Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Recent Favorites

Well, look who decided to show up and dust this thing off? Yeesh. I have plenty of excuses, but my favorite is that I drove 9 hours with the kids around the mountains to avoid snow that eventually got us to Los Angeles to visit my family. Then, on Sunday during the bucketing rainfall and massive flooding in Reno, I drove TEN hours back. It's an 8-hour drive that I added 150 miles to with road closures and crazy weather, but after that insane day, we were safely in our cozy little Reno rental.

As I was sitting eating my favorite new popcorn today listening to more rain fall, I was thinking of all my new (to me) products I've been enjoying as 2016 came to a close and we're already into our second week of this new year. I love a good list, so here's a list of some of my new favorites:

Qalo (wedding) ring: I'm totally that person who takes off all jewelry the moment I enter my house. And when I'm running, forget about it. We actually dabbled in the silicone ring business just enough to have a prototype made, but with some steep competition, we closed that idea down and left it to the experts. This ring is one of the samples we purchased from Qalo. I have a pink one that has a small heart on it. Sitting and having a beer with some good friends in LA, we realized we both jumped on this train. So much better for an active lifestyle and I don't think twice while washing dishes. For $20, it's a total steal of an idea.
Quinn Snacks Popcorn: I typically pop my own on the stove, but these are great for a quicker snack with fewer dishes. Delicious. My kids are requesting these daily now. These are popped in compostable bags with no chemicals or plastics and it's organic and Non-GMO. And available on Amazon for delivery. #duh
Amazon Fire Stick with Remote: We don't have cable. Haven't for years. We don't even really watch TV. But when people are in town or a babysitter is coming, it's nice to offer them something, so we got this to stream our free Amazon Prime videos. It's awesome. Currently hooked on a series about feminists. A la Pan Am (remember that awesome show)? You're not surprised, right?
Good Girls Revolt: Currently Reading. The Amazon Prime series I referred to above is based on this. The husband bought this for me at Barnes & Noble when I was driving approximately 589 hours back home from LA the other day. He said it's because he knows I don't like flowers. I mean, when you married a feminist...

Eddie Bauer Stowaway Packable Sling Bag: The last has been potty trained, but I'm still toting around stuff and have full hands. And there's no reason this couldn't be a diaper bag. I never carried one anyway. This bag doesn't fall when I bend over and has a great spot for keys/phone or a bottle of water. I love it so much, I bought two. I have one in Adriatic Blue and one in Black. The husband commented about how much more crunchy I look wearing it, but obviously I consider that a compliment. #westcoastroots
NibMor Daily Dose Dark Chocolates with Cacao Nibs: Ridiculously delicious and just the right amount of dark chocolate to sustain your chocolate cravings. We're smitten. And also, they're so freaking cute.

Yankee Candle Scented Snowflakes - Sparkling Snow: I realize these are no longer a thing because holidays are over, but I'm obsessed with the smell. In addition to having a "fun" backpack made for the kids for our long drives to/from LA, I had a pack of these my SIL gave us and whenever the cows came out to play (often), I'd hand the kids one of these to smell. Claire's gag reflex is impressive, and the only way I can get her to calm it around stinky odors is to mask it with something pleasant. I think I might find my way into our local YK store tomorrow to pick up a few more. I never realized how people could become obsessed with this sort of stuff but I can't get enough!

Crayola Model Magic 1-oz Packages: This has been one of my favorite items to tote around during long car rides or to have in waiting rooms for a long time. I keep two individually wrapped packages (comes with 75! I've used for B-day party favors paired with some markers as well) in my bag to whip out when needed. Super clean and can paint, draw on with markers, cut it, make creations of all kinds. Wait for the price to drop on Amazon to about $15 or get an Amazon Warehouse Deal and you're golden. These were another hot ticket item during our long road trip this week.
What are some of your new fave items? Let's hear it!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Runners Who Spin

Alternatively Titled: We bought a spinning bike.

I'm not a runner who trains. I could be, but that sounds daunting and time consuming and I just like doing my own thing. That's probably why I run average 8:30 miles with my fastest mile ever being a 7:42. That's slower than some runners average for full marathons. I run for health, me time and because I just love being outside in the fresh air and nature. Plus, my regular hobby of eating ice cream has to be met with a generous love for cardio.

