Saturday, December 29, 2012

Today's Schedule

That moment where the blissful glee of being at home with nothing to do that must be done passes and you still have a few days of vacation left and the panic wells up in your throat a little wondering how the time will get passed, like it was some sort of baton.  That particular bile is followed by the chunks of fear that you are somehow behind.

That moment when your child wakes with a fever and you have to change your plans, the things you were going to do and instead make soup and ferry Gatorades back and forth and sweep Saltines crumbs out of your bed, wondering how long to let the cartoons run for.

The moment when you just surrender to it and put the fuzzy leggings back on and take your bra off under the sweatshirt because, eh, who cares.  You might even have left the house like that.  Then you spend most of the day working on a puzzle and eating more chocolate and marveling at your expanding middle, it's eagerness to claim territory.  Nothing gets bought or sold.  Managed or recorded.  Monitored.  You have a third cup of coffee before 2pm.  And you still feel sleepy, which is weirdly okay, too.

Time slows down to this otherworldly pace and your house becomes the universe and your family the only only living beings within it and you just orbit one another in an unregimented fashion and forget what day it is.  You lie splayed across one another's laps, or rolling on the floor getting covered in dog hair but who cares put those jammies in the hamper and just put on other ones.

Who cares, who cares, who cares.

You don't even look at the clock.  You're supposed to go out but the kid's fever and cough keep you in and that's fine and then even the cabin fever passes and you are back to wondering at the massive elasticity of time and its ability to change you, as if to another species.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gushy Mushy

Man, what a bunch of selfish goodness, this staying around in our own house for the holidays, has been.  E. and I just look at each other in wonder, goofy grins on our faces.

We miss our families, don't get me wrong.

But to avoid airports, car trips, small talk, doggie daycare, packing and planning?  No national news, no NPR, no course planning, no fevered email correspondence.  To have an entire week of pajamas and pancakes, fudge and movies, snowstorms and presents, projects and peace?

Total bliss.  Bittersweet bliss.  The lazy, joyous stretching out of the days, not ruled by calendars and to-do lists but by whims and fancies, is almost too much to take.  Out of the corner of my eye, the new year is approaching, and all those stupid deadlines I committed myself to are waiting impatiently in folding chairs, angry drivers at the DMV wanting license.  Bastards.

But for today:  the blog.  Folding laundry.  Watching some snow fall.  Maybe a run, maybe not.  Eating, laying down, getting back up, puttering around, laying back down.  Answering one email and calling it good.  Watching the jay on the tree outside my window.  Reading.  TV.  Watching Nolie do magic tricks, listening to Addie rhapsodize on the finer points of Harry Potter.

Hard to imagine anything better.

Friday, December 21, 2012


I've been dwelling on the idea of happiness, something I am periodically wont to do, as you long-time readers will know.  I've been grasping at pleasure for a while now, and that usually comes in the form of brown cardboard boxes from Sephora delivered to my door, containing the Naked 2 palette from Urban Decay or the matching nail polish set they just came out with and the wee free samples that I squirrel away and sniff at like they're The Ring.  Or I read funny blogs and stories like this one on Man Repeller.  Also, N. turned me on to green tea frappucinos from Starbucks, but with only one squirt of the sweet syrup because we don't want to overdo it on our $5 drink with the six ounces of whip cream on top.  And then there is the endless Netflixing of The Office, Gossip Girl, and Downton Abbey.  I work all day and try to be kind to my children and then get the fuck out of my way so I can put on eyeshadow and watch my shows.

That is the depth of my existence at the moment.  I'm going through an incredibly shallow period.  I think it's because the tenure application process was like having a baby.  I have pregnancy, baby-blues brain.  It is manifesting as a make-up and crap-tv addiction.

Thus enters the dwelling on happiness.

One thing I'm pretty sure is true about happiness is that the things that made you happy as a kid probably still make you happy.  Gretchen Rubin calls this her "Be Gretchen" rule:  you should stretch and grow and try new things, but it's also just fine to acknowledge that there are some fundamental things about you that make you, you.

