Feathered Aspen

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Week of 1/18 & 1/25

4:51 Am – Hell yes!  Snow day!

The girls are still sleeping away and likely will be for the next few hours.  I’ve got my coffee and bananas here.  Outside, the world is covered in a blanket of snow. All night I kept looking out the window thinking to myself and pumping my fists “snow day, snow day, snow day.”

Time to write a bit.

The past two weeks have had their ups and downs.  The biggest down was getting hit with yet another stomach flu bug last Tuesday.  I barely made it out of my classroom before filling a trashcan with chunks.  Ugh.  I spent the next two days knocked out again.  Both Ellie and Lu got it again too.  Lily, the only one in the family to get her flu shot, escaped again. (How’s that for anecdotal evidence?!)  We spent the rest of the week recovering and getting our GI tracks back in order.

Last week also marked the beginning of Lily attending her new school.  She was a bit anxious the first two days and would cry about not wanting to go.  Really, I think she was worried about not getting to spend time with Ellie and Lu.  InIMG_1697 terms of the school though, she loved it.  This was her when she came home on Monday and I asked her how school went.

In the welcome and orientation packet to her school, they warn not to expect (or really ask) your child to talk at length about their day and what they did.  That impulse is a grown up response.  Kids, especially, three and four year olds tend to live in the present.  Their minds are on whats in front of them.  They don’t have the same capacity and desire as we do to recount what they’ve been doing.  Instead, the school asks parents to be attuned to the ways that school emerges during unexpected times like when a child might sing a school song in the bath tub or talk about an art project when drawing.

This totally makes sense.  Last fall we sent Lily to a lackluster ECE school in DPS. At the time, I didn’t think about it this way and would pepper her with questions which she’d never answer.  As you may recall, we ended up pulling her out of that school after two weeks or so.  Upon reflection now, its interesting that those “moments” of school, as her new school calls them, never really emerged at home.  What she was doing there, never really seemed to affect or influence her actions or thoughts at home.  In the end, we pulled her out because the driving was a bit much, the food they gave her was wretched, and they often sent her home with branded corporate material.  At the time, we decided that she was still young, and the sacrifices weren’t worth sending her to a mediocre DPS school.  Plus Ellie is home.

Its striking now to seem how much of an impact her new school is now having only after four days!  She was generally in a great mood all week.  At home, her creative play has been off the charts.  She spent all week drawing, cutting paper, gluing, painting, and putting up art installations (seriously, she took almost an hour on Saturday to create an art work on our refrigerator that went way beyond just hanging a picture.)  At school yesterday, I opened my backpack to find another piece she wanted me to take to work.  She has also been singing a lot too.  She hums or rambles words to herself.  She will also sing to me if I ask here.  “Lily, can you sing me a song?”  “Sure daddy-o, which one do you want.  I have 6 mermaid songs.”

Part of the school’s no media policy encourages families to cut out the radio and music in addition to screens.  At first, I was a bit saddened.  I always have music playing in our home.  However, with music playing, it discourages you from making your own and using your own creative outlets.  And, now seeing how much she has been singing in the past week, I get it.  I’ve set the goal to not play the radio in the car with her (that’s also nice too so we can talk.)  I’m going to try to reduce the music I play at home too. I don’t think I can give it up entirely though.  And, it has me thinking that maybe I should pick up the guitar again soon too.

On a final note about Lily’s school, we’ve learned and been thinking a bit more about story telling.  Ellie went to the parent meeting on Monday.  There, the teacher told parents not worry much about reading to their kids, but instead to focus on story telling.  Similar to music, books and stories can limit you to one thread or idea.  They are also not created from within.  Reading when older is essential to expanding our world and thus our creativity. At this age, the teacher argued, oral story telling is more impactful and age appropriate.  Reading, she claimed, is better suited for older children.

Again, I had the same reaction as I did with the music.  But, as I thought about it some more, and noticed this week how Lily, of her own accord, told me multiple stories, I think there is something to this as well. (Side note: when I was sick and laying in bed again this week, Lily didn’t want to come with in three feet of me.  Instead, she pulled up at chair at the end of my bed and told me a story about mountains and fuzzy animals for almost thirty minutes.)  Humans are story tellers.  Prior to written records, and I would argue still today, much of our culture is passed through oral tradition.  Much of what we know about our families, how to cook, etc… we didn’t learn by reading, but instead through spoken word.  Lily’s teacher encouraged parents to pick up and embrace this tradition.  She urged parents to tell stories rather than read stories.  She also encouraged those stories to be personal and based upon truth.  Rather than begin a story with “once upon a time…” begin with “I remember when…”  So, this week, we’ve been telling more stories and trying to create more of an oral tradition in our house.  (I must also admit, the oral tradition strikes a nerve with that repressed Classics major in me. I nearly majored in Classics in college because I’m in love with and fascinated by ancient Greek culture, which was deeply imbued with and driven by oral traditions.  I think I am going to start telling Lily some greek myths soon too.)

