Wordy; thoughts and things

On 9 1/2 Years of Parenthood

My sweet sonshiny son is 9 1/2 years old, which means that double digits (and everything that goes along with that) is soon upon us. This also means that I have successfully survived 9 1/2 years of parenthood (and everything that goes along with that too).

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9 1/2 years of holding hands.

9 1/2 years of ‘mom.’ The best gig ever. Parents of teenagers don’t appear to feel this way, so I am clinging and hoping for the best.

9 1/2 years of not ever once going to the bathroom without being interrupted.

9 1/2 years of fear and trepidation about every kind of ‘what if’. Times one hundred.

9 1/2 years of kissing his sleeping profile when I turn in for the night.

9 1/2 years of (not so) secretly enjoying marshmallow cereal right alongside him.

9 1/2 years of acting like I know what I’m doing. Which has actually resulted in mostly knowing what I’m doing. I anticipate this confidence shifting with those double digits.

8.16 (69)9 1/2 years of understanding that my own inquisitiveness, which now resides in him too, might have gotten on my parents’ nerves on occasion.

9 1/2 years of laughter.

9 1/2 years of desperate prayers for protection and wisdom.

11.25 (73)9 1/2 years of keeping the little in my little boy. I know that this will change with double digits. That is good and normal and quite frightening.

9 1/2 years of memorizing BMX skills, monster truck names, and NFL quarterbacks. Included here is 9 1/2 years of mustering up interest in things that don’t naturally interest me.

9 1/2 years of being (perceived as) a cool mom. I realize that double digits might change this.

9 1/2 years of respecting this little blonde person.

9 1/2 years of fooling and joking with each other and the humor of sarcasm. This, I might regret.

12.16 (6)9 1/2 years of daredevil shenanigans. Rarely resulting in stitches, thank God.

9 1/2 years of attending sports practices, sports games, sports events, sports anything and everything.

9 1/2 attempted years of developing his palate away from mac n cheese to anything with spice or sauce. We’ve come a long way on this one. Thank you red pepper flakes.

9 1/2 years of realization that he is not mine. He is his own.

9 1/2 years of books. Board. Story. Chapter. Parenting.

9 1/2 years of mistakes and forgivenesses. This is very much a two way street.

9 1/2 years of beloved dog and duck.

9 1/2 years of reminders.

9 1/2 years of elastic waistbands. For him, you guys.

9 1/2 years of spoon-feeding the knowledge of dangers and evils and self preservation.

5.22.10 (3)9 1/2 years of wishing that this would never end. My feet now fit into his shoes for crying out loud.

9 1/2 years of the exact same made up nighttime song. And also Puff the Magic Dragon.

9 1/2 years of trusting strangers to teach and lookout for him; at school, at church, coaches and just folks in nearby vehicles.

9 1/2 years of ‘this is cool’ and ‘this is no longer cool’.

9 1/2 years of enthusiastic conversations. We are similar in this way.

3.22 (33)9 1/2 years of congratulatory knowledge that I picked the best guy to parent alongside. His dad is dreamy.

9 1/2 years of anxiety about watching this all slip away.

9 1/2 years of camping. That’s a lot of cold nights in Oregon.

9 1/2 years of listening to him talk to himself. I hope this never ends. Then again, it would be strange if it didn’t ever end. Isn’t that just the case with all the cutenesses of kids? They have to end at some point or we would have a lot of strange adults walking (and I guess, crawling) around.

9 1/2 of the best years of my life.

“Let’s have a baby,” we said. “It’ll be fun.” we said. 9 1/2 years ago we made the best decision of our lives.  7.18 (55)

Dedicated to my sweet boy. You, darling child, are everything.

 

 

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A Place of Reconciliation

Allow me to tell you a shortened version of a century-long story.

untitledOnce upon a time…in a land way out in the Oregon wilderness (where I sit at this very moment)…lived a group a people. One group of the distant past, one of the not-so-distant past, and one of today. Each group with a different purpose for their presence.

