Saturday, February 26, 2011

On Your Mark...

I have had plenty of friends and acquaintances express the sentiment that they just don't "get" runners. As I sit here this evening icing the inside of my right arch and reflecting on the day's run, I must admit that I don't really "get" them either.

A friend and neighbor of mine invited me to join her running circle a couple of months ago. She faithfully sent me texts the night before they were going to run, and while I have generally considered myself a social runner, the morning chill all but froze that desire. Besides, I often found myself at the gym on an elliptical where I was trying to retrain my knees and ligaments to stay in alignment. When I finally did join the running circle for some street running, I was happy to find my knees and ligaments behaved themselves.

Then we did an eight-mile run that left every part of me from the waist down, especially my arches, very fatigued. Then we ran 10 miles last Saturday in the rain. It wasn't fun. We dared to hope for fairer skies for the Dogtown Half Marathon that we were hoping to run this morning. It was not to be.

Due to the un-fair weather, the course was changed to include two out-and-back portions that just about did me in. Frankly, I don't really want to run past all the people who have already reached the turn around point and are on their way back. I also don't want to dodge all the trucks and trailers headed out on the same road I am running on to attend a Big Truck-Trailer-and-Four-Wheel-Drive Rally (probably not the OFFICIAL name, but likely more appropriate than the official one).

May I digress for a moment to confess my prejudice against big trucks? Their drivers seem to have something to prove to the world. They drive around with an attitude that seems to say, "Stay out of my way, because if we collide we both know who's coming out on top." To be fair, they probably believe that the drivers of minivans cop the attitude of, "Move out of my way, I have a van full of kids that need to be in six different places in the next two minutes!" They would probably be right.

So back to my run, I ran with my three girlfriends for about 5.5 miles. Then they slowed for Gu and air probably (we were on a hill). I just kept going. I had to keep going. All I wanted was the finish line. I have enjoyed runs at different times in my life, but today's run was not to be enjoyed. Cold. Wet. Repetitive. Plus, the signage was pathetic. I want a blaring sign at each mile marker that I can look for and run toward. These were hidden amidst similar signs that read, "Runners Keep Right" and "Watch for Cars." I could have used something more inspiring. Something along the lines of "IHOP this way" or "If you stop now, we'll take you home." You get the idea.

After our 10-mile run last Saturday, my arch was giving me grief. I was a little swollen under my right ankle. I had serious reservations about running the race this morning. Unfortunately, we had buy-one-get-one-free coupons for our entries, and there were four of us who had "committed" to run. Consequently, I hated to back out. I registered, thinking $22.50 was a small price to pay even if I bailed. But still, who wants a T-shirt (or shorts as in this case) from a run they never did? Not me.

I showed up. I ran 13.1 (actually 13.3 miles, according to my Garmin) in 2:15:57. Funny how those race organizers always place the Finish Line based on their convenience more than the point at which I might collapse--because, I must say, if they were trying for the latter, they were about a mile too long.

Doesn't it make you want to go for a run?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snip, Snip

I just got a new haircut. So did Justin Bieber. Mine looks nothing like his, although it is closer in length to the "old" cut than the "new" one. Naturally. The length isn't the only difference, though. Tens of thousands of adolescents aren't wishing they had been there to sweep my hairdresser's floor on Saturday morning. In fact, I can't think of even one. Not only that, but I can't imagine that ANYONE will be Googling "rebecca kohler new haircut image" in the next millennia. (But if you do, know that there are 83,400 results and not a one of them is the real ME.)

My hair has always been my nemesis. OK, "always" might (I said MIGHT) be an exaggeration. But allow me to elaborate. As a girl, I had long straight blond strands of beautiful hair. On Sundays my older sister would roll them in hot rollers and form ringlets all over my head. (Mercifully, she would cram a foot of toilet paper between my scalp and each steaming demon, but it was still a miserable process... for both of us.)

In second grade, I stood on the top row of the bleachers for class pictures wearing a red quilted jumper (my sister made in 4-H) and a blouse. My hair was curled in gentle ringlets, and I looked cute... I know this because at least two girls came to school after the pictures were sent home and said, "My mom said you were the cutest girl in our picture." (If you are wondering WHOSE mother would say another girl was the cutest... I was wondering the same thing, even at age 7.) Looking back, I wish I had known to live out those two days of admiration, because that's pretty much all I ever got...

