Monday, November 29, 2010

Curly Girls

Have I really not posted for a week? There was a bit of a frenzy getting out of town for Thanksgiving. We were supposed to leave at about 2pm on Wednesday to drive to Utah to hang with Erin's clan for the holiday. I had to work on the mountain until 1pm.

But on Monday, there was talk of a snow storm. The same snow storm that had dumped 2 feet of snow on Utah. And it was rolling towards Colorado.

I raced around getting everything ready to go, but braced myself, and the boys for the fact that we just might not get there. In fact, I got everything ready to go except for my underwear, apparently, and waited to see what happened.

We did indeed wake up to a snow storm on Wednesday. I headed out on slippery roads to work. It took longer than usual, of course, and I was late on my first day, which was opening day. Nice.

They didn't fire me.

I got off early and by the time I drove home, the roads were decent. We decided to make a run for the border. Of Utah, that is.

Despite a few slippery roads coming over a pass in the last hour of our drive, we made it with no problem.

The cousins hadn't seen each other in over a year! The kids played, we all ate too much (remind me to make gluten free stuffing next year), I found a new favorite Christmas movie in Christmas in Connecticut (who recommended that to me? Was it one of you?), and then we had to drive home a day early because another snow storm was coming.

Such is life in the mountains.

So why is this post called Curly Girls? This is me with my niece Caroline, age 2.

Finn and I have been joined by another curly top. We totally had curly mojo going.

And then there was some football watching because it was The Game.

Unless you're not from Ohio or Michgan and then you don't really care. And we had to leave part way through to drive home anyway.

I ate a lot of popcorn in the car and listened to a murder mystery while the boys watched movies.

And I tried to avoid the zillion deer that felt they needed to wander into the road at dusk.

We are all still in one piece. Us and the deer.

Monday, November 22, 2010

There is Superstition (Or Why I Wore Dirty Socks All Weekend)

Athletes, it seems, are a superstitious lot. I sort of knew this becuase I've seen the NHL teams who make it to the Stanley Cup playoffs not shave for the duration. I've seen cyclists cross themselves before the start of a stage in a race. I've also heard about players from various sports who have very specific rituals before they play, including things like putting their shoes/cleats/skates on in a certain order.

I'm mildly superstitious. I'm not too thrilled when a black cat crosses my path (When I was in 5th grade, we were on Spring Break in Washington, D.C. and a black cat ran in front of us as we were walking back to our car after dinner. About 10 minutes later, we had a car accident). I don't walk under ladders (that seems more like common sense than superstition), I don't open umbrellas in the house, and I throw salt over my left shoulder when I spill it. Yes, I actually do that.

Now I'm taking my neuroses to a whole new level and applying it to Declan's hockey.

Declan is in his second year of playing competitive travel hockey. He is the goalie. It is stressful to watch. Last year, his team went 10 - 0 in regular season play and then won the league at playoffs, but they did it the hard way--by losing one of their games to a team they'd beaten about 10 times and having to play an extra game to win the whole shebang. I stood next to one particular mom for the playoffs...except for the one game they lost. And so we decided that it was because we hadn't stood together that the boys lost (apparently ignoring the fact that the team didn't play particularly well) and we'd better not take that chance again. We became like Siamese twins for the duration of playoffs. And they won.

Fast forward to this year. The boys have won all of the regular season games so far and have only lost one at a tournament. Not that there haven't been some close calls. (And there are still four months of the season to go)

Take this weekend for instance. Our hockey club was hosting a tournament. Tournaments usually start on Fridays to get all the games in. The kids usually miss school for it. They are crushed, as you can imagine.

Anyway, Friday morning found us at the rink. As did Friday afternoon. They sort of got by in the morning game, winning 1 - 0. They won handily in the afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised by all of this because we were playing some Denver teams who are normally extremely competitive.

Saturday morning--6 a.m. game. (And I would like to note here that this isn't the earliest the team has ever played) I dragged myself (and a protesting Finn) out of bed (Eamonn and Declan had left at 5 a.m.!) and slogged over to the rink (fortunately it was the rink right near our house) wearing sweats and...the same socks I'd had on the day before. Now, before you go getting all grossed out, I do this often--wearing some aspect of the day before's clothes again. Why? My reasons are many, but chief among them:

-I get tired of doing laundry.
-With boys in sports, a husband in construction, and me exercising 5 - 6 times a week, we generate a lot of laundry.
-The air is dry out here, people. Really, really dry. So things that might normally make you sweaty and smelly might not produce such results out here.
-And I might be a little lazy.

