May 2019

May 2019

May was packed to the gills with just about everything you could imagine. Parents with kids older than mine used to tell me, “May is such a crazy month when you have school-aged kids.” Turns out they were right.

The first school related event of the month, was Ellen’s school music performance. The 1st and 2nd grade classes combined to do a performance called “How Does Your Garden Grow?” It was a silly and entertaining performance that included a sing-a-long of “Garden Song.”

That weekend, we had a S’mores birthday party for Cooper. We wanted to keep it simple but fun and it was. Cooper invited his two best friends from school, his best friend from church, and all our neighbor friends to roast marshmallows and play in the backyard. It was a low-key, but fun event.

The next day was Cooper’s real birthday. We kept telling Cooper all he was getting for his birthday was socks and underwear. We thought we were pretty funny when we hid all his presents in the morning and just let him open socks and underwear. He wasn’t fooled though and asked where the rest of the presents were.

His birthday was on a Sunday, so we went to church where they sang to him in primary. Since it was Cinco de Mayo, we had carne asada tacos for dinner and tres leches cake for dessert. It’s funny, Cooper doesn’t really like dairy, but he really likes Tres Leches cake.

May is National Bike month and I was in charge of a bike or walk to school challenge at the kids elementary school. The challenge spanned 12 school days and if a student rode or walked to school 10 out of the 12 days they would be entered into a prize drawing. There were some pretty rainy days during the challenge, but we tried to lead by example and ride even when the weather wasn’t great.

May 8th is National Bike To School Day so we made an especially big deal out of that. The weather was chilly and drizzly, but we persevered with the day. I told parents that as the Scandinavians say, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” and encouraged them to show some Colorado grit. (Let’s be honest, in most cases the adults are the problem not the kids.)

We made some adjustments to our plans, like handing out grocery sacks to cover helmets and bike seats and using laminated signs instead of chalking the sidewalks. We had a fraction of kids bike this year compared to last year when it was good weather, but I was very impressed with the 30 kids that rode bikes (plus more that walked) when it was 40 degrees and drizzling. I was oddly touched by that as well as the parents that showed up to help even though I knew they didn’t want to.

The day after bike to school day it snowed. We used that day as one of our freebie days and took the car. We of course had a long run planned the day after the snow which made for really great terrain.

We were supposed to do a 26 mile run. We planned to do a 13 mile out and back run TWICE. We met up with one of Noel’s co-workers who was also training for the Dirty 30 and our little trio headed off into the snow and mud on some trails outside of Boulder.

The run covered a wide range of emotions – I think that happens when you run for hours. There were times that were enjoyable and fun, but there were also times of extreme frustration as we sloshed uphill through mud and anger as giant clumps of snow fell out of trees and smashed into our heads. We laughed. We cried (or at least felt like it). We ran. We walked. We thought about quitting, but didn’t.

I’d recently finished Peter Sagal’s The Incomplete Guide to Running and this quote struck me, “If there’s one thing I have gained from my running career, it’s not the strength or cardiovascular fitness to run ten or twenty-six miles at a time, but the patience and focus to stay in the mile I’m in. Run long enough and everything comes into view, be it a finish line or a home . . . What running has given me, most of all is the practice of persistence.” Our run that day was one of persistence. In the end, we didn’t even make it the full 26 miles because we were running out of time before we had to pick our kids up from school. I could have felt like a failure for only going 23 miles, but mostly I was proud we’d gone out there at all. And even more proud that we hadn’t crawled into the car at mile 13, but instead headed out for round two.

That weekend was Mother’s Day. Lots of people did really nice things for me, but I’ll admit I was kind of a grouch. I was trying to hide it, but I’m terrible at hiding my feelings. Noel and the kids did a great job of loving me anyway.

The next day was the kids’ field day. It was supposed to be the day it snowed, but they rescheduled it for obvious reasons. Rescheduling field day had a domino effect on a bunch of other plans for me personally as well as other school events so we were all scrambling to readjust work schedules and personal schedules to get to all the places we needed to be. I ended up manning the three legged race station for four hours.

The kids had a blast and the weather was practically perfect.

That afternoon, Cooper and Ellen had their last day of run club. I’d volunteered to help with that too (before it was the same day as field day). The kids were so excited because they each got a medal for running a half marathon. (Cooper ran 17.3 miles over the course of the club and Ellen ran 13 miles.) Ellen literally wore her medal day and night for the next two days. They were so proud of themselves and I was too. After run club we checked in on the garden before heading to a Healthy Schools meeting. By the time we all got home that evening, we had spent 9 hours at the school.

