Sunday, October 2, 2011


Sometimes I feel like a failure when I look around and see the state of my house...
More often than not it's messy.
On any given day if you dropped by you may find dress up clothes tossed out of the basket in the living room, library books spread out on the landing, and school work covering the kitchen table.
You may see art projects taped to the fridge, mathematical equations mixed with spelling words on the white board, and cupcakes cooling on the oven...
there may be a rather large dog slobbering outside our back doors, covering the window with slime, 2 cats sleeping on the kitchen chairs, and dishes left in the sink.
More often than not there is laundry left unfolded on my bed, toys in my shower and whatever current Lego project the boys have been working on left out on their floor.
In my girls room the youngest has strewn the entire content of her drawers across the room, looking for that perfect pink skirt to wear, the older has a hoard of books on her bed...
this is a day in my life...
At first it's easy to feel despair, but then I look closer at what is going on in my home...
my kids are learning to love books, to love learning, they are cultivating their imaginations, though they may fight, more often they play well together, cook together, and learn together.
We live in our home. There is rarely a moment that it is empty, it is a small home filled to the brim with the love and chaos that we share with each other.
If all the stars align and you show up on the right day you might find it clean, but stay for the day and you'll see how fleeting that is.
I wouldn't trade what we have for anything.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Another year another Ragnar

Do you see my smile? I love Ragnar...if you don't know what it is check it out.
I know, it's hard to understand how running a relay of 190 miles over 28 hours and getting little to no sleep could be considered "fun." But for some strange reason I can't get enough of it. I daydream about running every Ragnar there is to offer, but for now I run the Northwest passage.
Pictured above is me on my last leg, my last 5.4 miles. My hardest because of the 2 mile hill climb that I have after the first half mile. But for some reason it wasn't until this moment that I didn't feel stressed at all.
My first leg was longer than this one by 2 miles. My second leg was at 3:30am and I had no sleep before then. I had about 2 hours of sleep before this one.
This was 1pm in the afternoon. It was a scorching 75 degrees in the great NW. I loved every bit of it.
It doesn't hurt to be running with ladies you love and admire either.
Thanks for the memories girls! I'll see you next year!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


It's June. Notice how I say that. Matter-of-factly. But my head feels all damp and cob-webby. 
I should be saying IT'S JUNE!
Meaning I've made it through another Northwest winter and survived unscathed.
I know winter should be cold, rainy, and sometimes snowy...but spring comes around and begins to taunt me with the promise of warmer days.
I wait, I wait, I wait, as the mercury slowly crawls up the thermometer..."Come on! Come on! I urge it upwards...
In May I expect temperatures in the 50's.
I plead every time I pull on my boots "It's May, just keep in in the 50's."
It rarely hears me.
But then there are days like it's been saving up. Like all those little Fahrenheit's were saving their decimal points and spending them all in one day; and suddenly it's like, 74 degrees.
We drop everything on those days.
I'm tempted to pull my one public school child out for days like those, knowing how precious they are. 
It's June.
I expect it to be above 60 degrees in June.
I expect 45% of the days to be sunny.
This is my plea with you June!
It's been a long year and I'm tired of being "indoor Mom." The play-dough has all become the same mushy gray color at this point of over-use, much like the sky this morning.
The water-colors are all used up and cracked.
The dress-up clothes are spread about the house on a daily basis.
Let's not address the state of my slippers. My toes are screaming for air but it's TOO cold to let them out to frolic.
I tell my children to go out, and they do, but it doesn't last because everything's mushy.
My 2 year old is about to enter threedom. She won't leave my side I tell you! Some days I need a breath, I need momentum, and I just can't get any!
Can I blame the weather? I will.
She needs to be outside with her brothers, filling up water balloons and playing with the hose. She needs to be collecting dandelions instead of piling my freshly folded laundry on the cat.
I will ask more of you, Weather, later in the month. I will expect 70's and blue skies and early morning runs that fuel my body like no cup of coffee can.
And if you give that to me and I still feel like a wet sock long forgotten under the trampoline in the backyard, then I know this melancholy I feel is more than the weather, and I'll know I can't blame you anymore.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Motherhood: A Manifesto

A Decade of Parenting
At the end of this month I will have a 10 year old, and what that means is that I will have been parenting for a decade now.
It feels like it’s been longer, and again it feels like it’s been no time at all. Time has a weird way of doing that…like photographs in a scrap-book I only have certain frames in my mind. The bigger events. All of the little things that have led me here have almost been forgotten.
I laugh when I think of the careful and cautious mother I was when I had my first child. I don’t think I really would have listened to advice from the veterans who have been here before me, still I feel like sharing a small portion of what I’ve learned since I held my first child in my arms…

