Tuesday, October 29, 2013

San Francisco Calling

Mom and me in Union Square.
It's getting cold in Denver. 34 degrees cold. Running with a hat on and seeing your frozen breath cold. Cold. To be honest I haven't really missed California much....until now. That doesn't mean that there are not a few select people whom I miss (you know who you are!), but I haven't really wanted to be there, until this week. For whatever reason this week I wanted to be in in the bay.

I'll admit, I always got a bit of a buzz coming into the city on the days I worked in the office. I would ride the BART in with the rest of the commuters, reading the paper, checking my email. I would stop each morning at the bagel place and stand in line with the suits and the trendy twenty somethings waiting for my coffee and toasted everything-bagel thin with cream cheese. I would walk nearly a mile down Battery Street, passing by competing agencies and just feeling...the possibility that a big city brings.

Of course we didn't live in the city. No, Oakland was home. With three kids a dog and an income which did not allow for a $1.5 million dollar home, the city was not an option. We kicked ourselves. Why hadn't we done this years ago, before the kids, when we could have lived in a funky apartment in the Mission and gone out every night? If only...

That isn't to say that I never went out in San Francisco. With some regularity I met a girlfriend for dinner in the financial district. We dined at Barbacco and the Tadich Grill, drinking generous pours of Pinot Nior and making a dinner of fancy small plates. I went for occasional happy hours and lunches with co-workers, and when my parents came we went to Union Square.

This week I wanted nothing more than to experience the buzz of Union Square. The tourists, the bright lights, the panhandlers... the heart of that city. It's where I met Alan Young (you can read about him here), had some amazing dinners and drank cocktails with my parents while taking in the view. I felt myself thinking I wish I was there. Right. Now. Okay, and maybe there is a part of me wishing that  I was also 28 in San Francisco.  I have this fantasy of dressing up, and spending the entire night exploring the city and all that it has to offer.

That isn't to say I'm not happy in Denver. I am. It's home. I'm not sure I was cut out for big-city life, but this week, I felt the pull of San Francisco calling.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

On the twelfth day of Halloween.....

Guess who we are?
Is it just me or does Halloween seem to go on for....EVER?  Somewhere around mid September the Halloween superstores open their doors and the kids confirm the costume selections which they have been debating since the previous Halloween. Early October brings the annual trip to the pumpkin patch to select the perfect orange beast for the family Jack-O'-Lantern.

The week prior to the holiday things start to get real. There is the school party (with candy), the friend party (with candy), the trick-or-treat street in your neighborhood (with candy), and the trick-or-treat street one neighborhood over (with candy.) By the time the big day arrives your kids have worn out their costumes and have already consumed 40,000 calories of fun-sized candy bars.

Here is where I start to sound old and bitter. Back in my day Halloween was just that. One day. We wore our costumes to school, with no rules about weapons or masks, and we braved the freezing Wisconsin night hiding our costumes under winter jackets and sometimes snow boots. We went from house to house in our little neighborhood. Nobody drove us. Pre-razor blade days people still handed out candy apples and sometimes baked goods. We would get home that evening, our lips blue and fingers numb and sort our candy by their level of disarableness. Then it was done. The end.

Don't get me wrong... I actually love Halloween. It is one of my favorite holidays, primarily  because it doesn't require an elaborate meal or a second mortgage to pay for gifts. Halloween is pure fun, and hell I like dressing up as much as the next person, but I don't think we need fifteen days of sugar-coated celebration.

Lest you think I am a total Scrooge, our family has participated in the madness. The boys have already worn their costumes multiple times and even the husband and I got in the spirit last night when we arrived at a party, pretty much the only ones in costume, but damn-we were awesome!

Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I'm not the best photographer in the world, but that doesn't mean I don't take a lot of pictures. I am always the one with my Iphone out and ready to capture the moment. The birthday parties, the pumpkin patch, the girls nights and baby showers. Click. Click.

I long to take pictures that capture the feeling of a moment. The romance and hopefulness of a newlywed's first dance, the surprise and joy of a baby taking his first steps, the peaceful calm that comes from walking along a mountain stream at 9000 feet.... but my photographs always come up short, they feel stilted and lack the depth of emotion I wish to convey. Forced smiles, dulled colors, somehow the sparkle of glacial waters just doesn't shine through.

