Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Senior Pictures

While we were in Mayberry, The Teenager and I made our first attempt at taking her senior pictures. While we didn't manage to capture The One, we had a pretty good time trying.

And, since we have until December to turn in her chosen shot, we still have plenty of time to keep trying. Or, you know, we could hire an actual professional and get the job done in record time, albeit, for a staggering amount of money.


Anyway, like I said, we had fun, and, at this point, I'll take fun over a smack to the head, any day.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday, the Day of Rest

Stampede pretty much kicked my ass. This is not an unusual occurrence, but, this year, the ass-kicking seems slightly more noticeable, mainly due to the slight hangover from which I am still suffering an entire 36 hours after the fact.

Or, I got a touch of the stomach flu, which I'm not ruling out, entirely.

The weekend was well worth the after-effects, of course; Stampede weekend usually is. After all, there is no other weekend of the year when I get to relax, completely, in the bosom of my childhood home, with my mother tending to my every need, spoiling my children, and reminding me just how lucky I am to have been born to her and my dad.

I also get to hang out with my sisters and my best friends and I get to watch my children enjoy all of the things that I enjoyed at their ages. And, yes, this year was a bit different, thanks to some road construction that forced the re-routing of the daily parades, away from my parents' house, which, forced us to walk an entire block to enjoy them, but; it was still a good time.

The rodeos were just as fun as they always are, the carnival sang its' siren song to the boys, and, The Teenager danced the night away with her local friends, three-out-of-three nights. Plus, we had time to take a few of her senior pictures in a town that is dear to both of our hearts, which, makes them all the more special.

It was, exhaustion aside, an awesome, relaxing, exciting, and enjoyable way to spend four days. and, I have the entire work week in which to recover from the hangover. Or, flu. Whichever.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

And, As Usual, I Have Over-Packed

-One huge suitcase....

-One large duffel full of shoes....

-One giant cosmetics case...

-Two camera bags....

-One full-sized cooler, filled to the brim with sweet corn...

-One deceptively heavy laptop case...

-Two over-eager teenagers...

-All of their suitcases, laptop cases, cosmetic cases, and, extra shoes....

...yep, I'd say we are ready to hit the road for Mayberry.

Oops! Almost forgot the wine.....

....NOW we're ready.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It Goes Without Saying That She Came Home Without a Tattoo

The Teenager made it home safe and sound Sunday evening, just in time to do a quick load of laundry so she could re-pack her suitcase with clean clothes for our trip to Mayberry, tomorrow. In true Teenager style, she had her suitcase mentally packed and ready to go several weeks ago, but, all that other traveling she was doing got in the way of actual, physical packing. No worries, though; she's locked and loaded and ready to go, now.

I am not quite so prepared, myself. I have been preoccupied with tearing the Man-Cub's old bunk bed down to make room for the new bedroom set that he doesn't know is being delivered tomorrow. On that topic; getting a fourteen year old boy to pack up his entire room in between baseball games, a full time job and hours spent on his new Xbox is a lot harder than one might expect.

Anyway, the Cub will have a brand new bedroom by the time we return from Mayberry on Sunday.

The Teenager still won't have a tattoo, but that is neither here, nor, there.

I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Piriformis Syndrome Is a Pain in the Ass...Literally

A couple of years ago, when I was running on a treadmill, I ended up injuring my IT band, causing a lot of pain in the front of my hip and leg.

When I decided to do the C25K program this time around, I opted to run outdoors, hoping that I could eliminate the risk of re-injuring the IT, and, I succeeded at that. Unfortunately, the hilly terrain I chose to run on caused an inflammation of my Piriformis muscle, which is located in the buttock. The inflammation resulted in Piriformis Syndrome.

I know this because Dr. Google says so. And, because my massage therapist concurs.

So, it would appear that I am doomed to suck at the running, except, that's not entirely accurate, because; it turns out that running is not the real problem in my constant battle to remain injury-free. The real problem is the lack of flexibility in my hips, which allows the running to irritate one-or the other- of the major muscle bands in my legs. Why it always results in pain in my left leg is a mystery, since, according to my massage therapist, my right hip is more tight than my left.

Human physiology is weird.

Anyway, all is not lost. I have started doing a series of intense stretching exercises aimed at opening up my hips, and, today I ran two and a quarter miles (22 minutes without stopping!) with much less discomfort than I have experienced since I started the program six weeks ago.

I am also planning to start a yoga class that is being provided by my day job (have I mentioned lately just how much I love my day job?) as part of the company wellness program. The yoga should help with the flexibility issue as well.