In third grade, I learned how to covet. Her name was Carrie Stanger and she had hair that FEATHERED. Besides that, she was CUTE. Knowing that the secret to her cuteness lay in her feathers, I wanted my hair to feather, too. So I told my mother.

Let me rephrase that, I told my practical, frugal, and attentive mother... and she took me where every practical, frugal, and attentive mother would take a daughter who had requested feathered hair: the beauty school.

At age 8 I learned to hate beauty schools and all they stood for. In fact, this one experience is probably responsible for every extravagance I have ever indulged in. My mom took me to the Meridian Beauty School, got me set up with a student, and left! She left me to explain my vision of cuteness to a beauty student. It was 1980, and I would have thought that "feathered" would have meant something to people so recently party to the 70's.

I told the student that I wanted my hair to feather. The student began rolling it. In curlers. I watched in horror, not really believing that any of this was going to result in a happy ending, but not knowing how to stop the nightmare. (I didn't learn to be assertive until many years later.) She rolled. I cried. I remember the student chatting away with another student and I distinctly remember hearing, "I hate doing kids' hair." Then why didn't she STOP!?

Finally, she was done and my mother returned. When she asked the student why I was crying, the student replied, "I guess she wanted her mommy." I was too shy to ever speak up for myself, but I am pretty sure that experience is one of the defining moments of my life. When I returned to school, Carrie was still the cutest girl in my class. I just got shocked looks of horror. Sigh. Defining moments.

It took two years for my hair to recover. By fifth grade my long straight locks had returned. Then I went to my mom's hairdresser with a picture of a cut I liked. The next thing I knew, my hair was 8-10 inches shorter and I looked like a boy. (If I can find a way to post these pictures, I will.) So much so that my friend (who I was holding hands with at a school rollerskating party) was asked, "Who's your boyfriend?" and we had no idea who that person was talking about. Then we realized it was ME.

Prior to seventh grade, my mom decided I needed a perm. She obviously missed the memo that straight bobs were going to be in fashion THAT year. Yes, she did. I got a perm that summer--and straight bobs made their debut that fall. My hair has been curly ever since. I think the permanent and puberty must have lined up in much the same way that the earth and moon line up for a lunar eclipse, and my life has never been the same.

So Saturday I tried a new stylist--one that might take some liberties with my hair. Going into it, however, I warned her that I am the mother of six children and don't have a lot of time for "maintenance." She gave me bangs, more dramatic layers (LAYERS--the word I wish I had known in third grade), and some styling tips. How is it that I still need styling tips?

Oh, well--at least I have HAIR. Right? Right?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

De. Light. FULL.

I have had a couple of moments of pure delight this week. De-Light. Tuesday morning I decided that I had a little errand to run at the bookstore, so I packed up my two-year old, hopped in the van, and we made our way to the bookstore. I need to paint the town more often with my little two-year old. She is delightful.

In the bookstore, we had two mutually exclusive missions. Mine: Find a copy of One Thousand Gifts and buy it. Hers: Find the "choo-choo" and play with it. Naturally, mine took precedence. Not sure why though, now that I think of it. I guess it was THE reason we were in the bookstore in the first place; on the other hand, it probably would have waited for a visit to the choo-choo.

At any rate, I bee-lined it for the Customer Service desk where a kindly young gentleman asked if he could help me. I told him what I was looking for, and he promptly looked it up and lead me to the rack where... it wasn't. Next stop: a New Release table. Not there either. [Note that my two-year old and I were following this swift-footed gentleman from one location to the next with my daughter saying, "Choo-choo" in mild-mannered distress. I kept reassuring her that it would be our next stop... OK, our NEXT stop.] The New Release was finally located on a cart in the Religion section where it was about to take up residence. Not so fast.

I thanked the helpful (and swift-footed) gentleman for his services. Then as I turned to help my insistent and done-waiting two-year old locate the children's section and the choo-choo, he said, "Oh, we don't have the train anymore." I couldn't imagine what he was talking about or why they would have gotten rid of the train, but I led my daughter to the children's section anyway because I had said I would... and we found the train--in the same spot that it was the last time we were there (which had to be months ago, and I have no idea how my daughter remembered it). Swiftfoot must have been thinking about the OTHER train.