I made a list of the things I liked doing as a kid (kid as in little kid through high school):

  • playing piano
  • doing puzzles
  • singing loudly along with records by Whitney Houston or Kenny Loggins
  • singing in a choir
  • swimming in lakes
  • playing volleyball
  • snowboarding with my friend Stacy
  • crocheting big old afghans out of shitty yarn
  • camping
  • reading novels
  • shopping
  • organizing and rearranging things
  • road trips
  • making people laugh
  • dancing
  • making out
I'm pretty sure that doing each one of these things now also makes me happy, both in a "this is pleasurable" sense but also in a "deeply fulfilled" sense.  So I'm trying to work them in here and there and do less of the shopping on Sephora.

Though if you wanted to get me that nail polish I would not object.  Come finish season 8 of Weeds with me and we'll do our nails.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More on Nolie

We took the Noles to get some blood drawn about ten days ago and got the call from the doctor yesterday morning.  There was nothing that screamed out as causing her stomach pain, but enough was just a little off that now we have to take her to the GI in January.  Thyroid, a little off.  Pancreas, a little bit off.  Celiac test, inconclusive.  Blood in the stool.  So, more tests to come.  She continues to be whiny and to need to be near us all the time.  We still don't know if she's acting like that because of her tummy, or if she is anxious and therefore her tummy hurts.  Won't know for a while.  So we have to be loving and patient but also not let her run all over us.  It's not easy.

But it won't last forever.  

Today the snow is coming down in huge, gorgeous flurries.  Milo sleeps in the corner, our fake fireplace/space heater is roaring, the candles are lit, and I have time to read through emails and write here.  I celebrated the end of the semester yesterday, both because I couldn't last Friday after hearing of the shootings, and because it took a while to slough this one off.  Milo and I ran seven miles in the foothills, the snow sticking to our eyelashes and eyebrows.  We came in to the house slow, sore.  But I felt like this effort marked the end and that I could take a few days off, finally, without angst or guilt.  Because if not now, when?  The tenure package is in.  My deadlines can wait.  We're home as a family all next week.  So why not take a few days and live more slowly now?  Why not have a few hours where I can do whatever I want instead of having every moment dictated by the do list?  

The snow offers a perfect excuse to stay in, too.  Hope you are cuddled up wherever you are today.

Prayer for Connecticut

sent to me by N.

Prayer for Connecticut

For those who bear the unbearable burden of unimaginable grief, who in their agony yell at the forces of fate... For those who moan and those who faint, for those who rage and those who pray, we moan and pray along with you. For today those were our children too. Dear God, May a legion of angels come upon these parents. Bring to them an otherworldly touch, an otherworldly comfort, an otherworldly sense that their children are well -- that they are safe with God and shall be with them always. Give to those who grieve what no mortal can give... the touch of Your Hand upon their heart. May all touched by this darkness be Lit by Your grace. Please wipe away all tears, dear God. as only You can do. Amen

Marianne Williamson

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Trouble with Nolie

I could use some group wisdom, my friends.  Because, while Nolie has had a good, exciting month, it has also been a really difficult month for all of us, and for Nolie.  Here's what I mean:

  • She's still waking up once a night, terrified by something indeterminate.  We can usually get her back to sleep, but it's disruptive for everyone, and is sometimes followed by additional wakings.
  • She's afraid to go anywhere in the house by herself, even to go upstairs to get her slippers, say.
  • She has text anxiety.
  • When she doesn't get what she wants, she screams and yells and has frightful tantrums.
  • She will not leave our side, even in cases when she needs to (like, we're working with hot pans in the kitchen) and we are firm with her.
  • She has trouble finding things to keep herself busy.  We are pretty hands-on parents, I think, playing with our kids a lot and involving them in most of what we do.  But sometimes your kid needs to go work on a puzzle for ten minutes so you can, I don't know, go to the bathroom.
  • She complains of frequent tummy aches, and has diarrhea a lot.
  • She engages in a lot of negative talk when she's very upset, stuff like "I'm a bad kid" and "I don't want to be a part of this world."  We try not to over-react, but this one in particular freaks us out.
What does this look and sound like to you, from the outside?  She's anxious and fearful, obviously, but how to respond?  Is this just a phase, and it's best to indulge her (get her slippers for her, let her hang close, verbalize her fears) until she grows out of it?  Or is it more serious?  Does she need counseling?  