We recently bought a spin bike on Amazon. It currently has 1,764 reviews and has now dropped in price by $32 (don't you hate that?). It averages 4.5 stars and with that many reviews and at the super steal price of $199, it's basically two months of a gym membership and it's paid off. Spin instructors reviewed it and mentioned they bought multiple for their homes to have mini class sessions. I figured it was worth the gamble since I'm definitely no expert. Plus, a 100lb item SHIPPED to my door for about $250 (at the time), um... total deal.
Reasons We Bought a Spin Bike:

(I mean me. Because the husband wasn't in on the purchase. Insert meme about hoping the husband is away when the Amazon Prime order arrives...)

- Spinning is the only workout I've ever done that I get WHOOPED by 80-year-old women. It's hard, people. If you've never taken a spin class, you are quickly humbled by the difficulty.
- It's a different workout than running. I love running, but I'm injury-prone and wanted other options. Plus, I didn't want to drive to the gym or pay another $100/month membership.
- I can do it when the kids are home. We're approaching a THREE WEEK winter break for the kids. That means I either run with them in the stroller (but I've misplaced my BOB Duallie rain cover for cold weather and they can be super frustrating with their bickering), or I have to run at night. I can spin when Elliot is away on business and while the kids are in bed or watching a video. It gives me more flexibility when I just need to sweat it out.
- The husband can get more exercise in after super long days at work. His job has him working crazy hours. The bike is setup in our tiny guest room, it has wheels to transport, or he can close the door and bother no one, even if he feels the need to spin at midnight.
- I don't have to run in the dark. It's winter and the sun sets in the 4 o' clock hour, well before the husband arrives home. I either have to run during school hours for exercise, or I'm stuck in the dark. While we have lots of reflective gear and blinking arm bands, new stories of missing runners still haunt me. Plus, who really wants to run in the dark during winter? Currently our wind is howling outside.
- I'm thinking ahead to next year. I'm planning to return to teaching and it's unlikely that I will have loads of time to run outside as often as I currently do. But a quick 20-minute spin session is totally do-able.
- It was a $200 gamble with great reviews. Why not?

So far, I'm digging it. I've done two workouts on it and I'm loving the ability to get in some cardio in our small rental home. The bike has a small footprint. It's in our 10x10 guest bedroom with a queen bed and comes on wheels, so we can easily move it to our master bedroom when guests are here.

I bought an iPad Holder, a bicycle computer to measure RPM and mileage and a seat cushion for the up and down and out-of-the-saddle comfort. These were all recommended items I read about through reviews. I think I paid $20 for all the extras.

It's fairly quiet, though not a perfect as those gym-grade ones, but pretty darn sturdy and smooth with a 40-lb flywheel front. It doesn't even move a millimeter when I'm spinning fast or changing the resistance.
I run. Not very fast. I spin, Probably even slower. Now I just need to improve my yogi form and I'll be doing all three of my favorite workouts on a regular basis. That third one is going to take some serious patience and guidance. #sendhippies

Monday, December 5, 2016

Another Year Around the Sun. Six.

Each year Thanksgiving comes around and then it ends and then it's December 5th. It's almost like the days in between aren't even there, because they are a rush of time.

This morning I spent my time running six miles for my firstborn on his birthday. At each mile, I wrote one of these wherever my feet landed. In six different places around my neighborhood, I left a mark for him.
I also spent the morning registering my rainbow baby for Kindergarten. Irony sure does enjoy smacking me right in the face. My would-be Kindergartner and my upcoming Kindergartner with worlds colliding. It's rare this happens, so I guess it's a sweet wink. (It would be even sweeter if the school wasn't going to a year-round calendar. Which likely means we're moving to another school zone.)

Tonight we will enjoy dinner out and quite a bit of dessert-eating and present opening, all to remember that boy who first made us parents. I miss him with everything in me. To think of how he would've shaped who is younger brother is and how happy it would make his little sister to have a great big brother to love and play with.

What I miss most, though, is knowing who he would be. How our lives would be different with him here and what he would grow to become. I really miss everything.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Kids Are Mean

A couple weeks ago, Benjamin mentioned to me that some of his friends at school weren't playing with him and even went so far to say that he didn't want to go to school one day because he had no one to play with.

I didn't believe it. Until I saw it.

I assumed he was exaggerating and placing all of these remarks on one isolated incident he didn't fully understand, like the allowance of only two kids in a center area or one kid really intent on his creation that he didn't react well when Benjamin went grabbing for that special project. Or that the one kid he wanted to play with at that exact time was unavailable.

