Friday, August 9, 2013

The Best of Solitude and Being Together.

It's been awhile now, awhile since I've been lost in writing, letting the movement and rhythm of the words carry me along for the ride. In the meantime though I'm learning a heck of a lot about myself. In a lot of ways it's like meeting someone entirely new, while at the same time maintaining a bored familiarity and often times frustration with the same 'ole me I've known all along. One thing I know to be true: writing makes me feel alive, and to do it well I have to have solitude. I think why this has always been uncomfortable for me is that I consider myself a social person. I like relationships. But as I grow older for me to really enjoy someone's company I have to trust them. And to trust someone takes time. I find myself more and more and more needing times of quiet, times in nature (a mountain wilderness or my back yard will do), time alone. We recently went on a family vacation with all of Joey's side of the family-four couples and their kids, grandma and papa and even great-grandma. We rented the most amazing house you could find in Tahoe, complete with an indoor pool, hot tub, fire pit, in ground trampoline, pool table...I could go on but you get the point! We spent our time together, playing poker or yard games, swimming and eating. On a walk with Joey and the kids, we stumbled upon a quiet, secluded beach. Railroad-tie stairs covered in grainy sand winded down to it's soft, brown beach, Tahoe's tourquous waters resting gently on the shore. Becuase Ethan had his bike and Noah was in his stroller, we didn't go down at the time, much to my disappointment. Quiet, beautiful places like that call out to me, maybe even more so when they come unexpectedly. We went back to the house but the entire rest of the vacation I couldn't stop thinking about that beach. I didn't get to go back, although I thought of it around sunset each night, trying to imagine what it must look like with those colors in the sky, and again in the mornings, wishing my bum could be sitting in it's cool sand, book in hand, listening to the waves. Today I didn't get much solitude, although I did get some great time with my boys. We over did it, which is less of a problem now that they are almost four and seven, and can handle a non stop day with their impulsive mama who likes to keep her options open. We left the house with no plan, other than a doctors appointment at 11. We did this: Stake N' Shake Docotor's Target (school supplies, new make up for me) Marina (park and candy) The Humane Society (looked at the rabbits, pet the cats, looked at the dogs) Rancho San Rafael Park At the park I pointed to the top of the hill where a white gazebo stands. "That's where me and daddy had our first kiss." "Ethan! Did you hear that?? That's where mom got it!" says Noah. "Got what?" Says Ethan. "Got her kiss!" "Really?! That's where you got married?" I had to break it to them that we kissed before we were married. "Oh. So you've kissed twice then." says Ethan. "Yes..." I really didn't have the energy to explain any further. It was a great day with them. No solitude, but time: time building trust, telling first kiss stories.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mudder Love.