And how do we survive this without losing our minds?

I feel so sad and confused.  She's such a loving, bubbly kid most of the time.  What is happening?

Edit:  Writing myself into my thoughts here; thank you for being patient with me.

First thought:  It's possible Nolie is experiencing separation anxiety.  She's always tended toward this somewhat, even as a baby, and maybe it's exacerbated right now.  She's said a few times lately, "I don't like you and Daddy doing all this business travel!  I only feel safe when my whole family is around me."  Okay, duh.  So that's probably part of it.  E. just got home from Switzerland and I'm headed to Boston, this week, so I could work on some ways to help her talk through her fears and also develop some tools to help her manage them.  For example, maybe I can make her a calendar that shows how many days I'll be gone, and then that she gets to spend a week with mommy and daddy over Thanksgiving break, and even longer over Christmas break.  She could cross off the days I'm gone and look forward to our vacation.  And we can remind her there are no more trips for a while.

Second thought:  Nolie's not "misbehaving," she truly is scared, so my first tendency, which is to be firm--with the idea that I'm helping her become "independent"--is not really working.  Instead, come at it with respect for her experiences, and respond with love.  If she needs someone with her to get her slippers, go get her slippers with her.  Help her back into bed gently at night, with love.  Invite her to do stuff with us, rather than trying to get her to go be on her own.  Try not to throttle her when she's up in your grill every freaking second of the day.

Okay, so I don't know what to do when I lose my cool yet.  Will have to figure that out.

Also, I'm going to make an appointment with the doc about her tummy, just to rule out anything medical that might be making her feel extra-punk.

I guess if this stuff doesn't work, we'll take her to our therapist, who specializes in kid and family therapy.

Monday, November 12, 2012

apples for teacher

I have never had a student bring me an apple.  Probably because I scare them (students, not apples) all too bad.  I did have a Saudi student bring me a gown once (note to Colorado state officials:  this was before the "no accepting gifts worth more than $50" rule was passed) and I think I've received some chocolate now and then.  Many nice notes and emails, but mostly, no gifts. And that's good.  I think it would make me feel a little weird, like boundaries were crossed somehow.

But then a few weeks ago a student brought me this:

An entire box of apples.  From her folks' organic apple orchard.

Let me tell you, this has been an awesome gift.  We eat apples in this house like you wouldn't believe, and the luxury of having a whole box of them, for snacking, for apple sauce, for pie...well.  It's been tremendous.

It has made me feel tremendously rich and satisfied, and grateful.  Thank you, dear student, for the apples.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dad's Out of Town

I've had a hard time dealing with all of E's work travel the last few months.  But then I decided that the problem wasn't so much that he was gone, but that I was having a really bad attitude about him being gone.

So instead of focusing on the hardship of his absence, I decided that this week, while he's in Switzerland, the girls and I would have fun.  I realize now, looking back, that most of the "fun" revolves around us eating massive quantities of junk food.  So that's probably something to adjust for the next time.  But I liked the experience, and this week was a lot more fun than the other weeks E's been gone.

I love to have a big Sunday dinner every week, and since E. left on a Sunday afternoon, I figured we'd still have our big Sunday dinner, except it would be breakfast for dinner, or what Nolie decided to call "Brinner."  Or "Dinfast."  We couldn't decide.

The trick to making this fun, for me anyway, was on going totally over the top.  Nolie's favorite breakfast is crepes, Addie loves homemade waffles, and I like both of those and eggs and fake bacon.  Plus, you have to have juice and coffee.

So I just made all of those things.

I loved making it, and I loved having a little bit of everything (I'm the kind of person who gets menu envy in restaurants, so I loved getting to have some eggs and waffles and crepes).  We even broke out the nutella.  And nothing went to waste--we just froze the leftovers.  Addie loved having homemade waffles all week (we just popped them in the toaster).

Of course, we felt like this afterward:

Brinner Zombies

Again, adjustments need to be made.

