Just Kidding About That Empty Nest

Not too long ago, I wrote a blog about being a semi-empty nester, and my enjoyment of this new lot in life. A quiet home that stays somewhat clean for a couple of days, being able to come and go as I please, no more carpools or car seats…it’s a great life. I wrote about not really understanding the parents who lament their children leaving for college. Remember? Did you read that blog? If you did, please know that God has a sense of humor. Why else would He give us orangutan butts to laugh at? Or possums? Those creatures are just plain ugly. And why would God, after I had written such a well-received blog, manage to bring all of my daughters back to the nest, along with a couple extras?

mygirls

Bethany lives here. She’s beginning her new career as an elementary teacher, and is staying here while she gets on her financial feet. Addie is home from college for the summer. And now, Morgan and her two young sons are camping out for awhile. How long you ask? I do not know. Her family is in transition, moving from South Carolina back to Tell City. They are waiting to close on the sale of their home, and will then wait to close on the sale of their new home. The timing of everything has been less than optimal, which means Morgan and the boys needed a place to stay until everything goes through. That place is here. For the first time in ten years, all three of my girls are under my roof. Empty nest? Hell no. This nest is overflowing!

My car seats are back in the car; my home is fr from quiet; and it’s unlikely it will stay clean for more than five minutes. Dirty diapers, messy faces, fighting sisters. It should be an interesting summer ‘vacation’. We are happy we can provide shelter and love to our kids and grandkids; I just hope I have the energy to keep up with everyone. I’ve given the “I will not be providing maid service this summer” speech. Maybe they’ll even help me wash the windows, clean the cabinets, and price yard sale items. Maybe they’ll wash my car, cook the meals, and deadhead my flowers. Maybe?

So, parents, just when you think you’ve gotten your children raised and you and your spouse can have an extended honeymoon in the privacy of your own home, your grown children could return to your nest with little birdies of their own. You have some choices.

  1. Run! Move away. My mother used to say she was going to move to Arizona. Now I get it, Mom!
  2. Get a one-bedroom apartment. Don’t own a couch or any other piece of furniture that could become a bed.
  3. Make out with your spouse every chance you get. It totally grosses out your grown kids. They won’t stay long.
  4. Tell your kids you’ve taken up a nudist lifestyle when at home. They’ll run.
  5. Keep minimal amounts of food in the house. They like to be fed.
  6. Or, you could just embrace the fact that your kids enjoy being with you, and that you are able to help them. You could enjoy the time you have with your grandkids, and know that you are making memories that they’ll come to cherish. You could put those car seats in your backseat, the playpen in your bedroom, and pull out the sofa-bed. You could know that you are blessed to have healthy, happy kids and grandkids, and that there are plenty of empty-nesters who would love to be in your situation. And you could invest in wine coolers.

 

Empty Nest?

As my friends and I work our way through middle age, I often hear the term ’empty nest’ tossed around. As children approach high school graduation and move on to college, many parents post their tear-filled moments on social media, bringing on a barrage of dismal responses. I, myself, posted a few photos last spring as my youngest daughter went through the rite of high school graduation. I was to be an empty nester.

And I was excited about it! After years of being a chauffeur, maid, laundress, cook (or drive-thru driver), I was finally finished! Seriously, folks, why get so upset? You’re getting your life back…your life. Not the life that is solely dedicated to making certain you don’t end up on Dr. Phil with your kid telling the world how you screwed him or her up, but the life where you can actually watch Dr. Phil uninterrupted if you choose. You can eat cereal for supper every night if you want. You can make dinner plans without checking your kid’s schedule. No more parent-teacher conferences, sleep-overs (I managed to avoid these. My kids didn’t want their friends to see me when I was tired and cranky. Bummer.), prom dress shopping (Is that hell or what?)…And you think you’ll miss that?

And then there’s this…

IMG_4659

It’s clean, and it will remain that way until my young college student comes home. I had no idea there was carpet in that room. And that quilt has several shades of blue that haven’t seen the light of day in months. I’ve heard some parents say they would miss the messes once their kids were gone. Really? Not this momma.

Full disclosure…I am not totally an empty nester. Did you know they sometimes come back? It’s like this cruel joke. You finally get rids of all of your kids, and you make plans with your spouse to do all the exciting things you’ve sacrificed for years (and years and years), and then someone returns to the nest. With the cost of college, and subsequent loan payments, starting out in a new career is hard, and sometimes not very well compensated. Our middle daughter is in that situation. She has a bachelor’s degree, landed a job in her chosen field of education, and now she is poor. Financially, living with us just makes sense. Dammit. We have told her that we are going to sell our house and move into a one-bedroom apartment. She just smiles. Every time she buys something, I say, “You’re going to live with us forever, aren’t you?” “Yes.”

As I analyze my feelings about the potential to have an empty nest, I wonder why I am not saddened like my friends. Am I that heartless? Do I suck as a mom? Do my children hate me? Do I hate them? Without a doubt, I know that the answer to two of those questions is no. I’m afraid to ask my daughters the other two questions. I became a mom when I was 21. At that time in my life, I thought I was so old and so mature. I was a child. For the next 27 years, my priority was my daughters. I attended all of their many activities no matter how boring (golf); I encouraged, supported, disciplined, cared for, and loved with all my heart. I laughed, cried, screamed, and cheered. For 27 years.

Now that they are grown, I can enjoy them as adults. I can cuss in front of them  (It was a struggle to control that for 27 years), tell them inappropriate jokes, and act as their friend instead of their mom. There is a difference (although some parents don’t seem to get that concept). Do I still worry about each of them? Absolutely. Do I still want to boss them around? Yup. Always will.

