Mommy Wants a Timeout

In which I contemplate absurd moments in parenthood, occasionally attempt to refer to myself as a “triathlete” while keeping a straight face, and maybe post some random pictures of stuff I’m knitting

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”

Haiku

I know I haven’t blogged in like eight months, and I really should be doing housework or going for a run right now, but I was just playing with my iPhone and came across some haikus I wrote a couple years ago…Can’t remember when or why (Waiting for my car to be serviced? Hanging out at the park with my son?) but they made me smile, so I’ll share them with anyone who might still be out there:

Running through the park
Don’t step on doggie poo poo
Crap! My iPod died

Skinny hipster dudes
with tattoo sleeves drink lattes
and walk tiny dogs

You ate your veggies
And went poop on the potty
Now please go to sleep

He rolls eyes at me
and turns back to the TV
Wife, give me some peace

There you go! Hope you enjoyed them as much as I probably enjoyed writing them; I honestly don’t remember doing it! (Waiting at the doctor’s office? Sitting in traffic?) Share your own if you’ve got ’em!

More silliness happening here!

More silliness happening here!

The World’s Hardest Job? Maybe, Maybe Not…

As I let my body recover from some nagging injuries, my priorities for the summer have shifted away from triathlons and races and more towards the domestic sphere, so please humor me as I blog a little more about life, and a little less about training for a while.

A while back a little video kept circulating on Facebook, something about people interviewing for “the world’s hardest job.” I never got around to watching the whole thing, (and I’m not a serious enough blogger to do anything that resembles “research”) but I think the gist of it was that being a stay-at-home mom is the toughest job in the world, and its job description would scare off many a would-be applicant.

It’s a funny premise, and I can’t entirely disagree that a description of what I do day after day sounds pretty tedious: Waking up earlier than I want to, cleaning up messes that seem to regenerate themselves instantly, shuttling my child to back and forth to school while fielding endless questions (How long until our sun turns into a supernova? How much cheese can you eat before you have a heart attack? Do elephants have dentists?), doing my best to prepare fresh, healthy meals for two guys who would frankly prefer to eat a platter of fried chicken with a chaser of Oreos every night.

But the bottom line for me is that, no matter how hard the job is, I get to take care of MY family, MY child, every day, and that’s a pretty awesome gift. I’ve got a husband and a son, these two people I love more than anything in the world, and even though I wish they’d tidy up the trail of items they leave strewn about the house, and gain a little better aim in the bathroom, at least the time I spend cleaning up after them is one way I get to be guardian of my little flock, and mistress of my own castle. Which brings me to my next point…

You know what the hardest job in the world is? I don’t think it’s taking care of your own children, or cleaning your own house. You know what’s harder than that? Taking care of someone ELSE’S kids, who’ve been raised with someone else’s rules and philosophies about discipline, diet, etcetera…Being a preschool teacher or day care worker, for example. Or cleaning someone ELSE’S house…That’s gotta be a tough job, right? Cleaning up after strangers, gaining way too much insight into their personal habits and hygiene…and doing it all for minimum wage, then going home after a long day to it all all over again for your own family. If THAT’S not one of the hardest jobs in the world, I don’t know what is.

So I’ll take the cleaning, the driving, the cooking, the kiddo’s tantrums and whining, and everything else that comes with the job while I consider myself pretty darn lucky for being there for the cuddles, the discoveries, and the milestones. It’s not glamorous, it’s certainly not well-paid, but the hardest job in the world? Not even close!

Sadly, he's no more helpful around the house today than he was when this picture was taken.

Sadly, he’s no more helpful around the house today than he was when this picture was taken.

Snow Days

9 days before my upcoming half-marathon, the Portland area got hit with a rare winter storm, which sent the city into its typical winter-weather hysteria. (Snowmagedden! Arctic Blast 2014! Snowpocalypse!)