Trust me, I did check the socks before I put them on again. They didn't stink so I was OK with it. Plus, I went in my sweats because it was so early. I intended to go home and beautify myself and wear actual clothes for the afternoon game at the up valley rink.

Over the course of the game (they won easily), I started talking to another mother and I confessed that my living room is the locker room for everyone who plays hockey in our house (which is everyone except me). You recall the blog post from last week, I'm sure. So the other mom laughed and said as soon as the kids got body odor, that would come from a screeching halt. She has two boys who play hockey--one on Declan's team and one who is two years older. And her husband is a coach. Where does their hockey stuff reside? On a rack in the garage. She said it even stinks out there because her older son is so superstitious he won't let her wash his gear (aren't you glad I'm finally getting to the moral of this story?). She has to covertly wash his gear and get it back on the rack or into his bag without him knowing. (She also said the smelliest gear belongs to her daughter who does ballet!)

Declan hasn't developed BO yet. Neither has Finn. And Eamonn doesn't really play enough to make his gear reek, so the garage may still be a ways off. But this whole onversation about the son not wanting his gear washed got me thinking during that 6 a.m. game in the ice rink: I was wearing the same socks I'd worn the day before and they'd won. Hence, I needed to keep wearing these socks or else they'd lose.

I'm nothing if not rational.

When Sunday morning rolled around, we needed to be on the road by 6:45 a.m. to head up valley where the semi-finals and the finals, if the team made it, would be played. I pondered my socks. Was this crazy? Should I wear them again? Was it tempting fate not to? I did a quick sniff test. They were still OK, so I threw them on and away we went.

The boys won the semi-final easily, but very nearly lost in the finals. In the end, they won 1 - 0 in a very, very competitive game in which, frankly, they were outplayed. I think the win had to do with some spectacular goaltending (ahem--we were outshot 20 - 2), one great goal, and my socks.

Congrats, boys! And you're welcome.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Non-New Year's Resolution for 2011

Note: Before I start yammering on, the short version of this post is that I started a new blog. But don't worry, this blog isn't going away. Read on...

For the first time in....my lifetime..."losing 20 pounds" will not be on my list of New Year's resolutions.

I think I'll keep "flossing my teeth" on there though, just to be safe.

Anyway, the reason "lose 20 pounds" isn't on my list this year is because I feel like I'm about 5 pounds away from what, for me, is a really good weight. I'm not saying what that weight is because for those "thinnies" out there, they're probably thinking, "THAT is a good weight?" Why yes it is, for this girl.

My weight has been a source of consternation for me since I was in elementary school. No lie. My weight has been up, down and all around for years, from a super low weight in grad school (fueled mostly by a borderline eating disorder and Jenny Craig), to super high when I was pregnant (and then coming close to that several other times).

I read all of the articles, listened to all of the advice, but I couldn't figure it all out. So even though I exercised, I was all over the place with my weight.

And then when Finn got sick, I became very interested in what we eat and how it affects our health. But it really wasn't until more recently that I got my own act together and put all all of the pieces together in a way that worked for me that things really came together.

For about five years, I've used DVDs from a company called BeachBody. You've probably seen their infomercials for programs like P90X, TurboJam, Slim in 6, etc. Hilarious, I know. I've done P90X.


And some other programs, too.

Am I ripped? No. Am I super thin? No. Will I ever be super thin? No, because I'm not that body type and I'm OK with that.

But I am pretty fit (like, normal person fit, not go out and run a marathon fit), and I'm pretty happy with where I'm at and where I'm headed.

Really, I owe it to the DVD programs I did in my basement, counting calories, and going online and having a good support group.

So I guess, in a way, my new blog is my way of paying it forward a little bit. I made online friends who helped me figure this all out and I feel like maybe I can do that for someone else now, too. I have some friends who each have a goal to lose upwards of 100 pounds, and this is also an easier way to help them accomplish that versus e-mail, which is how we've been doing it. Selfishly, I'm also doing the new blog for myself because I probably need accountability more than anyone.

