Last Place

I recently traveled to Utah with my kids to visit family and friends. We were there for two weeks, and yes, we flew.

Before you freak out about the idea of A) flying alone on a plane with four kids and B) Spending two weeks on “vacation” with four kids, on my own, bouncing from house to house trying not to wear out our welcome in any one town, let me assure you that it wasn’t that bad. My kids are excellent fliers. They love airplanes, and as long as there is a working electronic device, the baby is a dream boat. Also, our relations and friends are of the finest quality and are mostly deaf. So they couldn’t hear us and fed us marvelously, even with all of our weird food allergies and preferences. It was fantastic!

These are not my children. My children would NEVER do this. Don’t let your children do this on a plane. It is not cute or funny. Neither is kicking the seat in front of you. Even though my kids did do that. But only a couple of times – I swear.

While I was out there, I had the opportunity to run in the Ogden Half Marathon with a group of friends. Yes, I have a running problem. Yes, I run on vacation and I love it. Please don’t judge me, it’s better than smoking crack.

The week before the race I decided I’d better start doing a few little warm up runs to acclimate myself to the altitude. After all, it’s at least 5,000 feet higher there than where I live. Just a tiny bit of a difference. My nephew was running his first race ever, which just happened to be a 10k (he’s kind of amazing like that) and he asked me to run with him. I thought – Hey! Why not? Good little warm up run the week before the big run.

Saturday morning I spread my kids around the valley with various people to watch them and I headed out to a tiny little town in Cache Valley. It was freezing cold and drizzling. I don’t usually mind that kind of weather, in fact, I”m such a hot face runner, I feel better when it’s cooler rather than warmer. And rain just makes you HARD CORE!

So I sign up, get my shirt, steal a jacket from my sister-in-law (ok, so it was kind of colder than I thought it was going to be) and we head to the starting line. Since it’s his first race, he wants to be AT the starting line. I tell him, “Ok, but I run slow so I’m going to head to the side and you take off. By the way, what’s the course like?”

To this he casually replies, “Oh, it’s super easy, just run straight up the canyon until the turn around point and run back.”

“Run straight up the canyon?”

BANG!

And we were off. He was right, it was three miles straight up hill. Not only was I slow, cold, and completely having an asthma attack from the altitude, I was also at the front of the entire pack so I was being passed by everyone and their donkey. I tried to stay out of the way as I pounded up the mountain, but it was hard. Turned out there were a lot more people in the race than I had anticipated and a lot of them were extremely fast.

So, I ran and I got passed, and I ran, and I got passed, and I ran, and I got passed.

This is NOT what I looked like. This is the OPPOSITE of what I looked like.

People started heading back down the other side after about 1.5 miles – and people were still passing me. It felt like I was standing still as they whizzed past. Eventually the traffic slowed down and only a couple of people passed me, then I was all alone on my side of the road while everyone else flew past on the downhill stretch for home.

Let me tell you folks, this was the first time I was sure beyond a doubt that I was going to be the last person to cross the finish line. I’ve been in a lot of races, including a marathon that took me 5 hours to complete. I wasn’t dead last in that race, but I was very, VERY close to last. This was worse, but I kept going.

I felt sad and disappointed in myself. I felt weak and fat and (insert your favorite negative adjective here). It was just a terrible feeling. I took a deep breath and looked around me – it was a gorgeous day! Despite the rain and cold and feeling of defeat, I was surrounded by aspens and pines and huge rocks with a mountain range looming over me. The air was crisp and clean, there were little farms laid out along the road and animals of all sorts.

I hacked an asthmatic cough and took another deep breath and this time felt my whole body fill with appreciation for where I was right in that minute. Someone had to be last place. It might as well be the overweight mom from out of town. And besides, running slower meant I got to enjoy the moment longer.

Suddenly all these positive thoughts were filling my mind and lifting me up. I started to hum a bit (might as well, I’m all alone) and tried to just enjoy the oxygen deprived day.

It was with this sunny attitude that I came upon the turn around point. I happily wound around the orange cone and prepared to sail down the mountain to a victorious last place finish, when I realized that I was not alone. In fact, in front of me now, on the uphill side of the street were at least three dozen people struggling, heads down, panting, faces pained – just like I had been.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more surprised in my life. Here I thought I was the big loser of the day, and it turned out, the farther I ran down the mountain, the more people I passed struggling up the other side. I was actually very far from being the loser. It had all been a matter of perspective.

So that’s you happy, slappy, feel-good thought for the day. When you feel like you’re being left in the dust by those around you, just wait for the dust to settle before you throw yourself a pity party. Odds are very likely that you aren’t the only one choking. And even if you are, it’s probably a beautiful day. And even if it’s horrible weather and you are all alone in last place and you might die of hypothermia, well then, I’m not sure I can help you. But I’m sure you’ll think of something. `

The Secret to Saving BIG BUCKS as a Mom

Yeah… I need a snow cone.

I’ve been reading up on how to make my own laundry detergent and dish soap. It seems to be “all the rage” on pinterest right now. Plus I’m trying to figure out a way to tighten our budget so I can buy more chocolate licorice and snow cones this summer. I printed out a few recipes, made a shopping list (Who has this stuff at home? I mean, really, borax? I haven’t seen that since my granny made me scrub her toilet with a toothbrush. Ugh.) and then promptly lost it – the list, that is.