Aside from some closure-related inconveniences (I missed getting the alert that the kiddo’s school was closing early on Thursday, and happened to be in the dentist’s chair when my husband called to inform me) and a swing shift at the hospital (luckily most people heeded the warning to stay off the road, so the drive wasn’t as harrowing as the subsequent 8 hours in an understaffed ICU), I was able to spend most of the long weekend at home.

My neighborhood picked up around 8 inches of beautiful, powdery snow, much to my son’s delight:

Creating a full-size snowman seemed like too much effort, so we settled for elf-size.

Creating a full-size snowman seemed like too much effort, so we settled for elf-size.

It was fun to see all the kids on our street with their sleds and toboggans sliding down the hill in front of our house. I’m not sure I remember a day when so many neighbors were out visiting with each other; snow (and days off from work) must be a universal catalyst for socializing.

My half-marathon training plan called for a 6-miler this weekend. Unfortunately, the gym was closed due to the weather (which I’m almost grateful for; I did a tempo run on the treadmill Thursday, which reminded me why I run outdoors in just about any weather!) so I decided to brave the snowy roads and trails.

Here’s a view of where I began, a paved trail I do at least a portion of nearly every run on:

Somewhere under there is a trail...

Somewhere under there is a trail…

The snow was powdery and mostly packed, but the footing was uneven and a little slippery. I slowed my pace quite a bit, and it felt sort of like running on a rough trail. By a couple miles in, I was pretty fatigued mentally, and very concerned about straining a muscle or twisting an ankle before my race next Sunday, so I turned around and headed home for a total of about 4.5 miles…Good enough, I decided, and my legs should be nice and fresh next weekend! Again, it was fun to see all the people out enjoying the scenery, some of them on cross-country skis

Fast-forward a few days: the weather turned almost balmy, and the rain started pouring down.

R.I.P., little snow elf.

R.I.P., little snow elf.


I made it outdoors for the last run before my race, a short tempo run which felt GREAT! The snow was a fun interlude, but it was nice to be back out in the normal Oregon winter drizzle.

The weather forecast for the coming weekend calls for heavy rain and wind…I’ll be hoping for a break between about 8 and 10 Sunday morning, but even if I don’t get one, at least I won’t be running in a Snowpocalypse!

(Fast forward another week…MAN, I have a hard time finishing blog posts! At least I don’t have the same problem with racing. My half is done, I nailed my goal pace, and I can finally walk down the stairs without cringing. A race report to follow…if I ever get around to it!)

10 Reasons Why…

10 Reasons Why I Can’t Run My First Olympic Triathlon Tomorrow:

1. My back has been aching like crazy for over a week.
2. I’m afraid of drowning in the Willamette River
3. The water will be cold.
4. The weather will be terrible.
5. I’m afraid I won’t be able to take in enough calories without feeling sick to have the energy to complete the 10K run.
6. What if I fall off my bike in the transition area?
7. Speaking of bikes, what if I get a flat tire? I’ve still never changed one entirely on my own…My husband has always been there to tell me what I’m doing wrong, and take over when I get frustrated.
8. Speaking of husbands, mine has to work that day, so he won’t even be there to cheer me on.
9. Did I mention it will be raining, with a possibility of thunder? Seriously, who schedules a triathlon at the end of September, anyway? (A bunch of Oregonians, that’s who!)
10. I’m burned out from all the training I’ve been doing, and VERY ready to veg in front of the TV for a while.

