Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

I Need to Blog

I've got a scatter-brain right now and don't know what to narrow down this blog post to so here goes...

Audrey is goofy over a boy band called "One Direction". She can be in her room with the door closed and all of a sudden we'll hear a little screech. 1D is on the radio. They are a British band so she is all over the Union Jack flag and we HAD to watch the closing Olympic ceremonies. She wants to live in England someday and drink tea all day. (She's reading this over my shoulder while I'm typing it and would like for me to let you know that she also likes Ellie Goulding and Ed Sheeran.) Personally, I can't get over the lyrics of one of the songs "What makes you beautiful"- "The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed". I crack up every time I hear it. What boy bands do you remember? 

I ran my first solo 10k race this weekend. It was in Huxley as a part of our PrairieFest celebration. I wanted to see how I would do on a normal road race- as in could I run a 10k without crying? Yes, yes I can! Bill and Ben joined me on their bikes about halfway through and rode alongside me. I had told Bill my reasonable goal, but I also had a secret goal and I ended up beating both of those! I didn't get a top 3 finish, but I don't care. Really, I don't. (I did at the Sugar Bottom Trail run.) There was a great group of runners for both the 5k and 10k and while a whole wave of them passed me within the first mile, it felt so good to turn left instead of right where the 5 and 10k split. I was running what only a few were doing.

I got this lovely t-shirt and a new souvenir blister!

My neighbor stopped by with a sack of cucumbers and I said I was willing to trade 3 kids for the veggies. It was one of those kind of days. (He gave a hearty laugh and walked away. I still got the cukes, though.)

I was getting after Audrey for some snacking the other day because supper was less than a half hour away when in walks Ben with two friends and they clear me out of food. At least, that's how it felt. I was peeling hard-boiled eggs. I started with a dozen. I put in the fridge less than that. Noticeably less. I don't mind the boys coming over and eating at all, I'm just not accustomed to the amount of food that it will take to sustain them. I'm gonna have to up my game.

Audrey is not out for cross country this fall or any other after school activity. The boys will probably not play fall sports other than racing. It's kind of weird. We didn't really plan it that way, but that's how it turning out. I can't say anyone is complaining about it, though Ben is a little stir crazy once he gets home from school.

Audrey and I watched the movie "Billy Elliot" the other day. Not recommended for kids as the language is coarse and the themes are older. However, it is almost hard to describe this movie- powerful, emotional, beautiful, raw! Short version- boy goes to the gym for boxing; watches the ballet class also rehearsing in the gym; a father and two boys are left grieving the death of wife/mother; father and older son are striking against working in coal mines; grandmother could have been a professional dancer. 

We took the kids to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days. Blech! After the first 10 minutes, Bill and I were done. I was hoping that Greg Heffley would learn from his mistakes, but instead it was just scenario one after another of the same. The most poignant moments of the movie are *spoiler alert* when Greg finally understands what disappointing his dad truly feels like and when his dad says that he messes up all the time, he just admits when he's wrong. Both points, Greg totally doesn't get, goes about trying to make things right still the wrong way and somehow it all ends up good in the end. We've read some of the Wimpy Kid books, and we get them in book form, but by the third movie it leaves a lot lacking. Greg and his whole family need to grow up.

Um, somehow this turned into a movie review post.  

Oh my goodness, how could I forget? We finished our state plate game!! Oddly, we were down to just Vermont for about a month before Bill spotted it in the Boondocks parking lot. We finished in just over a year and all in Iowa (except for Hawaii)! We decided not to start another round but I can't help but look at car plates still!

So there we go, a little tidbit for now.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Still Racin'!

Okay, we're still here. I thought when the kids headed off to school I'd have gobs of time to catch up on blogging. Heh! Not yet!

But I must share with you pictures from this weekend's race in Dayton! It had been forever since we had a race! I know! I haven't shared any race pics with you at all this year. (hint- follow me on Instagram and you can catch a few more pics MINDYW23)

Okay, so this past weekend was in Dayton, just a hop, skip and jump from us. So nice to just wake up at a semi-normal time and go. We brought Audrey's friend, Destany, with us because the OMA National riders were going to be there and having a friend along to see cute guys is always better!

Here's Ben with his friend, Max. This is Ben's first year in the 65cc class and Max's last year. Ben's not riding for points this year (at least that's what his dad says but me and Ben are having a hard time accepting that!) but he knows exactly where both Max and he are in the points.

