Sunday, November 30, 2014

Travelogue: Remember When I Used To Do That

In celebration of putting the first 1835 miles on a new car, I'm going to recap our journey to Colorado from my in-law's house.

We find starbucks. Thank goodness because the boy who is 10 days short of his 10th birthday is already whining. Supposedly he is starving. Just starving and we just don't care about him. Let me tell you, I cared plenty last night when he wouldn't sit down and eat at his grandmother's 80th birthday. But this morning his drama smacks of accuracy.

Steve establishes that, of course, we have cup holder assignments. His is the one closest to us. Mine is the farthest. That makes perfect sense since I'm shorter and have shorter arms. 

To the delightful sounds of Car Talk Coop falls asleep. With a blanket over his head. 

Another one bites the dust. Mason is out, too. Clearly the late nights with cousins have caught up with them. Which reminds me, I've got to silent their iPads. The middle of the night Words With Friends notifications are changing my world view. And it's not a pleasant one. 

Echo exit signals the start of rainy road conditions. Hoping it doesn't turn to snow. 

As luck would have it, snow!

Coop stretches awake and before his eyes are open asks, "Was that a long time?"

Conditions quickly worsening. 

Blessed sunshine. Mason is still sleeping. And Cooper is morbidly quiet, ensconced in his headphones and staring at his iPad. I can't help but remember the road trips of even 5 years ago. The trips metrenomed by treat timers and quick potty breaks. 

"I just took a big, long nap." Announces the dry, frank voice of my Mas. Not unlike the pronouncements he made as a toddler. 

On the dot we roll through Green River. It's wet and miserable and visibility is low. What is it about being trapped in a tin can that makes my motivation soar?!?!?  I've scheduled -- by text -- nearly a dozen appointments. My to-do list is growing by 10s. Can't wait to tackle it. But alas I'm destined to put this momentum on pause for another 6 hours. 

Oh and I need a facial...
And then I've got to put the tree up...
When am I going to pick up my Custom signs...
Hope that special-order fabric is in...
So many jobs...
So little time....

Just passed into Carbon County. Woohoo! I've started drinking iced coffee, which is to say I just took a swig of this morning's left over coffee and it's nasty. Must stop soon. We're all stir crazy and I'm singing along to I'd Lie For You by Meatloaf. Make. It. Stop. 

Take a de-icing break. 

Switch drivers and that means the updates will be very few and far between. Gratitude no. 378: the new car has XM radio. And then I quickly discover that you can not listen to comedians with kids in the car. 

Wendy's in Laramie. I'm determined for this to be our last unhealthy meal of the year. (I'm proven wrong by the pizza we order later.) 

On our way, because the snow seems to be following us. 

Mason asks did you guys pack my invention kit?

This sweet boy has been making small experiments with his grandpa. The invention kit is a prized possession. I'm so relieved that we packed it up. 

Ack! Get me out of the car. And a funny story about the return of ELF. But that will have to wait. For now, I'm rolling these huge thighs out of this car and ordering greasy pizza. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wish There Was a Costume For That

I have hesitated to talk about Mason’s birthday. But now it’s been about a month and the sadness of it is either all dried up or just dammed up and about ready to overflow all over the place. He’s 8. Eight is great, unless you are the momma of said giant 8-year-old. Then it’s heartache on heartache as you try to pick him up one last time, fiddle around to find a comfy spot on the couch where you both can take a Sunday nap, or even when you realize though he still reaches for your hand on the way to school you feel like you’re holding a man’s hand.  He’s totally grown up.

His “friend” birthday party was a bit of a disaster. Though in late September, Colorado had record temps and our planned mini golf outing turned into a sun-baked whinefest where one boy scaled a porta-john and another one even barfed. His “family” birthday party got upstaged by a golf tournament. And then there were the costumes.