Then we had a homemade spa treatment:

Later in the week was Banana Splits and a view of Enchanted, one of my favorite princess movies (though, thankfully, we are growing out of that phase altogether).

Last night was party food and Puss in Boots.

Little things.  Food.  Sweets. T.V.

Also, I almost bought:  a puppy, a kitten, and an iPad.  Maybe it is that E's gone.  E-shaped-hole in life=wanting a puppy.  Or shiny electronics

But I didn't buy those things.  I just ate a lot of waffles and ice cream.

And E. comes home today.

Big Month for Nolie

It was a big month for Nolie.  She loves the first grade, and loves her teacher.  First, she was chosen to be the Beary Special Person, which means she got to bring home Beary the Bear for the weekend and keep a special journal about their time together:

Then, last week, we found out she was Student of the Month!

Which meant a special ceremony at school with doughnuts and chocolate milk.

Nolie's principal gave out the awards.

Nolie was shy about going up to receive her award...

But proud.

Me too.

Halloween 2012

I'm not sure October happened.  It went by so fast.  And yet there is evidence of it on my cell phone, particularly in the form of pictures of Halloween costumes.

Addie decided months ago that she wanted a "scary" costume this year, rather than cute or princess-y, so she wanted to be a vampire.  She did drawings of how she wanted her costume to look and left them on my desk.  In particular, she wanted a full-length dress in black with a red skirt overlay.

But it's difficult to make costumes for her because of her intolerance of anything itchy.  If the fabric isn't just right, or a seam pokes her in one tiny place, all bets are off, and she most likely won't wear what you just spent six hours sewing on.  Plus, the ideas in her mind are almost never realizable.  This is because she reads and watches t.v. so much and imagines that I have a small flock of woodland animals who will help me to make these things out of angel wings and gossamer thread.

So I modified her design by purchasing an oversize black t-shirt and leggings from Target (which she could also wear later just as a regular skirt).  Not gossamer, but practical and wearable.  They were soft jersey, which passed the itch test.  Then we sewed a long skirt out of remnants from my stash, and she wore Eric's vampire cape from last year.  We added some spooky makeup, and that was that.

She added the white shoes.  So like her father.

We aren't winning any Martha Stewart awards, but my motto this semester is "good enough."  This brings me great joy and contentment and has greatly reduced the conflict in our house.

Also, it respects the notion that my children are actually people in their own right, with their own likes and dislikes.  As if they would let me forget.

And Nolie?  Background:  after a few very unpleasant trips to the store with Nolie begging me to "Buy me something!  Buy me anything!" we've been working with the girls on money awareness.  The difficulty of teaching this particular concept when I have not mastered it myself is palpable, but we've adopted the policy of giving the girls their allowance on Sundays, 50% of which they can put in the wallets for spending however they like, 40% going into savings, and 10% set aside to accumulate to make a larger family donation to a charity or cause at a later date (we are slowly working toward these goals our selves).  Then, if one of them accompanies us to the store, they bring their wallet and can spend their money however they like.

The first few trips to the store with Nolie were fascinating as she learned how much things cost, and how to correlate that to the money in her wallet.  They were also a relief, as we weren't responsible for telling her no anymore--the amount in her wallet could tell her no.  She saved her money for almost a month and only spent it last week on a stuffed animal that was on her Christmas list.

The only other thing Nolie purchased was a pair of kitty ears from the $1 bin at Target (yes, clearly we find ourselves at Target a fair amount).  This gave her the idea of being a kitty for Halloween.

In keeping with the comfy, hybrid-homemade-storebought costume theme, this seemed like a good idea.  Knowing that Nolie cares about comfort (though not as much as Addie) but equally cares about cuteness, I bought the little flouncy skirt at--you guessed it--Target.  Similar benefit:  can be worn at a later date.  She already had the black tights and a black hand-me-down t-shirt with an American Girl logo on it. I still have some odds-and-ends from Ruby's fur collection, so I pinned one to her shirt, ruff-style, and made a long tail that I sewed to the skirt.

