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

Posts tagged ‘Colorado’

Black Hills, Bad Pictures and Self Denial

We had a good idea for a vacation this summer.  We thought that after the boys wrestled at Nationals in Fargo, ND, we could finally see Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills.  We’ve talked about taking that trip for years.  Maybe I’ve wanted to see the Black Hills a little too badly.  One time we had to take a detour through a corner of South Dakota, on our way back from Colorado.  On this detour, we passed by a blackish looking hill. I pronounced, “Hey kids.  Those are the Black Hills.”

Usually my family trusts my pronouncements.  My family seemed a little iffy on this one. Eddie asked, “Really?  That’s it?”

I’m like, “We’re in South Dakota. It’s a hill. It’s black.  Those are the Black Hills.  I don’t know what else you want from me, kid.  Now, tell your teachers and your friends that your parents took you to the Black Hills this summer.”

I don’t know why some people have to knit pick the heck out of everything you say.  Can’t they just trust me?

I didn’t realize when we were making all those Black Hills plans this year that Olivia’s missions trip was at the same time as the wrestling tournament. DANG!!!  We just couldn’t see enjoying major sight seeing short a family member.

I hate calendars.  Calendar makers are pessimists.  They like ruining all our fun.The actual plan ended up being Scott and I going to Fargo on our own.  The boys traveled with the team.

Scott and I spent four nights at a hotel, going back and forth to the Fargodome to watch the boys and their Wisconsin teammates.  I really was sad about the family  vacation being messed up, but I’m not gonna lie. Scott and I had some laughs.

I think I told you a while back that Scott and I were a little nervous about how we will survive when our kids don’t need us like they do now.  It’s scary to not be needed.  After our Fargo trip, we feel a little more confident we’ll survive.  We forgot our kids happened because Scott and I like each other.

I think Scott and I had only one difference of opinion on our little vacation.  That problem happened when we were deciding where to eat.  Decision making can cause people like us some problems.   Sometimes you just really need one person in a relationship who can handle the pressure of making a wrong choice…about tacos vs. hamburgers.  Personally, I don’t need the stress.

I wish I would have written down all the times and reasons I was laughing my head off in Fargo.  I can’t remember why now. Just so many, unimportant funny things can happen on any given day.

I do remember one thing that made me laugh until I felt like I had used up all my laughing for life.  Scott has always said he has camera anxiety. I didn’t know that was real.

Personally, I think Scott is a cute guy.  But, I have to agree with him.  I haven’t seen many pictures that accurately represent the way I think he looks in real life.  Scott says it’s because he gets nervous.  As soon as someone brings out a camera, he starts debating in his head what he should do with his smile, posture, eyes.  It’s a lot like deciding about tacos vs. hamburgers.  There’s so much at stake.

Scott and I had some time to kill between the boys’ matches in the Fargodome.  I felt like I could really help Scott figure out how to take carefree, happy pictures.  We did some selfies.  And, I don’t know.  I just don’t know.  It’s not that Scott looks so bad.  It’s just that he looks unrecognizable as a human.  I’m not actually sure how Scott could really look worse, unless he wore a hideous mask. Wait. Nope.  Still not worse.

The harder he tries, the worse it gets.

1,2,3, cheese…

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Oops. Your eyes were closed.

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Dang it.  You closed them again.

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Wait.  Are you trying to do that?  You have to keep your eyes open.

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Wow!  I can see you went to a lot of effort. Don’t do it again.

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Okay, maybe one of your eyes looks okay in this?

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We should stop.  I’m starting to doubt our relationship.

I thought all it took was persistence. Sometimes I’m wrong.

Another thing we enjoyed doing in Fargo was watching freak athletes from 46 different states wrestle their hearts out.  The wrestlers attend a camp a week prior to this week long tournament to train with their teammates from around their state.  Every day, the kids work out at an intense pace for the better part of their waking hours.  The wrestlers are generally trying to get down to their peak fighting weight too.  There is a lot of expenditure; very few deposits.

On top of the body fuel issues, you’ve got kids away from home, sleeping in hotels and hanging out with their buddies.   It’s easy not to sleep well. We decided that just learning to manage your energy for this thing could be a guy’s secret weapon.

