Monday, December 16

A very merry Christmas to you all!

Well, here's a first.

My husband is going to blog.

Sort of.

He loves to write the annual Christmas letter, and in the interest of making life easier and not having additional paper to print and fold, I've asked him to write his letter here.

If you're visiting for the first time, I'm glad you're stopping by. Come back again soon!

Without further ado ...

*************************

The Annual Schumann Family Greetings!

by Scott Schumann, aka Dad, Hubby, Senor, Coach, and any other particular name you may call him

Hello all, and Merry Christmas to everyone!!  It's yet another time of reflection for a year's worth of fun, trials, and above all praise to God for everything. I was just reminded today that just because we don't get our prayers answered the way would answer them, God sees our entire life from beginning to end and thus his ways are often not ours. So we need to be patient and never lose faith. Over the course of the year we have seen the following:

Peyton: Is now in 3rd grade. He stopped karate and focused on basketball, baseball and his love, football. His dream is to be a n NFL quarterback. Obviously I've stopped contributing to any retirement fund, because by age 9 foreseeing him in the NFL is evident. :) We had a ton of fun this year including snow fort building, sledding, multiple fishing trips, family camping, man camping (no girly decorations nor utensils), fantasy football, etc ... He still loves wrestling with dad and playing football in our living room. His love for electronics is scary, although I'm honestly a fan of Minecraft. They should have it in the schools. He is continuing with basketball through early winter after a late fall season. He's very excited about this, and it has assured us some Culver's runs in the process. For that reason alone, I love basketball. :)

a glimpse at January through May
Samantha: Now in 5th grade. She changed from cheer to gymnastics. I LOVE what gymnastics does for her mind and body. She focuses well and her strength is amazing! I continue to hope that some day she'll gravitate towards volleyball, but she avoids it more than I do onions, tomatoes, peppers....never mind. She continues to love reading and writing. The creativity in her blows me away!  It's refreshing to read stories instead of some of the things high-schoolers write. Sam also loves crafts and is mastering the violin. She is growing at a fast rate and will most certainly pass Kathy up by by the end of this coming summer. She is such a strong, intelligent beautiful girl that I thank God everyday for.

Kathy:  Besides running our entire house, she has volunteered numerous hours to helping others.  She just finished up a program called Spirit of Giving, which collected and then gave out presents and food to over 400 families in the Sun Prairie school district. She is truly a blessing to me and others. God knew what he doing when he brought her into the world. She still continues to run, and, no, not from me. She completed a good number of races and even ran with me for the Crazy Legs run (although much faster).  She has many so many great friends, truly loves all of them. I have never seen a person so often make time to meet up with soooo many people. I think she gets more than 24 hrs a day to work with.

June through December
Me: Per usual, my life revolves around coaching volleyball and track and going to the kids' activities. I also took some students to Costa Rica again this year. Track was successful, getting 4 kids to state. Volleyball had their best season ever at 29-8. Now club volleyball starts and I'm blessed with good, positive kids. As stated earlier Peyton and Sam are in many things, especially in the summer( as I'm sure is common with many of you).  I've realized that smaller cars getting great MPG are essential at this stage in my life. I've also realized how soon I'll wake up and be celebrating my 70th birthday, with no idea how it went so fast.

It is soooo important to make sure we spend time with those who mean the most and have a job that we love doing.  God has blessed us tremendously and I pray that we stay grateful and never become expectant of his grace. I do wayyyy too many dumb things to live a life without Him and the blessing of such a wonderful wife and kids, not to mention such great friends and family!! We now hunker down for a 5 month period of sub-freezing temperatures, clothing that lets us get away with eating more than is necessary, and incessant shoveling ... ahh winter! We hope you get to celebrate these holidays with those you love and please don't hesitate to call us. We all know I don't know how to use my phone, so call Kathy instead :)

Sunday, December 8

Getting ready to give

Dropping in a for a quick update. More to come soon, but for now I am revving up for a big ole fun week of giving Christmas presents to roughly 1,200 kids (425 families) who were sponsored by their neighbors in Sun Prairie.

This is one of the best things I have ever been involved in. Seriously great, and only getting better. I am psyched for this week, and grateful to share the experience with so many other wonderful hearts. I love these people.

So it will be good, and there will be stories and pictures and all that other wonderfulness. But do pray for all to go well, as we're trying a new pick-up system this year. Always an adventure here.

This past week was chock-full of fun-ness, including a holiday party, Christmas at the in-laws, a state gymnastics meet, basketball game, hanging out with friends, a few reality-checks, and this little ditty:

never thought I would tote a sewing machine
around on a visit to a friend's place. we even made a real project!

Yep, this was another check-off on the 40-by-40 list.

8. Learning to sew

I have a good friend who dabbles in sewing, and despite her claims not to be an expert she helped get me and another friend off the ground running with our machines. Love it! Actually, my machine is Sam's, but she hasn't used it much because her momma didn't know how to thread the darned thing.

Until now.

I am looking for small projects to make that could be part of a charity giving effort - something easy Sam and I could do together. Anyone know of anything we could tackle?

The snow is falling, my laundry is calling, and I need to whip up a lasagna. Be back soon, enjoy the week!

Sunday, December 1

A spirited start to the holidays

I was planning to write this post last week. Along with another one that never got past the first few lines. Sometime between last Monday and today, my week zoomed into "epic" mode and I am only now in full recovery. And while I try to reserve Sunday nights for family time, I felt the need to escape to the blog and make sense of my thoughts.

So here we are. How are you?

It was a good, long weekend that started Wednesday when the school week ended. I don't even remember what I did that day, but I know it had something to do with Thanksgiving meal prep and attempting to organize a Christmas list so I could make some responsible decisions when it came time to shop later in the week.

Or not.

The weekend-and-then-some included some good old fashioned fun. Not pictured is family in town, Badger-game watching, movie-going (2 times in one week!), and a rousing game of Fauxcabulary that had us all, kids included, peeing our pants.

in line to get into target; the xmas village is up; fire truck parade-goers; a boy and his turkey leg; my first berbee

It was good, and I am incredibly thankful. Sitting deep in my thoughts is the post I meant to do last week, when I was inputting a number of families into the Spirit of Giving program database (Sun Prairie community activity where we sponsor local kids for Christmas). A number of the forms completed by the applicant families had handwritten notes of appreciation and reminders that their children would be happy just to get anything at all.

All I could think about was the stories behind these lives.

Did a spouse recently lose their job? Is that a new child this family is fostering? Are they asking for boots because they don't have any? Is this a single mom? Did they get Christmas presents last year? 

Are they feeling the warmth, excitement, and peace my kids are feeling right now as we decorate our home?

In my life, I've been judgmental and have lacked empathy. I have been quick to assume. I've been frustrated and have been less-than understanding. If running this annual program has taught me anything, it's that I never know the full story. Really, I don't need to. I just need to love and show kindness to kids who may struggle in their life situations. This much I can do.

And it feels good to do something.

Speaking of that, let me transition to the other post that was-to-be. I've gotten a little further on "doing something" in accomplishing items on my 40-by-40 list. I wanted to share because some of you have been busy coming up with ideas for me, of things you can do with me, and that totally makes my day.

So let me catch you up. I've been cruising right along, although at some point I might need to cruise faster.