I think my situation is a little different because I am a teacher. I am still around kids all the time, and I still attend numerous school events and ballgames. I do miss Addie. When activities that she was involved in at school take place, I miss seeing her there. Then I just come home and look at her clean room, and I’m okay again. I also have a lot of hobbies and jobs. Between school and working out and coaching cheer and an academic team and real estate and the gym…I don’t have time to get all weepy.

So, parents of the Class of 2016, do not be sad. Make plans. Move that kid of yours to college and reclaim your life. They visit. Clean his or her room and then just sit there and bask in the lack of smelly, dirty clothes, dishes that have been in there for weeks, and piles of clothes that could be clean or dirty – who knows? You’ve done your job. If you did it well, your child is ready to be independent. Be proud of that. Isn’t our goal to raise strong, independent, successful, and kind people? And someday you’ll have grandkids, and let me tell you, they are way cooler than kids!

Running Life

Once again, time has gotten away from me, and I haven’t written for entirely too long. This week is spring break, and while my friends are in Florida on the beach or at Disney, or in Georgia enjoying the warmer temps, I’ve been home. Honestly, I don’t mind. I’ve redone our living room while scoring some deals online shopping (Wayfair? Wow…a new favorite! My husband is not so happy I’ve discovered this plethora of everything for the home!). I’ve also cleaned my frig, which is in my top five of most detested household jobs. Seriously, there was more moldy food than edible. Since my mother is coming for Easter, I figured I’d better not risk her disappointment in finding I’m not the clean freak she is. The woman still scares me.

Today I shampooed our family room carpet, which I do on a pretty regular basis. This also makes the top five just because I am so disgusted when I empty the water and see how filthy our carpet was. I can’t imagine what it would look like if I didn’t clean it so often. We don’t even have small children or large dogs. Just big kids and a little wiener. .

So, about running. After seven years, I still haven’t quit, which completely amazes me. There have been times when I wasn’t running as often as I should, and times I felt invincible. I am currently training for the Hoosier Half Marathon, which is April 9; it will be my ninth half marathon. My niece Emily, who is a student at Indiana University, hasn’t run a half and asked me to run it with her. How could I say no? I had the honor of running my niece Erin’s first half with her, and am excited to share this experience with Emily.

I am not very excited about the hills. The website describes rolling hills, and Bloomington is quite hilly. I’ve worked pretty hard the past couple of months to prepare. I’ve incorporated challenging, make-me-swear hills into every long run, and have been going to my husband’s Spinning classes in addition to teaching Tabata classes. Gary has taught Spinning for a couple of years, but it was never a class I enjoyed. I thought the hill work my improve my running, so I sucked it up and went (and I dragged my daughter with me). It was tough. If you’re a girl and you’ve never taken Spinning, you should know that your girls parts (undercarriage) will hurt. I mean really hurt. But after a couple classes, it doesn’t really hurt anymore. Thank God. I’ve come to enjoy the class. Gary plays great music, which can seriously make the class. There’s typically at least one or two points during class that I don’t like my husband. When he instructs us to turn up the tension more when I can hardly turn the pedals with my already-burning legs, I want to yell at him to shut the hell up. But then when the class comes to an end, I feel pretty amazing. And I love him again.

My running has gone well. I’ve run more miles on my long runs than usual. My last three long runs have all been 10 miles, and I’ll run 11 or 12 this weekend. My knee has done pretty well, but I take Aleve and some homeopathic joint meds before heading out. I’ve been very lucky to have some friends run with me. When I do a long run alone, I listen to podcasts; they seem to keep my mind occupied and the time goes quicker. I really don’t know what to expect come race day. Considering Emily’s literally a foot taller than I, I just hope to be able to keep up with her long, young legs. I also hope I don’t die on a hill because that’d probably ruin Emily’s first half marathon.

In May Gary and I are registered for a 10-mile race that goes across a bridge over the Ohio River. We’ve always talked about running this race, but usually had kid activities that day. Now that the girls are grown, we don’t have to plan our weekends around their activities, which is reason #101 why I don’t have empty nest syndrome. Don’t judge. I became a mom at 21, and I did my time and enjoyed it. It’s time for Momma now.

One of our goals when we began this whole fitness thing was to get our kids and grandkids interested in exercise and living a healthier lifestyle. We have had some success. As I said, the upcoming race will be with my niece, and I’ve run several races with Erin. I’ve run a 5k with my oldest daughter, and Gary has run one with his granddaughter, Molly. Two weeks ago I ran a 5k with my middle daughter Bethany. She is 23 and teaches 5th grade. This school year she has begun to make time for exercise and has started running. She is learning that it isn’t easy, and that it takes dedication. She is now seeing the results, not only on the scale, but in her attitude. Running and many other types of exercise cause one’s endorphins to just create a happier disposition. I’ve always said that running is as good for me mentally as it is physically. Bethany has committed to running the Schweizer Fest 6 mile race and a half marathon this fall. Of course, that means I’m running both with her, which will be pretty amazing. I’m thrilled to see her so excited about her running, and to see the confidence she’s gaining. Since we are all on break this week, Bethany and I made Addie go to Spinning last night. Addie said she couldn’t wait to tell her friends that the one thing we did as a family on spring break was a Spinning class. We know how to have fun!

I cannot fail to mention that the Hoosier Half is also my friend, fellow English teacher, and fellow cheer coach, Amanda’s first half marathon. She has been working hard and also going to Spinning. I am so excited to see her cross that finish line! I know the pride and satisfaction she’ll feel, and hope she is hooked.