Most of my knowledge of these groups comes from the written words of others, but some of it comes from my own experiences. Wildly valued experiences. The history here doesn’t belong to anyone singularly, but rather to all who have shared in a piece of it. And also to the steep hills and deep canyons that carve the landscape.thV65SRQS5

One hundred years ago. The place is called Big Muddy; a sheep ranch. A family in the Ranch House. Living off of the outback land, far from populated civilization. They worked together and also struggled against other groups in the area, other ranchers, other land-seekers, and native Americans. This group took residence, loved and grew in both spirit and census. Alas, times change.

th111980s. The place is now called Rajneeshpuram. A cult commune full of individuals seeking freedom from the confines of traditional society. 111Wearing only the colors of the sunset, red and purple, they follow their last hope of a god. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh is their man and visits to his people come in the form of Rolls Royce drivebys. They expanded the place, enlarged it into a village, all centered around that same historic Ranch House. They, much like the group before them, lived off of the land and grew, significantly, in census, and in power. Yet again, times change.

YoungLife_Branding-01Present day. The name is called Washington Family Ranch. The group knowing their purpose of creating a place for today’s youth to come, to play, to hear the sweet words of truth and love. Young Life worked on and living in the Ranch House, their job was one of transitioning the buildings built by those seeking something impossibly promised. The job was reconciliation.

The place of reconciliation. History has seen this place through love, crime, growth, decline. Through positive, negative, good and evil. Through the saddest and sickest and also the sweetest and healthiest. True freedom. A place where promises are delivered.

My history here started as I grew up in the 1980s in a nearby community, when the Rajneesh people were establishing themselves. thU6NEREBLTheir failed attempt at creating a utopia in the Oregon wilderness turned into desperation and greed. After domineering the city council of the nearby town, they infiltrated our city and began their work at gaining control there too. They took all sorts of measures to make this possible, including power moves like poisoning the local eatery buffets with e coli and bussing in Portland’s homeless to register to vote with the guarantee of food and shelter.  My parents both spent their careers in local government and were both impacted by this season. It caused community stress and my own personal curiosity. Even now, looking back at that time, it is an outrageous, true story.

thL19ZAPTTA few years ago our family was invited out to the ranch to help with an annual big time multisport event. The Wild Canyon Games is operated primarily by volunteers. The event is an athlete’s dream; a weekend full of challenging activities, from a triathlon to an insanely large geocache and highland games, to a relay that will exhaust even the toughest participant. The Wild Canyon Games strive to be the ‘best weekend of your life’. #whatlimits

Location_IMG2We found a community with this group. Most of them live a few hours away from us, but we’ve developed some relationships that are friendships from afar. We come together out here several times each year, for planning weekends and then for the event itself. We sleep in a building built by the Rajneesh people, but recaptured for Christ. For his people; those who love him and those who will.

We found a beautiful landscape, a historical story, and an incredible group of friends out here at this place of reconciliation. This is volunteerism at its best. I am so appreciative of our piece in this story.

 

When its Time to Quit; A Post on Community Volunteerism

Are you in need of a good volunteer? I’m your girl! I appreciate the opportunity to give back to any community in which I partake and because of this I am always involved in at least one organization’s volunteer program, usually two or three at a time. This sounds like tooting my own horn, but I have a purpose for this post and its for the benefit of you and me both, all of us community volunteers who deal with the same question: when is it time to quit?

I first started volunteering as a high school student in church youth groups and as a camp counselor. Through college I was on student council and traveled to our state capital and Washington DC to speak on behalf of community college students. In adulthood it has varied from marriage ministries with my husband, mom’s group leadership team, life group in our home, serving at a local homeless shelter, a neighborhood association defined by our city, and on the PTO.

I’m a strong advocate for volunteerism because 1. it benefits society and 2. it benefits myself personally. It feels good to give a piece of me for the betterment of others. I will always be volunteering in some form. That said, I am also a strong advocate for a slow-paced life. I hate (HATE!!) being overly busy. There is nothing I enjoy more than being with the people I love, having time for real conversations and real meals. On occasion, these two advocacies duel within myself, and I’ve discovered that many other dedicated volunteers feel the same way.

What to do? When should I quit one thing to allow time for another thing? Who will take my place and will they do well as I pass on the work that I’ve babied? Is it possible to love an organization and still want to quit?

Here is what I know: There is a time and a place for everything. When my children were very young, mom’s group was the perfect place for me and my hours. Eventually motherhood shifted from diapers to preschool and I knew that my time in that group was not as important as it used to be. So I took the friendships that I made there and moved on. My time and my place didn’t fit as perfectly into that group anymore, so I quit. It felt right to quit, which is an abstract concept to a dedicated volunteer, but it is how I learned about quitting.