Add kitty whiskers and a nose with some eyeliner, and voila.  Kitty cat.  She was very happy with it.

The girls costumes were all ready, a week or two before Halloween itself, which made me feel like SuperMom.  I love feeling like SuperMom.  Control!  Power!  Success!

But then, tragedy struck.  The morning of the Halloween parade at school, Nolie's $1 kitty ears from Target went missing.

This really, really annoyed SuperMom.  Because she was feeling very good about herself to have had the costumes all ready to go, and had even mandated that the costumes be kept in her home office so the individual pieces didn't get lost before Halloween in order to avoid this very situation.  SuperMom may even have yelled and made her daughter cry a little on that very special morning because she had no time to go the mall today, the morning of Halloween itself, and try to track down some more kitty ears.  Someone has a job and has to leave early to get to the parties on time and now I would have to get kitty ears at the mall.  On Halloween.

And then I realized:  what the hell, SuperSelf.  This is exactly this sort of situation that you are always preparing for.  This is exactly why you have 1) a glue gun 2) back-up glue sticks 3) extra headbands and 4) disgusting little fur remnants that you've been keeping for God knows what reason and 5) a spool of bendable rebar wire.

Ohhhh yeah.  Craftgasm.

SuperMom calmed down and fashioned some homemade kitty ears, lickety-split.

And all was well.

But, note to self:  hot-gluing actual fur pieces to metal and plastic is disgusting.  And smelly.  And potentially unnatural and ethical.  Retch.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Addie and I have been run/walking together for a mile on Sundays--I'm trying to get her into the idea of fitness, even if she doesn't love team sports (we let her out of soccer.  It just wasn't her thing).  It's also an awesome opportunity for us to be alone together for a little bit and to talk.

Anyway, we're on our way back to the house and she says mama?  And I say yeah, and she says the kids at school tell me my hair is messy sometimes.  Oh.  Yeah?  I say.  Yeah, she says, but I just tell them it's not messy.  It's windswept.

Lesson:  Fitness, good.  Reading, better.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Art of the List

I've rediscovered my love of the List.

Oh, I've always been a list-maker.  I make lists for everything--life goals, the grocery store, stuff the girls need in their backpacks, rules for fending off an attacker.  I also have a task app on my computer that allows me to record due dates and projects and the like, and that's an indispensable part of keeping the many moving parts of my life on track (sample items:  "finish grading policy analyses;" "change Nolie's eye appointment;" "turn in Science Communication review;" "make Sandy cape").  I let this task list function as my memory, and I'd be pretty screwed without it.

But I had stopped, for a while, making daily to-do lists.  Frankly, I found them tyrannical.  Long-time readers of this blog will know I have struggled to find balance with what "must" be done v. what I'd like to do, and when that gets too out of whack I get really cranky.  I've made some significant adjustments at work in this regard, but then, wouldn't you know it, my personal life up and changes and E. is now traveling every other nano-second.

Pesky change.

I've read twice recently about women (older women, actually, in retirement) who found contentment by starting their day with a hand-written schedule that they followed to the letter.  I'm not so interested in that, but I do like the idea of setting down my tasks for the day.

Unexpected side effect of taking up the daily List:  contentment.

The art of the List, for me, comes in when I add things that aren't really "have-to's" but "want-to's."  Adding "take a bath" and "do yoga" to "prep for class" and "re-read chapters 2 and 3 of Nelkin" makes me excited about the List as opposed to dreading it.  It also puts self-care on the same playing field as responding to students' emails.

And the List helps me to slay one of my fiercest dragons, the dragon of procrastination.  It's not that I'm lazy, mind you, but if there is, say, an e-stack of 28 papers in my inbox that need to be graded, I all of a sudden get very good at working on that article I've been neglecting for four weeks.  The List allows me to put "grade three papers" and then I get to "run three miles" or "check The Berry" and that feels really good.

It's important to make the day's List do-able.  Put a bunch of stuff on there you'll never accomplish in one sixteen-hour period and you'll just end up pissed and resentful.  Leave the mountainous tasks for the task list.  The task list should inform the daily List, but shouldn't be it.