My children have always had a thing for dressing up. Mason especially loved costumes that uniformed him for his imaginary travels to space. While Coop was content in ninja digs and an occasional Power Ranger, Mason always looked for shiny suits and oxygen packs. If his costumes failed him, he’d just build some box armor from cardboard waiting for the recycle bin. After a short break from dressing up – so short I didn’t even realize we were on a break – the boys asked to dress up.

They were sitting in the back of my dad’s pick-up truck – a classic gas-guzzling vehicle meant to pull boats and snowmobiles, and climb mountains and stuff. My boys were fascinated. Not the type of thing that a lot of people around here own. The truck’s tailgate gave them access to the stars and they started dreaming. Next thing I knew they were trying to squeeze themselves into costumes that fit just a month or so ago.

I can’t overstate the squeezing. The costumes were REALLY small. My boys were REALLY big. And all I could do was stare at them, slack-jawed, and unabashedly shocked. But I was not sad.

Following their night flying through the cosmos on the wings of their creativity, I picked up the costumes, helmets, space packs, even a dinosaur suit and stuffed them in a box. I can’t overstate the stuffing. With not a single melancholy thought I drove them to the post office, slapped an address label on them and sent them on their way to Oregon.

Oh those costumes are so happy now.

But I am thinking about a boy with big blue eyes, feathery soft blonde wisps of hair, pink cheeks, and the sweetest, most inquisitive look ever possessed by a 2-year-old.  The baby who took himself so seriously, right from the start. The boy who consoled his big brother during time outs administered for being mean to little brother. And I’m thinking about how much he loved those costumes.

Last year at this time, I had all but given up on writing. I haven’t explained myself, really. But someone hurt my baby. In a moment of maladaptive behavior another student found a way to destroy my Mason’s spirit, his confidence. When I would try to sit down and write, all I could think about were sad things, sometimes hurtful things, things I wished I could say to bullies – imagined and otherwise. It’s unfortunate because as a result, I don’t have a very good record of sweet Mason’s 7th birthday, nor our family’s recovery during 2013.

Mason wrote us a letter during that time. It started, “I need your help. I have some very big problems.” Then in great detail he recounted the ways in which he’d been tortured by a classmate. What I know now, with it all behind us is this: Mason helped us. He has grown so much this year and shown us the value of courage, kindness, and rising to the challenge. Per our tradition, on the eve of his 8th birthday I tucked him in and said good-bye to 7-year-old Mason. As it turns out, it was the most gut-wrenching good-bye I’ve said as a parent.

The following morning I left before anyone else woke up. But first I stopped in and looked in on my beast of a boy – the 8-year-old who is head and shoulders above all the rest. I have so much comfort in my heart as I think about the changes in him. Well, that and a video of a new space explorer taking the costumes for a spin. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


I guess swim season is over. And I should probably mention how things worked out.

If you spend any time following my Instagram pics you already know the good news: Cooper won the 50 yard Breaststroke at championships. 

Yeah and high fives all around. 

Can we all just think back to Cooper's first year in swim team? Remember when his coaches picked him to be the 3D recipient? That was cool. I was so shocked by the award that I didn't even see him get it. I was in the back chit-chatting with my friends. 

Fast forward to this year. Final banquet and Cooper is up front collecting all kinds of medals and ribbons. Undefeated season in breaststroke, all-star swimmer, the list goes on. He has become such a great athlete. Then the coaches start recognizing high-point winners and I kinda checked out. You got it, I was chit-chatting in the back again. 

Then they announce the 3D -- a trophy that has gotten harder to win because now they only give it to 1 girl and 1 boy, not each 1 in each age group -- and they start to describe a very determined young man. One who went to every practice, and one who they know trains when he's on vacation, too. They talked about his willingness to swim up with the 11-12s and help out the older boys. They shared how he sets goals. And then they said Cooper's name! This time I got a picture (after I gasped with utter surprise). 

It's fun for Coop to earn a medal for swimming fast. But as the parent, hearing your child recognized for their work ethic is amazing. 