Anyway, she played for a few minutes. We looked at some children's books. I paid for my book and we left. After a ride on the quarter-operated ice cream truck in the mall--for her, not for me (I exceeded the weight and age limit!), we returned to the van. Once we were buckled in, I realized that I was thirsty so we went to Orange Peel, a smoothie shop for which I happened to have a $5 gift certificate...

As I approached the counter, the young woman behind the counter asked, "What can I get for you?"

"Something YUMMY!" I said.

"Well, the Mello Yellow is quite delicious," she said and then proceeded to guide my eyes to its description on the wall behind her: mango, peach, banana. I'll take it. Once it was ready, we were given two ginormous straws to go with it--on yellow and one pink. I let the two-year old have first dibs. She took pink. I WANTED pink, but she got it. After all, I got to be first at the bookstore. Strangely, the smoothie seemed to taste just as good in yellow.

Actually, it was delightful in every. sense. of. the. word. My daughter and I passed it back and forth, sipping from our individually colored straws. The sun was shining on us. We were enjoying a yummy treat. She had on a clean diaper. It was delightful. I loved being with her, sharing my smoothie. The flavor was enhanced in the sharing--I just know it. Otherwise, it would have been too much. We finished the last slurps just shy of being overindulged. Perfect. As we passed the cup back and forth, I wished I had a camera. It was that good. The two of us and our smoothie.

Yesterday I took my nine-year old out to lunch. After a rough morning, I decided he needed some reassurance that I love him. I took him out of school. We went to the Pizza Factory and SHARED a lunch special--or a special lunch. He got the pizza. I got the salad. Not too much. Delightful.

Today my friend invited me to come over for a visit. Me and my two "littles"--My two-year old and my 9-month old. While there she made us lunch--a turkey pita with avocado and sprouts. Then she served us a bowl full of cut up strawberries and fresh pineapple (Seriously, who needs candy?!) to SHARE. I started by manning the fork, but when my two-year old wanted the driver's seat, I surrendered it with little resistance with the understanding that we were still going to SHARE. She then proceeded to alternate between our two mouths with bites of fruit. It was fun. And delightful.

As I further reflect on the week, I realize that two other delightful images center around food. One is my Valentine's Day gift from my husband: a dozen chocolate-covered strawberries. (Not candy--isn't he brilliant?) A circle of mothers surrounding a table of fruit pizza, mango salsa and chips, and a vegetable platter.

When I buy that XXL bag of pretzel M&M's (Answer: I NEED Candy!), I am going to try sharing them. I can't imagine how they could taste any better, but I'm willing to give it a try.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Vanished Almost Rhymes With Famished

I gave up candy this month. I know I have mentioned this before, but I feel the need to confess it again. Maybe in some strange way it can explain (read: justify) all my shortcomings of late. Offhand, I am not sure what those are, but if a list happens to be forming in your head... well, I'm candy deprived.

But I am only candy deprived. What this "fast" has done for me (besides miraculously turn February into the LONGEST month of the year) is make me more resourceful. I didn't give up sugar. (Thank goodness!) I just gave up candy. In some ways I wish I would have given up all sugar--except for candy, because I have yet to look with disdain on pretzel M&M's. In fact, I plan to be at Costco first thing the morning of March 1 to snag an XXL bag of those little yummies. Better yet--I will buy one on February 28, so that I am prepared come 12:00 AM on March 1. (Poor smokers--their addictions STINK. Mine, on the other hand, has cute commercials.)

So candy deprived and craving sugar, I went grocery shopping last week... and came home with three packages of cookies: Chips Ahoy, Keebler Chips Deluxe Coconut Cookies, and generic vanilla sandwich cookies. I don't even like sandwich cookies. They were for the kids' lunches. Yes, they were. Of course, they opened the sandwich cookies first. (In the interest of health and provident living, I encourage my children to take a serving size of any treat for lunch--as opposed to half the package.) The cookies were gone the next day. Darn Kids.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day. This is last night's special dessert--er, I mean the pan from last night's special dessert. The ACTUAL pan. It was yummy. Obviously. My hips (and my children) thank me for not eating the entire pan all by myself. My tastebuds want to tell my hips and my children to take a hike.

