Thursday, November 20, 2014

Is my house full of drama while raising four girls? Noooooo.

Often, when I reveal that I have four little girls, people say, "Phew. You must have a lot of drama at your house."

Usually I smile and shake my head in the negative, "Nahh. It's great."

Or they say, "Ohhh, just wait until they are teenagers."

And I smile and say something non-sarcastic and hopeful, like "Oh, I'm sure it will be great. We're pretty easy-going."

But maybe I need to change my denial coping mechanism. I should just own it. We are drama. And I should start putting away money to build Mike a ginormous bat cave for the teenage years. Wait. What about me? Even though I'm a woman, who supposedly understands and is part of all this drama, I'll need some place to hide too. So I'll start putting away money to build a ginormous parent hideout with soundproof walls and a recording that repeats in a soothing voice, "You are right. You are so right. Thanks for working so hard at parenting." Is this a thing? It should be.

Tonight I spent TWO HOURS combing a doll's hair. Why did I do this? Because every time I stopped combing the doll's hair, to do something unimportant like make dinner, rescue the two-year-old from being beat to death by an eraser that looks like licorice, or take K a drink of water (she's currently dying, dying, dying because she threw up 24 hours ago), H would throw herself on the floor, "You promised! You promised! What about MaryLyn's hair? What about her hair? Her hair! Her hair!" And then she would grab my arm in a vice-like grip and refuse to let go. (This always brings out the sweet and calm mother in me.)

Now, normally I am a completely rational mother who always follows through with consequences, and never gives into whining. But sometimes, sometimes, my dearly beloved H (and K and E and N) pushes me beyond the limits of whining.

It's like I am the comet 67P, and they are the Rosetta, whining and skittering around space for 10 years, picking up momentum until they finally catch up to me and are able to launch a probe onto my surface. And the only way to emerge unscathed from this whole Deep-Space Whine encounter is to pretend that it was my idea in the first place to put all other needs aside and comb the *(%&# doll's hair for two hours.

I guess I will just chalk this up to another skill that I never thought I would develop, but now have, like cleaning up throw-up, or wiping noses, or tying blankets on as capes. My next job application is going to be pretty awesome:

Tissue application to unwilling noses
Cape-blanket tying
Doll hair care and maintenance
Disposing of and Cleaning up throw-up
Shutting the door and locking it
Finding teensy-tiny things in sandboxes
Matching socks
Dancing with short people, including the dizzy twirl
Wiping up spills
Speaking calmly while incredibly angry
Swearing privately
Ignoring desperate, soul-sobbing crying about suckers
Breaking up slap fights
High tolerance for whining and general unhappiness

Friday, November 7, 2014

Halloween 2014 Matryoshka Dolls

Just because everyone had to ask what the girls were doesn't mean it was an epic fail, right?

Can you guess what they are? Let me give you a hint: Russia. Okay, another hint: Dolls. Okay, okay, don't give up, they were Matryoshka Dolls, otherwise known as Russian Nesting Dolls. 

They're still adorable, even if you don't know what they are. My sister Alisha always has these great ideas for Halloween for my girls.  So even though every year I vow that I am not going to make Halloween costumes, every year Alisha has this great idea and then I have to figure out a way to make it work.  

I googled for some ideas on how to make the costumes, but only found elaborate things that looked difficult to sew or paint. I sew just about as well as I perform cartwheels (marginal at best, with one leg always crooked), and I don't paint, so none of those was going to work for me. But then I found a pumpkin costume tutorial, made from a too big shirt and I adapted it to fit my needs. 

Steps to Make a Matryoshka Doll Costume

1. Find a shirt that is too large. I used X-small women's shirts for my normally 7-8 oldest girls and 7-8 size shirts for my toddler and preschooler.
2. Using elastic thread, sew the sleeves and arms of the shirt. This is a fun technique to make a too-big t-shirt fit a little better. You just wrap the elastic thread on your bobbin and use regular thread on the top. Here's a tutorial on sewing with elastic thread that I found helpful.
3. From felt, cut out an "apron" (the large pink piece) and the flower pieces. I traced two different size Tupperware lids for my flower and freehanded the leaves. My pink bottom pieces were 14 inches tall and 9 and 3/4 wide at the bottom, and they fit onto size 7/8 t-shirts. The older girls (age 7 and 9) are in small women's tshirts and their "aprons" are 18" tall and 13" wide at the bottom circular part. I freehanded the pink aprons by tracing a giant lid on the bottom to get the circular shape.  
4. Hot glue, or sew the top of the flower together. I finished it off with a button.
5. Sew/Glue on the flower stem and leaves
6. Sew/glue on the flower top
7. Hot glue the "apron" onto the t-shirt. I hot glued it first to get it where I wanted and then sewed it on. (Be careful not to sew over the hot glue or it will gum up your needle.)
8. I cut out the head kerchiefs all the same size and I was going to sew them and make the edges all nice, but then I ran out of time so they just had raw edges and it was okay. Now they won't be able to keep them as treasured momentos of their fantastic Halloween, but oh well. They were triangles that measured 32 x 21.5 x 21.5. 
And there you go.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Kidathlon

Three years ago, at one of our get-togethers someone brought up the idea of doing a triathlon for kids. I think it was Melissa, or it could have been Caroline. She had seen it on a blog and we thought, "Hey we always do a triathlon (the Spudman), we should do one for the kids." And thus the Kidathlon was born.

