Just Be

Post inspired by Storyshucker

Swaying in the cooling afternoon air, I mused once again how much I loved that the sky never appears the same way twice. “Oh mama, I just love you,” she said, extra lovey since I let her stay home from school. Sometimes we all need a mental health recharge day I reasoned when she had asked. “One time – this is not a habit,” I emphasized.

We sat swinging in silence for just a bit on the hammocks I had just moments before wrestled out of their sheaths, brushing off the sawdust from their garage hideaway.

“Oh! Look!” Pointing at a group of streaked clouds, “It’s a duck with little ducklings following her,” she asserted.

“Oh I see that,” I replied, looking where she was pointing. “It also kind of looks like the mama duck is a genie bottle and the little cloud above her is the genie coming right out.”

“Huh?!”

“See? Right at the top of the mama duck’s head…”

“Ohhhhhh, I do see that now,” she replied, eyes gazing across to a new group of clouds. “I just love these hammocks – and being with you.”

I love these quiet not-doing-anything moments. Just being. I pointed out a humming bird floating just above us over the neighbor’s tree. “Look!” I whispered so as not to scare it away like our barking dogs enjoyed doing.

“YES! I saw a hummingbird just like that before you came out!”

Before I came out I was happily vacuuming, checking off a to do list of randoms that always need tending. Laundry, dishes and general afternoon pick up that included getting ready for a furry family member’s return from the vet. I can always find something to do. It’s an ingrained trait that extends before my years as a waitress when I’d first heard a similar phrase. Shedding the impulse to “earn” some free time, I mentally filed the list away and decided to join my daughter reading peacefully in the sun that had hid itself over the past few rainy days. Looking at her, it was simply too enticing to stay inside doing things that could wait.

We chatted some more and enjoyed comparing cloud shapes and images that popped out to us, giggling every so often at the imagery she projected. I reflected on the idea that kids will far more often do as we do, not as we say. If I want them to appreciate nature, or slow down, or read, they need to see me doing so as well. It’s more than okay to be bored. It’s necessary for creativity, for inner thought, for time to just be.




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Subtlety: Eagles and Seagulls

Where we live we see plenty of seagulls, as well as a few eagles. The eagles are few while the seagulls flock together and dot the shore in swarms.

The eagles are amazing, it’s true. With wings outspread, they seem to soar with ease. I’ve been watching a couple around our area and they are teaching their little eaglets to fly. I’ve seen them on runs and watched their grace as they circle high overhead scanning the fields for food.

Then there are the seagulls who, with all their look-alike pals, must compete with each other just to grab a bite. They dare to approach humans for a stray snack. They’ll even peck open anything that remotely looks like food. They are brave. They are daring. They do what they have to do. A seagull’s value is hard-won. They scour the coast for a meal. They earn it. They are scrappy scavengers who fly just as beautifully as any other bird.

It’s easy to admire eagles. They shine. They are majestic. A seagull’s beauty may not be apparent at first, but it’s there.

Sometimes you just have to look a little deeper.

I love seagulls.

More Than Miles

Sometimes miles drag. It’s impossible to push yourself out of the bed in the morning. Then there are those kind of runs. The ones that are etched in your memory as a really great run. We’ll take 14 “meh” runs just to have that one.

This morning was a great one.

I had my clothes set out the night before, making it less likely to talk myself into another “just 10 more minute” love affair with my snooze button. Grabbed some water, some breakfast and out the door I went.

The early morning, before the rest of the world is vertical, is my absolute favorite time of day. I love the feeling of being the only person out and about. It’s open space, quiet calm, and time that is mine alone.

It was a misty, almost foggy morning. This is the kind of heavy mist that makes it smell fresh and clean. If green had a scent, it would smell like the Pacific Northwest after a long-awaited rain. Hearing the damp gravel crunch and grind under the rhythm of my feet, I noticed bunnies poking their heads out, look at me, then dart quickly back under cover. Birds were busily chattering their morning routine. Nearing the end of the trail where I regularly run, I looked up to a piling about 10 yards away and saw an eagle perched right on top eye-balling me. I stopped and just smiled and admired how majestic (and freaking HUGE!) he was. Some runs are about more than just miles.

After a few moments Mr. Eagle grew bored with me and our staring contest and spread out his impressive wings and flew off. As I made the run back up the hill, I decided on impulse to head in a different direction and popped through a little trail.

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With purple being my favorite color, I was stunned and delighted to discover this field that is normally covered in yellow Native American paintbrush plants was dotted with lavender:

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The picture doesn’t do it justice. It was stunning to see what I expected to be yellow, covered in purple.