I’ve learned that Mother really does know best.
I know my child better than anyone else on the planet. I know how they like their hot dog; sliced or on a bun; mustard, ketchup or both, ketchup with dare I say it…Ranch? I know when they usually poop. I know what to feed them by the consistency of said poop. I know who will talk to strangers and who will hide behind me. I know when they’re sick. I know this when no one else knows it. I know it even when they don’t have a fever or a runny nose. I know it when they can’t even tell me what hurts. I know who’s coming down the hallway by the sound of their footsteps. I know who likes kisses and cuddles and who would rather get a little token of my affection. I know their different smiles, and I know their worried looks. I know that certain children won’t tell me they’re hurting even when they are. I could go on but this is one of the beautiful blessings of motherhood. I get to know all their little secrets. And I treasure them.

I’ve learned that the airplane adage really does pertain to motherhood. Put on your oxygen mask before helping those around you.
This means taking that shower even though baby is crying in his swing. He’ll be fine. This means going for that run in the early morning or evening or whenever you can because exercise will help clear your mind and give you more energy to take care of those most precious to you…Including your husband! This means do your best to eat a healthy breakfast, and lunch, two meals I find hard to prioritize some days…but if you don’t and become exhausted by mid-morning and forget why, it’s because you haven’t EATEN anything. This means finding time to properly hydrate and to actually take the time to use the toilet. If you don’t take the time to use the toilet bad things happen. Trust me on this. I have learned the hard way.
This means going on dates with your husband. It is important for whole family happiness.
This means finding something you love to do, and doing it. Because it makes you feel special and puts a smile on your face and helps you accomplish little goals along the way.

I’ve learned that bedtime is a wonderful, magical time, to be used wisely.
Rear up your child to sleep well through the night. This takes training from the time they are very young. Night-time routine is very important. It helps a child relax and transition although sometimes it doesn’t feel like they are relaxing. Why is bedtime something that they always seem to be shocked by…”What? Bedtime AGAIN? Why does this happen EVERY NIGHT?”
I don’t know son, but it does seem to happen every night, doesn’t it. And every night you seem to fall asleep, even if you say you aren’t tired. It’s amazing! But my children know that bedtime is very serious. Mom takes it very seriously, and though there may be many battles I win every time. It makes life easier in the long run.

I’ve learned that the mess will be there tomorrow, and even re-appear after you’ve cleaned it up.
I love a clean house as much as the next mom, but there are times when you just need to breathe, and realize there are more important things than a clean home. People may judge, but that is also something you need to let go of. There will be plenty of days in the future of clean, tidy, sparkling houses. Those times are probably not when you have children in the home for any length of time no matter how old.

I’ve learned that I shouldn’t judge anyone else’s parenting style or judge the parent based on the actions of their child.
This is easier said than done, but my children have humiliated me in ways I could have never imagined. We are all trying to do the best we can with what we have. Let’s cut each other some slack.

I’ve learned that I like being with my children.
When I had three at home under the age of five I dreamed of that utopia when they would turn that magical number 5, get on that bus and go to school. And at school they would be brilliant, and they would come home with a positive experience, and all would be right in the world. Not so. Public school was MORE work for me with my eldest and so I teach him at home. I love it. I realize they become better people spending more time at home. I am lucky to live in an area where homeschooling is well supported.

I’ve learned that as painful as it is, you MUST take the time to teach your children to clean.
And of course they won’t do it right for a long, long while, and they will whine often and much, and it is always easier to do it yourself…but…slowly and surely their complaining will ebb. And honestly you don’t want them leaving for college without knowing how to wash clothes?

I’ve learned that a child can survive and grow and even thrive, even if they don’t eat their vegetables.
I was spoiled with a good eater in my first child. What 18 month old eats salads? He did. It was weird and wonderful. I did nothing different when my second came along. But all I could get in her mouth was corn, black beans, rice, and chocolate milk. She’s fine. She’s growing. She eats more variety now but is still picky. I don’t cater to her whims and she knows that. She doesn’t complain but just eats around whatever she dislikes. I really think it’s true that if you keep introducing variety something will take. In the meantime I try not to worry about the fact that her knees are bigger than her thighs. I was knobby once too.

Good friends are the lifeboats to your sinking ship,
So make them. This may take time. You may not have had many girlfriends in highschool. Muck it out. Find a Mom’s Group, join a church group, seek out kind women with whom you have much in common. This is key. And ask for help when you need it. So hard to do, but essential.