We begin with a strenuous swim in a friend's pool. The kids do half their age, rounded up in laps:

H, pausing for breath.

K, getting ready to take on one more lap.

E, getting ready for the start.

Next we bike an arduous 1.5 miles to the end of a neighborhood trail.

This is not an actual action shot. It's an after shot.

Then, we finish it off with a grueling .5 mile run. (.25 if you are 4 years old)

The girls had a great time, and I rode my bike and ran with E. She was delightful. When I asked her if she wanted a drink on the bike she said, "Only when I'm done with this race." And when she fell down in her first few steps on the run she said through great big tears, "I'm okay Mom! I'm okay." She ran almost the whole way and loved being cheered for at the end.

I only got to see the other girls during the swim, since that was my station, but I heard that Kenzie worked hard (she was a little sick at the end), and Hannah pushed herself to do her best. Way to go girls!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Potty Training, Part Deux

I am playing my own personal "Game of Thrones" right now-- except our throne is made of porcelain, not iron. And my bid for power involves pitting my will in an epic battle against the Princess of the Pull-Ups.

I haven't ever seen Game of Thrones, so I'm going to have to end my analogy here, but here are some of my favorite moments from the last two weeks of potty training. (Yes TWO WEEKS. And this is just two weeks in our long, long journey that started back in January. Do you think my book, called, "How to Potty Train Your Defiant Child in 9 Soul-Sucking MONTHS," will be successful?)

Good Times:

Day 1: I decide that school is in session, structure is abounding (kind of), and I am not buying anymore diapers. PERIOD. She wakes up dry every morning. She's gone on the potty before. N's will is strong, but I am pretty sure that mine is stronger. She only has two years of practicing mule-headedness; I have 35 years under my belt--in fact, for me it's not mule-headedness, it's mule-headedfinesse. And I will not be defeated.

I gear up with reward M&Ms. "We're wearing underwear and we're keeping it dry," I say. "Every time you go potty, I'll give you some M&Ms."  Four hours later and four loads of laundry later, I decide that maybe I will buy some diapers again. BUT I AM NOT GIVING UP. Later that day, my beautiful, angelic, fabulous daughter pees on the floor of the sports equipment store. I pretend that I am not embarrassed and/or angry. After all, I did set myself up for failure by leaving the house. Everyone knows that while you're potty-training you shouldn't leave the house. EVER.

Day 2: I eat all the M&Ms in a moment of self-pity. I buy more, and break out the little potty. I have been using a seat on the toilet, because that is so much less gross. But she'll sit on the little potty a lot longer, so the disgusting little potty it is. I also buy suckers, to convince her to stay on the potty for more than 2 seconds.

Day 3:  After two days of ritually following these steps: 1. Sit her on the potty 2. Read her some books 3. Look in the empty potty 4. Sigh 5. Pull up her pants 5. Change said pull-up two minutes later, I lock N in the bathroom with myself and say, "We are not leaving until you put some pee in the potty." She has consumed a juice box 30 minutes earlier, and I know she needs to go. One hour later, I am still sitting in the bathroom. Finally, she pees. Hallelujah! She hands out M&Ms to the whole family. We celebrate!

Day 7: Norah has yet to poop in the potty. Today she is in the garage with me and says, "I'm pooping." I rush her to the potty and she finishes in the potty. GROSS. I have lost all sense of disgust, though. I'm counting this as her first poop in the potty. She gets 10 M&Ms.

Day 10: I eat all the M&Ms in a moment of self-pity. We have gone through six large bags of M&Ms.

Day 11: We are down to the last two out of our package of 24 Pull-Ups, but she is pretty successfully going in the potty. She is "mommy-trained." She will pee in the potty if I set her on it, but she has only told me twice ever that she needs to use the potty. I put her in underwear anyway. I can do this. She's sitting on the front steps of my sister-in-law's house, eating an ice cream cone. She says matter-of-factly, "I'm peeing," as a stream of pee trickles down the steps. ARGHHHH!

That night, I eat all the M&Ms in a ritual of self-pity.

Day 13: I lose my temper when N pees on the floor of the bathroom at the Church History Museum while I am breaking up a fight that involves biting because there were only two stools and there were three children. (Makes sense to me. I would totally bite someone if there was a stool shortage. "Brush Your Teeth So They Will Be Strong Enough To Bite People" is one of our family mottos.)

I clean up the floor while my four children howl like wolves with their feet cut off in the small "powder room" portion of the bathroom. I come out to find a woman trying to have a phone conversation. She finally leaves in disgust. So sorry that the bathroom didn't work out as your private phone booth. So sorry.

Day 14: She pees the bed twice. While N is not successfully potty-trained, I am successfully addicted to M&Ms.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Blessed Back To School

I often think about home schooling. Then summertime rolls around and I get a taste of what it would be like. And I give up my thoughts on home schooling and celebrate the loveliness that is professional teachers.