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The little bunny was watching me!

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So pretty and purple!

This was just one of those runs that felt tailor-made for me. It was as if the my little corner of the world held up it’s cup of coffee and said “cheers!” We are down to less than 2 weeks from moving and I know this was one of my last runs in this beautiful place. Today wasn’t about miles, which are great. It wasn’t about pace, which is fine. It was just feeling the gravel under my feet, hearing the birds getting their day started, and me finding a way to bid farewell to another chapter in this crazy military journey.

And….The Honeymoon Is Over

Well, not really. It’s just back to work and regular life. We’ve had the best time over the last few days just spending time as a family and reconnecting and getting out and about!

The 4th of July was great – celebrated by going to a parade (complete with puking Jacob as he gagged on a candy he didn’t like), a carnival, and of course fireworks.

Photo: Love!

Can’t stop staring at Daddy!

Photo: Can't get enough rides!!

Big Fun!

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Just being silly!

Photo: Ready for the parade!

We went to our local track (which is by the playground – genius!) so I could run while the minions worked on riding bikes without training wheels with Dad. Jacob rode his bike as if he’d always been riding! He picked it up quick! Hannah will probably need to grow just a bit more to handle balancing, but she’s anxious to learn so I have a feeling it won’t be too long!

We also ventured up to Lake Padden to run/play with the kids. The trail at the lake is beyond beautiful. Perfect sunny day for a trail run. The kids got to play and swim, I ran and then we all headed to a college baseball game, not that much baseball was watched. There was a bouncy house (which the kids headed straight for, of course) and face painting.

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My scary minions! This was Hannah’s idea. Other girls were getting all sorts of animals, fairy wings or butterflies. Not Hannah. She went skeleton all the way. Jacob originally wanted to be painted like a dog, but quickly abandoned that for the skeleton look as well. I find it fascinating to contemplate how these two little ones will be as they grow older.

And today we took the kids on their first ferry boat ride:

Photo: Fascinated by the water. As usual.

These kids are nothing if not fascinated by water!

It’s been loads of fun having Daddy home and celebrating. While I like to think the “honeymoon” is never really over – it’s definitely time to get back to a routine!

I’m exhausted!

A Little Fall…A Little Gratitude….

After a couple of days of grey, wet, and typical Pacific Northwest weather, I am trying to not be such a Wendy Whiner and instead embrace the things I am grateful for.
Not having had actual seasons for a few years, it’s actually kind of fun to teach my kids and have them notice all the beautiful colors that are EVERYWHERE right now! Even in our own front yard!

 

 

Jake would barely let me rake this mini pile before diving in to kick them all around! He had such fun!

 

Hannah on the other hand was content to play in the “river” as both her and Jake refer to it….it’s the side of the curb. It was a “rushing river” that they felt compelled to toss leaves into and watch them float away.

 

 

These are a couple of the trees that have changed colors in the past couple of weeks.

 

And in one of our “inside recess” kind of days, we made beaded necklaces! Jake was loving them. Cracked me up! They love to wear the pjs EVERYWHERE. I can barely get Jacob out of them!

 

Does this girl know how to rock her accessories, or what?!
I am thankful for this fun little girl and boy and all their silliness, playfulness and boundless energy! They definitely keep me on my toes and keep me moving!
I am so very grateful for Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte. Oh how I heart thee! If you have never tried one…seriously – it’s like drinking pumpkin pie. If it wasn’t 11pm right now I would be going to get one for myself!
I have been moved from the responses from my last couple of posts. I am in awe of some of the responses and humbled by the kind thoughts expressed. We are all connected and I am feeling the love!
I am grateful for the ability to run. While I don’t get to do it as often or whenever I would like, I do have my health and the physical ability to do it. I signed up for 5 races (2 5ks and 2 1/2 marathons) between November and April of next year. I am so excited and have to remember to keep goals to shoot for. It keeps me motivated. I am grateful for motivation.
I am so thankful that a friend turned me on to the show “Downton Abbey”. Its a PBS drama (I’ve been watching on DVDs from the library) It is such a fun ‘brain-candy’ escape!! Love it and can’t wait for season 3 to start!
The kiddos need some pretty extensive dental work done probably by the end of the year. Because of Jake’s inability to be a rational person where doctors and dentists are concerned, and Hannah’s age, they both will be put under anesthesia for the processes. While I am sad that they have to go through the ordeal, and frustrated that it costs so stinkin’ much, I am so VERY grateful that we have the ability to pay for it.
I am thankful for my nieces. We had such fun making homemade milkshakes and watching movies. I love that the cousins can be close and see each other often!
I have much to be thankful for. For that I am grateful.

