Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Carrie, Carrie, quite contrary...

How does your garden grow? 

Just kidding. She actually took the picture for me. 

My sweet friend Karen Autumn posts excellent and fun pictures on Facebook of older objects which she breathes new life and love into. I was thinking of her as I grabbed this basket which belonged to my great grandmother Frances before I headed to our garden. I love when pretty things are functional things and fun things! 

It makes me smile to think that my amazing Grandma Frances used this in her gardens- I am old enough to remember her cherry trees and her riots of flower garden patches- and now here it is, making my life easier so that I don't have to try to lug everything back to my house in my T-shirt.

Not that that would ever happen as we adults possess the skill called planning ahead. Ahem.

That would be our first watermelon, a sprig of basil which I accidentally snagged off, cucumbers on the top, multitudes of tomatoes including a Cherokee Purple one on the right, and zucchini in the foreground. We also have extraordinarily tall lettuce (I didn't know lettuce grew up but these ones do), golden beets, carrots, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, and holy cow basil and tomatoes out there. 

I must must must get back to blogging as my phone is out of storage: can't take any more pictures until I clear some stuff off, and the garden is CRAZY. 

Hungry? Come on down!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Super. Just super, I say.

Monday, August 14, 2017

And we have liftoff in 3...2...1...


That would be the sound of ultimate suffering, breathed and/or vocalized by the majority of kids and parents in the immediate area. School begins in three days. 

I wonder how many parents are channeling Tinker Belle's panic from "Hook": And I only have three days- three days!- to make him bangarang! 

Three days which should, by rights, be spent soaking up every blissful second of summer vacation. The three last weekdays the city pool will be open. The three last chances to sleep in. The three wide open afternoons to fill with being outside, not at a desk, not lugging a backpack stuffed to the gills with supplies, to be reading the books you want to read, taking the naps you can take (it's generally frowned upon once you're sitting at a desk), to spend hours on Legos, to be free. 

Instead, I'm waking the kids up earlier each day to adjust them to the godawful fact that the big kids will have to be on the bus just after seven o'clock in the morning and if one is getting up at six one must not be cruising towards thinking about getting ready for bed at quarter to eleven in the evening...

I'm working out and feeling acid slosh around in my stomach because there is no physically possible way to fit a workout in which will overlap with getting them up to get them moving to get started eating to get dressed to finish eating to quit fighting to finish up that breakfast to hold me back someone anyone or I am going to be on the news!

Because who doesn't love a side of panic with their workout?

Some of you are rolling your eyes and muttering, "so get organized."

Can you feel my icy glare from there? I hope it froze your bum to your seat. 

Some of you have self-motivated children. Some of you have people you live with who you can simply say, "get ready for school" and it happens. 

You do not live here, with These People That I Live With. These People need told, "did you pee?" and "pour the cereal into the bowl," and "do you have a spoon yet?" and "take your meds. Please take your meds" and "leave your brother alone" and "whaddayameanyoustillhaven'tpouredyourcereal" and "dear Lord, don't give me strength or there will be beatings."

I find myself remarking to anyone who will listen that I'd be a MUCH better camp counselor now that I've been a mom than I probably was at the time. At the time, I simply said, "get ready for bed."

Now I am much wiser. Some kids just don't get that the umbrella of "get ready for _________" means you do the bullet points under the umbrella. Somehow it gets lost in translation and turns into, "just show up." Yikes.

Three days. 

This is where you all come to our rescue and overload me with freezer meal recommendations, streamlined homework strategies, bedtime routines, school morning routines, and breakfast ideas.

And then I lower the boom to reveal that none of the kids like the same foods, so while oatmeal works for two of them, one won't touch it. One needs more fiber than the other two, but it has to be a certain kind of mini wheats or they'll not get eaten until maybe the End Times. And by then, one has certainly missed the bus. 

We already lay out our school clothes the night before so that there's no wardrobe changes in the morning. Once the boys  come downstairs, there should be no going back up. Their clothes, toothbrushes, breakfasts, shoes, jackets if needed, and backpacks are all on our ground floor for "easy" departures. Backpacks are generally filled the night before as well, so in theory lunches would be the only additional thing to grab if they are packing. Shoes and jackets are stored on their way to the door.

In theory, there's no reason they shouldn't be able to be completely ready in an hour.

Guessing there will be more posts coming about the reality. I predict a relatively easy first two days as they are a Thursday and Friday and the kids are kind of excited to go back. Two of them are starting at new-to-them schools, which means we now cover three buildings, three lunch menus, two buses, an endless amount of paper, dozens of pencils which still need sharpened and a partridge in a pear tree.