And now, let cuteness abound:

K, fourth grade

H, second grade

E, preschool (a co-op preschool that I do with 7 other moms)

N, Sassypants School for Two-year old Tyrants

The oldest two were crying a little bit about going back to school, and I was trying to assuage their fears. I said, "Girls, I am so excited for school to start because you have such a great opportunity to learn new things and make new friends!" 
And K said poutily, "No! You're just excited because we will be gone all day!"
Ouch. We had a fun summer, but I must admit that August was a bit trying in the patience and love department. I am loving my ability to get a few projects completed. And I love the structure and scheduling that school brings to our lives. Happy Back-to-School!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Summer Kid Goal: 100 Miles of Biking

It involved an R.O.U.S., a few rain storms, a lot of snacks, some tears, and a ton of fun, but we made our goal of riding 100 miles on our bikes this summer!

I scoped out the trail by our house and read somewhere that it would be a round trip of 16 miles to Jensen Nature Park. So I promised the girls we could feed the ducks and pumped them all up about completing our goal.

We had spent the summer riding 2-5 miles per day, usually after breakfast, but with vacations and summer camps and sometimes just laziness, we still had 16 miles to complete. The girls were all pumped up to ride farther than we'd ever ridden before.

On Tuesday morning (the day before school started) it was rainy and a little bit blustery. Mike left us a cheerful wish-you-well note and some Life cereal to help us have a great breakfast. We hurried through our chores and took some time filling water bottles and gathering food, jackets, bike pump, slime (for emergency tire repair), and dolls and then we set off into the wind.

About mile into our ride we encountered the R.O.U.S. (warning: graphic picture of huge rodent follows).

Luckily, the Dread Pirate Roberts had already dispatched it. K shuddered and made gagging sounds when she saw it, H was fascinated and wanted to prod it. E and N didn't really like it. Later that day H asked me if rats could climb up the pipes into the toilet. BLECK!

The ride to Jensen Nature Park was good. It looked pretty stormy and Mike had warned us that we might get rained on, but we decided we could handle it. I kept scoping out shelters like newly built houses or boweries that we could shelter in if it started thundering, but the weather held. We made it to the shelter just as it started really raining and the wind picked up. We ate our lunch and eventually the wind died down, but we were glad we had brought jackets. It took us about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there. And I didn't tell the girls yet, but I had been watching the mile markers and it had only been 6 miles, not the 8 we were hoping for. 

Here's E showing off her mad picnic table parkour skills. 

K and H eating our lunch of pbj, cucumbers that we ended up throwing away, and go-gurts. 

After lunch the girls wanted to feed the ducks--the aggressive, loud, noisy ducks. K and H ran off with their allotted duck bread, and were soon screaming in terror as the ducks rushed them. I had to run over and do some serious Mommy-bear stances to get the ducks to back off. I taught the girls to stamp their foot at the ducks and act tough and their screams of terror stopped. 

Then the girls became obsessed with feeding this little family of ducklings, trying to shoo off the big ducks. I said, "Girls, stay on the upper part of the cement, up here." Then I turned away to help N ward off an aggressive goose. K and H did not listen. Next thing I knew H was screaming louder than ever, and splashing about wildly in the lake! She had lost her footing and slid into the water. I'm not sure if she was more terrified of the ducks coming to get her or upset about being wet, but she was super upset. 

I'm pretty sure the fisherman who saw the whole fiasco was laughing his head off and I had to bite my tongue just a little bit. I calmed her down as best I could, and we headed to the bathrooms where luckily there was a hand dryer so we were able toget her clothes somewhat dry. I knew it was going to be a really long ride home because it was not warm and her jacket, skirt and shoes and socks were soaking. I gave her my jacket and called Laurie, who lives about a mile away from the park, to see if we could come over there to dry off a bit more before heading back. 

The girls on the bridge, after the fall in. 

At Laurie's house she found some clothes for H to wear, she gave us Twix brownies and other food, and was so nice. The girls were well-rested and re-charged and ready for the ride home after our visit and playing with Brody. Hannah loved the clothes so much that Laurie let her wear them home too. We gathered H's mostly dry clothes and headed back out. We tried Brody riding in the bike seat behind me, with N and E in the trailer together (I usually separate N and E because I prefer my children to not gouge each other's eyes out). Brody did not like being away from his Mama, and after a short ride, Laurie picked him and N up. At this point, N was crying sadly and refusing to go back in the seat, so Laurie saved us again by offering to drive N home while we finished the ride. I couldn't believe how much easier the ride home was. It was probably a combination of having dropped 25 pounds off my bike (without N) and the wind was at our backs too. It only took us 1 hour and 10 minutes to ride back home. We stopped whenever we needed a drink and kept the pace pretty slow.

With 1.5 miles to go we stopped to try and take an usie. It wasn't working out for us.

Sorry E.

Now, sorry H

E gave up and went back to the trailer, but I bet we would have got it in this one. Yes, K had a helmet, she just took it off every time we stopped.

A "wild" billy goat we saw.

Here we are exhausted from the long ride! 

