Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Recovering from my 40th birthday week!

Oh, yesterday I had to go back to work.  (boo)  I had spent the last week and a few days with family and friends and enjoyed it all.  It started with a trip back to my home state.  I met up with my sister and her daughter and our cousin who is my sister's age and her family during a nice downtown concert.  After Chipotle, a playgym and some rocking ice cream I headed back to the hotel with the kiddos.  We continued with the celebration of my brother's marriage to a really great gal, which was a nice time, but all too short.  My dear sister and one of her daughters rode back with me and my kids in the car.  That was a fun trip.  A bit long, but we took breaks for gas and Cold Stone, and a Subway pit stop.

The week was anything goes.  The kids had summer school, so my sister and her kid got up at leisurely hours.  We did things a toddler could handle, walks to the swing and to the park, playing in the backyard, pulling out trains from my son's toddler days, riding tricycles and bikes.  My kids, being 6 and 9 years her senior, did surprisingly well with a small toddler cousin (who is only just two and can tell you in whole paragraphs about anything and everything, which floored me).  A run to the tattoo place (which you already know), a visit to an indoor pool (hey, it may be summer, but it still is Wisconsin), a few naps, mommy bike rides and mommy runs and a couple of visits to our favorite ice cream place.

And the late nights.  My sister and I come from a night owl, our mother.  Our brother also seems to have gotten this gene.  If we could all get up at 10 am and stay up until 2 am, I think we'd feel we had it made.  (My poor dad falls asleep by 8 pm, but is up and  at them by 5 am.)  Good thing I didn't have to work, but I did have to get up somewhat early as I had to send a couple of kids off to summer school on time.  I drank a lot of iced coffee this week.  But those late nights were good for reconnecting and discussing all sorts of kid raising issues, friends, old times, things we remembered.

Your siblings and parents have known you the longest and at your youngest.  Though we change as we grow older, there's something comforting knowing that someone knew you "before."  What you liked and disliked, how you acted as a kid.  They may have changed, but still things stay the same.

My birthday rolled around and I had a brother, a sister-in-law, a sister, a brother-in-law, two nieces, two kids of my own, a husband and friends from way back, friends who are tight with me now, and newer friends that are gracious and fascinating.  Not everyone could show up and they were missed, but it was the right amount and right mix of people.  We had a great time at the park, all the kids that came got along very well and the set up and take down was so easy with all my relatives at hand.  My high school friends sent me my "over-the-hill" flowers, which made me smile. 

One of my very best college friends made the trip with her family, which was fantastic since the last time we saw each other might have been two years ago.  People came and went with food and we nearly got rid of all the cake the first time around. 

It was a great way to start the forties.

The night ended late, as only we siblings can do.  The kids were in rare form, making up dance recitals and plays, while the adults gathered at the kitchen table to reminisce about childhoods, giving away family secrets to spouses, gentle teasing and literal ribbing.  The next morning, before all my siblings and spouses left, we took pictures. 

Now, you will note that me and my siblings seem to be on the short side.  That is correct.

And you may note that our spouses are on the tall side.  That is also correct.

 I think we all had some innate need to even out the gene pool.

I am contemplating that maybe my career should be in getting together with my family and friends.  Life would be perfect, then.  There's just this little thing called money (and health benefits) that would not be forthcoming with that lifestyle.  I need to keep looking.  If I could combine a career with a way to get to see my family and friends every day, or at least once a week, I might find what I'm looking for in life.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fabulous Forty

John Cougar Mellencamp, I'm sorry, but I think you got it wrong:

"Oh, yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone....  Hold on to sixteen as long as you can..."

Don't hold on to sixteen as long as you can.  It gets better and better.

And the thrill of living is just getting started.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I think this qualifies as slightly wild

Having kicked off my week of celebrating with visiting my cousin (makes you feel like a kid again), celebrating my brother's marriage to a really great woman at a reception dinner, bringing my sister and one of her girls home to stay with me for the week, I continue with my birthday week celebration with the following:

Wild Child indeed. 

Monday, June 13, 2011


Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.

-Attributed to Nathaniel Hawthorne and/or Henry David Thoreau in various forms.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What evolutionary purpose does this have?