Swim team has changed our lives. I look forward to spending my summer with swim team friends who feel like family. Being in this program has been like being adopted into a family. It's not just my kid I like to cheer for. I feel so happy for so many of those athletes, and so grateful for the older athletes who have set such an extraordinary example for my Cooop. Now, we look to competitive tryouts and year-round schedules. But we will return to the Wahoos every summer.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Summer Wrap Up, For Tomorrow We Go To School

No summer wrap-up would be complete without explaining the growth I have seen in my youngest, quietest boy. I spend entire afternoons thinking to myself what it is like to be him in our world. Not the world like the planet. But our home and the atmosphere the four of us create. 

He is a special star in our orbiting system of chaos. By him I guide many of my decisions. Because he is not loud and he does not complain I wonder if he suffers. And then sometimes he does something that rocks us back to our heels. 

One such day happened in the blaze of too much sunshine in the middle of the fabulous holiday we call summer break. In fact, it was July and we were enjoying our carefully planned family vacation to one of Colorado's small, beautiful towns. Atop a mountain sits the  Glenwood Springs Adventure Park. My husband researched this trip and this particular day. He was certain that our boys would love the roller coasters, an alpine slide, the zip line, the "swing". 

I was pretty sure that Cooper would, and that Mason and I would sit on the sidelines taking pictures. But I really do try not to control everything. Really. 

We started the morning with all the Amish, who were also visiting the park, on a gondola ride from the base to the top of the mountain. The gondola had Mason grasping for safe ledges to hang on to. I worried that this was a pretty clear sign that he had no interest in riding the roller coaster and began silently to devise plan B.

First, we went on a cave tour. As luck would have it, the cave tour drops tourists out on a ledge looking down into the canyon and at the most terrifying ride of the park. Down below us we could see what the tour guide described as a 210-degree swing on the edge of a cliff that could pull more Gs than most astronauts experience in training. I thought to myself, "Honey bunches of no, this girl ain't got time for that." 

That's exactly when our family started walking toward the swing. Hubby nonchalantly asked, "Who's ready for the swing?" Mason shrugged his shoulders and said, "I'll do it." 


If you could only know the details of the past year. Of the trials. Of the fears. All the crying and failed attempts at courageous feats. 

Not going to lie, I just started crying. I frankly thought it was too much for a child to do. I wouldn't do it. Way too scary. Cooper and Mason marched up to the ride attendant, got themselves strapped in, and off they went. 

Well, after that both boys raced to the roller coaster -- touted as being at higher altitude than any other. A few times on that and they decided it was time for the alpine slide, the zip line, the [insert yawn] laser tag. Everything, they tried everything. 

I learned: today could be the day. We try and we try. We learn a little. We fail a lot. We get beat. Come in second. Whatever. But one day, it is the day. The day we win. The day we can. The day that courage comes to play.

Monday, June 23, 2014


The Coop in the middle and leading the pack.
I observed something in my oldest this weekend. Something I liked, but can't really describe. But I think it was grit.

He is such a good little breaststroke swimmer. Really. This is not me bragging. He is good at it. He's a natural. His body was made for it. He loves it.

The other strokes are just warm up for what he considers the big race. Because the Indiviual Medley -- or IM -- includes the breaststroke he likes that one too. Saturday, however, he DQd in the IM. After absolutely improving in every way on butterfly, he settled into a questionable pace for backstroke and then -- and this will be all swimmer-y and technical -- he flipped an illegal turn on the back to breast transition. Guh. And he knew it. So the rest of the race was just painful for him.

Out of the water he put on a good face. I actually thought to myself, "Oh I guess Coop IS a 9-year-old who swims for fun. This doesn't bother him at all." Plus, I'd like to point out, he caught up his first relay team to ensure a win, won the breaststroke, placed in the 100-meter freestyle, and swam up with the 11-12-year-olds in the 4x50-meter freestyle relay to win. This one DQ out of five very successful races seemed like peanuts.

Then Sunday rolled around and we went about our business. A family walk cut short by a going-away party at the swimming pool. None of the other kids are swim team kids. So I knew Coop would get in some relaxing play in the water.