Today was an absolutely gorgeous fall Colorado day. The trees in gold and red, the sky blue,  and yet the sun was more forgiving than the summer months just past. I suppose having spent the past several autumns in California, this October has seemed particularly spectacular.

I wanted to capture today in a photograph, to catch the way the light made the fall colors nearly glow, the way the air felt just right, and  the wind whispered hope and promised joy. But I knew my camera would get it wrong and if I looked at in years to come it would mean nothing, it would become just a pretty picture the feeling of the moment gone.

So instead of a photograph I tried to hold the image in my heart and write it on paper, holding on to the feeling of a beautiful fall day, knowing that this way I would not forget.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I did a craft with my kids and it didn't kill me.

One word that has never been used to describe me in the history of my life? Crafty. No, I am a far cry from "Real Simple" or even "Good Housekeeping." I don't sew. I don't own a hot glue gun. My eight year old can draw a better dinosaur than I can. I'm not kidding. Even kindergarten crafts elude me, I am that bad. It has been a good long time since I attempted a real art project with the kids, I believe the hand-print turkey's of 2011 might have been my last effort.
See I got creative and made up candy bar Frankenstein! 

You see I am intimidated.When on the rare occasion I actually page through a parenting magazine (reliably at my annual "female" appointment, and perhaps at the dentist's office) I am put off by the "easy!!!" holiday craft ideas. The Christmas wreath made of candy canes and tinsel hot glued together and interlaced with laminated family photos,  the Thanksgiving centerpiece put together with pine cones, homemade dehydrated fruit and apples dipped in glitter, the Halloween garland made of egg-carton bats, shellacked fall leaves and marshmallow ghosts.... who are they kidding???  If the instructions are more than one paragraph long or include sewing, power-tools, nails or a glue gun... I'm out.

Yet today Evan had a long anticipated play date with his buddy Owen. As a mom of three, poor Evan has suffered from being the second child. When Zachary was in Kindergarten I had multiple play dates scheduled each week. I have lost steam. Somehow just keeping up with the daily responsibilities of three boys has zapped all of my energy, but it isn't fair. When I brought up the idea of a play date to Evan his face lit up like the Halloween Glow-Stick Balloon craft I found on Pinterest. I wanted to make it special. We made pizza, ice cream sundaes and yes.... we did a "spooky" craft.

Martha Stewart would be proud
As I was researching activities for the big day my eldest son protested when I typed in "easy Halloween craft" in the Google search bar. "EASY???" he whined. Damn straight kid, in fact I contemplated typing in "so ridiculously easy a newborn could do it" but I restrained myself. After pouring over page after page of "easy" ideas that were anything but simple I finally found Candy-Bar Bats.

So today I sat down with four boys and decorated Hershey's Bars with construction paper, googly eyes, glitter and markers and you know what? We had a good time. A for-real-good time. No, our creations looked very little like the expertly designed creations we saw on line, but my kids didn't care. It was fun. And it's chocolate. And chocolate tastes good. So there.

Stay tuned crafty parents- who knows what amazing craft I'll come up with for Thanksgiving!
Evan and his buddy Owen. They look happy enough!

Friday, October 18, 2013

I just wanted to Rock N' Roll.

Feeling sort of pleased with myself
This is the weekend. It's the Denver Rock & Roll Half Marathon that I was so excited about running with my girls. I was going to beat my last time. I was going to see what a fun race was all about. I was going to prove that my race last May was not a fluke, but that instead running was in my blood.

Turns out I may be wrong. I have not written much about running recently because... I haven't been doing much running recently. For those of you who have been keeping up with the fast times of Rachel's life, you know that I was benched early summer due to a knee that was on the verge of falling apart. I have weak bones, I have weak hips. My doctor told me firmly to quit the nonsense and focus on strength training in order to improve my running form.

I have spent months at a tiny clinic in Wheat Ridge, doing one legged squats, "hamstring triple threats" and all kinds of exercises involving a rubber resistance band. I got to know my physical therapist well, and she was a hard ass- pushing me, yet holding me back from running. I finally made my way to interval running, and now straight running of short distances. I was taught about mid-foot strike, which is incredibly awkward, but apparently much easier on the knees. I feel like a freak running on the balls of feet leaning forward taking quick tiny steps. But whatever, I'm getting it done.