4. Try a beer from each state.
This idea came from a dear friend who knows that I like to try different food and drinks. So far, we have sampled from six states and are forming recommendations. We hear that this will be hard to accomplish fully, as Hawaii doesn't import their beer. So, if anyone is going soon, we need to put in an order!

5. Switch up the Thanksgiving fare.
I know. This one isn't terribly creative but all of our holidays are going to be a little different between now and my birthday (more to come on this!) so I thought I would try a few new recipes this time around. Kids were surprisingly not fond of the homemade mac and cheese, leading me to the conclusion that there really is no pleasing the 11 and under crowd. A new try was a cranberry dip that I will definitely make again. It was also the first time I brined a turkey and it was de-lish.

6. The Berbee Derby!
For the first time ever, I ventured off in freezing cold temps for a Thanksgiving morning race. I am so, so glad I did it, although I hope for warmer temps in the future. I couldn't feel my toes for half the race and ended up with swollen feet. Only a runner can appreciate this and vow to do it again sometime. I know, so weird.

7. Yes, we finally now have smartphones.
For the first time ever. Let's not talk about how far behind the times we are. Let's just enjoy the fact that I can, perhaps, blog from my phone soon. Good times ahead.

Much more on the list coming soon! Thank you for sharing this with me. It means so much more to have you all involved. I like stretching and growing with you. 

Happy December.

Friday, November 22

Zeal on

"The flesh is willing. It is the spirit that is most often weak." - Dr. George Sheehan


These shoes rocked it today.


It was cold, but sunny. A mild wind, but mostly at my back. When I set out, I didn't want to run. My will was crazy weak. But next Thursday, I cross another "something new" off my list - the Berbee Derby Thanksgiving Day run - and it's a 10K. Not my first 6-miler, but it's my first time at this race and I don't want to be unprepared.

I couldn't blow off yet another run because I'd have to bundle up. Or because I don't have time.

I've written before about my struggle with discipline. Running doesn't just suffer from this personal malady; other things in my life fall victim to my free-spirit self colliding with my determined self. And by "free-spirit self," I generally mean my "avoidance self" but the former sounds better than the latter.

Sometimes I am just not feeling it.

I read this great article this week that made me more aware of a probable cause of my lack of momentum at times: No enthusiasm.

"It is from a lack of enthusiasm that the failures of the spirit multiply during the day. ... To succeed at anything, you need passion. You have to be a bit of a fanatic. If you would move anyone to action, you must first be moved yourself." - Dr. George Sheehan

Holy truth, Batman.

The article goes on to explain how we all seem to have this passion as kids, then tend to lose it as we grow and embrace the "herd mentality," learning herd rules and herd regulations. As we get older, we grow confidently in our ability to leave the herd behind. The author points out that many people seem to walk away in their '50s and '60s, but there are the lucky ones who edge out on their own at much younger ages. They find their unique path before their twilight years.

And that's the tug I've been feeling for awhile now. What about you? What areas of your life could use a kick in the pants? What passions are you letting simmer, when they could boil over into something great with a little attention?

"I am - just as you are - a unique and never-to-be-repeated event in this universe. Therefore I must have - just as you have - a unique, never-to-be-repeated role in this world." - Dr. George Sheehan


Go live it up, people. Zeal on!

Monday, November 18

Bring on the magic

The snow fell last week.

It was a dusting, really, but nonetheless the unofficial signal to start the holiday season. Which I am a little weirded out by, since I Am Not Ready. That sentence was truly worth all the capital letters. I haven't started a single list, don't know how much money I have to spend, have no idea how we will get everything done. There's no plan.

I wonder when the holidays first started happening about three months before they actually are supposed to happen. Has it always been like this? Am I only noticing it now because I am an adult, and my job is to make it magical for my kids?

I am determined to make my holidays this year, rather than them making me. You know how it is ... you get caught up in all the shopping and the planning and the hub-bub, and you see the days fly by so fast that you can't wait until its over for the pace to slow down. I don't want to breeze through this time of year. I want to savor it like a child does. To love all the Christmas movies and songs. To take part in all the festivities. To feel the moments of sheer joy that only this season brings.

I want it to be magical.

Perfect? Hardly. I'm OK with moments of glory that I can live in 'til next year's season. How about you?

On another note entirely: I was a little slow last week on tackling my 40-by-40 list, but I did manage to check something off.

3. Pay for the person behind you in a drive-though.

I know. This is really my first time. Some of you do this all the time, which is a beautiful thing. I don't know why I was nervous to do this before. Strange, but true. So, here's the cool thing: I went to the new Starbucks in town, which has its busy moments, but I have been the only one in line plenty of times. I knew there was a good chance someone wouldn't pull in behind me, so I prayed that this act would be a blessing to someone, and for God to put the person who needed it most behind me.

And wouldn't you know it, someone pulled in right after me. There's something else. I had found a gift card in my wallet today, but didn't think I had anything left on it, or at least not enough left for two orders. Turns out I had way more than I thought, so I didn't have to pay in cash. Sweet, right?


Can't wait to check off more giving deeds between now and April. If you want to join me and have some ideas, let me know!

Finally - for you Sun Prairians out there - the Spirit of Giving program is NOW OPEN for matching. Oh yeah, baby! Get online and pick a family of kiddos to sponsor for Christmas. So many needs are being met through this program. We've had a lot of requests this year for items like bedding, winter coats, diapers, etc. And of course, we have some little ones with cute toy requests! Click HERE to reach the website.

I love this time of year, friends. Let's make some magic happen!

Friday, November 8

1 and 2, done and done!

I did it! I crossed numbers 1 and 2 off my 40 by 40 list!

Actually, it was more like I completed "number 17" and one item that just made this list, but the point is I tried two new things.

My list has only 20-odd items on it right now, so plenty of room for creativity as I move through the next few months. No big rules here; that's not my style. Checking things off IS my style, though, so this feels like a good start.

So in the spirit of being held accountable, here's what I did:

1. Try a new cuisine 
Most people who know me know I will eat just about anything ... which is precisely the opposite of Scott ... but I don't typically venture into a wide variety of ethnic cuisine when I go out to eat. But not last night! I had a dinner date with a friend, and we decided to try something entirely new. We went to Himal Chuli in Madison for some Nepalese cuisine. The postage stamp-sized restaurant is tucked away on State Street, and is one I normally would have passed up. But it was really good! Not the type of food I would want all the time, but definitely something I could have the occasional craving for. We tried the samosas (vegetable pastries), the dal (bean soup), and the momocha (dumplings). Oh, and the chai tea - which I wouldn't normally enjoy because I'm a coffee girl, but it was pretty good (not as good as the old-fashioned we had afterward at Nostrano's, though!)

The evidence:



2. Do a random run
I've lived in my neighborhood for 9 years. I've lived in Sun Prairie for almost 15 years. I've run all over this little community training for various distances. There are stretches of time when this drives me totally batty. I wanted to feel energized again, so today I literally closed my eyes, turned around 3 times, and pointed to a map of Madison. Where my finger landed, I was going to run today.

a wonderful random pick, eh?
Now, there are parts of Madison that I was hoping my finger wouldn't find. Luckily, I pointed right to Maple Bluff, which is a little sliver of beauty on one of Madison's lakes. I couldn't have picked a prettier run, really. I parked down by Tenney Park and ran 3 miles along the shore. When I arrived I noticed some storage pods and no parking signs, and then I remembered ... the Madison Marathon is this weekend. Kind of sweet to run some of the route those brave souls will be attempting on Sunday.

