Sunday, November 26, 2017

Thanksgiving with kids

Thanksgiving morning started with the Gravy Chase 4.5 mile run in Zionsville with my friend Suzanne.  We both were trying to counter all the future calories to be consumed in the afternoon!

A porch full of loved ones on Thanksgiving.

And the eating continued at the Brinkruffs' house.

On the morning after Thanksgiving, Connor raced into the kitchen and announced his cousin Will was vomiting.

"Where?" I asked with visions of carpets damaged beyond repair.  (And yes, the carpets were my first concern and the wellbeing of my nephew came second.  I'm confessing this as a personal shortfall that has caused me to rethink the goodness of my heart.)

Connor motioned me to the upstairs bathroom.

The good news is that he made it to the bathroom.

The bad news is that he failed to hit the toilet.

While my brother and I were mopping up the floors and tending to poor Will, I heard repetitive thuds coming from the direction of the stairwell.  Still clutching bleach cleaner and a wad of paper towels, I gazed out towards the hall.  Cooper was hauling our Christmas boxes down the stairs.

"Cooper, what are you doing?" I wailed in a tone that can best be used in this exact situation.

"Putting up Christmas decoration, of course," he said while grinning and tugging out fragile, glass ornaments and tossing them on the ground like they were beachballs.

Which fire to put out first?

While I was trying to encourage Cooper to (temporarily) squash his inner Joanna Gaines, I was simultaneously sanitizing the bathroom and consoling my ailing nephew.  

With kids, Thanksgiving is an experience.

On Thanksgiving, nine children packed into our house.  The cousins and siblings mixed together to fight/play/eat/laugh together.  

They filled the "kids'" table for our Thanksgiving meal.  As I spectated from the adult table, I couldn't hear their conversation, but I could observe the tone and volume that emanated from that portion of the house.  They were having a ball.  I'm sure topics like the conflict in North Korea or Trump's effectiveness in office weren't being analyzed (my bet is that flatulence humor dominated the discussion).  But, this was a like-minded group who all shared and enjoyed the same juvenile banter.

From the table, the kids piled outside into the yard.  A spirited game of Capture the Flag was soon underway (Memaw and I even joined a team).  While most of the game lent itself to grins and laughs, the game eventually erupted into an unresolved conflict over who exactly "cheated." And yes, it appears we have an epidemic of cheaters in the family.  Cheating, it appears, is contagious.  When one family member exhibits the signs of cheating, it's jut a matter of time before everyone displays similar symptoms.  It appears that it is easier to spot this illness in others than in yourself!

Apples to Apples saved the day.  The beauty of this game is that there are no winners or loser (a concept that seemed lost to some).  The possibility that someone could cheat at this game seems non-existent!  We all settled in and laughed while young ones tried to explain why Hellen Keller is smelly or a burrito is manly (these comments only makes sense if you have played the game).  Bruised relationships from the prior game seemed to repair with each silly card and shared chuckle.

One day, I imagine our Thanksgivings will be more docile.  I'm guessing there won't be cheating cries, flatulence jokes, vomit-stained bathrooms, and over-eager children.  But I'm also guessing those holidays will lack the personality and joy that can only be experienced when kids are involved in a celebration.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Mother-Son Dance With Unexpected Visitors

My own karate kid graduated to a green belt.

Mother-Son dance with friends.

Seventh grade basketball buddies.

Lately, I've been acutely aware that I am the odd man out at the fraternity.  The boys have gravitated towards masculine pursuits, and I am holding firm on my (seemingly) dwindling femininity.  When we're wrestling with a movie choice, those films with action heroes and suspense always win.  When we're questioning how to use our free time, something with a ball, nerf gun, or a video game controller is always the crowd favorite.

I miss frilly, mushy, pastel, quiet, dainty stuff.

But the catch is that I love my crew.  Because I love them so much, I've become acquainted with Ironman and all his cronies.  I can rattle off NBA statistics and NFL wins with the best of them.

What's the expression, "If you can't beat em, join em."

I'm a joiner.

Last Friday night, I accompanied Collin to the mother-son dance at his elementary school.  From prior mother-son dance experiences, I knew what to expect: little dancing, lots of action.