If you actually read all of this, thank you. I tend to go on and on about nothing. I need to take time to write more often so my posts won’t be novel-length. Spring is here – set some goals and make every day count! Love completely, keep criticism to yourself, and build others up. The world doesn’t need any more negativity. As I tell my students, don’t be a jerk. That covers it all.

A Change in Plans

After the Chicago 10k – actually, at mile 2 of the Chicago 10k – I decided that there was no way in hell I was going to run the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. At that point, I didn’t know if I was going to make it six miles, so 13.1 would be impossible. As soon as the race was over, I told my husband that we would not be running the Indy race. No way. No how.

And then I came home with my nice medal, jacket, and necklace. I ran Tuesday, and it was not a good run. I had to walk some just to get through three miles. I ran again Wednesday morning with some friends, and that run felt so much better. So yesterday after school I was home alone with time to ponder. I thought that maybe I could just run/walk the Indy race…if I could sucker someone into doing it with me. Gary really wants to run it, and he always does things for me.

I have tried to talk my niece Erin into running a half in the past, and she was pretty adamant about not ever running one. So I texted her. I asked if she’d be interested in meeting me in Indy to run/walk a half marathon. Her answer was quite shocking and unexpected. Her text read, “Ok, if walking is involved then yes.” Seriously. I didn’t have to talk her into it at all. And then she registered right away! Crap. Now I was stuck. I won’t back out on my niece. I am going to participate in the Indy Half. I truly doubt I can run 13.1 at this point, but I am pretty sure I can walk it. Heck, Erin and I ran 6.2 Saturday, and then walked 3 miles back to her apartment, so we just need 4 more miles. Piece of cake! ‘

Now the real training begins. I need to drink more water (as I am sipping on a Diet Pepsi), eat less junk (I ate a bag of Milky Way nuggets on the way home from school), and run distance. I plan to run nine miles Sunday morning. Please, Old Sore Body, cooperate! To celebrate this decision, I believe I’ll get some new running shoes, which are always motivating. I will also blog this journey because it keeps me accountable. You can expect lots of whining, a few victories, and probably some details you don’t care to know.

What it’s all about…

Recently I have had some great fitness moments. I absolutely love to see people meet goals and accomplish things they never dreamed possible. This past Saturday, about 16 of my friends and family joined me for an Extreme 5K at a farm in Owensboro. A few of the participants were very hesitant about registering as this would be stepping way outside of their comfort zones. I assured them that we were just doing it for fun, and that no man – or woman – would be left behind.

As the day approached, I prayed that the race would be fun; I didn’t want all of those I had convinced to try it to be miserable, and even worse, angry at me. None of us knew what exactly to expect. The website boasted a tough terrain and some obstacles, and I had heard that it was a challenging course. This was one of those races at which I was not concerned with my time, but rather wanted to see that everyone finished, and had fun doing so. I ran a little, walked a little, and waited a little. We laughed, cussed, and snapped photos. Most importantly, we cheered each other on. We, as a team, let no one give up.

cornfieldgroup

 

The course was quite challenging. It was literally through cornfields, and the hills were killer. Thankfully, it wasn’t hot. The obstacles, well, they were a bit disappointing. There were only two, and both consisted of haybales. I was looking forward to the obstacles, but these didn’t present much of a challenge. The last one was a mountain of bales that we had to climb over.

This is me on top of the world...or a stack of hay bales.

This is me on top of the world…or a stack of hay bales.

The day brought some joyful moments. When one of the ladies who is in my Tabata group pushed through and finished, even when it was super hard, and then came up to give me a hug at the end, I was thrilled. Seeing my husband encouraging her and pushing her to keep running made me so proud. And when my friend Mary placed in her age group for the first time, I couldn’t have been happier. My daughter Addie and her friend Mary also participated, and both scored medals and corn hats. What could be more fun than a corn hat? And, our team won the team competition! We were the only team that had everyone finish the course! 

cornhats

That race was possibly one of the most fun I have done. This weekend Gary and I are running a 5k in Newburgh, and this one will be for me. I want to see what I can do (which might not be much since that will be my 69th day straight running…I have some tired legs!).

I also had a couple of great fitness moments this morning. After I teach my HIIT class at 5:30, I do some weigh-ins for our Biggest Loser and Corporate Challenge competition. One lady was doing the weight-loss challenge for the first time, and had been going to classes for the last week. When she got on that almighty scale and saw that she had lost eight pounds in a week, the tears started flowing, so, of course, I got all teary because I was so happy for her. She had just done spinning and HIIT, and it wasn’t an easy morning for her. Seeing that number on the scale made it all worth it. I bet she’s still smiling!

Before I left the gym, one of the weight-lifting guys stopped me and asked just what we do in the morning in the studio. When I explained the HIIT class, he said, “Oh! So you really are doing something! It isn’t just cardio.” Nope. We are busting out squats, push-ups, burpees, crunches, planks, and so much more. We talked about how beneficial HIIT workouts are, and he told me he would show me how to flip tires. That might not sound appealing to everyone, but I really want to try it. 

Do you think I'll look like this when I flip tires? Oh, wait! I have brown hair!!

Do you think I’ll look like this when I flip tires? Oh, wait! I have brown hair!!

