Monday, March 24, 2014

So Now We Ski

About a month ago, 3M offered a family deal for a day of skiing at Seven Oaks in Boone. Except for Audrey, who had a band contest, our schedule was clear for us to go. We invited a friend of Ben's to come along. Ben and Luke had never been skiing before so we figured this was a great time and place to introduce them to it. I had been skiing once, but that was back in high school and honestly I couldn't remember the actual skiing part either so it was a good introduction for me as well.

Ben's friend has skied quite a bit and had his own gear which was quite nice since getting the four of us fitted with boots and skis is an ordeal the first time around! 
We let the boys go on their own. Gage taught Ben and was patient while Ben got the hang of it. 

I caught Ben once at the top of the practice hill and that was probably the last time I saw him until the end of the day.

Bill stuck with Luke and taught him. Bill had gone skiing during college with The Salt Co, in Colorado so he was a good to go. I should have stuck with him, but decided to try my luck with the instructors. Here's what I learned: three different ways to get up if you fall down. Awesome. So I got myself to the top of the practice hill, decided it was trial by fire and went for it. I didn't need my "how to get up lessons" until later that day when I attempted a regular hill.

Anyway, back to Luke. The beginner way of learning to control your speed and stopping is directing your skis in a pizza wedge. You can see Luke demonstrate this very well. In fact, we now call this Luke's signature move. You can spot him coming down by the toes in, elbows up, hands down. It's automatic- like airplane landing gear (sort of).

 Seven Oaks also has a hill for tubing and I took Luke down a few times before the day was over. For him, this was the best part of the day. The whole process- how they hook the tube up the tow rope and you ride your tube to the top, the "half pipe" you slide down to release the tube from the tow rope and the "G's" you must be pulling as you fly down the hill. Luke said he thought he was going about 12 G's! 

We definitely had a good first experience and it snowballed from there. 

When we got home, we discussed more skiing options and suggested going somewhere for Spring Break which was in two weeks or so.

We are all in love with the North Shore of Minnesota. Even though there are other beautiful places in the U.S. to visit, we can't get away from the North Shore. We've now visited three years in a row but it no one ever complains about going there. This time we were going to try it in a different season. Lutsen Mountains and the rental companies were offering some good deals on multiple day stays and lift tickets. Bill ended up finding us a gigantic house for a great price. We don't really need a space this big but there was no other reasonable option, so okay, it'll do. 

The interior of this house was all pine with a smidge of stone. Pine flooring. Pine paneling. Pine furniture. It was adorable in a large pine tree sense. I felt a little like Goldilocks in the three bears house.

We spent our first night hanging out and relaxing. I wrote the blog post about the Leprechaun 10k before diving into Sophie Hudson's A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet. Book review: If you want good story telling with a Southern twang that all have a huge dose of humor (laughing myself into tears in one chapter), a huge amount of tenderness and love for dear people in your life (crying and deeply reflecting in many, many parts) and a realness that is so tangible this could very well be snippets of your own life, then you would enjoy this delightful book.

Audrey cuddled up with her own book. Notice the giant pine everything?

And Bill taught the boys to play poker. It didn't take on them as they didn't ask to play it any other time. Probably because Ben won. 

 The next day, after we rented all the appropriate gear, then purchased some more gear, bought and secured all the lift tickets, we took a nap. Because that was again, an ordeal. It wasn't hard- but we are still novices. Only Bill knew a thing or two and the rest of us had to learn all of the lingo and so forth.
Alright- we didn't nap. Ben would have none of the napping. We were here to ski so let's get to skiing. We practiced a bit more on their practice slope before heading up Ullr Mountain where we stayed the rest of the day trying different slopes. Audrey had a pretty good wipeout and we were thankful she had a helmet. She skied a bit more then called it a day. We were worn out but not any less enthusiastic about our new adventure.

This was the gearing up scene for the next two days. 

We didn't all ski together all the time. Bill spent time with each of the kids, helping them gain confidence and skill. I stayed with whoever was leftover. We all took one run down Moose Mountain but only Ben found it thrilling. The rest of us decided it was a little too much for us even though we all did it and we headed back on the gondola while Bill and Ben stayed to ski more runs. 
The way my children learn and respond to things is so amazing to see and at the same time so typical of them (in good ways). Ben: must learn, must master, must go up and down as many times as possible. We are here to ski, so ski we will. Luke: timid at first. Has to be patiently coaxed. His "sensations" first start out with scared and eventually he loves it (or he doesn't). One time, during the third day, after he had fully fallen in love with skiing, we were at the top of Eagle Mountain, just having gotten off the ski lift and were skating our way to one of the runs when Luke yells out "I can't believe this is real life!!" and then he takes off- swish, swish, swish- with all his little might.