We celebrated with Creamies and high fives. Then I mapped our route, just to see if it had been 16 miles with our detour to Laurie's. It was 13.5. I had an internal debate about telling the girls this. They would never know right? I didn't want to rob them of their accomplishment, but I didn't want it to be a sham either. So after thinking about it, I told them. They cried. I felt awful. But we wiped away the tears and decided we would do the last three miles with Mike. After back-to-school night and tumbling (we had way too full of a day), we jumped back on our bikes with Mike and even E rode her little 16" for our last three miles. It was awesome!

The completed bike chart! Good job girlies! Now we get to celebrate with a day of no chores and going to Lagoon!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Potty-training: Torture defined

I have successfully potty-trained three children. And yes, I would like an award. Potty training is like preparing for a large-scale invasion. It takes months of preparation, is full of uncertainty and doubt, and it will pretty much destroy your life. But you must fight on, because somewhere, someday there will be a land that can be free from diapers. (This land will probably be ruled by a tiny three-year-old tyrant, but it will be diaper free!)

Here's how I'm doing with potty training our youngest:

In January we began playing a computer game called "Elmo's Pottytime." Elmo is put in various situations where the player has to "press a key to help Elmo go to the bathroom." N, who if I am typing important facebook messages or emails thoroughly enjoys throwing in a backspace, shift, triple alt iiiiiiiihkury, just to make my life more interesting, refused to press any keys. This gave me much anxiety. I was pretty sure if we didn't press the button to help Elmo he was going to wet himself and we'd have a huge mess to clean up. So I pressed the buttons.

Next I began trying to indoctrinate N with a video called "Go Potty Go" that had previously convinced E that going on the potty was awesome. This video has a catchy little tune that says, "Big kids don't wear diapers they wear underwear. Underwear, Potty Chair, I'm a big kid now." N watched this video for a few minutes and then declared, "I baby." Every once in awhile I play this video for her and talk about how exciting it is to be big and wear underwear! "Hooray!" I sing in my best chocolate-for-dinner voice. "Underwear!" and then I clap wildly. Perhaps she can sense the desperation hiding behind my enthusiasm, because she just looks at me.

For my next trick, I began wrinkling my nose and telling her how much I despised changing poopy diapers. "Poop goes in the potty! It's so yucky! No poop in your underwear." (Yes, Professor Shigley, I am totally immersed in using my Master's degree to contribute to our society.) N just laughed at me. "Poop yucky! hahaha!"

"No," I said frowning and shaking my head while changing her. "I don't like it. It's not funny. Don't poop in your diaper."

N grew concerned. "I sorry mommy," she said so sweetly. And then she patted my hand that was wiping her little bottom. Hmmm. . .

Next, I bought some underwear with ponies on them. Who doesn't want underwear with ponies on them? N, that's who. I also thought I would try some cute princess pull-ups to see if that might interest the girl. Nope. She freely pees on the princess without any remorse.

Uncertainty and Doubt

Part of me thinks that eventually she will potty train. Right? Why push it? Why make myself and her miserable? But then I change a horrifically disgusting diaper or I picture myself changing a kindergartener and I begin thinking of new strategies and trying to implement them. And then I think, "I missed the window. I was too busy taking kids to school and practice and trying to keep some semblance of order around here and I missed the opportunity at 22 months when she was ready to go. I blew it. I can just give up." But then I go back to thinking about potty-training because she is over two years old now, and all my other girls were potty-trained by now, even the indomitable H. So I say to myself, "I just need to find out what motivates her, and then I will successfully potty train her. Gumballs. I can do gumballs. She loves gumballs." Apparently, she loves peeing in a diaper more than she loves gumballs. And then I think, "Why should I potty train her anyway? Then I just have to find bathrooms at every place we ever visit and I have to drop everything at a minute's notice to rush her to the nearest disgusting bathroom where she will touch everything and crawl on the floor and we will all end up with e coli. I'm not doing it."

Ruining Your Life

If I just managed to stick to it for three days, I bet she would be potty trained. So, following this line of thought, I begin the morning by rushing her from her crib to the potty. Then we sit there for 20 minutes singing, reading stories and staring at each other, willing the pee from her body. 20 minutes of sitting on a tiny stool in a bathroom that needs to be cleaned, reading to your child about raccoons is probably an act of torture that is forbidden by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Finally she tinkles. The other children are running around the house wondering if they will possibly ever be fed and almost succeeding in killing each other, but we have success! I give her a sticker and a gumball and praise her like she just built the Eiffel tower all by her self! Amazing! Fantastic! "Do you want to wear panties?" Oh yes, she is so pleased. She puts on the underwear. I set the timer for 20 minutes and then we sit on the potty every 20 minutes until I can't convince her to sit on the potty anymore and she runs away and hides until I give up, because I have to stop her sisters from spraying milk around the kitchen in a spur-of-the-moment food fight. Then, she comes to tell me she peed on the floor. Refraining from swearing, I clean out her underwear, wipe up the floor and swear off potty training until the next morning when we begin again. This goes on for a week. One success in the morning followed by abject failure in every other way. Then at the end of the week she peels all the stickers off her nifty potty chart and refuses to sit on the potty.
Currently the underwear are sitting unused in the top dresser drawer. The pull-ups are resting on a shelf (because they are way to expensive to waste on someone who is not even interested in going on the potty), the little potty seat is gathering dust in the corner of the bathroom, and I am still changing diapers.