We drove into Truckee on Saturday afternoon, it's main street lazy and quiet, making me wonder why we don't come up more often.
We parked the car in a lot across the street from our old hotel and walked over. I noticed at the check in how kind and sociable Joey was with the girl behind the desk, her eyeliner dramatic like Jasmine from Aladdin, her lips perfectly shaped. She talked easily back to him, and I tried to smile at her, but between girls sometimes there's an underlying edge and it's too much effort to try and smooth it over. Looking at the brochures on the wall was easier.
Joey got our keys-which are really cards now-a-days- and we made our way up the old, squeaky staircase. I took note how badly the paint was peeling was on the face of the stairs as we ascended and despite the fact that we work so hard to keep our life at home perfectly in order-no scuffs on our walls, no smudges on our shiny floors-it felt really good to see all those worn down stairs, the dark places were the paint was completely gone and nobody gave a shit.
The floors creaked and moved under our feet as we made our way down the hall, looking for our room, number 224. The was a small sitting room at the end of the hall with tall open windows, the warm breeze causing the light curtains to catch wind and balloon out like sails.
I opened our door to a surprisingly small room and tried not to act disappointed because I know how much Joey hates it when I am disappointed. Instead I said, "Oh how cute!" And it was. Cute and simple, with a large bed in the middle with just enough room to get around, a small table with three baskets as drawers-the first two holding plump, soft white towels and last one empty. There was an old black cast iron radiator in the corner under the window that looked so old and antiquated I told Joey I wouldn't turn that thing on even if I was freezing to death for fear of burning the whole hotel down, and maybe all of Truckee with it. The bed had a textured white bedspread and down pillows that contrasted nicely with the room's light brown walls, the color of creamed coffee in the morning.
I was anxious to get out to all the little shops we saw on our way into town. We walked in an out of the them, doting on all the beautiful, handmade jewlery, the colorful paintings of Tahoe, the soft leather bags.
In a small furniture shop I saw a sign that read, "I'm not moody, self-absorbed, and disorganized-I'm artistic!" and I thought, that sums it up exactly. I showed it to Joey. He didn't think it was quite as humerous as I had.
We bought Christmas and birthday gifts and I got a necklace with a tiny heart on one side a the word "love" written on the other.
I told Joey I wanted it to be from him, that it could be my Christmas present. He  said alright, but then went and sat to wait on a bench while I went in and bought it. And I knew when I bought it there's no way I was waiting for Christmas for it-I wore it out that night and everyday since. I guess this is just how it is when your married-or maybe just moody and self-absorbed and want things immediately.
Soon enough we were hungry and made our way down to the green Mexican restaurant at the far end of the street. We sat at the bar and as the vodka mixed in my cranberry juice loosened my mind I started talking, talking in a way I hadn't for a week or two, or maybe a month or two. Letting the words spill out, the tangle mess of them, knowing if I thought too much about what it was I was trying to say it wouldn't come out closest to the truth, which I value so strongly, so I tried to not filter. We're married right? He's not going anywhere no matter what I say.
 Joey listened politely but there was a baseball game on and I couldn't blame him for glancing up at it every couple of minutes or so, or for asking the two rough gentleman sitting next to us what exactly they were having as the bar tender made them some special drinks. I'm sure at this point in our conversation-or maybe I should say my conversation-he wanted whatever they were having bad. I also wondered if he'd rather be hanging out with them than his emotionally crazed wife who was talking with no filter, valuing truth above all else.
I made an effort to reign it in just a little.
Walking back to the hotel I tried not to let the nerves start to creep in as the alcohal wore off as to why we were really up here to begin with-it wasn't to shop and eat and get re-acquainted with each other- it was to complete the Tough Mudder.
I'd been a spectator four years before, watching my husband and all his buddies complete a course in Bear Valley, California. At the time I though it could be fun to do at one point, but I wondered if I'd ever actually have the balls to sign up for it. Four years passed and I thought it was pretty much a forgotten thought until one day about a couple of months ago. Joey said that he wanted to do it with a group from work again, and because it was on a weekend we were supposed to be camping as a family he thought we could do this instead.
After I threw a complete fit which is so like me, I actually thought about it for a minute or two and I decided it could be fun. Plus Joey suckered me in: we'd spend the weekend in Truckee, shopping and eating out without the boys. He'd even get us a quaint little hotel room.
 I agreed.
He signed us up.
I asked him if I should train and he said no. That I was in good enough physical shape to just wing it. I said okay.
I started receiving the Tough Mudder emails right away, almost daily, and I deleted them without even reading them. Then I saw one with a video attached entitled "Artic Enema" and decided to watch it.  Bad idea.
What was gong to be just a casual 'get through it kinda day' now had a face: Hundreds of pounds of ice that you have to dive head first into, find an opening at the bottom, and get out on the other side, which was another bin filled with ice.
I tried not to talk about it with Joey too much, tried not to ask him too many questions for fear of appearing a complete wuss, or annoying him and making him regret inviting me.
Despite all my cool self control two months leading up to the event, the morning of the race I couldn't help it and chewed off eight and a half of my fingernails to little nubs as we drove to Safeway to get power bars and bananas. I hoped Joey didn't notice and made a mental note I'd have to clean my fingernails out of the car later.
Soon enough we were at the start line. The sky was a bold blue and the temperature was warm. All around us everyone was chanting and cheering the then we were off, up the mountain.
Running up the mountain was easy. When the adrenaline kicks in, especially at the start of a race, I never feel stronger. I could run for miles! Up ski mountains!
Our first obstacle was the Slanted Wall. I scurried up the wall using the supports like a kindergartner on a jungle gym. Easy enough, I thought, as I reached the top and threw my legs over. Now, how to get down?
I turned around on my back side and decided to slide down like a slide in the park-whoosh! and  the next moment I'm heard my ankle make some funky crinkly sounds and then the pain, tight and twisted, unnatural.
I bent my knee to get my foot off the ground and noticed the swelling under my sock, bulging already out my shoe.
I told my team members I rolled my ankle, took my shoe off so everyone could stare at the growing mound of puffy, swollen flesh right at my ankle bone. I slipped my shoe back and and said, "It's alright. I'm going to keep going. It feels alright."
  I'm mad at myself for being such an idiot, for forgetting how easy it is to get hurt, for forgetting how vuulnerable we are. But I'm especially mad because it happened on the first obstacle. As I begin to jog toward obstacle number two out of nineteen, I pray it isn't as bad as it feels.
Somehow I keep running, keep doing every single obstacle, despite my foot having hardly any movement, feeling like a big stiff tree branch jolting out of my shoe with my toes attached.
For five hours I try not to think about it. But when I do, it shakes.
Joey helps me down on any of the obstacles that would require a jump onto hard ground. Running down the mountain was harder on it than running up; with every step I'm aware of it jamming, while simultaneously hoping to god I don't turn it again on the loose rocks.
As we near the end, one of the obstacles is to carry another "warrior". I climb on Joey's back and he takes off. Where we are supposed to switch, he keeps going, carrying me all the way to the obstacles end.
The second to last obstacle is called Mount Everest. It's a half pipe that you have to run up and get to the top. For the first time in the entire race, I said out loud to one of the women we'd been running with, "I don't think I'm going to be able to that." I doubted I could do that even if my ankle was fine. It was so...slanted, curled like a giant wave.
I gave it a shot and slid down, but realized it too was doable despite looking so undoable. I ran with all my might and grabbed the top with my finger tips. Bingo. Up and over.
The last obstacle was running through mud with the electrical shocking things hanging down. We all run through as a team, yelling and screaming and ready for it to be over.
Afterward I ate two soft tacos while resting my foot on Joey's lap. As everyone sat and ate and talked about the race, I could feel it getting stiffer. It ached. I finally told Joey I was ready to go but could barely make it to the car. I laughed at how impossible it was to walk when an hour ago I was running down a mountain on it.
At home I showered for a long time. Washed my hair twice. You would never believe the amount of dirt your body soaks up in this event!  When I got out and dried myself off, my white towel had brown dirt marks all over it. The junk that came out of my nose and ears, black.