I’ve learned that it feels better to discipline with love and a little extra time and thought, then in the heat of the moment and frustration.
This doesn’t mean I don’t lose it on a daily basis, but I try and I apologize when I do. It’s hard to apologize to a 9 year old who already thinks Dad is WAY cooler than you. It’s a daily goal of mine to be a yell-free parent. It feels better. I don’t need to tell you that. I try and breathe and give thought to the problem. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Today my 2 and 5 year old were battling it out and it was intense for a good 15 minutes. They were running back and forth stealing what the other one was playing with. I was trying to make lunch. They were trying to drive me insane. They were on the verge of winning. My son ran in to the kichen for the 20th time and said “She’s trying to take this and I had it first.” I turned to him, looked into his brilliant blue eyes, and sighed. So many things were running through my mind. There was obviously no way to reason with my 2 year old so he (my 5 year old) was my only hope. And what could I say at this moment to make him understand that I needed his help, although it was an unfair situation. It turns out I didn’t need to say anything. Perhaps he felt my frustration and my love and understanding all in that moment. Perhaps he was tired of fighting a losing battle. Perhaps. But in that moment he stared back at me and said “She can have it Mom.” Oh my. Thanks kid, you’re THE BEST. It’s moments like this one that I cling to.

Motherhood is a challenge. It’s unexpected. Be prepared for anything and go with the flow.
People tell me I’m laid back, and I can handle things that might drive them crazy. First, don’t let the cool exterior fool you. I worry. I cry. I yell. I even panic sometimes. Being laid back takes training. I come from a long line of worriers. It gets you nothing but health problems. Most of the time everything comes out all right in the end and often things are completely out of your hands. You WILL be much happier in life if you have a good attitude about these times. Like when your child decides to urinate on the library floor on a busy Friday afternoon.

Nothing…nothing will bring you more joy, or more sorrow.

Hopefully you won’t experience the depths of the sorrow. Chances are you already have. Sorrow comes in so many forms. For me it is measured by the month my three year old spent fighting for his life in the hospital. So small, so helpless. Not understanding why he had to have tubes shoved down his nose or in other places. That was sorrow and pain so isolating I don’t want to have to go through it again. Yet it is only a taste of what some of us parents go through.
The joy is overwhelming. I love the simple pleasures we have as a family. Trampolines, sunny days, movie nights, hot dogs and s’mores over an open fire, being stuck together on a 1200 mile car trip. We relish these times.
Motherhood is more than I ever imagined it to be and I have a good imagination.

Happy Mother’s Day to all those that have come before and all that are yet to be. What would the world be without you?
I would love if you shared some things you've learned!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How I Run and have Epiphanies.

This is me, having an epiphany. They happen all the time and each time I make my husband lift me heavenward. He is getting very strong.

I do many things differently from the rest of the world so of course when it comes to running I am also a weirdo.
I live in the great Northwest. It’s cold here. I’m cold on a daily basis. I miss bare feet. I miss working up a sweat. I miss seeing my legs.
Yet day after day I see these runners in shorts, t-shirts, and little else. My sister is one such runner…
“Kacee, it’s FREEZING! Don’t you want a jacket? A sweatshirt? Something?”
“No,” she always replies. “I’m a little cold now but I hate to run in too much. Clothes bother me when I’m running.”
I think she thinks she’s odd, but the more I observe other runners the more I know I’m the odd woman out. I do not like to be cold. Not the least little bit. If my hands feel the least bit breezy it can distract me from a good run.
I know, I picked an odd place to raise a family.
When I set out my door and head down the hill I like coverage. Let me paint a picture of what this means…
This evening I left my house at 7:04pm, it was a balmy 46 degrees, scattered clouds, the world had been freshly sprinkled with spring rain. I wore; my ¾ spandex running pants, my warm up pants over those, socks, shoes, my comfy nylon running t-shirt and my fleece/spandex jacket with my hood on and a pair of gloves.
I didn’t even start to feel warmed up till mile 3, I didn’t take my gloves off till mile 4 and when I returned home by mile 5 my face was just starting to feel a little warm.
Now if it’s raining I add a beany under my hood and possibly a poncho over my jacket.
If it’s below 40 degrees I wear my full length compression pants under my warm up pants. If it’s closer to 35 than 40 I don’t go running.
Also, I run with music. Some runners say they can meditate better without it but I have always been a music lover and music helps me do anything better, including running, cleaning, meditating and writing.
Today while I was running I had a few epiphanies. I was reflecting on the day and feeling guilty about what I hadn’t accomplished. Then I decided it was okay to feel guilty as long as I was moving forward and trying to better myself. But it’s also important not to feel overwhelmed with goals. Start small. So I decided on 2 small habits I wanted to integrate into my life. Just 2, and they are very easy things I can attain and feel better about my days.
It made me feel happy, and hopeful, and then by the end of my run the sun was setting and it was glorious to behold and all felt right in the world. Even if I am a little odd.
Happy springtime everyone! What inspires you?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Everything I need...

