And WHOOP, there it is

What could have inspired my husband to make such an outlandish, uncharacteristic “whoop whoop” gesture in the above photo?  Well, last weekend, Derrick and I enjoyed one of the most scenic, exhilirating and exciting weekend getaways of our married life. Where could we have gone, you might ask? What did we do? Well, I’ll start by telling you what this exotic vacation did not include:

  • First class airfare (or any airfare)
  • Tropical destination
  • Luxury hotel (or any hotel)
  • Luxury rental car (or any rental car)
  • Showers. As in, we did not shower. At all.
  • Running water.
  • Flushable toilets.
  • Sleeping in late. Or any sleeping. As in, we did not sleep. At all.
  • Attractive (clean) clothing.
  • Attractive (clean) hair and makeup.
  • Fresh Breath
  • Basic Personal Hygiene
  • Time alone together (which was probably a good thing, considering the above three items that were not included in this romantic getaway.)

Our exciting weekend did include the following:

  • Cramming into two borrowed, oversized vans with eleven other sweaty passengers.
  • Multiple trips to outhouses, cleverly euphemised by the race sponsors as “Honey Pots.”
  • Multiple shots of hand sanitizer instead of soap and water after Honey Pot use. These were usually followed with the handling and consumption of finger foods, like power bars, bagels or crackers. (I’m still trying not to think about it.)
  • Driving and getting lost for 24 straight hours (did I mention, with no sleep?) through enough windy roads to require additional visits to the Honey Pots
  • Running three legs of 3-7 miles each: uphill, downhill, in the dark, on the freeway as semis zoomed past, and through scary downtown Portland alone at midnight (where was the security, for the love?)
  • Talking, laughing, crying (one of our valiant runners had an unfortunate encounter with a pothole in the dead of night), yelling, cheering and praying (to finish with some sort of dignity.)
  • The curious, aforementioned “whoop-whoop” gesture, which Derrick is still at a loss to explain. (Please don’t judge.)
  • Wondering what lifestyle changes we should make when this really is one of the best weekends we’ve ever spent together. (Please don’t judge.)

Yes, it was Oregon’s very own Hood-to-Coast, also known as the “Mother of all Relays.” This race begins at beautiful Mt. Hood and ends on the equally beautiful beach of Seaside, Oregon. 1500 teams of twelve runners each take turns running for a total of 179 miles. Here’s a few highlights:

Despite minimal training and a knee injury, Derrick runs really well and brings our team across the finish line at the beach. (Classic Derrick, procrasting and then pulling it off at the last minute to hoards of cheers and applause. I’m not bitter about my own training for months ahead of time, really.)

Sporting my wickedhot neon vest just before a midnight run on the freeway. I was terrified, in this order, of a)the long uphill route, b) getting hit by a speeding semi, and c)getting attacked from a psycho in the neighboring woods. I survived all and actually had a fantastic run. (And by the way, I think my upper arm should be alot thinner and more toned for all of the freaking running I’ve been doing. But that’s another post.)

What Derrick will be wearing next year.
How can a weekend involving all the glamour listed above and Captain Underpants not be romantic? Forget Hawaii and the Bahamas…we’ve found our Happy Place.
And all kidding aside, this race was inspiring in every way. 18,000 runners cheering each other on, beautiful scenery and most of all, a truly great team to do it with. Great job Chi, Paul, Dan, James, Derrick, Jason, Jenny, Meg, Amber, Michelle and Rachel! I’ve never had so much miserable fun in my life. Let’s do it again next year!

Perfect 10

Rachael turned ten yesterday. Ten. We had her party on Monday since there was no school. The girls had a great time gliding around the local ice rink, stopping only for the briefest nod to cake and presents. I stood and watched, freezing and dwelling on the surreal nature of it all. (Sorry about the dark photo–it was taken in terrible lighting through a pane of glass.)

How could this be the tenth birthday party I’ve thrown for my little daughter? I remember her first birthday party in our tiny apartment in Lake Oswego. It really doesn’t seem like that long ago. And in another ten years, it’s possible (though not probable, I hope) that she could be married! If you know me, you know I was flirting with depression by now, thinking such thoughts, until something wonderful happened. Ethan threw a major fit.

A full-blown, MacDaddy humdinger. I scolded, I threatened, I gripped, I swatted, I yelled. And right then, the epiphany hit me harder than my son hits his sisters: Older Kids Are Easier. They’re more interesting to talk to, require less physically, and show you some results for your many years of parenting. In sum, with older children, you get more bang for your buck.

Don’t get me wrong. I am in no hurry for Ethan to age; in fact, I’ve spent many moons wishing I could slow down time and enjoy my wee ones a bit longer. But then, on days like today, I wonder: what if my wish came true, and they stayed three forever? Oh, I’m so thankful I don’t have magic powers. (Yet. I’m not giving up.) I suppose that children growing up too fast beats the alternative: permanent toddlers.

This may sound like a sour attitude toward toddlers, but what I mean to convey is an optimistic outlook about the inevitability of change, especially within our families. I’m still sad that my kids are growing up, and probably always will be. When they’re thirty, I’ll mourn that they are no longer twenty. But there’s not a single thing I can do about it, so I’d better learn to just enjoy.

And having said all this, I will also say that I am thrilled with the way my not-so-little Rachael has turned out so far. A perfect ten, if you ask me. I am not kidding or just blogbragging (blagging? brogging?). She’s pretty fantastic.

As was the cake Aunt Julie whipped up for her. Hooray for talented sisters!


There was the perusing, the choosing, and then…

There were the pumpkins!

There was a Glamour Witch and an Indian Princess 

There was a very convincing Spiderman, who refused to pose for any more pictures after his annoying mother took seventy-five of them at his pre-school party. 
(To the left is Spidey’s new best friend, Mr. Incredible.  Mom’s decided she needs to pony up the cash and  hook poor Ethan up with some muscles next year.) 

There again was  Spiderman, defying his desperate mother’s plea to pose with the girls.  “NO!  I don’t like pictures!!” was his mantra of the evening.  Hence, Mom has not a single photo of all the children together.  (The humanity!)  He is fully potty-trained, by the way, so rest assured he is not doing what it looks like he’s doing here.

There was a visit from Grandma and Grandpa the weekend before,which kicked the spooky season off to a happy start for the kids, and made Dad happy as he relegated pumpkin carving to Grandpa Neal.

There was a swingin’ party at Aunt Julie’s, followed by a  Trunk or Treat at the church, followed by a Costume Parade on the stage, followed by Trick or Treating in a friendly, cheery, Halloween-conducive neighborhood.  And, most importantly, there was Sixty-Five Degree Weather all evening, which made Mom euphoric, the children energetic, and our Halloween the happiest one we can remember in many years.
Oh yeah.  And there was Candy.  Mountains of candy.  And parents who were too tired to say no.  

Every child’s Hallowdream.
(And a dreamy Halloween to you all!)