As I mentioned above, I am still going strong on my running streak. I completed day 66 today. The first forty days I had to stick with one to three mile runs because my legs were so tired; I wasn’t used to running every day. Now that I’ve gotten used to it, I can run three to six miles, but at least a day or two a week I only run a mile so my legs get a little rest. My running can be so inconsistent. Yesterday, I was sore from Monday’s Tabata, so I really struggled to run five miles at a slow pace. Today I planned to run three flat miles, but felt so good during the first couple of miles that I ran five hilly miles. For some reason it just felt great today. It certainly helps that the weather has been cool in the morning. My goal is to get to 80 straight days of running, and then I plan to take some rest days to begin training for a 10K in Chicago, and a half marathon in Indianapolis this fall. After all the knee problems that caused me to be unable to run much of last year, I am so grateful to be able to get out there and do what I love. 

What are you doing to challenge yourself? Step out and try something new. Get out and exercise. I promise, you won’t regret it! 

Peace, Love, and Running….

 

40 Days of Fitness

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I have blogged! I am not sure where June went, but I do know summer is going much too quickly. We will be back in school in no time. I love my job, but I have so many projects left to complete this summer that I need more time.

As many of you know, on Memorial Day I began the Runner’s World 40-Day Running Streak, and have run every day for the past 39 days. Tomorrow I will run a 5K with my daughter and husband, wrapping up the running streak. I hadn’t planned to run any races this summer, but my oldest daughter is just getting back to running after the birth of her second son, and wanted to run this race before she moves next week. I haven’t run a 5k in a year and a half. Last year I was plagued with injury all year, and the only race I’ve done this year was a half marathon. I plan to run the race with Morgan to help her get through since she hasn’t run three miles yet. I thought it would be a great way to end my running streak.

I have found this streak to be very motivating and empowering. I had never run more than maybe seven days in a row, and that was maybe once or twice. I had been running three or four days a week, and cross-training with Tabata and HIIT three days. I wasn’t really certain if I would even be able to run 40 days in a row, but I wanted to try it because I wanted to challenge myself. The challenge only required that we run at least a mile a day, and on busy days or days that I normally wouldn’t run, I would only run one mile, but I ran. I tried to run fast (old-lady fast) on those days so that I could improve my speed. I didn’t have many days that I dreaded the run; most of the time I looked forward to it. Even on those few days I dreaded it, once I finished I was so glad I had gone.

Yesterday morning, while on a three-miler, I started thinking about how much I’ve enjoyed this challenge, and how proud I felt because I had stuck with it. In the end, I will get nothing – not even a shirt or a pat on the back. I did this just for my own satisfaction, and it has been well-worth the effort. I wanted to challenge others to step out of their comfort zones; I wanted my friends to feel the same sense of accomplishment I was feeling. My mind started spinning…We could do a Perry County 40-day running challenge…but a lot of my friends can’t run everyday…and what about those who don’t run?…We could do a walk/run challenge….(By this point I was home and in the shower) Or…We’ll just do a fitness challenge so people can do any type of exercise they choose…Yes!!…And they can challenge their friends…and why limit it to Perry County when most of the communication will be online?…I can post the challenge on Facebook and see if anyone is interested. By the time I got out of the shower, I had a plan, and within 30 minutes it was online and a few friends had signed up. Since this is a big commitment, I decided participants should have the opportunity to get a super-cool shirt for their efforts, so I began looking and designs. Then I thought it would be fun to have a celebration at the end, so we will meet at our new establishment, The Pour Haus, following the completion of the challenge. And in case you are wondering, my mind usually works like this (Can you imagine how my husband feels!); sometimes my ideas work out well; sometimes they suck.

As of this writing, 100 people have signed up for commit to 40 Days of Fitness. This is a three-part challenge: 1) Commit to exercise every day for 40 days. 2) Challenge a friend to also commit. 3) During the 40 days, try something you’ve never tried before (Zumba, yoga, Spinning, Pilates, running, cycling, kayaking, etc). I plan to try kayaking. One never knows where this can lead. Ideally, by exercising every day for 40 days, we will create healthier habits. Some parents have signed up their children, which is awesome. Because I work with kids, I see the evidence of unhealthy habits that are negatively impacting our kids. We have to get our kids moving again, and tear them away from the video games. When I was a kid, we played outside all summer. When my girls were young, the neighborhood kids rode bikes, played baseball, swam, and just played. When I am out running or walking, I don’t see many kids outside, and that makes me sad. What are they doing? We need to challenge our children. Childhood obesity is a serious problem, so we need to model healthy habits, make fitness fun, and let kids know that their health matters.

I am really excited to see how this works out (If you haven’t done the math, since I am starting this challenge the same day I finish the previous challenge, I will be running 79 days in a row! I hope I can complete this second challenge). If you are interested in joining the 40 Days of Fitness, here is the link:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1h_yf6tW5vohlWzEUq2FqwnBHaXrtjo7uTGoUBSzOdf4/edit

Just Three Years

The other night my husband and I were sitting at a baseball game with our friend Jeff. His son, Sam, just completed his freshman year of high school, and I commented about how quickly time is going. Later, I thought about how Sam will graduate in just three years. Because my mind is often filled with crazy random thoughts that spin out of control, Sam’s future graduation led me to think about all the changes that would occur in the next three years, and how those years will pass so very quickly.

In just three years…

  • Addison – my baby – will be halfway through college, and she will be 20 years old.
  • Bethany will have a couple of years of teaching under her belt (Lord, I hope she finds a job in that three years.)
  • Morgan will be nearing 30 years old. Yikes.
  • Layne will be starting kindergarten.
  • Rhett will be 3 1/2, and following his big brother around.
  • Molly will be driving.
  • Lucy will enter her teen years.
  • Gabe will hit double digits.
  • The first class I had as third graders will be graduating.
  • My first eighth graders will be starting their senior year.
  • And I….well, I will be 50, no longer able to deny middle age (Hell, I will be just about past middle age. What comes after that? Upper middle age?).

