Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ten Facts About my Summer

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might have gathered that summer isn't my favorite time of year. I'm learning to appreciate it more each year, but I still look forward to pants season.

(I love pants so much!)

This summer has been very different from years past. Usually by July, I'm ready to pull my hair out. The kids are bored, fighting is rampant, I've spent a fortune on sunscreen, we've been to the park by our house way too many times, and we've exhausted every activity available. This year, it hasn't been so. Don't get me wrong, the kids are fighting like crazy, but we've had a pretty good summer. Here are some of the things that have been going on:

1. Our garden is nearly dead. We got off to a late start, and our hearts weren't really in it this year. We got everything planted in late May. Scotty built a soaker system so we could spend less time watering it. Then we went out of town, and the chickens busted in and ripped up all the plants. We came home to find our garden in disarray. It's sad, but oh well.

2. The park in our neighborhood serves free lunch (as well as many other parks in our area), so we go to the park a lot.

3. Somehow, we've managed to only use one package of sunscreen from Costco this summer. That's highly abnormal, as we usually go through the equivalent of three.

4. We haven't been to a single splash pad, earned any brag badges, or been to any water parks. We haven't needed to! And I am just fine with that!

5. We got Netflix at the beginning of summer, and that has helped us immensely. My kids have a list of things they need to do to earn "Netflix time" each day, and that is a great incentive to get things done (they have to feed the animals, make their beds, brush their teeth, read or write for 20 minutes, and do one other chore).

6. We attempted to participate in several summer reading programs so the kids could earn some free stuff, but we've pretty much given up on them, save for the county library. I really don't care whether my kids get a free book from Barnes and Noble, a free hamburger from Red Robin, or a free ticket to the state fair. All of those things would require me to take them out in public, and I have a certain two-year-old who is making outings very difficult these days. My kids have accomplished the challenges that require them to read for a certain amount of time each day, but they haven't done well with the challenges that require them to finish a certain amount of books. Apparently, my kids don't finish books.

7. We have listened to the first five Diary of a Wimpy Kid books while driving in the car (but I don't let my kids count those for summer reading because they didn't "read" them). Scotty and I find these books very entertaining.

8. Nicky has stayed involved in Cub Scouts, piano lessons, and taekwondo. I like having structured activities for my kids to participate in during the summer, so these things have been a huge blessing.

9. Usually my kids spend a lot of time in the backyard playing in water during the summer. This year, they have hardly been out there. Our water bill for this month was less than half of what it was a year ago. That was quite a surprise!

10. My kids usually have friends over to play once or twice a week during the summer, but this year, I think they've only had friends over four times total.

These facts are probably the least interesting thing you'll read today, but I'm in processing mode, so I have to write it all out. I haven't had to spend a lot of time trying to entertain my kids this summer. Our calendar has filled up on its own and kept us busy. Yesterday I sat down with my kids, and we talked about things they want to do before school starts. The list is simple and affordable, so I think we'll be able to survive the rest of summer without going crazy.

I dare say that this has been the first summer I've truly enjoyed. Hence the processing. I'm trying to figure out what has made this summer different.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Why I Can't Answer Hypothetical Questions

On Sunday nights, as part of beginning a new week, we hold a family council. "Family council" isn't my favorite terminology. Could anything sound more rigid and boring? So I've been trying to brainstorm something more exciting to call it- something that sounds more like a fun family tradition than a form of strict torture. Sometimes I call it "family meeting," but "meeting" doesn't have any better connotations than "council."

Yeah. I've got nothing.

So for now it's "family council" or "family meeting" and until that changes, I speak to my children in my most hoity-toity voice and say, "Darlings, come hither. 'Tis time for family council. Bring your individual calendars and check books, and don't forget to wash your hands."

Our family council is a time for us to go over what we have planned for the week, make decisions as a family, and address any problems we're having or things that need 'tweaking.' It is, in many ways, like trying to hold a meeting with circus animals. Wait, no. Circus animals have mastered a reasonable degree of training and obedience. It is, in many ways, like trying to hold a meeting with little children... who have been raised by wolves.

They bite.

