Saturday, February 28, 2015

February 2015 Mileage: OMG this semester, OMG.

To say that things have been rough this month would be an understatement by an order of magnitude.  I’m teaching college now, and while I adore the class (Primate Behavior!!) and all my students, I am having trouble functioning on the 5 hours of sleep I’ve been averaging per night as a result of the enormous amount of work this requires.  Plus: there’s the immunological onslaught from regularly spending time on a college campus again (see that 13 mile week below).  Something’s got to give.

Also, we bought a house this month.

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It is a great house with a terrible color scheme.  The kitchen?  Blood red.  The guest bathroom?  Yellow shower tile, brown flooring, pale green walls, and a peach vanity.  The master bathroom?  Wallpaper, with pale blue shower tiles that need replaced.  And carpet.  Wait, it gets worse.  The family room is… PINK AND PURPLE.  As a twitter friend (hi if you’re reading!) quipped, “Did you buy the My Little Pony house?”  I guess so. 

But.  The house is structurally sound and in a good location, which is to say:  close to the trails where we run.  So we’ll have to put up with the color scheme, or do a lot of painting.

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Red room, red room.  This seems like deja vu, from that time we used to live in St. Louis.

Also, our February snowfall total is something like twice the amount that is considered normal.  I think there is close to a foot of snow on the ground now.  But it is a dry snow.  Very different than the stuff we used to get in the midwest.  I understand why they call this “powder."

Also, also, also.  My knee hurts.  But mainly trying to ignore that.

104.52 miles this month. 191.05 year to date.  Falling short, but only by a little.

Thanks for reading.

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Blue sky and foothills from today’s run through the Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Plague

It starts with a sore throat, and then becomes the sorest throat you’ve ever had.  Your ears hurt, your head is pounding.  You are running a fever.  It knocks you off your feet.  This is the sickest you’ve felt in years.  You know you need to hydrate, but you can’t drink anything because you cannot swallow.  The sinus pressure builds until you reach a point where you consider looking for a sharp object to stab your face with, because you will do anything for relief.  Thankfully for your face, the fever still has you supine and motionless, and you cannot summon the wherewithal to get up and find a suitable object.  Then, the drainage begins.  You cough with every jagged breath for days on end, gagging on phlegm and wondering if the pain in your chest could possibly be due to a broken rib.

I don’t know what this sickness is, but it’s everywhere.  All of my students have had it, and so have the kids at Will’s school.  Always with the exact same trajectory of symptoms.  In our household, Rob was the one to get stricken first.   A week passed and I remained symptom free, then just when I started to smugly gloat about my superior immune system, *bam*.  It got me.  For the first time in at least 5 years, I was sick.

It’s been two weeks now, and I still have the cough (and phlegm), but it is finally starting to subside.  I was really only acutely ill for about 2 days; Rob was in misery for at least a week, I think.  I credit my more rapid improvement to drinking massive quantities of vitamin fortified Nuun hydration (the extra fluids probably helping more than the vitamins per se), and consuming an entire head of raw garlic (on toast, with avocado. Quite good, if you can survive the burning sensation).

Then on Thursday morning when Will woke up, he looked sad and scared, and managed to whisper, “My throat hurts."

Ohhh no.

He didn’t seem feverish, and he wanted to eat.  After he’d eaten and drank, he said he felt fine, and he was zipping around the house as per usual.  So I sent him off to school, wondering if the sore throat was just a passing thing, or it would turn into The Plague and I would soon get the call to come and collect him.

Everything was fine until about 2:20 in the afternoon.  I was scheduled to volunteer in Will’s classroom, and as I checked in at the main office, I saw Will following the school nurse into the health center.  He had that same sad, scared look on his face as he had in the morning.  He hadn’t seen me standing there.

I asked the secretary if I could go into the health center and see what was wrong, and she said of course and led me in.  The scene that met my eyes was like some kind of wartime infirmary.  Children were sprawled on cots, some motionless, some writhing.  Every bed was taken.  Those that didn’t have their own cot (Will included) were seated in chairs.  Will’s friend S saw me first as I entered the room.  He was curled into a fetal position on a cot, and he reached his hand out to me.  I told him I was sure his mommy would be there soon.