God, Trails, and a Surprise

With two sick kiddos we’ve been a bit stir crazy staring at the same four walls all morning. We also were all awake around 4:30am…so lunch and nap time came around 10. What to do, what to do with the rest of the day?

We decided to head out to Washington Park again, but this time the kids were riding in the Bob and I was going to run the 3 mile loop road that runs around the camp sites. I haven’t yet run the entire thing since moving back. I remember it taking about 45 minutes to an hour to walk it when we lived here before so I was curious to see how fast I could do it now that I would be running (most of) it.

Let me just say that pushing 70lbs of kidlets in the stroller up those hills was no joke. At the steepest inclines I was essentially bent at the waist with my arms straight out by my ears pushing the stroller in a pseudo “superman” pose! I’m sure it looked ridiculous, but it worked! I got the loop done in 30:13 with a pace of 12:43. I always thought and the markers along the way indicate a 3 mile trek, but my GPS had it down as 2.31 or something. Hmm…..

Essentially I was doing intervals – sprinting as fast as I could and walking up the inclines. Here’s what one of them looked like over the top of Bob:

This really doesn’t do it justice – but take it from me – its a serious climb!
And some of the amazing views looking over the San Juan Islands
Running and wringing myself out after a stir-crazy morning, I felt great! After putting the stroller back in the car, we made our way down to the beach and playground area. Since it was the weekend, there were families grilling and picnics at every available table.  Acutely aware of Eric’s absence, I felt the familiar stab of “lonely in a crowd”. Happy voices all around, smiles, laughter and the wonderful smells of grilling foods were all around us. The kids played a bit, then we decided to check out some of the little trails that run along the loop road. Jake likes to pretend we are pirates!
Jacob leads the way!!! “Yo, ho, ho! Matey!”
BIG TWEEEE!!
Yep – it’s a big one! (And sadly this little phone camera doesn’t do any of this scenery justice! Gonna have to get out here with my REAL camera!)

After a while we came out into a clearing that overlooks the water. (One of many.) It’s been a cool day out, so the air is nice and crisp. I am currently reading Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. It’s about her journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail that runs from Mexico into Canada. She went on this trek as a sort of therapy after the loss of her mother. Since reading it, I’m finding myself drawn to trails lately as she describes the scenery on her journey. Much of her story is about the physical trials of being on the trail, but the deeper layer is about the spiritual nature and growth of her as a person.

Do you ever have the feeling that God is talking to you? Not audibly of course, but sometimes you just, well, you just know. Some call it our intuition, our conscience, our inner voice. It is alluded to in Cheryl’s book, and like most people, I’ve had experiences that I feel could come from no other place except a higher power. It’s those moments where you feel assured that you aren’t alone, and that God, the universe, does in fact see you. And cares.

In her book Captivating, Staci Eldridge describes a wonderful example of what I am trying to (albeit not as articulately) explain. I’ll briefly recap the story from what I remember of it:
She tells of her husband going through a trial of some kind. He loves the ocean and starfish in particular. After praying about the situation and walking a while on the beach, he comes over a crest and laid out before him are literally THOUSANDS of starfish. EVERY. WHERE. She describes this scene and while going through a trial of her own, prays for a similar experience – to see thousands of starfish like her husband did. She did not see any. Defeated, she walks back to her house but on her way is greeted by breaching whales. She describes that feeling you get when you know its just for you. Someone out there sees you and cares. (Even if it is seemingly a “first world problem”.)

In a sermon I heard years ago, our pastor likened our parenting relationship to that of our relationship to God. As a parent, most of us just want our children to be fulfilled and happy, well adjusted adults. Most parents don’t necessarily think, “Little Johnny can ONLY be happy if he is a mechanic.” (Or a doctor, lawyer, banker, etc.) My point is that it isn’t the specific occupation that a parent hopes for, but rather that the child be fulfilled by whatever profession they choose. And like God, parents “delight” in our children. We marvel awestruck as we watch the world unfold before them, seeing it through their eyes. How much more does God love us? Delight in us? Want to make us laugh? See us joyful? My guess is more than we can ever imagine.

While this may seem a little “twilight zone-y” for some or “whoo-hooey fluff” or “Oprah-y and new-age-y”, (Yes, those are all words!) I had such an experience today walking with my kids in the trails. The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster ride with the tragic loss of 3 of Eric’s family members and the deployment in general. Feeling a tad melancholy while amongst the families grilling, enjoying the last tidbits of summer we have left, I was comforted by the woods, the wildlife and the beauty all around me.