Maybe I can just modify my diaper-free dream a little bit. Maybe I can just hope for a life free of using public restrooms with two-year-olds.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ogden Half Marathon 2014 (Boring race post with too much detail)

I did it! I did not die. I did not spend 30 minutes using porta potties along the course, and it was awesome!

On Saturday I ran the Ogden Half Marathon and I loved it. I was feeling a little bit of trepidation since a few weeks ago I switched shoes and my foot has been bothering me since. I switched back to a new pair of my old shoes and it seems to be okay, but my foot has been worrying me. I've spent many hours giving myself premature frostbite while icing the stupid thing. (I told Mike that and he said, "Premature? Because you were going to get frostbite as you grew older?" "Yes," I said. "Don't you know that frostbite is one of the many joys of aging?") So maybe it wasn't premature, just plain old frostbite. But it seemed to work. My foot held it together. So let me bore you with the details.

I woke up at 3:45 a.m. after a pretty decent night of sleep. I was in bed by 10:30, after pinning my number on my shorts, attaching my chip to my shoes and laying out my clothes and other stuff.. It always takes me so long to get everything together. I rolled out of bed, thinking that I woke up way too early. I could have at least slept until 3:55. I threw on my clothes, which consisted of my marathon shorts (I thought I would try to redeem them, since my 2009 Ogden marathon had sucked. And yes, I still own the same shorts), my Ragnar shirt from last year, my new purple socks free from (hooray), my new Brooks Glycerins, and my running hat. The hat was a mistake. It got way too hot and I ended up carrying the dang thing, since I love it and I'm way too cheap to buy a new one (see shorts from above). I wore fleece pants over my shorts because I knew the start line was going to be a bit chilly.

I tried to empty my bowels, was moderately successful, and then made myself a bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar and butter. I poured it into a disposable cup, since it was still way too early to be eating. I packed a banana and a multitude of clothes, grabbed my ipod, which Mike had thoughtfully charged for me the night before. I borrowed my neighbor's GPS watch, so I grabbed that too.

Here's my Ogden Half Marathon Gear List
1. Hat (next time only wear if it's raining)
2. Fleece Pants (for wearing at the starting line)
3. DI Sweatshirt (for wearing at the starting line, and just in case it was cold, I could wear it and ditch at one of the aid stations)
4. DI Long sleeve (for wearing at the beginning of the race)
5. Smartwool Phd socks (I love these for running any weather!)
6. Sports bra (duh!)
7. Running shirt
8. Running shorts (number pinned on already)
9. Shoes (timing chip attached)
10.Shuffle Ipod and headphones
11. GPS watch (thanks Meghan!)
12. Waterbottle (disposable would be better, but I forgot to buy one)
13. Ear band
14. Gloves
15. Sports Jelly Beans

Phew! I think that's it. My mom came and picked me up at 4:15 and we were off. Not really. My mom forgot her timing chip, so we had to run by her house to grab it. I began to stress out a little bit, but tried to remain calm. She found it quickly and changed her shirt too, since she claimed hers stunk. Then we were off. There was only a little bit of traffic on the bridge and we found a parking spot okay behind the DMV. We found my Aunt Leslie waiting in line for the buses and loaded pretty quickly. I ate my oatmeal mostly on the drive and sipped my water, trying not to drink too much.
As soon as we made it to the starting line we made our way through the crowd to the porta-potty lines. With our typical finesse we choose the slowest line and spent the next hour waiting to use the bathroom.  Honestly. After we used the bathroom, it was a huge rush to get the clothes on that I wanted to have on to start the race. I peeled off my fleece pants and jacket, tried to get my headphones ready, and got out my DI Long sleeve. I tried to to get my Sports Beans ready, but the pouch was too bulky to fit in my shorts and I was going to deal with it, but then slipped it in my bag and forgot about them until my bag had been dropped at the clothing drop. At this point the collective panic was starting to get to me and I was rushing around, even though we still had about 5 min. to start.

I saw Leah there and she told me she wasn't feeling 8s today because she had been up all week with a sick baby, so we didn't start out together, which was kind of a bummer.

I left my mom and aunt with a last good luck as we dropped our bags off and I started walking toward the starting line. At the 9 min. pace marker there were a ton of people but it thinned out in the 8s and in the 7s there was hardly anyone. I saw Alyssa, Angie and some other fast women I knew inching up to the very front, so I went up to say hello. "Just stay with us," said Alyssa, but she was joking because there was no way I was going to drop anything lower than a 7. Alyssa's goal was like 6:20s. So I wished them luck and stayed pretty close to the front. Suddenly we were off.

I started my borrowed GPS watch as I crossed the line and turned my music on. I usually don't race with music, but since I was going to be alone for this race I figured I might as well. Especially since I had put together an awesome playlist.

Things I remember from the race:

2 miles in, someone pinched my butt. It was my friend Summer, who I was hoping I might be able to keep up with, but she blew by me, saying, "I was late to the start!" I didn't see her again until the finish.

3 miles in, I dropped my sweater by a mile marker, intending to donate it. I wished I had kept my gloves on for the first few miles, but then I forgot about it as my hands warmed up.