The real manure will hit the windmill next Monday...

Saturday, August 05, 2017

How shall I kill thee, let me count the ways...

"Let' go for a bike ride." He says. "It'll be fun! There will be hash browns. Pap will watch the kids." He says.

"I don't wanna ride my bicycle. They'll be closed because everyone will be at the fair. You watch."

"Ohhh, come on. Yoooouuu waaaant to riiiiiideyour biiiiicycle, you waaaant to riiiiide your bike..."

The sign says, "Gone fishing! See you August 7!" 

Dada's impending doom in 3... 2... 1...

You better be faster on your bike than your hashbrownless wife is on hers, buddy!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Timing is everything.

I have a story that some of you have heard snippets of already, but first- lilies! These gorgeous flowers grow a few streets away from us. I pass them all the time when I'm driving and never get a chance to stop and see what they were for sure. They are indeed lilies, orange with brown spots. There is an older gentleman whom I see puttering around amongst them sometimes, but as I'm always driving, I never get to talk to him. Our friend Sally from our neighborhood two houses ago had poppies like this, so when I saw they were finally open, I knew I had to stop on this bike ride. I've never seen lilies bigger than me before!

Dada took Monday off to recover from vacation (more about all that later) so of course we had to have a bike ride. We had the bike trail mostly to ourselves since everyone is either on vacation or at work on a Monday, so we got to see our usual friends belonging to the flower, bird and bunny varieties. 

We're cruising along and we notice purple morning glories are growing all throughout the soybeans and were musing about how they got there. I have some which I let Grandma Barb babysit for a summer; they took over her entire front porch area, climbing their way up all her trellises and posts and other plants. As purple was her favorite color, she was delighted! I got my potted plant back and have spread them around at both this house and our previous one. Are they helper plants? Are birds spreading the seeds? Planted in with the beans? What in the world? I want to know!

Then further down the path we noticed pinker ones growing along the edge of the corn field, behind the fence, which is behind the rather fluffy and overgrown evergreens of some kind. We'd noticed on previous rides that the shrubbery trees and thistles had been reaching out over the bike trail to grab unsuspecting passerby, and had commented on the 6+ feet of cleared, mowed land on the other side of the trail. At some point in these musings, Dada cracked about the morning glories being a distraction to waylay the unwary so that the children of the corn could grab them. Having read that particular Stephen King tale, I got big-eyed and mentioned that I didn't like that idea very much...

...and promptly ended up riding into the embrace of the evergreens. 


I didn't fall off, but wobbled back out, laughing about needing to watch out for evergreenery and not corn. Didn't even get scratched up, and should have learned a valuable lesson about bikes having brakes for a reason.


Further on down the path, we then notice an older gentleman walking a big, furry, pink tongued, unmistakable ball of fuzz that could only be a Newfoundland. With huge smiles on our faces, we sail by, calling out our hellos and good mornings and have a good days. I can't speak for Dada, but generally, good things don't happen when one is not looking in the same direction in which one is riding. I face forward after ogling the adorable dog, notice immediately that my bike is way too close to his bike, shriek something softly about "eek, move" or something. I then try to veer right to where there is plenty of room. At no point did the stupid idiot brain which takes up residence in my head remind me the evergreeny lesson about bikes having brakes. 

I clipped his rear wheel with my front tire and crash over onto my right side. The Newfie looks back at me and keeps on walking as we were just far enough out of earshot to not be noticeable. Thankfully I was wearing gloves, so my hands were not scraped up. My right shoulder is sporting an abrasion (I can't decide if "abrasion" or "road rash" sounds scarier...) even though my shirt didn't tear. As of two days later, it looks almost like a patch of sunburned skin peeling off. 

My knees, though. Some of you saw the Facebook picture already and expressed your sympathies. My knees could match any eight-year-old's who has spent any time on a bike this summer. I am going to have shiny, glossy knees that most certainly are not going to match the rest of my tan until next summer. You know how, ladies, when you're shaving in a hurry and cut too hard with your old razor and see white and think, "oh yep, that's gonna hurt when the water hits it"? Yeah, that. Nice, shiny white whatever is under the epidermis. I suppose that'd be my dermis, dummy. Ick.