So, I started over. But decided to check the supply closet in my bathroom first. Just in case I already had a bottle of super toxic kitchen cleaner tucked away in there already. Sure enough, I had a bunch of stuff tucked away in there; toilet bowl cleaner, counter top spray, glass cleaner (who bought that?), carpet deodorizer, wood polish (again, who polishes wood in this house?), and even some spray and wash. I stared at this treasure trove of cleaning supplies in amazement. I didn’t remember buying all this stuff, although it was clearly a collection of odds and ends I picked up off clearance shelves. And I also wondered – why haven’t we used this yet? I hadn’t bought any of this stuff recently. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time I bought a cleaning product of any kind. What was going on?

Then I shifted my gaze and noticed the bathroom floor. Eeew.

Yah, that’s why I hadn’t used any of these cleaners – I wasn’t CLEANING. Great. I could suddenly feel ten generations of my grandmothers shaking their fingers at me from heaven.

But look at all the other great stuff I was doing! Building chicken coops! Roller skating! Planting a garden! Writing kids books! Running lots of cold, cold miles! Eating cookies to warm up! Teaching my kids to bake the cookies so I didn’t have to! Come on grandmas! Lighten up.

The final note to this story is that after a quick survey of my closet and the comfortable layer of grime in my home, I decided I was already saving a TON of money on household cleaning products by using them SPARINGLY. And I thought this was a tip worth sharing.

Ladies, do not clean unless someone you know to be anal is coming over.

Remember that sanitary does not equal “spotless”. You don’t need to be gross – no roaches or rats in my home – but a little dirt on the kitchen floor never hurt anyone. Neither has a ten-day-old noodle. CHA-CHING! No more silly floor wax!

Buy way more paper plates than you’ll need for that party and use them for meals weeks afterwards – you’ll save BUCKETS of money on dish soap! CHA-CHING!

Make your kids wear their PJ’s all day and then to bed again that night when it’s raining outside. Who cares? CHA-CHING! Another dime in my pocket that I stole from the washing machine!

Brush your teeth with your finger when you’re in the car. If they are especially carpeted, use the inside of your shirt collar. Way easier on your enamel than a tooth brush. CHA-CHING!

Give your kids raw oatmeal for their cereal in the mornings. Tell them it’s just like eating raw cookie dough. CHA-CHING! Time AND money saved on that one!

Always wear shoes in your home, or at least a very thick pair of socks, so you can’t feel the lumpiness of the seriously needing to be vacuumed floor. CHA-CHING! Saved the environment by reducing my carbon vacuum footprint of greenhouse gasses.. and stuff…

As you can see, if you are anything like me, you’re probably well on your way down the road to achieving financial independence and complete budgeting bliss. So kick those clean clothes off the couch and back into the basket on the floor and sit back and enjoy some netflix and a snow cone. You’ve EARNED IT!

What? Those clothes are dirty? Well what are they doing on your couch? Get them on the floor, girl!

**Footnote: When the neighbor kid with OCD offers to clean for you, let him. It’s not saving you money, but it’s giving his mom a break, so technically you’re paying it forward. (Thanks for the reminder Wendy!)
 

 

Doodle Door Update

Some of you may recall a post I put up a few months ago about my sad, sad office door. We lovingly dubbed it the Doodle Door and I gave the kids, and anyone who happened to stop by, a sharpie and free rein.

The results have been amazing. It’s true what someone said, “You’ll let people draw all over this and then you’ll NEVER strip and repaint it. It will be too precious.”

That’s a very good word for it, precious. *gollum*gollum*

No more writing about it. Here are the pictures so you can enjoy it yourself.

***NOTE: All wild scribbling by Little George.

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Super Happy Fun School is actively working on spelling.

 

 

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Puke Waxes Poetic

It has been a crappy, crappy month. Which sucks (yes, I’m using all the mommy swears today) because it’s our big birthday month. Several of us have birthdays in February, plus we have Valentine’s day and all those other fun, lesser holidays. Anyway, we usually party our brains out, but instead we’ve been puking our guts out for two weeks straight plus fevers and sinus infections. It’s like I’m living in a dystopian novel or something. Anyway, it’s reminded me of this poem I wrote a few years ago. My, how nothing changes… I love my job, no matter how gross. Mike Rowe has nothing on me.

 

A Mother’s Valentine

I do not love you with candy hearts 
Or waxy chocolates from the dollar store.
I do not love you with flowers that wilt
Or toys that break by lunchtime. 
I do not love you with frothy cards 
Full of glitter and inane declarations written by some other hand.
Rather, I love you with bacon sizzling in the dark morning hours before the birds.
I love you with a soft blanket tucked around your shoulders after you drift away. 
I love you with bags full of library books and bags under my eyes,
With lectures on strangers and street ball,
With broccoli and cabbage and peaches and spinach
and dirt under my nails from our three season organic garden. 

I love you with long walks in the park and stories about childhood without video games. 
I love you with homemade cookies. 
I love you with piano lessons. 
I love you with a foggy, sleep deprived brain. 
I love you with red leaky eyes and a heavy heart when you are hurting. 
I love you with exclamations and swelling emails to your grandparents when you are triumphant. 
And oh! 
So very, very, very many photographs. 
I love you with blossoming fears and fully rooted dreams. 
I love you with food on my floor and barf on my shirt. 
I love you with marker decorating the new couch. 
I love you with Tide, Clorox, baking soda and vinegar. 
I love you with toothpaste and tear-free shampoo. 
I love you with gluten free vanilla special ordered from Madagascar. 
I love you with the latest Pixar movie and popcorn and a blanket on the floor. Likewise, 
I love you with time out and grounding until you turn 21. 
I love you with the keys to the car, 
my best lipstick,
the necklace your daddy gave me, 
and my credit card. 
I love you with pride and humility and every night I love you on my knees,
pouring out my soul to Our Father who made us, 
grateful to be your mother, 
pleading for your safety,
longing for your comprehension,
but knowing it will only come 
when you are a parent too.