And if something doesn't get done, okay.  It gets moved to another List.  But the Art is in listing things that you'll mostly be able to do, barring crises or unexpected upheavals.  In which case the List should get the boot.

I feel better.  I feel happier.  Like things are more balanced, and I'm actually accomplishing things rather than just fighting against the flood of things that always have to be done.  I can be present with the task at hand rather than fretting over what else remains to be done.  The List has gotten me out of my hole of resentment, my existential questioning of what I should be doing with my life, my procrastination, and my feeling of always being underwater.

Thank you, List.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chaos Within

Maybe it is just because E. has been traveling a lot for work and our lives have been so full I haven't had much time for stillness and practice lately, but there has been some darkness gnawing around the edges of things for me.

There is the little girl who was taken and just found, no longer herself.  Normally I don't, but I am unraveled by this one--she has glasses just like Addie's.  Around the same age.  In our area.  I had to have the stranger talk with the girls again, which is always so difficult.  Nolie especially is so trusting that I think it would take just a stick of gum or something.  I feel obliged to scare her just a little so she'll be careful.  I worry he his reading this, knows their names.  It would be my fault.

But then I also think this is such a small part of the world, and that most humans are really quite good, and I don't want to be the one who placed the sour lens of suspicion over my girls' eyes.  That will come soon enough.

Remember:  to love, to pray for that family, not to retreat into fear.  This is not about me.  This is not about us.

The darkness re-enters, though, and I think that some very troubled people have most likely taken the sweet pictures I have posted of my girls here over the years and have used them for nefarious reasons, and I feel sick to my stomach that I have made them vulnerable in some way to these peoples' eyes, that innocent pictures of my children are no longer my own and how could I have.

The desire to express comes up against the desire to protect and I think this must be just part of the condition of parenting.

How to expand rather than contract?  How to be courageous rather than afraid, but without also being foolish?  Is such a thing even possible?

I had to ask a student to leave my class, and he hurled unkind invective at me over email; I went to a conference where the very name of my department of work was met with sneers and howls.  I've worked too many long days in a row and am having trouble finding any real peace or joy and wonder why and whether we shouldn't throw in the towel and start over somehow.

The trick is to both fully live in the moment and at the same time know that this moment is only for now, and that difficult times pass.  I am no good at this trick.

From Prayers for a Thousand Years, Michael Ventura:

"We have entered a new Middle Ages, a time of plague, famine, violence, extreme class disparity, and religious fanaticism--and also (as in the late Middle Ages) a time of profound discovery and change.  A time when it is terribly important, and often dangerous, to preserve values and knowledge--to stand up for visions that most of this crazed world can't comprehend or tolerate.

The value of having an inner map of the world as it is (not as it's broadcast) is this:  it allows you to know that your task is larger than yourself.  If you choose, just by virtue of being a decent person, you are entrusted with passing on something of value through a dark, crazy time--preserving your integrity, in your way, by your acts and your very breathing for those who will build again when this chaos exhausts itself."

Chaos within, chaos without.  I suppose only one is within my sphere of influence at the moment.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Campus Wildlife

When I first started work at my university, the place was practically like a ghost town.  You'd walk across the giant quad behind my building and there would be no students.  I asked my students about this and they would just shrug and say everyone was studying.

But things have changed in the last ten years.  The quad is usually bustling with kids playing ultimate, or the marching band practicing, or kids walking tension ropes:

Though odd, this is a much healthier past-time than the things I engaged in during free time as an undergrad.

When I worked at Harvey Mudd, there were lots of people on unicycles.  Here, it's juggling:

I took this picture on my way to class.  The students asked me why I wasn't juggling.

I told them I didn't know, but I wish that I was.

More On Time

I asked my students yesterday about their memories of September 11.  They talked about being in third grade and their schools being shut down, watching it on television over and over again, their parents racing to come pick them up.

Jesus.  I remember like yesterday sitting in the living room on Vine St., smack in the middle of my twenties, watching the news all morning, followed by days of panic and sadness.

While my now-adult students were in elementary school.

Time flies.

