Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Orange Cat

I don't like cats. In fact, I have an irrational fear of them, and while I know it is irrational - this hasn't made me get over it. It has made me to pretend to get over it so I don't pass it along to my kids, which I have been a wee bit too successful at.

They love cats.

They have never met a cat they didn't love.

They think when I tell my story about how I became afraid of cats, I must be exaggerating.

Thankfully, they are both allergic to cats so we can never have one.

Orange Cat is a neighborhood cat who occasionally hangs around our house. This thrills the kids, as they are eager to befriend Orange Cat and know that so long as they don't touch their face, they won't have swollen, watery eyes. They mostly remember this.

A few mornings ago, Helen was delighted to announce that Orange Cat had returned. She witnessed Orange Cat crawling out from beneath our car and expressed surprise to Ed that Orange Cat could fit under our car. Little did she know, Orange Cat was hiding under our car doing very, very bad things.

Ed dropped Helen off at the corner so she could walk to school with her friend (more on that later). He then drove off in our car, that Orange Cat had been shamefully hiding under. As he rolled off, he revealed a beautiful gold finch that is one of several that hangs out in our backyard. Only the beautiful gold finch will no longer be hanging out in our backyard, because the gold finch was dead - and it was clear to me bad things had happened to that bird on its way to death.

I was horrified. I almost cried when I saw it lying there. It was bordering on disgusting because the flies had found it. I wanted to pretend I hadn't seen it, but I try to live with a "smelt it dealt it" sort of policy on these issues, and I knew that Connor would be walking right by it later that afternoon when he parked his bike in the shed.

And so I found myself adulting. I went inside, grabbed a plastic bag, grabbed a plastic shovel that had been lying by our trashcan for no reason except nobody bothered moving it, and then I scooped the body up and disposed of it - along with the shovel and bag.

So Orange Cat - I already didn't like you because of your feline nature. Now I really don't like you because of your murderous tendencies.

Get off my lawn!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Summer: Week 5

Helen attended a horse camp with one of her favorite people in the world. Helen got to attend this camp because her friend's mom is very organized. I think it might have been January when I got the first email with instructions on how to sign up - and I received a text the morning of sign-up, just to make sure Helen got into the camp. I pride myself on being on top of most organization things, but this woman just crushes me. Which is actually nice and I hope Helen and her daughter remain friends for a long time!

Much of our summer ended up being planned around this camp because canceling would've caused heartbreak in both girls. Unfortunately, it was among the hotter weeks we were in town. It was so hot, that the girls didn't get to ride horses on the first day of camp because it was "too hot" for them and another day, they rode bareback. I know less than nothing about horses, but this seems like a not great idea to me. But, Laura Ingalls Wilder did it with her cousin so Helen figured it was a great idea. And I guess it was fun.

The camp was run by the local YMCA. Children were dropped off there each morning and a bus took them to the stables. Campers spent the morning with horses and then in the afternoon they went to museums and waterparks. I'm not sure if the museums were planned or not - I certainly thought the girls would spend the whole day at the stables. In any case, it was sort of thumbs down on the afternoon activities (except the day they spent at the waterpark) and thumbs up on the horse part. In the end, I think Helen would like to do a horse camp again, but we might look around for another one.

Connor, on the other hand, was sent to math nerd camp. The curriculum in our public school is atrocious for highly advanced kids. Even challenging material isn't all that challenging. I really feel like I'm losing Connor on the math front, and I don't want that to happen. He's quite gifted at thinking through complex math concepts, and I'd like him to not give up on math as being boring until he gets through high school. In fact, I'd like him to stick with math through college, given that my office has had such great success hiring math majors. They tend to be able to think logically, solve problems, and work efficiently. These are great skills, regardless of what he ends up doing in graduate school.

A mom in a similar situation suggested this camp - and it is exactly what Connor and I both needed. Daily (for nearly two weeks), I reverse commuted, dropped him off, and then worked in a Starbucks until he was finished. It was a half day camp. The first week, it was supplemented with a baseball camp and I can't even believe he enjoyed it, given the heat. But alas, he had fun. The second week, he hung out around the house while I crammed work in - though we did make it to one IMAX downtown.

The camp instructor restored my faith in education. He told me he loved working with Connor. He told me Connor was "old school gifted", which meant he's a kid with a super high IQ but hasn't necessarily been exposed to anything challenging. The two of them sorted through negative base 10 numbers one day, chatted about things I have long since forgotten, and in the end - the instructor told me he'd be happy to tutor Connor free, given that Connor had to miss a session of camp. His eyes lit up when he talked about Connor and as much as our home school district has suggested I should slow my role, he was suggesting just the opposite. Keep that kid engaged! Make sure he has a peer to challenge him! Look for these signs to know he's being engaged properly (some interest in the subject, happy to chat about it at least a few days a week). And mostly, don't put artificial boundaries on him. He deserves to be educated. I almost cried talking to him because I have spent so much time explaining to people in our home school district that if they do not challenge Connor soon, we are all going to be losers.

