Sunday, June 30, 2013

The truth about Denver

Did I mention I have a walk-in closet? Maybe that is the #1 best! 

So little time for blogging these days, but so very much to write, but with time short and knowing my audience has better things to do than read a novel penned by an author with a poor grasp of grammar, I will do a summary.

Five best things about Denver:

1) People. Enough said

2) Coors Field. Such a beautiful ball-park. We went to our first Rockies game of the season on Friday night and the kids (sans, Julian who was left in the care of a friend) had a blast. And all that ice-cold Coors Light. Need I say more ?

Let's Go Rockies!
3) Restaurants. Denver, and specifically this neighborhood is EXPLODING with awesome places to eat and drink. When we purchased this home in 2005 there was one lonely coffee shop around the corner and some Mexican restaurants that had seen better days. Now it is block after block of  hip, fancy-pants or mom & pop restaurants, not to mention there is a frozen yogurt place four blocks from home. Trouble. All of this has done wonders for the potential sale price of this house!

4) Thunder & Lightening. Since we have been back we have enjoyed two awesome storms. Dark skies, lightening and heavy rain. The boys (sans Julian who was scared) were thrilled, and so was I.
Me & My Bestie

5) Convenience: Since our return, I have yet to have to circle the parking lot at the local Safeway more than once in order to find a parking spot. No need to plug a meter and get all three kids out of the car when wanting to grab a coffee... STARBUCKS DRIVE THROUGH praise the LORD.  Forget about freeway traffic just to get to Target, you can get there in 5 minutes using regular residential streets. Hallelujah!

Five worst things about life in Denver

1) You can't buy anything stronger than 3.2 beer at the grocery store. No, no. Instead, I have to go to an actual liquor store to stock up on wine. Talk about a pain in the-tushie. Maybe not a big deal if you aren't carting around three kids when you shop, but, ahem, I  AM and mama needs her wine-hassle free!

2) All these freaky in-shape people. Going to the gym is becoming a bit traumatizing for me. I REALLY miss Tracy at my beloved Oakland YMCA who lead our "Body Sculpt" class, which was accessible, required no coordination or cute coordinating spandex outfit. I am so out of my element here.

3) Weather. Man I miss those absolutely perfect 70 degree bay-area summer days. Denver summers are hot. And dry. My skin is already turning scaly.

4) Produce? What produce?

5) No ocean. Anywhere. Duh.

My Denver Girls! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

East from California

I am sorry if you have missed me. I know it has been a while. I am sure I have many readers biting their finger nails wondering what I have been up to.... *sarcasm*

Well moving is time-consuming. Moving from California to Colorado with three kids and a dog, by car, while enduring an injured ankle and a car-malfunction, is EXHAUSTING.

I meant to write more frequently. I had plenty of inspiration along the way, from the movers that I wanted to punch in the face, to the family whom I dimly asked "what are you all dressed up for?" at a Best Western in  Utah, on a Sunday morning. (It took me a moment to notice the unit was ten strong and carried a super-sized bible.) There was the 10 hour lay-up in Beaver, Utah due to a "check engine" light on the old Toyota Corolla (which I had warned my husband repeatedly was not fit for long distance travel.)

And of course there were the reunions. With my sister and her family. The nephews who grew so much since I last saw them nearly two years ago. My friends whom I have been only loosely in touch with over the past few years, but within minutes felt an instant reconnection. With our home. The house on Bryant Street, the dwelling we picked out when expecting our first born. 

The journey has been exhausting, physically and emotionally. There is a part of me that wants to explore every inch of the neighborhood we left behind almost four years ago, discovering the new shops, restaurants and playgrounds,
Stuck in Beaver. D'oh

while revisiting some of the old favorites. There is another part of me that wants to lock myself up in the bedroom with my bum ankle and sleep for 72 consecutive hours. I suppose the truth lies somewhere in the middle. 

In the weeks and months to come I hope to post more often, but if not, you know it is because either a) I am so consumed with Denver life or b) I am in hibernation, still recovering from our adventure east from California.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Greetings, from St. George, Uthah

Fun pre-injury day at pool!
If nothing went wrong my blog would be boring right? Well I cannot have a boring blog. Wouldn't hear of it.

The trip thus far has been less than perfect, but nothing unexpected. Travel times have been longer than we planned, there was a 1.5 hour delay as we passed through Las Vegas, staring at the strip, unable to move due to an accident. There have been crabby kids and sub-par meals, but all and all nothing *terrible.* (Everything can be remedied with M&M's and Doritos when you are under 8.)

