Saturday, May 31, 2014

Laurencia's Victory

I am reviving the blog in order to spread the word about our new adventure. We have been planning this for months and working hard on doing the exactly right thing for the memory of my little niece, Laurencia. We are trying so hard to let God lead this whole thing. I'm sure that our egos will get in the way and maybe we will stumble sometimes, but we have to always remind ourselves that we are doing this for a MUCH greater good than any kind of honor we can get for ourselves. We have to remember that this is all for a GREAT CAUSE. We wish we didn't have to even THINK of orphans being neglected or abandoned in scummy and run down institutions. We wish we could go about our normal lives and just do the laundry and the dishes, go to work and have a little fun on the weekends, but once you see the videos or pictures and hear the stories of these children, you can't ever go back to "normal life" again. 

To make a very long, lifetime story short: we have formed a non-profit called "Laurencia's Victory". We would like to do many events and ongoing fundraising to help orphans in need and adoptive families. Please check out the website and consider a donation or participation in our events. 


Friday, November 08, 2013


Maybe it's because I'm getting older. I seem to be a lot more relaxed about...well...about just about everything!

The bills pile up and I sort of just say "Meh". The kids fight, and I initially yell, but then I get yelled at by one kid who says that I am not yelling enough at the offending child.

I seem to have a case of pickyourbattleitis.

It's not like life is any less busy, or that things aren't stressful. Our little nephew is due to come home from the hospital soon. I do have anxiety about how he'll do once he's home and away from some of the safety that being at a renowned children's hospital affords. I still get shivers of loss and sadness when I think about our sweet little niece, born and died on the same day, buried within jogging distance but etched in our hearts forever. School is going haltingly, at best, with a baby/toddler who eats EVERYTHING SHE GETS HER GRUBBY LITTLE HANDS ON and has now taken to screaming fits when she doesn't get her way (and she's not even terrible two yet!)...BUT, even with all of this weight, I seem to have a calmness I can't ever recall having. It might be the start of a withdrawing depression about the impending winter, but I don't think that's quite it.

Perhaps it's just that I've developed a common aspect of middle age (no, not an urge to go buy a sports car or wear leopard prints and mini skirts in a pathetic attempt to bring back youth) that I just didn't know about or care about until I was dragged into the 40's last year? I don't know. Can any of my 40+ aged friends out there tell me they felt/feel the same thing?

Maybe it's the fact that this past year has been the year from hell? It started out with the winter that never ended and the spring that changed everything: we found out about Laurencia. It continued on with what should have been a joyful reprieve from the sadness that would be Laurencia's birth and death: Benedict's birth, but he was born not breathing correctly and eventually suffered through one of the scariest birth defects and a lot of the complications that come with it (he is due to come home this weekend, thank GOD!). These are not my children but they are my nieces and nephew and our lives revolve around family and it affected us all so profoundly.

I just did it again, I sighed. I have to catch my breath when I think of everything my family has been through but I know we can do it because we did it, together.

Maybe that's where the peace comes from: from knowing that bad things happen but that we can get through them...with a lot of help from friends, family, neighbors, all of them, gifts from GOD, to help us get through the really awful, terrible, horrible, frightening, devastating times.

If you prayed for our family, I want to thank you. I think a lot of the peace I feel now is leftover prayer peace, brought to my heart from your words to God. I hope it flows into my family, siblings and their spouses too.

God bless us all and I look forward to a better year.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Laurencia Rachel/Victory of the Lamb

(Please read this disclaimer before you read this post!
Disclaimer: I don't blame people for calling her or any other person who's passed "an angel". I know they mean "angelic", as in: the visual picture they get of a pure spirit, no longer in need of a body. I know that they say this to bring comfort to the grieving family because maybe it would bring comfort to THEM if someone would try to reassure them in this way. I know that it's said in love and concern and empathy! PLEASE know that the post below was written in honesty and love for my baby niece and that her passing is a fresh wound on my heart. It's not mean to hurt anyone, just an expression of hope in the eternal for her and for all of us!)

Laurencia is on my mind today.

We moved pictures to a different file and so had to review all of the pictures I took from that day.

We have GREAT HOPE that she's in Heaven, playing with her cousins and Jesus and doing all of the things that are way more fun and great and joyful than anything we could imagine on this fallen earth...but she's not an angel.

Oh, I know so many people have visions of flying babies in Heaven, all white garments and light, and reflecting God's face and eternally happy and flying back and forth between Heaven and earth, or sitting on fluffy clouds and watching over or visiting us in our every day lives...but that's not what we believe. I hope I NEVER see her again, here on earth, because that would mean that she's not in Heaven and that would be awful (unless it's the end of time and she's coming to get me to go back with her!). I hope she's looking down on us and praying for us from her Heavenly post (and likely doing a fair amount of chuckling over some of the ridiculous things her family says and does) but, as a child of God in Heaven, it's not HER job to fly back and forth...that's the ANGELS' JOB!

Angels are created beings, separate creatures that are not, nor have they ever been of this earth. Angels are creatures of God who didn't get earthly parents to aid in their creation.

OH! I believe she's angelic, in that she's a creature of God and has a message for us (angel MEANS "messenger") but she's something altogether unique! The thing is, I understand why people say that she's an "angel now" but I don't believe it...she's SO MUCH MORE! She is Laurencia: named, created by God and her parents, a true victor over disease and death on this earth, a GRAND and VISIBLE message of God's love for us (though in the tiniest of mortal shells), and ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS pure of spirit, never having the chance to commit Actual Sin.

SHE was granted the mercy of never having the chance to say "no" to Jesus. Earthly life has a sort of "two edged sword" effect: we are fallen and need God's mercy and baptism to gain Heaven...but we have a "second chance" built into our fallen natures through baptism in His Holy Name!

 When I hear "she's an angel now", I think about how Lucifer was an angel! Yikes. Even ANGELS have the chance to turn away from God, and disobey Him, and end up...well, you know! BUT, they don't have the advantage of all of the loving, biological family of man! Laurencia had so many people aware of her existence and praying her into hope of Heaven. How many angels do you know have that? What a grace and what a gift her life is to us, stuck here on earth, trying to figure it all out, waiting until the day when she can usher us in and show us everything she's been up to and helped to prepare for us while SHE was waiting for US!

For now, though, we honor her earthly body by praying for her spirit and showing her body the respect it deserves, as it once held a true soul. She was a tabernacle of Glory for the Lord to exist inside, even for just a small amount of time here on earth, born here in life and born into Heaven on the very same day.

God bless my family and may God send his ANGELS to usher Laurencia into His loving arms without pause.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mawwiage, Vwat Bwessed Awwangement Vwat BWings Us Togevwah, Fowevwah

Well, twenty whole years have gone by and it seems like a blink of an eye to me. Approximately 7,300 kitchen butt slaps later, I love my hubs more than I did when I fell for his eyes and his big...heart :)

He says that he can't believe I've put up with him this long but I know who got the better deal O.o.