Riding down a big hill

Working through a deep rut at the top of another good climb

Please don't run over the photographer/your mom!

Finishing 6th overall (two spots better than last year)

 Getting autographs from the pro riders

Getting pics with the pro riders- Tisen on the left, Adam on the right (AAAHHH!!!)

So Bill didn't race this one. He wanted to but we just ran out of time to make it work for him and Ben to race, so he sat out. But you can bet he's itchin' to get back out there! So is Bill! *wink*

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to School, '12 edition

School began today. 

Ben was already upstairs, dressed and eating breakfast. He said to me "I know myself so well. I set my alarm 10 minutes ahead." Yep. (4th grade)
Luke was snoozing until we roused him. I pulled out a shirt and he said "Cool new shirt." He still can't remember his teacher's name yet. (1st grade)
Audrey had already been up getting ready. She's a freshman and had the jitters.

They are all going to do great. Just like Luke's shirt! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When Denim Hits the Fan

Tonight I made Ben pull out all the jeans and pants stuffed in his dresser drawers and try everything on. Oh, he's not a fan of this process, but the other option is dragging him to the store and that's pretty much pure torture in his book, so he protested only a little.
One by one we went through his jeans. First to go were the obvious ones, the blown out knees. That's where Ben protested saying I basically got rid of his favorites. Such a male! 
Then I made a pile of good but too small (yay, a few can be saved for Luke!) and a teeny, tiny stack of still fits. 
Now I'm left with a substantial amount of worn out in the knees jeans from both boys. An obvious choice might be to cut them off for shorts but neither boy is really a denim short kind of boy. A quick survey on Facebook and a Google/Pinterest search for repurposing denim gave me a bunch of options, too. But guess what? I'm not much of a sewing crafter. I'd like to be but for multiple reasons, it's just not happening. 

Some more searching and I follow a lead for textile recycling and come across a company that recycles denim and turns it into blown insulation!! Nice. Now is it possible for me to get my jeans into someone's attic? 
Yes, yes it is!!

Green Jeans Insulation It doesn't look like you can donate directly to them but you can at least see the product.

Cotton From Blue to Green They have several ways to collect your denim. Sure, the mail in program is going to cost me my nickel, but I'd rather that than the landfill. I know I've seen the high school collect jeans and a mall store has a program every once in a while, too. All very doable. And at the rate the boys go through jeans, I'll have plenty for all options.

I haven't found any yet (but truthfully, I haven't looked either) for groups/organizations/companies that would take my denim to re-purpose it and help others out. 

I'm looking for something like this group-
Open Arms They employ refugee women AND recycle t-shirts into skirts and such. (They are in Austin, TX but you can order from them anywhere.)

Is it possible that there is such a place in Des Moines or Iowa? 

If you know of such a place for denim or other textiles anywhere, let us all know. If I find of any places, I'll be sure to let you know, too. 

Finally, if you want a pile of size 4/5 or 7 boy jeans to craft your little heart out or turn into denim shorts, let me know!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


A house was built on the empty lot next to us this summer. A backhoe came and scooped away my boys' dirt ramp they jumped almost every single day last summer. I watched it being scraped away and I'll admit it, I cried a little.
So the boys took to jumping curbs for a while. Then we had some extra scraps wood about and they got to building...

And then they got to jumping...

They made two plywood ramps and the gray one I found on a curb one morning.

Luke is now jumping a turned over plastic tub in between the two ramps. He was rigging up a jump over a Little Tykes picnic table but has yet to execute it. Phew!

Yeah, we're all boy here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Post Run Thoughts

I wanted to give you some "deep thoughts" from the running I've been doing these past months and from my race.

In late January or early February (can't remember), I decided to try an actual training plan- an 8 week plan for strength and endurance for beginner to intermediate runners. It had me do crazy things like run hard for one minute then easy for a minute for twenty minutes. Or run up a hill for 15 seconds, turn around and then do that again six times. Some days it was just an easy run- 20 minutes easy- that's it. Or stay within a low heart rate zone for thirty minutes. I did this almost every day for 8 weeks, with a few days scheduled off.
Here's what I thought about...