I was nervous about forgetting the sports beans, but my stomach was holding up. At mile 4/5 I grabbed a vanilla goo and took it at Mile 7. Well, I took most of it, 3 good swallows. It wasn't bad. It was a quick pick me up. And I probably should have taken the whole thing.

At mile 7ish, some guy came up on me running my same pace SLAP, SLAP, SLAPPING down the canyon. I had to run faster just to get ahead of him. I felt pretty good and would spurt ahead of him. He seemed to always catch up though. So I just decided to stop being annoyed and think happy thoughts for him.

I walked through a couple aide stations, sipping the water they offered and trying not to slosh it all down my front. I mostly succeeded. Somewhere in here I ate a part of a banana. I liked it.

I remember running down the canyon thinking about how awesome it was to be running HALF a marathon, not the whole dang thing. And my legs felt great.

My hat started to annoy me, but I wasn't about to throw it to the side of the road. So I tucked it in the back of my shorts. But it started sliding, so I had to carry it. Super annoying. No hats, unless it's raining next time.

When I hit the parkway, my music stopped! Arghh! I was so looking forward to listening to Katy Perry as I came down the homestretch. Oh well. I could feel myself really slowing down as I ran on the parkway. I just kept thinking, 3 to go, 3 to go.

When I got to 25th st. it was kind of awful. Far, far, far away I could see the finish line, and people started going fast. I thought, "People. Slow down. Don't you realize that we are still so far away?!" But they kept running faster. It's a horrible finish to a great course.

I was able to pick it up the last .2 of a mile and finished in 1:37:53. So happy! Hooray! It's a PR and it was an average of 7:29s. Great Great Great!

My mile splits:

I bet if Katy Perry was singing me in I would have ran those last two miles faster. Oh well. It was great.
Alyssa ended up coming in fourth behind Angie, who was third. They are so fast! Someday I will run fast like that.

Mike and the girls were at the finish line (the girls were so excited. Not really. They just wanted my creamies.), and my dad was too. It was pretty awesome. I felt tired, but good and happy and I ate three creamies, a glass of chocolate milk and some bread. I was so hungry. I iced my foot, which was a little sore, but okay, and we hung out for awhile until my mom came through, took some pictures and then we headed off to soccer. Good times.

Kenzie took this shot. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Changing Running Anthems

Running is like being involved in a really bad relationship. You want to break up with running, really. It makes you ache in ways you never thought possible. It demands more time and attention than you really have. You think it loves you, but then it trashes you over and over and over. Kelly Clarkson put it perfectly in "My Life Would Suck Without You". What a cheery and uplifting running anthem.

In college my running anthem was, "I am Woman" by Helen Reddy. Now I run, singing, "Being with you is so dysfunctional. I really shouldn't miss you. But I can't let you go."

Last April, I sat in the doctor's office and cried embarrassingly when he told me I should think about retiring from running. He was looking at an x-ray of my knees that looked sadly like the children's song, "Hagdalina Magdalina." One pointed North and the other pointed South. I had always pictured my geriatric self stringy and impossibly wrinkled and tan from running so many races. I was going to die while running. Or at least while hiking briskly. So I wiped my tears and set out to fix my knee.

I tried shots in my knees. They didn't work. I tried physical therapy. It didn't work. (And for once I faithfully did my exercises for two months straight). I tried not running (my knees still hurt). I tried Glucosamine. It kind of helped. I think.

But the fact remains that my knee still aches sometimes. And walking up stairs holding a child kills me softly.

Since my knee hurt no matter what I did, I decided to run anyway. Because, like that boy that only called me every six weeks, I missed it. And I kept texting and texting and running never returned my texts. And it avoided me in the halls. But I went to running's house and stalked it. (This is not what I did in a real relationship. Just this metaphorical running relationship. I promise.)

For the past four months I have been slowly (often sloth-slowly) building up my mileage. And finally I can run 6 miles again (once a week with two days of recovery after). I'm not sure when the last time I did that is, but it's been a few years. My left knee which has been the cause of all this running angst, is passable. I'm planning on running the Ogden Half in May and by then I might have a new running anthem. How about Katy Perry's "Roar"?

Friday, February 28, 2014

How to Take a Walk with a Toddler and a Preschooler

With the weather being so nice lately, we've enjoyed going on some walks. Today, we walked around the block (about .7 of a mile, according to usatf running routes), and I'm sure if anyone saw us it looked like the circus was coming to town. Ellie started out with her coat and helmet firmly secured, riding her bike. Norah started out with her coat, a balloon, and riding in the wagon. About 200 feet into the endeavor, Norah and Ellie were running down the sidewalk, looking back at me every once in awhile to say, "Ha-ha-ha-ha-Ha!" in a taunting voice. I was pulling a wagon full of bike, helmets, balloon, coats, and a couple of rocks they found in the road. Later, Ellie was pulling the wagon, Norah was riding on my shoulders and I was holding rocks in my hands. And later still, Norah was riding in the wagon and Ellie was practicing braking on her bike while I pulled the wagon and guided her handlebars down a hill. 45 minutes later we arrived back home. And I loved it. And they loved it. And life is good.