I think part of why we lasted so long is the ONE thing on the marriage inventory we did as marriage prep that the priest considered a potential "trouble spot":


:) So, I guess if that's what keeps us together (along with lots of laughs, travelling the same path, and lots of funny kids), than that's what it takes and that's the advice I'd give to someone who asks, "How did you stay together for so long?"...:

 Just be stubborn and stick together. It's simple, really:

Laugh a lot.
Try to get over yourself sometimes.
Take turns and play nicely together (oh wait, that's for the kids...but it works for marriage too so I'll keep it in there).
Always have a heart for your loved one.
Try to remember what attracted you in the first place.
You can never change anyone else. You can only change yourself and how you react to the other.
Don't stray from your vow to your spouse in ANYTHING.
It's you and him/her against the world: not you and your bff/sister/brother/mom/dad against your spouse.
If someone else tries to draw your attention away from your spouse, consider that person an enemy and guard your heart from them and direct it back to your spouse, even if you don't particularly LIKE them at the time.

For those who don't have the fortune to have found someone who is as interested in forever as you are, I have this advice: find someone who is, but tie up all of your loose ends and learn from your experience. Don't move on to the "next best thing" until you are REALLY sure that all the doors have been closed and that you know what drew you to the wrong person for you in the first place. If you repeat your mistakes, a LOT of people will be hurt, not just you and your new/old partner. :(

Back to Butch and our loveydoveysmoochysmoochyyoudrivemecrazywhattheheckiswrongwithyouIthinkyouaresoawesomeIcan'tbelieveyousaidthatwhatdidyoudoTHIStimeohmygoshyouaresoweirdIloveyou life.It's been really good and it's only going to get gooder. I can feel it in my soul.

Love you, hubs.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Leading in Love

I have this biography of the real life of Laura Ingalls Wilder that I'm reading for the 3rd time (I always like to read it when I'm reading her series to the kids, to sort out the real history v. her editing of her books.). 

There is a sense that Pa and Ma really and truly loved each other and modeled that love to their daughters so well, that it gives me hope for my own marriage. It's a timeless kind of marital love that, I imagine if you actually feel it, your marriage will last forever, summed up in this excerpt: 

"...The wagon rolled on and on, day after day, eastward. Ma's arms grew tired holding baby Freddie. Yet Laura remembered that in the mornings of this journey, Ma carefully combed out the girl's hair. Wherever Ma followed Pa, Ma's virtues followed her. Nice girls had their hair combed in the morning, she would say. Pa's eyes just followed the road, on and on. It was a curious thing about Ma and Pa. MA DID FOLLOW PA WHEREVER HE WENT, BUT PA NEVER WENT ANYWHERE THAT MA WOULDN'T FOLLOW..." 

I feel like Butch and I work like that. He respects my opinion and knows me enough to know that the path that he chooses will be one that I will always be willing to go along with him. 

We will celebrate 20 years of Marriage in July. :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Comin' Around Again

I get to squish and hug my baby. I do it a lot. Several times a day. I am reluctant to set her down and I lie to everyone and say "She NEEDS me so much." like I'm complaining.

Fact is: I need her. I need her and am using her and putting all my physical love on her like every mother should do for her little baby but maybe just a little more than I'm supposed to. It's a very good thing for her psyche that she's the 8th child in this house because I'm quite certain I would let her sleep right on my chest every time she needed a nap, if I could. Lately it's been a lot worse (or better?) with the hugging and snuggling thing. I rip her off of me when I go to lay her down because I know she'll cry a little bit before she goes to sleep. I HAVE to force her away from me or I'll just glue her to me and carry her around all day long and kill my back because it's a disease I have called "I'mgettingolderandmaynothaveanymorebabiesitis".

For the first time, I've been truly thinking about what it would be like if I did not have any more babies.

I have to say that I do not like that thought even one little bit.

It's not that I'm some kind of baby addict or that I REALLY DESIRE another baby right now...actually, another baby right now or even in a couple of years from now and the thought of all that comes WITH that baby totally exhausts me. It's just that, in those sweet moments where she clings to me like a monkey and I wrestle with the thought of letting her go v. holding on for dear life so she won't get a nap and won't learn to sleep or do anything ever on her own, I REALLY STOP AND THINK about "what if this is my last baby" and I struggle more each time.

She is the first baby that I am having a hard time with helping her act her age (whatever that means). I am not marking time by little things that she's learning or what she "should" be doing at a certain age or even taking note of what she IS doing at her current age. I am feeling so discombobulated about what a "baby" is and when they cross that threshold from "baby" to "toddler". I'm confused about how old she she 10 months? 11? When IS her 1st birthday? She's just a BABY!!!

I am usually marking that moment with SUCH relief. I am usually RUSHING to that moment because I usually absolutely can't STAND the baby phase! I tolerate it, think it's cute, but, for the most part, I really just like the toddler phase so much better and age 4 is the pinnacle of those years! Four is the best. I maintain that four rocks and always will...but with this little girl...

I was holding her for her evening nap today, and really just wanted to bring her downstairs, kick everyone out of the living room and just rest with her on my shoulder until she woke up but that was not a very practical thing to do. She needs to sleep in her own bed, where it's peaceful and quiet and comfortable for her and where she can go when I may not be home and she won't suffer from being away from me so much. I could afford the time to give in to the oldest child's separation anxiety, but not so much with the 8th one! Katrina was much less needy (maybe because I DID give in to the anxiety in the baby/toddler phase and just hung around her because I could?) as she grew and was probably a little more independent than most children/teens.

Today, I held my baby and, thinking of the mom who won't get to hold her little boy anymore after today, I couldn't let go. Every time I leaned forward to put her in her bed, she'd whimper and cling to me a little more, even as her eyes drooped shut. After about 10 minutes, I couldn't stand it anymore and couldn't make her suffer any more so I peeled her off of me and laid her down (of course, she started crying but stopped just a minute later), said "have a good rest" and left the room, crying harder than she ever could.

I get to hold my sweet, soft, slightly stinky and flaky skinned little girl.
Somewhere, some mom is trying to hold on to her sanity as she can't hold her sweet little baby anymore.

I get to have the comfort of my husband in my home to be my rock and my helper and my children's loving father.
Somewhere, some mom is lonely and scared and trying to be tough for her kids' sake but just needs a husband near to comfort her and be her solid ground and not be the cause of her fear and instability.

I get to watch my teenagers grow and laugh and be super funny and fight and make up and learn.
Somewhere, some mom is desperately trying to hold her family together but failing because of mental illness and the strife that comes from no family support and teenagers who are too far away to reach anymore.

I get to call my sisters and have them call me and rely on them for everything and do stuff for them because I love them so much and know that they don't have to do anything in return but they do.
Somewhere, someone is missing their sister and can't call her or have a ladies' night with her anymore and just aches to be able to giggle with her ONE MORE TIME.

I get to worry if this will be my last baby and get to hold her and snuggle her for as long as I want.
Somewhere, some want-to-be mom is in despair because she is physically able, but it's not possible to have her own baby without violating her morals.

