Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Posts tagged ‘Bike’

Immigration From My Perspective

Do you remember when I blogged about marijuana?  I told a story that only I could tell.  I told a story about what I have learned about marijuana from the people in my life who have used marijuana.  I didn’t pretend to know the right laws to pass, and how to proceed in the  bigger world.  I just said that what I have witnessed is the destruction of bright, talented teenage boys who have decided they love marijuana enough to marry it.  Or, at least, trade it for their future.

I said that maybe legalizing marijuana will do what some folks say.  Maybe all sorts of problems will be solved when legalizing marijuana happens.  That’s how I’ve heard the story spun.  So be it. Maybe those pro-legalization folks are right.  But, I can’t change what I have seen.

I will continue to tell my kids that even if they see marijuana Twinkies on the shelves at Wal Mart, don’t be fooled.  (And, really, you shouldn’t be eating Twinkies anyway.)  Marijuana puts exciting, adventurous, productive young lives at risk.  I’ve seen it.

My viewpoint on immigration is also colored by my own experience.  Really, do we have anything else?  I’m not impartial.

It’s interesting to me that my thoughts on immigration have also been formed by taking part in the lives, and building friendships with teenage boys.  I should thank my husband for bringing these kids into our lives.  I’ve learned a lot from them.

I’ve been trying to listen to the larger immigration debate.  I’ll tell you straight up, I don’t have a handle on it.  I don’t know all the issues, and I don’t know who is right and who is wrong.  I can’t imagine being in a position of having to sort it all out.  It’s a lot.

My personal stance on immigrants is that I love them.  Or, at least, I love the immigrants I know.  I never realized these kids I know are immigrants.  I just thought they were awesome kids.  They are just kids I like with fewer privileges than most, and  kids who work really hard.

One day , Scott asked me if I could give one of these young guys a ride home from wrestling practice.  This boy usually rode his bike to practice in the early morning, and home at night.  I assumed he lived in town.  He didn’t.  He lived eight miles away.  Morning practices start at 6:30.  Wrestling is in the winter.  In Wisconsin.

When I dropped this boy off, I could see that our modest house was luxurious in comparison with where this boy lived.  After I dropped this boy off, I  had a rare experience.  I had no words.

Later, when I was freaking out and telling Scott how amazing this kid was for riding his bike to practice, Scott said he knew.  He also told me that the gears on this guy’s bike weren’t even working properly.  The bike was stuck in a high gear, making the hills on this boy’s route even harder.

We found that boy a better bike after that,  and made sure he had rides (in a car) as often as possible.  Because really, how many Americans don’t have extra bikes in the garage? Not many.

My kids were young,  and in the car with me when I gave that boy a ride home.  On the way home,  after my words came back, I started wishing I could make that boy understand that my kids were better people for knowing him.  I was grateful to him for teaching my kids and me about how to work harder and be more appreciative.  I was hoping I could some how pay him back for that.

This boy is just one of Scott’s many friends who came from, or who had parents who came from Mexico.  We’re lucky to know these people.

Most of these guys we know through wrestling.  Many times, these boys end up having to quit the team before their senior year.  These boys apologize, and tell Scott they wish they could stay on the team, because they love it.  But, sadly,  they can’t.  These boys have jobs, and families who need whatever income these boys can provide.

Some of these boys have made it to their senior year.  Some how their families were able to sacrifice the boys’ earning potential, and allow the boys to have this American wrestling experience.  I’d like to get to know the parents of these boys better, and hopefully be friends.  But, I don’t know most of these parents, because I never see them.  These parents work 7 days a week cleaning offices and hotels, and working in factories.

We have received thank you gifts from one single mom, for helping her boys.  Jeesh.  I’m embarrassed to even write that. Can you believe it?  I want to tell that Mom this, “I know you are as fiercely devoted to your children as I am to mine.  I know that you would do anything to protect your kids and help them succeed in life.  I know that you would love to watch your kids wrestle, if you could.  But, you have to make a choice to feed and shelter your boys over watching them wrestle.   I’m sorry that I get to watch our kids while you work.  That isn’t fair.  I hate to ask anything of you, but could I ask you to PLEASE just let me be the one who is grateful?

I’m grateful to you,  because you inspire me.  I hope that if I was in your situation I would have the grit and determination to do everything within my power to give my kids a good life.  I hope I wouldn’t feel sorry for myself, but I think that maybe I would  I see what you are doing, and I love you for it.  We are the ones who owe YOU a gift.  We owe you a gift for the lessons you’ve brought into our lives.  Valuable lessons are worth more than any possessions.”

