Sunday, May 31, 2009

Adventurous Alabama

Alabama--where a sheen of sweat looks good on everyone. At least, that's what I try to tell myself as my sheen of sweat seems to be my dominant characteristic these days.

Our first week here, humidity was high, but the wind and rain kept the heat at bay. Now the clouds have disappeared, the cool breezes have gone north for the winter, and the sun is burning pools of sweat in our backs and armpits. Today I almost gave up on Mormon underwear. "Wicking" my foot. The church is true, but they still don't know how to make comfortable, wicking underwear. (pardon me while I check outside for lightning)

While we are here in good ole Montgomery, AL (where the Air Force base is an island of niceness in a sea of tumbly, rickety, deserted businesses), I have vowed to live as inconveniently as possible. The military is trying to accomodate my vow in every way. The first week, they took Mike away on a surprise camping trip. "Welcome to Alabama where you know no one and have no idea where anything is. Good luck this first week with your possessed GPS, a useless laptop, no air conditioning, and a car that has no power locks. And by the way, your husband won't be coming back to your one bedroom apartment until Friday. Have a nice day."

Motherhood awesomeness did not abound that first week. One night I was driving home from buying my children a healthy, well-balanced meal at some scary Taco Bell and I couldn't find the way back. The GPS (which speaks German, thanks Mike.) was telling me all sorts of things about 'rechts abeggen' and Kenzie kept yelling at me to "Please talk to me! Where are we? Why can't we have an ice cream cone?"

Eventually I found Maxwell Air Force Base, but then I couldn't figure out how to get to our apartment. It was awful. I have consumed 1.5 gallons of ice cream in the past two weeks. (Sometimes I share, but mostly I pretend I'm eating an orange.) That was the worst situation of the week, so it wasn't really that bad. Eventually Mike returned from his "camping" (air conditioned tents) and life got better even though ice cream consumption was still up.

That weekend we moved to an air conditioned apartment on the fourth floor with a smaller bed (a full!) and no bathtub, and no oven. And this is where I should start counting my blessings. I like this room better because A. I get the vertigo every time I walk into the kitchen. Mike thinks it has something to do with the building moving everytime the elevator moves. I think it has something to do with all the ice cream I am eating. B. It has a sliding partition that blocks off the one bedroom from the kitchen/desk area. I love being able to shut something to seperate myself from my adorable, always obedient children. Because sometimes they are so obedient I just have to close the door and pinch myself. Hard. C. The bathroom has a counter where I can spread all of my stuff around. D. Did I mention that there is a partition? I don't have to lie silently in the dark, breathing quietly and hopefully while my children do not fall asleep and then yell angrily at them to GO TO SLEEP and then when they finally do, tip toe around hoping they don't wake up. E. There is a partition I can shut at night and during nap time.

So we've had some other adventures too, but I forgot to bring the cable to download pictures and my mom is mailing it to me soon, so I'm waiting for that, but stay tuned for drama! action! romance! Ummm, really how much romance can we have here with all of us sleeping in the same room? So stay tuned for Drama! Action! Driving!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Insanity in Alabama

Last Saturday I ran a marathon, packed our clothes and the next morning headed for Alabama. We're here for 4.5 weeks (Mike for 6) while Mike learns about the Air and Space program with air force officers. I'm borrowing my friend's netbook (such a handy, cute laptop), to try and forge contact with the outside world.

The marathon was hard. Very hard. I almost didn't make it. Halfway through, my stomach was not happy and I was not happy. I said to myself, "If I see Mike I'm getting in the car with him and driving home." Fortunately Mike did not wake up early enough to get to the halfway point, so I had to keep running. I walked a little bit. I tried to pretend that I had intended to do the run/walk method all along, that this was my game plan. It wasn't, but it was the only way my shimmying-without-my-permission legs made it to the end. I kept thinking to myself about how insane all of these people were. And I was one of them. When the finish line came into view I tried to lengthen my stride and "sprint." (After all, I am supposed to be fast, or I was once upon a time.) My hamstring warned me by tightening into an excruciating ball of pain, that speed was not an option. So I shuffled to the finish line, felt like crying but didn't and then I tried to make myself feel better about my non-reached goal time by eating three or four creamies. Here is the detailed story of my marathon experience that I wrote for the Standard-Examiner.

I finished in 4:12. And I'm trying to tell myself that if I wouldn't have stopped 5 times to use the bathroom and one long, long time to have my cramping feet rubbed out I could have reached my goal (4 hours). I don't know if I will ever run a marathon again. It was brutal. It was emotional. I guess if someone said to me in a few years, 'Hey Stephanie, let's run a marathon and train together,' I would. But for now, I'm content to cross it off my list.

I didn't really have time to process the marathon and the pain it left my body in because we got on an airplane at 7:30 the next morning and now we're here in a one bedroom hotel room trying to maintain our sanity. Did I say we? I meant, I. I am trying to maintain my sanity. Mike is camping with his squadron (although he's a civilian for all purposes here he might as well be enlisted), learning small unit tactics.
Pray for my children. :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Biking Skirts-- A review of the Terry Cargo Skort Padded

For Mother's Day Mike helped me cover my assets. He bought me life insurance! No, not really. He bought me a biking skirt. It was super cute. Super cute and Stephanie do not often go together, so I was excited to test it out.

