Back to School: Packing Lunches With Stonyfield, Justin’s, and PackIt

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It’s back-to-school time! Which means it’s time to pack lunches again. Unless, like us, you’ve need to pack lunches for camp or outings for most of the summer. I’m kind of a professional lunch packer at this point.

It still seems daunting, though. I don’t know why. And last year the second grader was packing his own lunches. Why did this stop when he started camp this summer? I don’t know. I think both kids will be packing their own lunches this year, with my support.

And it’s not just knowing what to pack — how many snacks, who’s eating what this week (turkey? salami? hummus and cucumber? leftovers?) but who can eat what. Like when a particular upcoming first grader has a wiggly tooth, so you have to slice up his apple before you pack it because otherwise he can’t bite it.

But if you have the supplies and a formula, lunch-packing doesn’t have to be a drag.

Here are some key tips for packing a lunch:

Food Containers
We use reusable containers for snacks and lunches. For the main lunch, we use EasyLunchboxes three-compartment lunch boxes, with snacks in other small reusable containers. Yes, I wash a lot of containers, but I’m OK with that.

Lunch Bag
A sturdy, reusable lunch bag can last for the whole school year and sometimes for a few years! PackIt makes a great freezable lunch bag which contains a freezable gel. Just put it in the freezer overnight, then in the morning pack your child’s lunch in it. The lunch bag will keep the food cold for hours.img_9328.jpg

Lunch Food
Sandwiches are popular with my kids:

  • salami
  • PBJ
  • hummus and cucumber

Sandwich alternatives:

  • mac&cheese in an insulated food jar
  • leftover pasta with pesto
  • hummus, veggies, and crackers
  • cheese and crackers

I also pack veggies and fruit in the other compartments of the bento box.

Snacks
Besides the “main course,” I include:

  • fruit — berries, a sliced or whole apple, cut-up oranges, grapes
  • veggies — baby or big carrots, grape tomatoes, sliced cucumber
  • something crunchy/salty, such as pretzels
  • Stonyfield YoKids Squeezers (these are great to keep in the freezer)
  • a granola bar (in case an extra snack is needed)img_9329.jpg
  • Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter and Pretzels snack packsimg_9334-1.jpg
  • maybe a packet of Justin’s Honey Almond Butter (who am I kidding, these are for me! Great pre-run fuel and a handy afternoon snack at my desk)img_9338.jpg

Drinks
A reusable water bottle. That’s all I send my kids with. But you could also include a juice box or milk.

By the way, could you sense a theme here? Reusable containers, few processed foods, and products from companies like Justin’s and Stonyfield that make sustainable practices their mission? I like supporting companies that have values similar to mine.

Oh — not that I’m telling you what to do, but because these tips can help you save time packing lunches, you have some extra time to check out the recipes on the Justin’s site! I want to try the spicy peanut soba noodles and the granola bars, for starters.

Happy school year, and enjoy packing healthy lunches!

I Have an Apartment!

Today’s exciting news is that after a cliffhanger week, in which I was finally approved for one apartment — after a complicated and tricky application process — but was delayed on seeing a better one until the tenants moved out — and then had to go through another complicated application process and wait to be approved for that one before letting the first one know I wasn’t taking it — so basically I developed a little muscle tic under one eye, which happens when I am under a lot of stress, well, I have a signed lease in hand and a place to move in eleven days!! We have a new address!

Eleven days. Talk about cutting it close. When the kids ask where we’re moving to, which they’ve done for much of the summer, I can finally tell them. And it’s the place they liked best. The place I liked best. The place that seems best for us.

This has, in some respects, been not our best August. The kids had no idea where we’d be moving to. I had no idea. Someone asked them if they’ll be going to the same school this year, and they turned to me, confused, because none of us know, and I said, “Probably” — hoping at the time that their father would get an apartment in the school district — they had such looks of joy on their faces and said, “REALLY???” and I had to smile and said, “I think so!”

Ugh. I had no idea where any of us would end up.

Soon after, their father found an apartment in the school district. Yay!

This week, after submitting multiple documents (about 10, in all) from both me and their father, plus a personal letter from me, plus being sent to meet the landlord in person, I was accepted for an apartment. Without the cat.

But there was another apartment I wanted more, this one nicer and in a better (for me) location, same price. Prettier, quieter, with a bathroom that didn’t scream “I’m totally ugly low-budget and you’ll live with it, because this is what you deserve!”