As soon as I walked into the elementary school gym, I became keenly aware that we had not entered into a dainty dance hall.  The DJ was clad in a superhero costume and screaming into a microphone.  The scene on the dance floor looked less like Footless and more like WWF meet.  Activity booths lined the gym with a sugar, upon more sugar buffet near the stage (which may explain the scene on the dance floor).

Collin opted for the activity booths.  I chatted with other moms while keeping an eye on Collin's whereabouts.

Early in the evening, I noticed that the room seemed particularly smoggy.  The fog machine was definitely working on overdrive, I noted.  But, the boys seemed to love the hazy environment.

About 30 minutes into our evening, the fire alarm began to blare.  At first, no one batted an eye.  Then, the principal ushered us all into the halls as firemen entered the gym to assess the situation.

After an extended period of hall time, we were allowed back into the gym.  It seems someone "accidentally" clicked the fog machine on the continuous button (thus explaining the extra foggy room).  The firemen continued to hang around the gym as the boys wandered back into their party.  A few firetrucks were parked outside the school.

I went up to one firefighter and explained that having the trucks and the men at the party was the best thing that happened to these boys in ages.  Real life firemen with real life trucks at a party made the night complete!

After we left, I thought about how much different the daddy-daughter dance must go for those who attend.  I'm imaging the fire department has never showed up to their parties.  How quiet and peaceful those evenings must be for those lucky girls and their fathers.....but I bet their stories aren't as good as the moms with the boys!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

My Best Worst Race

On Cooper's 11th birthday, I busted him out of school for a pizza birthday lunch.

The birthday boy had a chocolate birthday cake, per his request.

When cake is involved, the brothers are eager to help celebrate!

A few school friends joined Cooper for indoor climbing.

Collin never reached the top, but had fun trying!


Memaw and Papa dropped by to give some birthday wishes.

Halloween 2017 brought out Napoleon Dynamite, Dad (aka Chris), and a Star Wars guy

Trick or treating is best done with friends!

Chris kept a good sense of humor about his Halloween mini me.  

Cooper has his first band concert. I believe you are looking at the next Kenny G!

The before picture for the Monumental Marathon.

Finishing a marathon/half marathon calls for a celebration with friends!

A few of my favorite gals to run through life along side.

For the last eight weeks, I've nursed back to health one wounded hamstring.  As you may remember from a prior post, my physical therapist recommended six full weeks of rest.  And his version was absolutely, no way, don't think about it running.  (I kept telling him I felt like there was wiggle room with that statement!)

Even though I was tempted to sneak in a few (painful) runs, I was compliant.  For six weeks, I transformed into a race walker which was something, but not something enough for one former runner itching to run.

After six weeks, I gradually started to get back to running.  I steadily inched up the miles and picked up the pace to a place that was a slower, shorter version of before.

And that was the place I was for the Monumental Marathon (in which I signed up months before my injury).  Up until the race, I was waffling between what to do: marathon, half marathon, or nothing.  Nothing was not a good option.  Yet, the thought of running a marathon with hardly any training and a recuperating hamstring seemed daunting.

I started the race with my friend Kara who was also battling a sprained ankle.  We agreed to enjoy the first few miles together, and then make a race day decision at mile seven (the split off) as to which race to run (half or full).  The first seven miles were lovely.  Kara is an engaging running partner and the conversation filled the miles.

By mile seven, it became apparent to me that the half marathon was my best option.  An aching hamstring and lack of training made 20 more miles a bad choice.

I decided to just enjoy the rest of the race.  This wasn't a race that would gain me a PR, or even a respectable time.  I pulled in my headphones and flipped on peppy music, but left the volume low so as to not drown out the vibrant sounds of the race.

Without race tunnel vision, I could truly enjoy the sights and sounds that can be found on and along the course.  I slapped hands with the children that lined the course desperate to cheer.  I thanked the police officers who acted as traffic patrol at the busy intersections.  I gazed in gratitude at the intercity middle school band fumbling with saxophones and baritones while performing a variety of spirited tunes.  I cheered on the young runners racing along side parents.  I read the hilarious signs created by spectators along the course.

And when I entered the finishing shoot, I didn't sprint to the finish line.  Instead, I took in the exuberance and energy radiating from the crowds.  This was a party, and I was able to run through the center stage.

What I learned at this Monumental was that sometimes running a race is not about gaining a PR or nailing a competitive pace, but learning and enjoying getting back on your feet.