So yeah, we’re loving Lily’s new school.  Another boon this week, Ellie was able to already switch around Lily’s schedule so she is going two days a week instead of four.   This was always our preference for this age.  It saves a big chunk of change and gives Lily more time with mom and sister.  She’ll be full time soon enough (and when the school is free.)

So what else?  In the past two weeks, we’ve continued to work on our home updates.  The new table for the eating area is complete.  I built it.  Ellie finished it.  This weekend, I also started building a bench for the eating area.  This bench will be built into the half wall that divides our kitchen and living room.  I’m building it to have lots of storage underneath and behind for all of our arts and crafts supplies.  We’re hoping to have it finished this weekend.  I’ll try to post some pictures then.

In other crafting news, Ellie has been inspired to start sewing children’s dolls.  There’s a bit of an experiential and learning curve, but she’s really getting the knack for it.  See what I mean?  Its fun for me to see her excitedly crafting away.  The girls love it too and have been helping out.

Work.  Ugh.  This year has really been a tough one.  I just can’t seem to figure out the group of students that I have.  So many of them constantly complain “this boring” or “I don’t want to do this.”  At first, I always think its me.  Is my lesson not engaging?  Is it not relevant?  Teach For America drilled the adage “what teacher actions led to those student actions” down our throats, and it still resonates with me.  So, I’ve done A LOT this year to make sure what I’m teaching is relevant and engaging as well as student centered.  Yet, a large portion of my students, and not just in my class, refuse to do any work.  They are adverse to reading or asking questions.  When I probe deeper as to what would not be boring, they don’t really have an answer.  When I ask what they do outside of school, they say video games, Facebook, snapchat.  Ugh.  It kills me how plugged in my students are.  My bias is obvious, but I feel like media is stupefying my students.  They want flash and bang and ephemeral selfies.  They don’t care about the war in Syria.  Or the migration crisis. They had no clue what was happening in Iowa yesterday. They want to sit at home and play Fifa or shoot zombies.

I’m ranting I know.  The truth is not all of my students are this way.  In fact, I have many students who are doing very very well.  I think its likely, that a good portion of my AP students will pass the test, and some may even earn 5’s (the highest score possible).  I have many, many gems, but the ones I’m not reaching are the ones plaguing my thoughts.  I posted grades yesterday.  That’s why I’m feeling this way. For the ones plaguing me, its bleak.

This year, my school moved to an “incomplete” policy.  In a nutshell, students don’t earn zeroes for work they don’t complete or turn in.  Instead, they get an “incomplete.” They then have until the end of the year to make up or turn in that work.  Yup.  This means, I must accept and give full credit to an assignment from October that I receive in May.  Ugh.   The idea behind the policy was to give students more opportunity to pass their classes.  There was concern that hard deadlines were the reason so many students were not on track to graduate.  In general, I agree with this policy, and I have seen a good number of students use it to make up crucial assignments and keep on track to earn credit for first semester.  However, the result that I am seeing now at the start of the second semester, particularly with my unmotivated freshman, is that they see no reason to do their work on time.  I assigned a big research project on an ethnic conflict of students’ choosing.  We worked for two weeks.  The report was supposed to culminate in a presentation to the class on their findings.  Out of nearly forty groups, only 8 presented.  The rest told me they would make it up.  Ugh.

Additionally, we’ve been encouraged not assign homework.  Apparently in this day and age, students should not be expected to work outside of class.  This is just one policy with which I really disagree.  Colleges will give students boatloads of work to do on their own. I understand that the school day is long and students have lots on their plates at home.  However, students should work and read on their own.  Homework should be manageable and flexible.  Our students are not in college yet, but at some point they need to figure out how to work and read on their own.  Thats how you learn!  That’s what life is!  That’s what happens in college!  How can we be college preparatory and not expect students to work outside of class?

With these policies, there is now a culture amongst some of my students that it is unacceptable for a teacher to ask you to do homework.  You shouldn’t have to do it.  And hey, with the incomplete policy, we’ll I’ll just make it up another day.

Lately, I feel like I’m beating my head against a wall with these students and these policies.  I really don’t know what to do.  I wish administrators would examine the root of the problems stemming from the culture in which we live in.  Our struggling students are checked out and tuned out.  No new grading policy is going to fix it.  We need to address the larger issues of why students check out.  Why don’t they want to engage with the world?