The next day, I took a dive on my morning run. It wasn’t a particularly long run and we’d gotten past all the technical stuff, but I’d let my guard down and wasn’t picking up my feet. As I flew through the air all I could think was NOOOOOOOO!!!! After I landed, I scanned my body for anything that might be broken or sprained – something like that would be the kiss of death for our race which was only 2 1/2 weeks away. Noel asked me if I was okay. I rolled over and announced with relief, “It’s only a flesh wound!” It stung and bled and I had a few minor wounds on hands and arms, but I was so glad it wasn’t worse.

There was an epidemic of hair dying happening at Ellen’s school. She kept begging me to let her dye her hair like her friends. Maybe I’m officially old or maybe it’s because I grew up in a conservative place where dying your hair crazy colors would have resulted in suspension, but I really didn’t like that idea. After lots of discussion and begging, we settled on buying some hair chalk. Ellen was so excited when it arrived and happily sported a rainbow hairstyle for a day.

That week, I hit 1000 miles on my ebike. It’s been lovely to be able to ride it again. I really do get joy out of riding it that I don’t get out of driving.

Thursday, Ellen had a first grade picnic. The whole 1st grade walked a mile to the park and then played for an hour and had lunch. I walked my bike to the park (my fully human powered one since it’s lighter) because I had to zip back to the school for Cooper’s recorder recital. (This was one of the things that got moved around with the rescheduling of field day.)

Now, I was admittedly not looking forward to the recorder performance. The thought of twenty-four 3rd graders playing recorders just seemed like cruel punishment. AND they would all be playing solos.

It was actually really entertaining though. The musical quality was perhaps questionable, but each kid got to tell what they’d named their solo and why. It was a really interesting insight into each kid – Cooper’s was called a “Toy’s Life,” other kids called theirs things like “Squeaky Dog” or the “Time I Played Fortnight at My Friend’s House” (which was a shock to that boy’s mother . . . ) The music teacher was really encouraging and made each kid feel comfortable getting up in front of everyone which I thought was impressive.

Friday of that week was planting day for the school garden. I dropped most of the stuff (bags of dirt, purchased plants, etc) off at the garden when I was making other trips in my car, but still had a couple of raspberry and blackberry bushes to transport on the bike. We had to supplement the seedlings the 1st graders had started with some store bought plants. There was an incident with the portable greenhouses where high winds snapped the legs of one of the greenhouses and dumped a tray of tomato seedlings on the ground. Most of the kids didn’t realize I’d swapped out their seedlings for nursery grown ones, ha, ha. The first grade classes and several parent volunteers helped plant for about an hour, then the parents stayed and helped me for several more hours. Once again, I was touched and so grateful for people’s willingness to help. The garden is quite large and it would be very difficult for me to take care of it myself. We worked until 4:00 when I announced we were done, even though there was more work that could have been done. We all needed a break and I needed to hurry home and get ready for a date.

After quickly changing and passing our kids off to the babysitter, Noel and I headed into downtown Denver for a lovely dinner and then a walk in the rain to the Denver Center of Performing Arts where we saw Wicked.

We’re late to the game on pretty much everything that’s popular, so it was about time we saw this musical. (I predict we see Hamilton in a decade.) It was really enjoyable and I was still pondering on the musical’s messages days later which I feel a sign of good art.

The next morning, Noel and I went on a twelve mile run. The run had some technical terrain, little did we know this would actually be good practice for our race. (Cue the music that indicates blatant foreshadowing.)

Ellen at church

The next day was Sunday. The switch to two hour church in January has been really good for our family. We’re even doing a pretty good job with our family lesson each week. This week, we talked about the scripture that says “The last shall be first and the first last.” To turn it into an object lesson, we played a game of bocce ball and then gave “prizes” (dessert) starting with the person in last place and moving up to the person in first place. Then we talked about what the scripture meant as we ate our dessert. The kids have really been enjoying the lessons and even helped plan a few.

Bike to School Prizes

By this point, we were to the last week of school and the bike and walk to school challenge had ended. Twenty-six kids filled cards which was not an easy feat with the weather we’d been dealt. (As a recap: rain, torrential rain, snow, chilly temps, and a few nice days.) I had gotten donations for prizes. A local bike shop (Peak Cycle) donated 20 bike bells, a family that reps for outdoor companies donated some athletic socks, a local roller skating rink donated some complimentary passes, and the PTA donated 26 water bottles that had been leftover from a fundraiser years before. The fact that there were 26 water bottles and 26 kids with grit seemed meant to be. Every kid got at least one prize. My kids were so proud of their bike bells and I think other kids were too because I could hear them ringing out across the school grounds at pickup that day.