Ahem.

No, but seriously, that first bathroom really sucked. Is installing a vanity that hard?  Plus this second apartment had onsite laundry, which is key when you have kids.

Anyway. I had to put off the first place for a few days, which I felt bad about, but I had to keep them in play until I knew about the second place, which took longer than expected. And It was awkward and stressful. I ended up having to call the realtor on the first place to let her know what was up, and she was of course pissed off, because she could have been showing the place in the meantime, but really that’s what this rental market has come to, so don’t blame me.

For the past three days the kids have been asking if we are moving to the place on the bike path (like that’s the kind of stress kids need??), and today I took them to sign the lease and was able to tell them, “Yes.”

We’re all worn out by this process. And I would have loved to shield them from it except unfortunately I had to take them with me to see so many apartments, and things were so uncertain, and there was no way to hide it.

I have eleven days to pack and move. Hopefully I can get into the new place sooner. I’ve gotten rid of so much stuff and packed a lot already. I can’t wait to pack the rest and move on from here.

The cat is moving in with their father, whose apartment is pet-approved. I will miss her. Will miss stepping out each morning to call for her and watching her jump the fence and trot until she’s halfway to me, then slows to a walk, raising her tail. She loves when I pet her, brush her, talk to her. The kids like to feed her, play with her, turn on the faucet for her. She will be happy with C, I know, but I’m (for now) home more than he is. It will be weird for me to be without a pet. I’ve had cats since I was a child. Since I was 19 (there was one year off, first year of college). I’ve had a cat forever. Now I can’t.

Normally August is more fun for us. This August hasn’t been. I’d love to take the kids away for a few days. We have a week planned on the Cape with cousins but it turns out that’s the week I have to move (I’d really hoped to move earlier), so I might not be there with them.

We need a vacation, but it might have to happen this fall instead. For now, we have a place to move. And I came uncomfortably close to having no place to go, eleven days before I have to move out.

I think I can sleep better now.

Cleaning Out My Basement

I spent much of today cleaning out my basement in anticipation of my upcoming move.

I don’t know yet where I’m moving to. I have 2 weeks left and I’m not yet panicking, not entirely, though I admit to waking at 3 a.m. with rising anxiety and All the Thoughts, wondering if I should get online and scroll through Zillow, Trulia, Craigslist yet again…and again…

So sleeping sucks these days. Yes it does.

But spending the day in the basement was great. Sure, it was awesome to see all the beach and lake posts from everyone else on Facebook — so glad you’re all having fun — but dammit, my basement was not sweltering!

But man, there was a lot to go through. I’m talking 10 years of marriage plus a total of 6-7 years of preschool art. I can’t even tally how many years at this point. It’s a lot of fingerpainting and scribbles and “Um, what did you have in mind when you drew this?” sort of stuff.

Boxes of it. Boxes upon boxes of it. Apparently last time we moved, two-and-a-half years ago, we just boxed and moved it all. And it seems that every time we’ve had company since then, we’ve boxed it all up and thrown it in the basement.

I went through a LOT of preschool art today. Why is it my job to go through this and decide what stays, what goes?

And letters. I was a frequent penpal with my best friend from high school. I have a lot of letters from a prolific college girlfriend. My father used to write a lot, yellow legal sheets starting with the affectionate address of my Icelandic name. I have boxes of letters. I save all the letters.

I found a photo of my father running his first marathon in 1998, at age 54, soon after he took up running after years of back problems. He’s my inspiration. I will scan that and send it to him. He’s 83 now and still really amazing. You should meet him.

I came across the first birthday card my older son, then age 3, wrote to his brother, then age 1. It begins, “Dear Stinkypants, How can we love you?” and goes from there, and it is so charming and endearing and I cannot wait to read it to them when they come home to me tomorrow.

I posted a lot of stuff to our town’s “Everything is Free” list, which is a hell of a lot easier than Freecycle. One woman came to pick up some cookbooks I’d left for her on the porch and noticed a cabinet I’d put on the curb.

So the cabinet. I found it on Freecycle two years ago and picked it up and it was perfect for next to our washer to hold detergent bottles. Sure, with a couple of knobs it would have been more useful, but it was fine as it was. Turns out I’d picked it up from fellow blogger Red Shutters. 14012269_10209656483825113_302781995_n
The woman who picked it up from me messaged me to say she’d done so and sent me a pic of it with knobs and a candle on top, on her porch. It looks beautiful. I told her where I’d found it and sent her to the Red Shutters blog. Doesn’t the cabinet look great?