Here's the deal: If I can lose weight and get fit, anyone can do it. Anyone. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am truly one of the laziest people out there. I've figured out what works for me and if I can help someone else figure out what works for them, I'm all about it.

So what's over there on the other blog? Not a whole lot yet. But I'll be writing about my own workouts and what I eat, and also blathering on about stuff I read that's cool, maybe a tip or two here and there, recipes sometimes, and any advice I can offer.

For what that advice might be worth anyway.

Remember, I'm not a doctor. I just play one on the Internet.

Think of this new venture as a fitness blog with Natalie's twisted humor thrown in. Check it out. Read it to be nosy. Read it to amuse yourself. And if you're so inclined, get on the bandwagon with me and get fit.

And have fun, of course.

Get Fit, Have Fun!

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Locker Room. I Mean, My Living Room.

This is what my living room looks like from September to March, and even beyond depending on how long the hockey season extends. The living room gets a break from being a drying rack during the month of June. Sort of. Then things rachet back up again when hockey camps start during the summer (and run right into tryouts in September).

I have informed the men of the house that all hockey gear must move into the basement during the holiday season.

You can see where that's gotten me so far.

And I'm making good on my threat to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving this year. It's happening this weekend.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Four Score and Seven Years Ago...

So today I went to Finn's CaringBridge page for the first time in...I don't know how long. Actually, I posted there on Finn's birthday in 2009, but I don't think I've been there since. I go there so infrequently now that I always stumble around and try to remember how to log in.

It's weird. How could I forget something that I knew so well? Just like I thought I'd never forget the phone numbers to the clinic that were burned into my memory or the phone number to the pharmacy.

Does time heal all wounds? Or do they just scab over? I'm feeling a little itchy at the moment.

Yesterday I got a phone call from the nurse at Finn's Denver oncology clinic. Another heartrending pediatric cancer diagnosis for a family in a town near ours and would I be willing to talk to the family? Of course!

There were a few things that brought me comfort at the worst times when Finn was sick: one was being able to communicate with so many of you via CaringBridge and hear your messages of support, and the second was the group of "cancer moms" who I became friends with who answered questions and who knew for real what was going on in our house.

It's hard. When I talked to the mom today, I could hear and feel the emotion in her voice. I could feel all of those emotions welling up in me: the fear, the helplessness, the unknown.

There are so few times in our lives that we can say we've walked in that person's shoes. This is one of them. It's an experience I would have preferred not to have had--for my child not to have had---but I will use it and if it can help someone else, I'm OK with that. More than OK.

I have often wondered if Finn's diagnosis was a message to me. And if it was, what am I supposed to do with it? I remember writing long ago that I wished messages wouldn't be sent through my children! Use me. Take me. Let it be be.

But we don't get to decide that.

Which, as a control freak, annoys me to no end.

But I digress.

Listening to this family's story, there is worry and fear, of course, but there are also parts that make me smile remembering our own situation--the family and friends who are rallying around them, bringing them food (I warned them to steer clear of the desserts lest they suffer my fate and gain 20 lbs. on the donated food!), running races, shaving heads, sending notes and cards, the prayers, the love, the positive energy.

So I guess as much as I'm thinking of this new family and Finn's journey today, I'm also thinking of all of you and how you made it all bearable for us.

I hope I can help someone like you did.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Please Deposit Your Hide Here

I have to say, I did a double take when I passed this on the side of the road yesterday. In fact, I drove past it twice before pulling over to take the picture.

I remain a little mystified.

Why would you be driving around with a hide? If you were driving around with a hide, why would you decide to put it in this barrel? If there are hides in the barrel (darn, I realized I didn't get out and look in the barrel), how are they keeping all sorts of vermin from ransacking the barrel?

There were two magpies sitting on the rim the first time I drove by.

Wouldn't the barrel reek?

Still mystified. This is a new one for me.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I Fed My Kids Polysorbate 80 for Breakfast

Just in case you think I'm a 100 percent clean eating saint, rest assured, I am not. For Finn's birthday a few weeks ago, I bought Pillsbury's Grands Cinnabon rolls. Because apparently I'm too lazy to get up on a school morning (or any morning for that matter) and make cinnamon rolls from scratch. Yes, I am a mostly scratch cook, but I've never made cinnamon rolls for reals. Maybe one day I'll do that.