I am all about extra padding in my bike shorts for, ahem, personal reasons, and this skirt, with built-in shorts had an excellent chamois. My last pair of bike shorts was shiny and padded and made me look as if I were wearing adult diapers. My bum felt all soft and happy riding on my bike, but I felt ashamed, as if I should be some really professional biker if I wore the things. They were not super cute and I am not professional, so I felt like I had to explain to people we rode with that they were the only pair I owned and I really needed padding, and I didn't think I was professional or anything.

I have mixed feelings about skirts in sports. I don't think I would dare to wear a running skirt, it just seems so chaffy. I imagine my thighs would start a fire inside the skirt, which would definitely ruin the run. But I only bike once in awhile and I mostly do it alone, and my internal-combustion thighs are separated by a bike seat. I think I could pull off a biking skirt.

So yesterday, I hooked up ye old bike trailer (I think it was the first bike trailer ever invented. It ranks slightly above my double jogger, but just below my single jogger in the love-hate continuum), and I snapped on my skirt for a test ride over to the King's for Joyschool.

I left the tags on because I wasn't keeping it if I didn't like it. So I had to hide the tags in my shirt so as not to look weird to my neighbors. They were uncomfortable, but the really uncomfortable part came when the skirt flapped open. Talk about looking weird to your neighbors.

"Why hello neighbors and cars driving by. No, that is not what you think it is. See I have shorts on! Shorts underneath this flapping skirt. Yes, I am your daughter's youth group leader and the lesson last Sunday was on modesty. I am not riding around flashing everyone. I swear, I am an upstanding, moral, honest person. Really. There are shorts right here."

I should have expected this since the skirt is a wrap around, but I felt obscene. Now don't get me wrong, I was fully covered by the shorts underneath, but the skirt flew to both sides, making me feel like the neighborhood flasher. I wasn't exposed, but I felt exposed.

I thought about putting a snap on the skirt flap so it wouldn't fly open randomly, but then I would trap my leg motion, and if I ever tried to mountain bike in the snapped-shut skirt, it would probably catch on the seat post and force me to crash more often. I crash enough without skirts thank you.

So I took the skirt back and got a sensible pair of baggy shorts with a less-padded chamois, since they were the only shorts on clearance that weren't reminiscent of adult diapers. Someone needs to open a women's gear store around here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Nice Mommy

Mike and I had just about had it with Kenzie. The past 2-3 weeks she's been trying to form a coup d'etat and take over the household. Her techniques include bombarding us with screaming "NOO!'s," air attacks of ignoring all requests and small arms fire of kicking and hitting. We've tried drawing the blackout curtains and hiding, but this isn't working out for us.

On the way home from Grandma's on Sunday, we had a little talk with our budding anarchist. (And I'm pretty sure I've managed to hit on everything you shouldn't say to a child in the following conversation.)

"Kenzie, mommy and daddy don't like it when you scream and yell no at us. Lately, we've been seeing a lot of screaming, yelling and even hitting. That is mean. We don't like the mean Kenzie. We like the Kenzie that is nice to her sister and does what her mommy and daddy ask her to do. We like the Kenzie that listens and doesn't scream and yell. And we want to help that Kenzie and do nice things for her. The mean Kenzie doesn't get to do fun things like go to Joyschool, or play outside, or read stories. She gets to sit in her room. So to help the nice Kenzie come back we're going to start our ticket system again. Starting when we get home, you can earn tickets and use those tickets to buy a story before bed, a snack at snack time and other fun things."

Of course she said, "Yes mother. I know that you are trying to make me into a passable human being and everything you do is for my good." That's how Kenzie talks all the time, you know.

Really, she said, or rather screamed, "No!!! We'll start tomorrow! Tomorrow!!" We introduced the ticket system awhile back and it worked wonderfully. We noticed good behavior throughout the day and rewarded tickets, which could be lost with bad behavior or spent for fun outings and snacks. It worked well. So well, that I thought my daughter didn't need it anymore and I let tickets fall to the way side. My mistake.

"See," I said calmly, "that's what we mean by the mean Kenzie. We don't do nice things for the mean Kenzie. She doesn't get stories at bedtime or to choose what she wants for breakfast. We're starting tonight when we get home."

"Well," she hrummphed from the backseat, sounding like a teenager. "I'm thinking about it."

"Oh," I said. "Thinking about what?"

"The nice Kenzie."

When we got home I was pleased to see the nice Kenzie make an appearance. I feel like I can be more of the nice mommy now. Yesterday and today have been much more pleasant. We're still testing the boundaries and working out the exact process of rewards and consequences, but I feel much less deposed from my motherhood throne. How do you motivate your kids and avoid turning them into mini-Hitlers?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Blog Under Construction

I'm making a few changes around here, trying to streamline download times, write more focused content, and make this blog into my writing haven.

