We aren’t big New Year’s people. I’m guessing it has something to do with being non-fancy-non-drinking-morning-people, but at least one of of us is really into New Year’s resolutions. I love the metaphorical clean slate and writing up a slew of goals for how I could be better. Even if I only meet a fraction of them, I still feel like I accomplished more than I would have if I hadn’t set any goals. (Clearly, blogging more was not one of my New Year’s Resolutions.) Noel isn’t quite as big on New Year’s resolutions and all the dreaming that comes with it. He prefers to make what he refers to as “plans.” Plans, resolutions, goals, dreams, or whatever they may be, I’m really excited for the vision we’ve created for 2016 and January is already off to a great start.
Our biggest joint goal is we’re finally going to try a triathlon. In preparation we’re taking swim lessons. Yes, as adults. It has been a somewhat humbling experience, but I think will save us a lot of embarrassment come race day. (And perhaps an emergency rescue.) We’ve also been trying to spend more quality time with family and actually enjoy winter. Check out the pictures for more details on what we’ve been up to.
I remember looking at my father like he had lost his mind. “You can’t go to a gas station without a car, it’s, it’s . . . it’s insane!” I protested, flashing my most dramatic “you’re-ruining-my-life” face. Dad was unrelenting and in the end, I furiously walked the 2.5 blocks to the gas station to fill the gas can so I could mow the lawn. Truthfully, it wasn’t a task that asked too much of me. I was old enough to drive and have a job so I was perfectly capable of running an errand on my own. I ran Cross-Country and Track so the distance wasn’t too much. It was also broad daylight and it wasn’t like I was walking through gang territory. The only thing standing in my way was a a hyperactive desire to not stand out and a touch of laziness. As I stood at the pump I furtively looked around, double and triple checking that I didn’t see anyone that I knew. Once my can was full I shamefully approached the gas station fee window with a dollar bill and a handful of change and then began my trudge home. As I approached my house the clouds of teenage ego began to clear a little and I remember thinking, “That wasn’t that bad. I don’t know why I made such a big deal about it.” I of course said nothing of the sort to my dad.
These days my ego is a little less fragile and I care much less about what other people think about me; laziness, however, can still be an issue. Since today is Earth Day I decided it was the perfect motivation to get me back into the habit of riding my bike to pick Cooper up from preschool. The ride was tougher than I would have liked it to be, but the weather was perfect and the kids thought it was a lot of fun. We pulled into the driveway and as I was unloading the kids a car pulled up in front of the house. A younger woman I didn’t recognize got out and said she’d moved into a house around the corner a few weeks prior and that she’d recognized me as the gal that biked to preschool pick-up and she figured she should say hello. We chit-chatted for a few minutes and then parted ways. Our kids are in different preschool classes and normally we would both just drive home in our unmemorable cars and pull into our garages, so who knows how long it would have taken for us to realize we were neighbors if we ever realized it at all. Sometimes doing things the “greener way” can take longer or seem inconvenient, but there are often benefits we probably wouldn’t think about. Today I added 20 minutes to my preschool pick-up routine, but I burned a few extra calories, got some Vitamin D therapy, and made a new friend. (As a bonus, Ellen got to see a few dogs.) I’m feeling sufficiently motivated to try a little harder to show Mother Earth some love. Who knows how she’ll repay me next time.
In spite of having a father that has a slight obsession with bicycles, I’ve always been a little timid about riding my own. I squeeze my brakes for dear life when going downhill and am skittish in traffic. As long as I have a patient companion I’ll venture out and generally have a good time, but rarely go by myself. Noel has gotten really good at riding his bike to do all kinds of errands and quite frankly I was jealous at how happy it makes him when driving around doing those same errands only tarnishes my hippie cred and rarely gives me any sort of deep fulfillment. When Cooper started preschool I found myself driving six miles, twice a day, four days a week. As a person who tries to consolidate my errands and use the car sparingly, this was a big change. Our gasoline usage was creeping up and all the driving was making me a tad bit ornery. (It doesn’t help that feelings of bitterness well up as I pass the preschool two blocks from our house that wasn’t able to fit him in this year.) So, I decided I needed to put on my big girl pants and give bike transit a better effort. Today I loaded Ellen into the trailer and we went to pick up Cooper. There isn’t as much traffic in the afternoon and the cars we did see knew they shouldn’t mess with this mom and her trailer and gave us a wide berth. I got a little sweaty and my legs got a good burn from powering us up some hills, but it felt awesome. I’m sure the fresh air didn’t hurt either. I’m going to have to use my mom powered vehicle more often.