10 Reasons Why I WILL Run My Olympic Triathlon Tomorrow:

1. I’ve swam in cold water before and it didn’t kill me.
2. For that matter, I’ve swam in the Willamette River before and it didn’t kill me (though I might be growing some mutant parts…)
3. I’m an Oregonian…I don’t let a little inclement weather spoil my plans.
4. Gatorade, Shot Blox, gummy fruit snacks…They’ve all sat well enough during my training, and no one ever starved in 3 and a half hours, so even if I don’t eat much, I’ll probably live through it.
5. I paid a lot of money for this race…And there are no refunds. (I’m a total cheapskate.)
6. I’ll earn a cool finishers’ medal to put on my wall.
7. Swimming under my favorite bridge in Portland and then running over it should be pretty awesome!
8. Lots of people have supported me in my training so far: my mom and dad have babysat my son while my husband worked so I could fit in a group swim; my friend brought her kayak out to the river to paddle alongside me while I swam; and countless other friends and strangers have given me words of encouragement and support. I can’t let them all down!
9. As a coach said to me last weekend, “You’re as strong as you want to be.” And I want to be just strong enough to finish this race with a smile on my face.
10. I’ll feel SOOOOOO much less guilty about spending 90% of the next week sitting around and doing nothing if I can tell people “I’m taking it easy for the week…I just did my first Oly tri!”

Yep, unless circumstances beyond my control intervene (like a cancellation due to thunderstorms) tomorrow at 7:48 a.m. I will be running into the Willamette River. I hope I will be tough enough to deal with whatever comes after that, but I know at least that I am tough enough to get to the starting line!

Warning: The Following Post Contains Language Unsuitable for Those Under 6 Years of Age

I’m a baby-head. And my ideas are poopy-headed. So says (or yells) my 5-year-old son, anyway.

It’s hard to keep a straight face when he’s having a tantrum and throwing out this type of insult, even though on the inside my heart is breaking a little because he’s so obviously frustrated and doesn’t know how to cope.

I blame myself. For the ridiculous vocabulary, I mean, not the tantrums themselves. (I’m pretty sure those come from my husband’s gene pool.) I have selfishly refused to use any REAL profanity in front of him (and, oh, how I’ve wanted to sometimes!) so he obviously lacks the proper terminology to truly express his anger. Heck, we’ve been referring to his posterior as his “bottom” or “booty” forever; the other day after school he had to ask me what a “butt” was. I told him, and now it’s his new favorite word. (“Mommy, check out my booty-butt!!!” “Kiddo, pull up your pants, right now!)

I don’t know why I have this hang-up about my child using certain words. I guess there’s a part of me that wants to preserve his baby-ness for as long as I can, even as he grows into a school-age boy. So in our house, it’s bottom instead of butt, toots instead of farts, and gosh-darn-it instead of…well, just about anything else you could say when you drop a book on your toe or spill a glass of milk. (Ironically, my husband and I, a physician and a nurse, have always used the proper anatomical terms for his private parts; while this ensures he’ll never need to learn the “real” word for them later, it has made for some embarrassing moments in public. Imagine a 3-year-old explaining at full volume the differences between the men and women on the magazine covers while we’re waiting in the grocery checkout line!)

So for now, angry outbursts in our house are going to be accompanied by some creative and sometimes pretty hilarious insults. My husband and I will try to hide our smiles while we show respect for his feelings, set limits on his behavior, help him learn coping strategies, and otherwise do all the “good parent” things we’re supposed to be doing. And we’ll wait until later, after he’s in bed, to laugh hysterically about his word choices; after all, that may turn out to be the one bright spot in an otherwise very trying day as parents.

A picture of "angry." Drawing his feelings actually turned out to be a pretty good alternative to yelling about them!

A picture of “Angry.” Drawing his feelings actually turned out to be a pretty good alternative to yelling about them!

What I Saw on My Ride Today…

I went for a lovely 28-mile ride in the farmland west of my neighborhood in NW Portland today. Here are a few of the sights I took in:
A ghost town:
IMG_1544
Some tepees:
IMG_1546
A noisy, active community of honey bees in the middle of a field of clover:
IMG_1547
Also seen but not captured for posterity: A small plane towing a glider RIGHT over my head, lots of cows grazing peacefully, and about a bazillion other cyclists in groups and alone enjoying the beautiful weather.