Ed and I learned we had forgotten a lot of geometry, but could still hang in stats and algebra / trig type homework. I was impressed with Connor's willingness to work pretty hard. It was definitely good for him to see that this thing he loves does have people doing interesting things with it. Hopefully, that lesson sticks long enough to inspire him to keep going.

In the end, I think Connor would do the camp again, if only to see the instructor again.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Nellie's Eggs!

When I am  training for a marathon, I often joke that I eat like it's my job. It's not far from the truth. I try and eat a lot of protein packed food, because I read somewhere that it aids in recovery. Given how sore I am at times, I can't say it's magical - but I don't have a hard time believing I'd be more sore or take longer to recover if I didn't pack  my day with protein.

I would also be hungrier. That, I'm certain about - because the days I don't start with eggs or yogurt, I'm falling apart by 10:00 AM. This is not good, if I want to be productive at work.

So...when Nellie's Eggs contacted me to try their product, I was all in. I present to you, eggs three ways.

For the record, Nellie's are free-range, certified humane - and also available at my local grocery store (this is important, since we don't tend to go to multiple stores each week). The hens laying these eggs don't get doused with antibiotics or hormones, a trait I appreciate. And, they might even make your kids cuter - well, the kids in their video are cute, anyway.

(1) Hard-Cooked Eggs

Connor makes these for me. I have a magnet with instructions that I keep on the side of the refrigerator:

1. Place eggs in saucepan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Heat over high heat just to boiling. 2. Remove from burner. Cover pan. Let eggs stand in hot water for about 15 minutes for large eggs. 3. Drain.

These are my go-to option, since I can carry them into the office with little trouble.

(2)  Eggs and potatoes - my children are not fans of breakfast burritos, but I am. So I've been trying to teach them to make these, hoping that eventually they'll give in and just eat the concoction.

1. Cut a potato into small cubes. Fry. 2. Push the potatoes to one side of the pan and scramble an egg in the other side. It doesn't matter if things get all mixed up. Load onto a soft taco shell (referred to as "taco bread" in my house).

(3) And, because I was supposed to be at the beach this last weekend and was counting on my friend to cook me some delicious breakfast I present his version of eggs - an omelet with brie, caramelized onions, mushrooms, and spinach. That is a combo I approve of!

Friday, September 2, 2016

MCM Training

I would rate this training cycle as meh. I had a lot of trouble adjusting to summer humidity, found myself cutting some runs short, having trouble keeping up, and being intimidated by the hills around me. So I read a few articles on motivation, tried to step back and think about what's happening around me, and set about resetting my training.

The week I spent in New York with Ed's family was fantastic, from a running perspective. I got up and out the door every day I was supposed to run, had a really successful long run, and Ed even joined me twice - and in a week of solo running, that was really appreciated.

Shortly after getting home from New York, we took off on a 17 day European adventure (first and last days were mostly travel) and I would say I kept up with running, for the most part. I ultimately logged 130 miles in August and that's just under what I had hoped for.

Once I returned to DC, I knew it was time to put my business hat on and get to work. I hit my training plan like it owned me.

Sunday - mostly solo 10 miler; company for the last 2 (I'm almost embarrassed. to admit that I found myself highly motivated to keep going so I could hatch eggs from Connor's Pokemon Go game - Connor would not be embarrassed that he was motivated to run two miles with me just so he could hit Pokestops and battle Pokemon in gyms).

Monday - 4 miles; Tuesday - 9 miles; Wednesday - 3 miles; Thursday - TRACK!; but this morning? It was the run that gave me the confidence to keep going. I met a friend before the crack of dawn, drove to her house (1.5 miles away) and we set out through her hilly streets. We actually got pretty close to my home at one point, and I desperately wanted to run down the hill and skip the second half of our run, but I didn't want to have to deal with getting my car later in the day - so up the hill I went as we proceeded onward.

And then it happened. We started talking about kids and school, and she is such an amazing mom of four kids and has a vast knowledge of education (she teaches) and at some point, she said "we're getting close to my house - what are we at?" and I fully expected to see I had run 8 miles but no - we were at 8.97, so with a goal of 9 for the morning - we were sitting on finished! The time went so fast, I had so much fun, and my head is clear and ready to finish this training cycle up.

Tomorrow I have 19 planned, and I'll be running it solo. Hopefully the hurricane predicted to be where I'm staying won't get there, though Ed warns it might be a pretty windy run. Regardless of conditions, the run will also be important.

But today? I feel like I found some mojo and wanted to record it because the run was that much fun.