Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monkeys in the Bed

I woke up this morning to find two monkeys had crept into bed with the hubs and me. One body was sprawled across me like a sack of potatoes and the other was wedged smack dab in the center of the bed. I was able to snap one picture before the monkeys sensed my presence and greeted the day with smiles and amazing crops of bedhead!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

So, we cancelled our land line...

...because we tired of battling with the phone company to fix the static on our line. Actually, static was pretty minor compared to the crossing lines we experienced prior to that. It was unnerving to pick up the phone on the first ring and find another person saying hello to the same caller. I usually hung up. I figured if the stranger answering my phone really wanted to talk with my mom, that was fine with me. Maybe a friendship would blossom.

The thing that forced us to drastic measures was the computerized voice on the automated repair system saying "We will be out to repair your line between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday." Seriously? They needed us to stay put for 12 hours. Well, we did. And, they never showed. Oh, the acres were smoking that night! I was furious. I whipped out my static laden phone and starting punching numbers. They must have known it was me. No matter what I tried or how long my hubs and I traded off waiting on hold, we could not drum up a live person.

So, we cancelled. You can bet I talked to a live person then. She tried everything on her little check sheet to get me to hang onto that phone number. She finally stopped trying when I said, "Your company asked up to wait for a repair appointment that would take place between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and no one ever showed up. Why would I want to keep service on this line?" I heard...silence. I waited a couple beats and the asked, "Hello?" She replied, "Um, oh yes. I am just processing your request."

When a corporation gets so big that customer service falls on the list of priorities it is time to pack-up my business and take it elsewhere. In this economy, I want a bit more for my buck. In this case, a live person to speak with from the get-go would have been a pleasant start.

I forgot to blog about the St. Patty's Run!

Shame on me! I have been so busy with work that my blogging has been sporadic at best. I just realized, as I read the post of a dear friend, that I neglected to blog about our local St. Patty's Day Run. I blogged about the duathlon that I hauled myself through, but not the run a week prior.

Mitchell and Ellie geared up for the St. Patty's Day Run despite the cold circumstances that met us on the doorstep. I certainly have a penchant for running in the muck and gloom. Mitchell ran the 1/4 mile race with a huge grin plastered on his face. He really enjoys running. He pumps his little arms and his nimble, coltish legs flat-out fly. We later learned that he scored a medal for second place. Actually, he and another couple kids shared second place. I am not sure how that works out, but Mitchell was delighted nonetheless.
Miss Ellie...well, let's just say that Miss Ellie was traumatized by the sight of Ronald MacDonald. She takes after me in that she wants no part of that crazy clown. He absolutely freaked her out. When her race came up, the dear hubs was set to run the 1/8 mile stretch with her. I think he made about 10 steps with her attached to his leg before he scooped her back up to the safety of his arms. Now, I really don't know how the scoring went with her race, because Miss Ellie scored a first place medal. I think she was confused by that as well.
My running buddy and I ran a great 4 mile race thanks to her black German Shepard acting as our pace setter. We finished in 38 minutes and were rewarded with a bottle of water. There were no medals waiting for us. Not even for spirit! Drat!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We flung it!

The mud that is...we flung the mud...from our sneakers! Today I had a total adventure with my dear friend and running buddy, Julie. We had signed up in advance to compete in the local Spring Fling duathlon. I am a decent runner but definitely not a cyclist. But still, I really wanted to take on this event. So, with the help of my dear hubs, we outfitted my mountain bike with slick tires, a seat for girlie parts, and the all important tire repair kit.

The forecast said rain (read that: freezing dollops of water falling from the sky). It was just a drizzle when I loaded up the bike in the darkness of the morning so I thought we might have a good go at this. As I travelled into town, the rain really started pouring. When Julie and her hubs arrived I hopped in their car and we sat and ticked out our options...grabbing coffee won by unanimous vote. With coffee serving dual purpose as hand-warmer, we headed back to the starting area to check on things. It was still raining buckets but Julie and I decided we ought to at least get our swag bags. We had to sign a waiver to get our bags and we had a race number we had to write on the back of our hands. As Julie was writing my number on my hands, I sensed I would find myself on my bike as the morning progressed. We went back to the car and at Julie's encouraging enthusiasm it was agreed that we would at least do the first run which was four miles. We conceded that we could always turn back.

Having never done a duathlon I awkwardly dealt with getting my little transition spot organized. After we wheeled our bikes over, I hooked my seat over the bar so my bike would be easy to grab. I hung my backpack on my handlebars...and that was about it. I noticed other athletes had a whole system going as they set up their areas. Yep, these were the pros. If my mountain bike didn't give away the fact that I was a novice then I am sure my attempt at busying myself did.