                     Not from Tough Mudder or even this Weekend. Just us. Being us.

I'm not loving my banged up knees and stiff ankle the same size as a baby elephant's. But I did love the time with my husband. I loved doing something so many people are afraid of.  I love my little necklace I forced my husband to buy "for" me. I loved our little hotel room, the way the floor slanted down. I loved my vodka and cranberry juice that allowed me to open up like a dam in the green Mexican restaurant. But mostly I loved how my husband listened to me even if he didn't  get a damn thing I was saying, how he helped me over every other single wall we had to climb after I hurt myself, how he carried me when he was supposed to but also when I was supposed to carry him.  That's what I loved the most.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Lacking Nothing.

I've been freaking out lately (what's new?), mind set on crazy, adamant that I need to make things happen, that if I don't do A and B and C and the whole rest of the alphabet too, well, life just might end in a big catastrophe.
I've been reading Deuteronomy 8, reading about those Israelites almost ready to make it into the promise Land. They've been wondering around in the desert for 40 YEARS so that God could teach them that HE is the one who supplies all we need, HE is the one that goes before us and behind us, HE is the one who gets water out of rocks and sends food from heaven. That we don't have to be in a land flowing with milk and honey to "lack nothing"-that actually even in the desert, the Israelites (and us) still "lack nothing".
God is the same, mighty, faithful, full of love and mercy, whether we are in the desert or in paradise. And he leads us in deserts so that we can learn this, know that even there in the driest, most irritating, annoying, sometimes painful places He is.
We lack nothing.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Family Photos.

