Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sharing Girl Day

Collin proudly showcases his Great Wall of China model.

Best part of the Asian art fair is sharing it with a buddy.

The Asian art fair was paired with Grandparent Day.

Enjoyed shopping and eating lunch with Claudia's daughter Audrey.

As a boy mom, I've spent plenty of time at arcades, sports fields, and comic book stores.  Unless we're talking about the Lego store, the mall lacks appeal to my boys.  They'd rather have teeth pulled, then bop between dressing rooms at a plethora of clothing stores.  (Consequently, they'd rather wear clothing two sizes too big or too small then spend time looking for properly fitted garments.)

My friends with daughters speak of a different reality.  Their female offsprings like to rummage clothing racks together with their moms.  Shopping for a special occasion, like prom or a father-daughter dance, is a shared experience.  When my friends gush about these extraordinary outings, a little part of my heart aches.  I will not have a rival story.

In the big picture, this is a minor woe.  

I know there are starving kids, war-drenched countries, and incurable diseases.

My friend Claudia never chastises me over my minor adversity.   Instead, she agrees to share her daughter's special moments. 

Today, I joined Claudia and her 14-year-old daughter Audrey on a dress hunt.  The dress had to be just right for an 8th grade award ceremony plus another special occasion.  I gleefully accepted the invitation.

The three of us scoured the mall.  We visited almost every store in the mall (or so it felt).  We engaged in discussions over fabrics, knee length, and durability.  Audrey exited each and every dressing room looking more beautiful and grown up then the last dressing room.  She blossomed from a little girl into an adolescent right before our eyes.

The whole shopping experience would have mortified the boys.  They would have been over it by store #2.

But I was pleased as punch to be part of the whole experience.  I was grateful for my friend Claudia who sought to share the joy of having a daughter with one whose home is overflowing with boys. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

9 p.m. bedtime

Chris helps Caleb dress for the American Heritage Dinner.  He was assigned the role of Edgar Allen Poe.

A cast of true characters for dinner.

It's after 9 p.m. at night.  All four boys are still up.  Only one has showered.  Three are in various stages of procrastination.  They are in denial that the inevitable, bedtime, is drawing near.

One just asked for ice cream.

Another requested to watch a show.

In a state of complete exhaustion and frustration, I roared, "No, it's 9 o'clock at night!"

Caleb huffed back, "What's so magically about 9 pm?"

Nine p.m. is not magical in my book.  It's a sort of deadline.  A deadline for putting little boys' heads to pillows.  A deadline for parenting.  If I had a time clock, it would seem totally appropriate to clock out at 9 p.m.

Just a few years ago, I clocked out at 7:30 p.m.  My four cherubs never saw 8 p.m.  Those were the good old days when I had a full evening to recharge and rewind.

But as the boys have neared the age of shaving, driving licenses, and PG-13 movies, bedtime (if it even exist anymore) has crept later and later.

I'm a morning person.  Tending to the needs of children (fighting over whether they adequately brushed their teeth or completed their math homework) past my witching hour turns me into a witch.  And not a good witch.  My (seemingly) sweet countenance and even-temper wanes.  I'm no longer patient, understanding, and warm.  At 9 p.m., I am a women on a mission with little patience for nonsense and shenanigans.

I imagine that 9 p.m. is just the start of a downward spiral where late nights are the norms.

I could fight a later bedtime, but I imagine its a losing fight.  Instead, I plan to surrender and (perhaps) take up coffee.  

But not tonight.

It's 9 p.m.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Boston Marathon 2017 recap

When the Boston Marathon falls on the day after Easter, holiday celebrating feels a bit cramped.  But the boys didn't mind a Saturday night Easter egg hunt.

We rounded up the boys and headed to the 8 a.m Easter service.  It was amazing, and I hated to leave.  But an Easter flight meant we had to skip out of church early.

As an answer to prayers, our flight arrived in Boston with enough time for us to make packet pick up and secure our bib numbers.

We had little time to get situated in Boston before race morning arrived.

Again, with the heat!  Boston Marathon #3 continued the tradition of temperatures in the 70s!

Grateful we were able to train and enjoy the Boston Marathon experience together!

Moments before the start.

Post race relief.  That was a brutal one!  High temps and hills did a number on me.  But, I earned a Boston Marathon PR.  The experience was still amazing!

When in Boston on Patriot's Day, George Washington might appear.

The next day we were limping, but still getting around.

A definite highlight of the trip was watching Katherine Swizter (first female Boston finisher) retire her race number.

Another highlight was seeing the top finishers at the Nike Store.

Galen Rupp, 2nd place Boston finisher and US Olympic Marathoner, could not have been nicer.

The other top finishers.

We finished our Boston trip with a walk around the North End.  Notice the jackets.  Of course, the temperature dropped into the 40s the day after the race.

The Freedom Trail never gets old.

I made it back to Boston for a third round.  This time I had hopes that the course would flatten and the temperatures would drop.  Neither happened.  The Boston hills still provided a challenge.  The temperatures soared higher than expected.

The crowds remained.  The Wellesley scream tunnel was just as loud.  Boylston Street still bursted with life.  The finish line was just as rewarding.

Around mile 15, I was done.  DONE.  Death seemed like a sweeter option at that moment.  But a little voice in my head spurred me forward.  Step by step I made it to mile 20.  At that moment, I received a second wind and a fresh outlook on the race.  I knew six miles could be accomplished.