Will’s face was grim and set in stone, and he still didn’t see me until I knelt beside him and said, “Hey, buddy, mama’s here.”  His lower lip quaked and his red-rimmed eyes filled with tears, but he held the floodgates in check and uttered, with an air of uncharacteristic stoicism, “Mama, I’m sick."

I held his hot little hand as the nurse took his temperature with this kind of stick-like thing she traced along his forehead and then showed me the reading.  101 point something.  I don’t remember what.  Will has never run a fever that high.  Ever.  He has only been sick 2 or 3 times in his life, seriously, and neither time was it anything more severe than a cold.  We don’t even own a thermometer anymore.  He used to run a little fever sometimes when he was teething, but the last time I actually took his temperature was probably 3 or 4 years ago.  I’ve always felt incredibly thankful for his robust immune system.  Back when he was in daycare in St. Louis, he was the only person (adult or child) in the entire building to survive the norovirus epidemic completely unscathed.  Maybe it really does help that he eats an (organic) apple and raw broccoli almost every day.

The school nurse was very nice, and William stayed in the make-shift infirmary while I went to gather his things and tell his teacher I wouldn’t be able to volunteer.  She had already surmised as much.  She sent him down the nurse’s office because when it was time to go music class and all the other children lined up at the doorway, William got up from his table, shuffled to the carpet where they typically read stories, and lay down.

I brought him home (it was 12 degrees and there’s almost a foot of snow on the ground) and decided to give him some Tylenol—I’d tried to let the fever run its course when I had The Plague, and that had not worked well.  Tylenol was definitely preferable.  As soon as he got some of the Tylenol in his mouth he promptly threw up.  Twice.  Then he drank a whole bunch of water, lay down in his bed, and slept for two hours.

After a good, long nap and a fresh dose of Tylenol, his fever was gone, and he perked up.  He even had a vigorous appetite for dinner.  No more throwing up.  

He couldn’t go back to school today, though, because of the 24-hour fever-free rule, but I wouldn’t have sent him anyway.  He needed to take it easy and rest.  This was a bit of a challenge because I was teaching on campus today, and I couldn’t really cancel class.  Rob took care of him while I was away, and I guess he was pretty good.  He was sleeping when I got home.

As of now, he’s much more subdued than normal, but he’s eating and drinking and resting well.  I am so thankful that the worst of it seems to be over and that he improved so fast.  I know we have been very fortunate that Will is typically so healthy.  Whenever anything small like this happens, I think about parents who have really sick children, and my heart goes out to them.  I don’t know how they do it.  It is terrifying when someone who is so little and you love so much is suffering and there really isn’t much you can do to help them.  

Hoping that healthier days are ahead for everyone.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Forever Home

A year ago, I was stuck in St. Louis with a stress fracture, no job, and a house that wouldn’t sell.  

The real estate deal that finally got us out of there was not quite ruinous (we’d already lost everything once in St. Louis), but it certainly didn’t allow us to dig ourselves out of the hole St. Louis had put us in.

All that was left for us to do was drive away without ever, ever, looking back.

Those were not beautiful times.

We’ve been renting a house since we arrived in Colorado, and we began the search for our Forever Home shortly before Christmas.  The newspaper has been going on and on about the Real Estate Crisis that’s happening here, and they weren’t kidding.  More people are moving to the area than there are homes available, and there’s nowhere to expand the city because:  mountains.  So the result is hugely inflated home prices and bidding wars where potential buyers offer more than $15,000 over the asking price just to remain competitive with the other 17 interested parties who have also placed offers.  Houses sell within hours of officially going on the market.  You can’t get your heart set on something because chances are, someone else has bid higher than you and offered to pay in cash.  It’s not a good time to be a buyer.

Thankfully, we had a fantastic real estate agent, and we were incredibly lucky.  We found a house that had just about everything we wanted, and the sellers seemed to like us for whatever reason.  I don’t know how we ended up being the ones whose offer they accepted, but we were, and from there on out, the process was remarkably stress-free, at least on our end.  

We closed on the house today.  Our Forever Home.  