Last weekend we drove to Utah for a quick trip to see my sister graduate with a Masters of Social Work from the University of Utah. Logistically, the whole thing was a bit of a fiasco, but once it unfolded it was quite fun. We’d found a great deal on a rental car, that according to our calculations would actually cost less to rent and drive than to drive our 18-year-old car. (See what a difference fuel efficiency can make?) Then, Noel got unexpected last minute permission to go to a conference which made it so he was unable to drive to Utah with me. My brother was coming to visit right after our trip, so I first tried to switch his flight so he’d fly out before the Utah excursion, drive to Utah, drive back to Colorado, spend a week with us, and then fly back to Utah on his originally scheduled flight. But, he had finals and apartment checkout. Then, I tried to talk some friends into going on a road trip with me and the kids, but the work schedules of husbands got in the way. So, we bought Noel a ticket to fly to Utah after his presentation at the conference so he could be there for Cooper’s birthday and I wouldn’t have to make the drive back alone. I was all prepared to drive solo to Utah, but my parents took pity on me and purchased a ticket for my Uncle to fly to Colorado so he could lend a hand on the trip to Utah. Then there was a huge snowstorm predicted for the day my uncle was going to fly in, so we changed his flight so he would arrive just as I was picking up the rental car. Are you still following this? No? Well, basically there were a lot of plans made and deserted, and while the end result was a little crazy (and probably more expensive than we’d intended) it worked surprisingly well.
Here’s the brief recap: Thursday my uncle David flew in and took a shuttle to the rental car agency where I was I picking up the car with the help of the children. (Turns out the secret to avoiding all the tricky upsell questions is to bring your kids with you. Cooper and Ellen were running around like hooligans and the desk agent didn’t try to schmooze me at all. I literally got the keys within two minutes of approaching the desk.) After taking our car back to the house, we made the long, boring journey across Wyoming. Friday morning Hope graduated and Noel flew in that afternoon just in time for her celebration party. Saturday, we had a big family birthday party for Cooper with lots of delicious food my parents made. Sunday morning, we caught the beginning of church before making the long journey back home. Monday morning I returned the rental car with my friend Serin’s help. That evening we had our small family party for Cooper. Then my brother Spencer flew in after the kids were asleep. Phew. It was just about as exhausting as it sounds, but the fun kind of exhausting. Also, I of course forgot my camera while in Utah, so I mostly have low-quality phone pics. Considering all the things that could have gone wrong though, forgetting the camera seems pretty small.
This is the second year Colorado has hosted the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (and that it’s existed), but we missed out last year because the race went through town at the same time as church. This year the race was rerouted in our favor with the sixth stage starting in Golden on Saturday. We knew parking would be crazy, so we decided to ride our bikes into Golden; it only seemed fitting.
It was a busy day on the bike path for all us amateur cyclists. We like to think we were the fastest people hauling a trailer.
Golden’s main street was packed and full of energy. We’re sad to report that many of the spectators were kind of competitive about their positioning and were not interested in making it any easier for us to see. One guy even squeezed himself in front of us after we’d established a position making it so I couldn’t see at all. I bit my tongue and of course am not at all bitter. Thanks to Noel’s height and my climbing skills, we were both able to see the race and still be kind.
Even though the cyclists passed through town three times, we really only saw them for a total of 15 seconds. It was an exciting 15 seconds though. After the cyclists headed off to Boulder, we went to the Farmer’s Market and checked out the bike expo. As exciting as the race was, the best part of the day really was being out on our bikes as a family. We liked it so much we’ve decided we should ride our bikes to the Market every week and are kicking ourselves for not trying it sooner. I’m sure the Pros would feel proud to know they’ve inspired us 🙂
PS Another bike event we attended that wasn’t quite as professional.