In case you were concerned for my safety, I assure you I stopped my bike before taking any of these pictures. Maybe I was relaxed enough to take in the scenery today because I finally decided to let go of my plan to do the Olympic triathlon at Hagg Lake next weekend, and settle for the sprint this time around. My legs just aren’t ready to ride 25 miles of those hills before a 10K run…I need a few more months of consistent cycling first. Disappointing, yes, but I’m pretty sure it’s the right thing for me right now. Consequently, I’m going to try to start ENJOYING my long rides (and runs) more, instead of just grinding through them. My iPhone and I will be out there searching for interesting sights, and I’ll share them here!

My Big Year…(Or, A Post About Birds and Running)

You know, as in “The Big Year,” that movie with Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black? About birding? This is my post about birds. Birds and running, actually, or how birds make running interesting (to me, anyway) and therefore much more tolerable.

The reason I’m thinking about this topic is that I received a round of applause from motorists along my running route last week, and it had nothing to do with my attire, my speed, or the fact I was NAILING my tempo pace just a day after a long, hard bike ride. No, they were clapping because I stopped running to jump off the sidewalk into the busy street, stop traffic, and herd a crowd of ducklings across the street after their mother. (I’d tried to talk her out of crossing a moment before, but she was determined. “Don’t do it, you stupid duck! The lake is on this side of the road! Think of your children!” She didn’t listen, she just quacked in agitation and tried to waddle past me.)

I’m sure we were a comical picture, me trying to hustle along these ducklings who were so tiny they kept falling over trying to run away from me. Once I got them safely over the curb on the far side of the road, (Have you ever watched very small ducklings trying to hop up on a curb? It took each of them at least three tries.) I looked up and saw drivers and passengers clapping for me. I gave them a wave and started running again with a smile on my face that lasted the rest of the run, even as I tried to salvage my tempo pace.

It was the second run in a week that was slowed down by my fascination with birds, especially baby ones. On Thursday I stopped in the middle of an 8-mile easy run to take this picture of Canada geese with a big group of goslings; 8 or 9 if I counted right.

Not the best quality picture...My eyes were still dilated from the ophthalmologist's that morning.

Not the best quality picture…My eyes were still dilated from the ophthalmologist’s that morning.

I’m lucky enough to live and run near greenspaces that are filled with different creatures that entertain me. Here is my “Big Year” list of birds I’ve seen during this year’s training:
1. Red-tailed hawk
2. Great Blue heron
3. Red-winged blackbird (these guys sing to me while I run…I love it!)
4. Mallard duck
5. Northern coot
6. Spotted towhee
7. Flicker (These woodpeckers are one of my favorites)
8. Robin
9. Scrub Jay
10. Junco
11. Sparrow
12. Bushtit
13. Crow
14. Seagull (They must be a little misguided, since there’s a mountain range and at least 60 miles between here and the ocean)
15. Anna’s hummingbird
16. Goldfinch
17. House finch
18. Chickadee
19. Wood duck
20. Barn swallow (While I was running along a path beside a blackberry hedge on one side and soccer fields on the other yesterday, a couple of these guys started swooping in circles around me. They stayed with me for over a quarter of a mile, crossing right in front of me. At first it was kind of fun. Then it got a little creepy…What was their game, anyway? I never figured it out.)

I’ve also seen a few other species I haven’t identified, since my Field Guide to Birds of North America is too heavy to fit in my hydration belt pocket.

All these birds, along with the occasional rabbit, raccoon, deer, or gopher entertain me while I’m running and cycling, and help me appreciate the surroundings I get to train in. And if a photo opportunity or a chance to do some animal rescue interrupts a workout, I’m okay with that. I’m doing my best not to take my triathlon hobby TOO seriously!

Dogwoods in bloom...Another beautiful sight captured while on a run!

Dogwoods in bloom…Another beautiful sight captured while on a run!

My Legs Were on Hawaiian Time…

Well, this post is a little overdue. Our Kaua’i trip happened back in early March, and I promised to post pictures and a full report when I got back. Life constantly seems to interfere with my best blogging intentions…

Ahhh, Hawaii. Probably my favorite place in the world. This was my first visit to the island of Kaua’i, and also the first time we felt the kiddo could keep up on some fun outdoor activities. And keep up he did…through hikes that had me huffing and puffing, a pretty long kayak ride, and some quality beach time.