Somewhere, someone is worried about their 13 and a half year old child and how to handle the teen years. They have memories of the time that child was born and grew and started to walk, talk, play with siblings and friends, develop talents and show love and humor.
I get to go to my grandma's grave and think about the babies that we lost and never got to really know. I have to wonder and question God and try to fit all of this into my small little brain and try to figure out what it all means and finally, in utter exhaustion and grief, just give it up to Him for a while because I'm too tired to even deal with it anymore.

I am coming out of my hidey hole a lot faster this time because of something someone very wise told me about.

When, in a weak moment, I confessed that I didn't even know if I believed in God, she paused and then asked me: "Was there ever a time in your life that you REALLY FELT GOD. That you KNEW He was there and was REAL?"

Yes. There were about three times in my life that I really and truly FELT God. Bizarre moments that sustained me for a while at the time, but were easily forgotten when the bad times come (because the bad times are so very very bad).

So, she told me that maybe I had to actually exercise my faith (my explanation of what she was asking me to do) by reaching back in my memory and holding on to those moments and actively believing in can see where this is going. :) She said that someone told her about "Fake it until you Make it." method of getting through depression and sad times.

That's what I've been doing these days. In between some of my zombie modes and my not-too-proud-of-myself modes, I've been reaching back there in my memory and trying to hold on to the few moments where I may have seen His face and trying to find Hope again.

I don't know if I'm going to be successful because it sure seems like there are a lot of very devastating things to face in the year 2013. I see portents of terrible things to come, everywhere I look. It's very easy to let the waves crash over me and just eventually drown but something keeps me swimming for the surface (I'm not proud to say that the "something" is usually ANGER) and I'm going to have to just go with it until some other, more virtuous motivation helps me up onto the beach.

Meanwhile, here's my happy thought picture for today. They were not dressed or fixed up for a pretty picture but it was a moment that was real. Veronika came up to Cecilia and kept letting Celia steal her pacifier to chew on it. Celia doesn't know that nuks are for sucking and that chewing on it might wreck the thing. She only knows that it feels good on her gums and emerging teeth so they played a game with it. Veronika laughed her head off, like she usually does, because she's feisty but not so uptight that she doesn't enjoy a good game with her baby cousin.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Off Kilter and Off the Grid

I wish, some days, that I could just fly to Galt's Gulch (which, according to that link, sort of actually exists? Weird) and just live free and easy with nobody wanting anything from me and me not wanting for anything except what I can earn by the work of my hands and trade. Some days, I wish I didn't even have the responsibility of faith (Like Ayn) and could just be a godless person who didn't have to apologize for who I am and what my thoughts are, no matter how messed up.

It's like I like the IDEA of faith but I'm not particularly feeling it right now and don't really want to. I'm looking in from the outside and I think that's a bad thing but I find myself not really wanting to care. I need a time out...and probably prayers for protection, or maybe not, since I probably deserve everything I could get from That Guy.. I'm going to go rogue for a while and pretend I'm talking to myself (I probably am, to tell the truth. Who reads blogs anymore? I don't.).

I'm going off that social networking site for a while, just to see if it helps me like people better. I don't particularly like the way I've been acting towards my fellow man lately...well, for the past few years, actually. Since I am coming off of a crap winter and not able to do much at all except hold and feed a baby and keep the other kids from killing each other, I suppose all of these feelings are explainable.

Nobody (especially me) likes a whiner.

To help myself feel human, I'm going to insert a picture in all of these blog posts. How about this?
She currently has blowout diapers and egg burps louder and stinkier than an old man's.  It's a super good thing she's so  goofy/cute.

So, here I am, wishing I could be a godless person with no conscience so I didn't have to put up with my first world problems of the day. That's so sick and pitiful. I would slap me if I were one of my friends. No, I would punch me in the face and then wrestle me to the ground and then smack me across the face a couple more times and then bash in all of my teeth and then maybe give me some hard drugs while I am getting all my teeth fixed or something.  

The good things and gifts I am well aware of are not enough to overcome the bad things. I'm talking about all of the bad and sick things in the world that kill a part of my soul every time I hear or see or click on a news article about it. I just can't pull out of the reality of that stuff. There is just such deprivation and sickness out there. It's not like I'm talking about North Korea or something, it's everywhere, in our own neighborhoods and everything. 

I'm going to the gulch.

I'm gonna go and pan for gold and make it into a pretty set of earrings to give to my stinky baby. I'm going to teach my kids how to grow things to sell so they can get other things and help build our cabin on the side of the mountain, near the stream where the fresh water flows so clear you can drink from it and the fish practically jump onto your hook. 

I'm checking out because I don't have energy or spirit for the fight anymore. I'm a coward and a meanie and a bum. 

I like blogging. I remember what it was like to write and accept people's glowing agreement and adulation in the comments but I'm just going to shut down comments and write for my own damned self for a while. Fair warning. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Before & Afters 2013

Everybody likes "before and after" pictures. Not everybody likes doing the work which leads to the "after" part of that. I do. I think I like putting off cleaning and sorting just so it can get REALLY bad so that the after just looks all that much better.

For 2013, my only "resolution" is to clean a major or minor hidey hole, junk drawer, room, closet, any space at all, every day until it's done. Of course, you know that will never happen. Once I "finish", it's back around again to where I started and over and over and over until I die or move and make some new messy spaces.

"Cleaning the house while children are growing is like shoveling snow while it is snowing!" is a very true adage.

I figured I'd put my latest project in split screen pics here on my blog to make it easier to look at. I've been posting on that faceplace up until now but I feel like I'm cluttering up people's walls so this way, I can blog AND post pictures and peeps can come and look or pass.

My laundry room was painted a muddy brown color. I thought it was "rich" and "deep" when I first painted it. That was in 2002. It's been 11 years since I've painted that room??? Unbelievable, how time passes like that. I've painted every room in the house at least twice since then. It's about time the laundry room got some attention. It is passed through to get from the major meeting place in our house (the garage) to the guest/main bathroom (ew, THAT place needs next project, I think). It's pretty embarrassing to have people see the swatches of sawgrass green paint I briefly considered about 5 years ago on either side of the bathroom door, carved names from some naughty pencil, and lots of scratches and gouges from moving stuff and, one time, propping the broken door of the dryer shut against the wall with a 2x4. Yeah, living the classy life here at the Nielsen house! I never decorated the walls, beyond a painting of a dress in a corner of a small bedroom that my sister, Anna, painted in high school. I think I put it there because it was a picture of clothing and it's a laundry room.

That's just sad.

I didn't have much imagination for that room because IT'S A LAUNDRY ROOM! My doom! My nemesis! Laundry consumes this household and the machines constantly break down. I'd rather be at the dentist than in my laundry room. I'd rather prepare for major surgery than be in my laundry room...I think you get the idea.