How do you like the photography? Perhaps the actual dish would be more appealing, but doesn't this picture tell you more about the dish than a picture of the actual dessert would? It was GOOD. Really GOOD. It's gone. I won't be throwing any of it away next Tuesday, because it DISAPPEARED.

Why do food blogs always post pictures of the dish BEFORE anyone has tasted it? I know--it gives us the vision by which we determine if it is really worth the effort. Perhaps they should consider photographing food with a bite or two missing. Then we, the at-home chefs (I wish!) would recognize that someone just couldn't wait for the lens cap to be removed. They just HAD to taste it RIGHT NOW--it looked and smelled so good. In reality, the dishes are probably guarded by pandas and they only eat bamboo.

So about last night's dessert (in case you can't tell from the picture), it was a vanilla-wafer crust, cream-cheese-and-whipped-topping middle, and raspberries and Jell-O on top... and did I mention YUMMY?

If you ask really nicely, I might be persuaded to post the recipe but if you want a picture you will have to search the internet because our dessert is ALL GONE.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Rubber Bands vs. Rubberbands

So Monday started out well. The last rubber band in the bag went on the last newspaper of the day. How often does that happen?! Never... except that one time when it did. As I attempt to glean some meaning from that once-in-a-lifetime-so-far experience, I wonder does it mean I should quit my paper route NOW... or that a shortage of rubber bands is in the future... or that I should bag the papers more often. Most likely it means that I need more sleep, but I didn't need a sign to know THAT.

Are you wondering at my spelling for "rubber band"? Doesn't it look odd as two words? I really think it should be one word, but the little red line beneath it insists that it isn't.

Upon consulting Google, I typed "is rubberband one word." The first line of the results page read, "Did you mean: is rubber band one word?" Yes, I suppose THAT is what I meant. Then the first three results declared that rubberband is, in fact, one word. So maybe that wasn't what I meant after all. Obviously, I am not the only one caught up in this dilemma (but I MAY be the only one losing sleep over it).

But the red line persists.

Who is the real authority on such matters? First there were bands. Then there was rubber. Then someone put the two together to form rubber bands... but WHO decides if they should be put together to form RUBBERBANDS? It's a mystery.

We could ask the same questions about car pools or carpools. But as we know, THAT is a discussion for another day... when we have more time.

Monday, February 7, 2011

If You're Not 10 Minutes Early, You Might Still Make It

As a teenager, I remember my dad dropping me off at a church activity five minutes early. The church was mostly dark. We sat in the parking lot and waited for someone else to arrive. I was bugged that my dad had been on my case to hurry so that we could be 10 minutes early. (Obviously, I compromised.) He adhered to the school of thought, "If you aren't 10 minutes early, you're late." Much to his chagrin, I had bought into the philosophy, "If you get there five minutes late, other people will be there and you won't have to stand around waiting--or looking like a dork."

My philosophy has mellowed in the past several years. My current philosophy is "Do your best to get there before the bell rings OR the opening prayer OR the lights are dimmed, but if all else fails--Just get there!" Occasionally I am early, but it isn't on purpose.

I am the mother of six children. As such, I track several different schedules on any given day. Those include (but are not entirely limited to) four different school schedules, piano lessons, gymnastics, naps and Scouts as well as two different carpools. Compound that with a baby and a toddler in need of diaper changes and naps, and you might appreciate that my "On Time" card has more tallies than my "Late" card.

I am the newest member of one of the carpools. At the beginning of January I moved my daughter from the local elementary school to a nearby charter school. Shortly thereafter I was invited to join a carpool with a few of my neighbors (who I know) and a family in another neighborhood (who I do not know). The carpool would include eight children from five families. I would drive on Monday.

The arrangement seemed straightforward enough. My 9-year old would still be home with my little diaper changees while I drove the carpool TO school, and my 11-year old would be home with them by the time I left to pick them up AFTER school. I quickly signed the deal.

