An Ode to Friday

Dear Friday,

I have always loved you. When I was school-aged, it meant the end of the school week. In college, it meant Football Saturdays and time with friends. In law school, it meant time to catch up on reading for class and studying, but also time for friends and backyard sits.

Even as a young lawyer, when weekends meant more working, I still loved you because those working weekends meant casual wear, and I had no kids to rush home to. Then came kids and less hours at work, and I raced to Friday afternoon so I could rush home to those kids, even though they were worn out and grumpy from long hours at childcare.

As a lobbyist, I loved you. Even in the waning days of long, drawn-out sessions, the legislators always tried to finish up the weekly business on Thursday, so that they could race home to you, dear Friday.

Now, during my gap year, my career break, I look forward to you all week, and miss you when you are gone, too quickly. You are my dawn, and my sunset. While the kids are at school, I run my long run. I take a shower without anyone yelling at me, knocking on the door, or, more frequently than not, barging into the bathroom and asking me where x article of clothing or y food item is located. Maybe I even have a moment alone to read. Now a bit older, the kids are usually happy on Friday afternoon. We come home ready to make a fun dinner and have a movie night.

But alas, the Friday fun will come to an end. Saturday will dawn. If there is a morning run it will be rushed to get back in time for a Tae Kwon Do class, a gymnastics practice or a volleyball tournament. We will rush about, doing errands and tasks, entertaining kids and doing household chores.

Counting the days until next Friday.

Super Simple Sick Day Soup

I made this last week when #2 was recovering from the stomach flu. I usually just make some miso soup but her nausea was dragging on, and #3 was also home with a cold and fever. It tastes really good but does not have anything that might upset a tummy – no fat added, no garlic, low sodium if possible. I also add ginger to help with the nausea but not enough to be overpowering.

Ingredients

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 leek, white parts only, carefully rinsed and chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 T* minced ginger
  • 1/2 t* dried oregano
  • 1/2 t dried basil
  • 4 cups Vegetable broth, preferably low sodium
  • 2 cups water
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • Conchiglie (small shells) or any small pasta
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, saute the celery, leeks and carrots for 6-8 minutes or until soft, adding water to prevent sticking.
  2. Add the minced ginger and spices and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, water and bay leaf, and bring to a slow boil.
  4. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Meanwhile, cook 1 cup of the pasta according to package directions.
  6. Add the cooked pasta and garbanzo beans to the soup, adding additional water if you like it with more broth. Continue cooking until heated throughout and serve.

*I always use capital T for Tablespoon and lowercase t for teaspoon.

Veggie Mommy Recipes

I started a food blog years ago when the kids were younger. It was really more of an online recipe box to be honest. It is nothing like the slick photo-filled blogs of today. There are some good memories on there though, so I am going to share some of them here. I hope to add more recipes in the coming months as well. And in case it is not already clear – we are a Vegetarian family. I have been Vegetarian since college and try to eat mostly vegan. My kids are all Vegetarian. My husband eats meat occasionally but we rarely cook it at home.

Enjoy!

Recipes from Veggie Mommy Recipes: Recipes for Football Saturdays

Super Bowl Recipes for the Whole Family, Including Baby

2018 Note: I got so sentimental reading this post! I loved making baby food for my kids. I wish I could still make it ahead and freeze it in ice cube trays. I do still utilize the crock pot often. Just last Saturday, I had a sweet potato chili in one crockpot and queso in another for basketball/football Saturday. And I loved looking back at my blog intentions 5+ years ago.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Baby food, Super Bowl cheese ball and Committing to the Blog

I had a list a mile long of all of the things I was going to do on my maternity leave. I am back to work now and the list remains. Sigh. But you must approach all such lists in the same way – one thing at a time. So, I really want to commit to recording recipes in this blog. The little bit I have done has been so useful to keep track of recipes we like and what went right and what went wrong to improve the recipe for next time. I have at least half a dozen draft posts I will finish but it seems only appropriate to just start today.  So, here’s a quick recap of some recipes from this weekend.

First, how can this be a VeggieMommy blog without recipes for Veggiebaby? I just made the following two recipes for our little man. I tend to make several batches of food every couple of weeks. I freeze it in ice cube trays and then store the cubes in ziplock bags to be reheated as needed. First up, green beans and quinoa. I know, yum;) (Read:sarcasm.)