When I showed up to take him home, I found him away from the group and in the lap pool. The kid was swimming his turn over and over and over, again. I had to tell him he was wonderful. Get out. Rest.

Some of us have this. This drive to practice so much that we not only do something perfectly, we never do anything but perfect. Some of us don't. Coop has two gifts. He was given great turn-out and a body for breastroke. But he also has the gift of grit. It's the second I admire.
Swim team friends are fun friends!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Everybody In The Pool

I'm always shocked my sons swim. Something I made from scratch can swim. I can't even pretend I'm a proficient swimmer. So, I brag on the first dive of every season. Especially since the season starts with three days of cancelations due to snow -- it's an outdoor pool. On the fourth day, 51 degrees and partly cloudy, Coop jumped in with the rest of them. He's a beast. A scrawny, 60 lb, size 24 jammer, and zero body fat, but he is a beast. 

That is why I am totally confused. On the last day of school my Coop came home carrying a lime green pillowcase filled with the junk of his desk. You can imagine the contents: chewed pencils, unfinished homework, graded papers, toilet paper roll totem pole, and a memory book.  I paid particular attention to the memory book seeing as I've forgotten so much lately.

Flipping through the pages there were a few expected assignments -- all teachers give them -- and a few surprises. 

Expected assignment: a visual representation of words that describe Cooper. He has dreamed them up himself and colored the pictures in bright colors. Phrases he uses to describe himself include: I'm a good at swimming. I'm not good at hula hoops. I like playing with my brother. I want to be an amazing swimmer. I do not want to be a mean man. I feel excited when I win a race. I do not like cats!

Unexpected assignment: a New Year's Resolution. Actually, the assignment itself did not surprise me.  What surprised me is what he wrote. (Let me reiterate, this was completed in the classroom. This was not a home assignment. My hands and eyes did not touch this document until 6 months after it was written. It read, "My New Years resolution is to make it to the All stars. I will complete my goal by going to every practice. I will also complete this goal by not goofing around during practices. The last thing I will need to do to accomplish my goal is listening to what my coaches and parents say. As you can see I've got a lot to do, but I am definitely going to reach my goal!!!"

"Interesting," I thought to myself. Later that night I told him I had read his goal and that I would help him any way I could. This is about the same time I ordered new jammers for the season, cleaned out the swim bag, and moved all the pool towels down to the laundry room for a freshen up. 

Then the boy asked to see All Star times. I swear it. This turned into a whole conversation in which he realized that now he would have to swim 50- and 100-meters races to compete as a 9-10 boy. Very funny stuff. 

After that, I was catching up with an old friend, also a swim mom. I told her the story of Coop asking about times and he stood there and denied it. 

I'm new at this tween parenting thing. Did I embarrass him? He put the monster goal out there. He asked to see the times. But only I can know?!?!? Weird times at this swim fan's house.

Mason often gets the pool to himself during night practices because all the swim team kids go to the lap pool. And everyone else goes home. He loves it!

This pictures shows how far ahead Coop got his relay team -- you can't even see the other competitors!

Monday, May 26, 2014


I messed something up.

I didn't realize it, of course, until I sat down to do something else.

That's right, let's start peeling back the onion of everything I do inefficiently. First, I used to make a yearly scrapbook for myself, my in-laws, and my parents for Christmas. It had a year of pictures and then a few captions in it. To make my life easier -- this is basically my mantra as I'm in the action of making my life harder -- I would look back at my blog and refresh my memory with my own stories of what had happened in the past year. Let me tell you, the years run together after age 30.

Today of all days, Memorial Day, I was looking for a picture of my grandpa that I wanted to use here and to show my kids how amazingly young he was when he entered service. I sat down and after one project turned into another and an hour turned into 8 I drew a blank. Couldn't tell you when school started, who was on what team, what lessons we took, who visited us, if we went anywhere. True and legitimate debacle. Plus I can't find the picture of my grandpa which really chaps my hide!