I like living in my world.  I like a world where my kids get to be friends with people who speak a different language, and who can teach them about another culture.  It would be excellent if our family had the resources and time to travel to other countries and see families living in other cultures in person.  That’s NOT our life.   Our life is here, in a small town in Wisconsin.  So, I thank God for finding another way for us.

One boy from Mexico brought this home to Scott from his last trip to Mexico.

Hello! I’m El Chavo

This is a popular cartoon character in Mexico.  His name is El Chavo.  A large plastic version of this guy sat proudly in our living room all summer.  Scott, finally took him to his classroom.  I’m not gonna lie and say I was sad to see him go.  He was a little out of place with our current decor.  But, he was fun, and we loved that our friend shared part of his world with us.

I heard an American politician on the radio this week say that he was only in favor of keeping immigrants who were highly skilled.  He thought the rest should be sent back.  I heard and a I listened to this politician.  He certainly has a right to believe what he believes, and he has the right to express himself.  He’s probably a good guy.  But, he is NOT speaking for me.  There isn’t anything about his statement that fits my experience.  Truthfully, I am repelled by his sentiments.  Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like him as person, but there it is.

I was thinking I’d better speak for myself.

I know there should be laws to organize immigration, but, if you ask me what my opinion is, I will tell you ALL are welcome.  If it were up to me, I would tell immigrants that of course you can live in the  United States, if you’d like.   We gotta be organized about it, but we’re glad you came.  And, honestly,  I didn’t realize the permission was mine to grant.  The United States isn’t really mine, you know.  I don’t own it.  This is just the country where God decided I should be born.

One of the boys  from Mexico that we know is becoming an adult now.  He’s going to a trade school full time, and working full time too.  He is working and going to school 7 days a week,  trying to make a better life for him and his little brothers.  I’m not sure if that politician I mentioned would consider this young man a “highly skilled” person,  or not.  But, this young man is my friend.  We watched him grow up, and helped him understand all the things you could do in the United States to make a better life for yourself.  He’s doing everything Scott suggested he do, and more.

I would like to embrace opportunity, and work as hard as this young friend of ours.  I don’t think he’s been given anything that he hasn’t returned with interest. I want to live in a world with guys like this, and in a world that welcomes them.  And that’s just what my life has taught me about immigration.

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Random Stuff…

Sometimes I order my brain to come up with a good idea for a blog. My brain doesn’t cooperate. Sometimes I’ll start down the path, writing about a topic that’s interesting to me; then it isn’t interesting anymore. I get sick of listening to myself.

I have a heap of abandoned blog posts. That doesn’t surprise me. I’m nice to my brain; I let it off the hook when it refuses to cooperate.

I had an idea that maybe I could record my random thoughts. We’ll see how that works:

Do you like those stickers on the back of people’s cars that tell you about the races they’ve run? You know, they’re usually white and black. They’re written in a modern font: 13.1 and 26.2. The Ironman triathletes have stickers that say 140.6. Braggers.

running sticker

I have been measuring my walks with Reggie in the morning with this awesome new app Olivia downloaded for me. Surprise! I’m not walking nearly as far as I had imagined. My walks vary between 1.5 and 1.7 miles.

I was thinking I might get a sticker on the back of my car with a stick figure walking her dog. Above the stick figure will be “1.7”. Do you think that will seem like bragging? Sure, I’m proud of myself, but I don’t need to be obnoxious about it. It’s just that when you push yourself beyond what the average person believes is humanly possible, you want to commemorate that in some way. That’s why I thought the sticker might be fun. A tattoo would be another way to go.

People will ask what the tattoo means. I’ll say, “It’s just something I look at it when times are hard, and I need strength. I know I can get through whatever challenges I have, because I walk a mile or two. Every.Day.” Then I’ll whisper it again for emphasis, “Every. Day.”

That’s gonna choke people up. Maybe I should just go with the sticker.

Scott ran an Ironman when he turned 40. That was fun. The kids and I followed him around all day. We were nervous about the swim; mainly because Scott doesn’t know how to swim. Knowing how to swim is a super big advantage. Scott spent the summer before the race learning what most people learn when they’re 10-years-old, and in level 3 swim class.

During the race, Scott’s friend was stationed near the water. The kids and I were at the point where the racers were just taking off on their bikes, after the swim. We kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting to see Scott. We couldn’t find Scott. At first I felt okay. He told me that his swim would be the weakest part of his race. After what felt like a long time, we started seeing the great grandmas in the race. They would peddle by on their bikes with baskets and a horn. I started getting nervous.