My goal is to write twice a week, once on motherhood/parenting and once on running/adventure. It'll still be pretty much the same writing, but now I won't be tricking myself.

At first I pretended this was a family journal, but this is more of a place for me to connect with others and share what inspires me, keeps me going, and makes me laugh.
I really, really like talking to adults that don't yell "no!" at me, and this is a great place to do that "talking." I'll still write about family and our adventures, but I'm moving things like birthdays, weight/height updates (how much longer are my girls going to want me to update that?!), and "what we did this week" posts to Gaining Equilibrium. Try not to be too shocked if I try to write seriously on this blog like a poem (oh no!) or something. I love to write and poetry and serious writing might creep in every once in awhile. But mostly I'll just try to laugh at my amateur skills in everything and hopefully you'll laugh too.
It'll take me some time to rearrange and get into the groove. So please be patient. Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sloth in a Tarpit- a personal experience

If you've ever thought to yourself, "Hey I wonder what running 18.64 miles would feel like?"
You can call me. If you want I will pretend that it was euphoric and horses ran wild through mountainous fields, my feet flew like pegasus, and other mythical ideas I like to pretend about running.

Honestly, I felt like a sloth in a tarpit. Even though there were horses running through fields and sheep bleeting plaintively, I can't say that it made me feel excited to run 8 more miles (7.56 miles to be exact). I am not exactly oozing confidence for this dumb marathon I'm supposed to run in 3 weeks. Oh wait, make that 2 weeks. Two. Weeks. I'm kind of hoping I contract Swine flu. No I am not. I am feverishly knocking on wood and taking that back.

Anyway here's a sampling of my thoughts throughout the Strider's Winter Racing Circuit 30K (18.64 miles). I ran it with, well for 11 miles at least, Cristina and Leah and they made it much more bearable. I finished in 2:42:29, to average 8:42 pace. I'm pretending that pace was actually 8:30 pace because all of those dumb water stops I made.

Mile 1: I feel good. I feel great. I feel wonderful. 6 miles times three. Not too bad. I can do it. Can I think of enough things to say for 18 miles? What if there's just an awkward running silence between Cristina and Leah and I? Maybe I'll tell a story about Blaisdell.
Mile 7: Alright. Alright. "Romeo something, something, never have to be alone. I said I love you and something." Sorry Leah. I really didn't mean to spit on you. I am so sorry. I will wash your tights. Good thing you are wearing tights because that would feel nasty on your bare leg. I am so sorry.
Mile 10: These shoes are toast. I really, really want new shoes. "Romeo, romeo." Stupid Taylor Swift. That is not a running song. My back hurts.
Mile 11: I think I will stop right here and stretch my aching back. Goodbye Leah. Goodbye Cristina. Your backs look nice in that blue jacket and pink shirt. I will catch you in 3 miles.
Mile 14: No I will not catch you. I will stop at every aid station and consume massive quantities of water, resulting in a bouncing stomach. 5Ks. I'm going back to 5Ks.
Mile 16: Does this never end? How can I get this stupid song out of my head? OH look there's Mike. Just pretend everything is alright. I'm glad Hannah loves me so much that she wails my name everytime I run by. Kenzie, your smile as I see you makes me so happy.
Mile 18: Okay the finish line is any time now, anytime now. "It's a love story and something, Romeo." Dang song. Curse this wrap-around finish. Curse it! But silently, not out loud like you did during the half marathon. Silently cursing.
Mile 18.64: Alright a free hat. Mmmm, donuts. Mmmm. More donuts. Mmmm just one more donut. No, Hannah I cannot hold you right now. I am a sloth in a tar pit.

Just for the record, if I make it through this marathon I am never, never running a marathon again.

Congrats to Cristina, who was second in our age group for the overall circuit. She's a true distance runner now. :)

Recipes for Nannygoat

I wish my recipes were all cute like Kathryn's, but here they are--a few of my family's favorites for the Nannygoat 30 meals project:

(And when I say "family's favorites" I mean Mike's and my favorites because I swear my children hate everything but plain potatoes. I keep telling myself that if they try it enough times they will eventually like it. Say when they're 20 or something.)

Ummm. . . did you know that copy and paste from MSWord to blogger is not functional? Does anyone know how to make this work? Sorry that means you get a short recipe and only one, because it is past my bed time.

This one is from my friend Melissa and it is easier than wiggling your finger:

Crockpot Salsa and Black Bean Chicken

4 chicken breasts (Can be frozen or thawed. Takes longer to cook if frozen)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 jar of salsa
Add all ingredients to crockpot. Cook 7-8 hours. (Honestly I always forget to cook in the crockpot until lunchtime so I always kind of defrost the chicken in the microwave throw it in the crockpot and crank it to high for 3-4 hours.) One hour before serving, shred chicken and place back in. (I don't do this either. I shred the chicken right before I serve it. Don't use your fingers. It will burn.) Resume cooking. We like to eat this yummy chicken mixture in tortillas, although it is a little runny. You could probably serve it over rice or noodles as well. Mmmm.