Please let this be clear: I don’t quit because I am unhappy about a certain something that happened or a singular decision that was made.  Volunteerism is not all happy and easy and feel-good all of the time. It involves a lot of hard, unseen work. I don’t quit because things aren’t going my way. Rather, I commit to give my best work until my time and my place aren’t fitting well into that organization anymore.

Another example: after a year as an alternate board member I was elected secretary for a neighborhood association. I enjoyed this for nearly two year but eventually I started dreading the meetings. My time was drawing to an end. Nobody wants the begrudged hours of an unhappy volunteer. As I waited for my term to end, I continued to give my best and then passed on my job to an eager individual who would serve the association better than I could at that time.

I knew that my time was over because the job no longer sparked joy. Volunteering isn’t always joyful, but overall the good of it should outweigh the bad by a reasonably margin. Otherwise, I am wasting my time and, equally importantly, I am standing in the way of someone who could be offering themselves in the position that I am dreading.

So I asses. Does this job still spark joy? Do I spark joy in the organization or am I just showing up out of obligation?

I am currently faced with this decision. It started with a quiet shift from pleasurable moments to a bummer meeting. Now there’s been a few in a row and I’m starting to develop a grudge for an organization that I fully support and really adore. I think my time is done. Its time for someone else now. As for me, its time for something else now.  Even as I write this now, I am becoming convinced within myself that my time and place are moving on and I need to pack my bags and head out the door.

As for you, dedicated community member, is it time for you to pack your bag? How do you know when its time to quit? Please take a moment to comment below and help us all out with your thoughts on this thing that seems to get us all hung up. I’d love to know how you handle these decisions.

 

 

…An afterthought…As I contimplate my words above, I think that it’s worth mentioning that there can be in-between ways of handling these decisions. There have been times when I simply give back some of my work load and then continue volunteering with a lighter pack. I’ve also had to involve others in these decisions, especially my husband as we have long been involved in marriage ministries and thus those volunteer choices are made together. I certainly don’t mean to say that a strong community volunteer gives all or nothing, there are happy mediums and they can fluctuate as your life changes. Right? Right!

Dear 2015: A Letter From the Future

Dear 2015,

I’ve been looking back at you from some years ahead and I noticed a few things to mention, perhaps for a good laugh, perhaps so that you don’t make the same mistakes twice. Either way, I’ll be looking forward to seeing you, here in the future.

1. You didn’t think so at the time, but 2015 was the good old days. Things have changed mightily here in the future, both for good and for bad.

2. You can be thankful that the following three things are now absent. a. Ring-fingernail-only fingernail polish. b. Quarter-shaved heads. c. The obsession with those dark-haired sisters. Nobody is Keeping Up with any of these things anymore.

3. Your house will either be 100 or 7,000 square feet. There is no in between. Kind of like politics and almost everything else.

4.  Just eat what makes your body feel vibrant. This has worked for thousands of years.

5. Everyone called each other “friend” in 2015. Its good to have friends, but its also valuable to save a special title for those who truly stick nearby.

6. The emoji: complete craziness. Like there aren’t enough words in the English language to communicate without little cartoon icons.

7. The iphone 234 is all the rage. You should totally get one.

8.  Print your photographs. Frame them. Display them. Digital photography was a bad idea from the start.

9.  Remember the notion of futuristic flying cars? Still not happening.

10. All this talk about undoing the internet and returning to petroglyphs? I’m not so sure its a bad idea after all.

11. Pets, as it turns out, really are people too

12. Relationships are still worth working for. In fact, relationships are almost the only thing worth working for. (Besides money, that’s still important too.)

13. #theblastedhashtag #itsapoundsign #socialmediaissolastdecade

14. If you were born last millennium you are automatically old, which is cool because old is the new young. Kind of like head-to-toe tattooing is the new black.

15. Most of all, remember to keep your eyes on the sky. That sweet fine day will come. Some day, some time.

See you before you know it!