Dada hopped off because miraculously I hadn't upset him by wrecking into him and sluiced my knees off with his water bottle. We walked our bikes a little ways and then rode the last tiny bit to our halfway point where we could sit down and stretch and get fresh gum and assess the situation. I was afraid sitting and stopping would make everything stiffer, so after our rest we got ready to head back. Lo and behold, here comes our fuzzy friend again, on his way home!

After some chit chat and love and pats and croonings, we all went our separate ways. Please only look at the adorable dog in the above picture, not at me. The one you want to see is below this.

Yep. That one. Left knee, on top, has one boo boo. Poor right knee, bottom, has two ewwy ones. The kids, who did express much sympathy at first, have been laughing at me about my "Bandidos" on my booboos.

The positive to come out of this whole thing is that Liam, who until this summer has moaned and complained about riding his bike just about every time we brought it up, has ridden two nights in a row and been confident and delighted. He even tipped over last night in the middle of a tight turn and scraped his left knee, got back on, told Dada about it, and just kept going. This is huge. Before this, he would have been in orbit about falling over or off, and as to getting injured? Fahgetabouthit!

Instead, he came home, clomped inside and announced, "I match you, Mama!" Proudly displayed was one skinned knee. And he wanted a Bandido.

So. Important life safety lessons here are:

1. Exercise is hazardous to your health.

2. Evergreens, like haystacks, are not as soft as they look.

3. Consider somehow attaching a first aid kit to your bike when riding with someone who forgets bikes have brakes.

4. Don't attempt to operate a bicycle on 4.5 hours of sleep. Surely that has something to do with reflexes and decision making skills, and not in a good way.

5. Most importantly, get off the dang bike before ogling cute dogs!

6. And most, most importantly, those things attached to your handlebars are called brakes and you can use them to stop yourself before running into other objects. Magic. Imagine! 

*Disclosure: No matter what you may have heard or thought, I solemnly swear that Dada did not push me over or into any evergreenery. I am perfectly capable, apparently, of causing all my own disasters, thank you very much. Take it easy on him. He really is doing his best.*

I didn't know praying mantises shot hoops.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

They're a lot bigger than they used to be

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Old Lady Room Makeover

Some of you are scratching your heads and wondering, "what is an Old Lady Room?"

When we were first shown the home we now live in, the front living/sitting room had very much of a parlor appearance. It had these creamy pink/beige/purply/gray walls, one of those very low, long couches, a wing back chair, a rounded, standing radio, and red carpet with roses all over it. And drapes. Oh my, drapes. This is the part where I disclose that I'm still a pushpins-and-sheet-or-light-blanket-or-scarf-over-the-windows kind of girl at heart. I buy curtains on clearance from Big Lots or Bed, Bath & Beyond. These were drapes. With valances! 

And just like that, someone sniggered and the Old Lady Room was born.

You can see the light color of the walls, above, and see how depending on the light the color is all over the place. Normally it didn't have everything shoved into the center of the room, obviously, but spread stuff out in your head and you'll get the idea of how we'd dealt with it.

The Thingz were all to be out of the house the same week thanks to camp and Pap, so what better time to paint than when I didn't have to stop to break up fights or stop to feed anyone or stop to figure out why certain technology was having issues or stop because of anything Thingz-related. 

So I kind of turned things over in my mind and decided I liked a paint square called Greenblack by Sherwin Williams. It had a dark gray look that was kind of smoky and would help the light drapes and painted wood furniture pop while going well with the red furniture and that red, rose covered carpet. Some people scratched their heads again and I'm sure they would have hiding grimaces during the priming process, above, where the room looks really dark and like the first room you'd paint differently if you were moving into a new house.

But, add those crazy thermal drapes back in to cover the darker wood of the windowpanes, get stuff back where it belongs, and let PaPa go crazy with the vacuum and the Murphy's Oil Soap and the Windex and ta da! One spiffy looking room that actually pulled together really well. 

Not bad at all for an Old Lady!  

Huge thanks to camp and Pap (babysitting) and PaPa and Dada (working, cleaning, taking down and rehanging drapes and valances) for all the help!

Come on over to see our New Old Lady Room!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

I don't think the big kids are excited about camp, do you?

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

A boy, a girl, and some bikes... and CREPES.

And here I thought I got these all in order. *sigh* 

This is a story about a boy and a girl and some bikes. And a pirate. And the most amazing crepes you'll ever eat. 

This is the sun rising as Pap dropped us off for the MS Bike to the Bay event. You could begin riding any time after 7 AM and before 8:30 AM, I think, as it wasn't a race. There were whole teams of people, groups of family members, friends, whatever. We even saw a father and son tandem bicycle and when we talked to them they told us they'd been doing it since the much larger son (now riding singly) was the one on the back of the tandem. 