I love days like today, when my family and I hide away from the world and take life at our own pace.
We tend to do things slowly around here whenever possible…wake up slowly, mosey on down to breakfast, have a late lunch and a snack for dinner.
I found myself downstairs whilst the rest of my lovelies cuddled on my bed for an afternoon movie. A wave of such gratitude hit me, as it does from time to time.
“Everything I need is right there, upstairs on my bed…” I thought.
I wanted to do something sweet for them, to show them how much I love them. I sliced up some crisp red apples, piled them into a bowl and brought them with me as I headed back to my room.
There they all were, just as I’d left them, looking as beautiful as ever, as they lunged for the bowl of apples.
“Aw…” said my husband, “Mom loves us so much doesn’t she?”
I knew I married him for a reason. He gets me, that one.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don't you wish...

You could wear tulle everyday?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Homeschooling~How do they do it?

I used to wonder how they did it as well, and now that I’m homeschooling I’m met with a lot of positivity, always followed with a remark like “I just don’t think I could do that.” Or, “I don’t think I was made for that sort of thing.” Or, “My kids would hate to have to deal with me all day.”
I’ve thought the very same things.
When I was a youngster I thought homeschoolers were weird, but as an adult I see that it’s come a long, long way. We have the internet that makes a world of difference, connecting us to each other, to different curriculum and reviewer websites, and even school online.
Still, it can be very overwhelming to take your child’s learning into your own hands.
I was petrified.
It took me months to decide on what curriculum would work with my son who hates to write anything down on paper and has a very short attention span for anything not having to do with dragons.
It didn’t start off well at all. Each day was a battle. He had to get over his hatred for learning and I had to gain patience and better relationship with my son. I had to learn how to balance my younger children’s needs with his. I have a 2 year old and a 5 year old home with me as well.
I had to surrender to the fact that my home would have fewer days of cleanliness. I still work on that. I still wake up some mornings and think of all that I could accomplish and then remember that my son needs my time, some structure, and the discipline it takes for him to memorize his times tables and overcome his spelling difficulties.
But the wonderful and glorious part of homeschooling is that it’s my call! Yesterday we worked really hard. We had our noses in books for four hours. But today? Today started out with piano, and then we decided we needed to bake. I was making a pie for my husband’s fire fighting crew and Coby found a recipe in a book he was reading.
I told him he was entirely in charge of it. I would not be helping unless he asked. He felt pretty cool. “Mom,” he said, “do guys really need to know how to cook?”
“Oh yes,” I replied. “It’s very cool for guys to know how to cook.”
We loaded up the van and headed to the grocery store, with me quizzing him on his bane, multiplication tables. (He WILL have them memorized someday!)
I just watched my son make his first “Quick After-Battle Chocolate Cake.” I’m bursting with love for him…but of course I can’t tell him that because he’ll just roll his eyes and get embarrassed. (He read this over my shoulder and did indeed incorporate an eye roll.)

I guess my point is, I think the way we manage, the way I manage is to take it one day at a time; to make big plans and schedules but to know when to back off.
To try and be happy that my house is lived in, and remember that my children are becoming more helpful and self-sufficient by the day and I won’t always feel like I’m here in the trenches.
Aren’t they worth it?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Back in the Saddle...or in my case running shoes!

It took my body quite awhile to love running like my mind did.
I know, some people shudder at the very idea of it. To them I will say:
There comes a point after possibly months of frustration where your body can actually handle 30minutes of constant running, and after that maybe 40, then 50, and all of a sudden an hour has gone by and you can’t believe the ease at which your body can perform.
I don’t think I ever realized what a runner’s high was until I ran my first half marathon. I can say I ran myself into the ground that day. I didn’t think I’d make it to the car afterwards and I KNEW I would crash once I got home.
The weird part was when I tried to lay down for a nap that day and I could not sleep. My heart was racing, my blood was pumping. I felt so alive. I got up and cleaned my house, played with my kids. I felt great!
It’s been too long since I’ve gotten serious about running. I consciously took November and December off but started up again in January. It just wasn’t feeling good. Nothing was hurting specifically, just my whole body. I wasn’t getting the energy that I had from running previously. I felt run down and sick, like my body was on the verge of illness.
My throat started hurting, in a weird way. Like a big ball of mucus was pushing on my gag reflex. Some nights I would be in my bathroom gagging into the toilet or sink, unable to control it. We don’t have insurance so it was 10 weeks before I went to a walk-in clinic. When the nice doctor came in I broke down. It was embarrassing but I felt so relieved to be talking to someone. After seeing a few different doctors and getting my blood tested we have collectively diagnosed me with hyperthyroidism.
It’s taken me awhile to feel good. I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like not to be tired. But I drive by this trail everyday where I had my first epic run. I can see myself in my trusty blue short and my tank top, knobby knees pounding the ground, arms flapping. That silly grin I can’t help wearing. I remember what it feels like to fly. I miss it. And there are only 15 weeks till my favorite race. I wouldn’t miss this race for all the normally functioning thyroids in the world.
Tomorrow will be my first day back to serious training. I can’t wait.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Good Reading