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The kitchen is small, and I had hoped never to have to paint over red walls again in my life, but maybe just one more time.

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Also: Will is excited about the built in book shelves in his room:

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At the closing today, the owner (I guess now the previous owner, who by the way is a really nice guy) told us that there’s a blackberry bush, pear tree, and cherry tree in the back yard.  Honest to god.  I hadn’t known that.  It didn’t say on the contract anywhere what kinds of trees and plants were in the back yard, and it’s winter, so it’s not like they were fruiting and I would have been able to tell.  But seriously.  Pears.  Blackberries.  Cherries.  He said some years you end up with loads of cherries, more than you know what to do with.  If we get a late frost though (like we often do), the tree doesn’t produce as much.

IMG 4767 Cherry blossoms this spring, and then cherries

There’s carpet in the bathroom and dining room (that will have to go), and some strange colors of paint and even wallpaper in some of the rooms.  It seems overwhelming, but there’s a cherry tree in the back yard.  Cherries.

Of all the places we’ve lived, Rob and I have always known it would be short term.  Five years here, a year there, and then, just until I finish grad school.  When we moved to St. Louis, even as I signed the papers, I knew it was a horrible, horrible decision.  It wasn’t a place we belonged.  But this is different.  This is our forever home.  This is, I hope to god, the last real estate transaction of my life.  No plans to ever move anywhere else again.  This is it.  Small kitchen, but a view of Horsetooth Mountain from the dining room (at least in wintertime when there aren’t leaves in the way) and bushels of cherries during the years we don’t get a late freeze.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Dear William (66 months)

Dear William,

Today you are 66 months old.  This is your half-birthday!  You are very excited about that.  When you woke up this morning, you announced, “It’s my half birthday!" 

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Mom, mom! Take my picture while I am dancing and eating a granola bar!"

You did some more hiking and trail running this month.

Keyhole

Rest break

 

We got some more “Colorado snow,” which is to say, 4 inches that melted the next day:

Swinging

 

You played “futbol” with Liam and Ismiel.

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You remain interested in Star Wars.

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You drew a picture of Grandpa Bruce, and included his age:

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You and mama built a Lego Scientist Lego set.

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You had the “100th Day of School.”  Which is apparently a thing.  That people celebrate.  All the kids were supposed to count out 100 snack items and bring them to school in a baggie.  Then the items would be mixed together for snack time.  

I would guess that not all of your classmates washed their hands super well before counting out their 100 snack items, because we all got sick shortly thereafter.

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You prepared all your valentines to hand out on the big day:

Valentines are done early. Let's hope laser swords and blasters are okay with the school.

 

You’ve developed a renewed interest in playing Uno.  I’m working on teaching you how to hold on to your Wild Card until the end, to guarantee a win.

Family fun

 

Happy half-birthday, Will!

Love,

Mama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

January 2015: I don't want to talk about it.

86.53 miles.  Knee injury.  New job.  Real estate crisis.  The first and last seemed to be resolved, for the time being at least.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Dear William (65 months)

Dear William,

Today you are 65 months old!

This is the month we had C H R I S T M A S!

First you got to open presents from Mommy and Daddy.  Daddy got you a new bike helmet and balaclava, which you wore on your last day of school in 2014.

Balaclava

On the Saturday before we left town, you opened the rest of your presents from us!

Books

Presents

Plane

Book

Then we loaded up the station wagon and headed east for what seemed like forever.  You and Corduroy didn’t mind.

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We ate dinner at a Chipotle in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Dinner

And then we slept in the pop-up camper.  It was very cold.  You and I shared a sleeping bag. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I don’t think we’re doing that again.

Camping

 

Once we arrived in Illinois, you had lots of Christmases.

Toys!

Battle

4th gen

Family hug

Christmas morning

Christmas morning

You also did some light sewing with Grandma Nan and made Corduroy a sleeping bag of his own.

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When we got back to Colorado there was S N O W.

Dusty

 

On New Year’s Eve, we went sledding at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Sledding

Blasting snow

Snow sports

You liked sledding so much that we decided we’d take a family ski trip to Snowy Range Ski area in Wyoming.  

You were adorable in your tiny ski gear.