All in all, a great run. Slump broken.

In other news - I am also so, so excited right now because the Spirit of Giving program that I help manage alongside some other fantastic volunteers is kicking into gear BIG time. Right before my run, I picked up half of the 193-letter pile we received this week ... all of these applications from families who have asked us to sponsor their children for Christmas. YES! Last year, this number would have freaked me out, but already we have 500 of these children sponsored by some generous churches and local organizations. Already. For real, this program is so inspiring. Much more on this later ...

Make the weekend magical!

Sunday, November 3

40 by 40

Man, I have really missed this.

It's been awhile. Two whole months. I took time off from blogging to unplug and prepare for what's usually an epic season of our life. And it was good. I learned the fine art of being still. I practiced being more disciplined. Believe me when I say this is no small feat. And during this time, I felt less rushed and more at peace than I remember for most Septembers.

But maybe I should have started back sooner.

Sometime in October, I fell into a valley. It was a hard place for me. It was cold, lonely, quiet. Every small disappointment felt magnified. My Godfidence was waning with each day. He felt absent, and I felt the distance acutely.



Mind you, nothing traumatic had happened to jumpstart these feelings. In fact, I can rattle off a list of blessings a mile long. But the thing is, nothing was happening at all. No change, no variety, no movement with anything. I hit the peak of what I could handle during a fun girl's weekend (such bad timing, right?) when one more minor disappointment had occurred, and before I buried the feelings so they wouldn't overtake my night, I muttered to a friend, "Have you ever felt like you were going nowhere?"

That's the first time I really realized what had been bothering me for weeks. The feeling of being stuck. Since I've started this blog, I had this venue to help me uncover what I'm feeling. Without it, it took loads longer.

So I'm back to writing again.

And soon, I'll be back to me again.

At church today, we watched a video with a touching backstory about a new song. The artist made reference to feeling disconnected from God during a very dark time in her life, but that she kept pressing on, kept believing in His promises, kept holding to truths -- especially when she didn't feel like it. When it felt like more a motion than an emotion.

When we're bold enough to do this, we will feel God in us again. That's a guarantee.

So back to feeling like I'm going nowhere. If I take one step in a new direction, that's somewhere. That's something, even if it doesn't feel like much progress. Eventually, it will feel real again. I know this.

In this spirit, I have issued myself a challenge. Do 40 new things by the time I'm 40. I've got 26 weeks. Loads of time, but not so much that I can let it slide. And by "new things" I don't necessarily mean crazy things. Folks, I'm not skydiving.

And I don't mean things that are only about me. In fact, I'd love for most of my 40 things to be about others. Small adventures that bring joy.

I've started a list, but it's pretty small, which means there's room to add to the fun. If you want to try something new and you're looking for someone to take along on the journey, let me know! I love a great idea.

And yep, I'll certainly report back here. On all 40. Maybe there will be four in one week; maybe I'll go a few weeks without anything to share from that piece of my journey. And just maybe I'll encounter God in a way I never have before.

Small steps, but steps nonetheless. Let's go somewhere.

Thursday, September 5

Be back soon

Be back soon, you say?

But you haven't really been on here in awhile.

Yep, true. I had a completely undisciplined summer.

glorious.

Which was good ... and necessary so that my normal overly planned self could act on her occasionally spontaneous nature. But here we are, out of time, out of money, needing to get back into a healthier lifestyle.

Because I only like routines for a short time frame, I've always struggled with being disciplined. I tend to jump on and off a bandwagon rapidly, and justify it with saying crazy things like, But I like change.

But I've had this thing lately -- This feeling that if I died tomorrow, would I be satisfied with what I've done with my life?

Big, ole heavy thought. I know. But there it is, punching me in the gut now and again.

Lest you go off thinking I'm announcing a pilgrimage to foreign lands or a major change of direction in life, let me assure you that's not the case. I also don't have a bucket list. But there are things I want to do ... some for me, some for you. Some for those who aren't blessed regularly and need it most.

And to do this, I need to get my time back.

My sister-in-law recently sent each of us a wonderfully personalized card, sweet as can be. And I remembered when I used to do that for people, before I got caught up in a schedule that's managing me instead of the other way around. Before I got caught up in worry over things I don't need to. Before I became self-consumed (which happened long before summer).

And I realized: I don't want to lose any more time.

So first order of business is to take a break from blogging for a bit. (A legit, planned break - not one where I walk away from posting and feel guilty all the time). And, taking a page from a favorite blogger who put herself in internet detox for 40 days, I am going to walk away from constant online-ness.

So if I miss saying happy birthday on Facebook to you, please know that in my heart I am totally giving you major birthday love, friend. And if I don't answer emails right away, it's not me ignoring you. It's me practicing discipline. Finally.

I will definitely be back soon because I - heart - writing and need to do it more.

But first, a solid routine. Without that, I've learned, I won't go anywhere I want to go, am being called to go.

And you can't ignore a calling.

Life is good, make the most of it.



Wednesday, August 14

Too much

I like things simple. Clean. Uncluttered.

But I don't always know how to get there. Throw me square into a pile of junk, and I have no idea where to start. Set me down somewhere tidy and I will be able to keep it that way.

Since having children (well, and even since having a husband) this is not realistic. My life is cluttered, in more ways than one. And there are parts of that I like, because the messiness is often reflective of a life well-lived. A full life.

Then there's "too much." Over the years, I have gained a greater appreciation for what "too much" means. For a half-dozen years now, I've been taking part in garage sales, selling hundreds of dollars of STUFF each spring. You think I'd have nothing left by now, but unfortunately that's not the case. (How is it possible, since I have less money to spend on stuff than ever before!)

I know I am incredibly blessed. By and large, all the stuff in my house represents a loving and thoughtful gift or act of kindness, mixed in with the occasional "what the ...?" buys that my kids have talked me into over the years.

But it's more than I need. And I know this because if you take a worldview of our financial situation, it's shocking. Reading Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker recently has re-opened my eyes to that fact, to the truth that even being poor in America has its distinct advantages. A few stats from her book:

  • The wealthiest 1 billion people in the world average $70 a day.
  • If you make $35,000 annually, you are in the top 4 percent. At $50,000 annually, you are in the top 1 percent. (what?!)
  • We spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half the world spends on all good combined
  • 8 percent of the rest of the world owns a car
  • One-third of all American families own 3 cars

It's hard to imagine. Scott and I are decidedly smack in the middle of middle-class when it comes to our salary, which is comfortable. But there are times when it feels tight. That's the reality of life in America. But when you look at those numbers, it's almost unfathomable (did I spell that right?) that we feel this way when the rest of the world doesn't. Or can't. 

And the bigger question: what should we really be doing with all of our excess?

My oh my.

So at our house, we are challenging ourselves to live on less, to have less. For those of you who know Scott, this isn't much of a stretch. He's the guy who claims he can live in a cardboard box (um, yeah...). I'll admit to being more of the "keeping up with the Jones's" type. This challenge is definitely a stretch for me.

But one benefit? An uncluttered house. And that just started with the basement. I know the photos aren't great, but you get the idea:

Before


And after


Clutter removed and the rest organized. Selling or donating the excess. It's a place to start.

Challenge ON.



Wednesday, August 7

Random thoughts v.3

It's time for another episode of random thoughts. Mostly because it's been awhile, but also because it's summer and I don't feel much like conquering "big" posts these days as I am busy balancing running around and doing absolutely nothing. The recipe for the perfect summer.