So when I’m stressing about school, I’ve been running.  I had a good stretch the week of 1/18.  Last week the flu set me back a bit.  Tappering down now this week and next to rest my legs up for my first race of the year.  Over President’s day weekend we’ll be traveling out to Moab with our friends John and Kelsey and their kids.  John and I will be running the Moab Red Hot 55k.  I’m feeling pretty good lately and am looking forward to the early season race to test my fitness level (and the strength of my always troublesome IT bands).

Week of 1/18 – 11h 26m  59.2mi  7,818ft

Mon – 12.4mi  MLK day family jogger slogger and Tempo workout

Tues – Off running.  Strength training in gym (hips)

Wed – 5.8mi Easy commute home

Thur – 10.5mi Commute to work & Temp workout on track

Fri – 5.6mi Date run with Ellie

Sat – 24.7mi – Morrison Triple Crown:  Linked up the summits of Green Mt., Mt. Morrison, and Mt. Falcon.  Felt really good. I’ve been trying to adapt my body to burn fat on long runs, so I completed the entire run on a single zucchini muffin.

Sun – XT – Family Bike ride (10mi)

 

Week of 1/25 – 8h 17m  42.4mi   ~4500ft

Mon – Morning strength training (hips), then 5.1mi Sloan’s – Felt like crap.  Think the flu was coming

Tue & Wed – off Flu

Thur – 6.1mi family jogger slogger

Fri – 8.0mi 6x Zenobia Hill repeats

Sat – 15.5 Green/Winters/Dino ridge with Will

Sun – 7.6mi – Snowy family jogger slogger (with eagle sighting!)

 

I wrapped up January then with 213 miles on the month. I was just shy of climbing 20,000ft.  And, I spent roughly 38hrs running.  I good start to the year!

What I’m reading and listening to.

51fn0md37nl-_sy344_bo1204203200_I finally finished listening to Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall.  While I didn’t enjoy it as much as Born to Run, I thought the story was intriguing.  McDougall
chronicles the Cretan resistance movement to the Nazi occupation during WWII.  Throughout it he explores how the fighters we able to move and survive in the Cretan mountains while being starved out by the Germans.   I found his portions on adapting one’s body to fat burning over carb burning to be the most interesting.  He recounts numerous studies and stories of how fat is superior energy source to carbs a51wynjumagl-_sx354_bo1204203200_nd that conventional running wisdom has been out of touch for a very long time.  In my experience this is definitely true.  When I can keep my exertion level below an aerobic threshold, I can go for a long time.  I’m curious to read more about the Maffetone method, read Tim Noakes The Lore of Running, and really experiment on myself with how I can adapt my body as I train for another 100 miler.

 

Well, that’s the news from our little corner of Colorado, where all the women are crafty, all the men run far, and all the children are playing in the snow.

The past two weeks in pictures

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Our MLK day adventure searching for the magic tree that makes colors swirl.

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Daddy-o taking mama’s work out seriously

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Our own bedroom!  (Plus, great gifts from Ecuador.  Thank you Pietaris!)

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Bike riding

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Hot mama

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Snuggles with Grandma.

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Drawing with Nana

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Green Mountain in the pre-dawn light

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Running Dino Ridge

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Summit of Mt. Morrison

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Summit of Mt. Falcon

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What to do with short hair?

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Family day fun

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“I’m nursing my cat.  mmmhaahaheee”

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And, then this one was weaned.  Sad mama.

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Lily’s emoji drawing

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Lily took these last two.  Very artistic shots huh?

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Eagle at Crown Hill

A call for comments:

Tell us one of your oral traditions.  Start with “I remember when…”

What’s your opinion on media and education?  Are screens stupefying today’s children?

 

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Week of January 11

Knocked on my ass.  That’s the motto this week.  From a raging stomach flu to life changing news, this week has definitely been about getting knocked on our asses.

Last week, I wrote that my goal was to have intention driving my routine.  This week was an exercise in reality and humility.  I was reminded, ever so gently, that I am not always in control and that there is always beauty in the unexpected.

Monday was a normal day.  Relatively calm at school.  Later in the evening, we we went out for a family run.  Once home, I felt terrible.  My stomach was rumbling.  Lu was still weak and weary so we called it an early night.  I slept poorly and in the morning was feeling worse yet.  I always err on the side of going to work when I’m not feeling well (why waste a precious day off when I don’t feel well?  I would rather not feel well at work and save a day off for playing!)  Luckily I was on planning first period.  I sat at my desk and slowly deteriorated.  I couldn’t focus and kept having to run to the bathroom.  It was time to go home.