At the end of the week Zeke’s eye was swollen shut, and Eddie was on crutches. He injured his hip.  I might be tempted to doubt whether all the boys’ effort is worth the price.  That would be a selfish thought.

I was trying to give Zeke some sympathy about how little he was eating.  He reminded me that most of us eat WAY more than we really need to on any give day.  It’s quite possible to survive on less, he told me.  Then, I told him he must not understand that I have very little tolerance for hunger.  I bet he never thought of that.  Mr. Sillypants.

I haven’t always been the best at embracing difficulties: physical (especially physical), mental, emotional.  I’m more in favor of things that happen without effort, and require little sacrifice.   I can see what is happening with all these wrestlers though.    I can see these kids are learning how to endure temporary discomfort to achieve long term goals.

Immediate gratification is a part of our wonderful, modern and convenient culture.  It isn’t wrong.  I love the drive up window.   It’s just that I have this suspicion that having what we want, whenever we want it, gets us a little out of practice with self denial.  Sometimes self denial is necessary, often helpful when building something meaningful.

I was also thinking that if a kid learns young that hard work, a bit of self denial and a dash of temporary discomfort can help them achieve something quite worthwhile over time, that kid might be well prepared for handling life.  Life isn’t always like the drive up window.

Anyway, it’s too soon to say for sure if I’m right about all this.  But, it helps a mom to believe.

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Don’t Treat Your Daughter Like a Princess

I was watching one of those culturally profound reality shows the other day.  You know, the ones that enrich our understanding of today’s culture, and give us a more relevant perspective of the socioeconomic implications in today’s modern lifestyle.  Yeah.  That’s the only reason I watch those shows.  It’s more like research.  Because, I’m more like a scientist. And, more like a liar.

Anyway, there was one man on this show who was some kind of surgeon.  His wife was throwing a giant birthday bash for their little daughter.  I would guess the daughter was 7 or 8 years old.  All the little girls were dressed up as princesses.  So were their moms.  It’s true.  That happened.

If I had a nickel for every time my friends and I dressed up as princesses – just an excellent way to spend an evening.   One of the moms on the reality show even came to the party in a horse and carriage.   Definitely doing that at the next girls’ night out.  Too bad the moms were all screaming at each other by the end of the night.  I never saw that coming.

The Surgeon/Dad asked for the girls’ attention.  He wanted to make an important speech.  He said something to his young female audience about how his family wanted these girls to dress up like princesses on this special day so that the girls could remember that they deserved to be treated like princesses.  He told them they should ALWAYS remember that they DESERVED to be treated like princesses.  He said no matter how old they got,  they should expect to be treated Like. A. Princess.

Do you like that message?  I can see where a person might.  I didn’t.  I thought this Dad/Surgeon, and all the adults in that show could use some parenting help.  This Dad’s message made me think that adults like him are doing young girls wrong.

Have you hung out lately with any kids who feel entitled?  Yeah.  They’re not very fun.  Well, I guess they can be  fun, as long as they’re getting what they want, and everything is going their way.

Parenting 101:  How to make a bad person:   Tell them they deserve to be treated like royalty.

princess

I was talking to my sons about this show on our long drive to Colorado.  I could tell they didn’t totally understand why it bugged me so much.  So, I switched it up.  I said, “What if I told you boys that no matter what, you should be treated like a King.  You deserved to be treated like a King. You should find a spouse who will TREAT you like a King.”

Then they understood.  They laughed pretty hard.  The thought of what I had just described made them uncomfortable. I hope that if my boys marry some day, that they would expect their spouse to treat them a little less like a King; a little more like a friend.   I was relieved my sons could see the absurdity.

Why would I tell my children that they are superior to others?  Why would I tell them to dwell on their superiority?  Why would I tell them to find someone who will recognize their superiority, and treat them accordingly? Why would I set them up for failure like that?

My advice to my kids is to stop thinking about how people treat you.  Don’t focus on that.  Focus more on how you’re treating other people.  Treat others kindly, and with respect. You’ll see that people will usually return the favor.

Don’t even get me started on this word “deserve”.   I really hope my kids would say that the word “deserve” is rarely spoken in our home.  I feel like they would say that. I don’t like that word.  I can’t picture that word coming out of Scott’s mouth either, unless it was part of a joke.  Not even Royalty deserves to be treated like Royalty.