-- Yesterday, I did a night run, my absolute favorite. OK, really, it was a sundown run. This is probably one of the best parts of summer. I cut my running teeth on night runs. I know - it doesn't seem like the smartest decision, but Scott watches out for me, and I must have passed 10 others that night with the same idea. It was the kind of run where I was dodging little toads and sucking on humid air just begging for a thunderstorm to arrive to sweep it away. And maybe it's the mystery of the night, but I always run 10xs faster than I do in the morning. Which is good, because I have a goal of running a 5K in sub-24 minutes before I am 40. And by sub-24, I mean I am perfectly comfortable with a 23:59.

-- Monday arrived gloomy and cool, and I took complete advantage of the inside time by purging all the stuff in my house. Organizing drawers, dumping junk. Now, I am pretty good at regular trashing. Once a year I gather all my extras for a spring garage sale. But, the latest message series at church is hitting home in a big way, and I feel overwhelmed with the excess in my world. Crazy. Overwhelmed. And we had the house for sale for awhile, which made me look at my basement everyday and say, "Really? Do I want to move this?" So I cleaned the basement last night. Reorganized. Took heaps of junk to the garage. Unearthed about 5 totes of "memories" to go through, things I am sure that Scott and I will laugh about, and some items we will have difficulty parting with. But here we go. I really, really feel like God wants me to be free from my stuff. Something is in the works, I think.

More on excess in a later post, because there is much more to say.

-- Did I mention how much I LOVE having Scott home for the summer? Cause I sincerely, deeply love it. The temperature of our family mood is resting in ultra-comfortable. Yesterday, the boys rented a boat and went fishing on a whim. They had a competition: who could catch the most panfish. They caught a bunch of little guys, not worth keeping, but provided hours of fun. This is the life.

-- We also ventured to Packer Family Night for the first time and had a blast together ALL day. That is so rare for us, a full day of time together uninterrupted by little plans apart. We meandered through Oshkosh on the way up so the kids could watch all the flyovers during EAA. Scott and I reminisced as we drove through campus. We may have almost stopped at Kelly's. But the Pack was waiting.



-- I've been shooting some pics in black and white this summer, and it is my new favorite. Here's one from a recent camping trip with friends. I call it "Boys in a Meadow." I know, so clever with the words. You must be blown away ...



-- My friend Katie is always rocking my world with some new truth that makes me see the world differently. Her latest is Jen Hatmaker's book, Interrupted. Transformational. Utterly eye-opening, and I feels completely in tune with her thinking. Again I say, something is in the works.

Make it an amazing August, friends. As I like to say, savor every sunset. (And this is why sundown runs are so fantastic!)

Wednesday, July 31

Eleven, baby!

Oh yes, oh yes - another summer birthday is upon us. Number eleven. 

I don't even know what to think about that.

Samantha is no longer a little girl, but rather an emerging adult. It's so strange to transition from raising a child to raising someone who will be driving in less than 5 years, for the love of pete. There are many parts of her that are still youthful and there are parts that are more mature. And I love both moments, but miss the times when our only concerns were teaching her to share or how to recognize letters and numbers.

That seems many moons ago.


Since she's our first, every stage feels new. There isn't a single season of life without reasons for concern, and if I dwell on those, I will be awfully busy worrying. (I may have learned this the hard way.) What helps is talking with other mamas about the concerns and not bottling them in. Once they are out, I try to keep them out.

God's got it anyway.

And when you push aside your own fears about your kids, you have plenty of room for reasons to celebrate. So that's what we'll do. This girl's got great attributes busting out all over, and I love seeing the new sides of her. Sam is a constant creator -- just yesterday she drew a portrait and wrote a song. She's willing to try new things. She's rarely shy and loves making new friends. Her attitude is always sunny-side-up, and she sees possibilities everywhere.

If you back her into a corner, she will fight. This might be one reason we have struggles at times, but I am confident she'll stand up for herself and others when the need is there.

Sam always wants to do the right thing and hates to disappoint. A kind word goes a million miles with her ... so here's one from me and Dad: Eleven looks great on you, girl. Keep smiling. You are going places! XOXOXO


Friday, July 19

Something better


Here I was, my head craned toward the ceiling in The Girlie’s room, steadying my hand so the turquoise paint spread evenly on the wall. It was my escape. Before I started, Samantha was working on math sheets downstairs (no escape from “school” in summer here..) and had a difficult time focusing. 

And she was getting upset. Truth was, she was tired. Hungry. Hot. Bothered.

But, this reaction has also happened frequently in better conditions. Luckily, on this evening, Dad was there to have a conversation about it.

So back to painting. While I was concentrating on straight lines, I was also eavesdropping on “said conversation” next door. The focus issue with math was a bigger issue, really. Lack of confidence. Comparison traps. Feeling inadequate. Feeling “less than.” Wanting to fit in, be one of the smartest, be recognized for her talents. 

And so it really begins – little parts of childhood and innocence and confidence are slipping away and being replaced with the junk most of us assume as teens and perpetuate as adults.

As I watch my kids sprout another few inches and grow in maturity, I am concerned about who they will become. I’m not satisfied with the explanation “well, teens just do that…” or “hey, girls go through those stages.” That may be true 90 percent of the time – and I have said these phrases a lot myself – but it feels something like “settling” to me. Like it gives license to act a certain way, flirt with trouble, get away with more, think less of ourselves.

I wonder if there’s a higher ground here. Do things have to be how they’ve always been? How they are for the 90%? 

Or can we have more?



I think of so many things I want my kids to hope for and to experience.

How different our world would be if we really loved ourselves. If we could erase insecurities. If we could trust that all will be well.

How different would life be if we remembered that today won’t be tomorrow. Our problems now are not always permanent.

How would we treat each other if we believed God loves all of us with equal fervor and depth – so deep, in fact, that this love overshadows all the ridiculous decisions we make, the unfortunate ones, even the painful ones.

What if we stopped saying “I should” and started saying “I did”?

What if the least were first? 

What if we taught our kids that it’s more important to be kind than right, to have less so that someone else might have more?

What would it be like to see someone else’s viewpoint and not be critical first … to believe in possibilities and not hampered by what we think is impossible?

What if we didn’t view the purpose of life as getting the most out of it for our own enjoyment, but as a chance to give the most of ourselves as an act of thanksgiving to the One who made us so fiercely unique?

And what if being fiercely unique was a good thing, and not strange. If we stopped trying to fit in and started trying to stand out?


If that world exists, sign me up.

Or maybe we make it exist, in our small pocket of the planet. We might be fighting an uphill battle - an army of a few against a bazillion, but it's probably a fight well worth the effort, right?

Oh, to remember this often.

On a related note ... wanted to pass along this great blog series that encourages us to see the world from other people’s perspectives. So, so wonderful to find this gem.

Happy weekend!

Monday, July 8

A few favorites

Raise your hand if you're tired from the 5-day weekend.

'Cause I am. In a good way, of course, but definitely wiped and happy to have a "normal" Monday. But really, is anything normal in the summer?

Scenes from the weekend:



Feeling extremely grateful to generous friends who shared their blessings and company for some Fourth Fun this year. And speaking of being grateful, I recently came across a few articles on thankfulness again - reminding me of this post and also that I need to take inventory of all the great things in my world. God has given me many great days.