Sentimental, All of a Sudden

Pretty much every other moment I just want to grab my kids and hold them in one spot and prevent them from growing up one inch, one minute more.  Alternating moments are spent trying to help them (push them?) to grow up right.  I've spent plenty of time being an annoyed and harried parent, spread too thin and not guided enough by love.  I think that has really been changing these last few months, and now I wish I could go back and do so much differently.

This guy was in the middle of the floor when I got home.

The old me would have just seen another mess to be cleaned up, I think.  Now I see an artifact of my kids' fleeting childhoods.  Another freaking paradox to contend with.

I should mention that I'm able to be in love a little more now because 1) we have a cleaning lady 2) we are in therapy every other minute fighting to make our marriage work and 3) my tenure package is in.  The material matters.  Having a bit more time for love, for loosening, really helps.  Not that I couldn't have done better.  I could have.  But I could have done worse, too.  We all need help sometimes.

My Brother, 33

My grandma Evans, 99, passed a way a few weeks ago.  Which stinks, except it meant that I got to spend some time with my family, and could celebrate my brother's birthday with him.  I love all my brothers, but J.B. is the one I spent the most time growing up with.  We're good friends now, and I love him with all my heart.  Happy birthday, J.B.!

First Day of School

Third Grade, First Grade

Us, 10


Coach E.

E. and I are making our way through the show Friday Night Lights, which is really, really good and I love it.  I have a big crush on one of the main characters, Coach Taylor:

Coach Taylor, played by the awesome Kyle Chandler, he who can make Croakies look hot.  Sweet God of yumminess.

But my very own E. is also coaching now, and I admit to feeling a little swoony watching him when he takes to the field with Nolie's maurading band of six-year-old soccer players:

Nolie likes it too:

In other news, one of my students looks and acts a little bit like Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights:

I told him this and he says I'm a fool for watching the show because the film and book are much better.

Okay, Tim Riggins.

Nolie, 6

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wild West Relay

Leg 1.  It was really windy.  So windy that I felt like the breath was being sucked out of my mouth before I could pull it down into my lungs.  I was so anxious that I wouldn't be able to keep running because I hadn't trained like I should have.  Instead I had spent a lot of time figuring out whether or not life as I knew it was over (it was, thank goodness).  But it went fine.  Life and the race went fine.  I came in a bit under time.  Winded and flushed, but in.

2nd Leg.  The long one, almost ten miles.  3 miles up, dirt roads, 7 miles flying straight down.  Amazing views.  Gorgeous.  Felt good, went fast.  8 miles in had a sense of euphoria, but also the wooziness that I now recognize as my body malfunctioning.  Came in to the finish, again a little under time, thought I felt okay.  Then the vomiting started.  Felt terrible for the next eight hours and hogged an entire bench in the van because sitting up just wasn't an option.

Leg 3.  No way I was going to be able to do it.  I still had vomit on my shoes and it was the middle of the night and I couldn't find my glasses much less my running shoes and it was freezing.  But I didn't want to let someone else take my leg and everyone was sleeping and exhausted.  There was talk about cheating, about letting me out of the van to walk 100 yards and then picking me up again.  It's not like we're going to win anything with eight people instead of twelve anyway.  But I don't like the sound of that.  So I walk one mile.  The moon is bright, the air is cool, and I start to feel better.  Woozy and very out of it--I think the moon and I had a conversation at one point--but one mile added to another was two, and then three, and then four, and finally I came in at five.  Everyone was still sleeping, but I felt better, drove us to the next exchange, and then finally passed out, not nauseous, until daylight.

Last leg.  Still feeling up and down.  Talking to myself a lot about when to push it and when not, since that's part of what gets me into this mess.  Everyone else has done so well and I was the weakest link.  I can't get any food down, though, and the last leg is six miles straight up Rabbit Ears Pass.  Lisa offers to trade with me, and though I hate it, I agree.  I take her four miles and half-walk, half-run them.

Finally, done.  So much of it sucked.  I wasn't prepared and the worst thing I could image happening happened.

But I would do it again.  Totally.  Because of the people in all these pictures, and because sometimes we need to fight these kinds of battles and figure out some things about ourselves.