Why is it, when my son, who completed fifth grade this year, walked across the stage and took his certificate of completion from his teacher, that I teared up like I was going to cry forever?  Why did I feel an ache and sadness while watching the slide show of pictures of the whole school of fifth graders with pictures of my son at various stages in his elementary school career, including the one where he and his sister pose in front of the school sign on her first day of kindergarten?  Why does my throat lump up as the principal and teachers tell the kids how great they've been and how great they'll all do in middle school?

Shouldn't I be so happy that he's growing into a responsible young man and is ready for his next level of development?  That he's going to take his challenges and manage them well?  What makes me so sad and weepy?

At this rate, I am going to need a box of tissues and permission to bawl my eyes out when he graduates from high school, and when he gets married, I may need some people holding me up.

PS--I don't remember such a fuss being made of me finishing sixth grade (which was the top grade in elementary back when I was a kid).  Maybe it didn't impact me all that much.  We'll have to check with my mom and see if she was weepy.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Stupid number

So, I am trying to be all positive about that number 4-0.  I feel great.  For the most part.  There are maybe a few aches and pains that surprise me.  Recovery time maybe takes a little longer from some exercise, but that could just be I'm not in the top shape I could be.

I don't think I look much different from my 30s and 20s.  There's a wrinkle here and there, or a sag, but on the other hand, I am a mother and going to be 40, so I should forgive these.  And I should also remember that no one notices what I see.

Logically I tell myself to not be obsessed with images, numbers, age.  I should work from what I have and make it the best it can feel: healthy and strong.  Compare myself to myself and remember I am a forty year old and that's exactly where I should be.

As one friend put it, we should all be so lucky to arrive at forty.  She's damn right.  There are a few acquaintances, high school classmates that didn't.  I should be thankful and thankful for the many more years that I hope to look forward to.  And take my own advice and use up the body for what it was meant to.  Gather the wisdom and stay healthy and strong.

Youth is wasted on the young.  Old age should not long for the looks of youth, but use the wisdom to create a healthy and happy life to be enjoyed to the fullest.

'Bout time I take my own advice.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Oh, I'm so addicted

Somebody stop me.

First I bought this:

But to use that, I wanted the shoes:

And of course with the shoes I need the cleats and the right pedals:

I had a bad dream that I could never click into the pedals properly.  You'd think I'd be more worried about falling down.  But then I fell down.  I had to literally get back in the saddle and get over that fear.  I also started not being able to click in properly.  Finally it helped that the local bike shop loosen the parts on the pedals that hold the cleats.  By the way, if you bike with any regularity and without the cleats, I highly suggest getting the cleats.

I rode (without cleats) about 10 miles back in April.  Cold, but I loved it, but really should have been carrying a water bottle.  So I had to get the water bottle carrier:

After that ride, which was my longest on the road up to that point, I also felt pretty butt sore.  I hadn't been in my spinning classes (I've been taking since January), so I thought I was fine.  But, I had to go and buy the biking shorts with padding.  (The matching shirt didn't hurt either, love those colors) Bliss:

I also had really numb hands after my first long ride.  My friend loaned me some on the next ride, so I had to get my own pair.  Got a mirror, got a carrier for the front of my bike and finally added a kick stand because I got tired of leaning the bike up against things.

Nobody tell my husband.  However, since he's done reenacting in the past, I'm sure his bill for his two guns (here and here and this is not including his historic clothing or camp gear) came to more than what I've spent up to now.  Maybe some glasses to protect my eyes?  I already had the helmet.

Somebody stop me.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thinking about forty

People sometimes get all worked up about twenty and thirty, but I think we can all agree forty is quite the milestone.  It's ever present in my life, because my high school class is all going through it at the same time.  Facebook makes that fact ever present.  I think that's great.  I don't feel so bad, because we are all in the same boat.  It's allowed me to make it a bit of fun, too.

When I was a senior in high school (still sweet seventeen) myself and the three other girls who were seniors in the show choir got wind of the fact that our music teacher was turning forty.  We got the date, which, I believe was a Monday.  We made a plan.  We got the band teacher in on it.  We gathered our forty decorating supplies and waited in the school parking lot the night before.  Our band teacher arrived and let us in the music room.  We filled the office with black streamers and black balloons and signs all over the room proclaiming his age to the whole world.  One of my sneaky friends had ordered a "dead bouquet" which was black roses with a stuffed bird hanging upside down on a limb (get it? dead bird).

The next day, we made sure we were by the music room bright and early.  He was quite surprised.  He took it in stride.  Then we were gathered for our show choir class during the lunch hour period.  The bouquet arrived.  He was flustered, but appreciative.  We 17 and 18 year olds thought we were so clever.