Add to that list that loved ones will die, babies will be born, new friends will be made, and lives will be changed, whether it be for the better or worse, by choice or circumstance. Just three years.

So, what is the point of all of this? It enables me to see how quickly our lives evolve, how change is inevitable, and that I had better make the best of each day rather than letting those three years pass without making them count. What changes do I want to make in those three years? Who do I want to be three years from now? What goals do I have? Here it goes…

  • I want to continue to run. That might sound simple, but with the knee issues I have had, it is no longer a given that I will run into my twilight years. I want to take care of my body so that I can continue to do what I love.
  • I want to continue to teach classes at the gym, and hopefully inspire a few people to love their bodies, and to never give up on themselves.  In the past two years, I have made so many incredible friends through Everbody’s; I am blessed by their presence in my life.
  • I will continue to grow and learn as a teacher. I will care about my students, encourage my students, and help them find their talents. I am so fortunate to have such a great job, and I will not take that for granted.
  • I will stay fit and strong. I will continue to cross train, and set a positive example for our kids and grandkids.
  • I want to be living in town within the next three years (in a house with a large yard and a pool).
  • I need to work on taking time for prayer. I always wait until I go to bed, and then my mind wanders like crazy. I will be in a big old conversation with God, and suddenly I am thinking about what to wear to school the next day. I need to focus.
  • I will run sprints. I will run sprints. I will run sprints. I don’t like sprints, but know they are good for me, so I will do it.
  • I will stop avoiding running up Mozart. Just like sprints, hill work is a necessary evil. I will run hills.

And, there are some things I know won’t change in three years:

  • I will still dislike most vegetables. Give it up, Mother.
  • I will stay say stupid crap without thinking.
  • I will still be neurotic about arriving places early.
  • I will still like candy, dessert, and junk food.
  • I will still tell my girls what to do, even though they’ll all be adults.
  • I will still tell Gary where to go when he is driving.
  • I will still use sarcasm when I probably shouldn’t.

Where will you be in three years? Will you make that time count? It’s just three years.

A couple other random thoughts for the evening…

Thanks to all who read and shared my last blog about accepting homosexuals. It was read by over 1700 people. That might not seem like a big deal, but 1700 readers learned that this happens to real families with real feelings. If that blog makes even one person think twice about how he or she treats others, it was worth the effort. Just be nice.

Running. My goodness, we went from a long, cold winter straight into hot, humid weather. I am not complaining (because I complained all winter about the cold), but my running is suffering tremendously. Six weeks ago I ran 13.1 miles in a race; now I am struggling to run three miles. I committed to the Runner’s World Running Streak, which means I will run at least a mile every day for 40 days, from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July. I finished day seven today. I thought this might help me build back up my endurance, and it forces me to exercise every single day. I am also doing more walking because my daughters like to go. This is the first time that all three girls have been home for an extended period of time in a few years, so it also gives me time to spend with them.

Make this week count! You won’t get a do-over. Peace and Love..

 

 

 

A Mom, Two Daughters, and a German Go to Chicago, Part 2

Day 2…
As I said, this was to be a quick trip, so we crammed a lot in on Wednesday. We were up early, and hailed a cab to go to the Field Museum. Cab drivers are in abundance in Chicago, as one could imagine, and we didn’t know what we were going to get until we were well on our way. When we arrived Tuesday night and grabbed a cab at Union Station, the driver wore earbuds and didn’t speak at all. The driver who took us to the museum was a plethora of interesting facts. He described the sights as we drove along. I liked him!

The last time I was at the Field Museum was when I was in high school and my sister took me; I was bored. I hoped that as an adult, and as a teacher, I would have a greater appreciation for all the museum had to offer. I knew that Addison would like it as she enjoys history. We began in the animal section. Every species of bird, fish, mammal, etc is represented. At first we were fascinated, but soon became bored by looking at animals. The Egyptian display, especially the mummies, held our interest. The Native American section was also intriguing, Addison and I spent some time in Native American museums in Alaska, so we were particularly interested.

Even if one has no interest in history, just the building is incredible. It is massive, well-kept, and simply beautiful. Add to that the backdrop of Lake Michigan, and one is in for a memorable experience.

And speaking of memorable, we walked along the lake to Navy Pier (a little over a mile) when we finished at the museum. The girls weren’t thrilled about this, but I was not going to keep paying for cabs when we were capable of walking. Besides, when better way to really experience and appreciate the city but on foot? We walked along with the gorgeous skyline on our left, and the crystal-blue lake on our right. Yes, it was cold, but the sun was shining and the day was beautiful.

We had lunch at Navy Pier (along with about 50 small children), browsed the shops, and then walked (the girls are loving me by now) back to Michigan Avenue. We spent a couple hours shopping (more browsing than shopping since most of the stores are expensive), and then it was time to get ready for our big night out.

After dinner at Cheesecake Factory, it was time for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat! My girls and I love musicals; Bethany and Addison have always wanted to go to a ‘real’ Broadway show. And this particular musical was the one I saw in high school when the band went to New York. Just walking in the theater district was a treat for us small-town girls. And the musical? Wow. The Cadillac Theater was breathtaking, and the show was outstanding. It couldn’t have been better. Wait…it could have been better had the three women behind us not been obnoxious. They were not too bad during the show, until the end. Apparently they memorized the lyrics and then felt the need to sing along! Seriously. I can understand singing along at a concert, but at a Broadway musical? I certainly didn’t pay to hear three drunk ladies’ rendition of the finale. Other than that, the evening with the girls was perfect. It’s a good thing…things were about to fall apart.