In contrast to last year’s trip to Maui, when I had a pneumatic boot protecting my injured foot, this year I was in good shape for running and swimming, and was looking forward to doing both in the new scenery. Unfortunately for me, my legs seemed to relax into that comfy “Hawaiian Time” as soon as we got there, and resisted all of my attempts to encourage them to move faster than my long, slow run pace (even though I never ran longer than 4 miles.) Blame jet lag, blame the warm weather and humidity, or the early-morning, pre-coffee timing, but the running was nothing to write home about. I did, however, see some beautiful sights on some of those sunrise runs:

I'm never up this early at home!

I’m never up this early at home!


An endangered Hawaiian monk seal taking a nap.

An endangered Hawaiian monk seal taking a nap.


I didn’t limit my lower-body workout to running. Hiking up hills is great exercise too!

Checking out the Waimea Canyon views

Checking out the Waimea Canyon views…


This guy's always eager to explore!

…pretending he’s on Mars…


Heading off for a canyon hike

…and heading off for a canyon hike


One of my favorite hikes: the shoreline next to Maha'ulepu Beach.

One of my favorite hikes: the shoreline next to Maha’ulepu Beach.

Oh, and there was some swimming, too, although I must admit I’m always so fascinated by what I see under the water I rarely concentrate on getting a workout in. I’m not comfortable in a snorkel mask, though, so I get lots of practice holding my breath!

Poipu Beach Park

Poipu Beach Park


DSCF0844

We also took a kayak tour up the Wailua River, followed by a hike to a “secret” waterfall in the jungle (not so secret, judging from the hordes of visitors that hiked in shortly after we arrived!) I did earn bragging rights by being the first person present to jump (or wade, slowly) into the water and swim to the falls. Even in Hawaii, waterfall pools are…umm…refreshing? Bracing? Freakin’ cold, more like. Nothing like Oregonian winter-white gooseflesh to make me look fantastic in a bathing suit!

The lush greenery along the Wailua River

The lush greenery along the Wailua River


Hiking along the river to the falls

Hiking along the river to the falls


Not a bad place for a (COLD!!!) shower!

Not a bad place for a (COLD!!!) shower!


Couldn't convince this one to go all the way out to the waterfall with me. Wimp.

Couldn’t convince this one to go all the way out to the waterfall with me. Wimp.

My husband took a helicopter tour of the island with my dad and brother…By all reports, it was amazing, but I’m both too chicken and to prone to motion-sickness to have joined them. Oh, and speaking of chickens…They are EVERYWHERE on Kaua’i! Just part of the local character…

Some local chicks...

Some local chicks…


And a baby daddy?

And a baby daddy?

As much fun as we had on our visit to Kaua’i, there were a couple adventures that will have to wait for the kiddo to get a little bigger and stronger…

We'll kayak the Na Pali coast someday. Until then, this is as close as we'll get.

We’ll kayak the Na Pali coast someday. Until then, this is as close as we’ll get.


This trail is calling us, too...An adventure for another time!

This trail is calling us, too…An adventure for another time!

So there’s the briefest vacation report I can manage…Better late than never, right? And because I can’t get enough of baby birds (more about that in a future blog post) I’ll leave you with this parting shot:

Adorable (and endangered) Hawaiian Nene.

The adorable (and endangered) Hawaiian Nene.

Saying “No” to Fear

I know I promised my next post would be pictures from Kauai, and it’s long overdue, but today I watched the coverage of the attacks at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, and it got me thinking about fear and my relationship with it.

My generation’s early adulthood was shaped by the events of September 11, 2001. Like everyone, watching those planes fly into the World Trade Center shocked me and changed my perception of the world I live in. It also made me afraid. Afraid to fly, afraid to travel, afraid to do many of the things I had always dreamed of doing, and had, in fact, done fearlessly in my earlier life. (I was twenty-one that day, and had already gone to Europe a couple times by myself.) Add that to my deep-rooted fear of failure and humiliation, and my twenties were characterized in a large part by an unwillingness to try new things; getting married, working on my career, and having a baby were safe, expected, and predictable things that made me feel secure.