Green Beans and Quinoa
12 oz. green beans
1 cup quinoa

1.   Trim ends off green beans.  Steam for 10 minutes.
2.   Place 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all of the water is absorbed.
3.  Combine the green beans and the cooked quinoa in the food processor and process to desired consistency.

Rice, Lentils and Carrots
1/2 cup lentils
1/2 cup brown rice
1 carrot diced
3 cups water

Place all ingredients in pan.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour.  Puree or mash to desired consistency.

I love lentils, so I also made myself some lentils while the baby mash was cooking.  This time, I just cooked the lentils with water, but I usually use a combination of vegetable broth and water.  Add some diced carrots, onion and garlic.  Add pepper to taste.  Serve with a salad or rice.
 
Now, onto the Super Bowl party.  We finished our basement over the holidays to add some home office space and a bar where VeggieDaddy can serve his Homebrew.  We decided that the Super Bowl would be a great time to unveil the new bar to our friends (and their 17 children!).  We just made chili, a football-shaped cheese ball, and threw in some frozen pizzas.  The guests brought appetizers and desserts, which included some tasty little cheese buns, baked brie, artichoke and spinach dip, king cake, cheesecake frosted brownies and cookies, among other tasty treats.  It was a great spread!

Super Sweet Potato Chili
1 large onion, chopped
3 small or 1 large sweet potato, cubed
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans
2 cans cannellini beans
2 cans pinto beans
5 cups water
2 1/2 cups beer (I used an IPA)
1T Garlic
2 t Cumin
1 t Seasoned salt
1T Pepper (I used ancho because I didn’t want it to be too spicy for the crowd, but the combination of the sweet potatoes and spicy is really good when you do spice it up.)

I cooked this in the crockpot all day, but you can make it in a large pot on the stove as well.  This makes ALOT.

1.   Set crockpot on high and allow to heat.  Saute onions with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil until translucent.
2.  Add sweet potatoes and allow to cook while preparing the beans.
3.   Open all of the cans of beans and dump into a colander.  Rinse and drain well.
4.   Add the tomatoes, beans and all remaining ingredients and stir. If you use a crockpot with a timer, set it to 8 hours on low.  Since I was home, I cooked it on high for a few hours because there was so much to cook, it needed the high heat to get going.

Kickoff Cheese Ball
This is from the Parents Magazine February 2012 Issue.  This is super cute and the girls had fun helping me make it.

4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
4 oz. Colby-Jack cheese, cubed
1/2 cup canned chickpeas. drained and rinsed
1/4 cup finely chopped jarred roasted red pepper
1/2 cup small pretzel twists
Chives or green onions for decorating

1.   Combine cheeses and chickpeas in a food processor and blend until smoothe, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times.  Add the red peppers and pulse until just combined throughout.
2.   Spoon mixture into a shallow dish and spread.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
3.   Crush the pretzels into crumbs either in the food processor or by placing in a ziploc bags and crushing with a rolling pin.  Spread the crumbs on a piece of wax paper.
4.  Scoop the cheese out of the dish and form into a football shape with your hands.  Roll it around in the pretzel crumbs to coat.  Transfer to a serving plate and use the chives or green onions to make the laces.

With the chickpeas, this is much healthier than your usual cheese ball, and it holds its shape much better!

And on tap we had VeggieDaddy’s Mocha Stout, a friend’s Scottish Pale Ale, and Green Flash West Coast IPA.

And, with that, I will sign off for now with the pledge to post at least a few more times this week.

 

 

The Last Stroller

We ended 2017 with a new home improvement project that required the purging of extra items and furniture. We have only been in this house 2 years and we got rid of a lot of stuff when we left North Carolina (some by choice, some not so much; they literally ran out of room on the moving truck!). Our little guy was 4 when we moved so most of the baby gear was gone. There were still car seats, booster seats, and one remaining stroller.

We were never really “stroller people.” When out first was born, “travel systems” were all the rage. These gargantuan multi-piece matching (often patterned) sets were a bit off-putting to someone like me who left Babies R Us in a panic after seeing the bottle aisle for the first time. My one and only request for our first stroller was that it be easy to fold. The Ingelsina Zippy, if anyone remembers, boasted that it could be closed with one hand. Sold.