So I’ve gotten rid of enormous piles of recycling and some trash. I was merciless. And sentimental. I know the preschool art can’t stay with us forever, but there’s no reason to toss it all just yet, right?

Now all I need to do is find an apartment. And get some sleep.

 

 

Back on the (Running) Horse

I’ve become a total slacker, not running, barely going to yoga or weekly (just weekly!!) boot camp. Except for the magical Loon race, I really haven’t been running.

It’s a mix of being unmotivated, lazy, and rather taken over by the apartment hunt (nothing yet). Plus, the heat! I am personally responsible, however, for ending our heat wave in the Northeast, and you’re welcome. How did I do it? I singlehandedly lugged home a borrowed air conditioner, hauled it in, and installed it in the kids’ room, all on my own, without crushing my feet, cutting a finger, or dropping it out the window. I am a total rockstar. And that feat literally broke the heat wave, overnight.

I clearly have superpowers.

But anyway. I can’t run in the heat. Not like I’m a wimp, but I had a heatstrokey experience a few years ago (heat exhaustion, heat-related illness, what have you, I don’t know the proper term — let me just say it was Rather Bad), and since then I tolerate heat/humidity even less well than I did before, and so a recent afternoon running-in-the-heat attempt turned into a mere two-miler that left me beet red, dry-skinned, superhot, and feeling chilled. Yeah. I don’t sweat well. So. I officially give up trying to work out when it’s hot and humid.

While I’d made my peace with becoming one with my chair/sofa, I also know that I need goals. And my planned September 50-miler can’t happen, because I haven’t been running. Time to get off my ass and do something about this before I melt into a sad puddle of endorphin-less squish.

Oh, I love the endorphins.

Plus, with so many things in my life up in the air right now, I need something regular to count on and to do for myself that’s positive. Also, I “met” this woman while training for my ultra last December (we only met online, ran the race near each other [me somewhere behind her], and still haven’t met in person), and she’s very inspiring. She’s been training hard, recently won a 50K, and posts all her training online. I love following it (she’s also a vegan and posts pics of her meals — also inspiring). And it has inspired me to get off my ass and get back out there.

So I finally downloaded a marathon training plan, pinned it to my wall, and am sticking to it. I downloaded some new tunes to my iPod (a healthy mix of Sia and Highly Suspect, if you must know) and knocked out five miles today. Alone. Happily, even. With some box jumps on a big rock near the end of the run.

Race plan:

  • July: Mudderella (5-mile mud/obstacle race, pure fun)
  • September: Trail half marathon, followed two weeks later by a road half marathon
  • December: Trail ultra (yes, will use the marathon plan to get my mileage up and then build up from there)

 

It's just an intermediate training plan, but i's a good way to get my mileage back up.

It’s just an intermediate training plan, but i’s a good way to get my mileage back up.

Seriously, the new songs helped a lot. I haven’t updated my playlist in four years. Ugh. No wonder I don’t want to run!

And the half marathons on the training plan sync perfectly with a local half on a weekend I don’t have the kids (win-win!). However, I’m not sure how I will manage my weekend runs when they’re here. Make them bike alongside? For 14 or 20 miles?? Remains to be seen. I might have some 4 a.m. weekday runs in my future. We’ll see. I will definitely have to tweak the training based on when I have the kids, but I’ll get it all done and mark it all off as I go.

Plus, right above this training plan on the corkboard is this delightful drawing by Ben, which I love so much:

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I think he was four when he drew it, and while it looks as though Max might be about to take a swig, if I recall correctly he’s poised to throw something at Ben, according to the artist — who might be holding a self-defense rock in the drawing, come to think of it. Sweet, sweet children (no, seriously, they are — JUST THIS WEEK they started playing board games together, checkers mostly, and this morning Max was teaching Ben to play chess! You have no idea how much pure joy this brings me).

What are you training for? Who or what inspires you? How do you get off your butt when you’re becoming one with your chair?