Day 3…

Thursday morning. It was time to head back to reality…and a bus. We hailed our final cab, and arrived at the bus stop 30 minutes early. And waited. It was freezing and dreary, but our wait was not to be long, until the man who loads luggage announced that our 9:30 leave time had been moved to 11:00. Shit. We are on a street corner in Chicago with a lot of not-so-happy travelers, and didn’t know what to do. One of the reasons the Megabus is cheap is that they don’t have a terminal; everything is done online, so there aren’t even people to answer questions. They don’t give you a phone number to call because then they’d actually have to answer questions and explain their shortcomings. The luggage loader knew nothing. We went into the Dunkin Donuts across from the bus stop, sat on our suitcases, ate donuts, and waited; at 10:45 we went back to the stop. The temperature was dropping. And the luggage guy had another announcement. The time would now be noon. To say we were annoyed would be a massive understatement. The day before we loved Chicago, loved the diversity of people, loved the hustle and bustle of the big city. On Thursday morning, we hated Chicago, were sick of people, and found the impatience of drivers and constant honking of horns terribly annoying; we longed for our cozy, quiet, country home. And warmth. We really wanted warmth.

We went into Union Station and sat on our bags. Some young man was going around asking people for 62 cents. He was trying to get it from 100 people so he’d have $62 to pay for train fare. It was not the day to ask. Another girl came up begging for money. I really try to be compassionate, but these were young, able-bodied people. I wish I knew their stories so I could understand. As it was, I really wanted to tell them to get jobs.

The 9:30 bus finally arrived at about 1:00. Three and a half hours late. We managed to get seats together, and were finally headed home. The Megabus employees were impatient with passengers who had been standing in the cold for four hours. The first half of the drive wasn’t bad, but by the last half, I was really sick of loud people, and of young people who have no respect for others. Our area might be full of people who use poor grammar, but we are (overall) respectful of one another when we speak. Many of the people we were around on the bus threw the F word and every other swear word around with no regard for anyone, including small children. I am not a prude, but that just drove me crazy. And then there were the people who talked on phones so loudly the whole bus was in on their conversations; we needed off that bus! It was the ride from hell. Finally, we arrived in Louisville; I sprinted off that damn Megabus. We gathered our bags, and the prayed – really hard – that Bethany’s car would be where we left it. Thankfully, it was, and the tires weren’t flattened and the windows were in tact.

We kept telling each other it was a adventure. When one of us was ready to lose it, one of us would make a joke. Bethany had minor meltdowns, especially when she was sitting in Union Station putting socks on, and some woman yelled at her. We won’t soon forget this ‘adventure’. Would I do it again? The trip up wasn’t that bad. The trip home was ridiculous. The lack of communication was uncalled for. Bethany talked to a lady in Louisville who had been standing on a corner waiting for four hours, and Megabus had not contacted them at all. The thing is, if you are trying to return home, you have no place to go, and are at their mercy. Since our return trip fee was refunded, round trip for four was $40. You get what you pay for. I prefer to fly. Right now, nope, I could not depend on Megabus. Chicago, I still love.

Spring Break Chicago Trip is in the books. Next year I think ill spring clean.
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Not a Battle I Planned to Fight…

I am going to step away from writing about fitness today because, as you know, when something else is on my mind, I just have to take time to write about it.  So what’s on my mind this week?  The same-sex marriage ban that is currently being tossed around in Indianapolis.  A year ago, I thought about this topic, but was not passionate about it.  Afterall, it didn’t affect me.  Why should I care?  And then my teenage daughter came out.  Suddenly, the conversation on same-sex marriage did affect me, and more importantly, it greatly impacted my daughter.  My beautiful, intelligent, sweet daughter.

Being raised in a conservative Christian home, I struggled with this topic in the beginning.  I studied, I read, I prayed, and I have come to the conclusion that too many people are interpreting the Bible in a way that suits their needs.  While the Bible does talk about marriage between a man and a woman, it also states that it is sinful to cut one’s hair, to adorn oneself with make-up, and to use the Lord’s name in vain.  Society’s response to that?  Times have change, so that’s no longer relevant.  What about divorce?  The Bible clearly states that divorce is a sin, and that if one divorces and remarries, he or she is still committing adultery.  A sin.  Left-handedness – evil.  Over-indulgence in food or drink is also a sin according to the Word of God.  But times have changed, haven’t they?  Our lawmakers haven’t banned divorce, over-eating, or hair salons.  The overall message that is given throughout the entire Bible is that God calls us to love and accept one another.  That doesn’t mean to accept those we are comfortable accepting; it mean everyone.

For those who say that homosexuals ‘choose’ that lifestyle, well that’s just ignorance.  It is no more a choice than the color of our skin or being left-handed or right-handed.  I know that I could never be in love with a woman, no matter how hard I tried.  I am, without a doubt, a heterosexual.  If I can’t change, why would I expect my daughter to change?  She can’t.  She has no more interest in boys than I do in women.  Why would a teenage kid want to put himself or herself in a position to be a target for bullies?  Why would anyone choose to spend his or her life fighting bigotry?  Why would someone choose to have his or her choice in a partner judged by family, friends, and strangers?  Can you even imagine your own family turning their backs on you because of who you are?  It happens; I’ve seen it.  I’ve seen ‘Christians’ put their religious views before their own family members.   Their response?  They have a right to their opinions and faith.  Well, my God doesn’t teach me to hurt others; He teaches me to love everyone.