Today I ran four miles on the treadmill with no pain.I wanted to push it. God I wanted to push it. Four miles used to be nothing. I remember the feeling after a long run, such a sense of accomplishment and strength. I want that feeling again. But I'm being smart. I'm slowly building strength and although I am hopeful, I know that distance running just may not be in the cards for me.

 I am bitter about this weekend's race and will avoid the whole scene. As much as I would like to support my friends, I know that seeing all those exhausted yet elated runners at the finish line will sting a little too much. Instead, I'll probably hit the gym on Sunday morning and put in another slow four, remembering how strong I once was and day dreaming about races to come.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Destination... wedding.

I spent the past weekend in San Diego, attending the wedding of a college friend. I love weddings and as I get older our invitations become more and more rare. At one point we were attending four or five nuptials a year, and now, well... it's dwindled to a less than annual occurrence. Sadly divorce has become more of a common topic of cocktail party conversation than engagements. 
So yes. There were some shots involved.

Our friends who have married later have benefited from the experiences of those of us who tied the knot as kids. After attending one too many stuffy church ceremonies followed by a reception in an over air conditioned Holiday Inn ball room, our "late bloomer" friends have forgone the mandatory "YMCA" dance and tacky garter belt toss. These days the weddings tend to more intimate, personal and unique. The couples create events that reflect their personality, their guest lists are smaller and those who show up are there for more than an open bar. 

Getting crazy at the beach reception in Belize
Elegant reception at a classy San Diego steakhouse 
Can't complain about the view
The last two weddings I have attended were of the destination variety, one requiring a passport. Both events were a blast. It was old friends gathering together to spend quality time celebrating the future of someone we love. The outdoor ceremonies were from the heart and made me cringe as I thought of my own wedding, the Cantor standing on the Bima, reading from her notes about my job as a Staffing Specialist at Kelly Services and our enjoyment of dining out. The receptions were elegant, signature cocktails and decent wine as opposed to the simple "Red or White" choice I thoughtlessly gave my guests. 

I suppose my point is not to tarnish the memory of my own special day, or make fun of my friends who married younger, but more to make commentary on how refreshing it has been to celebrate the love of our friends in such special and frankly, kick-ass fun way. I certainly wish this was more than just a once every couple of years type of occasion, I mean let's be honest their aren't too many opportunities for a girl of my (ahem) age to get out and cut a rug in my sensible (yet sexy!) Clark's high-heels. Perhaps I need to start the trend of destination 40th birthday parties? Can I register for that? Who's in?
Sunshine and R&R in Belize.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Missing Mimosas: Lost Free Time

I have been a slacker when it comes to blogging.  It isn't for a lack of things to write about, but rather an absence of time. I honestly feel as though all of the free time I once had has been sucked away into a great abyss, leaving me with space only for the necessities. My life is consumed with children, work, and epic amounts of laundry. I rarely talk on the phone with friends, and I cannot tell you the last time I have tuned into my beloved BRAVO reality shows, oh cat fights and fake boobs how I have missed you!

Things are good don't get me wrong. My kids are thriving in school, I'm keeping in shape with my physical therapy, running "lite" and group training, I attend book club monthly, even when I don't read the books, and have managed to eek out a few date nights with the husband. We have implemented Sunday night "family movie nights" each week, where we snuggle on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and watch an 80's classic, Back To The Future, ET, Princess Bride, etc.  We are preparing for Halloween madness, and exploring the previously uncharted waters of having regular sit down family meals. Things are good. Very good.

But something is missing. And that thing is called "free time." Perhaps more than others, I have always valued time alone. I find it incredibly refreshing to be in my own company, lazy window shopping on a Saturday afternoon or sitting in a cozy coffee shop with just a book. Unscheduled time where I am not rushing, running late and stressed about a multitude of obligations. I long for this true "me" time. Not time with a treadmill, or rushing through Target to find the perfect birthday gift for an 8 year old classmate, time that is JUST mine and just for pure pleasure. I have tried to find ways to build in an occasional retreat into my life, just a few weeks ago I managed Sunday brunch with a couple of friends and too many mimosas, then passed out during my sixty minute massage. Bliss. But when I returned I felt guilty for spending a Sunday away from the family and annoyed by the mess that my departure left behind.

I know this is a stage in life. Hell twenty years from now, when the house is empty perhaps I'll feel bored and start searching for a hobby, but at the moment I am missing my blog, my Real Housewives of Crazy and Sunday morning mimosas.....