30 October 2013

Stretch and Rub

I've been a runner for a significant portion of my adult life. I ran my first half-marathon shortly after I graduated from college. Since then, I've completed six more half-marathons and one full marathon. I find that having a goal keeps me motivated and running more than I would otherwise. While I've had running-related injuries before (a stress fracture in my foot after the full marathon), my body has held up considerably well.

That is until about three years ago when I went skiing and fell on my hip. Hard. My hip and knee haven't been the same since. I didn't realize that having an impact injury could mess up my alignment and create all sorts of problems. Since then, I've been running in pain. Three years is a long time to be stubborn and hope that the pain will just go away.

So, when I considered running a half-marathon this year, I decided to stop running through the pain. One of my neighbors is a therapeutic masseuse and runs her practice from her home. She and I talked at a party and she mentioned that my pain was probably a result of my alignment being off. The first time I visited her, she was amazed at how off my hips actually were. I've been back three times now. And each time, I feel my alignment getting better.

And when a mom friend started teaching yoga at the local yoga studio, I figured it couldn't hurt. So I signed up (and got a teacher discount!) for the bulk package of 10 classes. I've been going for five weeks now.

I'm too cheap to buy a race photo, so I lifted the proof :).
I was a little nervous to run the Denver Rock and Roll Half Marathon. I typically try to run a couple of double-digit runs before a half marathon, but I only managed one 10-mile run. But, with all of the stretching and rubbing, I ran a decent time (2 hours, 1 minute) and felt better and stronger while running than I have for years. I also had a good running partner, so that helped too! When I was younger, I could go out for long runs, forget to stretch and it never meant much. Running now means I have to manage a bit more in terms of recovery, but the strength and flexibility that result as a by-product aren't too shabby.

28 October 2013

Lila Turns Three (Photo Edition)

I'm only a month late in posting these. What? That's not bad, right? Also, expect to see Super Girl make an appearance again later this week.

Ketchup: Vacation, Corn Maze, #everydayonabike

// Vacation //
Nate and I took a quick parents-only vacation to southern California in early October. We didn't rent a car. We had to plan accordingly, so we stayed at a bed and breakfast near Marina Del Rey. They had bikes to borrow and it was five blocks away from a bike path running along miles and miles of beach. We had a spectacular time and enjoyed not having a schedule.
// Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze //
We carved out an afternoon to spend at a pumpkin patch and corn maze. The last time we visited the corn maze, Lila was barely a year old. Visiting a corn maze with two fully ambulatory children is much more pleasant! And Benny loved finding his way through the maze.
// #everydayonabike //
I'm gathering and organizing lessons and thoughts about spending so much time on my bike this year. I've made it nearly 11 months - and I'm still going strong. Granted, I have yet to ride everyday in a month, but I probably average 26 or 27 days per month throughout the year. I'm looking forward to sharing the things I've learned in December. But right now, I'm enjoying the rides in cooler weather with gorgeous views. It's becoming too cold to ride to school in the morning. So, we've been walking instead. We can all bundle up with hats, gloves and heavy coats. Loving the flexibility foot-powered transportation gives us!
And now I believe I'm relatively caught up. Happy Fall!

26 October 2013

Goings On (with a Side of Home Security)

At Lila's hair appointment today, someone mentioned that Christmas is eight weeks away. That means that New Years is nine weeks away. That means that 2014 is right around the corner. I'm still having a hard time writing 2013 down. And I haven't even started thinking about Christmas plans, presents, etc.

But, I'm trying to live in the present. Denver is experiencing one of the best Fall seasons in years. We've had nearly a full month of nice weather, trees turning and general Fall happiness. We've carved out time for the corn maze and purchasing pumpkins. I'm baking so much now that I'm going through a huge package of flour every week or two. I also ran the Denver half marathon last week. The family is experiencing a good buzz of activity without feeling particularly overwhelmed.

We've been forced to address some home security issues as well. This week, burglar(s) broke into our home and swiped a few things. The things were petty and not worth much - a bright side of not having lots of nice stuff. They mostly took electronics, but also stole some sentimental jewelry. More than anything, it's creepy and unnerving to know that a stranger has been in my house, rooting around in my things. What's even creepier is that they pried open a locked window. Easy as that.

So, we're taking more precautions with things. Locking gates, keeping lights on. We're exploring a security system. I hate that it comes to that, but it would suck to have this happen again.

But, in the midst of feeling unnerved and annoyed, I also have felt the warmth and support from my friends and community. People checking in to make sure that we're OK and asking if we need to borrow toys or electronics. It's reminded me that there's always a bright side. Always. And I could never feel too down in 60 degree weather and gorgeous Fall views.

21 October 2013

Book Review: MaddAddam

I've been waiting for this book since before Lila was born. It's the third in a trilogy by Margaret Atwood. Sadly, I don't remember the first two books since I read them both in the latter stages of pregnancy and everything at that time is a blur. I do remember devouring the first, Oryx and Crake, and the second, The Year of the Flood.

I was at a bit of a disadvantage with the third because I didn't remember a lot of the details of the first two books - or it took awhile to recall them and put the pieces together. The book was good, but a bit disappointing in tying up the loose ends of the story. It seemed to jump into story lines too quickly and didn't do a very good job of resolving the story of Adam One, the same Adam One that created the Mad Adam game, the title of the book. I don't say these things lightly either, because Atwood is one of my favorite authors. It seems like she was in a hurry to finish the series and be done with it.

Also, not to give any spoilers, but the book ends in such a sad (and at the same time optimistic) way. Although the ending Atwood chose doesn't surprise me, it was hard to digest - especially after investing so much in the characters over three books. While I didn't love the final book, I did love the series.

