Friday, December 22, 2017

New Year's Resolution Update: Running 2017 miles in 2017

The boys celebrated Chris's 21st birthday again!

Showing off his bling!  Collin's basketball team won a weekend tournament that left him all smiles.

Cooper finished off the basketball season and shared a hug with Coach Abernathy.

We did it! 2,017 miles in 2017!

It was near the end of last December when a string of texts circulated around my running group.  One friend tossed out the idea of running 2,017 miles in 2017.  Perhaps because some of us had engaged in a few too many holiday indulgences with disappointing scale results, we were game to run—a lot.

Running a lot and running 2,017 miles is quite a difference; we would learn this fact over the course of 12 months.  We realized that from our Midwest homes to the sandy beaches of California is roughly 2,017 miles.  Geography has never been my strong suit, but that seemed far.

Right away, I struggled with self-doubt.  My track record for keeping New Year’s resolutions certainly didn’t boost my confidence.  I’ve made 25 vows in 25 separate years to “eat healthy.” These resolutions lasted roughly two days and always ended with me clutching a bowl of greasy potato chips with a side of sugary treats.  Why did I expect this New Year’s Resolution to be any different?

Nevertheless, we all pushed fear aside, and focused on the commitment made to our friends.  On January 1, 2017, we laced up our running shoes and stepped outside to complete our first mile.

Over the course of the next 12 months, we logged an endless string of miles.  To reach our goal, we needed to run an average of 39 miles a week.  Some weeks, these proved to be an easy feat, while other weeks we struggled to reach our mileage.  The important thing to note is that we stayed the course.

In mid-December, we completed a six-mile run that pushed our yearly total to exactly 2,017 miles in 2017.  It felt like a monumental moment.  It was the realization that every single run and mile had contributed to something big.  It was the celebration that we had not waivered from a goal.  It was the acknowledgement that maybe we had it in us to actually complete a New Year’s resolution.

As I reflect back upon the year, I think about all the miles, 
but more importantly I remember the friends who accompanied me on the runs.  For over 2,000 miles, I had the privilege of sharing life with the most amazing group of women.  We dove into every topic under the sun, from the meaningless to the meaningful.  Through every step, we grew as friends. I realize that the most important thing was not reaching the mileage, but the journey it took for us to get there together.

With our goal completed, I’m already thinking about my New Year’s resolution for 2018.  Perhaps this is the year I will eat healthy, but running 2,018 miles seems like an easier goal.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Another Teenager in the Wood House

This is my new 15 year old!

His crew of friends came over to celebrate with pizza and cake.

Can't believe my baby is in a tux!

New teenager!

Officially half of our sons are teens!

Connor celebrated his day at a Pacers game!

I've always heard the expression, "The days are long, but the years are short."  I believe this quote primarily applies to motherhood.

For years, I was knee-deep in diapers and baby food.  Then, before I had a chance to protest, I'm knee-deep in hormones and acne.

Time stand still.

It was birthday weekend for the Woods.  Our two older sons have birthdays within a day of each other.  (We really should have thought that through!)  Both birthdays fell on the weekend.

This birthday weekend felt monumental.  Caleb is now 15 years old.  He has reached the age where he can attain a learners permit.  Driving is within his near future.

Connor is 13 years old.  He's a teenager, in every sense of the word.  Toy trucks and legos are no longer part of his world.  Sports, friends, and phones dominate his thinking.

Half of our sons are now teenagers.

I've become a teenage boy mom.

This fact has caused me to rethink my role.  

Gone are the days where I'm cutting up food into little bites.  Now I am purchasing and preparing food....all the time.  I'm no longer putting little ones to bed, but desperately wanted to put myself to bed while teenage boys are still going strong.  I'm monitoring iPhones, and not playdates.

I pray the next amount of days don't move too fast.  The years these boys are remaining in the house are short.  This fact I know from experience.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Learning to be a good neighbor from a child

Christmas Tree is Up!

For about two months, we've lived in the "country."  By country, I mean we no longer live in a neighborhood.  Our mailing address consists of a series of numbers and directions.  Farm fields run along the back of our property.

We do have two neighbors that live on either side of our home.  Upon moving into our home, one set of neighbors quickly made their introductions.  They are a friendly young couple with a baby on the hip and a toddler racing around the yard.  They welcomed us into their "neighborhood," but warned that the neighbors on the other side of our home were not, shall we say, "social."