We stood at the starting line with about 100 other individuals and I realized I was way out of my league. These folks were die-hards. They were not about to let freezing rain ruin their event. They stretched and did jumping jacks in the minimum of attire. I was dressed to take on the slopes and they were sporting skin-tight tank tops. Yet, when the horn went off, I was among them. Julie and I held a nice clip for the entire four miles despite the slipping and sliding in the mud of the off-road course. The soles of our shoes became so caked with mud I am sure we stood at least an inch taller. It was in those first miles that Julie said we would finish this together. I hoped she wouldn't mind coming in at the bottom of the heap. My only hope at an award would be for spirit. Julie did note that we were the most fashionable runners in our bright pink Just Us Girls biking jerseys. But today we were not just girls...we were TOUGH girls!

With the first four miles completed we ran back to our transition spots. I looked at my bike in a daze. I grabbed my backpack and swapped my hat for my helmet. I self-consciously stripped off my running pants and realized how ridiculous it was to wear snowboarding socks with my ultra tight running shorts. In an attempt at fashion I scrunched my socks down. Really, that helped. I chocked down a granola bar like a caveman and asked Julie if she would like one. She opted out as she had a lot more transitioning to do than me. Without clips on my pedals I would be riding in my running shoes...such a novice!

We walked our bikes to the start and I took off knowing Julie would easily catch me. Now here is a true friend...Julie had the ability to finish the ride in half the time it took, but she lagged back with me. She coached me along and maintained that we were in this together! I felt like a scab for holding her back but I so appreciated her encouragement. As we approached a healthy hill Julie said she was going to pump up it and would meet me at the top. As I grimaced my way up the hill I heard breathing louder than my own coming from behind. Soon I was side-by-side a chap who looked like we was about to collapse. He said, "You're looking real good! Great job!" I thought, "Good word! What must I look like if he is passing me?"

As I got to the top of the hill I saw Julie helping a Just Us Girls teammate fix a flat tire. As I approached she said to keep on pedaling so I did. Soon she caught up with me and, with her helping me along, we finished the bike portion of the ride. We hopped off our bikes and headed back to the transition area. I felt tingly all over. Every fiber of my being was emitting energy. It was the wildest feeling I think I have ever had.

My first transition was awkward...the second was just a mess. In my tingliness, I struggled to hook my bike back up on the bar; I fumbled around for my hat; I sort of walked around my little area for no reason. Then, we were off again. Two miles to go. Julie and I tried to converse which gave way to laughter because our faces were so cold our lips refused to pronounce words.

It was just a few moments into the run that I related to Julie that I felt like my legs were heavy, solid blocks of ice. She said this is common and that it would pass and soon it did. When we reached the muddiest portion of the trail I marveled in the fact that we were going to finish this race. Despite the rain and freezing cold, we were going to get it done. We slogged up the last hill and hit the last stretch with renewed vigor. Julie told me to run ahead and she let me finish before her in honor of it being my first duathlon.

We didn't break any records...though I have no doubt Julie would have scored a medal had she not patiently waited for me...but we did have a blast. Julie said it would be an "adventure" and she was so right.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Two-Wheel Experience

Today I took on the motorcycle. After a wipe-out years ago left me attending my bridal shower on crutches, I haven't exactly been eager to hop on a hunk of metal and tootle down the road. But, today the circumstances were perfect. The kids were with the grandparents, the weather was beautiful, and the hubs was hopeful. So, after a brief refresher, we were off. Our destination...the DMV motorcycle course which I will need to pass in the next couple of months to obtain my license.

My bike is cute and girlie. I love it! The hubs did a custom paint job on it so it is very "Jen." It is much smaller than the one that allowed me to become so intimately acquainted with the gravel on our street. It is big enough to travel down the highway (once I get my license mind you) but not so big that I feel like I can't control it.

After a few jerky stops and starts around the neighborhood we headed for the main thoroughfare to get us into town. I noticed, as I traveled 40 in a 55 zone, that the hubs is remarkably at peace on his bike. He sat so relaxed. He was one with the bike. Me? Not so much. I was tense. My neck muscles ached as I sat ramrod straight and clutched the bike between my knees. My teeth were clenched and I dared not look anywhere but the road ahead to spy any obstacles that might jump out in front of me.

I made it over the railroad tracks and through the first stops signs and lights. And then, we were "in town." It was at this point I was hit with a full-blown headache. I prayed to God and gave thanks for making it through each traffic light and street change. I lurched my way through town to the DMV where I made a few passes at the motorcycle course. Let's just say that if I had taken the drive test today, I wouldn't have passed.