Obstacle Challenge: Mudderella, A New Race for Me

I haven’t been running much lately, for various reasons, but  next up is Mudderella, a five-mile obstacle challenge race created by women, for women.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 12.04.08 PMI’ve always been interested in these kinds of races, not just running but also getting up and over tricky obstacles — I love to climb and play and such, and it’s hard to keep myself off the monkey bars at the playground — so obstacle challenge + running + mud + a team of friends? Yes. Apparently at times we have to help each other up and over the obstacles, which should be a hoot.

obstacle challenge

Copyright: Mudderella

Details: 

  • July 30, 2016
  • Exeter, NH
  • “A unique course that takes you through miles of back-wood trails and hilly motocross tracks…less than an hour outside of Boston”

Cause:

This race isn’t just for fun muddy bruising sweaty adventure with your besties, however. Mudderella is partnering with Futures Without Violence as their national charity beneficiary. All proceeds raised by participants support Futures Without Violence’s mission to protect women against domestic and sexual violence.

Fitness: 

You’re gonna be fine. But if you want to up your game a little, Mudderella offers some training workouts. These things are always good to do no matter what you’re training for.

Doesn’t this sound like fun?  Join my team — or put together your own! I have a discount code (15% off) for you, too: enter MUDMOM when you register. Sign up, challenge yourself, and have fun!

Loony on Loon: Loon Mountain Race Recap

For reasons I can’t articulate well, I signed up for the Loon Mountain Race weekend before last (July 3). It’s a NE Mountain Running Championship race. Or the championship. To pick people for the U.S. Mountain Running Team.

I had no fantasies of even meeting people on the team, let alone running anywhere near them, but it can be fun to race near far behind the elites.

I hadn’t been running much, and I hadn’t been running any hills, and while I’ve done several trail races, I had never done a mountain race. It’s a whole different thing.

It was spectacular. The race had a really good feel to it, in terms of overall vibe — laid-back but mostly well-coordinated. The route was great. The trails were gorgeous. There was some not-quite-single-track through the woods (the nordic ski trails), with plenty of mud. There was up. There was down. There were cross-mountain views that made me want to throw out my arms and sing “The Hills Are Alive.” There was steep up on loose fill. Not gravel, not dirt, but what can only be described as “loose fill.” Have you ever tried to run up steep loose fill that’s slipping away under your feet?

Loose fill is fun! PHOTO CREDIT: SNAPacidotic

Loose fill is fun! PHOTO CREDIT: SNAPacidotic

Then there was a long steep uphill. The woman next to me, a three-time Loon racer, warned me there’d be a big downhill before Upper Walking Boss, the last big uphill (at a 40% grade). She was really nice. And then we crested our hill and she was gone. I don’t know how anyone runs downhill that fast without just falling and rolling, but she flew. I struggled along behind and then started up the Boss.

I knew to use my core and stay upright and push my hips toward the hill, but I’d been doing that for more than an hour and my core was TIRED. Imaging holding plank pose for a week or something. Yeah. Looking up, it was clear there was no human way to climb that grassy wall that looked about five miles high. And I couldn’t physically walk right up it.

I turned sideways. One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight. Backwards. One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight. Sideways the other way. One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight. Forwards. One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight.

I kept on like this until I finally looked down and realized I’d somehow gotten halfway up! So what if I looked like an insane spinning person. I was getting up that mountain as fast as I could. Which was, to be honest, no faster than the people just walking up it. It’s possible some of them passed me when I stopped to rest.

Kept counting. Changed count to six. Changed count to four. A sign indicated 100m to go. It looked like a few miles, honestly.

Got to a cheering crowd at a crest. [Links will take you to Scott Mason’s official race photos.]

“Where’s the finish? Over this crest?”

“One more crest! You’ve got it!”

Random guy to plodding me: “Pump your arms like you’re running!”

Right. I couldn’t possibly run but there was no reason to trudge like I was headed to hell. I pumped my arms. It helped a ton.

Second crest. Cheering crowds. Was this the finish? Cowbells.

Timing clock was up above some scree. Up there. No one’s up there. Not even a “Finish” sign. I kept going. Timing clock. Dying. Moon landscape. I crossed two timing mats and the clock.

“I’m DONE! I’M DONE I’M DONE I DON’T HAVE TO GO UPHILL ANYMORE I CAN STOP I’M DONE!”

That was me. Some guy was pouring cups of water. I stood by him and drank and drank and cheered that I was done.