The stomach flu sucks.  There is really now other way to put it.  It sucks all the life out of you and leaves you curled in a ball on your bathroom floor writhing in pain in your own filth.  Its an experience in which you are so powerless.  Your body is at an all out war trying to kill the invaders. It’s animalistic.  Grunt and writhe.  Lose your mental facilities.

Luckily its so short lived.  It comes with such intense fury. Its almost nature’s way of saying, don’t presume you have control of anything.   With one little virus you’re down for the count.  Mercifully, it fades after 4 or 5 hours, but there is nothing left of you.

The girls didn’t quite know what to make of me.  They watched me closely and stayed an arm’s length away.  Sweet loving Lily kept asking if I was okay and seemed a little afraid when the answer was no.

I’m probably overthinking it, but I feel there has to be some cosmic significance that the day after I wrote about plans and intentionality, I’m crippled for the rest of the day by the flu.  Something, someone, somewhere I think was reminding me that best laid plans often go amiss and that more often than not the altered path is just as beautiful and meaningful.

Somewhere in between my last dying breathes of the flu, Ellie excitedly told me that Will and Val were under contract to move within half a mile of us.  While it didn’t really register at the time, when I later came to my senses, I realized what an amazing news this is.  Super pumped to have them and their growing family so close.  The village is growing!

Wednesday, I debated if I should go into work. I sat on the couch for a while and another round of gut wrenching toilet blasting left me thinking that work was a bad idea.  If not for this last surge of the flu, I would not have been home when Ellie got the call.

Last spring Ellie learned about the most amazing charter school in our district that aligns perfectly with are values.  Children are outside everyday of the year for at least two hours.  There are no screens or media in the entire school.  Children learn to play musical instruments, act, farm, wood work and craft with fibers.  Kids can’t wear branded clothing or clothing with characters printed on them.  The focus of the school is building community and teaching compassion and empathy.  Students are allowed to be curious and let their imaginations run free.  Its a dream school.

Unfortunately, we registered late and were 80th or so on the waitlist. There was no hope.  Ellie took the girls there again last week to the orientation for the new year’s lottery application.  There they told her they were estimating 200-300 kids to be on this year’s waitlist.  A dream, but such a slim chance.

Then on Wednesday, Ellie got the call.  Some how. Through some cosmic twist of fate, Lily was selected off the waitlist.  She’s in for the remainder of this year!  With sibling preference, all our kids will get in for the future!  We were floored.  It seemed unreal.  We’d talked about the school so much.  We imagined what it would be like for our kids to go there for so long.  This is life changing news.  Our girls will get the best possible school experience we could imagine for them.  They will now, hopefully, make it through the school system unscathed by bullies and drama.  Their curiosity and  imaginations won’t be beaten to a pulp by a desire to achieve test results.

Had I not been knocked down by the flu, I wouldn’t have been there to share in the news.  While my stomach was a mess, my heart was elated.

After a midday nap, I was feeling a bit better.  I spent the rest of the day snuggling with the girls and talking with Lily about what her new school would be like.  She’s so excited.  My aches and pains from the flu faded.

The rest the week was uneventful.  On Saturday and Sunday we worked on the house more.  We set up Lily and Lu’s new bedroom and finished the new dinning room table.

This post is getting long and I’m getting tired, so I’ll wrap up here and write more next week about our home improvements and updates.

All in all it was an unexpected but extremely joyful week.  The flu was awful, but the news of Lily’s new school and the news of having Will and Val so close far eclipses those temporary pains. I’m left thinking that intentionality and awareness are essential, but so are the unexpected and random twists of the fates.

Well, that’s the news from our little corner of Colorado, where all the women are crafty, all the men run far, and all the children are recovering from the flu.

This week’s miles: 32.9 miles – 6h 14m – 3,750ft

Monday: Family jogger slogger – 6.2mi

Tues, Wed, & Thur: Off – Flu

Friday: Run to work 5.5mi

Saturday: Family jogger slogger – 5.6 mi

Sunday: Icy trail run at Apex – 15.3 mi

This week’s pictures

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Sickies

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So excited about getting into school!

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Mmmmmm Saturday morning pineapple pancakes

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Little gymnasts

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Bunk beds!

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Week of January 4

[This week’s publication was a bit delayed due to work and going down with the flu.]

This week marked going back to work.  I always start the New Year on a high being home, which usually gets deflated, not so much by going back to work, but with falling back into routine.  This year, I tried to remain as mindful and present as I could.  Overall, I think I did a pretty good job.