18 October 2013

Urban Homesteading LITE: Family and Consumer Sciences

I read this article recently on Jezebel. It discusses my generation's inability to anything for ourselves - that has led to a significant dependence on the service industry. While it discusses this issue in relation to one of the author's previous boyfriends, I know many men and women who could probably learn a few things from what was formerly known as Home Economics.

I was required to take Home Ec in 8th grade and while I had to bake some cakes and sew some buttons in the class, I'm not sure I learned a whole lot that I wasn't already learning at home. My parents required me (and my siblings) to do our own laundry, cook meals for the family, sew (this was probably the only gender-specific item on the list that my sister and I learned how to do), mow the lawn, check our own oil, etc. It was sort of a necessity with five kids. My mom certainly couldn't have done all of that stuff while working part-time.

But, I see the point of the article. While I had Home Ec and a mom who taught me life skills, I've had to do a lot of learning on my own as an adult. But, as I've learned from many other experiences, once you start doing something regularly, you realize how disturbingly easy it is to do. I often wonder why I haven't pickled or baked or gardened or biked my entire adult life. Most of the time, it was just a matter of starting something and practicing to become better.

The article was a nice reminder about the importance of passing these skills onto my own kids. Often I get caught up with the hurried harried pace of life and I tend to do a lot of stuff that my kids could otherwise do. Sometimes I need to take a breath and walk them through baking or cleaning or even knitting. And I realize the need to have Nate partner up and model this behavior to the kids. Since I work part-time and he often works well over full-time, I take over many of these tasks. And it worries me that gender will become an excuse for not teaching Ben how to sew or not teaching Lila how to mow the lawn.

First world problems, for sure. But maybe, just maybe, if a critical mass of parents reverts back to teaching real-life skills and responsibility, we'll have a better society for the effort.

15 October 2013

Do It Yourselfies (Ninjas and Chocolate Cake)

Gah! Halloween is just about two weeks away. How did that happen?!?

I'm going through the yearly struggle to overcome my un-craftiness to become crafty for one month. I committed to making the kids' costumes from scratch when Benny was four and when we were out of hand-me-down costumes. This year, he wants to be a black ninja. I need to find some black pants, a long black shirt, a red sash and some sort of head dress. Not to mention some homemade throwing stars. Pretty easy. Especially considering that Benny started out wanting to be a Lego man. Cool, but damn hard to make.

Lila, on the other hand can be a dinosaur or a super girl. She's not sure which one yet. Luckily, we have both of those costume on hand. Easy breasy.

Expect a Halloween report out by Christmas (and maybe sooner, if you're lucky).

Also, I feel like I would be a total jerk if I didn't share this chocolate cake recipe with you all. Holy hot damn. This is the most amazing moist chocolate cake I've ever made. Ever. I've made it twice in three weeks. We never have dessert so the kids are totally digging my obsession.

I've been off the bike for a few days thanks to a vacation (although I managed to ride in Los Angeles a bit) and my bike has been in the shop. I have enjoyed the break because it's forced me to walk places. And I do like to walk - I just don't do it as much any more. Feels good.

08 October 2013

Book Review: Under the Banner of Heaven

I've started taking advantage of reserving books at the library. I can't believe it's taken me six years to finally stop buying books and start utilizing the library. I know all about the e-readers and how great they are, but I can't make the shift from books. I love the feeling of pages on my fingers. I love consuming pages and visibly seeing the number of pages get smaller and smaller.

I've been meaning to read Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer for several years (since 2002, to be exact). I loved his other book, Into Thin Air, and I'm a sucker for a book about religion.

Krakauer tells the story of the rise of Mormonism and fundamentalist Mormonism through the story of the Lafferty brothers. The brothers murdered their sister-in-law and niece in cold blood because they claimed God told them to. Krakauer doesn't openly judge the fundamentalist string of this religion, but the details he includes make it clear that he doesn't agree with polygamy and other fundamentalist aspects of Mormonism. There is no gender analysis or analysis in general. But the book is quite alarming in terms of how men treat women who follow this fundamentalist sect.

It's a good book and an interesting read.

01 October 2013

Lila Turns Three!

Happy birthday Lila! Luckily you're only three and won't remember that your daddy and I completely forgot it was your birthday on Friday morning. In our defense, we celebrated on Saturday with your grandparents and your friends, so we didn't technically forget it.

Lila was so excited for her birthday party. She talked about it for a week. And on Saturday morning she declared that she was ready for her party. I told her that she had to take a nap first. So she marched into her room and went to bed. At 11:30. She wasn't going to let a nap stand between her and her party!

Like Benny, Lila has made some really great friends with really great families. And now she's old enough to play with them. She had a great time at her birthday party. Her favorite part? The alligator cake that her Nana made for her. It was pretty great.

Lila is going through some growing pains. We just finished with a phase that involved A LOT of meltdowns. Luckily, she snapped out of that phase pretty quickly, but there are still moments of extreme distress over a white shirt, opening a cheese stick wrong, riding in the bike trailer. You name it and she's probably been pissed about it in the past two weeks. I know these phases come and go. They can be trying. But I'm excited to have my cuddly, lovey little girl back full time!

At three, Lila is potty trained, sleeping in a big girl bed, knows about 3/4 of the alphabet, knows how to spell her name, is drawing circles, can ride her balance bike (really well!), can get dressed/undressed below her waist (shirts are tricky), has lots of friends, loves cooking, reading, babies, trucks and anything her big brother is doing.

I'll post pictures soon. I recently bought a new computer and I'm still learning how to use it! I feel old :).