We used the stroller occasionally, mainly to keep #1 in her car seat (the only other place she would sleep besides on someone’s chest), or because it was too stinkin’ hot in the heat of the North Carolina summer to walk around with her in the Bjorn. Later, there was the sit n stand double stroller (narrow enough to still maneuver) and a double jog stroller (that also boasted how easy it was to fold). Not to be forgotten, through it all, we had the car seat on wheels for travel, the Sit n Stroll – we loved that thing!

Sit n Stroll
The Sit n Stroll travel stroller.

Not sure why it never caught on (other than the reasons in this 2008 Slate article, where this pic is from, and the fact that your kid was sitting on the nasty ground as you walked around cities or theme parks or wherever you travelled to).

 

 

 

 

By the time we had #3, our girls were 7 and 4. They were done with strollers. A lot had happened in the baby gear world since the girls were born. And it turns out, some items, like car seats, expire. Yes, really. The theory is that the plastic breaks down and it isn’t as safe . . . Anyway, we got new baby gear for the little prince, including a stroller.

Maybe because he is the youngest, maybe because he is a “mama’s boy,” maybe because he spent more time in it while I was actually running . . . whatever the reason, that boy loved the stroller. At 4, he would definitely rather be pushed than walk. Honestly, that sentiment holds true today.

But, alas, the time has come to part with the last stroller. Even if my husband had an ounce of patience for pushing a 6 year old around in a stroller, none of us had any desire to lug it around. It took up too much room in the garage with all the bikes and other gear, so it was relegated to the basement storage room at some point in the past year. Like any other sentimental but practical mom, I threw it up on Craigslist for $50 and it was gone by the next morning.

Just like that, we are a stroller free family. Someday soon (or not, depending on how closely we follow the guidelines) we will even be car seat free.

 

BAMR

What’s a BAMR you ask? Bad Ass Mother Runner. Bold I know. I have been hesitant to even call myself a runner, let alone a badass one.

As I have mentioned before, the books, podcasts, training plans and general support from the Another Mother Runner ladies has kept me on track (pun intended). The training plans have been great and the community that comes with them have been great for advice and encouragement. Even more important for me have been the podcasts. I am not one to run with others very often, so the voices of my Podcasts have become my running pals. So, when one of the AMR ladies, Sarah, posted on social media earlier this year calling for mother runners in the Portland area (where Sarah lives) to model some new AMR gear for a photo shoot, I immediately volunteered. I was absolutely thrilled to join Sarah and several other area mother runners for a rainy day photo shoot. I was so fan girl excited when I pulled up and saw SBS, I almost couldn’t contain myself as I literally leaped from my car to introduce myself. One of my podcast “friends” in real life?!

It was also a nice little reminder that I AM a runner. Like a a lot of women, I spent the first few years saying, “I am not a REAL runner. I am just someone who runs sometimes.”

Recently AMR announced that they are looking for mother runners to be BAMRbassadors, ambassadors for the organization to represent them at race booths, help with social media, etc. The position is unpaid but those chosen will receive free gear. Sign me up! I was not alone – 350 women applied! The 33 chosen women were announced yesterday and today. I will admit, as I read the brief quotes from each woman and looked at their pictures (announced here and here), I again thought that I am way out of my league. Who are these Super Moms?! 4 kids, 10 kids, single moms, ultra runners, triathletes – These BAMRs are amazing and indeed badass!

I am not an ultra runner or a triathlete. I will not be winning any races. I won’t be qualifying for Boston anytime soon. But I am doing alright as a Mother Runner. I am accomplishing my goals. I am a master of fitting runs in – during practices, tournaments and meets, before the kids are up, and when they are at school; when my husband is out of town and when I am out of town; with the kids and hubs, and without. I worry that I am setting a bad example by not working but I know my commitment to running sets a standard that will inspire them to set and reach their goals.

I know not everyone is a runner. Surely there are a lot of hobbies out there for badass moms, though? Why not badass knitters? Bikers? Swimmers? What makes us so badass? That we take time away from our families, work and other responsibilities, yet we still make it all work:)

My Running (Her)Story

This is a bit long, but somehow being a mother runner in her 40s is not always an easy story to tell. At least there are pictures. And I should say upfront that this is not a tale of woe, even if there are a few screws in my hip now:)

In my teens I ran track. I ran hurdles and sprints up to 800 meters. 800 meters is two times around a track. That race and the 300 meter hurdles seemed like the hardest thing I would ever do running-wise. I never attempted a jog longer than one mile based on my own assumption that I could not run that far.