I set out the new week knowing that routine is inevitable.  I will go to work.  I will come home.  I will spend time with the girls.  I will eat.  I will run.  I will sleep. I will do laundry and pick up the house. Etc…  Its this routine that often causes me to tune out.  I tend to just let these things happen to me.  In the spirit of mindfulness though, I began this week trying to establish a routine with intention.  Instead of just “doing” these things, I would plan when and how I would do them.  I set my running and workout plans for the week.  I established when I would accomplish what work I need to do for school.  And, Ellie and I talked about how and when I would work on our new updates on the house this weekend (more on that later). I also thought about what we should do as a family at night and on the weekend.  While my plans didn’t always come to fruition exactly as I thought they would, I felt as though I went through this week much more aware of how I spent my time, knowing why I was doing what I was doing, and remaining aware of how I felt throughout it all.  For whatever reason, I’ve spent most of my life on the side of spontaneity, but I think deep inside, I prefer to have plans laid out and adjust as need be.  It felt good this week to break the usual routine, and think and envision how it would unfold before it happened.  As a result, I was much more present and aware this week.  I dealt with the challenges of the week more easily.

Starting a new semester is always a lot of work.  I have to wrap up grading and then launch into new planning.  On top of the usual work, my administrators have decided this year to change our grading policies at the last minute, so I spent most of the first two days of the week just finishing and posting grades from the first semester.  I was a bit frustrated and felt like I was scrambling for the rest of the week to get started with teaching.  On top of it all, my administrators also decided to add more students to my classes.  My total teaching load for the new semesters is now at a lofty 171 students.  Yikes!  The good news is I have quite a bit of help from my wonderful apprentice teacher.  I’m hopeful that this semester will prove to be less time intensive than the last. In planning my week, I’m trying to be conscious of taking work home with me only at specific times of the week and minimizing its impact on the other facets of my life.

After two days of grading and planning, students returned on Wednesday.  In general, I have pretty good classes this term.  By the end of the week though I as feeling pretty haggard.  Part of my new routine is waking up at 5:00A everyday to either run or plan for work. (I’m trying to maximize my time and not take away from time with the family.)  By the end of the week, I hadn’t slept as much as I’d hoped.   Additionally, we have a virus floating around our house that I think my immune system has been trying to fight off.  All in all, by Friday afternoon, I was pretty pooped.

Lily seemed a bit frustrated with me this week too.  I think it was a combination of me going back to work and not being around as much as well as being tired and not as energetic at night.  As a result, we didn’t connect well.  I’m hoping this week will be better now that she’s used to me back at work and that I’m acclimating to my new sleep schedule.

Lu as always is a fun little sweet heart.  Although, as soon as she gets hungry and tired she wants nothing to do with me.  She’s entirely a momma’s girl these days.

On Friday we had dinner with Will and Val.  Unfortunately, Lu got sick and vomited just as we were finishing eating.  Apparently, she picked up some bug and has been down for the count ever since.  The poor little lady wants nothing else than to cuddle with her momma.  Ellie loves the cuddles, but it also means she’s been thrown up on multiple times this weekend.

Saturday morning I woke up at 4:00A to sneak in a long trail run with my friend John.  We headed to Mt. Falcon which was covered in about six inches of powder.  The run was slow going but outstandingly beautiful.  Back at home, I spent the remainder of the day working on our new dinning room table.  We’ve decided that since we are committed to living in a tiny home, we need some updates to get the tiny home efficiency.  To this end we’re building a new dinning area with a built in bench and slide in table.  In the living room, we’re going to build in an L-couch with pull out storage underneath. Hopefully these updates will maximize our space and make it more livable.

While I worked on the table, Ellie took the girls to ikea. In addition to living room changes, we’re going to make the move into our own bedroom soon.  Ellie and I are going to move to the front room and the girls are going to rock a bunk bed in the back room, which will also become their play room.  Ellie’s mission was to secure a bunk bed for the girls and a captain’s bed for us.  Unfortunately, after almost an hour at the mega store, Lu vomited all over Ellie.  At this point, Ellie aborted the trip and came home for a shower and some clean clothes.

Sunday we treated ourselves to biscuits at Rise and Shine and then went down to the Art Museum.  There we met our friends Chris and Melissa and their son.  Sadly, they moved out of Colorado last year and we haven’t seen them since.  It was good to spend a few hours with them exploring the museum and catching up.  Hopefully we’ll be able to reconnect again this summer when we head to the Canyon lands for our summer vacation.

In addition to seeing our friends, we got to see Foxy & Schmoxy at the art museum. Foxy & Schmoxy are fox art detectives performed by two improve artists.  They set up in a gallery some where, which you have to follow clues to find, and then act out and explain some of the art in the gallery to the kids. For the past two months they’ve been trying to find a giant yellow blob of paint that has been sneaking around the museum.  Every other week they gather new clues as to where and what it might be.  I think I enjoy them as much as Lily does.  They’re pretty funny.  Lily has a little Foxy Schmoxy dance she does when she knows we’re going to see them.