After nine years of having a toddler (four different kids, not nine years of the same kid), I think I have finally figured out how to take a walk with kids. I used to march purposefully around the block, thinking about how I needed to get home so I could clean the house/write a blog/lay down and perish. I was trying to get their little heartrates up, so I could do my part to combat childhood obesity. I figured walks should take maybe 10 minutes tops, and we should all move forward in a linear fashion, arriving at our destination out of breath and triumphant. That never happened. There were many times that I'm sure my neighbors thought, "That crazy lady is beating her children in public again. They should just stay in the house." When really, the children had insisted they wanted to go on a walk, but discovered halfway into it that they were tired. And when you're halfway you have two options: 1. Turn around or 2. Keep going. Both involve walking halfway again. But I've persevered with my walks, and now I bring you:

WALKING WITH CHILDREN: Tips to help you smell the roses

1. Bring a wagon. Even if they insist that they will walk/ride the whole way. They will want to ride their bike, or a scooter, or some bouncy ball thing with a handle, for about 100 feet. Just far enough for it to be a huge pain to walk back to the house and put the bike/scooter/ball away. So either you carry it, leave it in the road while your child screams hysterically and hits your back, or pull it in the wagon cheerfully.

2. Be prepared to take a rest(s).Even if you are only three houses away from your house. Don't be afraid to pull up a square of sidewalk and have a nice little chat while you're resting.

3. Don't try to count it as extra running mileage. Your heartrate will not go up. (It might spike at short intervals when chasing your child away from the road/garbage/dog poop they inevitably discover.)

4. Bring Food and Water. You might think "I'm just going around the block. I'll be right back." But you won't. (Don't leave the stove on either.) And you will probably have to bribe one of the children somewhere along the way.

5. Just think, "I don't have anything better to do. I don't have anything better to do." And believe it.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Resolutions 2014

So now that it is February, and everyone has already given up on their resolutions, I am going to start mine. I've decided to keep it simple this year. Once, I saw a ginormous Christmas tree, decorated to the max, huge gold and cream bulbs, yards of beautiful lacy ribbon, sticky-outy-flower things, tons of lights, and a ginormous star towering on the top limb. But right in the middle of the tree was a beautiful wooden sign, painted and decorated elaborately that said, "Keep It Simple."  So not that kind of simple, more like Charlie-Brown's-tree-before-it-was- decorated simple. 

2014 Resolutions:
1. Always choose love
Last year I fell into this bad habit of choosing swearing, and anger, and exasperation followed by heavy "woe-is-me" sighs. And I thought, "Why do my children try so hard to ruin my life?" When I think they were just trying to survive. I was pretty sure they were having nightly meetings about how to make me angry and disgusted. Turns out that I was imagining this. I was choosing to feel those things in reaction to normal, everyday life. And I was miserable and I think my kids were probably miserable too. I thought a lot of things like, "How many gosh darn &**%& times do I have to tell them to not ____________?" And "How many times is it going to take for them to learn that _________________?" Well, it turns out a lot of times. And that's okay. That's normal. 

When I turned my angry parenting magnifying glass to my own life, I realized that it takes me a lot of times to learn a lesson. And sometimes, even when I've learned that if I eat a whole bag of chocolate chips I will feel very sick, I still eat a whole bag of chocolate chips. So I'm choosing love instead of swearing and exasperation. Love and understanding for everyone, everywhere. And I hope my children will choose that for me too. 

2. Run a half marathon 
I've lost that loving feeling for running. And I'm trying to dig myself out of the afraid-hole that I buried myself in. Move legs move! I'm focusing with lasers on this goal. (I mean it. I'm printing out a sign and I'm going to point my laser pointer at it every morning.) I'm signed up for the half in Ogden this May. I understand that there are a lot of little goals underneath this one like 1. Eat right (I'm currently going 30 days without eating sweets) 2. Go to bed on time (10:30 at the latest) 3. Exercise 6 times a week (this is mostly done in the early, early morning). I'm going to do it! 

And that's it. Once I run the half marathon I'll have to choose some other goal, but until then, that's what I'm concentrating on.

And just for fun, here's a little synopsis of last year's resolutions and how they were (or weren't) accomplished.

1. Be More Awesome--Nailed it. I am totally more awesome this year than I was last year at this time. In what ways? I bought a pair of skinny jeans-powah! Awesome oozes from every pore in my body when I wear those babies. (And I am only like 5 years behind the fashion curve. Way more awesome than 10 years behind it.) And the number one measure of my awesomeness? My dance skills. 
2. Eat less crap--Well, this one was on again, off again. I'm a yo-yo crap (not real crap, just junkfood crap) eater. I was moderating nicely until Thanksgiving. Or maybe it was Halloween. On second thought, that might have been Easter that I gave up and just started giving myself permission to eat badly. So not so good on this one. 
3. Get out of bed--Hey, I'm doing it! I have an occasional Monday or a Wednesday that I don't make it up at 6:30, but most mornings I'm up and at 'em, Adam Aunt. (It totally helps that my children are not babies anymore. And I am not nursing them. Not that I nurse them when they are not babies, but anyway, you get the point.)
4.  Cut Ellie's bedtime routine down from 1.5 hours to 10 minutes. We are down to 30 minutes (most nights). So I have made some progress. 
5. Beat Mike in the Spudman--Alright, I didn't beat Mike in the Spudman. However, I did beat him in the swim and the bike. He caught me in the first mile of the run and didn't look back though. This is my year, right knees? Right?