Indiana lawmakers are currently pushing legislation to ban same-sex marriage, and to change our constitution in order to do it.  They want to change our legislation in order to discriminate against my daughter.  I was very angry about this, and wrote our state representative, Lloyd Arnold.  He wrote back, and wanted to come meet with Addison, my husband, and me.  I was thrilled that we could put a face on this issue – the face of a teenager.  I asked my friend Katrina and her son Cole to join us, as Cole was also impacted by this legislation.  Mr. Arnold came to town Friday after school for our meeting.  As someone who hates politics, I was nervous about getting involved, but if it meant my daughter might some day have the same rights as her sisters, I was willing to jump in.

In my opinion, after hearing Mr. Arnold out, he is hopeful that this issue will just go away.  He doesn’t really want to have to deal with it.  His belief is that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman, but he supports civil unions for same-sex couples.  Great.  Doesn’t everyone dream of growing up and having a beautiful ‘civil union’?  No.  Even my gay daughter dreams of a wedding.  She dreams of a wedding in her hometown.  She wants to be accepted in the state in which she was raised.  Mr. Arnold told the kids that he believes they deserve the same rights as everyone else, and that he respects them, but he never said he supports their being allowed to marry.  He did vote to take out some hateful and damaging language in the legislation, but he also voted for the change in our constitution.  Hoping it will go away is not the same as standing up and fighting for equal rights.  Admittedly, I don’t completely understand all the political mumbo jumbo and the games they play in congress.  I am a more cut and dry type of person – either it’s right or it’s wrong.  It’s a no-brainer that it is wrong that a murderer in prison has the right to marry while incarcerated, but my daughter – a contributing member of our community – can be denied that right because of whom she loves.

Mr. Arnold also said that 70% of respondents to his survey said they want the issue to be on the ballot.  My question for him was what are the demographics of that survey?  I know that we – a working couple – are far too busy to return surveys.  My guess is that most of those who take time to fill out and return surveys are older, retired people.  If younger generations were to reply, I bet the answers would differ.  If this issue does eventually get on Indiana’s ballot, I pray those young people will get out and vote.

If our lawmakers say that homosexuals do not deserve the exact same rights as others, they are telling the bigots and bullies that homosexuals are lesser people, and don’t deserve respect.  They open our kids up to torment from their peers – as if it isn’t bad enough.  I respect Mr. Arnold’s decision to meet with us, knowing he was walking into a hard conversation with moms fighting for their kids.  I believe he is trying to learn more, and is willing to continue to listen.  I was thrilled that Addison and Cole had the opportunity to be heard by someone in power in our state.  Not many kids get that opportunity, and they both stepped up to the plate.  I hope the conversation continues.

One thing to think about is how you will be affected.  If you disapprove of same-sex marriage, don’t marry a gay person.  Would my daughter marrying her partner affect you in the least?  Would anyone be hurt if same-sex marriage were allowed in Indiana?  No.  I cannot think of how anyone would be hurt by this.  On the flip side, thousands would be hurt if a ban takes place.  When this bill passed the house this week, there were tears in my house.  What about yours?   Did you even pay attention?

I cannot end without saying how incredibly proud I am of my daughter.  She is a junior in high school, who talked to her state representative about gay marriage.  She was strong and respectful, even though the topic was clearly emotional for her.  She spoke with maturity and grace, and I could not have been more proud or in awe.  My heart broke as I listened to her voice quiver and saw the tears in her eyes; my heart swelled with pride as I listened to her speak in spite of her emotions.  I love this kid, and all I want is for her to have the same rights as your kids.  Isn’t that what we all want?  We’ve come a long way since I was in high school, but I’m afraid we have a long way to go.  Who is with me?  If you are, please share this blog.  Let your friends and family know that this legislation affects real people, real families, and kids.  Let’s give all kids hope that one day they will be accepted.

 

See ya 2013!

I always write an Old Year/New Year post, and it’s typically long, jumbled, and possibly somewhat boring, but it’s also my way of processing the old year, and welcoming what’s to come.  So, if you’re sitting at home, avoiding laundry and housework, and need a reprieve from the daily chaos, read on.  What follows is a wrap-up of random thoughts.  Here we go…

  • Sunday, as I was waiting for my hair color to work its magic, I transferred birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates from my 2013 calendars to my 2014 calendars (one of which I bought for half price because I waited until the last minute).  As I was carefully writing in the upcoming events, I thought about how wonderful it is that each January, we get the opportunity to reflect on the past year, and start all over with a new year.  I don’t really make resolutions, but I do have a few goals.  I will share those at some random point in this blog.
  • 2013 was filled with both blessings and frustrations for us.  Health-wise, it was a tough year.  Last spring, I had the flu, and stomach bug, and then six weeks worth of eye infections.  The entire year I dealt with knee problems that resulted in surgery in August.  It isn’t completely healed, but I am hopeful that it will continue to get stronger, the pain will continue to lessen, and eventually I will return to my running routine in 2014.  Gary had to have hernia surgery, and Addison had (and continues to have) foot problems.  Because of changes to our health insurance (that are infuriating), my rates have doubled, AND we went from a $500 deductible to a $3000 deductible in 2014, so I pray for good health because we can’t afford to be sick.  We will limit trips to the doctor to dire emergencies, and suffer through all other illnesses.  We are educated, middle-class working people who can no longer afford to go to the doctor.  There’s something wrong with that.
  • Blessings…We added two members to our family in 2013!  Gary’s son Bryce was married to Krista in October.  It was an amazing weekend in Lake Tahoe.  Krista is a beautiful, intelligent, kind, and adventurous young woman, and we are thrilled to welcome her.  We also welcomed a new grandson in December.  Rhett Cail was born December 15, and we met him the following weekend.  He is a beautiful little boy just like his brother Layne and his cousin Gabe.