Sincerely,

Years Beyond

SEVEN SOLID ROWS OF NO


Today the kids and I flew from PDX to LAX. The seats weren’t reservable online and so I called the airline to make sure the kids and I would all be seated together. Obviously we can’t have a seven year old sitting by herself and a nine year old sitting by himself and a mom quietly enjoying a good book elsewhere on the plane. Although the part about a quiet book sounds nice, we rarely get to fly and so I find being near the enthusiasm of the kids just as enjoyable as a good book. The airline gave us three seats together.
Fast forward to flight day and as we board the plane I become more and more nervous as we near our seats. Jet engine seats. As in right over the engine. As in NO VIEW. Not a single square inch of take-off, mountain-peak, speedy-landing, unique to air travel only view. I ask the flight attendant what can be done to remedy the foreseeable disappointment of two excited kids. Nothing. At. All.image

I take her recommendation to ask fellow passengers to help a mother out. So I asked. Starting with the row in front of us. I asked. I explained that my little kids can’t see anything from their seats and that they rarely fly and were so looking forward to watching the world below from the sky above. Sadly, those people couldn’t care less. Then the next. Then the next. I repeated for seven solid rows. You guys, this is hard to say, but I lost some serious hope in humanity today. Who doesn’t look out for little kids? Nobody would trade. There were no other children in any of those rows. By the looks of things, they were seasoned travelers who have looked out an airplane window lots of times. In fact, and this might be the worst part, there were people with their window blind pulled shut. At one point during the flight FOUR of the seven rows that I asked had their shade closed. Four. They weren’t even using the window and they still wouldn’t trade.

WHAT THE HECK?! Who are these people?! Am I way off track here, or does it just seem crazy and sad that nobody would be willing to stand up, walk a few feet, and then resit for the sake of little kids? This isn’t about my kids specifically, but instead it’s about the general idea that we can give up a tiny bit of our daily selfishness to show kindheartedness to the wonder of young eyes. I thought that this concept was universally understood as a standard of politeness. Guess not.

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My kids held out hope. For seven rows of mom glimmer. Once they realized their fate, my son had some silent tears as the disappointment became real.

So here’s what I said to him.

Listen up buddy. We can’t make choices for other people. We can’t choose how other people behave. So here is what you have to do. You have to remember the feeling that you’re having right now. Remember how bad you feel and how bummed out you are. When you become an adult, you do everything you can to help prevent little kids from experiencing the feeling that you’re having right now. Don’t let the coldness of other people get in the warmth of your heart. He swallowed his tears, nodded his head in understanding, and made the best of the flight.

And here’s what I say to you.

Don’t be cold. Remember when your heart was warm. Youthfully sensitive to the needs of others. Remember that feeling and use it to help the world out. Whether its holding the door open for someone or offering a friendly smile. Our job is kindness and our calling is love. Show the children of the world that people like you make up for the airplane people. Display for them the overwhelming power of simple kindnesses so then they will return the favor in their adulthood. Also, for Pete’s sake…

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GIVE UP YOUR WINDOW SEAT. You were spoon fed an opportunity to make someone’s day. Instead you wasted it on a hard place to rest your travel pillow.

My kids go to THAT school…

schoolhouse[1] (2)Five years ago, when my son was in preschool I started looking ahead to what elementary school he would attend. I found out that our boundary school was only about a mile away, nestled in a quiet neighborhood, but other than that I didn’t know anything about it. So I started asking other moms about the schools in our town. When I told them what our boundary school was, I got a lot of “Oh, THAT school?” and “I would NEVER send my kids to THAT school!” Well, that just sort of freaked me out, so I started researching alternative options. I found a highly popular school in an affluent part of town, that was nearly impossible to get into. So I set out to praying that I would get exactly what I wanted, which was to have my kids attend this beautifully groomed (both the property and the kids) school in the cool part of town. It had amazing test scores, a highly organized PTO with lots of cash, a well spoken principal, it was the perfect school for my kids to attend. So I prayed. I prayed fiercely for this need of mine. For like a year and a half, I prayed.

Then one day I was out walking the dog in our neighborhood and felt myself drawn up our boundary school, THAT school. I heard God’s sweet spirit ask me to pray for THAT school. This made my heart sink because I knew what he was preparing me for. He was about ready to give my year and a half of fierce prayers and big “Nope.”

The time came for our lottery results. Yes, there is literally a lottery to get into the highly sought after schools. The letter came and my heart pounded, knowing that the results would change our lives one way or another. As I suspected, our son did not win the lottery. He was number 8 on the waiting list, which essentially means, NOT A CHANCE.

So I started seeking some other parents who had sent their kids to the boundary school that we were destined for. I found one who had done everything she could do to avoid THAT school. She told me that it was a Title School. “Do you know what that means?!”