The remainder of Sunday was fairly low key.  We grocery shopped, hung out at home, cleaned a bit, and I put in a few hours of work.  Besides Lu getting sick, this was pretty good week.  Hoping now that the rest of us don’t catch her like bug.

This weeks miles:  45.6 mi – 9h 3m – 4,633ft

Monday – Run home with a few fartleks – 5.5mi

– Morning strength training (squats, lunges, etc…)

Tuesday – Easy run to work – 5.5 mi

Wednesday – Temp work out (6x 3′ SPZ4) – 6.4 mi

Thursday – Easy run home – 5.5 mi

Friday – Snowy run to work – 5.5 mi

Saturday – Snowy Mt. Falcon Lollipop and 2nd climb to the Castle – 16.4 mi

Sunday – off

Pictures from the week

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My classroom is so cold, I bought gloves and cut off the fingers so I can wear them while teaching and keep my hands warm.

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“Daddy! Daddy! She’s getting into it!”

“What’s it?”

“The vaseline!  She’s smearing it in her!  But its, okay, I’ll brush it out.”

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Walked into the playroom to find these two feminists

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Saturday run with my friend John.

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New table I’m building!  Will hopefully have more completed pictures next week

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Blessed to catch up and play with Melissa, Chris and their son today at the art museum.

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No dice on running the Leadville 100 this year.  I’m convinced its not actually a lottery.  The only way I’m getting in is if I get sponsored or join Lifetime.

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Week of January 1st

Okay so January 1 was not the start of the week. But it was the start of something.

This year, I want to be more mindful and aware of myself, my life, and those in it. When reflecting back on 2015, I realized that there are entire days, and weeks even, from which I have no memories. I looked through instagram, through this blog (of which Ellie has entirely written), and through my Strava running data. For some points, these reminders triggered memories, however, many black spots still remain when I think of last year. 2015 was not unique. The same is true for many years and many points in my life.

I don’t entirely know what to make of these black spots. Do I have no memories because nothing was memorable? Was I simply living in the present and not forming long term memories? I’m uncertain how I should judge myself. Sometimes I see them as a fault; sometimes I see them as a part of life. Either way, I feel a bit sad. It makes me think that perhaps I’m floating along without intention or awareness.

I haven’t thought of a solution. Maybe I need to stop working so much and stop letting work dominate my thoughts and emotions. Maybe I need to stop running to deal with stress. Maybe I need to care more about my relationships (with both myself and the people around me) than with how successful or accomplished I am. Probably all of the above.

I ended 2015 in place of reflection. I’ve been unsatisfied for a while. I usually blame it on work. But as I closed out the year, I began to realize the obvious that it has a lot more to do with how I manage my emotions and interact with the world than it does with what it is I am doing. For a long time now, I’ve tried doing different things (I’ve changed my job every year since graduating from college), but a sense of satisfaction and peace elude me. There are moments when I find them. Ellie and the girls are certainly my anchor here, but I don’t always find them from within.

So, without much a plan or well-defined goal, I’m setting out this year attempting to be more mindful and aware. Attempting to find some satisfaction and peace with myself. In an effort to do so, I’m going to attempt writing a post here each Sunday reflecting back on my week. I don’t entirely know why, but I feel like this will help.

New years eve came and went with a low-key night at home with the girls. In the morning, I woke early and snuck out to grab coffee and finish grading my end of semester exams. At home, we milled about and played for a while. I worked on the new dinning room table I’m building. At nap, I headed out for a speed work out around Berkley Lake. On the way home, I grabbed the ingredients for a yummy cake to bring to Will and Vals for dinner. So excited for their twins!

On Saturday we spent the day with our good college friend Eric Schneider. Eric is a professor in London, so we don’t see each other much any more. We do have the good fortunate to live near where he grew up and are blessed to see him every time he comes home. We spent the day eating good food, sharing good conversation, and walking at Lair O’ the Bear. Also on Saturday, I woke at 4:00A to get my long run in. Ran 22 miles on the Cherry Creek trail.   Feel strong and healthy in the early season training.

Today has also been low key. Lily and I woke before Ellie and Lu. We shared tea and chatted for a bit. She’s becoming ever more the conversationalist. She recounted her dreams and how she see saw a t-shirt dancing, which she retold laughing hysterically. The remainder of the day was spent on chores and housework. Our dishwasher has been out of commission for over a month now with a clogged disposal line. I finally took the time to replace it. Washing dishes by hand when you eat slowly like we do is a pain in the ass. So glad to that baby back up and running.

