Friday, January 30, 2015

We Went Off Roading in a Jeep at the Washington Car Show

Nobody in my family is terribly into cars - or so I thought. It turns out, if let loose on the floor at the Washington Auto Show, Helen and Connor are quite into cars. I haven't seen them both this enthused for something they know almost nothing about in a long time.

After receiving an invitation from Jeep to go off-roading, I decided to take the little people downtown to check it out. We were all intrigued, and assumed it would be some sort of simulator game. NOT SO!

Jeep has turned a rather large part of the show-room into an obstacle course, and visitors get to ride with a professional driver to check it out. Not only would they not let me drive, there is no way I could've safely maneuvered through the course. The drive had my whole family howling in minutes.

I was super excited for the ride, Connor was a little nervous, and Helen thought perhaps this wasn't the safest choice she had made all day.

During the ride, Helen and Connor fell in love with the Jeep, wondered why their parents drive such lame cars, and immediately begged to purchase one on the spot, volunteering to help out with the cost by contributing their allowances. I told them that typically before we spend about $20K - $30K, we at least give it a night's worth of thought.

The course takes you over a bunch of logs (which don't hurt the Jeep because there's a steel plate underneath the car to protect all its parts, up a very steep hill (35 degree angle), down that same hill, and then you take a turn where it feels like only two wheels are on the ground. Finally, you drive up another hill which seems like it would just not be possible for a car to do, and yet - the Jeep had no trouble.

It was cool. It's going to hard to resist getting a better car if and when my old Altima bites the dust. I feel like my eyes have been opened to a whole new world. (The car even had seat heaters, which is rather impressive especially in light of the fact that the heater in my car broke this past week.)

We also scurried around the auto show checking out all sorts of fancy cars, sitting in many of them, and leaving one with its hazards blinking because Helen couldn't figure out how she turned them on. The car attendant was super nice when I told him what we'd done.

I wouldn't have guessed this would be a winning trip for both kids, but it absolutely was. Thank you, Jeep, for letting me know about it!


Details for those in town:

What:             Camp Jeep® Trail Rated Test Trac
Where:           Walter E. Washington Convention Center
801 Mount Vernon Place, Northwest
Washington D.C., DC 20001
When:             Camp Jeep Hours of Operation:                     
Thursday, January 22                                                  12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Friday, January 23                                                      12:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 24                                                  10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.         
Sunday, January 25                                                     10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Monday, January 26 – Thursday, January 29             12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Friday, January 30                                                      12:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.         
Saturday, January 31                                                  10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 1                                                     10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Showing More Maturity Than Most Adults I Know

Two nights ago, dinner was very frustrating for both Connor and me. I won't air our dirty laundry, but I walked away from dinner with a real appreciation for why people yell. Connor was pushing my buttons in every possible way, and although I didn't yell - I wanted to, badly. I have not felt that emotional surge of anger in a long time. It ended with me telling him an early bedtime was in order, which I later overturned after he agreed to behave as I asked.

Connor was angry, possibly embarrassed, and really struggling. But he also did not lose his cool, as he tried tactic after tactic to avert the issue at hand.

We don't often get mad at each other, but we were mad that night.

Last night though? Connor came to the dinner table and apologized - in front of the whole family - for the previous night. In doing so, Ed correctly commented later that night that Connor had shown more maturity than most adults muster. I thanked Connor for his apology. I told him I was glad we were going to have a better dinner. Mistakes happen. We move on.

And we did. Dinner bordered on delightful.

In the end, I think Connor just needed to push on me and find security in knowing I wasn't going to budge, and he learned the next day that I wasn't holding on to any of it.

Thank you again, Connor. It was a difficult situation and I'm glad it's behind us. You have wisdom beyond your years.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Zoo with the Nieces

I have been gifted with two amazing nieces (more, actually, but this post is about my sister's kids). They are teens now, which means they could decide at any moment they are just too cool for me. And I would totally understand. But luckily, they have not. They're still willing to let me hop in their Jeep and cruise around, which is an absolute hoot. Almost grown-ups!

They could also easily decide that hanging with Connor and Helen is not something they want to do. But they don't. Instead, my sister finds outings that everyone can enjoy, and we all have a blast in our own way.

Over Christmas break, we went to the KC Zoo, a place we often visit. Top of our list were visits to see the baby penguins and the polar bears - two things we don't (and probably won't ever) have at the National Zoo.

My sister has been a mom for longer than me, so we never leave the house without a little snack in hand and an escape plan. This visit was executed pretty close to flawlessly.