I went back down to the upper crowd to cheer in friends and strangers. A woman came hobbling up the hill, limping badly, lurching side to side. I threw down my water and went to her side to run her in. “Hey, you’re almost there. The worst is over. The finish is just up there. You’re gonna be OK. Let’s just get up this part. We’re almost there. See the clock? Come on. You’re doing great. Keep it going. Come on.” She crossed the finish line; I ducked out just before the timing mats and got her some water.

And that was that. My friend Dana had very kindly gotten up early to drive me from our campsite to the race and bought a gondola ticket to be near the top to cheer me and take pics (but somehow we never saw each other, whatever). I got conflicting info on where she was and ended up walking almost halfway down Upper Walking Boss before realizing I’d be insane to go further down, because I’d only have to go up again.

I found her at the gondola. We rode to the bottom and she gave me a beer (I know! What a friend!!). I got her a bagel with peanut butter. Her tired dog slept. I sat through the awards ceremony (a 12-year-old girl finished 6th in women). Then our campsite pals met us and we all spent the afternoon hanging out by the river.

Now I want to do more mountain races….and some hill training, too.

Pool Party!

We may have picked the coldest, drizzliest day in July for Ben’s pool party. But when your six-year-old has been set on having a pool birthday party for two years, and the pool doesn’t open until almost a month after his birthday, and you’re working around a custody schedule and camping plans and races and other birthdays and other plans, well, you pick a date and stick with it, even if the forecast is gray.

How gray? Gray enough that as of yesterday afternoon it was slated to rain all this morning. So I stayed up until almost 2 a.m. cleaning. It’s not that my apartment is a pigsty, but the boys were here all day for the first time in weeks, and legos were EVERYWHERE. Set up all over the sofa, the side tables, the piano bench, play table, playroom floor….Plus there were piles of school papers that never quite got sorted, overflowing mail piles, a few boxes of stuff from when C moved out and I boxed what was on shelves/furniture that went with him. You know. Stuff.

I boxed. I recycled. I threw stuff out like Kondo on crack. I hauled stuff to the basement. I cleared flat surfaces. I moved furniture. I washed. I vacuumed.

Needless to say, the children were shocked and appalled when they awoke. They did not appreciate that their legos had been moved. Accusations flew about my breaking the clone transporter, when in fact I’d placed it carefully on a tray with about 98 other lego builds, so perhaps things fell off at some point while I was sliding it under their bed but really, it wasn’t my fault.

But Ben was happy and excited, because it was his Birthday Party Day.

This morning the forecast said the rain would hold off until afternoon. Pool party is on! It was to be at the local public pool, so we had to get there as soon as it opened to claim a picnic table.

C and I were texting back and forth. He suggested that we not hold it at the pool on a cold day as it was starting to drizzle, but Ben was insistent. He’s wanted a pool party for so long. A pool party it would be. And hey, the picnic tables are under little roofs, and there’s a playground by the pool. We set off in the drizzle with loaded cars.

We explained to the lifeguards why we were there and how big our group would be (you can’t reserve tables). They possibly let us in a few minutes early to set up. Just two trips from the car and we were set up for a party!

Despite the cold drizzle, everyone showed up (the guest list was small), and the blue-lipped children had a great time in the pool. We had the place to ourselves. C picked up the pizzas. All but one slice of the cake was eaten. Ben was all smiles all day.

For that last reason alone, it was a great party. And we’ve had home birthday parties forever. This was by far the easiest party we’ve had. We didn’t need to come up with games and activities. We didn’t have to break up light saber battles. We didn’t have to explain why nine boys with no eye protection in a small apartment meant that a Nerf gun war was a bad idea. It was so ridiculously easy and hands-off.

I can’t post pictures because most show the other kids, but imaging happy and relaxed children, a very joyful Ben who couldn’t stop smiling, younger siblings having fun, a laid-back atmosphere, a chocolate cake with Darth Vader on it, a Darth Vader piñata, balloons, and an entire public pool to ourselves.

Happy first pool party, Ben. You have some great ideas.

The Kids Are Here!

Today I picked up from camp two filthy children, one of whom had dirt on his eyelids. Due to the weather (I think), they didn’t go swimming as usual but instead had spent their day on a few different playgrounds.

They were tired and happy and so dirty.

Our home wasn’t exactly a paragon of cleanliness, either, I must confess. When they’re here, I focus on them (and meals, and packing for camp, and work, and laundry), and when they’re not here, I focus on work, and feeding myself, and trying to get some workouts in, and running some errands.

