Feathered Aspen



A Challenge from Joshua

Its been a while since my last post.  (Hi, I’m the husband.)  In fact its been almost 18 months.  I’ve considered that my first post back should be some contemplative ramble that reveals I’ve learned deep truths about the world during my absence. Unfortunately, this is not the case.  I’ve just been busy trying to be a husband, dad, educator and runner–all of which take a lot of work.  No-CarsIn lieu of the musings, I thought I’d give a simple update on my side of the family life.

My December Challenge

Inspired by my wife, I have set a challenge of my own:  commute to work under my own power.  To begin, I will be exclusively biking and running to work for the next month.  December is a bit cheating.  It is a short month for me, only three weeks until winter break. Nonetheless, I am hereby committing myself to 15 days of commute under my own power.

Since Lily was born its been difficult to balance running with family and work. That spring, I ran my first trail race in Fort Collins and fell in love.  Since then I’ve developed a passion for running long distances in the mountains. Its grown to mean a lot to me.  The dedication and grit it takes to train for and run long distances makes me a healthier and more joyful person.  When I run and train I feel motivated.  I feel successful.  I feel more confident at my job.  I feel more present with my family.  Running makes me better, but sadly it eats into family time.

With two daughters, a wife in school and a more stressful position at work, I want and need to keep running.  In fact, I want to run more.  I want to run 100 miles in a single day.  Yet, I also want to be a more attentive and engaged father.  To balance the two, I need to sacrifice and compromise.  I need to find time and space to run with minimum impact on the family.  What better way then commuting?

I’m hopeful that I can find a groove and routine over the next few weeks that will carry me into the new year.  Ellie and the girls are ever gracious and supportive of me and my running, yet I acknowledge that I ask too much of them.  I’m hopeful that committing to commuting will provide some of the much needed balance.  I may loose a bit of sleep in the process, but its worth it to be able to run and spend as much time as possible with my girls.



Fall in Moab

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Mommy goes to school

When I first started classes at MSU, I told my dad that everyone should go back to school after they’ve had a job for a few years and a couple of kids, and although I said it as a joke, I was sort of serious, too.  It’s better this time around.  Being a student once you’ve been a teacher is a whole new world.  The beauty of teaching my students about a growth mindset is that now I have one, too.  The beauty of writing tests and curriculum and teaching studying and test-taking strategies is that now I’m a killer studier and test-taker.

As for the job and kids part, having had a job makes me appreciate that this is fun.  Grades are straightforward feedback input=output, and I have this sort of unadulterated sense that I’m good at this.  With work, not so much.  I suppose evaluations are supposed to be like grades, but they always made me feel inadequate.  And kids?  Well that will kick the procrastination and poor time management straight outta you.

I’m so thankful that I get to have a go at this again.  I’m thankful that I had the courage to try something new and the support I need to do it.  And right now, even when it’s crunch time and I’ve probably already put in 30 hours this week, I’m thankful that I have this balance.  Being a mom makes me a better student, and being a student makes me a better and happier mom.


Sibling Rivalry


Today was one of those cold, crisp fall days.  It started with coffee, moved to the Botanical Gardens, and then ended with Microbiology Lab.  Not bad.  In between, I vacuumed (insert praise the Lord hands), scrubbed the kitchen floor, got my teeth cleaned at the dentist (for the first time in 10 years.  Yup.  10.), and dropped off our mail in ballots.

I’m thankful for the squeal of excitement Lily gave when she saw me get out of the car on the way back from the dentist.  The way she ran to me and the way she gave me a huge hug and a kiss and then kissed me again when she saw my sore gums.

I’m thankful for a good long Lu nap and snuggles, always the snuggles.

I’m thankful for Joshua watching after the girls while I was in class.  The littlest.  She doesn’t always make it easy.


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It’s easy to give thanks.  I live a pretty charmed life with lots of love and a hundred things I take for granted every day like a car and dental insurance and the right to vote and a vacuum.  (Actually, I take that back.  I LOVE my vacuum; I do not take it for granted.)

But today when I sat down, it was the thankless thoughts that crowded my head.  Why has Lily been so sensitive and desperate these past few days?  Will the crunch at school ever slow down or is it just to be a quiz and a paper and an exam every week from now until December?  How does the house always, ALWAYS need to be cleaned, even when I literally just cleaned it?

To be honest, it’s the first of those that’s been bothering me the most.  I’m feeling badly because I’m not sure how to help little Lily feel better.  I’ve been complaining about her whining and her explosions and her poking and prodding, but really, I’m at a loss.  How to teach her to handle jealousy?  How to hug in enough love that she doesn’t always feel so desperate for more, more?  How to teach her to play independently?

So these are the things we’re dealing with over here.  Still a lot of thanks, but yes, also a little learning and frustration, too.


30 Days of Thanks

I’ve technically missed my first day of thanks because it’s 1 AM on Sunday, but since it’s daylight savings this weekend, I’m not sure if technically it’s still Saturday?  We’re in that strange no-man’s land after midnight and before 2 AM when you’re supposed to change your clocks.

Regardless!  Today I had much for which to be thankful!  This morning, I hit the pavement at 630, and I ran 9 miles, watching the sun rise over Denver and the mountains and Sloan’s Lake.  It was glorious, and I felt thankful for this body that lets me run, the beautiful weather, this gorgeous place, and a husband who was willing to wake up five minutes after I left to take care of the girls who apparently don’t sleep without me in bed.

Also, I felt proud.  It used to be that 10 minute miles was something I sort of scoffed at.  Now?  Now, I feel a little like lightening if I’m under 11 minutes.  9 miles in 90 minutes?  Super mom.

We puttered about a little bit after I got home, eating breakfast, nursing, showering, getting ready, etc, and then we headed out the door.

I guess I might have been sad about spending the day away from my family, pouring over journals, researching Bordetella pertussis, and writing a 10 page research paper, but instead, I decided to be thankful!  How long has it been since I got to spend four hours in a library?  Isn’t it fun to learn about new things (especially infectious disease?!)?  This actually isn’t even a stretch; it was fun, and although I missed my family, I’m soooooo thankful that I’m done.  Thank you to the husband who takes wonderful care of his girls :)

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