At first it was really hard to stay within the right heart rate zone. (You take a test, do some calculations and then get your zones from that.) I had a problem with being slow enough. In the first weeks, I told Bill I felt like I had to walk to keep within my zone. I'm that way in life, too. Too fast. I treat life like a 100 meter dash. It's not.  Eric Orton, the trainer who's plans I've been using, says most people run their slows too fast and their fasts too slow- we sort of flat-line and don't really gain the speed and endurance we are hoping for. So, the right kind of slowing down has been the biggest learning curve for me.

The first time I ran a hill set, I thought it might be the hardest day of the training plan. It was still cold out, a bit of snow on the sides of the trail but the trail itself tacky muddy. I might have had to do six 15 or 30 second climbs, I can't remember. But I do remember that I lost count pretty quickly and starting poking sticks in the mud at the bottom of the hill to help me keep count. On my last one, I just ran up but didn't push myself, just got it over with. I wasn't prepared for the amount of regret I felt as I ran back home. I left a little bit back, not giving it my all. I realized that day I had made a mental switch in my running. I didn't want to leave a little bit back anymore. Hills became a favorite work-out because I thought them more conquerable (and I kept track with sticks and rocks and flowers, like in the Roy Rogers books I read growing up). I want to live my life that way- not leaving anything back- not wanting to look back with regrets because of this or that or whatever. I'm not un-saying what I just said about slowing down. It's more of a "right here, right now, be".  But in life, those things are not ticked off with broken off twigs at the bottom of a hill; they aren't countable. Also, my rest interval (RI), which was going back down the hill, was consumed with evaluating how I would traverse the next climb. There will be another hill in life and I don't know how long it will be, but go at it strong and steady.

Then I got to running, day after day. Whatever weather (except extreme cold and lightning). A rest week. A re-testing of my heart rate. I had gotten a bit faster, a bit stronger. Not a lot, but a little. I was disappointed. I expected my zones to dramatically change. They didn't. I needed reminding that little by little I was indeed, getting stronger, better. So now, raise your hand if you'd like to leap and bound to some fabulous goal- weight loss, better health, solid relationships, deeper faith, etc. Sister, brother, I see your hand. See mine? We can all say that really, we know it is little by little that all that stuff comes to fruition. But if we are deep down honest, we still want to skip right to the end. We want the "fast track", the shortcut to the end. And our culture thrives on such- every single aspect is not left un-touched. Oh, I could go on and on about specific things! There is no fast track, friends. It is a day in, day out kind of running, living. The training I do today may not amount to anything significant at the end of the day, other than some weariness and some blisters, but over time it does add up.

Like I described, my work-outs varied. And they got harder, especially after I signed up for a 12 week plan, as in, increased significantly. Longer long runs, longer hill runs, faster fast runs- pushing me. Ladies and gentlemen, so many of us are still in the 6/8 week plans of our faith. While those are actually great for a time, they will never really get you to that next level. When we get to a hill, we say too hard, I'll skip that day. When we have a long run, we complain. So we get to a re-testing of our heart rate and find it's still the same, we cry out to God to change us, make us new, give us something. He's not un-compassionate and doesn't sit in heaven, shaking his head saying tsk, tsk, but He does want us to see He is in the hard moments as well as the easy.
James 1 says "Consider it pure joy my friends, when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it's work so that you may become mature and complete, not lacking anything."
 So, now I don't want to write this next part because it sounds like an out, but I have to... Not every thing and not every day is a full on training day. Truly! I don't actually believe God gives you a full day off- we are always to live our lives, working out His word in our life with His Power. A whole lot of the time He wants you to discover a hidden sunflower field, spy a new bird and watch a sunrise and revel in Him.
But a whole lot of the time we've got it wrong- our slow is the wrong slow, our fast the wrong fast. We want to do something that can be counted here on earth with a little pile of rocks rather than add jewels to our heavenly crowns that we will humbly lay before His feet. And we want it all with little to no effort "Help me to love the poor, needy, broken, homeless, fatherless, just don't let me get dirty. Help me to forgive and love those who hurt me, just don't make me wade through a lifetime of scarring and deal with my own stuff first. Help me to love you and follow you with everything, just don't make me give up my time, my money, my family, my to-do list, my vacation, my..."

My running has reflected my real life. This year, more than any other year or time in my life, has been those things above. I've got the dirt on my hands, the once scabbed over now healing from the inside out scars and the muscles that perseverance produces that I didn't have before. Not for my own glory, oh no, who would want to do such things? But for Him!

If you're willing, tie on your shoes and put one foot in front of the other.