So, I have high hopes for a pain-free future as a long distance runner. Or, as a couch potato and part-time shuffle/jogger type of person. Either way, cheers to less pain.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Taste of Things To Come

The Teenager has been at volleyball camp since Wednesday and I really miss her. She's having a great time, of course, mostly due to a visit from our family friend, who, it should be noted, has been torturing me with Facebook posts about taking my daughter for a tattoo. I'm relatively confident that my seventeen-year-old won't come home sporting an I Love My Mom tattoo, but, you never know about these crazy college kids.*

Speaking of college, as I mentioned in a previous post, The Teenager's camp is taking place at Hugh's old college. I'm getting a tad bit concerned about The Teenager getting used to the campus. I mean, we haven't even toured my old campus yet, and; I wouldn't want her to settle on a school she feels comfortable with before experiencing something better.

Not that I'm biased or anything.

Ok, maybe a little.

*And, if the child does come home inked for life, that tattoo had damn well BETTER say I Love My Mom.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ladybug Release 2013

Last weekend, I purchased our yearly supply of ladybugs at the garden center. I fully intended to have the kids release the bugs on Saturday evening, but, something came up; I can't, for the life of me, remember what it was, but I attribute that to my advancing age.

So, Sunday evening, I intended to have the kids release the bugs, but, we ended up at a showing of Grown Ups 2 and, later, viewing fireflies, and, again; the ladybugs had to wait.

Monday evening? Unexpected baseball game (we lost, it was tragic...not).

Tuesday evening? Massive thunderstorm.

This brings us to this evening, which, due to The Teenager being out of town at a volleyball camp, didn't seem all that appealing for a release, either. However, ladybugs? Have a shelf life and ours were nearing the end of theirs, so, my hand was forced.

Luckily, Mikey had never participated in a ladybug release and was more than willing to fill in for The Teenager.

And, we now have a garden full of ladybugs, ready to feast upon the aphids that are slowly chewing holes through my lettuce leaves.

Of course, I'm probably going to have to invest in a second supply so that The Teenager can have her shot at letting eighty million tiny insect feet crawl over her bare skin, but, that's a small price to pay for treasured childhood memories, so, I'll take it.

I Ran Two Miles

And I only wished for a quick death a handful of times! Granted, the rest of the time I was simply praying to God to give me the strength to take one more step, but, yeah, I ran two miles!

I wish I could say that I feel physically fit after this feat, but, in all actuality; I can't believe how achy and sore I am all the time. Getting out of bed in the morning is a crapshoot: will the knees buckle under my weight when I stand up? Will the cramping in my left buttock render me incapable of making it to the bathroom without a wicked limp? Will the aching in my right elbow be significant enough to prevent me from thoroughly washing my hair in the shower? Every day, it's something.

On the bright side, I have a virtual pharmacy in my medicine cabinet, and, naproxen seems to be working on most of the aches and pains. I have no idea what I will do if my body builds up a tolerance for the stuff; lets hope that doesn't happen before the weather changes and the humidity that is behind these aches and pains departs for another year.

In news not related to my decrepit shell of a body, The Teenager leaves today for another volleyball camp. This time, she is headed to the town in which her father's Alma mater is located. You may remember that she and her father toured the college last month, so; The Teenager feels like an expert on the campus and is looking forward to showing off her vast knowledge to her teammates.

She's also looking forward to seeing a family friend of ours who lives in the area and has volunteered to watch a few of The Teenager's games. The Teenager idolizes this girl and she is so excited to see her. I'm glad she'll get the chance.

While she is away, the rest of us are going to try to get the lawn mown and the garden weeded in between monsoon rains and lightning storms that have recently lit up the evening skies.

I think, perhaps, The Teenager is getting the better end of this deal.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fairy Lights

Once upon a time, we heard a story about fairies in a marsh just outside of town. The legend suggested that, on sultry summer nights, the lights of the fairies could be seen, dancing amongst the cattails and marsh grasses.

Of course, it was just a story, right?

Tonight, we set out, Hugh, Jana, the kids and I, to see the fairy lights for ourselves, and, we were not disappointed.

Yes, the "fairies" were merely fireflies, blinking and winking under the moonlit sky, but, we live in Colorado, where fireflies are said to be non-existent, so, either way, what we saw tonight was magical.

Our "fairies" were impossible to catch on film or video, but; they are now indelibly imprinted in the memories of three adults and four awe-struck teens.

There is magic in this world, you just have to look for it.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Nothing Says Fun Like Defrosting the Freezer

Luckily, no one had clued the Man-Cub in to the sarcasm of the above sentence, and, last night, he eagerly volunteered to help with the chore.