I decided to change that and at least put it on my list of cabinets I need to straighten and purge. Here are the cabinets (three in a row, right above the dryer and washer) and the closet (opposite the dryer and washer):

cleaning products cabinet 1

laundry products and cord storage cabinet 2

paint cans for house cabinet 3

closet, all cleaned up and with space to spare: suitcase and duffel bags, bread machine, and bag of pieces of my wedding dress leftover from making christening gown with it

That all really needed to get done. It's hard to tell from my phone pictures here, but I got rid of a large garbage bag of GARBAGE and I added to the goodwill pile. I now have about 4 boxes/baskets of stuff to bring to goodwill but I've mostly just put a LOT of things where they actually belong throughout the house and garage and that's helped to ease the pressure from this cluttered space. Here's a before and after of the room. 

To be fair, I didn't take the after picture with the five loads of laundry that built up while I was cleaning and painting...but I did clear the floor of all of the clutter and now, that white storage container is next to the washer and there's even room for the carboy of apple wine I'm making, the vacuum cleaner and the steam mop over there where the utility sink used to be!

I was tired of the window being so open and exposed but I hate how dusty curtains are and how much light they block. I solved that problem by putting a teeny screw up there by the window lock and just hanging this mirror that I had over by the garage door before (it was behind the service door when the door was open so you couldn't use the mirror without risking getting knocked out every time someone wanted in! It's not an attractive view anyway but it's sort of creepy at night, as it's only a few feet to ground level and someone who wanted to be a peep could get a good show if I didn't feel like going into the bathroom to change while I was doing laundry. Hubba hubba bowchickawahwow.

You see how I utilized the doilies I found in my upstairs bathroom closet sort from the other day? They were so bright and cheerful. I'm pretty sure they were never actually used in a kitchen or anything. I think they were crocheted and then put away in someones "hope chest". I wish I could know who actually made them. For now, I'll just choose to imagine it was my great grandma or one of my great aunts. I found them in the farmhouse or had gotten them from when my Aunt Valencia died. Either way, they were from my dad's side of the family and they always make me smile.

Following is a picture of the top of the dryer before and after. I hate having things stored on the dryer. It makes the room look so cluttered and most things on there become dust collectors. Truthfully, I'll probably put my paper bag of recycle things on there but THAT'S IT! Behind the dryer and washer, I put some letter boards that I got from my aunt from the School Sisters. She's a "SSND" and goes to the mother house and gets old school supplies from the retired school nuns for me. She brings me a HUGE load of stuff at the beginning of the school year and there are always treasures there. This time, I got about 5 sets of these classroom letters. They are all very old and one set is so pretty, I'm pretty sure I'm going to frame them and put them on display throughout the house. This set was just whimsical and cute. It's probably from the later fifties or early sixties. I thought it would be fun to spell out "wash" and "dry" and the colors matched. They might get wrecked but I don't mind. I'd rather have something on display for a short while and enjoy it, than store it perfectly for years and never even see it.

 The "wash" word is right below the cabinet in the left hand picture, just to give an idea of where things are located. It's a very small space but I can fit quite a few laundry baskets on the floor. Ask me how I know that...go on...I dare ya.

This picture was hanging for YEARS in my parent's kitchen. I always loved it there and would have them hang it there again if I had my way. Mom brought it over a couple of years ago and I almost gave it back to her. It seemed odd to keep it at my house when it was so iconic in their kitchen. Mom showed me the back of the picture which reads: "Oct. 1972 to Laura Maria (my maiden name) from her great great aunt Harriet Larsen (her married name)"
So I found out that the picture was a gift for me when I was born. I love it. I'm glad I got it. It actually matches that room now and fits in perfectly with the old timey letters and doilies. I'm not one for an antique themed decor but when it is simple and sweet and makes me smile, it works for me. 

The lower right pic was taken with my back to that window, the door is the bathroom door and to the right of that is the door to the kitchen. Opposite the bathroom door is the door to the garage so it's a tight little space there and was a stinker to paint. Especially with kids running in and out of all of those doors all day and the baby in one of my arms while I was painting!
I'll leave this post with the bigger shots of the major before and after. I hope YOU are inspired to clean out a junk drawer, sort a bin of clothes, or otherwise de-hoard your home. My goal in all of this is to make room for PEOPLE, make space for GROWING, have room for PLAYING AND LEARNING, have time and adequate materials and space for COOKING and the proper space and materials for CLEANING and making our home healthy and happy in 2013!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Giddy Every Four Years

I hereby declare that I LOVE politics. I adore talking about it, debating about it, laughing about it and hearing about it. I especially love major election years and the weeks leading up to them. So many people are sick of it, but it's almost like (gasp, I know, I'm practically a heretic for saying it) Christmas to a girl like me. There. I've said it. BRING IT ON. I love everything about it.

I am not being sarcastic.

I enjoy hearing any and all speeches and commercials (we are not a swing state so I'm kind of bummed that we don't get as many political ads as they do :( ) and the goofy antics that people get about this time of year. Sigh...I feel sort of let down when it's all over too. The worst part about the election time is when it's over.

Call me crazy, but it makes me feel ALIVE. It doesn't depress me or make me despair  Quite the opposite. It makes me happy and almost drunk with joy. Maybe it's pride that we get to be in this crazy mix and say what we feel and mean and nobody has the right to stop us because we're citizens of the U. S. of A. and PRAISE THE LORD WE ARE but I just don't get tired of it and I don't really understand people who do. I mean, I do understand THAT people get sick of it all and want to stick their fingers in their ears and go "la la la I'm not LISTENING" but heck if I would ever even consider that! I just lap it up. GOSH, that feels good to say.

God Bless the USA!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cecilia Elizabeth (Birth Story)

I swear. I won't ever forget this birth experience. I was in labor, all alone, in the middle of the night. Much like with your brother, Niklaus. I was planning on having you much later but you came on your own. Around about 2 am, the contractions got serious. I debated calling all of the aunties at that early hour but realized that it was an insane hour to do such a thing. I did call your Auntie Anna around 2:30, just because I wasn't thinking clearly and I needed her cool head to let me know just what to do. She said that I'd better wake Daddy and that he'd help me decide to call the other aunties or just go to the hospital.

I called the hospital and talked to a nice lady nurse who had an interesting accent. I thought that it sounded sort of South African and New Zealand (funny thing: later that night, as I was in the terrible throes of labor, I asked her if she was from South Africa or New Zealand, she told me that I was exactly right. She said that she had been raised in South Africa but move to New Zealand later. I have a knack for accents! It's my weird superpower.) She asked me: "SO, are you going to come in?" I had one more bad contraction and said: "Yeah, I guess so...I have to get ready first though...within the next two hours we'll be there...I suppose."

I woke up Dad and he just kind of suspected that I was going to wake him and he was already awake so he got up and we woke up your sisters. I went down stairs at 3 am and told them that I was headed to the hospital and needed them to be upstairs with your other siblings. They maybe didn't quite believe me until I had a massive, painful contraction right there in their bedroom doorway. They came upstairs pretty quickly after that! I had more and more contractions as I frantically tried to pack a bag and get into the van.