At the end of our council, we do some family journaling (wow! I'm really selling this family council thing, aren't I?) We have a jar full of questions, and we pull a few questions out, take turns answering them, and write the answers in a journal. For example, back in June, one of the questions was What are your parents like?

Nicky: They're happy, tired, hilarious, funny, crazy, nice, handsome, and cute.

(For the most part, he is correct).

Daisy: They're not nice, they're weird, and they pee in the toilet.

(Again, mostly true).

Last week, we read the question If you were forced to go back in time but were allowed to take 10 modern conveniences with you, what would you take?

(And this is what I'm actually blogging about today - it just took me a while to get here).

I have a hard time answering hypothetical questions because I want to know what all of the rules are. For example, if I choose to bring my cell phone, does that mean I will automatically have a camera and the internet? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say, yes. So for me, the number one item on my list is my cell phone (with camera and internet).

But since my cell phone is a five-year-old Blackberry, I'm going to need to get a new cell phone with better interneting capabilities before I go back in time. Which brings me to my next item... Netflix. Oh yes, I am taking Netflix back in time with me.

BUT... since I have a state of the art cell phone with great interneting capabilities, should I assume that I've dowloaded the Netflix app and therefore, can include Netflix in my cell phone bundle?

I vote yes. So I can still choose nine more items.

(By the way, if that Doctor Who girl's cell phone can work while she travels through time, I'm going to assume mine will, too, which means all of my cell phone features will be fully functional, and I'll be able to communicate with people in the present).

Now, assuming I'm going far enough back in time that most of our modern day conveniences do not exist, I'm probably going to want to take my washer and dryer, my dishwasher, my car (but are there roads? Maybe I should take an airplane or helicopter. But can I buy gas?), some form of air conditioning, my garage, indoor plumbing (hey, the rules don't say you have to be able to put it in a suitcase), and electricity.

But the thing about electricity is, I don't want to be taken advantage of. I don't want to be the person who's smart enough to bring electricity and then has all the other time travelers mooching off me. So just know that when you bring your ten modern-day conveniences back in time, you need to bring your own electricity.

If you're keeping score, I still have one item left to choose.

Never fear. I know exactly what it is.

Birth control.

I don't know what my odds are of becoming pregnant whilst time traveling, but I don't think the circumstances are ideal for having babies. What do you put on the birth certificate? But babies aside, I also feel that it wouldn't be practical to go galavanting through time while having to manage a menstrual cycle. So whatever form of birth control it is, it will stop the cycle. I'm all about killing two birds with one stone when limited to what I can travel with. I'll consult with my OB/GYN before I leave.

Now you may be thinking, Well Britt, that's all good and whatnot, but do you realize that you're bringing a washer and a dishwasher, but you won't have compatible soap to use with those items? and to you I say, "My machines will probably clean better on water alone that the ancient methods of washing did!"

And then I think Oh goodness, please don't send me back to a time that would be considered 'ancient!' Because when I time travel, I'm thinking early settlers of the US, or medieval times at latest. Please don't send me to a time in which I must sleep in an inside-out animal carcass to keep warm. If that's the case, cancel the dishwasher. I'm bringing Bear Grylls!

And now you're probably thinking, Good. She canceled the dishwasher. I don't think she realized that she wouldn't have hook-ups to run it with. Now someone needs to tell her that she can't take her washer and dryer... to which I say, "This is why I can't answer hypothetical questions."

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Now give it a try. What modern conveniences would you want to take?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Adventures in Lake Tahoe

We just returned from a fantastic family vacation to Lake Tahoe. We were there for an entire week with some extended family, and it was quite an experience.

I have loads of pictures I'm dying to share, but I'm having some problems getting them to upload to flickr from Scotty's phone. I've always had great success with the app, but about a month ago, it started having problems. I have uninstalled/reinstalled and searched the forums for answers to no avail. I am devastated. I had a good thing going.

So anyway, this post will be severely lacking in photos for the time being. Hopefully my few low quality pics swiped from facebook will be good enough.

But no, they won't... You'll understand more fully in a moment.

So on vacation...