This is us, almost ready to go.

I guess this is the spoiler shot. Yes, we finished and got the little medal to prove it, haha! So any of you who were waiting to donate until after proof of life (for both of us) and proof of completion, now you can pony up. We did it!

The sign said to STOP REST so I did. I am a rule follower.

I figured out that people do these events for the food. Holy cow, had I known there were things like oatmeal creme pies and Fritos at the stops every ten miles I'd've been way more enthusiastic. Sometimes your legs just need Fritos to keep going. And a granola bar. And half a banana. Or several orange slices. And maybe another oatmeal creme pie. Hmm. And perhaps another granola bar for later. You know, in case the next stop doesn't have any left. Better make that another oatmeal creme pie, too. 

I'd accidentally smashed some Fritos in the above picture because I forgot they were behind me when I posed. As geometry doesn't affect taste, they were still delicious.

That'd be me. "I'm only here for the food." ~Ever After

Sadly, we have no Fritos in the house and I'm getting distracted thinking about them. So. Here we are, on the road. I'm smiling because I'm enjoying watching Dada attempting to bike in a straightish line as he tries to fit both of us into a selfie. 

As you can see, the sky was absolutely gorgeous. What you may not be able to tell is that it was maybe only 80 degrees with a westerly wind. Let me just talk about the westerly wind. It is fabulous to have wind at your back. We were moving along pretty well anytime the wind was behind us. Turning a curve and having it blowing you sideways, or worse, straight into it, was awful! I've mentioned before that he signed us up for the 50 mile part. Some of the 50 miler people were going to be riding back to the starting line the next day after camping out at the school where everyone finished. I can't imagine facing into that wind all day long after I'd ridden 50 miles the day before! Kudos to all you crazy people. I'm out. And don't even get me started on the 100 miler folks. One of Dada's coworkers was doing the 75 mile part and decided to backtrack just so he could get a full 100 miles in. Who does that!? And he was cheerful about it. I would look like roadkill if the thought even seriously crossed my mind!

I should back up a bit. I'd been informed that there would be rest stops every 10 miles and that it was not a race. So, the first set of miles was heading south. We were getting blown a little bit but not too badly, and I felt pretty good when we pulled into the first rest area. I actually thought, "wow, that was a pretty fast 10 miles. I might get through this." The second stop comes along and it's actually the lunch stop already. 

Now, had I actually investigated the map we were given, I'd have noticed that it's clearly marked we'd done 17.8 miles at this point. I text my mother to let her know hey, it's lunch, we're 20 miles in, doing good...

Waitaminute. That says 17 miles. I thought the rest stops were every 10 miles. 10 miles + 10 miles = 20 miles, not 17.8 miles. What is going on?

Dada: Oh, the first stop was only 7 miles in.

Me: !!!

Well, that would make sense as to why it felt like a fast 10 miles. *sigh* Well, really, *siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh*. Oh boy.

But lunch was great. Subway was a sponsor so there were 6" subs and more chips and big cookies and pop and yum! I love food!

Off we went after lunch. Our third rest stop had super incredibly enthusiastic volunteers who were cheering and clapping and hollering every time a rider pulled in or out of the area. It was neat to hear some of their stories about how they'd gotten involved, how long they'd been part of the event, and to just see their huge smiles for us. Everyone from start to finish was very friendly and we appreciated it so much. There were motorcycles throughout with first aid available and snacks or drinks if needed or just "mortal support" as they say in The Gods Must Be Crazy. 

I can't even describe how much relief I felt to see cops at intersections to direct traffic and let groups of us through lights together. I am especially not good at starts and stops, and the bike trail is one beautifully resurfaced surface where a lot of the country roads were not. Sometimes it felt like you were riding on a scrubbie. Overall, though, the planners (here's your shout-out, guys) did an amazing job picking low traffic roads, at least for our 50 mile part- I can't speak for the others. The drivers we did encounter were considerate and gave us plenty of space. The cops were friendly and warm and encouraging and let me say it again: I so much appreciated their presence. Thank you!

We made it! This is us at the finish. Oh wait, I need to back up again. 

The last stretch of the ride was downhill and over a bridge and the physical road surface here was the worst it had been on the entire ride. I was praying, "please, Lord, don't let me wipe out right here in this gravelly mess, please don't let me embarrass myself right here, please don't let me fall over, aaaaack, do I brake or ride it out, eeeeek, please don't let me fall right here..." 

