My karmic potty break

Potty copyEvery runner I know has a story about an indelicate moment involving bodily functions. This is mine.

It’s not too terribly gross. Safe enough if you happen to be reading this at work – unless you spit coffee on your laptop minutes before you were supposed to forward some report, and then you’ll be mad at me for blowing your cover as a slacker.

You absolutely may not pin your slackerliness on me.

But if that’s not a problem, read on.

It was raining this weekend when Mike and I set out for our latest half marathon. This one was through wine country on weaving country roads. We had a hard time finding the starting line.

The few other times Mike and I had tried to make our way out to this winery, we’d taken wrong turns and ended up lost in wide open space where they pin down the scenery with a house every couple of miles or so. Those other forays were before GPS. This time we thought we were good. Continue reading

Employee of the Week

staplerA few months ago I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. I told her about Mike’s quitting his job and venturing into the consulting world with me.

She sort of harrumphed and asked how long we’ve been married.

“Twenty-two years,” I said. Sheesh. That made me sound ancient. I did the math… Yup, about right.

“Well, good luck making it to twenty-three,” she said.

I’ve been surprised how people speculate less than I would have thought about Mike’s sanity in leaving an entire career, stable paycheck and benefits, to explore the joys of self-employment with me. Instead, people wonder about the impact of his decision on our marriage.

I guess I kind of get it. Couples have to adjust after kids come along and priorities shift. They go through another adjustment when the kids leave home, and they suddenly realize they hate nothing more than listening to each other chew breakfast cereal. Continue reading

Of art and science and plum tarts

T-RexThumbnailI have one kid who built a computer over the summer, and another who read a dozen books. Thick books. With big words.

You all know I’m far more likely to boast about them being able to burp the alphabet than anything really constructive, so don’t worry about some new bragging trend on my part.

At the same time as they’ve been developing these oddly productive habits, we seem to be having more long conversations about colleges: which ones are best for what fields of study, how competitive they might be, and whether they’re nearer a beach or a ski slope.

Neither Mike nor I want to break the news that we’ve actually been kind of sucky about the whole saving-for-college thing. Instead we nod and smile, and wonder how many kidneys we’ll have to hawk when it’s time to cough up the scratch for tuition and fees.

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It’s kind of like I’ve already won the lottery

strange_jackPeople are really patient around here sometimes.

Take our kid, Jack. No matter what you want to talk about, Jack will patiently wait for the opportunity to tell you how it relates how great Lamborghinis are, what his favorite Lamborghini is, and how many Lamborghinis he plans to buy the next time we win the lottery.

And he’s perfectly patient with the fact that we really mess up our odds of winning the lottery by not ever buying lottery tickets.

“Mom, there’s a story behind the Lamborghini, did you know?”

The fact that the Lamborghini has been the topic of conversation on every car ride we’ve taken in the last seven months or so, and I hadn’t heard this, is what’s kind of amazing. Continue reading

Whatever a ‘Yote is, I’m their newest fan

yote“This is the first home game for this football program in thirty-seven years,” Mike told us in the car yesterday.

“I don’t think I’ve seen that kind of car in thirty-seven years,” eleven year-old Colin said from the back.

“This is the first time I’ve been to Caldwell in thirty-seven years,” Jack said.

It was a day of firsts.

I do feel a little sorry for Mike at the outset of this latest football season. He loves the game, a sentiment none of the rest of us seem to have inherited.

But, in May when he had his latest mini mid-life crisis and quit his job to come work with me, we cut expenses across the board. Sayonara to stuff like cable television and Tivo, and televised football games.

We still get Netflix, though, and electricity, so it’s not like we’ve turned Amish or something. Continue reading

Life Lessons from Little House

braids copyThe news that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s annotated autobiography Pioneer Girl is scheduled for release in November has me all fired up. I can’t remember when I started reading the Little House on the Prairie series, but it was early. I loved them and reread them often. Laura was my Harry Potter, and she could probably have given the little pointy-headed, snake charmer a run for his money.

If she’d had a wand.

The scuttlebutt is that the actual tale to be told about the Ingalls is something more akin to a Real Housewives of Silver Lake or Survivor, Big Woods series than the wholesome recounting of life in a hardscrabble little town that we’re all more familiar with.

Whatever. Even if Pa was a philanderer, or Mary sniffed chalk dust, Half Pint and her crew can do no wrong in my eyes, and I can’t wait to catch up with them. Continue reading

The menace of ill-mannered motorists

road_rage_is_bad copy“Mom, is that guy a redneck?” Colin asks me while I’m driving and some jerkwad is following so close I could easily elbow him in the throat from where I’m sitting.

I swear to God, I have nothing against rednecks and I don’t believe I’ve ever called someone a redneck. I don’t know where Colin may have picked up the term.

Probably from some hillbilly at school.

Ever since the kids were little, I’ve worked really hard to control what comes out of my mouth when we’re in the car, lest I start a long, unproductive conversation about the driving habits of others. People might view kvetching about other drivers as therapeutic, but it serves only to raise my blood pressure and teach people around here how to swear.

Continue reading

I don’t really know what anyone is talking about

Last year Jack kept using the phrase going ham, which took a few weeks for me to figure out meant throwing oneself into the task at hand.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs in: Lookit that dog, going ham with the Frisbee.

Or: I saw this guy in his car at the stoplight, going ham with the music on his radio like no one was watching.

But apparently less often: I’m going to go all ham and get my homework done before dinner.

I thought it was kind of a micro slang thing, a term he and his buddies starting using at school for no discernible reason other than it added another check on the teen cred score card. I wasn’t sure why they settled on cured pork for their idiom, but that was beside the point. Even if it made sense, it’s hard to get anything to really go viral if you’re only working with the teensy student body that makes up his school.

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Teenagers might one day be the death of me

stanley_valley copyOur wedding anniversary was Sunday, and Mike and I slept in separate rooms.

It wasn’t like that. He did spend the better part of an hour trying to make a fire for me in a teensy stove, but there wasn’t much for kindling and the wood may have been a little wet. The room would be warm enough anyway once all the girls returned to the cabin.

When I looked up this place online I read about a lodge that sleeps 50 on the shores of Alturas Lake with a view of the Sawtooth Mountains. There would be en-suite bathrooms, linens and towels and hand stitched quilts and a staff to serve meals in a common dining area.

It sounded rather swanky for a labor-day weekend orientation for twenty or so Rotary foreign exchange students, but maybe the intent was to start their year off with a bang.

In retrospect the fact that I thought we were staying in that lodge is a little funny. Continue reading

Stupid mice and their dumb cookies anyway

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAColin wouldn’t let me walk him into sixth-grade on Monday, robbing me of the very last time I would get to help anybody unpack a gargantuan backpack on his first day, and then take seven selfies with a scowling child at his new desk.

He wouldn’t even let me post the photo on Facebook that I took of him standing with his best friend on the playground before the bell.

My youngest child’s steadfast refusal to play along with things like first-day-of-school rituals, or to get emotional about anything at all rarely bothers me. Aside from appreciating the opportunity it gives me to tease him, I don’t go all in for that kind of thing either.

Usually, I mean. I usually don’t go all in for the mushy emotional thing. Lately, though, if I’m awake at 4 am, I’m dwelling on the fact that I will never again have a warm little person ask me plaintively if he can cuddle with his dad and me because he can’t sleep, or because he had a bad dream. Continue reading