We spent a lot of time on the beach. On our first visit to the beach, Scotty and my niece went parasailing while I sat back with the kids and some of my in-laws. It is tough managing little kids on the beach. Nicky and Daisy were fine, but Zoe and Eva were a little more difficult. There were endless poopy diapers to change... in the sand, and endless binkies and bottles dropped... in the sand. Plus there was the need for constant sunscreening, and Eva, who isn't technically supposed to wear sunscreen yet, had to be kept in the shade. Zoe was clingy and tantrum-prone, as two-year-olds usually are.

Suffice it to say that babies and beaches aren't the greatest combination. Luckily our adult to child ratio was about 2:1 for the first few days, so that helped a lot.

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Our next visit to the beach included kayaks and a paddle board. I got to watch Nicky set out on a kayak, which was really cool. He did a single kayak and then a double with his cousin. He looked so grown up, and he managed the kayak very well.

Nicky and I spent some time on the paddle board together. At first, I paddled, and Nicky was my passenger, but after getting knocked off the board several times, I was starting to get a little banged up, so I sat on the board and made Nicky paddle me around. He ran around the board like a hyper monkey trying to stay balanced. It was hilarious, but he was pretty good at it.

While we were in Lake Tahoe, the celebrity golf tournament was coming to town. Scotty and I usually watch some of this tournament on TV, mostly because we like Charles Barkley's golf swing so much:

We joked about going to the golf tournament, but we didn't think it was really a possibility. We assumed tickets were a fortune, but we looked at the web site to see who was playing this year, and it turned out, tickets were only $20, and two kids could get in free with each paying adult!

It turns out that the celebrity golf tournament was the most affordable thing to do in Lake Tahoe. We ended up going on Tuesday (Tues-Thurs were practice rounds with the actual tournament from Fri-Sun). We went with my sister-in-law, my niece, and Nicky and Eva (the "easy ones") while Daisy and Zoe (the "difficult ones") stayed with Grandma and Grandpa (and they truly were difficult).

The tournament was a lot different that I expected. I anticipated masses of people with very little opportunity to get close to a celebrity. I thought the spectators would be limited to certain areas. I imagined we'd be piled in bleachers and standing in large groups, barely able to see... so I was pleasantly surprised with how calm and casual everything was. The course was quiet and peaceful, and there weren't a lot of people there (this all changed as the days went on, so we picked the PERFECT day to go). We were able to walk around the course and go to any hole we wanted. The crowds were minimal, and we were able to see the celebrities up close. It was pretty incredible!

Most of the celebrities featured in the tournament were retired athletes we'd never heard of, but we tried to act like fans anyway because we wanted their autographs. Luckily we had a copy of the Official Program Guide ($5 for the program and a custom American Century Championship Sharpie!) that told us who everyone was.


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Nicky was able to get a lot of autographs, and we got a lot of pictures of Nicky with various celebrities.

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Nicky with Sterling Sharpe, formerly of the Green Bay Packers

As one would expect, some celebrities were kind and gracious (Brandi Chastain, Kenny Lofton, Colt Ford, and surprisingly, Larry the Cable Guy). Others were jerks (I'm looking at you, Jim McMahon!) Some fell in between, like Brian Baumgartner (Kevin from The Office) who snubbed us at first but later signed autographs and did photos.

In the afternoon, Justin Timberlake arrived, and while I was hoping to catch a glimpse, I was doubtful that we'd be able to get anywhere near him. He was supposed to tee off with Alfonso Ribeiro around 1:00, but we didn't have info about where they'd start (celebrities started at various holes). We asked some of the employees, but all of the information about Justin was kept pretty confidential, so they could only make guesses about what would happen. 

Just before 1:00, a crowd gathered near the clubhouse, and there were whisperings of Justin Timberlake's arrival. The crowd was surprisingly small, so I didn't really think Justin Timberlake was going to come walking out any second, but we stayed there anyway... just in case. There was increased security nearby, so we knew that, even if it wasn't Justin, something exciting might be happening. 

And there he was!

And I was all, "Oh my gosh! That's Justin Timberlake!"*

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And then he walked past us all casual and whatnot.