People who walk around thinking about what they “deserve” are people who spend less time being happy.  What do we really deserve anyway?   Do babies “deserve” to be born into poverty, and countries that are ravaged by war?  They don’t, but there they are.  We didn’t do anything to deserve our place and time in history either.  But, here we are.  Let’s always be grateful.  A grateful kid is a happy kid.

Did you hear that the famous singer Sting announced he won’t be passing his fortune on to his six kids?  You know why?  Because he loves his kids.  Sting wants his kids to find their own passion. He wants them to have to work hard to achieve their goals.  He wants all that, because he wants his children to have good and meaningful lives.  I bet he never once told his children that they are like royalty, and they deserved to be treated as such.  He’s too smart to say that.

So that’s my rant on that subject.  Sorry if I got a little carried away.  I’ll stop now.

Do you like Public Radio?  I do.  I was an intern for a Public Radio station in Iowa when I was in college.  I’ve been a fan ever since.  I have always had this inner nerd thing happening in my life. I like my inner nerd. She makes me think.  It’s my inner nerd that truly loves Public Radio.  But, sometimes those Public Radio announcers are too nerdy even for me.

This morning the announcer was covering a book list.  I like their book lists. I try to write down as many of the titles as I can.  This morning’s discussion was between the announcer and the person who conducted the book review.

The announcer was asking the reviewer about the book.  The reviewer said, “This book is so good.  It is based on realism (big pause.  Wait for the punch line.  Wait for it. Wait… for…it).  Elastic realism.”

Then the announcer laughs so hard, he can hardly get control of himself.  The reviewer giggles too.  You get it, right?  Elastic realism?  That’s so flippin’ hilarious, my stomach still hurts from laughing.

No.  That is not funny.  That’s so unfunny. I think those people should be punished for laughing so hard at something so unfunny.    And that’s why sometimes  public radio is too nerdy even for me.

 

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Epic Adventure with my Teenage Sons

When I was in college I roomed with my sister and my lifelong best friend.  They were responsible students.  They did their homework.  They studied for exams.  I just pretended to do those things.

At that age, and all the ages before that age, I mostly just wanted to have fun. Remember that song, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun?”  Yeah.  I wrote that.  Or, I could have, if someone else wouldn’t have thought of it first.

I always had good intentions.  I always meant to do my homework and study, but then someone would ask me to order pizza with them, or come to their dorm room and make prank calls. Classic 90’s entertainment. (Really.  IS your refrigerator running? I’d check it, if I were you).  Sure, I had a ton of homework that needed to be done, but how could I say no?  That seemed kind of rude.

You might be able to get away with not studying in high school, but in college it catches up with you.   It only took a few horrible grades before I started figuring out that being irresponsible was not bringing about desirable results.   I experienced my first steps towards being an adult during that phase of my life.

Now I’m a full fledged, card-carrying member of the adult race.  Like all the rest of the adults I know, almost every minute of my day is devoted to fulfilling my obligations.  I am not complaining.  I love this life.

But guess what?  Little, irresponsible, good-time-gal is still buried somewhere beneath my adult exterior.  She’s still ready to have fun whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Scott was scheduled to chaperon his Spanish students on a trip to  Costa Rica the week school got out.  Olivia was going to be at Church Camp the same week.  That meant Zeke, Eddie and I would be home alone.

My oldest sister, and her son were visiting one of my other sisters and her family  in Colorado Springs this same week.  That was fun just waiting to happen.  We made a pretty last minute decision to  hop in the car and drive to Colorado to join the party.  We left at 2:30 in the morning, and drove 16 hours each way.

I could tell some people who loved us were a little worried about this plan (those are a LOT of miles to cover with just one experienced driver).  I would guess that the car ride alone would have been worth the effort though.

My boys are 17 and 14.  They are rough and tumble boys, and they have everything in common with their rough and tumble Dad.  My boys and Scott have shared many road trips together going to various sporting events, and on missions trips.  I can tell when Scott and the boys return  that the time they spent together was the best stuff life has to offer.  I was hoping for the same.

Trapping your teenage sons in a small car with you for 16 hours is key to getting a conversation started.  This strategy did not disappoint.  I talked and listened to these young men for hours.  They had such interesting things to say.  They’re funny.