I dreaded the ride to the hospital, since I remember driving with contractions with Katrina and Niklaus (went into natural labor with those guys too). The hospital was about 20 minutes away but driving with contractions every 3-4 minutes or so means WAY too many contractions for me! I barely made it into the hospital ER (the only door open at that time of night) and had a few nasty contractions (can't breathe, can't sign any papers) at the desk. The nice man at the ER desk wheeled me to the maternity part of the hospital. I kept wishing he would drive just a little bit faster!

I got into the gown and waited for the nurse to see how much I was dilated. It turns out I was about a "4" at around 4:30 in the morning. All of those contractions were working pretty good! She said that I needed fluid and that they couldn't give me an epidural until I had been given fluids for at least a half hour. I panicked and cried because the contractions were VERY strong and they hurt! She gave me a big exercise ball to sit on since I couldn't imagine laying in the bed at that time. I sat for a little while but there was just NO comfortable way to have those terrible pains. I ended up standing next to the bed and just crying and hurting for another half hour or so. Daddy would come and stand next to me so I could grip his shoulders and pull on his shirt and say naughty words a little during the contractions.

I was told that they needed to monitor the baby and to get into the bed. That was pure torture right there! They also told me that the person who was going to administer the epidural would be there soon since I kept mentioning it and I think I was driving the nurse crazy about it. I told her that I absolutely could NOT do it without pain meds and that she needed to go wake that guy up and tell him to RUSH to the hospital and that I didn't really care if the doctor ordered it or not!

He finally came and took the LONGEST time I ever remember to put the medicine in my back. I told him how the first medicines that they have put in in the past didn't work and that they always had to put in a different kind for it to work well. He listened well and the medicine worked VERY quickly and worked VERY well.

I was able to rest for a few minutes when I had total relief and my legs were totally numb! I felt a lot of pressure from you moving down and getting ready to come out but I was more in a mental panic because I knew that Daddy was trying to call the aunties to see if any of them would be able to make it to your birthday party! Auntie Anna was stuck in traffic, Auntie Nellie and Auntie Nina couldn't find anyone to watch your ten cousins that early in the morning in the middle of the week! Your uncles had to go to work and couldn't stay home with your cousins. You picked a funny time to come into the world, that's for sure!

Dr. Minke was the doctor who delivered Matthew and Analise in that same hospital years ago. He was the 'on call' doctor for middle of the night so I was happy that he came in and would possibly deliver you but my regular doctor came in about a half hour before you were born so that was okay too.

The two lovely nurses were very funny and laughed when I told them the only rule they had was that they couldn't say "push push push" over and over when it came time to push you out!

Dr. Lefebvre  raised his eyebrows when I told him that the only rule for HIM was that he was not allowed to CUT me. He mumbled that he might have to if you were too big...blah blah blah and I told HIM that there was NO reason he would have to do that because your sister was 10 pounds with GIANT shoulders and that I pushed HER out with no problem at all. I gave him the stink-eye about it and he kind of laughed (but I'm pretty sure he was scared of me).

The nurses and doctor and Daddy settled in for about 20 minutes and waited for me to be ready to push. The truth was, I was already ready to push but wanted to wait just in case the aunties could make it in time! When the nurse looked over at me and saw my face, she said "You are ready to push, aren't you?" and smiled. Yes, I WAS! So I told her "Probably, but I don't WANT to quite yet...but I supposed I SHOULD." and they calmly got everything ready.

I closed my eyes and listened to them as they told me to push and where to tuck my chin and not to hold my breath. I did just what everyone said and on the third set of pushes, I pushed a fourth time (Dr. L said, in a surprised voice, "Oh! She's going ONE MORE TIME on her own!...Here we go!") and you came out!

I was so happy you had come but I was a little bit sad at the same time that your aunties missed the whole thing. Auntie Nina and Nellie came in the delivery room about 10 minutes after you were born and talked to Daddy, held and played with you, and talked to me about what happened and when. I mostly remember little bits of conversation but I kept falling asleep and waking myself up with my own snoring! I was SO tired from not sleeping at all. You were born at 7:30 am and I hadn't slept for two days!

The nurses were marvelling about how much all of the water from the soaked up pads in the garbage bag weighed so they put in on the baby weighing scale and noted that it was TEN POUNDS! Since you weighed 9 pounds and 13 ounces...I figured I had just lost 20+ pounds in less than a few minutes! I could finally BREATHE again!

We left the hospital the next day. I liked Buffalo hospital but I got really sick and tired of the nurses checking in on me when I just wanted to get home to the other kids and regular life. The doctor and nurses were SO worried about the fact that I have "LGA" babies (large for gestational age...I didn't even know that was a "thing" hahaha!) and bleeding but it wasn't a problem at all for me. I never felt faint or had bad bleeding or anything.

(Trina with you on your birthday! Your brothers and sisters didn't even see you until later on in the afternoon on the day you were born. Trina took a few pictures but I was mostly sleeping when everyone was visiting!)

I didn't have a camera at your delivery or even video of you being born because there was no one to document anything! I don't even have a picture of me and you together because I was SO bloated and funny looking for the first couple of weeks after you were born. I didn't want you to remember me that way with you. I was SO tired and yucky looking and feeling up until a couple of weeks after you came...maybe it was selfish but I feel so much better now and can't wait to get pictures of you with me and Daddy, special on your baptism this weekend!

I did go back to the hospital with some bad abdominal pain a few days later but never figured out what that was. I think it was just a muscle issue. You babies are heavy and hard on a momma's belly!

So, your birth was memorable but not the worst and not the best. You are healthy and happy and everyone holds you ALL the time. You didn't even have any sort of baby seat or bouncy chair for the first month of your life! You slept on your brothers and sisters for every nap and slept next to me every night.

Maybe some people would say that you were "spoiled" but I just call it very very loved.

You are sleeping on my chest, right now as I'm typing these words. You are just over two months old and are smiling and laughing at us sometimes. You still can't hold up your noggin very well and sometimes cry when you are tired and want me to nurse you to sleep but mostly you take really long and good naps and snuggle with me all the time.

I think you'll be a red-head, like I was. Your eyelashes are impossibly long and look like I used an eyelash curler on them! You have blue eyes but I'm pretty sure they'll change color. You look a little like all of the kids in this family but you have your own look too. I think you look a lot like your Grandma Sue. You have her nose, almost exactly!

Welcome to the family, Cecilia! You were the best and most memorable thing about our lives in the year 2012!

Uncomferance (originally drafted around April 2012)

I am due to deliver this baby around June 16thish. I've looked like I am due "any day now" for about two months. I don't REALLY care, because I know it won't last forever.

I've done plenty of in-between baby time, watching other uncomfortable looking moms and thinking "Wow, glad I'm not HER." all the while, knowing that I WOULD be "her" eventually...again...someday...maybe.

I am realistic and I know that this tummy will eventually go (somewhat) away and I'll get back in shape (just like every other time...even if it takes two years, bleh) and start asking the silly questions other people have been asking me for the past few months.

 I can look back years from now and chuckle...or at least remember what NOT to think or say when I see a heavily preggo mom after my childbearing years!

The most annoying of all questions is "So, you due any day now?".