Monday, January 27, 2014

How To Make An In-Wall Bookshelf a-la IKEA



Big Hole in the Wall IKEA Bookshelf Nice In-Wall Bookshelf


When we bought our first house, the basement was "finished". Kind of. For whatever reason, when it was built they never got around to finishing the part around the water main shut-off valve. Instead of using one of those little access panels that mount directly on the Sheetrock, they decided to allow complete access to the valve by installing an accordion door (see picture above, complete with accordion door still in packaging).

After years of looking at that eyesore, we finally decided to fix it. At first, the plan was to install the dang accordion door as someone had originally designed. However, at this point we were starting to get short on storage space and it seemed a shame to lose that extra area that had been framed in for the foundation and water valve. Plus, I loathe accordion doors.

Then we ran into this picture we saw in a kid's decorating book we found on clearance at Barnes & Noble:

"The Kidspace Idea Book" by Wendy Adler Jordan, pg 127
That was the perfect idea for our DVD collection! Now that we have moved away from that house, I guess I better finally finish this post!


Given my limited carpentry skills, I decided that I didn't want to build the shelves myself. That way, I could leverage off an adjustable shelf system in case we decided to use the shelves for books or something other than DVDs. After determining how much room I had, I settled on the IKEA Billy bookshelf. It was cheap, relatively close to the dimensions I needed, and had all of the adjustability I wanted. However, (and this is a note to self as well), in the end, I think building the shelves myself would have been faster. Had the depth worked out as is, it would have been ideal. However, I had to do a lot of ripping to cut down on the depth of the bookshelf to get it to fit all the way into the wall. Not only that, because of the width of the shelf adjustment holes, I reached a point where I could not make the depth any smaller, so I had to router out channels in the trim to make up the remaining depth. More on that below.


So, here is the bill of materials that I started with. 

Pic Qty Description
1 IKEA White BILLY Bookcase (WxDxH: ~16"x11"x80")
2 IKEA White Extra Shelf for BILLY Bookcase
2 EverTrue Unfinished Whitewood Rosette Block
2 EverTrue Unfinished Whitewood Plinth Block
2 EverTrue Raw Whitewood Star Ornament
1 2-1-2'' Forstner Bit
Select Pine Softwood Board - 1x4x8'
Select Pine Softwood Board - 1x4x4'
Select Pine Softwood Board - 1x6x4'
1 Bosch 1/2-in Carbide Tipped Router Bit

After I bought the bookshelf, I penciled in my design so I would know what I was working towards.

I started by framing in where the bookshelf was going to mount.

Make sure you have plenty of room to access the shut-off valve!

Next I had to assemble the shelf and mount it into the frame I had just roughed for it.

Notice how I had to rip the edges off the front and back of the shelf frame to decrease the depth as much possible. I didn't dare get any closer to the shelf holes for fear they would break. After mounting the shelf, it ended up sticking out of the wall about 5/8", so I decided to find trim that was thick enough to router out channels to cover it up. Also note that I didn't want to take off the nice finish on the front of the shelves, so I only cut the back off the shelves (took the same off the back of the shelves as I did off the back of the frame--that way the holes still line up for the shelves). I was hoping it would look alright to have the shelves stick out a bit farther than the frame.

After securing the shelves, I patched the rest of the hole with Sheetrock and began the tedious task of mudding.

After finishing the sheetrock, I was ready to start with the trim. 

To cover the part of the shelf frame that was sticking out past the surface of the wall, I needed to router a channel 5/8" deep by 3/4" wide on the back of the trim. The router bit I had was only 1/2" wide, so I had to router 2 back-to-back channels, denoted by 1 and 2 below. 3, 4, and 5 marked the decorative grooves that I wanted to router in the front of the trim.

Since I found rosette blocks for the top corners of the shelf, I wanted to match it with rosettes in the plinth blocks at the bottom corners of the shelf. I found perfect matches for the rosettes and the drill size of the hole that the rosettes were recessed in (see parts list above). I thought it looked nice and was worth the effort!

Here is the finished trim around the bookshelf. Notice I had to buy wider trim for the bottom to match the height of the lowest shelf. By the way, I didn't really like how the shelves stuck out so sharply from the trim. So I cut the edges off the shelves at 45 degree angles and it looked much better! See subsequent pictures of the shelves and you'll notice the notches off the corners.

Now I was ready to prime. I think it was more trouble than it was worth, but I bought the kind of primer in aerosol cans. There is not much primer in those cans and that cost a lot more than it should have.

Before I could finish the paint, I had to put up new bead board and trim around the perimeter of the room. Then we were ready to paint!

A bit of paint and voila! Much better than an accordian door!

Perfect size shelves for DVDs and Blu-Rays.

And don't forget the reason for all the commotion. I used some of the wider left-over bottom trim to make the access door to the shut-off valve. It was a bit thick, so I had to have a friend plane it down some, then I did a decorative router around the edge. Much cheaper than cabinet doors. 

Let us know if you have any questions! All-in-all, a fun cabinetry exercise.