Before we headed home that day we stopped by the school garden to cover all the plants we’d planted the week before because the forecast indicated it was going to snow.

The next morning, the 21st of May, we did indeed wake up to snow. A couple of inches of it. It was maddening, depressing, and almost cuss-worthy inducing. (I’m not big on swearing, so that says something.) It stayed cold and rainy/snowy the next two days. The weaker tomatoes did not survive.

That night Cooper got his wolf badge which meant I got a pin. Cooper was pretty excited to earn his Wolf.

Wednesday, Cooper had his zoo field trip which had been rescheduled from March when it was cancelled due to the bomb cyclone. (It’s been a fun “spring” hasn’t it?) I don’t have any pictures because I wasn’t able to make it on the field trip, but Cooper had a blast. Thursday was the last day of school. It did not feel very summery as we were all wearing warm, waterproof jackets.

Ellen’s class had a brunch that morning and then the whole school had a dance party where the teachers did the macarena. (School was pretty much a waiting out the clock at this point.) Then, they let the kids out of school 10 minutes early. It wasn’t a problem for me since I was already there, but I kept wondering about some of the other families. I think everyone was just done at that point.

Ellen loved first grade. She had a great time with the teacher she started the year with and fell in love with the teacher that took her place half way through the school year when her teacher moved to be with her fiance. Ellen learned a lot in first grade. She learned to love reading, made some good friends, and continues to be as spunky as ever. (Example A – unicorn ponytail she did herself.)

Cooper had another great year with Mrs. Arnold who moved up to 3rd grade with him this year. It was nice for him to be familiar with his teacher from day one. Cooper has become more confident in speaking out in class. (Maybe too confident when it comes to calling out other kids on the rules.) He’s loved learning about history, geography, and science. He’s a ravenous reader and extremely matter of fact in his writing.

Example A

School got out on a Thursday. That Friday, the kids spent a few hours in the day care at my work while I subbed some classes for a co-worker whose son was graduating from high school. Then we went home and packed the car so we would be ready to head out for a trip to Utah the second Noel got off work. We camped in Palisade that night and slept well thanks to earplugs Noel wisely brought. (The campground was right next to the interstate.) Saturday, we made our way to SLC where we met up first with my sister, Hope, her husband, Joe, and their kids Porter and Theo. My kids love Hope and Joe’s kids. They only see them a few times a year, but they are their favorite people.

Joe took us to his work to play a bit. He runs the UNI (University Nueropsychiatric Institute) Ropes Course at the University of Utah. Everyone tried out the inclined log which was more difficult than it looks. At first it seems super easy, but the higher you get the more you wish you had something to hang on to. Noel has a bit of acrophobia, so we called this his exposure therapy. Hope and I went on to do a few more challenging runs on the course. I had a blast. Noel enjoyed staying on the ground and the kids rolled down the hill again and again. Afterwards, we visited Noel’s sister, Joy, and her husband, Chris. We had a good time chatting and eating delicious ice cream.

We spent the night at my grandpa’s house. He enjoyed showing the kids some of his treasures in the morning. We then headed up to Brigham City where my parents live to join them for church.

After church, almost all of my family came to my parents house for a BBQ. We were only missing my brother Spencer and his wife Sarah who couldn’t make it due to school and work obligations. Cooper and Ellen enjoyed more family time.

Cooper really is so sweet with Theo who is two. He’s always looking out for him to make sure he’s safe. Odyssey, Mitchell, and their dog, Suki, didn’t make my pictures, but they were there and we were glad to see them.

The next day was Memorial Day. We visited four cemeteries with my grandma and my Uncle David. Cooper actually found it very interesting to see the headstones of some of his ancestors and to hear their stories. Ellen was maybe a little bored, but Grandpa Wayne took care of that.

After our cemetery visits, we had another BBQ. I didn’t take any photos, but I think that’s because we were all just so content.

The next day, we began our journey home. It was rainy and even snowy in some parts. We stopped at a rest stop with an Abe Lincoln statue and a bunch of history about prisons in Wyoming. Very fun stuff.

Then it was back to work and starting our summer groove. I took a picture of me with my name tag because me having a tag with my name on it is a big deal. Months ago, my name tag went missing. We leave our tags at work so we searched high and low. I searched my house in case I’d accidentally taken it home, but it never turned up. They like to order the name tags in batches because it costs less, so I had to wait for them to hire new people. In the meantime, I wore other people’s tags (like Amy on Superstore) and had fun choosing who I would be each day. The last day of May, we went to bed anxious for June 1st which would be the day of our Ultramarathon. Details on that to come!

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