Maybe. It looks hard and I'm not about hard.

Anyway, I bought the JUMBO pack at Costco and they've been taking up valuable space in my fridge, space that should probably be used for things like kale and swiss chard, and I needed to do some cleaning out. Hence, the Grands this morning.

Feeling very domestic, I pulled the tube out of the fridge, peeled off the label, opened the tube open by pressing the spoon at the seam as instructed (this part always scares me--I can't stand the big POP, but then again, I used to get scared during Fantasy Island and cover my eyes while my cousin Laura laughed at me), and lovingly placed the pre-rolled rolls in the pan.

I put them in the oven.

Then, as I often do, I stood there and read the ingredients while the rolls baked. Sometimes I remember to read the ingredients before I buy things. Often, I forget and read them after the fact (remember the Corn Flakes...) and have buyer's remorse (but truly, what was I expecting from a package of pre-made cinnamon rolls?). Anyway, I was taken aback at the ingredient list. Not only artificial flavors and preservatives, but also artificial colors. Why would you artificially color a baked good that...doesn't have any color?

I remain mystified.

I did not eat one. I let my husband and children fill themselves with fake food. As I reflect upon my actions, I realize this is probably why Declan is behaving like a pill this afternoon. Fake food does that to him.

I did make them all a huge juice smoothie drink to have with it.

I'm going to pretend it counteracted all of the ingredients in the rolls.

Because I'm totally sure it really works that way. And I've still got one tube to go and I need to rationalize eating it instead of throwing it away.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Obnoxious Hockey Mom Reporting for Duty

Over the weekend, we went to a hockey tournament in Aspen. As far as places to go for a hockey tournament, Aspen is not a bad place to be.

Especially if you win.

Which the boys did.

As you can see by the photo which shows that I am shamelessly bragging about my child. And this is where I oh so casually mention that along the way to winning this tournament, my son had a shutout, not once, but twice, against the team that was the state champion last year. Casual. I'm casual about it.

I will confess that when we scored against the team that was the state champion last year I:

1. Cheered so hard I fell off the back of my bleacher seat (I just dropped a few inches onto the concrete floor behind me, but I bet it was hilarious looking and caused the opposing fans to think, "She totally deserved that.").
2. Jumped up and down and screamed and nearly tore the sleeve off of the coat of the person sitting next to me. Multiple times.
3. Felt smug that our little mountain team beat the "big city kids."

Yes, I was an over-celebrator. If there were penalties for fans over-celebrating, I would have been fined. Or put in the penalty box, or however those types of crimes are punished.

In my defense, I don't yell derogatory things about the other team. That would be horrible. And plus, I don't know what I'm talking about to even yell anything derogatory. I'm more of a, "Yeah, Declan! Go VEHA! Come on boys! Skate, skate, skate!" type of person. I don't cheer when another team gets a penalty. Some other teams do this and I see how devastating it is on the kids. Come on, they're like 10 or 11. Or some are even younger, so do we really need to ridicule them?

Anyway,I'm going to try and dial my celebrating back for this weekend.

I'll let you know how that works out for me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Q&A With Finn

Real questions Finn has asked me lately and my attempts to answer them (or not):

Q. Who was the first ever dog?
A. I have no idea.

Q. If there were only two shows to watch on TV, Chowder and the Mighty B, which one would you choose?
A. I'd throw a rock through the TV screen.

Q. Who invented bacon?
A. Francis Bacon.

Q. Why do we have to go to school?
A. Because I need a break during the day.

Q. Why do we have to do homework?
A. To keep you quiet after school and to make me realize I need a calculator to do second grade math.

Q. Why are your fingernails white on the end?
A. That's how they grow.

Q. Why don't I have white on the ends of my fingernails?
A. Because I cut them off to remove the dirt.

Q. Can I eat candy for breakfast.
A. Sure. Why not?

Q. Why can't I have a pet in my room?
A. Because it would get lost amongst all of the Legos.

Q. Can I be a Pokemon Legendary for Halloween next year?
A. I don't know what that is, but I'll get started on it right away.