It wouldn't have been so bad had it not been asked around 30 weeks.

"Any day now." does NOT equal any time before week 39.

That is all.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Secret Of Life

Whew, with a title like that, this aught to be a doozy of a post, right?

Without further ado, I will now tell you "The Secret Of Life"...

Naw, not really. I was just hoping to attract more people to this post and my blog and to re-vamp things a little bit around here. Since the dawn of facebook, it's just way too easy to ignore this blog (I hate it when people talk about their blogs) and just spew whatever and post whatever on facebook and occasionally link to some profound thing here at my blog where the crickets are singing and the wind blows, unobstructed, through the lonely plains of my long forgotten worrrrrrrrds of posts past.

Kids, screwing around while Trina tries out her new backgrounds in her "photo session"

The photographer, trying not to laugh her pants off at how ridiculous it is to have a photo session in the playroom.

The pictures turned out so cute, good thing you can't really see the room and the mess in the finished product!

They get their flexibility from me.

My dumb camera captures Mari's funny face. Trina's shots turned out way better, of course!
 "The Secret Of Life" was inspired by the fact that we are not going to find out the sex of this baby in my tummeh. We didn't know what Katrina was going to be but we knew for all the other 6, so this is the first time in a long time that we DON'T know this basic thing about the baby we can't see on a daily basis while s/he is cooking.

I went to the doctor for the first time yesterday and I am 17 weeks along. I had no excuse for waiting so long, other than "I was busy." The doctor bought it. He knows I'm a 'frequent flyer' so he also knows I have healthy pregnancies and that I don't like to come in to the doc office every 4 weeks. I was so worried though, when he couldn't really feel where the edges of my uterus were for the measure tape and suggested we do an ultrasound (another reason I love my doctor: at the very first sign of ANYTHING, he whips you into the ultrasound room!). I think that they forgot about me for a second though and I sat and stressed out, thinking back to how I don't really feel this baby moving yet and how early I've felt my babies in the past. I sat in front of the empty ultrasound screen, imagining the worst. An undeveloped baby, all kinds of deformities, a baby missing limbs (so it couldn't kick), or any other manner of horrors before the doctor and nurse came in. I have to say that I was actually kind of surprised to see a normal, moving, heart-beating BABY right there on the screen! Yup. Everything is fine. It's just that the placenta is right underneath my bellybutton and it makes it that much harder for me to feel any movement right away. WHEW!

So, the "Secret of Life" here could easily be figured out if the doctor just moved the ultrasound probe around a little and checked around (kind of snoopy, isn't it?) but we are content to not find out this secret until June 16thish or whenever I get restless enough to induce labor and have this baby.

Oh, the kids already know he's a boy, anyway. They shouted to my tummy, "Hey, Baby! WHAT ARE YOU?" then they listened, very carefully, and the baby told them that he was a boy. Why waste time and money on an ultrasound scan when you can just ask a sibling? I should add that they have always been right in the past. Hmmmmm.

Trina's new website is here: I think there are some pics from that photo session in her gallery, so you can see how a pro does it ;)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Name Your Inspiration

Butch and I had a small book of baby names for our first baby (we didn't know the sex) so we both took the book, crossed off every name we refused to name our child, or names of old girlfriends/boyfriends, compiled the list of what was left, and waited.

We knew the name would be Alexis Katrina or Katrina Alexis. "Alexis", because I was obsessed with the name "Alex" for a girl since read the book and I saw the made-for-tv-movie "Alex: The Life of a Child"  and "Katrina" because I had always loved my bff/sister's name and how much people thought it was so beautiful and exotic sounding and how much attention she got for her name. I figured I'd give MY Katrina every advantage by naming her that feminine, ethnic sounding thing.

I'm pretty sure that, if it had been a boy, we would name the baby "Ryan". We had a nice friend named Ryan and didn't know many other Ryans so it had good connotations with us.

Of course, you know it was a girl and, immediately after her LONG AND DIFFICULT NATURAL DELIVERY (40 hours of labor and about 5 of it really hard labor) I just really wanted to rest. I'd pretty much had it with everyone and everything around me and I just wanted to sit there and get stitched up and cleaned up and not be bleeding or pushing or in pain. They put her on my chest for just a second but they couldn't keep her there because I was still delivering "stuff" and was bleeding a lot. They brought her over to the light bassinet and dealt with her while my mom, Butch and Auntie Nina ogled her and exclaimed stuff about her. They kept trying to get me to look over there at her but I couldn't say what I was feeling because the doctor was stitching me up and pressing on me and making me feel that I was still in labor!!!

I think they thought (for those brief moments) that I wasn't caring about my newborn baby or that she had caused me so much pain that I didn't want to look at her or connect with her but the truth was that I felt as though I already KNEW her and didn't need to SEE her to have that connection. I was just needing to be clean and fresh when I held her and had the time to really look at all the wonderful features of that new little creature and I felt as though it was VERY unselfish of me to share her with the people I loved so that THEY could finally "get" what I had been feeling all those months!

Maybe I'm not saying it very clearly but these were the things I was thinking back then and I remember them like it happened yesterday.

So, my bossy sister finally YELLS at me "Laura! LOOK at her!" and she held her up, angled toward the bed. I looked over and saw her giant eyes and cute little face with perfect dimple on her right cheek. Golly. She WAS cute! (I still just needed to get cleaned up before I wanted to hold her, though.) I finally held her and we all marvelled about every wonderful thing about her and all that mushy stuff you can only know or feel with your firstborn child/grandchild. Blah blah blah mooshy mooshy stuff you-know-all-that...

Back to the name thing...
So my mom keeps saying "What's her name? What's her name going to be? What's her naaaaaame?"
I told her the two names I liked and repeated them to see which combo fit.

They didn't!

I panicked for just a second and I remember looking at the clock across from the bed that I'd been staring at for hours and hours, counting the minutes like they meant the world. Why hadn't I been thinking about NAMES during this time?

All of the sudden, the song "They Call the Wind Mariah" came to me so I said:

"Katrina Mariah"

It was beautiful and rolled off the tongue. My sister was so honored that the baby's name would be Katrina and I knew Butch was leaning toward that for a first name anyway. MY middle name is "Maria" so I thought it was a good combination of my sister's name and my name (that I actually LIKED, I had never really liked the name "Laura". It was a boring and sensible name, I thought).

At the time, Mariah Carey had hit one of the peaks of her fame. I didn't like her or her music at ALL so of course I flinched when Butch or someone said "Oh, Mariah like Mariah Carey?"


I said, "NO! 'Mariah' as in Paint Your Wagon and They Call The Wind Mariah" which is a really strange story/musical where Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood actually SING...a LOT. It's so stupid but I watched it every time it was on tv on a Sunday afternoon. My dad would laugh at how those two were these serious tough guy actors who sang in this silly musical. It really is slapsticky but I always loved the power and might of that one song with that old west-y theme behind it. My parents had the record album soundtrack for that musical and I would listen to it on my record player all the time (along with David Allen Coe and a bunch of my mom's old 45s she got when she worked at a drug store in the sixties...another story for another day).

