to this banker girl as she plows through some of the dirty parts of our country roads. I no longer care about the grit that sticks to my shoes. It's just wet dirt. It comes off. Wow. Isn't running the most awesome metaphor for life? Embracing hills! Tackling the mud!

I've been quite proud of my increased workout efforts lately. And I thought it timely, since I believe my son needed to re-focus his workout efforts with his current hiatus from soccer. Knowing his competitive spirit, I kept badgering him to a challenge.

"Come on! Just to the highway and back."

He was reluctant. Obviously, he knew I could beat him. One day, even though he tried to plead exhaustion, he agreed to a race. It was on.

Before we began the race, I coached him a bit–explaining he probably would need to pace himself.

"You might feel like starting fast. But trust me. These hills are killers."

 He nodded in a respectable deference.

So we took off. He began at my pace. Then after a short distance, he muttered, "This is way too slow." Then he darted away. And even though I calculated an eventual fade, it never happened. Nope.

The kid slaughtered me.

I'm still trying to find the life lesson here. Perhaps it's are, well, young. Dammit.

Twelve is a far cry from 44. And that baby got track.
Winner of the 2M Kramer Run.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Declaration of Independence

"You teach your kids to be independent."

I heard this often muttered by my mother as I was growing up. The words tend to ring in my ear a bit. As I think back on it, I believe Mom might have been speaking out loud more as an encouragement to herself than as a lesson for my young self. Because learning to become independent can hardly be as difficult as learning to let go.

My daughter is on a two-week visit to The Netherlands. I'm elated about this opportunity for her, since I, myself, have never been to Europe. But there's this gigantic pit in my stomach as I attempt to absorb her absence in the house. How will I ever survive her away in college?

When we bid her farewell at the airport, I couldn't even speak. I attempted some words, but only ended up choking up a few incoherent phrases. "Fun time. Really. Love you. Pieces." (The tears in her father's eyes didn't help.) Finally, I straightened up enough to hug her tightly and kiss her goodbye. I held strong as we watched her skip through security. Then I went straight to the restroom and sobbed.

It's not like I never saw it coming. Her independent soul, I mean. When she was young and my hubby was away, I'd attempt to coax her into cuddling with me in our bed. She'd politely decline. She's a girl who appreciates her space. Of course, my son made up for this in the next few years...I think we finally broke him of crawling in bed with us when he was eight. (Independence might be a trickier lesson for him, I'm guessing.)

Alex was always the one to wander off by herself. I remember once after fiddling with the baby in the stroller, I turned around to find I had lost her in the mall. Completely. After a few frantic minutes and shuffling through the crowd, I had found her at the entrance of the restroom. She blinked at me blankly, telling me she needed to go potty. Duh. She still wanders off to places. Still forgets to tell me where she's going.

But truthfully, I'm proud of my daughter: her wanderlust and resourcefulness. I hope she never loses her curiosity to explore and see the world. We told her if she wanted to go to Europe, she'd need to pay for it. And she did...(most of it anyway). I received an email from the mother of the family she's staying with. She informed me how kind and enjoyable Alex is...they'd just as soon keep her. This made me smile–not because they wanted to keep her. But because it reminded me of why there's a pit in my stomach. And that having her fly out of our nest might just be a bigger transition for me than her!

As we walked out of the airport, Cole said, "I hope I never have the opportunity to go to The Netherlands." Obviously, in his mind, he'd be obligated to go no matter what his preference. So. My son isn't too excited about leaving the lair. I realize his 12-year-old heart could change on the matter, but at this point, I felt a certain comfort with his admission.

After all, our basement is pretty sweet. And could be sweet for him for many years to come. And I'm just really learning about this independence stuff.

Away she goes...

Friday, June 6, 2014

On Daughters

On this day my daughter turns seventeen, I reflect on the benefits of having a daughter in a family with two other males.

  • Food: Not that my daughter feeds me, but now I have an ally with a palate that twists toward a cuisine not lusting after meat and potatoes. It's quite refreshing to hear those words, "I'm craving Thai" or "We should have a tomato and basil pizza."  Right on Sister, uh, I mean, Daughter.
  • Technology without Condescendence: I love my son. I do. And I realize his age of twelve puts him at the height of his digital career. But when I need to figure out how to finagle a FB page or edit a pic on Instagram, I'd rather work with the more forgiving attitude of my daughter–even if her ancient 17 years seem beyond the electronic prime. "Here Mom. Let me help you," she'll say with her sympathetic eyes and caring smile. It's like she's feeding me at a nursing home. Thanks Al. I appreciate it. #daughter'sareablessing
  • Fashion Critic: Having my own personal Stacey London has probably saved me several years of embarrassing fashion faux pas'. I've caught a few pics of myself when Alex was a toddler. Never will I forgive my hairdresser (whom I claim as a friend) for allowing one horrific, tightly-wound perm. Needless to say, my daughter has been my savior a few times before walking out the door. ("Mom! Untuck that shirt!" I guess high waisted fashion is for the youthful.) Although, I'm not sure I've done the same for her. There were a few trends she insisted upon sporting. Canary yellow tights...A year of nothing but Paramore t-shirts...the turquoise denim studded vest...okay, she never wore that...inside joke.
  • Pop Culture Briefings: Sometime in my thirties, I sort of forgot to keep track of pop culture. So, thank goodness I have my daughter to tell me about music not made in the 80's (hallelujah) and what screenplays are being translated from books (more importantly, who's starring in them). Otherwise, I might only be plaguing my brain with stuff like when interest rates are going to rise or the crisis in the Ukraine. Now, I can interrupt those serious issues with stuff like how the opening scene of Star Wars was filmed. Or what's Chelsea Handler's next gig. What is her next gig, Alex? 
  • Diffuser of Testosterone: The women in this house have been accused of being overly-sensitive, crying too much about puppies and kitties. We also tend to cry when the lack of male verbal filters kick in. However, I appreciate the fact my daughter and I can relate to each other about our emotions in this way. If no one noticed those animals on the Sarah McLachlin  commercial, maybe we'd never have saved Percy, our dog. Or gotten ourselves that evil cat that makes us laugh so much. So, it's nice to have two overly-sensitive souls in the house. It equalizes the action/sports/gun themes that tend to dominate the household.
Not only do I enjoy having a daughter in our house, I enjoy having my daughter in our house. Beyond a few housekeeping issues, she's smart, clever, and beautiful–in just about every way a person could be. She might be flinching at my horrible use of cliches, but I can't think of any other way to put it.

Here's to you my baby girl–God bless. I love you.
Hey Power Puff Girl.