People

A missionary once said to me years and years ago:  “Working with people is difficult.  But it is more blessed to give than receive.”  I can’t tell you how many times this single thought has permeated my brain in the last week or so.  It takes lots of prayer, deep breathes and “a self pep talk” to remember that it is more blessed to give a humble and peaceful attitude to people than dish out self-centered frustration.  

Looking ahead to summer

I am not really a working mom, but I am not a stay-at-home mom either.  I stay at home with my children, but I watch four children on a part time basis close to forty hours a week.  This year I feel like I identify more with working moms in terms of my schedule and availability.  But what I do now as a working mom versus what I did as a stay at home mom is not much different.  I stay home more, but I think I would have done that anyway this year.  The last two years being involved in morning Bible studies, preschool co-ops, daytime mom’s groups plus play dates got to be a little much. The house showed for it too.  

But this summer it’s just us.  I decided not to do summer daycare because I have quite a bit going on at church including directing VBS.  As much as I enjoy child care and our whole family is committed to it, we do need a break too.

We also talked about last night about activities and came to a conclusion we need a break from those too.  Aside from one or two weeks of swim lessons in June or July, VBS in late June, and my oldest does a one week theatre week in August–that might be it.  It will be very strange not having evening Bible Study, youth group, swim team, mom’s group, not to mention child care kids here every weekday.  However, I am craving the down time.  

My kids are at the age where we can all go running together at the track, bike on the cycling paths together, go swimming together at the pool, go for day hikes, and beach comb at the coast.  We need opportunities for that.  Summer is our prime time.  I tend to gravitate towards “the soccer mom” role wanting to put my kids in everything because I tend to try to do everything too, but the Lord has putting it on my heart the need to rest.  To slow down.  To stop.  I am greatly looking forward to Summer 2014.

 

Spring Break Plus A Bonus Week

So we had Spring Break plus “a bonus Spring Break” because my sister and her family ventured out to Oregon the week after our break. Since I had to dig my flip flops and shorts out of the attic for my trip to California and I am not about to put everything back, I feel like summer is on its way.  Especially with the warm sunny weather we are soaking up.  Yet I know well enough about the rain that sometimes invades in May and the June gloom here in Oregon so I am leaving a couple long sleeves and hoodies in the closet.

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So back in March we told the kids we were going to Washington because my husband had an all day meeting at a church. This was all made up.  There was no meeting. We told them they had to spend a full day entertaining themselves in the church nursery.  I hate holding the truth from my kids so I told them we’d stay in a motel with a pool.  Our plan was to surprise them and take them to Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington.  And yes, they were surprised.

ImageOne of the best things about Great Wolf Lodge with a 8,6, & 4 year old (we have gone when they were younger) is we could do almost everything including all ride on a tube slide together.  There was just one slide my younger two did not meet the height requirement on.  It was refreshing and fun to not have to spend the whole time in the little kid’s area. However, it was nice they still wanted to play there at times giving us a little break too.

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It was a great time for our family.  I am in this new phase of parenting where I am doing more with the kids versus for them.  It really makes events like this enjoyable.

ImageAfter Great Wolf, my family dropped me off at PDX where I flew to LA to visit my friend Linda.  Linda was in the youth group I lead back in Michigan, and somehow she got all grown up on me and is now a graduate student at USC.  I love seeing my youth group “kids” all grown up finding their place in the world.

My first full day in LA I drove in my rental car braving the crazy six lane highways I am not used to.  I headed to Santa Monica where I enjoyed the festivities on the pier and a run along the beach.

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And an amazing sunset!

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 Linda gave me an “inside” view of LA.  We ate at several ethnic restaurants, drove to the Hollywood sign, I went to her Ultimate Frisbee tournament, and we even got to visit the LA opera.

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I could not get enough of the warm, sunny, LA weather.  I am not sure I could live the pace of LA, but the weather and the beaches are pretty amazing.

After four days of being home and trying to revert back into some kind of routine, we were thrilled to have my sister, her husband, and kids come visit us in Oregon.  They live back in Michigan where we used to live so we don’t get to see one another often.

While they were here, my brother-in-law did the Beaver Freezer Triathlon on the campus of Oregon State.  It was my second sprint triathlon.  He has done more and even completed an Ironman Triathlon.  It was fun to do one with a family member.

Amy runningMy time was very similar (only a thirty second difference) from my first triathlon last spring in Stayton, Oregon.  But the swimming went so much better.  Last spring I felt nauseous swimming and could not get into a good swimming pattern.  I felt like I could have increased my speed on the bike, but I am still not totally comfortable “bike racing.”  This is something I hope to work on this summer.  The run for me was by far the best and my run time was only about 1 minute and half more than my normal 5K time.