Family pictures 2013. Behind the scenes: My hair is dirty and I'm worried about it and Joey is mad we are downtown in public and Noah is being a pain. Don't we all look happy though? Except Noah. Three year olds don't lie, unless it's a story about dragons or something cool. 
Isn't he a cute pain?
Behind the scenes: Joey is an amazing dad.
Handsome Devil.Watch out Second Grade.

Monday, June 10, 2013


It's raining, darkening the grey rocks in the backyard to a deep, shiny, slate color; the grass and plants from their normal, dry yellow green to bright, jungle green. The colors pop against the backdrop of a white sky, covered in clouds.  It's so rare here to get rain that when it happens the day feels special.
Except if you want to go to Tahoe, or if you are at Tahoe, dressed for the beach.
We left after church because it was supposed to be "like 103 degrees" but as we wound up the mountain, we kept driving deeper and deeper into the dark grey clouds. Thunder rumbled. We kept driving, watching the temperature on the dashboard drop a degree with each winding turn. One of those times where you just keep thinking, "He parted the Red Sea for gosh sakes! He can take the clouds away."
Except He didn't. Instead He brought lightening, so we were banned from the water, which caused two simultaneous wails of despair to erupt from the depths of my boys' bellies. I also wailed in despair, only mine was silent because as an adult letting that stuff out, especially in front of the kids, looks bad.
 We decided to stay anyway and bbq'd with my parents and grammie. It rained a little, and then would stop, and then start again. One large gush of wind on the beach caused Joey to cover Noah with his body to protect him from the sharp sand pelting his face, while Ethan ran like a mad man to find cover, in the bathrooms.
Joey and I got to play catch, something we haven't done since I think Ethan was six months old and would sleep in the stroller while we played. It's amazing how long it takes to get some of those things back. The boys ran around chasing squirrels.
On the way home Joey and I got lost in conversation about the future, something that I love to do with him but find it hard in the lives we live: we either are getting things done and prepared for whatever is coming next or staring at our phones to zone out from it all. I find long, winding roads are good for this sort of thing: letting our minds get lost together, the flow of the conversation ebbing back in forth in a natural, effortless way.
We talked about how badly we we want to get out of Stead. How painful the fallout of the decision to buy out here has been-from what we can see now. Eleven years was impossible to imagine when we signed our life away. We thought maybe two, tops. And yet here we are, still, and I just turned thirty!
It's OK. It's one of the many ways I've learned to be an adult. To stay when I want to run away. To keep going when I want to quit. To know it's OK if it doesn't make sense; someday-maybe in this life, maybe not- I'll see it all clearly.
In the meantime I try to remember right now it's not so much about understanding why He doesn't take the clouds away and more about trusting His love for me, always. Sun or rain, ...he makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.
Sure, we didn't get sunshine and beach and water, but we got the smell of new rain hitting pine trees in the mountains, the feeling of light rain misting our bodies, the back and forth smack of a baseball in my glove, and a long, effortless conversation with my husband that left me feeling closer to him than I've felt in a long while.
I take a deep breath and remember.

Monday, June 3, 2013

On Turning Thirty: An Excuse to Do Things.