Here we are, now on our fourth year at THAT school and I can tell you exactly what that means. Its actual definition is that there is a high percentage of children attending the school whose families have submitted financial requests for free or reduced lunches. It means, basically, that there is a large proportion of impoverished children attending THAT school.

But what it really means is that there are lots of little beautiful lives who find food and wellness within the walls of THAT school. It means that they have full tummies from free breakfast and lunch. Beyond meals, it means that there is a FAN advocate on site who works hard every day to provide clothing and shoes, grocery vouchers, and even spots at the local homeless shelter for the families that attend THAT school.

It also means that there is a huge staff of caring individuals who are in the trenches of balancing education and mental health for kids who come from happy and healthy homes along with kids who come from sleep deprivation and cold travel trailers. These staff members don’t have the latest and greatest of anything, they teach in old and crowded buildings and do the very best they can to love on the little lives who come to them everyday.

What else does it mean? It means that my kids attend school alongside kids of every demographic, and big overly stuffed rainbow of colors and languages. They sit in desks next to kids to have more than them and less than them. It means, ultimately, that my kids don’t have any concept of “keeping up with Jones'” because they are happy right there in the middle.

The PTO? Nope, no cash. Our events don’t raise funds that amount to much more that happy faces and cheap entertainment. But its a good and happy place for kids that need a good and happy place.

THAT school? Those fiercely prayed declined prayers? It has been the greatest pleasure. It isn’t beautifully groomed. It isn’t pulled together. No, there is NO time for that. Instead, all of the hours and the energy are consumed by giving everything to the lives of little people who deserve the world, just like the kids at every other school, regardless of any variable.

I’m sure I would have loved that lottery school. The staff there is also hard working and give so much to their kids. There are kids there who have less than some and more than some, not every life in attendance is perfect. The parents volunteer and earn so much for the betterment of the students.

But instead, we have THAT school. THAT school full of messiness and troubled lives. We have THAT school full of love and aching. THAT school that is absolutely and wonderfully perfect for my kids. I am so thankful that we lost the lottery and won the greatest place for our family. We won THAT school.

PS. BIG UPDATE! Our school is now honored to have the 2016 Oregon Teacher of the Year! Even in spite of our challenges, we outcompete some of the most affluent district schools in literacy test scores. Being THAT school doesn’t mean that the academics aren’t stellar; it just means that we worked in the trenches to get there!

Rapunzel — Let Down Your Hair

Long HairThe time has come to tame my mane.

Am I ready to let it go? Yes and no. But yes more than no. I think. Here is a sampling of the thoughts that have been going through my head the last few months.

Pro for cutting it: Not fishing two foot long hair out of the sink, carpet, clothing, etc. Con for cutting it: It is literally the only part of my physical being that looks as good as it did before bearing babies. Pro: Pinterest hair styles that are impossible with super long and heavy hair. Con: Top knots are easy and happily ignored. Pro: I don’t want to be “that woman who had the long blonde hair for like 40 years strait”. Con: What if I regret it?6.24 (2)

But then there is the donation. The thought of helping somebody. I’ve donated my hair before, twice actually. This time I spent more time researching which organization to donate to and I am really excited about the one that I choose — Children with Hair Loss (CWHL). Since its opening in 2000, it has given custom hair replacements to over three hundred children, and never once charged any of them for their wigs. This is the kind of company that I want to help out. If my hair can contribute to the wellbeing of a child who can’t grow his/her own hair for whatever reason, than please sign me up! Furthermore, the company is clear about what their requirements are for hair donation, such as length specifications and (major bonus!) the fact that they will accept chemically treated hair if it is in good condition. (Sorry to disappoint all of you who thought that my hair was naturally sunlight blonde. I know, I’m fraudulent.)

So I made my appointment. I took a deep breath and went for it. The result? Its so breezy and free! It is just in time for the summer heat and I LOVE it! And, the best part, I get to package up my ponytail and send it off to a company that I know will use my tresses for the benefit of a little kid who just wants to fit in.haircut

For more information about CWHL, please visit http://www.childrenwithhairloss.us/ and consider donating your own hair. Its really not that hard; its not like they are asking for a kidney.

And now I’m off to search Pinterest for all of those hairstyles that I’ve been wanting to try…..but, like all of my Pinterest pins, probably never will. Really, who has the time to figure out a waterfall braid? And what’s with all of the bobbi pins?! They work just as well in my big hair as scotch tape works to repair the inside of a swimming pool.  But seriously, maybe some day.