 Audrey loves new things and she's so good at adapting to new situations without hyper-ventilating or freaking out (unlike her mom). But she does have at least one thing that causes panic in her and this trip forced her to deal with it over and over- heights. 
 Some of the chair lift rides to the top weren't so bad and then some were. The wind at the top of the mountains was bothersome to her also. She's my sweet girl who can throw out a casual "Not a fan." about certain things but then try it anyway. We only had one time where she was beside herself but then she did it. 
I'll confess- I'm a lot like her. When I was on my first chair lift ride in Boone, I was so nervous. I would seriously rather run up those hills than try something new and ski down them. It was a tremendous learning moment for me. To be brave and to try something new. When we discussed skiing as a family, I wanted to go to Lutsen because I was hoping to get a run on the Superior Hiking Trail before the race in May. They were snow-covered and I couldn't. I'm comfortable running. After a full day of skiing, I would go out for a run on a gravel road instead and it was like my body was saying to me "Now this is what I know." That's a good feeling. But I never would have discovered that had I not tried something new. Had I not decided to be an adventurer. To be brave. 

I heard this from Jon Acuff in a podcast and it has stuck with me.
"Bravery involves a lot more crying and wanting to throw up than people want to admit."

It might seem I'm making this a bit more dramatic than what it is- a black diamond out of a bunny hill- so to speak. After all, this is just skiing and people do it all the time. It's just that it fits. Can you relate at all?

So here we are all sunshine and smiles and ski gear and to quote Luke "I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS IS REAL LIFE!!" 

Where would you suggest we ski next?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Rungry Salad/Sandwich

Hey, I didn't give up blogging for Lent, although it seems like it. Thanks for checking in and reading whatever and whenever I throw things on here. 

A what kind of salad? A rungry. It means I'm hungry after running. Even spell check doesn't like the word. 

Let's get to the salad and you don't have to be hungry from running to enjoy it.

Through Pinterest, I came across a pin of a hummus sandwich that looked great. I acquired all the ingredients listed, assembled it and promptly ate it too fast. 

I knew this was a keeper but now I had a little problem, namely my girl, Audrey. She loves red pepper hummus, which is what I use instead of regular, and Granny Smith apples. Okay, she's not really a problem.

Today, I made a one slice version of the sandwich because I had only one slice of bread left. However, when I got to the last bite of it, again much too quickly, I wanted more. And right then and there, I had a brilliant idea- make it into a salad! I didn't really want the bread anyway.

Here's my take on the hummus sandwich heaven recipe

  • spinach or kale torn into salad bites
  • cheese in salad bites- I used pepper jack and give that option a thumbs up
  • other veggies: cucumber, peppers, whatever you want just make them salad sized
  • Granny Smith apple cut up- only used a quarter of an apple
  • dried cranberries
  • hummus- again, I use red pepper hummus- as your dressing
I go in salad spurts. Sometimes I love them and can eat one every day. Other times, I'm not so in love. Like I've said before, sometimes I need the lure of something tasty at the end of my run to get me through my run. This just may be the next new thing. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Leprechaun Chase 10k in Des Moines

Early this winter, when we were leisurely sipping our hot cocoas and so forth, long before the Polar Vortex sucked all the heat out of the atmosphere and caused us humans to hibernate in our homes for longer than what was mentally good for us, my long time friend, Nicky, asked me if I would run a 10K race called the Leprechaun Chase with her in mid-March. I agreed and sealed the deal by registering early and started wishing for lamb-like March weather.

Nicky is celebrating reaching a certain birthday milestone by running 40 miles of races this year. Since our 10k race (6.2 miles for those of you not fluent in k distances), was all about the green and was going to be fun, I looked up race outfit ideas (link coming soon) and kept coming back to the idea of running skirts. I've heard a lot of great things about Sparkle Athletics skirts and shared them with Nicky. We decided on our own what to get and as you can see, great mind think alike! 

We arrived at Principle Park in Des Moines plenty early. We had been encouraged to because we didn't do early packet pick-up and also because parking was "limited". Not for us. After sitting in my van for an hour keeping warm, we decided to hit the portables and go out for a warm-up mile. The warm forecast had changed to a chilly 30 some degrees with a 12 mph wind from the east for our race day. Oh well. 