Then I turned thirty, and started evaluating my life (and my fears.) I made a conscious decision that I would not let myself pass up things I wanted to experience because I was anxious about what could go wrong. It wasn’t so much a decision not to be scared as a commitment not to let that fear stop me. Was I afraid to fly? Sure. But I was more afraid of never seeing a sunset on Maui, so off we went. Afraid to swim in the ocean? Heck, yeah…But more afraid that if I didn’t control my fear of fish, rip tides, big waves and sharks, I would miss out on the opportunity to see something remarkable…So I dived in. (Okay, okay, I waded in, slowly, and the first time a fish swam near me I ran back to shore, hyperventilating, until I got the nerve to go back in again, but you get the picture.) Afraid to travel solo with a three-year-old? Yes, but more afraid I’d never get to see Las Vegas if I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity I had. So I hit the strip with a kiddo and a stroller, and it was awesome! Oh, and I was also afraid I would fail if I tried to finish a triathlon…But I sucked it up, learned to swim, and the rest is history.

Last December, a shooter opened fire in the mall I wasted countless hours at as a teenager. Two people were killed, people I’d knew personally had to run for their lives, and our community was stunned. Two days later, another gunman opened fire in an elementary school in Connecticut. I don’t even need to describe that unspeakable tragedy; you know it as well as I do. My five-year-old son was oblivious, and went on with his life as usual. But I was threatened by a wave of fear that made me want to avoid public places, to keep him inside, to shelter him from everything I could for the rest of my life. Then I gave myself a mental head-shake, and thought to myself, what’s the point of living if you’re going to spend all your time trying to anticipate every possible threat? Not only will you be eaten alive with worry, but you’ll miss out on all the joy in life, and probably end up getting blindsided by some crazy thing you never could have prepared for, anyway. I’m not going to do that to myself, and I won’t let my child grow up that way either.

Watching the Boston Marathon tragedy unfold, I feel the temptation to withdraw, to try to shelter myself and my family from the outside world. But I know this is an irrational tendency. As frightening as each of these events is, they’re so much more rare than they seem. And every day, millions of acts of kindness and heroism go unrecognized. I will keep reminding myself that there is more good in the world than bad, and I’m going to embrace life instead of being a victim of fear. I’ll never be one to go rushing headlong into danger or anything, but every time I consider not doing something I want to because I’m afraid it could turn out badly, I’m going to remind myself not to let the fear make my decisions for me.

Running…With Bugs

Ahhh, the joy of having your beloved 5-year-old crawl into bed with you first thing in the morning, cuddling his warm body against yours, snuggling close for a kiss, sharing his plethora of cold germs…Yep, this little guy is the reason I’ve spent more time WITH a cold than without so far this winter; at least it sure feels that way.

Nonetheless, I’m managing to get my three-a-week runs in, and I’ve only missed one or two of my twice-weekly swim sessions. As far as I’m concerned, I’m putting those miles in the bank just in case I get REALLY sick one of these days, or need to take a few days off for a minor injury. And I’m trying to stay cheerful in spite of my ever-present sniffles…Though I do wonder what the people I pass on my usual running route think of me, smiling and waving as the snot drips down my face. Most of the time the rain washes it away anyway, so maybe it’s not that big of a deal. All part of the joy of training in the Oregon winter!

In just nine short days, I’ll be saying goodbye to the nasty weather and aloha to the warmer rain of Kauai! Alas, it’s only for a week, but remembering last year’s trip to Maui in a pneumatic walking boot, I have high hopes for this being a wonderful vacation. Ocean swimming, hiking, kayaking…I’m prepared to have an awesome time, with or with out viral companions!

Stay tuned for pictures in a few weeks!

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