Oh, yeah... Fruitloops for breakfast. Open up the pearly gates.
Yesterday we had a beautiful day in Zion National Park. It was prettier than I had remembered from visits many years ago. The cliffs of red rock are specatuclar, the waterfalls and hanging gardens refreshing. We took a short hike, since the the heat was intense, dined on hot dogs and soft serve, and waded, skipping rocks in the  crystal clear river. Our hotel in St. George Utah has contential breakfast which is the absolute JACKPOT when you are 5 and 7. They have what I have coined "candy cereal" reserved for vacations and birthdays (fruit loops, cocoa puffs and frosted flakes,) toaster waffles, stale muffins and Tang-like orange juice. Kid heaven.

Zion National Park. (Before Evan's epic melt-down)
The hotel is also home to a lovely little pool which is essential for a summer stay in Utah. Yesterday we had an absolute blast playing keep away in the cool water, jumping, splashing and busting a gut as David made fun of my throwing capabilities. (Apparently I throw like a *girl*.)  It was some awesome family bonding time, and I ended the day feeling all sappy-happy about my life. I do admit that I cringed once,
Catching drops from the waterfall.


as I jumped for the water-football, landing wrong on my right ankle, but the pain was fleeting and I quickly forgot it.

This morning as we were headed to the eagerly anticipated breakfast of champions in the lobby of the the Towne Place Suites of Marriott, my ankle ached. As I munched on my sad Sara Lee plain Bagel with cream cheese the pain grew more and more intense. By the time the boys had sucked down the last drops of the Fruitloop flavored milk I had decided I needed an x-ray. I could hardly walk.

Hot new fashion accessory.
A trip to the St. George urgent care yielded an ankle brace and the news that while nothing was broken, I had likely pulled a tendon and there is significant swelling. I was informed that the likelihood of a fracture undetected by x-ray was very small (I have heard that one before), and that ice, rest, and compression should clear things up in approximately four weeks. Fantastic. No big deal. Except that we are in the middle of a cross country move!

I took the day *off*, we stayed in St. George, rather than press on, I sat on my tush while my husband managed the boys in the pool and at the park. I am in pain but tomorrow we press on to Moab. Hopefully my ankle will allow for pressing the gas and break pedals. Wednesday night we hope to arrive at my sister's in Eerie Colorado, I haven't seen her for almost two years.
Sad on the sidelines.

I hope to heal quickly. I want to start running new routes in Denver and preparing for the Rock N' Roll 1/2 marathon, but mostly I want to be able to get around as we unpack boxes and start setting up our Denver home.

Please wish me luck as we continue on our journey to the Rockies!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

That Lake

I couldn't tell you how many times I have been around Lake Merritt. 50 times? 100? More?  I started walking the loop shortly after Julian was born. Less than two weeks post postpartum, my husband and I made the walk with our brand new baby on a hot June morning. Still healing from a c-section, our walk was slow and leisurely. We stopped half way around and sat looking at one of the fountains, me sweating and exhausted but exhilarated by the beauty of our city and the sweet baby in our carriage. Over the next few months I walked that lake countless time with Julian strapped to my body, or in the stroller. I would stop and nurse him on a bench, gazing at the water, watching the birds and smiling at the fellow mamas with their little ones.

More recently Lake Merritt became my training ground. The place where I built my strength run by run until I transformed into the very best shape of my life. I ran that lake four or five times per week, sometimes two or three times around, eventually pushing myself to 11.5 miles. The 3.75 miles around that body of water is as familiar to me as the back of my hand. I know where the path becomes uneven and where to watch my step, I know where the geese congregate, (and thus, where to watch my step), I know where I can find water, and where the grade slopes ever so gradually, helping me pick up the pace just enough. I know where the trees bend over the trail providing respite from the sun. I know that lake. I know it and I love it.

Lake Merritt isn't the most scenic in the world, I am sure you can find prettier, but it's become a home of sorts. It's where I went to lull my infant to sleep, to clear my mind when I was stressed and to push myself harder than I ever have before. Yesterday I took my last run around that lake before our move. This summer the Denver sun will bake my skin a golden brown and quiet possibly burn away my desire to run until fall.

I will miss my Lake Merritt in the coming months, I owe that lake so much. That lake gave me a place of peace, that lake provided me a steady path towards self confidence, endurance and strength. That lake was home.

Not exactly on the lake, but on my usual running route

Monday, June 10, 2013

Just How Old Am I Anyways?

Hmmm. do I think I'm going to prom?
Do you ever have those moments where you think to yourself... um exactly how old am I? Maybe it's because you can't believe the number of candles on your birthday cake, or maybe it is because you see your  childhood friend posting pictures of a son or daughter who is older than you were when you initially met. Perhaps you are just amazed at the fact that your sitting with your other middle-age friends discussing "kids these days" when really you still feel like a child yourself much of the time. My latest moment came this past Saturday night as I stood in a black satin gown puking on the sidewalk in front of my house at 9:45pm, Yes the HOW THE HELL OLD ARE YOU ANYWAYS? thought crossed my mind.