The nature of this particular race is that the lad and lasses are put into separate chutes and then the lasses are given a five minute early start before the lads. The first to cross the finish line wins a free beer for their group. We hooted and hollered as we took off and I can tell you, it was nice to not have to jostle amongst the guys, I mean lads, at the beginning. They are usually taller and stronger and smellier. Just saying'- it was nice to be with the lasses.

Leprechaun Chase 10k Bagpipes and Drum
Bagpipes and Drums- a great touch!

Nicky and I got off to a great start, going out nice and easy. After all, we both readily admitted the last time we had seen a sub-5 minute mile was in high school. And let me share a memory with you I have of high school track with Nicky. She had nice running shoes, Adidas or Asics or maybe Reebok? I don't remember. But I do remember I didn't have comfortable shoes and she let me borrow her's for several races.

Back to the race, we kept up the chatting and miles and pretty soon we were near the home stretch. The wind was in our face and we had a slight incline and unfortunately I was like a horse near his barn, I kind of took off. I could feel myself dialing it in. I didn't know how Nicky was doing but from what I could tell she was right with me.

We finished grabbed a water and a banana and headed back home. We decided that cold beer after we started chilling from the weather and the sweat, was not a good idea. Instead we warmed up with hot chocolate and breakfast sandwiches.

I'm really glad Nicky asked me to run with her. It was a lot of fun to do this race and to run with her again. 

Leprechaun Chase 10k race, Des Moines, Sparkle Athletics

Curious about our race outfits?
Nicky put a headband over her hat and has sweet fuzzy rainbow hand warmers.
We have our gold Sparkle Athletic skirts that are awesome. Seriously. They are very lightweight and easy to wear.
I was lucky to find my shirt at Wal-Mart. Our long socks are Target. And my visor? I call it race swag but really I found it along the race course as someone had ditched it. It wasn't very aerodynamic in the wind. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

No Excuses for Lent

I don't know about you, but I didn't grow up observing Lent.

Lent was for the Catholics and all I knew was they had fish on Fridays. 

We celebrated Easter. The death and resurrection of Christ. Sure, we dyed our hard-boiled eggs with Grandma on Good Friday and then hunted for those same eggs hidden all over Grandpa's yard along with receiving Easter baskets on Sunday but I always knew what Easter meant.

But fast forward a bunch of years and I'm now just scratching the surface of Lent and what it is and how it is meant to prepare our hearts to celebrate even more the eternal life giving gift of Christ's sacrifice.

Celebrate. That is one of my words this year. To celebrate. 

Let me be honest. 

I don't feel like I can say yes to one more thing. I'm already failing at a lot. Menu planning the last couple of weeks- down the drain. Connecting with real live people- hmm, not so good. Guard your yeses and your no's will take care of themselves. Except that is the worst thing in the whole wide world. Why would I say no to having a closer relationship to Jesus? 

I also have a giant defiant streak, so part of me is all "Well, I don't have to." (I've pulled this one a lot and I think I've missed out on the richness of simple devotion.)

And being real, real honest? I can find an excuse for anything. (see above and below) "It's not good for me to fast with all the running I'm doing." Actually, that's true. Physically, it wouldn't be healthy for me to make dramatic cuts in my calorie consumption so skipping any meal is a no-go for me. (Oh my word! Just being honest, friends.)

I'm not sure where I'm going to land on this whole thing. There are other ways to fast. And even though it is Ash Wednesday, which I don't know what that means, and I had to google "when does Lent start" and it said today, I don't think its too late for me. 

In my well-honed tendency, I have taken something as simple as the idea of 'less of me, more of Him' and turned it into a big complicated task. GAH! 

I could really use this, don't you think?

So here is where I'm going to start. Reading this devotional and spending time in prayer. It's a really good place to start. 

I want to set aside the skepticism, the stubbornness, the whatever and just do this. I got here not in an abrupt manner but rather He has been leading me to this point. This is a matter of setting aside all the above because I can and I should (I've got probs and I want to love Him more). It's not an obligation. However, if I can discipline myself to run 5 days a week for 16 weeks for two races(that's one third of the year), I think I ought to give myself over to this much more important matter for forty days. 

Here are the places I've visited in the last week trying to wrap my head around this. 
Cornerstone's blog- A Glad Surrender (which I will be following their devotional)
This guide to fasting and prayer as suggested by my church
Life In Grace's post about Lent. 
A Holy Experience's Lent suggestions. It's the same every year but this year I just might make a Jesus tree. Maybe.

What about for you? What is your experience with Lent? What resources do you use? What  are you thoughts? (And if you feel like brave, what are your excuses?)