TODAY as I think back to that original conversation regarding said carpool, I have a hazy recollection of an over-the-shoulder warning that may have involved the words uptight, punctual, time, and Nazi--but like I said, it's hazy.

Fast forward a few weeks.

Today is Monday. That means it is MY day to drive carpool. I have delivered my newspapers, exercised for an hour, and showered--when the two diaper changees wake up at 7:40. School starts at 8:15. Diapers are changed by 7:44. I could leave right then, but I still have 31 minutes before school starts. The school is a mile and a half away, and it takes all of 12 minutes to gather the carpool and get there. My baby hasn't eaten for several hours and will be S-A-D if I leave without feeding her. No problem. I've still got time. I decide to feed her. Then I go pick up carpool, and deliver them to the school with at least a full minute to spare. All's well that ends well, right? Too bad it didn't end there...

Perhaps an hour later, my phone rang. I answered it. One of the sweetest women you will ever meet was on the other end. She began something like this: "This is going to be kind of an awkward conversation..."

Hmmm. That can't be good. [Note to self: When a conversation begins with the words "going to be an awkward conversation," cut the cord, pull the plug, scream and hang up, whatever--just know that you aren't about to receive a warm fuzzy.]

The gist of the "awkward conversation" was that I was somewhat tardy this morning, and SOMEBODY (who shall remain nameless because I can't remember how to pronounce her name, let alone spell it) experienced a little anxiety because of it. The funny thing is that I already knew of her anxiety because it was written all over her daughters' faces when they entered my van this morning. They had very obviously received the tongue lashing that was probably intended for me. [On the bright side, they were probably that much more eager to get to school, right?] After I picked up her girls, she got on the horn to our sweet mutual friend and inquired, "Who is going to call and talk to HER?!" Meaning ME. Poor messenger.

Well, things happen. I could call "FOUL" on the grounds that having four other children at home at desired point of departure makes a clean getaway nearly impossible... while SOME PEOPLE (still nameless) have none. I COULD... but I won't.

I won't apologize either. All eight children made it to class "on time" (read: BEFORE the bell). As illustrated by my experience with my dad, that definition is subjective. I told the messenger that I will TRY to do better, and I will. Meanwhile maybe I could prescribe a little Zumba for SOMEONE who might need a little loosening up. Maybe.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Shaking My Booty

This morning my husband and I attended a Pilates class. It was great--totally worth getting out of bed (again) for. When it was over, a friend of mine came in for the Zumba class that immediately followed. That was all it took to possess me to stay.

As people, mostly women, trickled in I asked a woman next to me (on the BACK row), "Is this the area for the rookies?"

"I don't know about rookies, but it is the place for dorks."

Cool. I was ready.

To start off, the teacher asked, "Is anyone NEW?"

Now I figure they do this for two reasons: 1) So everyone attending for purely entertainment purposes knows who to watch and 2) So that the newbies have the opportunity to say, "I KNOW that I don't know what I am doing, so you don't need to feel sorry for me."

With that understanding, I raised my hand. Actually I kind of put it out in front of me so the teacher could see it. I didn't wave it around over my head or anything. No sense in getting the show started earlier than necessary, right?

Later I thought, "Can you only be new once?" If that is the case, then I am TOTALLY not "new" to Zumba--and by raising my hand, I lied. That was actually the third Zumba class I have attended. Ever. Over the course of three years. But if I am not new, I would be interested to know what class my experience bumps me into. Novice probably. Same thing, but at least it SOUNDS a little less new than NEW.

Anyway, Zumba is fun. I won't deny it. But as I "shaked" my booty, or tried to, I realized something. I Zumba like a runner... or an accountant, if that helps paint the picture. My booty shakes are like unto those of a robot, a bit too calculated. Rather rigid. I needed to LOOSEN UP! As this epiphany hit me, I realized that I would do well to learn to shake my booty (a.k.a. "loosen up") a little more in other areas of my life as well.

Sorry, no pictures.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Miss Recycling 2010

Upon digging for something in our royal blue recycling container, my husband proclaimed, "If there was a contest for Miss Recycling--you would be It." Well, thank you--thank you very much. I think it complements my Paper Girl persona rather nicely.