I handed him a bundle of towels, a bucket, and my spare blow dryer and told him to go to town, fully expecting him to tap out at roughly the half-way point. Imagine my surprise when he not only stuck with the chore to its end, but, devised new and clever ways of catching the copious amounts of water that resulted from the melting frost.

Once the defrosting was complete, he even helped with cleaning and sanitizing the freezer before restocking it with the frozen goods that we had managed to salvage (we lost quite a bit of the antelope that Hugh and the Cub killed back in 2008. I'm strangely ok with that loss. Ok, maybe not so strangely).

Today, when the Cub asked for some cash to take with him to a music festival in the local community park, I didn't hesitate to fork over a twenty. The kid totally deserved it.

In more fun news, The Teenager spent the past two days with her volleyball team at a camp in a town several hours away. I gleaned from various text messages, one phone conversation and a Face Time chat, that she was having a really good time. Not-so-coincidentally, the girl who plays in the same position as The Teenager (and, whom the coach favors) was unable to make the camp, giving The Teenager plenty of play-time.

In a surprise twist (for the coach), the team won most of their games, despite the fact that several of the coach's "chosen six" (that's seriously what she calls them) were not present. This is in sharp contrast to the team's record at last weekend's scrimmage, at which those girls were present and the team lost the majority of games they played.

One can hope that the coach will see the irony in this situation, but, one would probably be disappointed.

Anyway, my baby had a good time and that is all we can hope for at this point.

Also, she totally dodged the freezer defrosting bullet, so, she was a winner all around.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Well, That Was Awful

Since the latest forecast calls for rainstorms this evening, I got the bright idea to do my long run at noon. Because, it was only 83 degrees out. And, it wasn't raining.

I failed to take into consideration that the sun was shining, brightly, and hotly, or that it was....83 degrees out.

The first ten minutes weren't so bad.

The last ten minutes made me want to puke. And, I admit it, I walked for at least two minutes.

So, now I get to repeat Week 5, Day 3.


I think I'll try it after the sun goes down.

Or, after a bottle of wine.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Note To Self

Dear Self,

Tonight's run has been cancelled on account of the monsoon rain currently pouring down on Petticoat Junction.

I wish I could say we were disappointed with this turn of events, but....yeah, you would know we were lying to our self.

Tomorrow's forecast looks promising for running, however, so.....having the number for emergency services on speed dial might be wise.

Love, Me

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

C25K Update and a Plea For Assistance

Yesterday, I laced up my running shoes and hit the pavement for Day 2 of Week 5 of the C25K program. Day 1 of Week 5 had me warming up with a brisk 5 minute walk, followed by 5 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of running and a 5 minute cool down. So, I was expecting Day 2 to follow the same routine, since, Weeks 1-4 had all followed the same routine for all three days.

Week 5, however, is a very special snowflake, because, Day 2 ended up being a 5 minute warm up followed by 8 minutes of running, 4 minutes of walking, 8 minutes of running and a 5 minute cool down. Which, would probably have been fine, you know, if I had read the instructions. As it was, I spent three minutes thinking that I was experiencing the longest five minutes of my life.

Once I glanced at my iPod and saw that I was actually running for eight minutes, I assumed that I had, somehow, skipped ahead to Week 6 and, I was bummed. Not bummed enough to stop running, thank goodness, but, bummed.

When I got home and figured out what was going on, I was both relieved (at not having skipped ahead) and confused by the sudden change in routine.

Then, I read ahead to see what Day 3 of Week 5 had in store for me and I just about choked on my own tongue (which, was still sort of dry from sixteen minutes of running): Day 3? 5 minute brisk walking warm up followed by 20 minutes of running WITH NO WALKING, and, finally, a 5 minute cool down.


How do we go from eight minute intervals to twenty?

And, how will I ever survive that?

If you don't hear from me after 7:00 tomorrow evening, you might want to let the proper authorities know that I collapsed somewhere on the trail between my house and the local community park.

Because, that could totally happen.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Living In the Moment

Wow, this summer is just flying by; I don't like it.

I am enjoying the easier schedule that we have at home. Yes, the Man-Cub gets up early every morning to go to work, but, it seems to have less of the urgency than getting up early for school does.

The Teenager is also enjoying the schedule, in fact, she has been out with friends every night since she returned from Mayberry, and, without a job; has been sleeping in every morning. I would complain about her bohemian lifestyle, but, I rationalize it to myself in the following way: it's her last real summer of High School and I want her to thoroughly enjoy it. God knows she has the rest of her life to deal with adult responsibilities (may it be a loooong life).

Speaking of adult responsibilities, I have been working at both jobs for almost a year now. The longer days of summer definitely allow me to feel as though I still have time for myself, in addition to the work, and the house, and the kids, and everything else that I juggle. For that, alone, I dread the return of shorter days and cooler weather.