Most people that know me are familiar (if not tired of hearing about) my fitness journey. And of course it’s so much more than just physical fitness. I have a fondness for butterflies, and specifically the change they represent. (Even have a tattoo of one!) I feel like I have gone through, and continue to go through, a metamorphosis of sorts.

So coming into a clearing – I see this:

And it’s not just fluttering by. It’s literally hanging out with me and my kids while we all just kind of stand there in awe. If you know my kids – under normal circumstances their raucousness and sheer volume will scare away creatures of all kinds.
Not today.
Then – it landed on me.
And stayed…..
And flitted around and stayed some more….
I’m laughing because I have never seen a butterfly sit and hover in front of a person, land, hover some more and then land again. Long enough for me to fiddle with the phone to take these pictures!
Despite all the “stuff” going on, I am continually amazed that I am seen. Cared for.
Delighted in.

Wild Hairs and Crazy Ideas

Waking up this morning at o’dark thirty to a screaming, fit throwing, apparently possessed Hannah, I got the wild hair to get the workout done today before anything else. As I contemplated a run, (location, should I bring Jacob’s bike, just the stroller, decisions, decisions….) I got the genius idea to go for a bike ride with the kidlets in the bike trailer.
“Yeah, that sounds good. Just got the bike back from her tune up – she’ll be good to go!”
We dressed and were out the door by 7:15. I thought riding from my house to my sister’s coffee shop couldn’t be that far. I could do it. Probably only take me a half hour or so. It’s only like 7-10 miles, at most. I biked to bootcamp on Ford Island from Honolulu and discovered it was only about 5 miles. If I could do that, surely I could do this.
Smh.
Yeah, took me an hour to get to the coffee shop. Let’s not forget I have to ride all the way back! We stopped and had coffee (milk of course for the kids) a treat and a fun little visit with Uncle Dan at the roastery before hitting the road for the LOOONNG trek home. And of course I had forgotten to set the GPS before I left, so even if I had gotten a ride back home – I wouldn’t have wanted it because I was dying to know just how far it was (and how BADLY I had misjudged the distance)! So when I got home – I discovered, to my shock, that it was about 26 miles round trip.
Yeah – that’s a marathon.
And what’s even more ridiculous, is that elite marathon runners actually RUN (on legs) the same milage in the same time it took me to BIKE it! HA!
The kids were such troopers. I still can’t believe they rode that long in the trailer (mom fail!)  Here are some pictures from the ride:
I let them out of the trailer to walk over the bridge…..amazing views! And a good break to get out and stretch their little legs!
Looks like they are in jail!
The view back home…..
The direction we were heading – to Moka Joe! This part was pretty daunting. Just like in life’s obstacles – “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” Or pedaling.
This is looking out over Swinomish channel
Me! The Crazy Idea Girl!
Driving cars along the “track”!
Beautiful morning views that I usually don’t get to appreciate much as I am usually driving over this bridge.
Funny little side note: I had texted my sister and let her know where I was headed. You know, back when I thought it wouldn’t be more than about 10 miles! If I hadn’t texted her my plan, I SO would have turned around and gone back to the house before I’d even gone 5 miles. That just goes to show the power of accountability! There was NO way I was going to quit what I set out to do, after I had “announced” it to someone else! Accountability partners are KEY!
FINALLY we make it back home. And did I mention yesterday’s leg workout day was, to quote my workout partners, “gnarly”!? Yeah, I was feeling the “weakness leaving my body”! I don’t know that I’ve ever been so happy to turn down my street and see home!
After a much needed rest and down time at home, we (I) then get the crazy idea to go to Washington Park! There’s a playgorund, the beach and a 3 mile loop road with spectacular views of the ocean, with trails that are simply stunning. I actually used to walk the loop often when we lived here before and when I was pregnant with Jake.
After riding 26 miles pulling 70 lbs, what better way to relax and recover than to walk a couple of miles herding kids on bikes and trikes while I push a double jogger in the fairly predictable chance that one or both of them is going to get tired and not want to ride/walk anymore!?
B.E.A.Utiful!
Down to the water we go!
Washington Park is one of my favorite places on the planet!
Looking for critters in the tide pools – no luck today…maybe next time! And notice the coats and long sleeves. In August. Really Washington? This is summer? Sheesh!
What a cutie!
Needless to say – they crashed early tonight. I think my wild hairs and crazy ideas wore them out! (I don’t think we’ll be leaving the house tomorrow!)