So, in that spirit, loving all of this right now:

Football. Peyton just started a football camp this week. Something about the Little Man playing ball just makes me happy. I probably won't be saying that when he starts tackle in fourth grade, but for now, it's good. He also started running a little bit. I knew I'd eventually get one of them to try.

Projects. Peyton got a new room for his birthday, so Samantha will get the same. Given the fact that she L.O.V.E.S. to be creative, this will be more of a joint-venture. But I like having something that powers both of our artistic sides on the docket. Of course, I am fully aware that this may not go as planned. Stay tuned ...

Mumford tickets. They are in hand for the Milwaukee show in September. So very excited. I'm not much of a cook, I don't have the patience for crafts, and you won't see me winning any athletic competitions. But I am always good for a mini-adventure, and trekking to see Mumford on one of the busiest weeks of the year - first week of school - is going to fit the bill. Just call me when you have somewhere you want to go, OK?

This quote. "Life isn't about having it all. You take what you got, enjoy it, and push to see where you can take it," says a guy who lost both legs and a hip joint in this month's edition of Runner's World. Did I mention that he is the Paratriathlete of the Year? I need to look past my perceived limitations more often. I need to take what I have and make every inch of that count. That is living.

And this quote. "Determined to make things go your way, you forget that I am in charge of your life. The only remedy is to switch your focus from the problem to My Presence. Stop all your striving, and watch to see what I will do." from Jesus Calling. I quote this little gem of a book a lot because I think it was written just for me. I really suck at "not striving" but I believe God has been pushing one little word around my head a lot these days: Wait. Hardest thing for me to do, but I won't ignore it any longer. Especially since there have been a handful of times where waiting has worked big-time in my favor. Wait. Let Me give it a go. Believe My outcomes are better than anything you can engineer yourself. 'Cause it's true.  

What are you loving these days?

PS - A very happy birthday today to my mom, our dear Nana! XO!


Monday, July 1

Number nine

Little Man turned 9 yesterday. We celebrated with a small sea of boys, a couple of gals, and at least 100 Nerf bullets. It was one of the best weather days all year here, a nod to this great kid's spirit, I think.



I rarely stress over Peyton. Not to say I haven't before, but his easy nature makes it hard to remember what was worth stressing about in the first place. Underneath his cool exterior is a young man who longs for no one to hurt, thrives on imagination, and just wants a hug. Even though he's older now, I still find myself grabbing his hand when we are in public -- not because he needs to be steered in a certain direction, but because that's how we show we care.

And he says the craziest things sometimes. Seriously. If my memory wasn't so terrible, I could share an entire book of Peytonisms here. Then again, they might not make much sense. Peyton has a knack for saying just the right thing at just the right time, and it's usually an observation an adult might make or a snarky one-liner. Which just cracks us all up.

Peyton's curiosity reminds me that life is about asking questions and seeking answers. He'd rather read an encyclopedia than fiction. Like all of us, he's already learning that some answers don't make sense. While it saddens me sometimes to watch innocence dissolve, it also makes me excited to watch him turn into a young man. Full of promise, growing into who he was made to be.

I think 9 will be awesome, don't you?

Friday, June 21

Yes week

A few years ago, a box arrived from my mom with goodies for the kids. Inside, Peyton found a treasure: the Yes Day book. 

He totally grasped the concept the minute we started reading it, and quickly asked when he could have a "Yes Day." A day when he could ask to do anything and we would agree. When he could come up with something crazy, like ice cream for breakfast or a frog hunt in your PJs at night.

That's kinda been my life since Sunday. A Yes Week, if you will. 

Yes.

Scott and I are incredibly blessed with brave grandparents willing to assume responsibility of our children for an entire week. I like to call this Marriage Saving week. We pack an entire year's worth of date nights into 6 or 7 days. Completely uninterrupted. Less constrained by the clock. We're down two schedules to maintain, which means more time for each other. 

This year, the trip's timing was especially critical as it came after a difficult spring for Scott and I. 

Since January, there were whole weeks where we barely grunted hi and good night after long days. Two nights a week, he was at volleyball practice from 6:30 pm to 10 pm. One or two weekends a month, he left for an overnight tournament. During track season he was only home 1 night a week, and often gone before the kids woke in the morning. I don't want to minimize the difficulties some of you face with spouses traveling for many, many more overnights; I know that is hard. But I couldn't handle much more than this and still be a pleasant wife. This I know about me.

So we caught up this week. At the pool, at the deck of a restaurant, on a lake cruise. We had a lazy dinner on the patio. We enjoyed awesome friend time - We biked to Sun Prairie's finer establishments and stayed out a little too late and laughed a little too much. We danced and ate way too much pizza. Because we needed to. 


We also enjoyed some time alone or with just the girls/just the guys. A well-chosen wine and recipe club date gave me time to catch up with a some of my favorite ladies. And it has helped that the weather has been phenomenal. Of course, I carved in some beach time.

I have moments where I feel indulgent -- with what I am eating, drinking, doing, spending.... But this is one week where saying yes feels like a necessary luxury. Very soon, life will be normal again, and while that's a good thing, it can also be a big thing. But because I stepped off the hamster wheel for awhile ... because I am refreshed ... I can jump into a life of epic adventure with a new outlook.

And lest you think the kids are getting short-changed on their parent time, let me assure you they are enjoying every minute. For the kids, this is a solid week of attention and adventure. For two children who were thrilled to wave good-bye to school a couple of weeks ago, this was a nice entry to summer.

At least I think it is. They are still not home yet. So I'm going to go enjoy just a little longer.

Yes.

Wednesday, June 12

Settling in

The sun has been playing hide and seek the past two days, but the heat is there. Real legit heat. I didn’t think it was arriving in Wisconsin this year, so I’m happy.

June has taken off like a rocket  ... enjoyed this already in the first 11 days:

sweetness

I am in full swing “epic” mode right now as I adjust to a new work schedule, new kids-at-home schedule, plan trips, sneak away for some fun, and keep track of all the balls swinging in my direction right now. I guess you can say we are settling into the newness of it all.

I’m not the best at transition. I love a good change-up as much as the next gal, but you’ll see me freak out a few times along the way as I attempt to regain control of life. Interesting, then, that I’ve read a ton of material this week pointing me back to this theme: stop over-planning.

I mean, everywhere I look this theme reappears.

Oh boy, oh boy. How the heck do I even apply that to my life right now? Because when you live on a budget, you need to think ahead. When you have more than 1 schedule to coordinate, you have to think ahead. If you want to carve out me-time or date-time, you have to plan.

But something tells me God wants me to take step back. Starting with less on the plate. That means less time in my head and more time listening. More time savoring. Letting balls drop, and learning finally about what I can handle. Stop trying to solve problems that aren't mine to solve.

I know -- I just wrote about this, but I needed to remember again. 

I have a few steps to take - more on the blog about these soon. In the meantime, I hope you find your own fantastic moments to savor this week.


Friday, June 7

Transitioning

This isn't the blog post I had planned for today.

I had something heavier written that I've modified many times over the past couple of days about my daughter, about me, about school, about struggles, tears, relationships, comparisons, and more. Like I said, it's heavy. And I'll post it soon, but not today.

Because today the sun came out.

Today summer break officially commenced.

Today I am preparing for celebrations and promise and new beginnings.