I'll admit that I probably am a little over the top. Small scraps of paper, receipts, and lids of almost every size and proportion end up in our bin which is conveniently positioned in our garage right outside our kitchen door. Since obtaining our bin, the garbage man usually only picks up one half-full container from our house each week. (Pretty impressive, considering the fact that we can't recycle diapers.) By contrast, our recycle bin is stuffed to brimming for its every-other-week pickup. We can't use the bin to recycle glass, so those just travel around in the van with me until I have the opportunity to deliver them to a glass recycling bin in town. So maybe I am a little OCD--I'm not denying it.

But I am not the only Earth-friendly inhabitant to frequent this abode. My husband is a pretty faithful composter. In fact, I would happily nominate him as Mr. Composter Universe. Although we have taken a winter hiatus from composting, it is about time to start it up again.

Next there is the subject of water--perhaps a topic better saved for its own post--I am continually amazed by the clean water that flows from my kitchen faucet. Maybe it's weird, but I rarely turn on the kitchen faucet without thinking of people in other corners of the earth that must pump their water from a well--and oftentimes must travel several miles before they can even do that. I am fortunate enough to have it in great abundance right at my fingertips. (It makes the whining over showers not being warm enough seem that much more absurd, don't you think?)

Besides the accessibility of water, the purity of it astounds me. The very idea of having a perfectly clear liquid that can be used to purge or clean just about anything is nothing short of a marvel. It isn't juice from a fruit or sap from a tree--it is sodium-free, calorie-free, cholesterol-free, fat-free, and refreshingly--well, refreshing. Suddenly I'm feeling thirsty.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

And To Start the Day...

So February isn't going so well. First, I swear off candy--and I mean SWEAR. Seriously, what was I thinking?! I am feeling a little preoccupied with my candy-less state. Then at 6:55 this morning I drove right over a black cat's path. No way around it--he crossed the road and there I was. He looked me right in the eyes (naturally, his were glowing... somewhat unnaturally) as if he were daring me to live. I must have had that Gone-a-Full-Day-Without-Candy Look that told him I was particularly vulnerable. And I was. AM.

Well, it is only 1:27 p.m. in the afternoon, so there are still adventures to be had. So far I have hosted a play group of five girls ages 1-3 years old. It was an adventure. Ever tried herding cats? Then you get the idea. There was one poopy diaper and one "accident." Thankfully, the "accident" happened on the bathroom floor, so I can only guess that the black cat decided to cut me some slack. Also, the poopy diaper STUNK, but other than that it was relatively tame and the culprit was extremely amiable to having it changed.

But like I said, the day is only half over.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What I Miss the Most

I miss my pretzel M&M's. I just had to say that. I know it's pathetic, but there it is. The salty/sweet combination is so light and savory that they almost taste healthy. Almost. The fact that I find it on the CANDY aisle keeps me from completely buying into that deception... but I want to. I really, really want to. You see, if I could convince myself that those delectable beauties were not candy, then I could continue to indulge at the obsessive rate that I have been indulging the past couple of months. (That would be one Costco-size bag per week.) But I am not that convincing. So much for my marketing degree! They ARE candy and I am not eating candy this month.

Why am I giving it up? All day I have been asking myself the same question. It isn't for Lent. That would actually seem like a worthwhile purpose. It isn't that I don't like candy. Au contraire! I LOVE Candy! I have decided to give up candy for the month of February in an attempt to overcome my addiction. The one positive side of that resolve is that I chose the shortest month... which is quickly becoming the longest month. Is it February 2 yet? Nope... it's not.

I should probably have given up sugar since "candy" can be loosely defined. Especially by me. For example, we have some chocolate-covered almonds in our pantry. [Note that they are not almond M&M's--a past obsession.] They could probably be used for baking, right? At least CHOCOLATE can be used in baking, and ALMONDS can be used in baking. That was all the green light I needed. I ate about six of them. They weren't nearly as good as almond M&M's. That was probably cheating. Dang. I should have eaten six pretzel M&M's if I was going to be confessing anyway.

Obviously, I'm desperate. Must be the withdrawal pains. But for the record, chocolate chips are not considered candy either. And if you happen to know of any other not-candy candy, please (read: PLEEEEASE!) send it my way. Please.