Saturday night was a girl's night in honor of our departure for Denver. I invited my best girlfriends for cocktails at an Oakland lounge. We met early and I told my husband that I would return early, after all, we are a bunch of old gals now. I dressed up, wearing a strapless black dress I had recently purchased at my favorite consignment store. I knew I was likely overdressed, but figured, what the hell, when do I ever get to get really dolled up? We aren't invited to weddings anymore. Heck, I think I'm done with all the baby showers too, that is how stinking old I'm getting!

Me and Tamara! 
The evening was awesome. We had light appetizers and I drank some good red wine. I chatted and laughed with my girls and when 8:00 rolled around I wondered if anyone would want to continue the evening or if we would be calling it a night. The bill was paid and we stepped outside. It took me a minute to realize that the shiny black limo was there for us. My amazing girlfriends surprised me. I jumped up and down like I had just won the showcase showdown on The Price Is Right. We hopped in the limo and immediately

The whole gang
more wine was poured. We drove around for about twenty minutes snapping pictures and eventually made our way up to the Claremont Hotel to see the beautiful view.

That was when I started to feel...ill. And not just a little ill. A whole heck of a lot ill. At first I tried to push it away. I couldn't get sick one hour into my limo ride! Had I really had that much to drink?

Apparently however much I had, coupled with the driving limo was in fact...too much. I had to go home. There was no choice. Over-served, underfed, and too damn old. As soon as we got in front of my house I exited the beautiful limo, my friend Mindy helping me to the door, when I just couldn't help myself and barfed up four glasses of red wine on the pavement. WOW. What am I 20? No! I'm too damn old for this. In the old days, I might have laughed it off, but that night I felt just plain foolish. I'm a grown mama of three kids, what the heck am I doing puking in public?

And seeing as I am so ancient my hangover lasted not one, but two days. I don't bounce back like I used to.

In the end, I feel incredibly lucky to have the kind of friends who would plan such an amazing evening for me, and even luckier that they love me even when I'm making a complete and utter fool of myself.

Love you ladies, so very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Friends like these are rare. xoxox

Another amazing lady.

Check out the matching purple cast!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

People I Want To Punch In The Face

Because I know it's your favorite.... PEOPLE I WANT TO PUNCH IN THE FACE!

This week it's..

Drivers who see me standing at the crosswalk with two antsy little boys and a baby in a stroller and continue to plow on through as if the laws don't apply to them. Most days I wait for ages at the crosswalk on MacArthur, the street I must cross every single day in order to deposit my eldest child at school. While I can understand an occasional car missing the crosswalk, my guess is that most drivers traverse this street on a daily basis and know damn well where the crosswalk is  but simply can't be bothered with the safety of small children. What is worse, once in a while, I will have a driver stop just short of the crossing, sigh heavily, roll their eyes and give me an annoyed wave as if I am causing them so much terrible inconvenience.

Lego marketers. I'm sorry but since when do all legos need to come in branded sets? Cars. Ninjago. Star Wars. Each set comes with ten million tiny parts, which if any one piece is lost the set becomes unusable. And don't forget the 45 page instruction manual. Seriously, I know it is helping to sell Legos, but whatever happened to, oh I don't know...IMAGINATION?????

The snarky person who left a comment on an older Punch-In-The-Face blog, telling me I was a bitter and envious woman. Well Duh. But did you have to point it out for the rest of the world to see? Geesh.

The nurse who rolled her eyes and lectured me when I informed her that I did not wish to be weighed at my appointment. "It's always you little girls" she hissed. "Now I am going to have to write down that you refused"  Wow. I hate to put you out Nurse Ratched. Excuse me for looking out for my own mental health. Good Lord.

The snotty twenty-something at the coffee shop who raised her eyebrows and smirked saying, "nice t-shirt" referring to my  super-duper awesome Wonder Woman t-shirt. Excuse me? Are you really going to publicly ridicule me for my clothing when you have an incredibly lame butterfly tattoo on your cleavage? You are going to regret that some day sugar.... just sayin'

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

These are days

I originally posted this in October 2010, very newly pregnant with Julian and on a family road trip to L.A. I was going through old posts last night, and have to say I loved this one and felt it was worth a re-post. Hope you enjoy!

Our family car trip has given me plenty of time to play DJ, spinning tunes on the old Ipod. I have gotten a bit nostalgic as I have selected songs that have been neglected for some years. These days our musical selections include a heck of a lot of kid's tunes, folk, alt-country and jazz, but the soundtrack to life in my twenties was a bit different.

It is simply amazing how music can illicit memories and emotion. A certain song can bring me back to the butterflies I felt in my stomach before a date, or the smell of a diner I used to frequent.