Scott and I are planning more time with this one:




















And this one:





















And I'm grateful that tough times are never tough for long -- that with each season or transition, comes something new and wonderful. Even if it's preceded by something terrible. Because this is how we grow.

Seeds of thankfulness being planted all over this weekend.

Let's do this summer right, shall we?


Monday, June 3

Building margin

"To find joy in this day, you must live within its boundaries. I knew what I was doing when I divided time into twenty-four-hour segments. I understand human frailty, and I know you can bear the weight of only one day at a time. Do not worry about tomorrow or get stuck in the past. There is abundant Life in My Presence today." - Sarah Young, "Jesus Calling"

Why-oh-why do I attempt to exceed the boundaries of a full 24 hours - either with worry or with an insane number of tasks?

On my worst days, when 24 hours flies by like 5, I will actually physically run from one activity to the next ... and not for exercise. It's embarrassing, but it happens because I wedged one too many stops in and every second counts. Some days I get so wrapped up in my to-do list that I forget to brush my teeth. Seriously - ugh.

At our house, we go months without buying salt for the water softener. I can't handle store returns; they will sit in my car for weeks and weeks before I actually make it to the store.

I've run out of gas on the road twice in the past year. Too busy or too distracted to stop.

I've noticed with scary clarity that I can't even stay at an hour-long soccer practice because I have to fill those minutes with a run, or an errand, or some other crazy task that couldn't get done elsewhere.

So I've decided to do at home what I've been doing well at work for a couple of years: Build margin.

morning coffee outside. making margin.

I never did like my over-promise/under-deliver tendency at work in my earlier years. Not that being ambitious is a bad thing, but I couldn't get the equation right. Over time, I started delivering projects later than promised. I was also overworked on the home front and knew I needed to change, so I dropped my hours at work and became much more real about what I could handle on the job.

Sadly, this didn't transfer to my home life. Not a surprise, really. Did you know that as kids grow older they also grow busier? I didn't really understand that until it was too late.

Did you also know that once you get on a hamster wheel it is difficult to get off? I recently learned I have to be honest with myself about what I can handle.

Like ...

I don't need to say yes to everything.
It's true what they say about volunteering - that 90% of the work falls to 10% of the people, or something like that. I have friends who are amazing volunteers, and who I respect for their efforts. But for me, it's not good to throw my hat in the ring for every opportunity. I do best with short-term projects because I have a short-term attention span. That also frees me to be available when I am needed most. Which is why I love doing the Spirit of Giving program at Christmas and only committing to certain school events and taking mission trips.

I have to do what I was made to do.
My mama skills aren't the same as another mama's skills. The more I compare myself to another parent, the worst I am going to be at the job I was given to do. Does that make sense? I am not good at this one yet. But I am getting there. Listen, I am not the "lay-down-with-me mama." I can do that for about 2 minutes before I need to move again. But I am the "do-mama." Want to play ball? I am in. Plant some flowers? Let's go. I take absurd adventures, even if it means spending a couple of hours geocaching when the kids are all like, "why?! what are we doing?" or finding a festival to attend or going strawberry-picking or taking tired kids to the Farmer's Market or leaving them altogether for some much-needed friend time. I do. And even if it doesn't always make sense, it makes me a happier parent. I know being a "doer" seems to contradict the whole "build margin" thing, but this point is more about doing what comes naturally to you and not stressing over the things that don't.

I can redirect when I am off the right path.
I bought a family devotional book awhile ago that is still sitting on my shelf, the spine waiting to be cracked open for the first time. I do this a lot - good intentions that go nowhere. It's that whole hamster wheel thing again. It's hard to jump off because you know it's going to hurt. Something is going to fall through the cracks if you don't stay in motion. But you can't discover anything new unless you leap. If I do what I have always done, I will get the same results. Sometimes my priorities need to be re-ordered. Sometimes "no thanks" is the right answer to give, even if you are missing out.

Maybe the hardest lesson for me is the knowledge that there's no margin without sacrifice. But I believe sacrifice usually means you give up something small for something huge.

Like maybe getting your 24 hours back.

Wednesday, May 29

Summer is really here

Every inch of my garage is covered with lawn chairs, dirty rugs, pots that need scrubbed, coolers that need rinsed. Despite three washings, my hair still smells like bonfire. I've been doing laundry since Monday.

And now there's a nice thunder boomer lighting up the night.

Summer. Is. Here.

Oh, can you just feel it? May was a biggie for our family, and we wrapped it up with an epic camping trip over Memorial Day weekend. The weather wasn't perfect, but it made for a better story. We started with sun and ended with mud slicks, and in between there was glorious music. There may have been enthusiastic singing, and definitely a serenade by my dear husband on the bongos. Yep, the bongos.

There was also fishing. And ice cream, and hiking, and a momentary trip to the beach on a cool night. Because you just gotta, even if it's sweatshirt-weather.



And on Monday afternoon, our rough-and-tumble crew joined a few other fresh-from-camping families at the Grumpy Troll for one last hurrah before heading home for a long night of drying out after a big weekend of memory-making. 

Grateful beyond belief for wonderful, God-given friendships and traditions. 

I've been thinking a lot about traditions, as we've mapped out a summer of fun. Mixing in things we've always loved to do with things we've always wanted to try. And how making schedules work is the new trick, as kids are involved in different activities and we need to squeeze in vacations and friend-time and make the finances work. I was talking with a dear friend tonight and realized we'd both be gone a lot in June. It seems strange to see part of the summer already committed. And while a lot of fun has already begun, there is much to come ... and I am reminded that it goes so very fast.

Which makes me think more about priorities. There are areas of my life where I know I must be more intentional - with how we're raising the kids, with how we're spending our money. And I also am aware of areas where I need to try less ... areas where I let God work His magic while I wait expectantly.

I've also been thinking more about my career. With Scott home this summer, I'll be working more and refocused on the type of legacy I am leaving with work. For some reason, this seems more important these days. I can't explain it, but it feels time to make a bigger impact.

And I'm also learning that less is definitely more. We are still determined to sell our home in the next few years and I keep thinking how awesome it would be to leave half our stuff behind when we do. It's freeing to think that way. For now, the quality of my furniture doesn't bother me. My stuff doesn't own me quite as much. I couldn't always say that. It's kind of nice.

I feel a tide rolling in. Something is changing. I am excited about where this summer will take our family. 

I hope to see you all on the journey.

Monday, May 20

Random thoughts, v.2

I warned you this day was coming. Sometimes my brain is overworked, and I can't form coherent sentences. Usually the result of exhaustion and "epicness."

This is one of those days! But it was a fantastic weekend, the weather is sweaty-hot and sunny, and I am all caught up on cleaning ... so I am supremely happy. Random, but happy.

On my mind these days:

-- Dear Legs, why are you so angry at me today? It's not like I totally punished you yesterday. I mean, I felt great running all 13.1 one of those miles ... in my mind and in my lungs. But somewhere around mile 6, you started protesting. I think I even heard swearing. But I showed you, didn't I? One hour and fifty-six minutes - after four races, finally made it under 2 hours!

oh, and did i mention the weather was perfect? 

-- My running partners-in-crime included my best friend from high school and her sister. That pretty much made the weekend perfect! So fun to kick pavement together, which included a lap around Lambeau Field. So cool. Excellent pasta meal the night before, which included two of Jill's friends - one of which offered some last-minute inspiration at Mile 12, when I needed it most! Love when people you just meet hours before remember you and cheer you on. This is why the racing community is so dang awesome. 