In my twenties, I did a gym workout here and there. There was a 5 am boot camp class at the Y, some occasional Jazzercise drop-ins, Buns of Steel, yoga off and on. I walked my dog but I don’t recall ever running with her.

In my thirties, I was a working mom. Getting pregnant was a struggle. I was lucky that once pregnant, those little kiddos held on, even though there were some threats of bed rest with the first two. I ate what I craved and didn’t engage in strenuous exercise (or any exercise at all). With #1, I gained over 50 pounds, and close to that with the next two. Luckily it didn’t all stick around, but enough so that I was looking for some kind of exercise after #2. It started with Couch to 5k when #2 was little.

IMG_0103
Girls on the Run with #1

Then, shortly after #3 was born, I found Another Mother Runner. I happened upon their first book, Run Like a Mother: How to Get Moving–and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity at the public library.

With the inspiration and reassurance from AMR that yes, I have the time to run; and the tips on running form learned from Chi Running, I finally got into a running routine and made it past the 5k distance. I ran a ten mile and a half marathon.

 

 

My 40th birthday year was fast approaching. As the days of 2014 wound down, I sat with my husband and kids to do our year in review and set our goals for the coming year, an annual family tradition. I figured out that my birthday was just slightly over 100 days into the New Year. I would run every day of the year until I turned 40. With the exception of one day*, I ran every day from January 1 – April 11 (the first 101 days of the year). Somewhere along the way, my husband agreed to join me in our local ten miler, which had been my very first race. Then, as my distances got longer, I decided to cap off my birthday weekend by running a half marathon on the Outer Banks, near our beloved house in Duck. We ran the ten miler Saturday morning (which my husband HATED**), had some friends join us at the house for a bit, and then hit the road for the 4 hour drive to the beach. I got up the next morning and ran my first sub 2 hour half marathon. After, I sat on the beach with my toes in the sand, cold beer in hand, and watched my kids frolic in the sand. It was the best weekend of my life.

After running 23 miles in two days, I figured I could handle a full marathon. I signed up for a Train Like a Mother marathon training plan and was pretty successfully getting my training runs in for a fall marathon – Rock n Roll Savannah, which was scheduled for Veterans Day weekend, a date I could ensure would be free and in a location that was just a drive away. One weekend in July, I set out early on a Saturday morning for a 15 mile run. It was the longest run to date but I had been following the training plan, so it had been a gradual build on the mileage. I had had some knee and hip pain previously but in the last few miles, the pain was so bad that I limped home. Over the next few days, I stretched and rested, but when I set out for my Monday morning run, there was pain and so I stopped after about a mile. Over the next month, I tried sports massage, a chiropractor and physical therapy. Physical therapy helped but I could not get rid of the limp. There were many theories, but everyone said, it can’t be a fracture, you would not even be able to walk.

Over a month later, I had just returned from a 40th birthday celebration weekend with my two besties in Austin. We had walked all over Austin. On the advice of the PT, who was very puzzled about my lack of recovery, I went to see a general practitioner for an X-ray. I had only seen an OB/GYN since moving to North Carolina, so this entailed finding a general practitioner who could get me in. The physician was in a boot herself, and super kind, but she also felt that it couldn’t possibly be a fracture. We did an X-ray in the office and I went on my way.

The North Carolina legislative session had dragged on into September but we finally seemed to be nearing the end. That of course meant long days and an unpredictable schedule for me, as a lobbyist. Shortly after leaving the doctor’s office, I got a call that the X-ray showed a fracture in the femoral neck of my left hip. I needed to go to the hospital immediately. I called the office back immediately but couldn’t get the doctor directly as it was after hours. I had been walking around for over a month, so going to the Emergency Room seemed silly. The legislature was debating a bill that was important to several of my clients that evening, so, at my husband’s urging, I agreed to go to the Orthopedic Urgent Care at Duke with my iPad and headphones so I could listen to the audio of the debate and take notes. The orthopedist came in the exam room after reviewing the x-ray and told me that I would have to have surgery right away. My immediate response was, “I don’t have time.” (I said it in a nice way.)