But! I'm not thinking about that right now. Instead, I am enjoying the time while I can.

I am also enjoying watching my son grow (literally, before my eyes) into a young adult. He is super-conscientious about his job, has been saving the majority of his paychecks, and, manages to juggle his work/play schedule without becoming grumpy or irritable (for a teenager! I know!). He is also looking forward to starting his Drivers Ed classes next month.

Yes. Driver's Ed.

Also? Not thinking about that right now. Instead, enjoying the moment.

Because the moment is totally worth the enjoyment.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Here We Go Again

The Teenager played in a volleyball scrimmage with the rest of the team this weekend. She was so excited to start her senior year on the volleyball court with her friends, and, I was really hoping for the best.

Do you feel the anvil fixin' to fall on your head yet?

Yes, well....

The team has a new coach this year; she was the coach of the Freshman team last year, which, is her sole experience as a coach.

When the previous varsity coach was offered a position as a principal of the middle school, and the advertisement for his vacated coaching position was posted, I had high hopes. I hoped that the school would pick someone from outside of the area, someone with no stake in small town politics, no pre-conceived notions about the talents of the girls, and, no reason to favor any individual student over another.

Several applicants, really, really good applicants, were interviewed. Two of the finalists were from out of the state; people with years of experience and glowing recommendations from the communities they had coached in. Things were looking good.

And then the athletics director announced that his choice was....the freshman coach with little experience, firmly entrenched in small town politics, and, completely awash in favoritism.

To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.

But, I encouraged The Teenager to do her best, as I always do, and, as she always does.

Saturday, we got a pretty good feel for the way the season is going to go, and, it isn't going to be pretty. So, The Teenager has a decision to make. She can choose to stay on the team (Seniors are guaranteed a space on Varsity) and to sit the bench while juniors and sophomores play over her (the coach has a special affinity for last year's freshman....SHOCKER), or, she can choose not to go out at all and to support her friends from the bleachers.

It's a hard decision, made all the harder by the fact that she loves the sport, loves her friends, and, was really looking forward to enjoying her senior season to the max. My heart is heavy for my daughter.

But, I know that she will make the right decision for herself.

In the meantime, we have already paid for two camps that she will be attending with the team this month, so, at least she will have a chance to hang out with her friends; on her worst day, they make her feel better.

And I'm grateful to them for that.

Friday, July 05, 2013

So Much Fun, It Should Be Illegal

Our 4th of July celebration was one for the record books. And, by record books, I obviously mean the family albums, since, no one else is really all that interested in our family activities.

I am nothing if not self-aware.

Anyhoodle, we started the day early and ended it late. Chris, Jana, and the kids met us at the house at 7:30 a.m., and, after a quick stop at the grocery store for staples (bottled water, hair ties, headbands, raspberry-filled powdered donuts, you know, the essentials), we hit the lake.

We were joined by another couple and their family, so, between us, we had three boats, five tubes, one inflatable trampoline, ten wake boards, seven knee boards, seven kids, and only eight small bottles of wine.

Luckily, Jana and I were the only wine drinkers in the group.

And, while we never did make use of the inflatable trampoline, we did drink all the wine.

For some reason, I felt that is important to note.

And, I digress.

So, our first order of business was, of course, to knock as many children off the tubes as humanly possible. This effort was rewarded many, many times throughout the day, with small children and gangly teenagers skipping across the surface of the water at regular intervals.

We also attempted to knock as many adults off of wake boards and knee boards as possible but were slightly less successful since it is harder to skip across the lake while tethered to a large piece of fiberglass than it is to fly off a tube. We did manage a couple of epic crashes, however, and swamping someone is almost as fulfilling as catapulting them, in my honest opinion.

When we weren't on the water, we were exploring the dam spillway, not to be confused with the damn spillway, because, this is a family blog.

The teenagers especially love the spillway because the acoustics allow them to shout really, really loudly without hardly raising their voices at all. I especially love the spillway because, when asked to "pose like a super model", the children are, for some odd reason, more amenable to my requests.

After exploring the spillway, we engaged in some cliff-diving, or, in this case, some "jumping off really high rocks into water that had been deemed safe by two-out-of-three male adults". The third male adult was busy napping on a boat and could not be reached for comment.

We finally pulled the boats off the lake just as the sun began to set and made it home in plenty of time to eat dinner before crashing into bed, exhausted from an epic day on a fabulous (and, oddly unpopulated) lake with good friends, tasty food, and wine.

Because being free allows us the privilege of drinking wine.

Thank you, fore-fathers!