Yesterday I selected Willy Porter's "Rita" and felt tears well up in my eyes as I remembered the filthy apartment I shared with four college roommates my senior year. I recalled those evenings drinking creative fruity concoctions we whipped up in the blender while primping to go out at 10pm. Bonding with my girlfriends in a way that life no longer allows for.

Travis's "Driftwood" brought me back to the Uptown apartment I shared with my new husband in Minneapolis. Our home was small but cozy, decked out in pure Pier One. We had candle light dinner parties with two appetizers and a homemade dessert. We would walk out our front door on an autumn morning and run together around Lake Of The Isles, marveling at the explosion of fall color. We hosted an annual holiday party each December, cramming 70 people in our two bedroom duplex, celebrating (hard) until the wee hours of the morning.

And then finally I hit play on the 10,000 Maniac's These Are Days. This is a song that resonated with me as I planned our wedding, and in fact I had the lyrics printed up on our wedding program.

These are days you'll remember.
Never before and never since, I promise,
will the whole world be warm as this.
And as you feel it, you'll know
it's true that you are blessed and lucky.
It's true that you are touched by something
that will grow and bloom in you.
These are days you'll remember

In 1999, I felt like the luckiest woman in the world. I was marrying my best friend, our life was just beginning. I believed the song summed up my life perfectly.

As I was driving through southern California with my family, I realized something wonderful. If I had to select the perfect song lyrics to describe my life today, I would choose this very same song. If I thought that life was beautiful and exciting at 25, if I thought it wouldn't get any better, I was wrong. These are days to remember. I am blessed and lucky. Right now.

It just may be the best possible soundtrack to this messy, lovely life as a wife and mommy.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Weekend: Birthday party mania. And vomit. The fun never ends

The moment he was waiting for
What a weekend. Every ounce of my body is drained.

Friday night: Julian's second birthday party
Saturday morning: Evan's fifth birthday party
Saturday night: Zachary's vomit party.
Sunday: Mommy sore throat returns, this time with sneezes and sniffles.
In between it all: Epic cleaning/organizing in preparation for upcoming move.
Outcome: Total and utter exhaustion.
Husband & I with the guest of honor

I have so much more to say than that.

Julian's party was actually lovely. It was the first low-key birthday celebration I have ever done for one of my children. All of their birthdays have been major events, complete with bounce houses, party themes, food, goodie bags, pinatas and way too many people. Just last year we marked Julian's first year with a huge backyard barbeque. We had pulled-pork and cocktails. We had a bounce house and a birdie theme. There was tons of cleaning, balloons and decorations. It was awesome.I was hard work. It was expensive. So I did two a little differently. It was only a few close friends gathered at a local pizza joint and it was perfect. We had pizza, drinks and cake and the kids had colorful goodie bags, everyone was happy. Affordable, fun, fantastic.

Evan's party. Oh Evan's party. I steered my (almost) five year old away from the Chuck. E. Cheese hell of last year and convinced him to have a dinosaur party at The Lawrence Hall of Science. We invited his preschool class and a few of his other buddies from various places. We had dinosaur goodie bags and plates along with a modest  bagel brunch and a huge cake. The entertainment was up to the museum- or so I thought. The party was incredibly lame. The "workshop" included a college kid sitting on the floor talking about dinosaur defenses while the kids squirmed for forty minutes, then directing everyone to make some flimsy art project out of green construction paper and finally letting us pet a turtle. I could have done better than that at home. I paid good money for that garbage. Then we had to share a large party room with another group. That group happened to be having a way better party than we were. These folks were doing it up right. No sad bagels and fruit plate from Safeway for them. No-sir. Their table was stacked with a whole bunch of catered sandwiches, fancy cheeses, cruets, and artisian breads. They had a whole bouquet of shiny-helium-practicaly-life-sized animal balloons. I felt a huge urge to apologize to all of my guests for having the worst party ever. And yet, when asked about it later, Evan was thrilled. He had a blast. He loved his cake.He loved his presents. He liked the turtle.  He had no complaints... and really that is all that matters, right? I still really wanted tell those fancy-pants parents to take it down a notch,  that they are making the rest of us look bad!

The rest of Saturday went along just fine, until shortly after bedtime when we discovered that Zachary had thrown up all over his bed. I ended up sleeping on the floor next to him, shoving a trash can in his shaking hands every couple of hours as he dry heaved and sobbed. It was heartbreaking and exhausting. When morning came he instinctively went to put on his baseball uniform for game day. He spent the rest of the morning trying to convince us that he was well enough to play,  while flushed in fever and refusing most food. Poor munchkin.

And just as I was starting to settle into the idea of bed time this Sunday evening, looking forward to a day of working (away from children), I got a text from our babysitter saying that she was also sick.

Dude. The fun never ends.
Fancy-people party
And... our party

The Lawrence Hall of Science goes all out for decorations. But doesn't Evan look happy as the center of attention? 

Little brother loved it. At least the eating part