With an idea of what the test would be like, we headed back toward home. On the way back, something began to happen. I found myself staying with the speed limit. I found myself enjoying the breeze which I had previously labeled as gale force winds. I found my mind relaxing. I found myself truly enjoying the experience. I enjoyed myself so much, that it seemed we got back to the house incredibly fast.

The hubs parked his bike in the garage so he would be ready for a Sunday ride after church. As I got ready to take my bike back to his shop I asked if he wanted a lift. By the time we reached the shop I was overcome with belly laughs that the short jaunt provided. It has been a long time since I had such a fun outing with just my hubs and the ride to the shop summed up the experience...it was new, it was a bit unsteady, it was hilarious, and it is definitely something I want to do again...soon!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Who Would've Thought?

I marvel at the concept of time passed. I often find myself saying, "Five years ago, who would've thought [insert comment of choice here]?" I guess I am a person who reminisces about things. Yesterday I found myself recalling that, in addition to being my dear friend Zen's birthday, it was the sixth anniversary of our house fire. Now here we go, "Seven years ago, who would've thought I would experience our home burning down?"

What a rollercoaster ride that was! I never thought I would find myself tired of shopping. But, trying to replace a houseful of items is exhausting. To this day, I have yet to replace the potato-masher. "Who would've thought that six years after the fire I still wouldn't have a potato-masher?" I guess necessities like toothbrushes and deodorant take precedent in such situations and the hand mixer works just fine for whipping up fluffy potatoes.

On this day, six years ago, I was helping to pack up anything that could be salvaged. I was wearing an outfit by Walmart and I was happy. Yes, happy! I was happy because my friends and family surrounded me. Without a trace of hesitation, they joined in the efforts to pack up our sparse possessions. I was happy for my husband. I was happy he had the fortitude to investigate the smoke as I had already given myself over to the extreme tiredness that accompanies the intake of carbon monoxide. I was happy for my pets. Every four-legged critter was evacuated with calmness, because we thought the fire was a tiny thing and, again, I was pumped full of carbon monoxide and NyQuil (what a horrid cocktail!). And, I was happy for insurance! After the shock began to fade and I took in the whole scene I realized that the brown shag carpet was history thanks to the call of a total loss by the insurance company.

Six years later here I sit. Now the mother of two; with a missing uterus; with one dog less and two cats more; with a rebuilt home; with a greater sense of purpose but still no clear vision for the future; with still a very happy heart. "Who would've thought?"

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kindergarten so soon?

Zonkers! My oldest baby isn't a baby anymore! How did this happen? I am certain it was just yesterday that we were delighting in his baby gibberish and applauding his first steps. How could those years be gone? How is it that I found myself walking hand-in-hand with my little guy to the elementary school office? How is it that he was so confident while all I wanted to do was whisk him away because, surely he was too young for this? Nevertheless, there we were. Mitchell and Mommy going through the motions to register him for "big kid" school beginning in August.

It really does seem like time went by in a flash. Standing at this end, Mitchell's earlier years clearly went by too fast. I remember the day Mitchell was born as if it just happened. I remember every triumph from potty-training to drawing a dinosaur that actually looked like a dinosaur! I remember his very first smile and his very first bicycle ride.

Mitchell is so proud to be going to school. It is such a milestone for him. Hard as it is, and as much as it truly makes my heart ache, I have to realize that Mitchell the baby has grown into Mitchell the boy.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Look Ma! The Clampetts!

"...they loaded up the car and they moved to Beverley (Hills that is. Swimming pools and movie stars."

There is no denying that my hillbilly genes run deep. But, to me, the car below is vintage! A classic heirloom that I hope stays in our family for generations to come. The car is a 1914 KRIT. It has been in our family since before I was a gleam in my mother's eye. When my grandfather came across the car it was a heaping pile of pieces. Whatever possessed him, he bought the pieces for a song and had the car put back together.

The KRIT was manufactured in the United States in Detroit. It originally sold for $850. That was a hefty price tag for the times.

The KRIT was a part of growing up. I never thought much of it because it was always there. Now, when my kids hop in with smiles on their faces, I see the awe of it and recollect many happy memories.

Mitchman getting ready to ride...
Lukas giving it a crank...
Raring to go!

Little Mr. Big Words

My nephew will be 4-years-old in a couple of weeks, but to hear him speak he sounds like he is knocking on forty! He is a connoisseur of big words though perhaps unintentionally. This weekend, my brother relayed a story that I just had to share.

Earlier in the week, my brother ordered pizza for dinner. He took my nephew with him when he went to pick it up. Apparently, the girl behind the counter was rather busty. As she handed my brother the pizza, she leaned dramatically over the counter. As they left, my brother look at my nephew and said, "Wow! That girl had big boobies."

My nephew replied, "Daddy! I am not even thinking about that! Your words are inappropriate!"