Very close to the end is a whole group of people with signs declaring witticisms like, "smile if your butt hurts" and other encouraging slogans. They were perfectly placed and made me laugh as I entered the finish line. I don't know if that crew lived there and cheer riders on regularly or if this was the first time or what, but I appreciated them, too. It was fun to end on a high note of cheer.

So, did it, made it, done. Whew. Get some watermelon, chat up some fellow riders, peruse the wares, start walking our bikes out and down the road to the neighborhood where some kind folks let us park my car overnight in front of their house. Thanks, you guys, appreciate it!

This is the part where I'm not even kidding and further proof to me of God's providence. Mother, you can stop reading right here and skip down to the crepes. We are walking along a nice, even sidewalk after riding on all kinds of surfaces for 50 miles, and we hear a BANG POOF PSSSSSSSSST. 

My rear tire, the one I re-learned to brake with, just blew a total flat. Completely and utterly flat. Not on that horrid, broken surfaced hill I just descended, but on a sidewalk. No nail, no pothole, no stone, nada. We looked at each other with those big cartoony eyes and shared the same thought bubble, "did that really just happen!?" I shook my head, Dada doubled over laughing and repeating that he just couldn't believe it. 

So, back we went to the event and brought my poor borrowed bike to the good folks from Reggie's bike shop who took one look and went, "yep, those are dead." We bought new tires from them on the spot and want to publicly thank them for being ready and willing to help a gal out!

So all's well that ends well. I didn't kill myself, or Dada, just my back tire. I suppose that's pretty good, all things considered.

But that's only part of our adventure. Once we loaded the bikes into Pepe (my car), we headed to the ferry in Port Clinton which would take us and just our camping gear to Put In Bay. We sat with some sisters who'd been doing Bike to the Bay in one form or another for over a decade and who'd since lassoed other friends and family members into joining them. Since they were familiar with the event and the island, we chatted them up for the must-try food and heard their stories about their rides. They were pretty animated and it made the ferry ride seem super quick!

Dada had found us one of the last available camping spots on the south side of the island. We met our neighbors, two families and several kiddos from Cleveland, who were very considerate and kind. We decided to set up our tent right in the parking spot as we only had the golf cart we were renting to fit there and the ground was pretty stony so getting tent pegs in would have been a challenge anyway. 

Apparently the island is about 3 miles long, so once we'd set up camp we decided to putt around in our golf cart to explore it. The sweet family beside us offered us some of their dinner they'd grilled, but we thanked them and headed off to check out some of the recommendations from the girls on the ferry. 

First though, we got showers. Nice, hot showers. Aside from the mayflies, which weren't terrible though plentiful, the campground was great. Everyone was considerate about noise and cleaned up after themselves and it seemed very family friendly. I'd definitely go back. 

It was also amazing to be clean again. 

So, boats. 

We wandered around the village and admired the boats and watched the water birds and were amused to find out that it was Pyrate weekend. Everywhere, little kids with swords, grown ups in costume, tents with pirate wares, cannon demonstrations, you name it.

And boats. Which I know not one thing about, but can admire anyway:

We did the Chicken Patio for dinner with the yummy chicken dinner and enjoyed watching the guys moving the chicken around on their huge grill, smirking at the pirates wandering by, enjoying being sans kids and in a new place. We eventually made it back to the campground and crashed and slept pretty well for having done the longest bike ride we'd ever done in our lives.

Okay, this is the part where I'm going to write this but everyone can stop reading because I don't want this secret to get out. 

To the staff of the Old Forge, you all are amazing. We had the best breakfast we have ever had in our lives. Sydney, your recommendations were spot on for everything. I had the crepe with the roasted chicken, goat cheese, applewood bacon and pesto creamy deliciousness and ate every single bite. Along with Dada's breakfast potatoes which were golden and crispy and perfect. With coffee. And ice water. And real flowers. Though I didn't eat those. And then, and then, for dessert? Ohhhhh my goodness. We had the Little Miss Sunshine sweet crepe. I double dog dare you to click on that clipboard below and read what it was made of. And then go catch the ferry at Port Clinton. Worth every penny. Would possibly give up a firstborn. Just kidding, Carrie. Kind of. 

Seriously, tell them "the girl who was full up to her eyebrows sent us!"

Amazing. I will dream of this food for the rest of my life. Now those are what crepes are supposed to be. 