I love to read. I would curl up with a good book over any movie, any day...The problem I've had is finding enough books to keep me interested. I am usually in the midst of a few books at a time. Something historic, like George Washington's biography by Washington Irving sits on my shelf, I'm a few chapters in and I like to view books like this as school for myself. They aren't something I'd pick up first, and not a quick read, but I'm fascinated with the way this country runs and it's history. I blame West Wing for this. And I've always wanted to further my education, what better way than a book? I've made a commitment to myself that I would read a book about each American president. My dad is also a history buff and says that even though this biography might be harder and longer to read, it's probably the best choice for really knowing George Washington. King Rat by James Clavell is also on my shelf. I'm re-reading it. It's one of my favorites. I feel the need to re-read the books I already own and love. They look so lonely and unloved on my book shelves downstairs. I have to give them turns in my room on the little bookshelves near my bed, and remind them why I love them so. This book is one that I can read at least once every couple of years and be amazed again as the author takes me behind the scenes of a Word War II prison camp in Japan. Warning:It's not a light read, and there are many "grotesquities," as I like to call them. (I believe Christian Slater coined that phrase in the early nineties.) But this story does take place in a PRISON CAMP. Where men are packed in like sardines, food is scarce, and there is a hierarchy, only the most cunning and clever survive. Then I have my fluff pieces, these are the books that I can get through in 2 days, 3 at the most. Like written movies I feel the need to devour these books in one setting, much to my kitchen's dismay. The subject matter of these books varies, fluff to me doesn't mean poorly written, to me it is an easy read and an uncomplicated subject matter. Good guys, bad guys, conflicted love interest...It could be anything; a great mystery, a romance, historical fiction, science fiction. Okay there is a thread, they are all fictional. Here's what I read last night and this morning and you can read my review here. Let me say something about the Great and Dying book. I'm torn, I know moving to ebooks saves trees and space and printing, but there is something about seeing my books on the shelves, holding them in my hands, smelling the pages. I don't think I'll ever want that to change. All this talk about the death of the printed word saddens me. Lastly my book club book this month is Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass, I love my book club. I joined when I moved to this forsaken place (joking. This is a blessed land, but the weather sucks.) and I've been going every month since. Our core group of women love reading and they all bring something to the table. I love my book club ladies like I love my books. And we aren't exclusive, anyone is invited to join. I'll be posting more often about the books I'm reading. Share with me your favorites!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

thirties, flirty, and fun

I remember when I first saw the movie 13 going on 30, when Jennifer Gardner's character couldn't wait to turn 30, where her life would obviously be fabulous, and at a very low point of her 13th birthday she ran into her closet and wished herself to be thirty, chanting the words "30, flirty, and fun! 30, flirty, and fun."
Why did she pick 30? I wondered. Was it just because it rhymed with the word 'flirty'?
That movie came out 6 years ago. I was 28, and I wasn't excited to be in my thirties.
Now I'm four years into them, and during a conversation with some friends over brunch the other morning, we all agreed that we were so happy when our thirties came around, so happy our roaring twenties were over.
There's been a shift in my home, I don't know if the kids realize it's happened. I don't know if my husband can put his thumb on it. I don't know if I can chalk it up to being in my thirties or being done with my child birthing stage.
Maybe it's everything all at once.
It's weird because we are still not financially stable, my husband is still in the process of changing career's. There are many unknowns.
Also where I thought at this time in my life I would have 2 full time public school students which meant more ME time, instead I find myself homeschooling my oldest son. After a rough couple of months (and that's putting it lightly) we've hit our stride and I can honestly say that it is one of the most rewarding decisions I've ever made.
There is a certain peace I feel inside, a comfortableness in my skin, a calmness about things that would have once driven me crazy.
I would chalk it up to being a late bloomer but as I said before, most women have concurred with me on the subject.
There's just something strange and wonderful about this time in my life, and I'm trying to enjoy every day of it.