A Perfect Lake Tahoe Wedding

A Perfect Lake Tahoe Wedding

  • Rhett Wayne Cail December 15, 2013

    Rhett Wayne Cail
    December 15, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 2013 was a year of travel for Gary and me.  We went to Virginia Beach, Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas, and Lake Tahoe, and we added some short trips to Indy, Northern Indiana, Louisville, and Nashville.  We are fortunate that our family has chosen great vacations spots in which to live.  We won’t be traveling as much in 2014, but are grateful for the experiences we had.  In our eleven years together, Gary and I have had some awesome trips.  Most included the girls, some were just the two of us.  I am so grateful that we enjoy being together and have had some great opportunities.  I look forward to many more!
  • We also added to our family by hosting an exchange student from Germany.  Benita was already in Tell City and a student at our high school.  She had been placed with a couple who had no kids at home, and was new to our town. Because they knew no one, they wouldn’t let Benita do anything with anyone.  The poor girl was miserable.  She came to stay with us in November, and has truly been a blessing.  We have learned a lot about Germany, have enjoyed lots of chocolate, and have loved getting to know this amazing girl who, at only 16, chose to move away from her family for a year to experience America.  She will be with us until the end of May, and I already dread telling her good-bye.  On the bright side, with any luck we will one day visit her in Germany.
Our day in Nashville

Our day in Nashville

  • Along with my knee issues came weight gain.  As of this morning, I am within one pound of my pre-exercise-running-Tabata-healthier-eating weight from 2009.  I knew I would gain weight when I had surgery and could not exercise for six weeks.  After four plus years of exercising four to seven days a week, it was inevitable.  But I also thought that once I jumped back into my workout routines, the pounds would melt away.  They didn’t.  Not. One. Pound.  Finally, when December hit, I decided to not worry about it until after the holidays.  Given my love of baking – and eating what I bake – I knew it was pointless to try to shed weight during the best eating month of the year.  And so I gained another few pounds.  Right now, I am so disgusted with myself.  I worked so hard to get in shape and get to my ideal weight, and now I have to start all over.  My clothes don’t fit, I feel gross, and working out is hard.  Because I am so short, an extra eight pounds makes a huge difference.  I have two new dresses I can’t even wear until I lose the weight because they accentuate my belly flab.  Since they are winter dresses, I am going to have to make progress quickly.  Gary and I went grocery shopping Sunday and bought only healthy food.  I threw away the chocolate caramel cake that we left, gave away cookies, and refrained from baking more (even though I am dying to use my new Kitchenaid Mixer).  I have to get a grip.  I also hope to add more running to my routine because it seems to help me keep my weight down better than any other form of exercise.  I have been teaching five classes a week at the gym for the past two months, so I really haven’t had time to run as much as I like.  Enough on that – I will keep you posted.
I NEED TO RUN!

I NEED TO RUN!

  • Another goal for 2014 is to be more in the present.  I spend too much time on Facebook, and need to spend that time reading a book or chatting with my family.  I completely enjoy Facebook because many of my friends and family members live away, and it is a great way to keep up.  I love seeing their pictures, sharing my pictures, and being motivated by the fitness groups to which I belong.  But I love my family more.  I know it won’t be easy, but I will cut back on computer time, or at least spend some of that time keeping up with my blogs rather than mindlessly scrolling through Facebook.
  • I want to get some bills paid off.  I am still working on my hospital bills from August, so that is my first goal.  I also have some added credit card debt from Christmas, so that’ll be next.  I am going to keep my checkbook balanced and stick with my budget.  We finally took a leap and got rid of our home phone, and I have looked for other ways to cut monthly bills.  I think I have scaled back all I can (without causing an uprise in our family).
  • I want to nurture friendships and gently let go of relationships that cause stress.  I value my friends, and would do anything for them.  I pride myself on being a good listener, keeping confidences, and being honest.  I expect the same in return.  I am blessed with some amazing friends, and hope I never disappoint them.  I have also learned that even at our age, there are still those who choose friends based on their social statuses, what benefits they will gain from those friendships, and how it looks to others.  I care about none of that.  I choose my friends based on their character, their sense of humor, and how they treat people.  And my life is so much better because of it!

Friends!

Friends who would stand in the pouring rain to support one another!

Friends who would stand in the pouring rain to support one another!

  • Life is a gigantic lesson, and I believe we need to keep on listening and learning until we take our last breaths.  While we need to know where we stand, we also need to listen because sometimes our opinions can change.  We need to be accepting of others, and gentle with our words.  We need to let go of relationships that are no longer healthy, and hang on tightly to those that matter.  We need to love everyone, but that doesn’t mean we have to like everyone.  But we need to make our own judgments and not judge others based upon what we hear – what ‘they’ say.
    Words to live by...

    Words to live by…

    We have to – and this is big – work to positively influence our youth.  We need to encourage them to work hard, to follow their dreams, and to know that character is just as important as intelligence.  We need to model being good citizens, talk to them about our world, and show them how to treat others.  Our children are reflections of us.  Teach them well.

Some of our influence actually worked!

Some of our influence actually worked!

I wish for all of you a happy, healthy 2014.  I hope to continue with my writing, and it would help me greatly if you would share this with your friends if you enjoy reading my random thoughts.  I would also like to add some followers.  Thanks for reading.  Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Bethany, Chris, Tamara, Krista, Bryce, Gary, Me, Addie

Bethany, Chris, Tamara, Krista, Bryce, Gary, Me, Addie

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