-- Favorite road signs from the crowd during the half: "Naked time starts here," (what?) "I heart run" (with the "n" crossed out and an "m" substituted), and "Punch here for power."

-- Subject change: The camper is in our driveway. I repeat, the camper is in our driveway. Let the season begin. Packing like a fiend today.

-- First bonfire of the year on Friday. Perfect night outside. Thanks, hubby, for last-minute decision to start one.



-- Dinner with friends on Sunday night was perfect way to end a start-to-summer weekend. Feeling extraordinarily blessed.

-- Is school over yet? Seriously.

-- I love the way mulch looks, but for crying out loud, those little pieces are everywhere. How do you tame this stuff, anyway?

-- Confession: I turned on the air conditioning last night. I know, it is only May. But it was 90 degrees in the house and I just wanted to sleep. Not sure I got much of that anyway, but at least I felt good.

-- Confession: The air is still on today. I mean, it's 84 degrees. And this is the primary reason why Scott won't move me farther south. He is sure I can't take it. I disagree.

-- I don't like doing bills because I think we are pretty good about overspending and I don't like to face that truth once a week. There is nothing fun about budgeting when you keep finding fun things to do. But life is life, and I always feel better when I stick to a plan.

So, off I go to budget.

Be blessed beyond measure this week!

Wednesday, May 15

Just thankful

I'm sitting here with a glass of wine, Billie Holiday on Pandora, a breeze dancing through the window, the ceiling fan humming a tune of its own. 

Scott is doing dishes and putting kids to bed.

So thankful. 

This week, life feels good. Waking up before 6 am doesn't feel difficult. That's because the sun has been greeting me every morning and I tell you truly - it's like heaven. Scott is always reminding me that if we didn't have the winters, we would never fully appreciate the summers. Perhaps that's true, but I think I could appreciate the summers a little longer, you know what I mean? The smell of fresh air alone is changing my world right now.

And can I just say that having Scott home more this week is utterly fantastic?! This summer will be the first time in 16 years that he will not be teaching summer school (which, by the way, always started the Monday after regular school let out ... what?!). He will have a real break, the kids will have real Dad-time for three straight months.

So very thankful.

And I guess that sums up all I have to say tonight. Because I want to rest in being-in-the-moment. There are plenty of times when it seems like I can't "just be" - I've got too much on my plate not to be thinking about the next plan. But to "just be" ... oh, this also feels just like heaven.

I was once challenged to keep a journal of all the things I was thankful for each day. I know this seems easy since I enjoy writing. But I don't enjoy an unchanging routine, and I was sure I wouldn't make it longer than 2 weeks.

But I did. I made it 458 days. And when you take 2 minutes at the end of every night to write what you appreciated that day, it made you live in the moment and embrace even the crappy stuff. It taught me to overcome, to just love the small gifts we have received.

Maybe today, I will start again - how about a pictorial this time?

This past week, I've been grateful for:

flowers! they are back! and now, they are properly placed in my yard, where
I can enjoy thoroughly enjoy them. paradise.
it's here! camping season is here! you better believe I busted out the
big lamp (which would have been handy in last night's power outage
if I had enough batteries ...)
bourbon pecan chicken. i don't want to discuss the amount of butter in
this beauty. needless to say, i was loving it on monday after my run.

a date with the two main men of my life. lucky gal!
this quote inspires me to do, do, do - even if I am nervous about what
someone might say. "the credit belongs to the man who is actually
in the arena ..." i love the part about daring greatly. what amazing words.

I hope your week leaves you feeling grateful for all you have. Savor each moment!

Friday, May 10

Hey mama, you're doing great

This is my 10th Mother's Day as a mom.

Wow, really? I still feel like I'm just getting started. Probably because there are weeks when "I've got this," and weeks when I haven't got anything at all.

What is up with this job anyway? Right after I gave birth, a switch was flipped from "confident" to "woh, nelly - you sure about this?" Which probably means I was actually more insecure pre-mom stage than I am willing to admit, but the mom job brought all those feelings to the surface. It's like being given a CEO job title and all the responsibilities that go with it, with absolutely no training whatsoever except what you witnessed from others and experienced growing up. (Luckily, my mom was a good role model!)

It's a crazy learning curve.

see? sometimes they really like each other!
of course, their relationship began with a bit more skepticism


There are other times in the biz of mothering when I feel like a rock star. Like, I did that today. I accomplished 80 things. I made hurt feelings go away. I taught a life lesson that might actually stick. I got the coveted "You're the best mom ever" nomination from my kids today. Yes.

And then there are the other times.

Is this true for CEOs, too? This up-and-down feeling is more dramatic than I like. I prefer to feel like I'm driving a nice, reliable Camry all the time, not a beat-up Pinto one day and a Maserati the other. 

But this is life. And really, the bumps of mothering could be better handled if I fully embraced my Pinto days as well as my Maserati days. This definitely means a shift in my attitude.

So here's the bottom line to all us mamas out there. If you are in the ring, if you are bringing it and giving it a real go, then You Are Doing Great. You are rockin' this job, and if I could, I would give you a raise.

I mean, come on - we all have a "parenting kryptonite." Mine is whining. When I hear it, I become irrational and unhinged. I think my eye starts twitching. I cave. Even though I know the whining is coming from a place of hurt and struggles and deeper issues, there are days when I lack empathy. We all have kryptonite. When it appears - when it seems our parenting skills are most in jeopardy - that's the best time for friends and family to swoop in and rescue us and take us away for a few hours to help restore our sanity.

Because this is pretty much an insane job. But the best insane job there is.

Feel good about what you're accomplishing. Brush off those failures. Insecurity rankles me. I hate it in myself, I don't like seeing others struggle with it.

We need to build each other up, don't you think? At least for me, there's a perception that everyone is my very own personal critic. Because my kids will only eat PB&Js, mac and cheese, some fruit, zero veggies, and cake. And, did she really just yell at me in the middle of the store in front of all these people? Fantabulous. Oh, and - that's my kid, the only one who didn't win an award this year. Lovely.

We are hard on ourselves. I don't know of a mom out there who hasn't compared their skills, their kids, their husbands, their lifestyle to those of other moms in their circle. What are we doing? We don't know each other's entire story - the pressures, the concerns, the experiences, that drive the parenting choices we each make. While there are those in our lives we know very well, we all reserve special places deep in our hearts that hold the biggest fears and insecurities and regrets that very few people get to see.

And added to that, our children have been born to us for incredibly unique and special purposes that we are just discovering. There's a reason they were given to us, and not someone else. Which means our stories would, and should, all read differently.

Can someone remind me of that once in awhile? Or every single day?

So raise your glass, ladies, 'cause you've got this. Here's to having a Maserati Mama Weekend!

Monday, May 6

Thirty-wise, sorta

I was all set to write a post last week about turning 39. I don't know exactly what I had in mind - something about being older and wiser and feeling more confident and yada yada. Then, the time got away from me rapidly. I was classic-ly epic last week.

Ends up, it was a good thing I was delayed and could re-think the post. After I really thought about it, I discovered there are a few things I feel wiser about as I round off this decade, but many things that also make me feel naive.

So, for example, I am wiser when it comes to money. I'm pretty sure it's no longer a good idea to sign up for a credit card just to get a free t-shirt. That's a classic Spring Break twenty-something mistake that I may have made a few times. Everything sounds better with the word "free" attached. Until you realize it isn't.