Also seeing apartments. I have about 6 weeks to find a new place (and that’s being very generous). I’ve checked all over all the places one would look for an apartment. I’ve reached out to several rental agents. I’ve posted to all my networks. I called the “very reassuring” realtor recommended by my neighbors, who — after hearing my details: 2 kids, 1 cat, X budget — clucked, “Oh, honey.”

The situation isn’t dire yet. We’ll be OK.

Anyway, today I had a (painfully, cursedly, brutally early) trail run, work, a quick noontime hour-long yoga class (I have the boys this weekend, meaning no real workouts all weekend, so I try to get them in when I can), more work, a phone interview for an extra freelance gig (got it!!), and a ton of apartment hunting.

I had promised to pick up the kids from camp a little early. So I had to choose between cleaning and getting groceries. Dragging two kids who just want to be home playing, at the home they haven’t been in for a few days, to the grocery store seemed unnecessary. So the cleaning could wait. I’d hit the store before I picked them up.

And lo and behold, of course they went right outside to play, which allowed me to tidy and clean and sweep and mop (a little). I made their beds with fresh sheets. I’d already put away their clean, folded laundry (normally that’s their job, but there were a lot of clothes to put away and it was their first day back in a few days, so I took care of it).

Often on Saturdays, when they’re here, we all work on cleaning together, but this was their first week of full-day camp, so I’m trying to keep it easy on them. We won’t spend the morning vacuuming and tidying and sweeping. They still had to empty their lunchboxes when they got home, of course (and they’ll empty the dishwasher this weekend, if timing works out).

And then I insisted on showers before dinner. I scrubbed the younger one (older one doesn’t need me). His knees never came clean. That’s all right.

Clean boys, clean beds, clean sleep. They’re home with me again, and when they’re not in their own world of imaginative play, they want to cuddle with me. I’m sure I’ll wake up to find both in my bed.

It’s how we start Saturdays, every other week. All together, snuggled. I love it.

 

Camping, and Camping, and Camping

“So, do you have a fun getaways planned this summer?” I get asked this sometimes, yesterday by the woman who cut my hair.

I’m never quite sure how to answer. I have no big trips planned. But I’m camping this weekend for the third weekend in a row.

I’ll be honest: it’s starting to wear on me a little.

The first weekend was awesome. It was trail running camp! All I had to pack was a lot of running gear and a headlamp for night runs, my tent/sleeping bag, and a plate and fork, basically. Wonderful volunteers took care of all the meals (and plenty of snacks), so I didn’t have to even think about the food. I just ran, swam, learned, laughed a lot (some very funny people there), ate, slept.

The second weekend was awesome but more tiring. It was me and the children meeting a friend and her children (friends with my kids), so I had to pack the big tent, sleeping gear for me and the boys, clothes for all three of us, swimming stuff, the camping grill, the big box of “camp kitchen,” coolers of food, bikes, scooters, snacks. Lots of fun, but it was a lot to keep track of and load/unload/load/unload.

This weekend I’m heading up to the White Mountains to run the Loon Mountain Race and hike Mt. Lafayette the day before (yeah, I know, but I have no major goals for Loon except to finish without dying on Upper Walking Boss*). I’m camping with about a million other people (that’s an exaggeration, but there will be a bunch of us in a big group site. I don’t know all (maybe half) of them. I’m carpooling up but still sorting out my ride. I need to figure out how I’m getting to/from the race, since only two of us in the site are running it and I’m not sure of the other person’s plans. I haven’t thought about food (what do I even eat these days, anyway?), and since I’m not driving my own car up, I can’t just load up my car with all the possible food things. I have to actually plan.

Here are two photos of the race: http://www.runwithken.com/2013/07/on-mountain-we-are-all-smallbut-we.html and (my favorite) http://www.runwithken.com/2013/07/on-upper-walking-boss-some-runners-fall.html (I’m going to be Crawling Guy, I suspect). It looks like a blast, right? So why aren’t I excited? Am I just too tired? I might just be too introverted for this scenario right now.

I know the best thing to do is to make a list. Just dump it all out on paper, everything I need to do: sort out the camping gear so C has the big tent/kids’ sleeping bags in case they go camping, decide  what I’ll need for the weekend, figure out how to pack it compactly so I can carpool with other people and their gear, and so on.