I'm running into my thirties, literally as well as figuratively. Figuratively, well, I'm just excited to be out of the chaos of adjustments in my twenties. Adjusting to marriage, to mommy-hood, to no jobs and new jobs, dogs and no dogs and home ownership and all that stuff that costs way more money and is way harder than you can ever imagine. My twenties felt like my head was constantly spinning and when it would start to slow down, just a bit, the only thing that came to mind was: WTF?
Literally, I've decided that turning thirty is an excuse to do things, so I'm running everyday of June, or just about. I actually started at the end of May and then was ill all weekend, blowing up from both ends, so I had to put my little goal on the back burner, but I'm ready to hit the road at zero dark thirty tomorrow morning. Running makes me feel bad ass, and why not do something that makes you feel bad ass?
I also thought I would add "and drink only H2O" to my little goal as well, but that quickly got thrown out the window  as I survived on Sierra Mist and saltines all weekend. I'm sure I dropped five pounds. Screw paleo, if you want to lose some serious weight, it's all about Sierra Mist and Saltines! It's the miracle diet in just three days!
Anyway, I'm feeling back to my normal self now, I'm not continuously exploding from one end or the other, and I'm ready for this 30's thing. It can only go up from here, right?
I always feel like I have to do this huge catch up on here every time I write now because I write so infrequently. So catch up:
Ethan is awesome. For his school project today he drew a picture of himself as an old man and then wrote: When I am 100 years old I will have glasses because I love to read at night before bed. I will also have a hearing aid because I will be hard of hearing.
He blows my mind. I know every mom thinks this, but Ethan could really rule the world one day, or at least some big company. He's bright and independent and creative. Of course, he's also a major pain in the ass because of these things...constantly asking questions and wanting to invent this or build that or try this. And I must just seem like such a drag, constantly telling him, "" but really I think he's a genius. I hope he realises that.
Noah is a stubborn sweetheart. He recently has been trying to get into music, and I say trying because I don't know if it's just his age or if he's one of those people who just can't hear it right, but he tries. He gets Ethan's ear phones on with the ipod and then tries to sing along to Jason Aldean or Maroon5. It's hide-your-laughter-cus-it's-so-dang-cute-but-you-don't-want-to-hurt-his-feelings stuff.  He's also incredibly sensitive (hmmm, wonder where he gets that?) and does not like to be watched, noted, or spoken about. Poor baby. All over Mama's blog.
I love him dearly and cherish the times I get to take a nap with him.
More and more and more I appreciate and am so proud of Joey. His new assignment is as a forensic investigator (my little sister pointed out how hot that is) and I love having him on my schedule. After nine and a half years, you gotta hand it to a man who has to listen to his wife fill the toilet in so many different ways all night long. The next morning I texted him, "Did you hear me last night?" and he responded, "Every time." Yet he sticks around.
The one thing I'm missing in my life right now is girls. I miss my friends, my sisters. So that's another thing I want to work on in my thirties, making time for girls. Deana, Daelynn, Angel, Erin, Heather, Jen, Jamie, my mom, my grammie. I miss my girls. It's so easy to take those relationships for granted, but to not have them sucks the air right out of my life.

Monday, May 20, 2013

What we do now.

The boys and I went for a run tonight, the fourth consecutive starting last Friday. It seems a little obsessive, a little crazy, but after work I just get the itch to go. The air is sweet, the sky big and full of changing colors, inviting me to chase after it, run into it.
Such a different feeling than the dark, cold days in February when the sky is a deep navy by the time we get home and the day seems over. All we do is get ready for bed it seems.
I realised on my run today that in the summer I don't run to burn calories. I don't run to train. I don't run so I can eat whatever I want (OK that's a lie.  I do run to eat whatever I want), but really I run because it feels good. I run because it's fun to run. And even though the hills, especially pushing Noah in his stroller, KILL me, that feeling of pushing into them, conquering them, is addictive in the best possible way.
It's been a treat-that's such an understatement. It's been heaven-to have Joey around in the evenings to do this kind of stuff with me. It's so so so different doing the parenting thing solo in the  evenings vs. having my partner with me. It doesn't hurt my partner has a booming voice when needed and seems to just naturally demand, and get, respect from the little dudes.
Ethan is doing baseball. He's so proud of himself. I love his confidence! I want it. I told him the other night that he has such a natural ability to argue his case, that he would make a good lawyer. I told him it was one of the talents God gave him.
"Mom, what are talents?"
"They are gifts and strengths God has given you."
"Well, I do have incredible strength."
He kills me!
Noah and Ethan are both doing their swim lessons. It's fun to watch Noah on the side of the pool, waiting for his turn, his little chicken wing arms bouncing around, blue goggles on. The other morning he crawled into bed with me, took my sleepy face in his hands, and said, "You're da sweedest mama." Where he gets this stuff I will never know;  I just know I want to soak it up, write it down, do I don't forget.