After fiddling with the pictures for something like 27 days, I opened up my old blog. Only three months in 2013 had been captured -- and rather shabbily at that. But the stories I read made me cry. I wasn't emotional because of the quality of work. I was so sad that I would have otherwise forgotten some fairly precious moments with my babies.

So, now I'm in a pickle. I don't have babies anymore. In fact, they both have feet nearly as big as mine. And no, I'm not one of those pixie people with dainty feet. I'm trying to remember back to when they still wore zippy PJs and held my hand on the way to school. Damn it, I can't. It's not alzheimer's.  It's the speed of life.

The blog is a kindness to myself. I have enough critics, so I'm giving this to myself. Be it selfish desires, I still think it's a worthy cause. Now, if I can just get those kids to do April 2013-May 2014, again. And seriously where is that picture of my grandpa?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Feats of Strength

We had a fairly big weekend. In terms of living in the suburbs, you could say it was a heavy hardware weekend. The Coop played in the Lacrosse Championships of his league/division/small corner of the world and won. Then the following day he endured the chaos of a kid triathlon. Both adventures earned him a medal. He's kinda a big deal.

What we didn't expect, was to have our Mason recognized, too. Following the lacrosse game it was parent paparazzi everywhere. I got some amazing pictures of Cooper. But what I missed with my lens and must capture here is what Cooper's coach did for Mason. He gave him a medal for his support! Indeed Mason went to every practice and every game. He was Cooper's no. 1 fan. He has his own stick and was Coop's practice partner in the backyard. Coach will never know the significance of this to me. 

After the excitement of the day blew over and we were watching TV, Mason started nonchalantly doing sit ups. Then he moved on to push ups. Before we knew it he was working the tricep-dip on the stairs and holding a wall-sit for an eternity. We sat up, we noticed. Like it was nothing, he lunged past us on the couch and asked if we could think of any hard exercises for him. The night continued on with us thinking of truly difficult feats of strength for Mason. Anything and everything we invented, he tried. If you know Mason, you know this is a thing. I can't help but think he was boosted by his hard-earned hardware. 

Can't wait for high school track when I see that kick!

Sunday, May 18, 2014


We all have reasons.

But I've taken 425 days to review mine. This might seem like an exaggeration. But you clearly don't know me. Perhaps you would like to ask me how shopping for a new dishwasher went?


The reasons for not writing a blog are pretty clear: 
People will think you are stupid. 
People will say you're not an expert.
People will make fun of blogs in general because in general blogs are about things no one really cares about.
People will say you are not a writer. 

A few reasons to write a blog:
People say that they read it -- and they have their reasons, who are you to argue.
People will say you are a writer. 
People don't matter. What you really need to accomplish is remembering what happened at the speed of life, once upon a time when your kids were little. 

I accidentally quit this blog. There was no profound moment when I threw up my hands and declared, "This is the end." It just happened. 

In fact the last time I thought, "Hmmm I should write a blog entry," I sat down and wrote a long list of all the topics I wanted to cover. The really important stuff like what my favorite mascara is. That's when I realized, actually, I shouldn't blog. 

In my mind there is a difference between writing and blogging. In the beginning, blogging was fun. It was a record. It was fairly personal. It gave my introvert brain a chance to mull over everything I'd seen in a day and chit chat with myself about it. 

Then it became a thing. Like an audience thing. And people around me had blogs. Fancy blogs that had relevant information. They tracked their visitors, and recruited sponsors, and became like an overnight sensation. Made books deals!

I never wanted that. Never had that. Never tried to have that. 

This is just a little group  of essays on daily life. Just me missing my craft. Wait, that's a little overstated. I'm not like a world-renowned basketweaver or anything. So I don't really have a craft per se. But I am never short on opinions. I listen to people -- particularly my kids -- and I write down what they say. I make a fair amount of grammatical errors much to the dismay of one of my favorite teachers. But even she  Facebook-liked (that's a verb, right?) the idea of a resurrection.  

And just like that, I'm back.