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You took a lesson.

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Then you showed us your moves on the slopes.

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Will skiing from Melissa Raguet-Schofield on Vimeo.

You finished off the month with a Gnar Runners organized kids’ trail run out on the mud and ice at Horsetooth Mountain.

FCTR kids trail run

FCTR kids trail runThis. This is why we moved here.

 

You're the best, William

Love always,

Momma

Thursday, January 8, 2015

You're Vegan What Do You Eat? Bowl of Stuff.

I feel like we generally eat pretty simply (you know: fruits, vegetables), but simplicity gets complicated when you’re traveling 1000 miles, and it’s the holidays, and you’re the only vegans.  No matter how anyone might sugar-coat it (about how being vegan is easy and the holidays are a snap), I am here to tell you that it is really hard.  It can be done though, with lots and lots of planning, lots and lots of packing questionably perishable produce, and a willingness to subsist on Clif Bars (or spoonfuls of peanut butter from the jar) if the going gets too rough.

We did pretty well on the first day of our drive, because I had packed us hummus/veggie wraps, apples, and baby carrots for lunch.  And for dinner, we found a Chipotle in Lincoln, NE that had vegan sofritas.  (It’s the one on campus. I kind of couldn’t believe our vegan luck in Nebraska!).

When we arrived in Illinois, Rob went to the grocery store to pick up a few things, and when he got back, I was faced with the task of finding my way around someone else’s kitchen and assembling these items into dinner.

The results were fantastic.

What we ate boiled down to this: a bowl of mixed greens with seasoned couscous, roasted brussels sprouts, and chickpeas. 

As soon as we got home, I tried to recreate our fantastic meal, while at the same time making it even more creative.

We now call this meal “Bowl of Stuff,” and we have eaten it probably at least once a day since we discovered it.  There are no rules with the Bowl of Stuff… you can add anything.  The red pepper that’s been in the fridge for a week and needs to be eaten soon or thrown out?  Dice it, toss it in.  The left over black beans from last night’s dinner?  Put that in the bowl.  Beyond Meat Chik’n Strips?  Yum.

Bowl of Stuff is obviously a dynamic, constantly evolving dish, but our latest favorite rendition tends to include the following items:

IMG 4678 His ’n Hers, Bowl of Stuff.  I recommend pairing it with an Odell’s seasonal ale.  Rob recommends water.

Bowl of Stuff

  • Greens (can be mixed greens, spinach, kale, mustard greens, whatever)
  • Roasted vegetable (Brussel sprouts, FTW)
  • Cous cous (I’ve been using the Near East brand boxes, but only because I haven’t been to Whole Foods or Sprouts yet to buy it in bulk)
  • Tofurky vegan kielbasa, sliced into rounds and browned in a skillet (Yes, this is a kind of weird ingredient, but it is super high in protein and very satisfying when you are trying to run a 170 mile month).
  • Spicy sriracha dressing (basically, everything I eat is just a conduit for sriracha).

One thing about this meal is that it seems like it would be fast and easy, even though I would say it’s not, particularly when it comes to cleaning up.  I mean, you’ve got a lot of pots and pans going on, what with making the couscous, roasting the brussels, and browning the Tofurky slices.  Plus, it is kind of hard to have all these things ready at the same time.  I actually like to have all the Stuff cold on top of my salad greens; Rob prefers the Stuff to be warm, but he’ll eat it however.

Here’s another shot of that Bowl:

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Will, of course, is difficult and he won’t eat this meal as is.  But he is getting braver, and he’ll eat the couscous and tofurky slices with a raw fruit and raw vegetable as a side.  He also says he wants to learn to clean up the kitchen so he can help me.  Love.

The beauty of this Bowl, and in general of being vegan, is that you can basically just throw a bunch of stuff together and it turns out amazing.  It is like a clearinghouse for whatever leftovers you want to get rid of in your fridge.  The possibilities are endless, but the basic pattern to the goodness appears to be:  

  • A bed of greens
  • A roasted vegetable
  • A grain 
  • A protein

Hearty, delicious.  I’m glad we accidentally stumbled upon this during our travels and that we’ve been eating it ever since.

Thanks for reading.