Now, here we are 22 years later.  Um, now we know what forty feels like.  Some of us take it in stride.  Some of us are hesitant about this number.  Some of us are ready to celebrate this milestone like crazy.  I cooked up a plan with two of the three others.  We found our own "dead bouquet" (which are very hard to find now, I was disappointed, but mine came from Gifts for Geezers, whew!) and we all pitched in and sent it to our first victim who turned forty on New Year's Day.  She was a bit hesitant about the number, but appreciated the bouquet and told her husband the story of making our music teacher's wonderland of forty decorating.  It made her smile.  Two more have had their birthdays.  Lucky me! I'm the one left.  I'm expecting nothing less than the "dead bouquet."

I'm all about that quote:
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand - strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming: WOO HOO, WHAT A RIDE!

I am looking at the number 40 and thinking, dang, I have a whole lot more I can do and accomplish and it doesn't have to be professional.  I need to get a tattoo.  I need to ride RAGBRAI.  I need to spend more time decompressing and enjoying my family and friends. I need to spend more time on writing and working on PUBLISHING, even if it starts with just a magazine.  I need to save for my quilt/tea shop, so I can open one (hey, I don't have any plans for my 50 decade yet).  I need to get more involved in my community, state, and nation, because professional politicians are not getting the job done, and if I don't do it, who will?

I am hitting this decade running and I hope to leave it proud.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Woman Never Tells Her Age

Yeah, right.

I am nearing that magical age of forty.  Not quite there yet, but it is at the end of the month.  Fabled as the middle ages (this assuming that I am living until 80, but with the family genes of women in my family living until the 90s, doesn't quite work for me), I am excited about this decade.

Everyone can pshaw me.  I have a complex about being treated as younger than I am.  I will say, I know I look younger, which is fine in social situations and not an issue for me.  Usually this bugs me most in a work situation.  It is getting more fun to say I'm in my late thirties, but still, I get the "you're still young" statement at work more times than I can count.  In my twenties, I thought, fair enough, but I do have ideas I would like to try.  In my early thirties, sure, I've only been out of grad school for 5-10 years, I need to get some time under my belt.  But now I'm starting to get a bit peeved.  How many years should one expect to be in the work force to get respect for experience?  So I keep thinking that maybe 40 is the magical number.  That this is the time that people will say, "Ok, yeah, she's been around the block a few times."  On the other hand, I have always worked with people older than me, so I guess they deserve to lord their years of experience over me.  But I would like them to acknowledge that I have spent enough time in my business to warrant a nod of recognition that I do know what I am doing, on occasion.

This has been a fun year on Facebook.  Old high school pals and acquaintances have been turning 40.  I've been trying to say witty and fun things for everyone's 40th birthday.  I think we all should embrace the 40 and run with it.  So many sayings about 40 is the new 20 and all that.

I have noticed, once the kids got older, it leaves more time for mom and dad to look back to themselves again.  I have a goal to participate in the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) next year.  I've done spin classes since January and try to get in 2-4 bike rides a week.  I'm impressed with myself in staying power in tackling 20+ miles.  I know I need to boost this number by quite a lot, but I'm very psyched about what I've started.  I think my son was inspired enough that he is going to sign up for a youth triathlon.  I'm almost thinking about doing it.  I never believed I was an athletic person in jr. high and high school.  Now I believe that maybe people like me might have responded better, if I hadn't been compared to my peers' abilities, but instead compared to my own abilities and that improvement over time was emphasized instead of trying to get me to beat the fastest people in class.  Seeing improvement in oneself is a great reward already.  It might be more motivating to kids rather than comparison to each other.  (I suppose that might also apply to learning)

Hitting this decade also makes me a bit reflective.  What have I done with my life until now?  What haven't I done that I used to do, that I should do more of?  What really matters?  Should I be doing more to improve the world, or is improving my part of the world, no matter how small, enough?

Nostalgia also hits.  I sometimes wish I could have told my teenage self that the things I cried over were really not worth it in the end, because they didn't matter in the long run.  But that is what age is for, to understand what is not worth it in the long run and to pare down your life into what is really worth it.

I'm taking you with me on this journey of hitting the big 4-0 from before the big day to beyond.  Let's see what this 40th decade is all about.  I am going at it with a cando attitude and challenging ideas of myself that may not be totally true and need to be changed.