Eddie had been telling me that he thought he saw his dad on his bike when we first got to the race. I said that wasn’t possible; that was too soon. Scott said he’d be passing by later than that.

Scott’s friend called me from her spot over by the water. She asked if I had seen Scott. She told me she never saw him get out of the water. I continued to ignore Eddie. Instead, I listened to my own irrational, anxiety induced theories. Why wouldn’t I? Those theories never steer you wrong. Scott had drown. I started crying.

I called Scott’s sister to tell her Scott had drown. Scott’s sister is, seriously, like my favorite audience. We both agree that it’s always safest to assume the worst. She started crying too. She was able to check his progress from her computer. Oops. False alarm. Eddie was right. Scott had finished the swim portion much more quickly than he expected. That was actually him taking off on his bike when we first got there. Sorry kids. Dad is alive. Let us rejoice!

Scott’s sister, her family, Scott’s parents, and mine all eventually made it to the race. The atmosphere was so exciting. My brother-in-law kept us updated on Scott’s times, and how he was doing. The swim is 2.4 miles and the bike race is 112 miles. Then you get off your bike, and finish by running a marathon.

Scott was doing better than expected on the bike portion of the race too. We were cheering. Then my brother-in-law informed us that Scott was getting to the last half of the marathon. He was moving at a 12-minute-mile pace. Eddie and I looked at each other in shock. Something must be medically wrong. We both knew that Scott just couldn’t run that slow. We didn’t understand what was happening.

Scott finished the race with an impressive time. Better than he expected. Eddie and I couldn’t wait to ask him what happened out there. Did he break his leg? Did he have to carry one of those Grandmas on his back? When we saw him we said, “You were running a 12-minute-mile pace. Did something happen?”

Scott answered, “Yes. A 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride happened.”

We said, “Yeah, we hear those excuses, but you were running really slow. we mean, really slow.”

Yes. I’ve been known to pull off a 13-minute-mile myself, but we’re not talking about me. We’re talking about Scott. I don’t think Eddie and I thought it was possible for anything to slow him down.

Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I should have helped train Scott by taking him on some of my dog walks. I didn’t think of it then.

ironman

I like watching my family do cool things, whether it’s the Ironman or State Wrestling. Do you know how parents feel when their kids wrestle at State? High. Those parents may as well be on crack. The amount of adrenaline flowing through a parent’s veins at State is enough for them to be able to do all that weird stuff you read about. Moms could lift a car off a human at state, and Dads could leap from the parking garage to the Kohl center. Pupils are dilated, and it’s go time. What you can’t do with all that adrenaline is focus on silly details, like keeping your van away from cement polls. I know that for sure.

The first day of the State Tournament I drove Zeke and Olivia in the minivan. We got into the parking garage. I turned a very, very tight corner. I mean VERY tight. There has to be hundreds, maybe even thousands of vehicles that didn’t make that turn that day. We heard a bad sound as I turned the corner. Zeke yelled, “Mom, you’re too close!”

“No worries, Zeke,” I said. I stopped the van, and put it in reverse. Oops. There was that sound again. Whatever I didn’t scrape and dent moving forward, I scraped and dented in reverse. The minivan door looks like King Kong grabbed it and crumpled it like a piece of tissue paper. It’s ugly.

The craziest part of that story is that at the time, I could not even be bothered with that hideous damage I had just created. When we got out of the van, Zeke and Olivia looked at me like they expected me to be shocked or disgusted with the situation. My adrenaline was too high. It didn’t register with me that we had any kind of problem at all. Eddie was at State. Yay!!!

Scott must be better at handling adrenaline. That dent definitely registered as a problem to him. I’ve told you that he rarely drives, so I thought there might be a chance he wouldn’t ever notice, if I didn’t tell him. But, guess what? Blabby McBlabber mouth couldn’t wait to share the news.

We were in the suite at the Kohl center. Everybody was all smiles and having a good time. Then Olivia said, “Dad, you should see what Mom did to the van.” Scott can quit smiling super fast.

I looked at him and said, “Eddie made it to State. Yay!”

I took in many-a-drawn-out-lectures from that point forward. My precious husband wanted to make sure I understood how horrible the van looked. I was hoping he’d let up, but then daylight started lasting longer, and he started getting home a little sooner from work. There that ugly, damaged van would be, ready to remind Scott to run through all the tips he has for being a good driver; Just in case I had forgotten from his morning lecture. It was tiring. Then Olivia had a new friend over.