There. That's my story about how a song inspired the naming of one of my children...and HERE is a link to my friend Jim's interpretation of this story mixed with other stories about our other children and how Butch and I met.
(You can view the video of the song I'm talking about at the end of his post)

I will be having to figure out another new name for a boy or girl around June 7th, 2012. "Surpriiiiiise!" if you aren't on facebook. :)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Bottle Is Best

Butch brews beer in the garage. He has a turkey fryer set that he uses for the burner (hooked up to propane) and the aluminium pot for the brew. I'll post that process sometime down the road (it's been done before online...MANY times but it would be fun to show it on video) but today I'm going to post about bottling. We don't have a keg so we just gather bottles from neighbors and friends (NON twist off, brown varieties) and make sure they are rinsed well before we are ready for bottling. We've struggled with fruit flies all summer because the first batch of bottles we had were only semi-rinsed and the flies made their way into the house every time someone opened the garage door. YUCK.

First, Butch soaks (washes) all of the bottles the night before and gets ready to wash all of the materials we'll need for the bottling. This step is necessary BEFORE sanitizing. Next, he sanitizes everything that will touch the beer. I have a picture of the bottle caps soaking in sanitizer and Butch, in the garage with the giant plastic tub we use for washing and sanitizing everything. The green bowl has the priming sugar dissolved in 1 cup of boiled water (cooled) for putting in the bottling bucket before we add the beer.

This brew is our fourth batch and it's called "hophead". It was a little different from the other three that we did in that it required "dry hopping" (sounds dirty, doesn't it?) which just means that, instead of adding all the hops while the beer is cooking, you add SOME of the hops after you move the beer to a secondary container. Our primary container is a five gallon pail with an air lock on the top so bubbles can get out but yuckiness can't get in. We moved it to this glass "carboy" to eliminate some of the hops and sediment on the bottom of the bucket. That stuff is really gross and looks a lot like the contents of a baby's diaper. In this glass carboy, you can see SOME of the sediment remains and ALL of the hops that he added the week before (floating on top). This will be a VERY "hoppy" beer which means it will be so stinkin' bitter that most people wouldn't really be able to drink it. Hops (did you know that beer production uses 98% of the world's hops?) were added to beer to make it bitter (on purpose) because it acts as a preservative (antibiotic properties) since beer was originally made before plastic and sanitizing were invented. Double yuck.

Here is what the top of the beer bottles looks like before it is filled. We put the cleaned bottles in the dishwasher and run it on super hot with no soap to sanitize them as best we can. We try not to open the dishwasher until RIGHT before we are ready to bottle. The key to non-skunkified beer is bottling with care.

 Butch attaches the plastic tubing to the siphon and then pumps it a few inches up from the bottom of the gunk in the carboy. We want the clearest beer so we watch the tube for floaters and other goo and try to keep that to a minimum. We are trying to get as much of the clearest stuff into the bottling bucket (five gallon pail with a spigot) as possible. This takes a long time because the tube is so small. Our arms get a little tired.

 Now comes the fun part. I take the plastic tubing off of the siphon and put it on to the little stick bottler. It's a neato invention. It's hard plastic with a little rubber stopper on the end. I put the other end of the plastic tubing on to the spigot and then one of the kids (who is the bottle-hander) hands me a bottle. I put the stick into the bottle and press the little stopper on to the bottom. The beer rises right up to the top and the second I lift up on it, the stopper stops the flow. When I remove that little stick, it leaves just enough space in the top of the bottle! The priming sugar feeds the little bit of yeast that is still active (after the beer has been just sitting for a few weeks in the basement in the primary and then secondary) and, if done correctly, will cause carbonation for a nice, bubbly brew. It doesn't really pay to open any of the bottles for another 4 weeks, at least, or you will have very flat beer (which might actually be still pretty tasty...just flat) so the hardest part of all of this is just to have patience. We've had two successful batches and now we have two batches bottled that we haven't tried yet.
 Oh, I forgot the most important part! We have two neighbors that brew their own beer so it's really cool to have other people to bounce ideas off of and have experienced tasters around. Here is one of our favorite neighbors who DOESN'T drink beer but who is awful handy. He got snagged into the capping job. He just grabs a bottle cap, places the capper on top and squeezes. This batch was approximately 2 cases (50 bottles or so). It doesn't take long for those bottles to disappear once they are ready to drink...not because we're lushes or anything. We just really like to share!
This has been a really fun and pretty inexpensive hobby that we hope to expand. I want to try wine and maybe a batch of root beer or some other girly kind of brew. I know we'll have some duds and some great successes but it's mostly fun and pretty educational as well.

I wonder if I can write off some of the kits as "educational materials" on our taxes for homeschooling? Probably not, but beer making covers History, Science, Math, Home Ec, Gym (those carboys and five gallon buckets are NOT light!), and all of the new terminology I've learned even make it a little bit about English!

Don't go all crazy now and destroy your livers with all kinds of beer. Brew and drink in moderation. You are a little bit smarter after reading this post and I don't want you to fry up some of those good brain cells!

I always blog responsibly. :0)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Obstacles to Sanity

There were sure a lot of men in skirts. I'm still not quite clear about the reasoning behind that particular trend.

"You're CRAZY!" is what I heard every time I showed anybody the course of the Warrior Dash. They'd have a perplexed look on their face for a while and I'd say "I just REALLY want to do it!". Yeah, I know, it's not the most descriptive reason to do... a thing.

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There were all kinds of people there, old, fat, fit, very young, smokers, non-smokers, hippies, rockers...this race was pretty much the great equalizer of all races. I thought people were weird at marathons. OH NO, I'm pretty sure the weirdness factor was over 90% at the Warrior Dash in Minnesota on July 23rd and 24th, 2011