I learned more about their plans for the future.  We talked politics, faith and even about relationships with the opposite sex.  Not for very long about that.  That was their least favorite thing to talk about.

We missed Olivia and Scott  a lot.  I’m not going to lie.  We also enjoyed a road trip with a lead driver who keeps a little looser hold of the reins.  That’s right.  I’ve got Scott totally beat in the let’s just go with the flow department.  After we had been driving for several hours, one of the boys told me he had to go to the bathroom.  I said, “The tank isn’t empty though.  We have to stop when it’s empty, so we can fill it up.”

One of my sons responded, “Why can’t you just stop now, and fill it up even though it isn’t all the way empty?”

I thought about that for a while.  I said, “Because Dad?”

That’s when we decided to defy tyranny.   For the rest of the trip, when someone had to go to the bathroom, we stopped immediately.  I filled the gas tank up when it was  half empty and three-quarters empty.  First trip ever that no one had to cry in agony from extreme bladder holding.   Scott will shudder to hear of this complete mismanagement.  I liked being in charge.

We had ourselves some fun.  The boys were looking forward to spending time with their cousins.  If I gave my kids the choice between Disneyland, a major league baseball game, or being with their cousins, cousins would win every time.  Our kids have always loved their cousins.  When they lost one, they started loving them even more.

cousins

One of the boys’ cousins just graduated from college.  He’s joining the ranks of responsible adults.  Poor kid.  My boys and their  two cousins enjoyed three full days of non stop boy fun.  It was the perfect send off for their older cousin.  Hearing these four boys giggling and teasing each other made their moms happy. Did you know boys can giggle?  It’s a good sound.  All the driving was worth it.

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Garden of the Gods

 

I was feeling good about being with my sisters too.  These are women who are easy to enjoy.  Don’t get me wrong.  We fight.  One time in Colorado I said something one of my sisters didn’t like.  She said she was going to give me the silent treatment.  That was the longest 60 seconds of my life.  She said that she hoped I learned my lesson.  I definitely did.

 

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We spent a lot of time outside, and we saw a lot of pretty things.  I tried to take as many pictures as I could.  Boys aren’t very cooperative with that.  After the first day, they told me they wanted to be done posing for family portraits.  Fine.  They’re not very good at it anyway.  I am.

 

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My big girl job is promoting Wisconsin.  It’s easy, because I love Wisconsin.  Colorado also has my heart.  Pretty scenery and the outdoors make me happy.  The low humidity, bugless air, and commonly blue skies are so cooperative.  There wasn’t much reason to stay inside.

One day, one of my sisters and I were reading under a tree while the cousins played frisbee golf.   My sister left to use the bathroom, and  a man about my age approached.  He was dressed very  Coloradoee (real word).  Coloradians don’t try too hard.  That’s another reason I love it there.

He noticed my Wisconsin License plates.  He said, “Are you from Wisconsin?”

I said, “Yes.”

He took a drag of his cigarette.  As he moved closer, I noticed that he must have been wearing marijuana flavored cologne.

He told me that he moved from Wisconsin to Colorado 16 years ago.  He said he plays all year round: white water rafting, fly fishing, frisbee golf, skiiing.

I said, “That sounds so awesome!”

He told me that he works a little here and there, doing odd jobs to fund all of his play.  Mostly he just plays.   I believed him.  He definitely looked like my teenage nephew from Colorado.  Only this guy was trapped inside a 40 something year old body.

He said he found Wisconsin to be distasteful.  He said, “I left, and never looked back.  When I have gone back I see my friends from high school, and it’s like, dude, you’ve never even done anything with your life.”

I said, “For sure.  They probably just got married, had kids and are working hard to raise them.  Seems like a total waste. Some people just don’t get it.”

He said, “For sure, Dude.”

Then he invited our whole family to get a free frisbee golf lessons from him.

I loved this time with some of my family.   It’s true.  I am one of those poor suckers from Wisconsin who never did anything with their life.  But, I am getting better at recognizing an opportunity for fun when I see it.  I’m learning not to hesitate. You can only grab an opportunity while it’s there.  I’m glad I’m learning that.

 

miki and boys

 

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