Scott was heading out the garage door with the boys to go to some wrestling event. At the same time Olivia’s new friend and her Mother were at our front door. The Mom was introducing herself to me, and we were chatting when Scott came to the front door too. He said, “Hello.”

The Mom said, “Oh, Hi. I’m so and so’s mom.”

Scott smiled and said, “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Olivia’s Dad. I just backed into your car in the driveway.”

We’re getting the van fixed, but we don’t talk about it any more.

Cheers to Simple

I like my husband’s hair, his eyes, his personality, his physique. I know, that last one is a little personal. Have you seen him though? There’s a lot going on there. That’s all I’m sayin’. Do you want to know what I like most about my husband though? Do you want to know what my husband has that makes me the envy of so many wives? I’m telling you any way. I like my husband’s carbon footprint. It. Is. Sweet.

When I met Scott he was a care free, fun-lovin’ kinda college kid. What he was NOT, was a litterbug. I’m pretty sure that even when Scott was partying, he always remembered to recycle. He comes by this naturally. His mom and dad were “Green” back when it was just Mr. Jeans’ first name, and just another color of the rainbow.

If civilization goes down in a blaze of global warming, I want to tell you that is NOT on Scott (or his parents). Here are 5 ways Scott keeps his carbon footprint lookin’ so good:

1. His Phone

The kids keep talking about how their friend so-and-so upgraded from a 3G Verizon mega data base Iphone to a 62 Gigabyte Google download Chromiumsphere (I’m pretty sure I have all the names right) device. Scott upgraded too, ten years ago. From a rotary phone to this:

scott's phone

Scott and I usually get along pretty well, unless we are driving and he asks me to text someone for him from this device. I tell him to just wait. I say it’ll be easier if I just keep my eye out for a messenger pigeon, or find a cave so that I can etch in some hieroglyphics and send his message that way.

2. His Moccasins

For many, many years Scott wore brown, leather moccasins around the house. Then they tore. He duct taped his moccasins and wore them 5 more years. Then the duct tape tore. He duct taped the moccasins again. Then he fell asleep one night, and I threw his moccasins away. Now he wears these around the house. These were given to me by my mom many years ago. Scott stole them back then, and has been wearing them every day, ever since. He’s “Green”. He’s also a thief.

crocs

3.His Snow blower

My parents gave us their snow blower when we moved in to our house ten years ago. It has never been turned on. We’ve been nice enough to store it for them all these years. I don’t know why you would use a powerful snow blower when you can shovel one scoop at a time; seems almost senseless.

scott's shovel

When the kids were little Scott had them out in the driveway helping him with sand pails. They got a little older and he bought them all their own shovels. When they start talking about all their friends’ technology upgrades, we remind them of how lucky they are with their shovel upgrades.

Scott shovels the neighbor’s driveway now too. That is minus two carbon emissions each snowy morning. You’re welcome.

4. His Wheels

If you want to impress Scott, do not tell him you own a Hummer or a Lexus. He’ll be happy for you. He just won’t know what you’re talking about. I bet you think I’m exaggerating. I can do that, but not this time. I didn’t realize it either, but there are a couple of guys in the world who just aren’t interested in cars.

Oh, look at that. I found a picture of Scott next to his rental car on a trip he took with Eddie to see a Doctor on the West Coast. When I asked him what kind of car he rented, he said, “a nice one.” In this picture, Scott is telling you everything he knows about cars, why he thinks they’re so cool, and how they work. Here’s a summary,

“Hi!”

IMG_0034

Here is a picture of Scott’s real set of wheels. He uses this wicked machine to commute to work every day.

scott's bike

I must say he got all spoiled American on me. This bike is pretty new. He purchased it from someone off of Craigslist last year. I guess he thought his 20 plus-year-old bike wasn’t good enough for him any more. Some nonsense about the seat falling off and the brakes not working. I know. The guy is full of excuses. Now he has this sweet ride. A couple of times a week we ride double around the neighborhood just to make the neighbors jealous. That isn’t right. Sometimes you’d have a hard time proving I’m a Christian.

5. His Toys

Here is a picture of all the electric tools, boats, motorcycles, snowmobiles, 4-wheelers, I phones, I pads, and head phones that Scott owns:

scott's football

You know what the most maddening thing about all this is? I can’t even get Scott to toot his own horn. We’ll be at a party and someone will be telling him about their sweet new sports car. Or, about how they’re putting an Olympic size pool in their house.

I’ll ask Scott, “Well, did you tell them how small your carbon footprint is?”

He’ll say, “No.”

I’m like, really. What’s the point?

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