A hair under mile 26, I made the left hand turn onto Boylston Street.  The finish line was within (seemingly) spitting distance.  I surged forward and earned a third Boston finish.

At that moment, I felt a mixture of emotions: pride, elation, gratitude, and exhaustion.  And, I had absolutely no desire to do another marathon.

But then the next day, the pain didn't seem so bad.

The joy and pride remained.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Spring Break: New Orleans and Seaside, Florida

Right now, I'm recovering.

Recovering from a jam-packed spring break that left us with loads of good memories (and lots of dirty laundry).

A week ago, we embarked on a spring break tour of the south.  My running pal Gwen and her crew agreed to join the fun.

At the crack of dawn on Friday, we jetted south.  Our first stop was an impromptu lunch at Lambert's Cafe in Missouri.

Lambert's was an experience.  The waiters tossed warm yeast rolls at hungry, eager patrons.  Servers mingled among the tables clutching vats of southern staples (fried okra, black eyed peas, etc.) and dished it out onto already full plates.  The atmosphere screamed honky-tonk, and at that moment we realized our car had landed south of the Maison-Dixen Line (if only in spirit).  

Our first evening was in Memphis.  We hit the Memphis hot-spots: Graceland (just through the car window), barbecue, and the Peabody Hotel.

At the Peabody, we spotted the world-renowned ducks.  As an added bonus, we crossed paths with Randy Travis in an elevator ride.  (To which my kids asked, "Who is Randy Travis?"  I believe Taylor Swift would have earned a bit more familiarity and excitement.)

The next morning, my friend Gwen and I ran the Twiggs Half Marathon in Olive Branch, Mississippi.  Of the 106 participants, we were happy to earn 2nd and 3rd overall female awards.  For our efforts, I walked away with a sweet coffee mug, and Gwen earned a decorated tile.

State #20 in the books on my (lifetime) quest to run a race in all 50 states.

With a race done and empty bellies, we headed to New Orleans. We vowed to eat our way through town which was a goal easily accomplished.

The French Quarter was a feast for the senses.  Jazz music and the sweet aroma of beignets drifted into the streets.  Historic buildings with French flair decorated the city blocks.

Bourbon Street, however, did not rank high on our list.  Aromas were strong on Bourbon Street too, but the sort that makes you want to hold your breath and plug your nose.  

Jackson Square was charming.

If only my little town offered this sort of daily entertainment!

If I had to select a last meal, it would be at this place: The Court of Two Sisters.  It was worth every single calorie I consumed to enjoy the morsels of deliciousness at this place.

A few boys named the street performers as their favorite experience.

We took a short trip across the Mississippi.

The boys got into spirit and reenacted the scene from the Titanic movie:) Fortunately, we didn't experience the same ending.

Caleb was determined to get a snowball in New Orleans.  In one of his beloved books, he read that snowballs were a New Orleans staple.  His sweet treat did not disappoint.

Mardi Gras masks were a common tourist shop offering.

My favorite part of New Orleans is the Garden District and the Audubon Park.  The houses oozed Southern charm and sophistication.  The park was a little slice of tranquility in the heart of a busy city.

The turtles and ducks seemed to outnumber the humans at this park.

The low hanging Cyprus tree branches captivated the males in the crew.

Best way to get around New Orleans is by trolley.  Cooper acted as the backseat driver.

Fortunately, we didn't get this close to an alligator at the Cajun Pride swamp tour.

The boys heeded the signs and didn't swing their arms or legs around the alligators.

The boat captain promised we'd see an alligator.

He kept his word.

All sorts of scaly friends circled our boat.

Our guide got a little too close for my comfort.

He did reveal that an alligator once bit off his finger.  (Yet, he continues to do this!)

Although this alligator was more my speed, I still was too chicken to hold "Bruce."

Not my boys.  They loved to pass him around.

Even Chris treated him like a domestic pet.

What's a trip to New Orleans without a stop a Cafe du Monde?

The beignets were divine.

Perhaps it wasn't the day for Cooper to wear all black!

Last stop in New Orleans was Mardi Gras world.

We all received (family-friendly) information on the making of Mardi Gras floats and the activities that happen during that festive time in New Orleans.

We were blown away with the grand production of the floats!

Cooper looks ready for the festivities!

Final stop: Seaside, Florida.

This small Florida town offered big time charm.

From experience, let me tell you that beach sand is as adhesive and stubborn as velcro.  I felt gritty for days!

When my boys were young, I dreamed about being the mom that read a book on the side while her kids happily played in the pool.  I've finally arrived at that stage, and it's glorious!

The beach has a calming influence on the soul that can't be replicated in too many other environments.

This one was a true beach baby.  He could spend hours making sand castles, riding the waves, and playing football on the beach.

A beach vacation must be accompanied with ice cream.  I believe that's the law in Seaside:)

Because Seaside was in full-out spring break mode (and finding a parking spot was about as easy as winning the lottery), bikes were the easiest and most fun way to travel.

View from the condo.

After a week of sun and fun, we returned to Indiana.  Fortunately, the snow and chill that drifted into our state last week made an exit before our return.

We were not greeted by beaches or beautiful sunrises, but by the familiarity of home.

Grateful to be back.