When we were house shopping, commute time to my work was a very important part of the decision. We were quite adamant about it and had even picked out a neighborhood. Nevertheless, our real estate agent found it difficult to believe. We were shown several houses that were “only 15 minutes farther away” and supposedly cost less. Ultimately, we got our way and paid a little bit more for a shorter commute.
Now as I leave work and turn onto the street riding my bike, I see cars lined up to get on the freeway and I smile to myself because I know that I will be home before they get to the on ramp. I ran across this article the other day written by a fellow Coloradan and found out that not only am I not stuck in traffic, but that living close to work will make me rich too. I feel so vindicated.
As someone who (sort of) formerly worked in the exercise industry, I’m always curious about new exercise programs that come out. When I was doing my student teaching many moons ago, everyone was talking about P90X and how amazing it was. I was skeptical partially because I was way more fit than any of my fellow PE colleagues who professed love for the program and partially because I don’t trust things that are sold on infomercials. I kind of forgot about P90X for awhile since I was pregnant and then recovering, but when it resurfaced in my brain I put a hold on it at our library. At the time I was in line behind like 142 other people that put holds on it. (Come to think of it, it might have been January when everyone was all gung-ho about getting in shape. ) Well, the hold finally came in last week. Even though I’m not aiming to have any sort of beach body anytime soon (unless you count beach ball body), I still wanted to get a feel for the program.
The purist in me hated how gimmicky the program was. The instructor is constantly pushing the company’s products (energy bars, muscle building drinks, and special exercise equipment). Also, the instructor is annoying and cocky. However, the workouts themselves are actually pretty good though. P90X wins points for length of workout and intensity. The DVDs also had some nice features like having the option to turn off the instructor’s commentary and having a countdown timer at the bottom of the screen during each workout. While P90X focuses more on strength than my cardio-loving-soul would prefer, I definitely took some notes on exercises I would like to pull into future routines.
Speaking of future workouts. Do you remember how I was coveting Chariots when I was pregnant with Cooper? Well, since we’re going to need a double jogger in a few months, I’ve been on the prowl. I’ve been obsessively checking ads on craigslist and even Utah’s KSL (in case there was a steal of a deal my parents could pick up for us), but everyone wanted way too much money for their used strollers. We almost bought a new one during REI’s Labor Day sale, but decided that even at 20% off it was fiscally irresponsible. I’ve never been so grateful for self-control in my life because the very next weekend a family from church told us their boys had just outgrown their Chariot and they would sell us theirs at a super discounted price. You seriously can’t buy Chariot kits for the price we paid for this beauty. Cooper loves it and is always climbing inside and begging us to take him somewhere. Hopefully he’ll adjust to sharing it 🙂
It’s hard to say whether yesterday’s low was when Cooper cried inconsolably from 12am-2am or when we forgot about the bike on the roof rack and tried to drive into the garage. By the time we swept up the shattered glass and plastic in the driveway and found our chicken dinner half cooked in a dead crockpot, we were feeling pretty defeated. Famished, we threw the chicken in the oven and decided to start dinner with salads, but paused first to say a prayer. As I expressed gratitude that “the motion sensor was the only thing that broke when we drove our car into the garage with the bike on top” the whole situation suddenly struck me as being very funny and I found myself suppressing giggles. I hurried and ended with an “amen” just in time for Noel and I to erupt into deep belly laughs.
Noel sent me a link to an NPR snippet titled “Want to Live to 100? Try to Bounce Back From Stress.” The clip talked about a 109-year-old lady that still lives at home. Her gerontologist attributes her longevity not to exercise or a healthy diet, but to her “adaptive competence” or “the ability to bounce back from stress.” I’m not the best at keeping a positive attitude when difficult or even minorly irritating things happen, but I’ve definitely felt better the times I’ve laughed instead of cried. Joseph B. Wirthlin wisely said, “the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life” (from “Come What May and Love It“). There are a million things to want in life (and I surely don’t have a small wishlist), but I’m learning that one of the most valuable things I may ever possess is a good sense of humor.