The neighbors' warning came as no surprise to our family.  By the appearance of the house alone, we had reservations on whether these neighbors would welcome us with open arms.  The home could best be described as a warehouse-like structure.  Rarely, if ever, did I see anyone outside the home.  With my runaway imagination, I wandered if they were stockpiling weapons or creating some sort of militia group within the walls (which we wouldn't be able to see because the house lacks many windows).  
We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would be neighbors who merely coexisted in close proximity to each other lacking any sort of relationship.  

Yesterday, Cooper and I decided to walk through the farm field behind our property.  As our feet crunched the broken corn husks, Cooper gazed at the warehouse home.

"Let's go meet the neighbors," he proclaimed.  "And bring them cookies."

I tried to talk him out of it.

"They look busy," I guessed.

"What if they have weapons," I warned.

"Wouldn't that be a better activity for another day," I suggested.

Cooper would not waiver on his resolution to make our acquaintances.

We grabbed a plate of homemade cookies sitting on our counter and piled them on a paper plate.  Then, we made the (seemingly) long walk over to the warehouse.  Cooper raced ahead, while I lagged behind battling the multitude of reservations bubbling in my mind.

He rang the bell and knocked on the door to ensure our presence was known.  Within seconds, a man appeared.

He wasn't clutching a weapon or wearing fatigues.  He didn't appear gruff.  In fact, he looked completely normal with a welcoming smile.  After happily accepting the paper plate of cookies, we began a series of small talk and introductions.  Slowly my built up anxiety began to wane and a feeling of shame grew in my heart.  It took my 11 year old to teach me to be a good neighbor, look past the outer appearances, and work past fear.

I walked back to our house with a feel of gratefulness for a son who taught me a lesson in the true meaning of how to love a neighbor.  

Monday, December 4, 2017

Weekend Recap: First Dance, Quiz Bowl, and Moon Gazing

Lunch birthday celebration for our friend Suzanne.

Quiz bowl match.  What I learned is that I am too dumb to make the high school team!

First dance for these two dapper men!

Absolutely beautiful December day (look no coats!).  Perfect day to spend at a Christmas tree farm.

I remember that at one time weekends were relaxing.  I have vague memories about spending hours on the couch without a set agenda or a massive to do list.

How I miss those days.

Weekends now, with four growing boys, have transformed into revolving carpools, endless sporting events, constant birthday parties or social events, and a slew more.

This weekend was no different.

On Saturday morning, Caleb participated in a quiz bowl competition, and I was his designated cheerleader.  Caleb and three other equally shrewd high school students sat on one side of the table with an ingenious group of opponents placed on the opposite side.

I took a seat in the back within earshot of the moderator reading the questions.  By the second question, I knew that I lacked the brain power to make the team.  Famous Dutch painters and complex mathematical equations are no longer in my wheelhouse of knowledge.  (Who am I kidding....they never were.)  At that moment, I realized that we share similar biological traits, but a love of quiz bowl in no way was inherited from my genes.  Be grateful, sweet son, that you have a father who could give any Jeopardy contestant a run for his or her money.

By the evening, our family experienced a first.  Connor went to his first boy-girl dance.  He made the decision to attend the night before, which put us into a tailspin to hunt down the proper dance clothing.  We selected brown leather shoes from Target which Connor complained looked like tap shoes.  A tie was selected from Kohls.  We landed on a comprise: a clip on tie that was appropriate, yet functional.

I tried to prep Connor about interacting with a girl.  He expressed displeasure in continuing the conversation and questioned whether I was in a position to coach him on girl interaction.  I reminded him that I am in fact a female, and may have a bit of personal experience dealing with my own gender.  I also tried to coach him on dance moves to which he also rebuked my offers. (I guess he's never really seen me bust a move on the dance floor!)

Although I had some fears about the going ons at the dance (images of Connor holed up in the corner with a girl while locking lips), Connor recounted that he didn't dance one bit and claimed to not even talk to a single female all evening.  But, he seemed pleased to have spent the evening with same-gender friends while wearing a clip on tie and tap shoes.  Success in my book!

On Sunday, the weekends' activities had me spent.  The holiday season left me with a massive to do list. I struggled with what to tackle first.  While I was frantically running around my kitchen, Cooper asked me to sit outside with him and stare at the moon. 

Last night, you see, the super moon made an appearance.  It was a giant illuminating figure that dressed up the sky in the most fantastic way.  I dropped what I was doing and followed Cooper out to the front porch.  We slipped under a blanket and stared out into the sky.  He pointed out the craters as I slipped back into the bench.  

The hustle and bustle of life almost stopped me from this experience.  I'm grateful for tournaments, dances, and kids' activities, but sometimes I just need to take a minute to sit with a son and gaze at the sky.  Of all the moments from the weekend, this one was the most precious.