Stuffed to the gills, we had to go walk/roll/waddle through the village a few laps. And kiss Captain Jack for luck, of course! I love the looks the little girls behind me are giving us!

We stuffed some lunch in ourselves later on at Frosty's Pizza because the girls said it was the best on the island. We hit it just before the lunch rush and even got a table before the line wound all through the room. 

And then it was time to get back on the ferry, which was much much emptier on the way back than it had been the evening before on the way to the island, and back to real life. Now that we'd had that much fun at Put In Bay, I really can't imagine having spent that time riding 50 miles back into the wind. Blech.

Big thanks goes to Pap who came up to keep an eye on our cherubs while we were away for the weekend. I don't even want to know how much ice cream was consumed. Dada is still in the doghouse, so consider this your get-outta-jail-free weekend. Seriously, thank you. 

Now, how can I get back to the Old Forge for crepes?

Monday, July 03, 2017

Happy 3rd of July

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sump Pump, part deux

Nothing like shared misery. 

Any of you who have had to deal with a failed sump pump just did a groan over that title. 

Most of you know that I was signed up to do Bike to the Bay last weekend. I don't need to rehash that as you can scroll further down and read about it yourself. Here's part of the story you don't know, because it hadn't happened yet.

Last Friday night I drove my car, full of camping gear (to be explained in another post) to the end of the bike event and we drove Dada's car back, backtracking the route we would be biking Saturday. Midway through the fifty mile route he receives a phone call from our renter.

All of you have figured out where this is going.

Our renter was heading out of town for two weeks on Saturday. Friday night, while we were en route on our next day's bike route, he discovered the sump pump had died and there were two inches of water all across the basement floor. Seeping into the drywall. Soaking baseboards. Generally up to no good.

So we scrap the last fifth-ish of the bike route to check it out. Then followed a trip to Lowe's for a new sump pump and other assorted supplies. Calls to neighbors to see who has a squeegee since we didn't think about that while in Lowe's. Old towels? Company, since misery loves it?

Out with the old sump pump, in with the new. Water draining, situation assessed, keys exchanged, condolences shared. We drive home. We kiss the sleeping kids and discuss tomorrow morning drop off plans. 

We stumble into bed just before midnight on a day before we need to be up at about 5:30 so we can finish prepping for and traveling to the start of a fifty mile bike ride. 

"I only laugh when I think of my life." -Joe Grippo

Since then, Dada has been to the rental house at least six times and I've been there at least three times to empty dehumidifiers, reposition fans, rip out the wet drywall, beg neighbors to let us finish filling their trash cans with bags of drywall and insulation and drywall screws and nails and mess, spray the studs and baseboards with bleach water, shop vac sweeping, etc. Some of you know exactly what all that looks like because you've lived it. Thankfully there was no carpet to deal with or drowned sofas, electrical outlets were all high above the water and the seepage, and the renters are out long enough to get a very good start on the tear out-clean up-fix-redo.

Life is messy.

Anyone know a guy whose life passion is to cut/install/mud/sand/paint drywall? Send 'em thisaway. 

That sound of horse lips you just heard...

Yes, that would have been me. Followed by a groan of, "No. Noooooo, no, no, NO." Not quite of the intensity of Brendan Frasier's character, Monty, in one of my all time favorite movies, "With Honors", but close. 

Today has involved two loads of laundry, weeding the landscaping out front, a trip with two children to the grocery store (use your imagination here and you'll be just about right on), picking up dog poop (our dog weighs usually in the 95-103 range, so again, a little imagination ought to do the trick), watering the gardens because though rain was yet again predicted I only felt about 7 sprinkles, pruning dead limbs off trees out back, making lunch and dinner, dropping and picking off a child for a playdate, bathing another child, and now, voila, a chance to sit down and blog about the Bike to the Bay experience.


Except, wait for it, the pictures that were uploading in the proper order from my phone have not materialized. No draft. No photos. No post-waiting-in-the-wings. Zero. Zip. Nada.

Are you kidding me? Seriously?

What about compatible technology? What about the part where technology is supposed to make our lives easier? Hasn't that been said since, oh, I don't know, around the time my parents were ten year olds?! What the *fill in your own imaginative words here. Mine fail me*?

And I was all comfy on the porch swing, too. And of course my phone isn't out here with me so I could try again. Naturally one child is on the Wii and quiet for the first time since he's been awake today so I could do this post. This nonexistent post. 