Reentering Retirement

LanardLast week of school! After nearly eight years of stay at home motherhood, I’ve spent the last year working as an educational assistant at a local elementary school. I’ve spent most of my year teaching (and adoring!) first and fifth grade reading intervention groups and also working alongside an amazing fourth grade teacher to implement a new district writing curriculum. Beyond that, I spent time each day offering words of encouragement, problem solving wall-ball disputes, assisting in behaviorally challenged student cases, distributing Band-Aids, and just generally loving and learning along side the students.

As I reflect upon the year I’ve realized a few things and compiled a short list of them here so that I can remember the year that was. A year that was absolutely, positively, meant to be.

1. The optometrist that I worked for many years ago was wrong. I’m not a mediocre employee, I just wasn’t one of his favorites. Turns out I’m pretty good at holding down a job. Especially one that changes lives and overflows with joy.

2. Kids still chew the eraser off of pencils, just like we did when we were kids. Eye rolling and note passing are still very much in full swing as well.

3. The single crooked tooth in my smile once became the topic of questioning and education in a group of first graders. I think I can transform almost anything into an opportunity to learn; being a mom prepared me for this.ShhTesting

4. Fifth graders, who I was at first unsure of working with on account of not yet mothering a child of that age, are some of my FAVORITE students to be with. Really, they’re the best! I’m sad to see them move on from elementary, but happy to see them bloom.

5. My body and skin have aged at least 10 years in the last 9 months. (OK, that’s probably an exaggeration.) (But not by much.)

6. My spirit, however, has become youthful and free. Also wiser. Working with kids has caused both.

7. The kids that the other faculty “warned” me about (always with love and support), turned out to be some of my best buddies. I’m drawn towards working with kids that just aren’t quite there yet.

8. There is too much sadness and poverty and abuse to even begin. My heart sinks at the pain that some children are subject to.

9. I don’t think I could ever be a classroom teacher. Those people deserve tremendous respect, a statue, and a serious pay increase.

10. Summer break, or reentering retirement as I like to call it, is a MAJOR perk and I plan on living it to the fullest by:

a. Not wearing makeup for at least a month (ish) and when I do, pairing it with my high heels who have missed me so.

b. NOT PACKING SCHOOL LUNCHES FOR MYSELF NOR MY KIDS!!

c. Focusing on my own sweet babes and husband, reading, camping, playing, gardening, grocery shopping at a walking – not mad-dashing- pace.

It has been a phenomenal year. A job that I thought I was just randomly walking into turned out to be one of the most life changing years of my life. I think I may have found my niche.

Training for the PPP: Frumpy Housewife Style

The Pole Pedal Paddle. An iconic Bend, Oregon multisport event that attracts impossibly athletic individuals to excel in downhill skiing, skate skiing, road biking, running and kayaking. My husband is one of these individuals.

I am NOT. 4.4.15But I like to pretend that I am. Don’t get me wrong, this pretending only happens in my head as I could never pull off looking like an actual athlete in a city that is brimming over with real ones. But the vibe here, in our little recreational mecca is very supportive of anybody doing anything active. So last year at an Easter brunch together with some friends, we decided that we should put together a team. (There may or may not have been mimosas involved in this decision.) I volunteered only to bike. The other options are far too skilled for my little frumpy housewife self.

A word on that. I am actually neither frumpy nor a housewife. I am a regular 34 year old mom of two who works part time. I can clean up like a shiny penny, but deep down, I am a makeup-less, hoodie and bun bearing gal. Furthermore, I find that if I am not constantly trying to maintain some level of exercise I easily fall into the land of frumpster.

Partially because of this, and partially just because its fun, I am lucky enough to find myself on a team again this year. I am not kidding when I say lucky. They could probably find an average Joe or Jill walking down the street who could easily beat me on the 22ish mile biking portion. So thanks team, for being my dream team — one that is truly just in it for fun.

Today I took my first official training ride of the year from Mt. Bachelor to Bend. My husband, who does the WHOLE race by himself, was heading up the mountain to ski and so he asked if I wanted to join him for a bike back. This training business isn’t easy with kids. It involves finding childcare every time. Thankfully its the day before Easter and the kids were gleefully dying eggs at their grandparent’s house.

So I helmeted up and clicked in.