Benjamin isn't an easy kid to understand and I think he struggles to understand others. He's not very social. He clams up and holds his emotions inside until he bursts. He gets hurt feelings, despite his tough exterior or appearance to disregard anyone and everything. But if you touch on something sensitive, he goes into defense mode and says and does things that he can't control because he lacks that full ability to express himself well.

But, like any mom, I felt horrible that he felt underappreciated and devalued. I want the kids to love him, but he's an introvert loner who doesn't seem to have the whole social awareness thing down. And it does bother him. So I wanted him to know that it does bother me, too. I want him to know I take his concerns seriously because I want him to love school and I love him. This whole social confusion is most of what preschool is about, right?

We were at storytime yesterday and in walks a girl from his class. He sits beside her, smitten that someone from his class was at our storytime. He's met other classmates there before and they've always been nice. This girl, wasn't. When the story ended or the librarian read a funny joke, he'd turn to look and see her reaction, as to connect with her. She turned her whole body against him and at one point actually moved herself away from him. Of course her mom was either oblivious (or a jerk) and didn't react.

I grabbed him up and told him she wasn't interested in being friendly and immediately he welled up with tears and started saying unkind things ("I don't love you", etc.). This is how he reacts when he feels threatened. I felt terrible and honestly had some ugly words in my head rolling around about that little brat of a four-year-old.

He has to know that life isn't fair. It's not. People are going to disappoint you. They will. Friends will come and go. Also true. It's just... really hard being Mama and seeing your little bird take flight, only to fall and gain those bruises. This is only the beginning.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thanksgiving Fun + Tree Adventures

About a month ago, my husband got word that you could cut down your own tree in the wild with the purchase of a $10 permit. That's it. You hand over $10 to the National Forest Service and they give you an official sticker and map of places you're allowed to cut.

We had a full weekend of fun, starting with a 10k Turkey Trot with our little turkeys in the stroller followed by dinner at some friends' house and asleep in a hotel bed at a cute little Inn in Incline Village, Nevada (it's on Lake Tahoe). Night one, we all take a swim in the amazingly heated (like spa-temps!) pool and find ourselves in bed late and then quickly awoken to the sound of vomit coming from the kids' bed. Mmmhmm. The shared bed. Benjamin didn't wake at all.
We grab Claire up and clean her up, manage the bed as best we could and put her back. She promptly vomits again. We clean her up again and the rest of the night was quiet, except I never slept much because I anticipated that terrible sound again... #momlife also, #vomitistheworstpartofparenting

She was good for the following day, so we explored three different ski resorts and I got a massage in Squaw Valley from my birthday gift stash. We explored South Tahoe and eventually made our way back for another warm swim and some Christmas shows on television before a good night of sleep.
Saturday was a day for more swimming, sledding and more exploration before heading back down the mountain and grabbing our tree permit for the following day.

We trekked about an hour south of our home into the Northern California Toiyabe Forest and promptly found ourselves in a winter wonderland that also made for some fun adventures trying to get our new Subie out of the deeper-than-we-estimated snow. We finally found a suitable spot and trekked about 1/3 mile into the snowy woods and crossing a stream to find our tree. There are just so many great memories from this, but probably not from Claire's perspective since she refused the gloves we tried to put on her. Instead she spent the better half of the adventure screaming, as you can see from the quintessential family picture here.
We'd been tree cutting at farms in the past, but nothing compares to trekking through the wilderness with just a map and your senses to find the tree! it's a wild tree, so it's not the perfect spruce trees you expect when spending $ at the tree lots, but it's perfectly ours and we love it. Benjamin was 100% into this adventure and wanted to be a part of everything. He complained nil and it was so awesome to share that adventure with him.
We typically wait until after Andrew's birthday for the tree presentation in our home, but our kids were excited and it's getting harder to hold them back as they get older. Plus, our weekends are getting more and more booked as the holidays approach and we had a free afternoon. Still feels foreign, but being from nature and in the mountains where I feel closest to him (and God), it almost felt like he was with us, exploring, adventuring and indulging in this excitement. Plus, an added bonus is having his ornaments up for the whole month of his birth.
It was quite the weekend and nothing short of memorable. Seriously, how have more people not found out about Reno? Most people give  me the confused look or question when I mention it, but I honestly bet you would be amazed... as amazed as we are. It's like a best-kept secret of the West and we're in love.