Monday – Easy run — 3.4 miles

Tuesday – Tempo work out – 6.2 miles

Wednesday – Off

Thursday – Apex with Will – 8 miles

Friday – Speed work – 7.5 miles

Saturday – Long run – 22 miles

— Hike at Lair O the Bear – 3.4 mile

Sunday — Off

Right now I’m listening to Billy Joel and M. Ward on repeat.  I can’t get enough of them.

Currently reading my way through the Economist’s The World in 2016.  Interesting to see their predictions for what the world will be like in 2016.

Pictures from the week:

IMG_1350 IMG_1362 IMG_1367 IMG_1369 IMG_1374 IMG_1385 IMG_1390 IMG_1397 IMG_1399 IMG_1404

 


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Happy New Years!

I love the New Year.  I’m not sure that I would say it’s my favorite holiday – there needs to be a bit more tradition and food involved – but taking time to reflect on the year and make goals or intentions moving forward is definitely my jam.

It just so happens that yesterday our little Lu turned 18 months, so I’m feeling extra reflective about the milestones we’re hitting.  It’s hard to believe that Lu only started walking a scant three months ago.  She’s toddling all around the place these days, opening our cabinets and drawers, emptying them with methodic and persistent glee, and tagging along with her big sister.  Just as with Lily, she still loves to be held and carried in the Ergo, so though she’s mobile, I’m still getting plenty of snuggles.

We night weaned on November 10, though I’ve not been terribly strict about early morning feedings.  I’d much rather cave and nurse in bed in those early hours than wake up at 5 AM.  Starting on Christmas Eve, when the girls spent the day with their Nana and Grumpy, I phased out daytime feedings as well, so now we’re down to early morning and just before bed.  With all of our guests and the holidays, Lu would get a little upset and tug at my shirt, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I set her down for a proper nap sans nursing.  There were many tears, and it brought back the same sadness I experienced weaning Lily.  I find myself worrying that they won’t turn to me for comfort in the same way, that I won’t get nearly as many snuggles.  For the moment, I don’t have a fully weaned deadline in mind, but we’re definitely on that path.

Lu has been cutting some teeth in the past month, and her favorite teething soother is frozen blueberries.  She even attempts to say the word (which is a bit astonishing given how few words she has).  She loves bananas, blueberries, clementines, rice, beans, and cheese (all the cheese, both of my girls).  Though we’ve tried to give her milk, she’s not a big fan.

Our friends and family remark that Lu is a bit more shy and a “momma’s girl” compared to Lily at this age, and it’s probably true.  I also think she’s more independent.  She’s happy to explore things by herself.  When she’s around her big sister, she’ll make exclamatory noises (screaming for fun, “no!” “uh oh”), but it’s not until her sister is in another room that she plays more with language.  She can be quite quiet!  She is also, admittedly, rarely interested in being held by anyone other than myself, though Joshua is a close second these days, and she’ll go to people with whom she is more familiar.

We’re picking up a few more signs, including ‘all done,’ ‘more,’ ‘please,’ ‘diaper,’ and ‘food.’  Verbal words include mama, dada, enri (!), poop, wa.  She knows a ton of words, and she follow many requests, including retrieval of all sorts of things, pointing at body parts and different family members.

Dear Lu, it’s been such a year.  It’s amazing to think you’ve been with us the whole time!  From a lovely spring, to Minnesota, through a move, to Wyoming, Mexico, and then through the warm days of summer.  This fall, we’ve settled into a groove.  You’ve grown, beginning those forays of independence with plenty of curiosity and interest.  I love you, little one.

As I write, Lily and Lu are off in the other room.  I can’t hear them, but I know they’re playing.  Probably creating a massive mess, but hey.  I’m happy to clean up after them if they’re playing well together.  Which is one of the things I’m most proud of when it comes to Lily.  She is such a good big sister.  She is loving, protective, and finally, finally, finally sharing so much better.  She’s the mistress of taking turns, making trades, and these days, she’s even willing to wait people out.  This doesn’t mean that we never have disagreements, but the improvement from this time last year to now is night and day.