Usually, we also find ourselves at a big indoor swim park, but after struggling through the flu a few days earlier, that sort of outing seemed unwise.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Marathon training - we're all in it together

    Marathon training is in full tilt at this point. And it's becoming increasingly obvious that it involves a lot more than just me. I decided to train for a Spring marathon because our lives are generally quieter in the winter, so being gone for 3 hour stretches on a weekend morning are less intrusive than in other seasons. But what I didn't realize is that my friends would get pulled in at midnight!

    Last Friday, I traded children with a friend of mine. She took Connor, I took a younger child of hers. Normally, she would be getting the better deal of the exchange (we trade off, and I was due to have the littles). On this particular night, she did not get the better deal.

    Around 11:00, Connor woke up puking. From what I can tell, her husband cleaned everything up - which is no small feat since they live in an apartment and their laundry facility is located several floors beneath their living space. The puking continued for well over an hour, and at that point, I received a phone call letting me know what was going on, and that my friend would be driving him home. Connor was in a lot of pain at this point. I know my friend was thinking about muscle-ing through the awful night, but Connor wanted to be home. I am so thankful Connor came home, because it did not get better and being up all night with a child that is not even yours is infinitely worse than being up with your own ill child.

    I offered to come get Connor, but my friend said she would bring him home, and I eventually decided that the fastest way to get Connor home would be for her to bring him. When she arrived, she apologized profusely, commenting "I know you're planning on running 20 miles tomorrow - I'm really sorry to have awakened you".

    And so there it is. Even my friend is helping me get through this training period, which is intense - even though I have intentionally decreased the number of days I run.

    Thank you, friends. As I've told you before, I am really sorry this happened!


    Monday, January 12, 2015

    Two Things I Would Like to Bottle

    There's an expression about bottling up children's energy. And having spent several late-school opening days and two exhausting weekend days with Helen and Connor running on full tilt, I fully embrace the idea of bottling up their energy. I could use it at the end of the day - or during a long run, or really, just about any time!

    Besides bottling up the tornadoes they are, I would also like to bottle up Helen's self-confidence. She has hit a point where she absolutely cruises through her life, solid legs standing on grounded feet. It's hard to make her budge, and coupled with her smile, she's growing into even more of a force than she always has been. The other day, she overhead me tell a neighbor that I wished I could bottle up her confidence today, and hand it back to her in her teen years. And she shot back "I won't need it!".

    You don't know how much I wish that holds, Helen. It would be amazing.


    Tuesday, January 6, 2015

    Digging Out

    A week ago last Friday, Connor came into my bedroom at 4 AM complaining of burning eyes and a sore throat. This would devolve into him falling over in the bathroom the next night saying that he couldn't control his body. Luckily, he realized he was falling and thumped down to the step stool, so was uninjured. But those are words that cause more than a little alarm - particularly when coupled with what had become a very high fever.

    On Sunday morning, Ed tracked down Tamiflu at a pharmacy about a half hour away (the only pharmacy in our County that had the medicine was closed until Monday) and Connor started taking the very gross, but seemingly effective medicine.

    By Monday night, Helen would suffer Connor's fate, coupled with an ear infection. The highlight of her flu must have been stepping out of the car at the pediatrician's office and vomiting. Well timed, Helen. She was barely mobile at this point, so I was carrying her around bundled up in a favorite blanket. We saw a friend's dad at the pediatrician - at least half the class would fall before Tuesday.

    Ed was down, and definitely hit the hardest. The pediatrician took mercy on me and hooked me up with my own prescription of Tamiflu. I would fall Tuesday evening. I was pretty confident I was going down, and I was also pretty confident that as soon as I got off the plane and saw my dad, it would be over for me. It was.

    By now, Helen and Connor were pretty much recovered, which means they had energy, but I was in need of about 24 consecutive hours of sleep. I was incredibly grateful to be at my parents' home, where they took care of the kids completely for the next couple of days.

    Christmas came with everyone feeling pretty good and finally, we are all in good shape.

    I took eight days off from running. This is the longest running break I have taken since I started running seriously last Thanksgiving. If I hadn't already signed up for a marathon in the spring, I'm pretty sure I would've just sat out from running until spring - but instead, I logged 18 miles on Friday, 3 recovery miles on Sunday, and another 4 in the snow this morning. This part of life is back on track.

    My inbox remains a disaster. Most of the emails will be deleted, unread, after a quick scan of subject lines.

    I have decided to put sets of legos together with Connor. Some of his lego sets have been damaged through play (a good thing!), many were taken apart when we had renters (which is why I feel obligated to help Connor put them together - he doesn't even directly benefit from the renters, but he bears most of the cost), and some just get taken apart because pieces are needed elsewhere (also a good thing). As I slog through old sets, Connor has been putting together Christmas lego presents and has big plans for a lego display, once we get everything together. While we lego together, we chat, which has been pretty fun.