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And in my head I was going, "Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh!" but on the outside, I was acting like, "Justin Timberlake? Oh, the lad in the pink shirt? He looks nice."

Right after I took this picture, he yelled out, "I feel it!" and he did a fist pump, and he looked right toward us, so I had to wave. But I waved like a 31-year-old mother of four and not like a 14-year-old NSYNC fan even though, on the side, I was like, "He's bringing sexy back!"

Because, let's be honest, Justin Timberlake is not exactly ugly.

After he left the clubhouse, he practiced putting, then he went to the driving range. We noticed that the bleachers by the first hole had a lot of seats available, so we headed over there. We were able to see Aaron Rodgers (the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers) tee off with Larry the Cable Guy (we ran into Larry a lot throughout the day, and he was one of the more friendly and social celebrities). Aaron Rodgers was one of the more popular celebrities. Ten minutes later, Justin and Alfonso teed off.

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Justin, Alfonso, and Guy in Blue Shirt

Note the pink glove in Justin's back pocket. He obviously put a lot of thought into his outfit for the day.

After we watched Justin tee off, we decided we'd call it a day, and we started heading toward the exit. We had a brief run-in with Briam Baumgartner again, and Kenny Lofton almost ran us over with his golf cart (it was kind of fun to just walk around and see all of these famous people cruising by in golf carts). On our way out, we passed hole 7, and noticed that the bleachers were in the shade, so we decided we'd stop and hang out for a while. We were able to see a few more celebs play, and Nicky got several autographs (including one from a MLB player who said he was contractually unable to do autographs, but he gave in to Nicky). Nicky was also able to snag Aaron Rodger's autograph and get a photo - this is a pretty big deal.

We stayed long enough to see Justin come through. We were *right there* on the green so we could hear their conversations, and it was funny to listen to Alfonso Ribeiro analyze his shots. He was taking the practice round very seriously and had a little heated exchange with another player in which Alfonso was very Carlton-ish.

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After that, we felt like we'd gotten our celebrity fix, and we left for real. We were so glad we were able to go. It was really cool, and the atmosphere was so different than I imagined. It was just so... calm and casual. When we drove by the golf course over the following days, it was no longer calm and casual, so we really lucked out.

The next day we went to the beach again, and I was able to go parasailing with Nicky and my nephew. Parasailing was a lot like the celebrity golf tournament... surprisingly calm and peaceful. We took off from the back of the boat and went 350' into the air. The view was incredible, Lake Tahoe is beautiful.

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That night we went to the Nestle Cafe and had dessert for dinner (I opted for the banana split, thankyouverymuch). While we were walking back to t he parking garage, we saw Alex Smith (the quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs). Alex used to play for the University of Utah, and Nicky happened to be wearing his U of U hoodie. We wouldn't normally bother a celebrity in that kind of situation (he was there with his family waiting for a table at a restaurant), but the hoodie! So Scotty approached him and asked for a photo. He seemed annoyed until he saw Nicky's hoodie, then he said, "Now that's what I'm talkin' 'bout!" and he graciously posed with Nicky. It was pretty darn cool. 

The next day, all of our extended family left, but we stayed one more night. We spent our time lounging around because we were too tired to do anything.

We had a lot of fun in Lake Tahoe, and we were so glad we got to go. A big thanks to our in-laws who let us crash their vacation yet again!



*I realized later that I have been to an NSYNC concert, so this wasn't my first glimpse of Justin Timberlake in person, but the back row of a football stadium doesn't compare to the front row view I had on the golf course!


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Running Questions

The other day, my friend Amy posted her answers to a running survey. I read every word and thought about my own answers. Three years ago, I never would have participated in such a survey, let alone read one! I feel like I can almost... somewhat... actually... maybe... contribute to the conversation at this point. But then again, I am not in a good place with running right now. I started off with bang after having Eva, but after my first two runs, I've found myself in a yucky place. I blame the heat. Summer isn't the best time for me to "start over." Frankly, it's bad for my self-esteem. Every run I go on right now is a huge mental battle. My legs are tired and weak, and I'm incredibly slow. It's just a big 'ole dose of self-defeat each time I tie those shoes and head out the door. 