The two boa girls were with me for the start of the race. I ran into the green boa girl along the way. She was struggling a little and her friend had left her in the dust. I ran with her for a little bit but I was feeling really good so I didn't linger with her for too long. I feel kind of bad about that.
There were hundreds of people in each wave, one half hour after another, all day long. My wave was at noon. It just so happened that my friend, Nicole's wave was at 12:30 so we drove together and supported each other for the days leading up to and on the day of the race. It was nice to have a friend there to figure it all out and take it all in with me. It was also great to have her experience the whole thing so we could hash it out afterwards. It was very difficult to process, as it's unlike anything I've ever done before. It wasn't a race, it wasn't a run, it was almost like a playground for grown-ups. The mud and the hills defined EVERYTHING about that day!
"At the end of the race, there are water and bananas for you." Um, yeah. Sure. Yum.
I tried to engage a lot of people in conversation, even during the race. Usually, a race is such a deeply personal thing but this was much different. This was almost like a bonding experience. I made sure to try to encourage people who were struggling and sympathize with those who were running alongside me at times. I wanted to take in the beautiful scenery around me (it was in a ski resort in the summer on a beautiful day in Minnesota! What's not to love about that?) instead of focus on the path in front of me, which is what I would usually do for a road race, especially a lousy 5k. This was NO "lousy 5k"!
As we were leaving, throngs of people were just getting there. I would tell them as we passed, "Beware of the hills! They're killer!" I thought that was very helpful of me.
The very first obstacle was just a giant hill. They didn't really tout that as a true obstacle but most people I talked to afterward agreed that the hills were way harder to handle, mentally and physically, than the man-made obstacles.
This picture was of me AFTER I had "washed up". I went to the grocery store like that. I don't think the customers appreciated that very much. I got a lot of very funny looks.
The expression on the faces of each of the people I saw crossing the finish line (before my wave) was very hard to read. I saw them slog through the final obstacle, a giant mud pit covered in a bunch of barbed wire, with dead-pan faces. I couldn't tell if they were enjoying it, just glad it was over, or just too tired to care? Either way, the amount of mud covering each person was daunting. I wondered if I could even finish the race or if I might get hurt. It was kind of nerve-wracking to think that I'd look like THAT by the end of the race. Not that it made any difference at that point. I was already so muddy from the finishers rubbing past me on the grounds before I even ran! I saw the finishers walking toward the end of the grounds where a giant water blaster was shooting water to "wash off" the bulk of the mud. The people were swarming up against a mesh fence in an effort to get just a little bit of the mud off of them. The result was that they were no longer covered in the thick, 20 pounds of goo but that they were still, by any one's standard, VERY dirty!
Me and Weazy on the chairlift
My wave time was announced so I got in line toward the end. I figured that it would be much nicer to pass more people than would pass me and, since I had no actual time goal, I really just wanted to kind of take it all in and enjoy the day.
I gave Weazy and Sara (my only cheering section for the day) tickets to ride the chair lift to see me up on top of the hill (they missed me but enjoyed the ride...I didn't know that they'd have to WALK down the hill! Haha!) and we were off! I knew that I'd be able to handle a light jog for a couple hundred feet but that the first hill would be killer (I had seen it on the way in) so I took it easy. My strategy was to MARCH up the hills, try to jog down them, and at least jog in between all of the obstacles. I did pretty well on all of those goals. I never really "walked" except for up the hills. My legs were pretty much numb from using muscles I didn't even know I had after a while. I did do a lot of the stair climber at home before the race...thank GOD I did! I would have been sore for weeks if I hadn't somewhat trained for all those hills!
Linda, Nicole, and Laura...ALL "crazymama"s!
The walls and things to climb over were many but that part was actually a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. The mud pit at the end was the most surprising. I remember stepping into it and the strange, immediate feeling that this was SO wrong and that I needed to get OUT of that mucky stuff as soon as humanly possible. I remember hearing this giant man yelling at me to "GET DOWN, GET DOWN, YOU DON'T WANT TO SNAG ON THE BARBED WIRE!" and me, in my tired rebelliousness was thinking (really loudly at him) "SHUT UP, YOU FOOL. I'M TIRED AND I'M TRYING TO FINISH WITH THE MOST DIGNITY I CAN MUSTER AND THIS CHICK IN FRONT OF ME IS GOING SO SLOW!"
Unfortunate clinginess of clothing. This is not a very flattering picture, but it's what I looked like, I guess.
In the end, I wasn't content to just finish but I wanted to finish with as much speed as I could and try as hard as I could through the whole thing so I would have a good "control" for the next year's Warrior Dash...which I FULLY intend to enter! I wasn't in it for a good time but rather to HAVE a good time! Maybe next year, I'll actually have a better, faster time than this year and possibly some family members and more friends with me IN the race too!
I was in ‎396th place for our age group (35-39) on the satrun Overall number: 2625 Time:52:09.00 minutes per mile:17:16 I think there were over 800 women in my age group. Funny little tidbit was that Nicole and I ran different waves but she was only three seconds behind me in time and just a few places after me! She was running with another friend and her friend told me that she held Nicole back so I'm sure Nicole (who recently lost a lot of weight and is in way better shape than I am) could've been even faster had she been on her own. I sort of wish I had been with someone who had slightly more ambition than I did so I'd have been pushed just a bit more but I think I did pretty well all on my own.

I can't believe how the mud stuck to me in places I didn't even barely know I had places. I had to take a shower and two baths before I could get that stuff off of me and out of every crevice and crack. The worst was my feet and hands. I think because we have so many wrinkles and crinkles on those things. I had to buy a pedicure kit with a pumice stone and nail brush and some of those scrubby gloves and a bath pouf and take a soaking bath to get the final crud off of me.
  I've worn my Warrior Dash T-shirt (the white one you see in the pictures) to a few places since then and I ALWAYS get comments about it. The other day, I was walking out of Goodwill with four kids and these two guys walked in after me then walked out as I was walking out. The one guy looks at me and throws his hands up in the air in an "I am thee champeen" pose and yells "Warrior Dash! Woo!". Then he got into his car and drove away.
  I just smiled and kept walking to the car. I understood he was unashamed to do that goofy, public display because we had a bond (along with a few thousand other MN folks). We are all self proclaimed "warriors" in the battle of the mind and body against obstacles we have placed in our own paths. We actually PAID to slog through that mud and climb those nasty hills and jump over those impossible barriers! We came out on the other side fatigued, grubby, slightly cranky, uncomfortable and with goofy grins. We are all very pleased with ourselves and can't wait to do even better next year!
Most people wore old shoes because they knew they'd be all beaten up after the race. I brought some flip flops and dropped my old shoes in the pile along with thousands of others. They are washed up and donated.
 Nicole lost her husband to cancer almost 2 years ago and is raising 4 children on her own now. She lost a ton of weight and looks better than she did in high school and is working out nearly every day because she needs to be here for her kids. I know that there are far more challenging things to face in life than a silly race where you get to climb over old cars and have water sprayed at you but the whole thing taught me some great lessons about my fellow man. I realized that each person there had a story and a reason for trying to get through the race course and face VERY public humiliation. I pictured the words of each of their stories on their foreheads, like little signs proclaiming their particular battles to the world "My mom died last year." "I have a bad back and I'm overweight." "I have a drinking problem but I'm getting better." "I'm young and healthy but there's diabetes in the family." "I have 7 children and I've been feeling lumpy lately and need a goal to get off my lazy butt and finally do something about it."
These two fire pits are right at the end of the race. I jumped over it with flair for the girls to take a picture. It didn't turn out but I just saw it on the race photo site and it's quite something. I may have to get a copy, just for myself to look at and laugh and laugh.
 Just threw that last one in there, you know, specific reason.
Weazy took this one. It perfectly captures how gross the mud pit was.

Since this is my first and probably last post for the month of August, I'll just end it by writing that it's been a very exhausting summer and that I'm looking forward to fall and school and being a little more organized (for at least a few weeks at the beginning of the school year, anyway) and maybe getting back into checking out how my blog friends are doing. I've been really bad about keeping up with my in-person friends, much less spending any great amounts of time on the computer. I think the magic number of kids is seven. It's the tipping point of responsibility. No more long baths, long phone calls, or sit around in your pajama days for this mom! Time to grow up, I guess.