    Helen has taken to the workshop Santa gave her with a vengeance, producing a robot and a shelf (to be featured soon on these pages). The workshop is in the basement, near where Connor and I sit putting legos together, so it definitely feels like we're all hunkering down.

    And after the flu, that's exactly what we need to do.


    Monday, January 5, 2015

    The Tree

    Many years ago, I purchase a very sad looking fake tree at Target - and then I decorated it with approximately 3 million lights, and I really do love it.

    As with most years, Connor kicked off the decorating with a garland he made during the several months where I pretended he still needed a nap, but rather than sleeping, he hung out in his room for "quiet time". My mom had gifted him the yarn for his birthday, and by December we had an enormous garland. It's the first of the hand made decorations to hit the tree.

    Helen followed by placing what is my all-time favorite hand made decoration - the tree she and I made a few years ago. It has almost every color of wool I've ever dyed. It's a nice reminder of a craft I once enjoyed, but have retired due to time constraints.

    After we had put on many, but not all, of the ornaments - Ed played the role of family photographer - and it is now that I will point out that the sweater I am wearing was my summer / fall knitting project.

    By the end of the season, we had a last ornament to add - a snowman crafted by my mom, that is the perfect partner to the snow(wo)man Helen and I had crafted earlier. His hat is divine. (Thank you, Mom!)

    Come tomorrow, we'll be packing this and more up for another year.

    Merry Christmas, all.


    Thursday, January 1, 2015

    Stonyfield Healthy Family New Year's Resolutions

    On Thanksgiving, I announced to my family that we would be participating in the 36 days of awesome. We would each run 1 mile every day from Thanksgiving to New Year's. I quickly amended it to half mile on days the kids opted to run on the treadmill. Not only is it ridiculously boring to run on a treadmill, watching someone run on a treadmill to try and help them avoid being tossed from it is even more boring.

    And we were going strong for many, many days.

    Until the flu hit.

    First, Connor was down and out, and the remaining well family members decided that if someone was taking prescription medication, they could be excused from the challenge. Then Helen fell, followed by Ed, and finally I succumbed as well. At that point, we ended the challenge, high fived each other for our rather impressive streak, and spent the next several days trying to get well.

    Even I, who run 4-5 days a week anyway, thought running daily was pretty difficult. It was becoming more of a drain than an inspiration for movement.

    But I like the idea of having a monthly fitness goal, and I think it's important for Connor and Helen to participate since they ought to know that their health is as important as my health.

    And so we sat down today and drew up the Family New Year's resolutions. At the end of each month, we've decided to give ourselves some sort of treat (the not quite 36 days of awesome will be capped off with a trip to Pinkberry - our favorite frozen yogurt store).

    January - Do the New York Times 7 minute work out at least 5 times per week. (One is in the books already!)

    February - Yoga month! Three times per week we'll do yoga together as a family.

    March - We each chose one exercise that we will improve. We will record how many we are able to do at the start of the month and end of the month. We will practice at least 4 times per week. Connor chose sit-ups, I will be planking, Helen and Ed will be doing push-ups. I will also be running my first marathon trying to qualify for Boston!

    April - Running! Connor came up with the following pattern. Day 1 - 0.5 miles; Day 2 - rest; Day 3 - 0.5 miles; Day 4 - 1 mile; Day 5 - Rest; Day 6 - 0.5 miles; Day 7 - 1 mile; Day 8 - 1.5 miles Day 9 - Rest... The hope is that we will be ready for the 5K sponsored by the school in May.

    May - We'll all run the school 5K, plus we will CLIMB this month! We'll head over to the park with the climbing wall as often as we can, we will climb trees, we will end the month by climbing Old Rag!

    June - Jump! We will all jump rope - at least 100 jumps, 4 days per week.

    July - Swim at least 1 lap every time we go to the pool!

    August - PLAY 60! Every day we will play outside at least 1 hour. Admittedly, this will be the one that requires the least change and effort for us, but the kids are likely to be at my parents for a couple of weeks, and this seemed like a good fit. Ed and I will Swim, Bike, and Run a tri-athalon (different activities every day, adding up to an Iron Man).

    September - We will bike 5 days per week (possibly to school every day!). Helen will ride 30 miles; Connor will ride 100 miles; Ed will run 300 miles - and my goal will be set when I know whether or not I'll be running another marathon that month.

    October - Marathon month for all - run 26.2 miles over the course of the month.

    November - The New York Times Advanced Workout - 20 times over the course of the month.

    December - I will run as many miles as Ed, Connor, and Helen run. Helen said "I will exhaust you!".

    So bring it, 2015! And thank you Stonyfield, for the inspiration to get fit as a family!


    We will, as is our tradition, be using Stonyfield yogurt as our recovery food. Thank goodness they have so many varieties,because we're going to need a lot!