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My brother-in-law is the guy in the back with the blue shirt and sunglasses.  I thought this picture was funny with the “happy runner” in the front.

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One of the greatest things about having my sister and her family here is seeing all the cousins playing together.  They are ages 12,10,8.6,4–there was a baby every two years.  My brother continued that pattern with an almost two year old and a baby due next month.

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The weather cooperated and we were able to spend most of Monday at Silver Falls State Park.  We have been there many times.  We appreciate it more going with people who have never gone before.

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My sister, her husband, my niece, my nephew, and my oldest two hiked to Double Falls which was about a four mile hike round trip.  My youngest and I made it just past the lower South Falls and took a breather while the rest went on.  We were able to hike back together.

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And then return home to a wonderful dinner cooked by my husband.

After my sister’s family left I cannot believe how tired everyone was.  It has taken us a few days to get our energy back.  My sister made the comment that there is something relaxing about getting back into your normal routine.  I have found that to be true.  The house is slowly getting put back together and everyone is returning back to work, school & regular activities.

Six things about the first day of Spring Break

  1. My husband prank called me and I fell for it.  It took me a long time to figure out it was him.  He is still like a little kid playing with the phone…never grew out of it.
  2. My kids really can play on their own all day long.  They don’t need me to intervene all the time.
  3. I continued my track record of not having the right documents at the DMV and had to go home and retrieve them before getting my license renewed.  I am glad we live practically across the street.  Michiganders the DMV = the Secretary of State Office.  Yes, it took me awhile to make the transition.
  4. I can still focus if I have my ipod in my ears even if the kids two feet away yelling and singing loud songs.
  5. I get more done if I take a break from Facebook.  I’m really sick of Facebook.
  6. I don’t think I ever accomplished this much in one day ever.  I got SO much crossed off my “to do list.”  I am seriously in amazement.  I feel high on progress.

Running In Eugene and Portland and back to Salem

I am still recovering from a fast paced (but fun!) weekend.  On Friday morning after I was complaining about rising early and how cluttery the house felt, I was thankful to see the beautiful sun.  Despite a full day I did get to sneak a run in the late afternoon.  Then in the evening I got to take all three kids with me to the gym for a time to swim.  My oldest swims on a non-competitive swim team and needs no assistance in the water.  She’s learning breaststroke, pre-butterfly, and flip turns–things I don’t know how to do but wish I did.  My middle son wants to ditch his water wings and is close to being “water safe.”  My youngest is a fish in the water like her sister.

Then on Saturday morning I had the honor of celebrating life at my friend’s baby shower.  During my busy week, I feared I would not get the shower games and prizes together in time or the food planned in time.  However it all came together beautifully.

Saturday afternoon my friend and I drove south to Eugene  to visit one of our other friends who moved there.  I have only been to Eugene one other time last spring for a conference.  I wanted to go there my birthday weekend and run on Pre’s trail in memory of the track star of the 1970′s Steve Prefontaine and see Pre’s rock where he tragically died in a car crash.  My friend had plans on my birthday.  I am so glad I waited because the 60′s sunny weather was perfect running unlike the rainy windy cold on my birthday.  IMG_0253

Any running geek needs to visit Eugene aka Tracktown USA.  Steve Prefontaine wanted a trail similar to the style and terrain  of European trails to run through Alton Baker Park near the university campus.

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And it was a perfect day for a run.  The park was very busy with runners, walkers, bikers, dog walkers, and people sitting by the ponds relaxing.

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Steve Prefontaine died on May 30, 1975 when he swerved into a rock on Skyline Boulevard and flipped trapping him underneath his car.  I could see how the accident could happen as the hill going up to Skyline was extremely steep, there is little shoulder, and few street lights.  Runners come to this rock and leave running shoes and medals.  Or they touch the wall and run back down the hills (which I saw a nearby runner do).

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My most favorite part of the day was spending time with quality time with friends.  It is nice to have little to no agenda or schedule and simply get caught up on life.

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I am grateful for the friends God has blessed my family with here in Oregon that sometimes have had to serve as “our surrogate family.”

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Our running weekend continued.  The alarm went off super early Sunday morning and I had to nudge my oldest out to bed.  We were headed north this time to Portland to run in the  Shamrock race.  Did you know St. Patty’s weekend has the most running races of any holiday?  I actually heard the same thing about Thanksgiving so I am not sure which is correct.