Another word on that. Click-in pedals. These things have given me fear and trembling for quite some time. Last year I bravely tested out a loaner pair of click-in shoes for training (which, at first, involved wearing the shoes but not actually clicking them in AT ALL) and the race and actually grew comfortable with them. This year for our anniversary my husband bought me my own pair (he knows me so well!) and so today I got to give a nice-long try. They were amazing. Funny how they used to be the cause of such worry but now I wouldn’t want to ride without them.

I headed down the road knowing that my husband and dog were safely watching over me from the car as they hung back and then drove ahead a ways. I felt good. I thought, “I am doing really well!” My husband snapped a few iPhone photos and I imagined those newspaper stories of the cyclists riding in front of the big beaming snow covered mountain. Maybe I could be one of those cyclists.

IMG_1015But then the pain. The pain always comes. I don’t know if it comes to real athletes. I think they would say that it does and that they power through it. But for me, the pain comes and then the powering through it part falls somewhat short. Can I just say here that the seat on my road bike is strikingly similar to (what I would imagine as) straddling a flat and hard piece of slate. Here is the text message that I sent to my team after my ride was done. I’m prepared to waddle for the next couple of days.

Also, the other cyclists. Here I am thinking that I’m doing well and that aside from some serious discomfort that we already discussed, the other cyclists, completely unknowingly, put me right back into my place. They are riding the exact same road as me. Except uphill. I can’t even make eye contact. They already know that I’m a fraud.

Overall the ride was good. It was fun and the air felt nice. I love the section in which the mountain freeze thaws and I can smell the earth warming. I’ve come to enjoy tucking into my bike and letting it become a part of me as I steer it towards the finish line. Who cares if I’m just pretend? Who cares if I occasionally lean towards the comfort of frumpy housewife? Probably nobody other than me. I am probably the only one standing in my way. But today, I rode.    

Dear Grandma Roberts,

Dear Grandma Roberts,

Your first anniversary without Grandpa is coming right up. I can’t imagine the range and the depth of emotions that you will experience on that day. I’m sure that there will be sadness in living your 69th anniversary without your husband. I suspect that you will also have a level of accomplishment in the knowledge that you lived “to death do us part” just as you vowed all of those years ago.

Whatever thoughts and memories come alive in your mind on this upcoming day, I hope that you let yourself feel them. Grief, as you very well know, is a part of life; a process that God himself created for the healing of his children. Certainly it seems as though I am too young and too inexperienced to even suggest words of advice about grief to you, my Grandmother, but I know God and I know his truths, which live fully for the inexperienced and the wise alike. It would be unfair to yourself, to your dearly departed husband, and to your most gracious Creator to forgo the feelings of your heart and the thoughts of your mind on this first anniversary apart. In allowing yourself this painful process of grief, my prayer is that you would find fresh breath and fond recollection of what you and your husband did together, and made together, in the time that you had with each other.

Grandpa and Grandma Roberts singing gospel

Grandpa and Grandma Roberts singing gospel

For those of us who have been witness to your marriage relationship, this anniversary will be a reminder of a great long-lived and well-endured covenant. Especially for me, a woman who lost both Grandfathers before memories of them planted in my mind, it has been a pleasure to see a husband and wife live, love, and serve until the very last heartbeat. Your example of commitment leaves a heritage in this family, both extended and in my simple family of four.

We are honored to share your February 23rd. It was yours first and it is still yours. It has been sheer joy to know that each year as we celebrate another year in our own marriage that you were also celebrating a new notch on your long tally of time together.

As Grandpa has passed into his new life, many people in your circle of family and friends have spoken words about legacy, especially his individually as an evangelist. But on this February 23rd, I will be thinking of your legacy together, the one you created as lovers. You did what you vowed, to remain wed for all of your days of life, and you did it well. You did it with humor and service. You birthed and raised four dear children, including my very own beautiful mother in law, and have poured yourselves into each new generation after that. You spread the love of God, the creator of marriage, and your efforts in all of these areas will carry on to those of us who come behind you. Even in death, the legacy of your marriage lives on.

I thank you. Thank you for being faithful. Thank you for living your vow, for loving your mate, and for displaying the truthfulness of a long and lasting covenant. I wish you healing on this upcoming anniversary. But even more than that, I wish you pride in the knowledge that you created a legacy that will see itself through the family line, including (or perhaps, especially) mine. You did it! You saw it through to completion. A glorious and beautiful conclusion.

I love you. You are a brave woman.

Sincerely,

Your Granddaughter, Tracy