I want to feel like this when I run...*

Ragnar

But I don't. I can't photograph how running makes me feel right now. It would give you bad dreams. 

1. Would you rather run along a beach path or on a mountain trail? It's a toss up. Both are beautiful, so I will pick whichever is cooler (as in temperature).
2. If you could choose the flavor of Gatorade at your next race’s aid stations, what would it be? Blue. I realize "blue" is not a flavor, but I can tolerate most blue Gatorades. I don't like red, yellow,or green. In most cases, I would prefer water, but for over 7 miles, it's nice to have some electrolytes. I almost passed out in a bathroom with my pants down after a 12-miler with only water. I had really bad vertigo and got extremely nauseated. I don't want to be in that situation ever again. 
3. If I gave you a $100 gift card to a running store, what would be the first thing that you would purchase with it? Shoes. Gotta be practical.  
4. Do you prefer to follow a training plan or wake up and decide then how far and how fast you want to run? I rarely run with a plan. If I try to follow a training plan, I get angry and lose my motivation because I feel like I'm being told what to do. Don't boss my running! 
5. Would you rather start your run with the uphill and end on the downhill or start your run with the downhill and end with the uphill? I usually go uphill first. I feel like going downhill is my reward. 
6. When you can’t run, what type of cross-training do you choose to do? Right now I do abs and weights. 
7. What is your preference—> Out and back, point to point or loop runs? I don't really care. They all have their pros and cons. My two most common routes are an out and back and a loop. It really just depends on how far I'm going. I never run from point to point.
8. If you could recommend ANY running related item to a new runner, it would be a -> Everyone is so different that I wouldn't really recommend anything specific. Find what YOU like. I have a lot of different clothing and accessories, but the only thing I'm truly loyal to is thigh coverage, lest I should start a fire on the go. Not everyone has that problem, though. 
9. Do you ever see any wild animals while out on your runs? Scotty and I saw a fox once. Other than that, just birds. 
10. Ever gotten lost while out on a run? Nope
11. If you could have one meal waiting and ready for you each time you got home from a run for the next 30 days… what would that meal be?
Mornings: Toad in a hole with a runny egg and 12 oz.cookies and cream protein drink. Afternoons/evenings: banana and a peanut butter and honey sandwich.
12. Capris or shorts… what do you run in most often? It just depends on what's clean and how hot it is. In the winter I wear capris or pants. In the summer I wear shorts with mid-thigh length compression shorts underneath. 
13. At what mile (or how many minutes) into your run does your body start to feel like it is warming up and ready to go? Right now? Never. Between the heat and being out of shape, I haven't yet felt "warmed up and ready to go." I've just felt "too hot and ready to sleep."
14. What do you do with your key when you run? Leave it home, tie it to my shorts, or stick it in a pocket. Why do you ask? Are you planing to mug me?
15. If you could relive any race that you have done in the past, which one what it be? I don't think I would want to relive a single one. This question must be for people who actually like running.
16. What type of run is your least favorite type of run? The kind that lands me in a public restroom or porta potty. I've had more of those than I care to admit. 
17. What has been your biggest motivation lately to get out the door to get your run on? Right now I'm not very motivated at all. Sometimes a new song on my playlist helps, and sometimes, if I wake up in the morning and can't go back to sleep, I'm drawn to running in the cooler temps (but we're talking, like, 5:00 a.m. so this is rare). 
18. When you go for a run, do you leave right from your front door or do you drive somewhere to start? I start from my house. Time is precious right now, so I don't want to waste it driving somewhere to run (even though the scenery could improve immensely). The thing I like about starting from home is that I know all of the mileage.
19. When running in daylight—> are sunglasses a must or an annoyance? I don't mind running in sunglasses.
20. When you get tired, what keeps you from quitting? I'm still trying to figure that out. Right now, every run is a battle. I used to run with a friend, and the conversation kept me going, but I don't run with her anymore.

*This picture was taken right after a drive-by bottom poking during Ragnar. I'd like to think I'm just that intense when I run, but in all truthfulness, it was a moment of self-defense. Judo-CHOP!