Joshua and I remark nearly every day how grown up Lily is becoming.  She is very articulate, a great conversationalist, and she shows so much interest in the people and things around her.  I’m pleased to report that I’ve written down some of the funny things she’s said this week:

  1. I’m telling Lily about the New Year, and as I’m telling her that this year was 2015 and next year will be 2016, she says, “that’s a lot of macaroni and cheese!”
  2. We’re laying in bed, trying to fall asleep when Lily says, “I have an idea.  If we don’t get a vanagon or a school bus, we could get a truck with skis on it.  But if that’s too expensive, we could just go on an airplane ride.”
  3. On Christmas Eve, Lily is beside herself with excitement and worry over Santa.  She hides her favorite present in my closet, worried that Santa might take it and give it to another kid.  She’s babbling to herself, saying things like.  “The stick is mine, but maybe Lu can have my camera.  Or maybe daddy can have the stick and Lu can have the camera.”  Then she pauses, shakes her head, and says, “the problem is the camera.”
  4. Joshua asks Lily what her favorite part of Christmas was, and she says, “The people.  The conversations.  The reading.”  So, win.  We win.
  5. In Taos, we were telling Lily what a wonderful big sister she is, and we were telling her that we think she’s ready to have another sibling (I’m not pregnant).  Lily says, “yeah, I’m good at taking turns, and I can teach them to regulate their emotions!”  I think she’s heard me quote her enough that now this phrase is a regular :)

One of my favorite things that Lily does is sing to herself.  She makes up songs about babies, fairies, and dogs.  It’s very sweet.  I also love how much she loves to read, though sometimes I grow weary of reading that many picture books!  The sweetest thing is to come in the room and see the two of them sitting down with a pile of books, reading quietly.

As for me, I’m feeling good about having completed 4 of 6 pre-requisites for an accelerated nursing program.  I’ve been reading a lot, and running a ton too.  On Christmas Eve, Joshua and I ran 12 miles on trail, and though it was definitely a challenge, my fitness level is good enough that I can pick up and do something like that.  Nordic skiing for three hours, though.  That was HARD.

My best discoveries this year were:  minimalism, podcasts, and mindfulness.  Though I am by no means an expert in any of these arenas, I’m so pleased to be exploring them.  During the first half of the year, Joshua and I got rid of more than half of all of our things.  With Sarah, I ran two garage sales, and we gave away nearly 5 truckloads of things to the thrift store.  Early this fall, I read Marie Kondo’s Magic Art of Tidying Up and did another comb through.  Though I’m sure there are still things I could get rid of, I’m most pleased that the desire to acquire more things has abated.  I used to always have a running list of things that I wanted, especially clothing.  Now, my wardrobe is smaller than ever – everything fits in my small closet! – and I rarely feel the pull to buy anything new.  Even my thrift shopping trips, which I still enjoy, are much more modest.  I’ll come away with one or two items and promptly purge one or two items when I get home.

As for podcasts, I listened to my first one early in the year, and I haven’t stopped.  My favorites are:

  1. The Lively Show (this was my introduction to podcasts)
  2. Serial (of course)
  3. On Being (this is my all time favorite podcast.  Krista Tippet can do no wrong.)
  4. Women of the Hour (a short 5 episode podcast by Lena Dunham)
  5. Magic Lessons (an 11 episode podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert)

These keep me interested, keep me thinking.  I’m so grateful for the inspiration.

In terms of mindfulness, I haven’t gotten quite as deep, but I’m looking forward to doing more this year.  I read The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and these were supplemented by interviews on On Being and The Lively Show.  I’ve done some mindfulness meditation and yoga, and I’m excited to do more yoga this year  (because Joshua’s awesome Christmas Present to me was a 10 pack to CorePower).

The other thing I’m really excited about for this year is that I’ve decided to invest more in community building.  The first area is with becoming more politically invested.  I’m a big Bernie Sanders supporter, and the Colorado headquarters for his campaign is conveniently located a couple of blocks away!  We’ve also committed to supporting causes we care about when they come up.  I really like UNICEF, we attended a Moms Against Gun Violence rally, and I’ve begun writing politicians about refugee and fossil fuel policies.  The other area is super exciting.  I’ve finally made some progress on the non-profit I mentioned this summer.  Though I had had the goal to get it off the ground in the fall, I’m pleased to tell you that I figured out a way to circumnavigate all the paperwork.  I contacted parks and recreation and you’re looking at a contractor for the city of Edgewater!  I’ll be running a community storytime and playgroup one day a week in an effort to build community and create an unbranded, public space for parents and kids to connect.  I’m sooooooo excited about this, and I’ll be sharing more as time goes on, but I start the first week of February!

Unfortunately, I poorly timed taking a math placement exam through MSU, so I won’t be able to take a class this semester, but I’ll be looking forward to taking time to write and work on my storytime and playgroup, and I’ll hopeful resume classes again in the fall.

Thank you all for reading along with us here.  I love that this little blog is a means of communicating with our loved ones flung near and far, and I also love that this has become record of our days together as a family.  Wishing you and yours a very merry New Year!!!

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