Probably other stressors are playing in right now: work, finding an apartment, finding more work, my total lack of training and yoga lately, when to get to the pet store to buy cat food before I leave for the weekend. Sleeping, or lack thereof. How the kids will deal with camp next week and for the rest of summer. And other stuff.

Mostly, though, I think I’m just tired. Today I had set the alarm for a gloriously late 7:01 (which would make for a rushed morning getting the kids up and out the door) but popped awake at 5:15. Woe to me. The coffee maker hadn’t even started yet.

Wish me luck this weekend. I might skip the hike and curl up with a book all day Saturday. Who knows?

*From the race site: “The reputation as one of the region’s toughest races is due in large part to the kilometer ascent of North Peak via the black diamond trail known as Upper Walking Boss. ‘The Boss’, as it’s affectionately known, is roughly a kilometer of grassy slope with angles that exceed a dizzying 40% grade!”

Writing This Week, or Not

Last Sunday’s shooting brought up a lot of heavy stuff about … so much. Let’s just sum it up as an overriding feeling of sorrow, anger, and grief, to keep it simple.

But children must be fed, and laundry must be washed, and deadlines must be met. I couldn’t get to a vigil on Wednesday because I had hot, hungry, tired children and also I’m not great at filtering news sometimes, so if they were to ask me what the vigil was about I’d probably have blurted out something about how easy it is for really disturbed people to buy guns and do terrible things to crowds of others (“Remember your ALICE drill, children? How you had to hide in your classrooms and pretend there was an intruder in your school, and you had to hide and stay quiet?”)…*

…and how even though people who aren’t hetero and gender-conforming have gained a lot of rights and acceptance in the past two decades, the world is really still not a safe place for them/us, and hand-holding in public can be dangerous, and I worry about friends living in less tolerant places…

…and even though what led to or at least made possible this shooting is a combination of the crappy gun laws and NRA control of Congress in the U.S. — as well as a still overriding homophobia in this country and elsewhere, despite legal gains — people are up in arms about Muslims again (or still are but even more so, even though extremism exists in every religion), and I worry about Muslim friends (and, yeah, Muslims I don’t know)…

And the divisions (religion, gay rights, gun control, racism, immigration, more) that have come up after this most recent mass shooting are so awful, like so much hate-pus being drawn out of a terrible deep wound.

Anyway, talking about it, or not. The children and I listen to public radio every morning, and I know they’ve heard about the shooting, but we haven’t talked about it, because I just can’t talk about it right now. And they haven’t asked about it. I think for whatever reason it didn’t catch their attention the way a plane crash might.

My very privileged children (white, male, in a nice suburb in a liberal bubble in the Northeast) have enough going on right now, even though their newly-separated parents are getting along well and we all get together for birthdays and for dinner sometimes and we all see each other all the time and we have a home (well, two homes) and books and toys and aren’t hungry. They know I have to move soon, they know we’re probably moving out of town but we don’t know where but it has to do with afterschool childcare and my working full time soon and other mysterious grown-up reasons. They know that lately I am a little tired and impatient, and they don’t quite understand why they’ll be going to summer camp instead of being home all summer, going to the pool and eating popsicles.

We’re so privileged.

So I’m sorry. I meant to start writing regularly about running and food and work and life, but this week is a tough one.

Reader, thanks for being here. Know that you’re loved, and you’re not alone, and you’re OK as you. Go and be kind to strangers and loved ones.

* I might also be a little edgy because we have a second annual camping trip coming up in Connecticut. Right next to Newtown. Last year we met up in Connecticut with dear friends who’d moved away for a camping trip. It poured rain one morning, and despite great efforts at hanging a tarp, we decided to go to a diner for breakfast instead of eating oatmeal in the rain. We found a diner. It turned out to be in Newtown, Connecticut, six months after the shooting…and here we were, going to the diner that had fed so many rescue workers, with four children, two of them first-graders. I have possibly never been so self-conscious. There were framed newspaper articles on the walls about the shooting and the diner’s role as a place of gathering and comfort.

I took some deep breaths.

And then the kids KNOCKED OVER a table, jelly packs and sugar packets and ketchup and syrup bottles on the floor. WAY TO KEEP A LOW PROFILE, KIDS. I was mortified, but the diner people were very kind about it.

We’re going there again in a few weeks.