"He said to go back to the beginning. This is where we got the job, so it's the beginning. I am waaaaaaiiiiting for Vezziiiini." I am full of Princess Bride quotes.

Except Vezzini is not coming to help. I'll have to get off my big girl bum and go find my phone and figure out the photos and do it myself.

Darn it, Deloris.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Hooey and Hogwash, and MS Bike to the Bay

Get comfy. This is a long rant. You've been warned.

I'd like to address the nonsense that the "experts" spout about "you'll have more energy if you exercise." Has anyone found this to actually be true in their lives? 

Dada and I have been getting up at 5:30 in the morning. In the morning. Five thirty. In the A.M. To exercise.

It all started because he signed up to do a Tough Mudder with his friend Theresa from work and Andrew, her boyfriend. Apparently it's a race with mud and yuck and obstacles. Sounds like a super fun time for the competitive and in shape. I, however, have seen pictures and thanks, but no thanks. 

At any rate, I started to rise and shine early with him so we could ride our bikes in the basement on the trainers we'd bought previously. Hello, we live in Ohio where conditions are not always conducive to riding bikes outside. There are things called Elements and Nature and Weather happening out there. Hence the trainers. I got up with him to help keep him motivated to prepare for his race. Like lots of us, he is more likely to stick with something if he's not doing it all alone. More fool me.

His team has a blast at the Tough Mudder (here is an excellent photo of him with Andrew on his back for the Hero Carry. This is where I mention that Andrew both towers over him and outweighs him.) He told us all about the mud, the obstacles that made me think of American Ninja Warrior, the dangling electric cables, the mud, the walls to climb and help others over, the mud...

All photo credits to Tough Mudder and their crew. I had nothing to do with it.

I'm glad he had a good time and that he finished and that it was an exciting, successful experience for him. I have no problem playing in the mud or contributing in ropes course-style activities like the wall to get yourself and your team over. Where I break down is that it's competition. I have no competitive bones in this middle aged body of mine. I never have. I tend to shut down when the challenge is thrown down.

So it was with great consternation that I received the news about him signing us (us means him and me) up to do the MS Bike to the Bay the last weekend in June. People, that's next weekend! 

"There's a team from work doing it. I only signed us up for the 50 mile part." 

Um, excuse me? Fifty MILES!? On a bicycle?! Have you met this wife with whom you've been living for the past eighteen years?

As Inigo Montoya says in The Princess Bride, "let me 'splain... no, there is too much. Let me sum up."

First off, I own a Schwinn. From Walmart. It's the bike my BFF Lisa recommended when we were looking into bikes roughly a hundred years ago, perhaps when he was looking into doing some triathalons, also with Theresa. Hmm. Methinks Theresa is going to end up on my list for inciting him in his troublemaking ways...

Second, I hadn't been on a bike out on a road since Damon (who just turned 7, so let's do some math) was small enough to fit into the baby seat on the back of said Schwinn. Even then, it was usually during Dada's lunch break so it was fast rides down the street, crossing the street to lap the apartment complex a time or two and then re-cross the street back to our subdivision. It's been awhile since I was ten and zooming around Institute Hill on my old 10 speed named "Speedy". And even then, Lisa and I were much more inclined to walk everywhere than take our bikes. It made getting home before blue dark a little more challenging if we cut it too close, but there you are.

Third, even though Bike to the Bay is a fundraiser and not a race there will be people there who know what they're doing and are competitive and who will not be afraid to run me down. My aunt Sue once made me a T-shirt with a tire track running across it and the caption read, "drive-by shirting", which I thought was a hoot. Now I'm envisioning bike tracks up the back of me.

Fourth, hello, a Schwinn!? We took it to the bike shop to see other options and I'm not kidding when I tell you the other bikes laughed at my poor bike when I strolled it in. So, I've done some test-riding of other brands and styles and holy cow, I am impressed, I have to say, by the thought and attention to detail going into bike making these days. I'd never considered the fact that women might have a lot of length in their legs but have shorter arm reaches which affects how well you can reach the brakes which are on your handlebars! That's a terrifying thought. And I don't even get on my bike right or brake right or stop right, according to the professionals at the bike shop. Good grief. So everything I've been doing since I learned to ride is essentially wrong. 

And I'm supposed to do fifty miles!?

"Uh, well, then, it would also be fifty miles back to the car the next day. You know, once we're done and have had a nice dinner and camped out."

And here is the part where I point out that while I am not competitive, I am also not confident in my math skills. However, I do know that fifty plus fifty is one hundred and I most certainly will not be able to to one hundred miles in two days. One hundred miles. These people are crazy.