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I am so thankful we could hitch a ride with another friend and I did not have to deal with big city driving in Portland. My big city driving days like navigating through Chicago are over.  My friends were all doing the 15K while my oldest and I were doing the 5K.  Our race was about 1 1/2 hours after theirs.  My youngest was content to hang out in Starbucks and get breakfast.  There are Starbucks cafes pretty much everywhere in Portland.

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The weather thankfully cooperated.  It was not nearly as cold as last year, but with a slight misty rain off and on.  Our race started about 15 minutes late (which is a long 15 minutes when you’re waiting at the starting line).  All the races were delayed because of an Amtrak train.

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Since I’m so paranoid about missing races since I nearly missed the start to the Portland Marathon in 2006 due to getting lost (which is another story in itself), we did wait at the starting line a long time.  We could have stayed in Starbucks longer.  My oldest had a great attitude despite my needing to be at everything early.

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It was the third 5K I have run with my oldest and so far the best.  She ran really well and only took a few short walk breaks.  Her time was 40:11.  She sprinted at the very end.  It was the first 5K I have ever run where I had to wait a minute or so for a streetcar to pass, where I dropped my cell phone and camera simultaneously (which is why I took an old camera), and where I ran carrying two hats, a coat, and water bottle.  It was still was fantastic!

People ask me why I like to run so much (or declare how much they dislike running).  And I don’t have a good answer except that running is me.  It’s who I am and it’s what I do. It’s my work of art.  The fact I can share it with my kids brings even more meaning.  This is how Pre said it:

“Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, ‘I’ve never seen anyone run like that before.’ It’s more than just a race, it’s a style. It’s doing something better than anyone else. It’s being creative.”

I Gave Up Complaining for Lent

6:45 AM is not early for me.  On many mornings my alarm goes off at 4:45 AM and I get a workout in before a day of homemaking/child care giving/everything else I do begins.  But 6:45 IS early when your kids do not have school, your husband has the day off, and YOU do not.  Crankiness done. Over.

And actually complaining especially about my schedule and responsibilities is something I gave up for Lent.  My husband often said how we should not give something up during Lent (such as chocolate, pop, Facebook etc.) but rather focus and tackle something we struggle with.  The year he gave up worrying he was hit with particular issues that caused tremendous “worry.”  Like he had to walk through a valley to make it back to the hillside.

That is exactly how I felt this week.  I thought it was going to be a light easy going week.  Especially with the kids being home extra days and the weather absolutely perfect.  But that instant need to complain is always on the tip of my tongue.  The things I want to complain about about are constantly in my sight–and no I don’t mean my children.

I mean the little cluttery pieces of toys spread everywhere.  I mean half colored pieces of paper all over the floor.  Shoes (including mine!) spread all over the eating area.  Toothpaste spots all over the sink.  Laundry where it should not be thrown–socks all over the family room store get to me even if they are mine.

And it’s not just clutter.  It’s the little jobs on the “to do list” that get carried over week to week because they never seem to get done.  It’s the desire to not want to do anything but bum around on Facebook (or write blog entries). It’s the fact the kids broke the space bar on my keyboard and typing has become a slow tedious task.  Or they ripped their Sunday pants.

Yet I ask myself, “Amy is it really that bad?”  Is it so bad you need to broadcast it to everyone?  The toys get picked up.  The paper gets recycled.  The shoes get put away.  The laundry gets done.  The kids are old enough that they actually help with this.  A lot.  The little jobs get done…sometimes on the brink of a deadline…but they do. Goodwill sells keyboards…and pants.

And isn’t God good ALL the time?  He know what we need, what valleys we need to walk through, and what hillsides we can rest on.062-DSC09008

Our sweet cat

Our sweet cat

On Monday the oldest child complained of a headache before school. We did not think much of it and sent her to school anyway. She came home and crashed on the couch falling fast asleep. Tuesday, Wednesday & today she stayed home and she had a fever of 103 at one point. I have not seen her that sick since she had a bad stomach bug when she was three. Thankfully she’s eating and drinking again and feeling somewhat normal.

Our dear sweet cat Salena is tuned to the family’s ailments. This morning my oldest took a very long nap (and her fever finally broke) for three hours and Salena sat on this orange chair the whole entire time looking down at my oldest. My husband said Salena was doing the same thing when my daughter was sleeping on the couch the other day.

About a year and a half ago, I was sick during the night. I was up almost every hour and there was Salena sitting right next me as I threw up in the toilet. Honestly I would rather have her there than an actual person. She also curls up my lap when I’m more emotional than usual.

I know cats can sometimes be a pain–they scratch,they “meow” in the night when you’re trying to sleep, they paw, and their litter box stinks. But I love that our cat looks out for us when we’re at our worst.