But then there are things I am clearly just now learning. Like how to raise a tween - and that the word tween even exists. And how to parent a kid with a growing list of extracurricular activities. Or how to look at my face in the mirror and not criticize the, ahem, "laugh" lines and small streak of gray hair.

Or how to appreciate wasting time. It seems I have gotten worse at this skill, actually. I was pretty good at this in my 20s, but the pressures of life tend to overtake me. I will carve out activities in increments and watch the clock to make sure I don't run over my "designated" slot. I am not sure what to think of this one. It seems necessary sometimes, but I prefer giving in to a good book or a long conversation with a friend. How does one fight this battle?

Still learning.

There is one thing I do feel pretty good about in my 30s - I've been around long enough to have met a lot of pretty wonderful people.

got to hang with this amazing friend this weekend - bonus event was
celebrating the Kentucky Derby with mint juleps. why not?

What a ridiculously huge honor to grow older and grow your circle of relationships. Seriously, if meeting more people who challenge me, who change my perspective, who introduce me to new experiences and ideas, comes with age, then I am ready.

If flying into my 40s means I know more about my kids, and how I can both influence who they will become as well as learn from their incredible perspectives, I'll take it.

But hey, I am not there yet. I am only 30-wise today. Tackling one thing at a time right now.

Whatever birth year you are celebrating in 2013, revel in everything you have learned and have yet to learn.

Monday, April 29

Them crazy legs!

Today, if my legs could stage their own protest, they would.

They would both hold up big signs that proclaim their distaste for stairs, bending, or even standing still in one place for too long. They would seek a ban on any further movement until they could be stretched. I took them on a walk today. Afterward, they were pulsing out a rhythm that sounded a little like swearing.

But on Saturday, they were loving every minute of it.

Don't you love traditions? One of my favorites is Madison's Crazylegs Classic - a five-mile run with 20,000 equally crazy Badger fans through the streets of campus. This was my sixth year. This race boasts a monster of a hill and colossal crowds and is usually held on the absolute worst weather day in all of April.

One year I convinced my neighbor to start running it. The night before was a perfect 60-70 degree evening that included a couple of margaritas on the back patio. The forecast was iffy for the next morning, but we weren't prepared for just how iffy. Needless to say, I dragged a friend who already didn't enjoy running out on a 40-degree, blustery morning - a complete turnaround from the night before. As we stood in the corral waiting for our wave to start, the heavens opened and buckets of water fell. I believe Scott sacrificed an iPod that year.

In the future, I stopped talking about the possible weather conditions when I recruited friends to join me. (Of course, they had seen the photos. I wasn't fooling anyone.)

So our reward came this year. A balmy 60 degrees at the start, with the sun out in full force until the run began. I must have said, "I can't believe this" a thousand times. This was the first year I ventured out in a t-shirt instead of bundling up in a coat. It was also my best time in 6 years - I thought I did worse, but apparently I can't read a clock. Also, the run felt too easy. I was sure I was taking it slow. My legs say otherwise today.

Happy Crazylegs Day! The neighborhoodies - before and after (minus Angie, who escaped the photos)

This race makes my year. Even in the worst conditions - thunderstorms, rain buckets, 30 mph winds - I love this run because it brings out the best of Madison. I've never experienced camaraderie like this in any other run. (Maybe it's the free beer at the end?) It's the pride and spirit of the community that really makes this an awesome time. It's the fact that thousands of people of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and experiences, are giving this event a go. And they're all so darned fun to be around.

This year, as a side effect of the awesome weather, we stuck around post-race long enough to watch the last of the runners trek in. It was so fun to hear the entire stadium roar and watch these tired runners pump their fists in excitement. A great reminder -- we. can. do. anything.

If you're in Madison next spring, join us! I'm sure the weather will be ... um, great ... !

Wednesday, April 24

Random thoughts, v.1

I'm having a week. The kind where your brain shuts down and runs on auto-pilot. Nothing bad happening, just adjusting to new schedules and trying to resolve all things undone.

That's why I am writing random thoughts ... you know, since I can't formulate many cohesive ones. I titled this post "volume 1" since this is likely to happen again. Probably more times than I care to admit. You've been warned.

When I was in middle-school, we used to go on these weekend youth retreats with church. Usually a family in the town where we were headed would house our group of crazed pre-teens for the night or two. These trips usually included copious amounts of licorice, Pixie Stix, Mountain Dew, and 2 am nights. Needless to say, we'd be slap-happy pretty much the entire trip.

That's kinda how I feel today.

So, random thoughts:

-- Schedules are much too busy. People have crazy demands on them. Has it always been this way? Am I remembering simpler times from my childhood mind because, as a child, life rarely feels overly demanding? I vow we all eliminate the word "busy" from our vocab. Let's call it something more fun. Like epic. As in, "I am having an epic day, running from soccer to gym to store to book club." There, doesn't that sound less ... busy? And more fun?

-- I don't like making more than one phone call for technical assistance. I think 6 in a day is a bit excessive, hmm? And automatic bill pay should never cause confusion. Come on, this is people's money we are dealing with here!

-- Waiting is hard. Dang hard, and apparently I am not good at it because God has decided I need some more practice.

-- Soccer has begun! All hail the coming season. We have been bumped by rain and muddy fields. My son has been restlessly tossing balls around the house, waiting to have permission to run free. We have made it.



-- Sometimes I am super bummed to do parenting alone during Scott's coaching seasons. That means I run solo to our kid's activities. It's lonely - but the upside is I have met a lot of great people at these events as I stretch my wings. Still, my favorite times are when Dad can join us.

-- The tween years are tough. Still innocent, yet quickly growing out of it. Sigh. Slow down, world. Lets put it in park for awhile, ok?

-- Which takes me back to waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting for responses, ideas, direction, change. Think God is trying to tell me something?

-- I am getting really fast at typing on an iPad. Is this a relevant random thought? Probably not. But here we are.

-- God bless the mechanically inclined in this world. You win, I surrender. Just fix my car, please!

-- I can't do 4th grade math. So embarrassing.

-- Oh, how our school mother-son bowling night rocks. All boy noise, no drama. Lots of tackling, wrestling, hopping, dancing, trash-talking, and eating. Tons and tons of eating. I really, truly love it.



-- I am ready to stop packing school lunches. But not ready for school to be out yet. Any other moms with me on this?

-- Summer planning is like putting together the pieces of a crazy-expensive jigsaw puzzle. How do you keep your kids busy ... I mean epic ... with activities, but make room for spontaneity?

-- I just took a break from writing and cracked open, chewed, and swallowed about 15 pistachios in under 20 seconds. I swear. A little focus problem maybe? I am also very hungry lately, thanks to upping my runs in anticipation of my upcoming half-marathon. I think I have already lost a toenail in training. Probably not a good sign?

-- Did I see correctly? An upcoming temp with a 7 in it, even one with an 8. In the beginning of the temp, not the end. Oh yes. Bring on the dancing. For those counting, it was last like this in October. Maybe September. My birthday is next week, so this is a pretty sweet present.

-- Is there any better intro to a Madison summer than opening weekend of Farmer's Market? A canceled soccer game gave mom and Peyton a morning together on the Square this past weekend. Awesome.



Well, that's all I have. Probably enough, right? Make it an epic week, friends!