Where was I? Fifth, practice. Okay, so we'll be riding on actual roads (all this intel keeps leaking in slowly but surely) and not on, say, a bike path like a rails-to-trails deal. Great. So I'll have traffic to deal with (and that'll be point six.) We get on the bike trail and the first time on a bike that we do any distance we do about 10 miles. The next time is 17 miles. Improving, sure, but 17 is not 50. Not even half of 50, actually. The third time we take to the streets and pull off 27 miles, the last fourth of which I spend sobbing and snotting and I can't even let go of my handlebars long enough to effectively wipe my nose because I'm on a friend's bike and it feels like it's got a mind of its own and I'd rather have several hundred pounds of horse under me than this flimsy contraption that is just waiting to send me over the handlebars if I hit a

"What in the heck is that? In the middle of the road?"

"It looks like an armadillo..."

That was the same exact thought we both had as we swerve around a huge turtle? Tortoise? Something shelled and slow-moving in the center of our lane. We both would have put money on an armadillo. Oh wait, we are in Ohio...

We all lived to tell the tale, though we didn't see our friend on the trip back home. We saw a snake in the middle of the road, a huge water bird taking off, hawks harrying each other for the fun of flight in the morning air, got half-heartedly chased by a dog inside an invisible fence, and a handful of other cyclists. I'm convinced they smile at each other because they're thrilled to see other crazy people besides themselves. "Oh look, there are other folks who pay a mint for a bike, a helmet, gloves, shoes, biking shorts (which is a Thing in and of itself, let me tell you). I'm not alone in my nuthood! Yaaaaay!"

I'm also fairly certain my bum fell off somewhere around Bishop Road...

Oh yes, sixth. I don't know what y'all say when you see bikers on the road, but I know the thoughts that go my head run something along these lines: I hate seeing bikers on the road! I know how scary it is to hit a pothole wrong or a stick or a stone and I know how wobbly I am- cyclists make me nervous as a driver. I give them as much room as I possibly can while thinking black thoughts about, "we have bike trails, you know, so cars can drive on the roads" and "why doesn't Ohio have bike lanes like Oregon does?" and "of course there would be bikers right here on the S-curve, the very worst part to encounter bikers on this entire road!" Anyway. I'm not very charitable. Sorry cyclists. It is what it is.  Y'all make me nervous and now I'm on the receiving end of cars zooming past, some of whom are very good about getting over as far as they can (thinking black thoughts about how nervous we make them, no doubt) and some not so much. "I'm going to be dead in a ditch," I tell Dada, "and you'll have to figure out how to get the kids to karate all the time."

This is a photo of our family doghouse. It belonged to my grandparents and had them, my dad, my aunt Chris, and my uncle Jeff written on the dogs. We tease Pap about decisions which would have landed him in the doghouse if we had had a dog representing him, like the time we sent him with the kids to a school festival and he came home with live goldfish the kids had won. I was not please about being responsible for keeping more living things that way. In fact, he's been metaphorically in the doghouse more than once. I'm recalling the time he crafted wooden weapons for the grandkids while they stayed with him at the farm until the neighbor kids started asking for their own sets as well. I've teased him about adding an attic to the doghouse because he's so often in there.

As you can see, though, Dada has moved in and might be there for the rest of his life, or mine. 

I think I mentioned that this is a fundraiser for MS, so it's a good cause and not a race and between those two things and a handful of others is why I haven't flat-out refused to do this thing. But here's where you can help. First, please pray that I'm not run over or that I don't get my shoelace stuck in my bicycle chain or that I don't run over a skunk or anything else that might impair my um... I can't even really say ability, because we've already established all of the lack of that, haha, so... chances of finishing, let's just say that. 

Second, please donate to the cause. You can click here for my donation page or here for Dada's donation page. Dada's work will match whatever we raise! I'd like to think we are making a difference and you can really help in that department. Thank you so much! 

Once I recover the ability to move and function again I promise to blog all about the actual experience. You can then send money for flowers for Dada's funeral, because I most likely will have killed him several times over during the event or the practice rides leading up to it. 

So to loop back to the beginning, no, I don't find that I have more energy from the exercising we are doing. If anything, I fall into bed at night, don't move, dreaming of marshmallows while the boys follow me around even in my dreams, and they're complaining, even in my dreams until the alarm for 5:30 wakes us up and we get to do it again. I feel like I'm student teaching for the second time! Help!