This poor woman whom I had never met seemed pretty shocked. I guess most patients don’t respond that way. Maybe she hadn’t seen too many working mother runners before? I explained that I had already been walking around on it for quite some time, it was a busy time at work, and surely we could consider measures short of surgery? She explained that it was especially problematic that I had been walking around on it for over a month. The dislocation could cause damage to the blood vessels and in turn cause necrosis of the bone (i.e., bone death). Gross. OK, I agreed, but can we schedule the surgery, instead of just sending me to the ER . . .

Lucky for me, a surgeon could fit me in to his schedule the next day, but I would have to be admitted to the hospital that night. They insisted that I leave the urgent care on crutches and pleaded with me to go straight to the ER. (I did go to the ER but stopped at home first to get a bag and kiss the kiddos. I mean, honestly.) While in the car, the doctor whom I had seen earlier in the day, and never met before, called to make sure I understood the severity of the situation and that I was indeed heading to the hospital. Sheesh, I got it! Once I arrived at the hospital, they admitted me to the floor with all of the other hip fracture patients. I was the only patient under 70. I could hear the nurses whispering in the hall, “She walked in here. I know, it’s crazy.”*** Thanks guys. Just in case there was any doubt that the wheels fall off after 40.

The surgery was successful and they sent me on my way with 3 screws in my hip. Obviously, I did not run the marathon in Savannah – my only comfort that the race was called for heat that year so I would not have finished anyway. Shortly after, the decision was made to move to Portland, and chaos ensued for the next several months. OK, so maybe chaos ensued for the next year.

Then I quit my job, finally figured out Long Run Fridays, and ran my own personal marathon. I won’t lie, it was tough to get past that 15 mile mark. I worried with each run that my bones would further crumble. But I hit that 26.2 and 2018 goals include a return to the Flying Pirate half marathon in the Outer Banks and the Chicago marathon in the fall. I am thankful for every mile.

STAY TUNED . . . for another post on how this all ties in to the exciting news that I am going to be a BAMRbassador! First, I have to try and drag my kids to the nearby track so I can get a run in.

*We got a ridiculous amount of snow during the 100 days. I grew up in Michigan so the snow itself did not intimidate me, even though North Carolina has zero capacity to clear sidewalks and roads after a major snow. However, my husband, who has an amazing knack for being out of town during all major weather events, was out of town. He may have even been in Hawaii, although I may be conflating events here. I spent a few days running up and down a path in our neighborhood while the kids played in the snow next to the path. But I still missed one day.

**He actually put his headphones in at one point so he wouldn’t have to hear my chatter. Apparently not everyone likes a chatty runner!

***If there is any moral to this story, it’s that pain is an imperfect measure of health. I had never broken anything before, so there was really no way to know that I have a freakishly high pain tolerance. Sure, two kids arrived (very) shortly after arriving at the hospital without pain meds, but who would have thought that would translate to not feeling a bone fracture? My hunch is that this a bigger issue for women than men. (I mean, let’s be real, why in the world were women ever referred to as the “weaker” sex?)

Long Run Fridays (and a PSA about parchment paper)

This post could also be titled, “The Best Part About Not Working” or, “The Key to my Happiness.”

As I have mentioned before, part of my journey this past year was getting back on the running train and working my mileage up to longer distances. I started a marathon training program from Another Mother Runner during the summer. I fell off for a few weeks during summer travel and activities but got back on track as the kids headed back to school. For those of you who aren’t runners, pretty much every training plan includes one longer run per week, which most people do on the weekends, usually on Saturday as called for in the training plan.

This fall, #1 had school volleyball games on Saturdays. #2 had gymnastics meets on Saturdays or Sundays. #3 had Tae Kwon Do on Saturday mornings. As my runs got longer, I found myself starting earlier and earlier to get my miles in before their activities. Each Saturday, I would check the time and my pace nervously, worried that I would not get back in time for that morning’s activity. Then, one day it occurred to me – why don’t I do my long runs on Friday? I am the master of me and I can decide not to volunteer or do things for other people for that one day. Long Run Fridays were born and I am the happiest mother runner ever!

Today is the last day of school before winter break, so I agreed to make an exception to my usual no volunteering rule when my son’s very sweet teacher who never asks for anything asked if I could help the kids bake cookies. We are really lucky to be in a building that used to be a Junior High, so it has some cool features (despite the lead pipes and peeling paint) like an oven in one of the classrooms. When I arrived, the kids had already decorated their cookies and a lovely woman from the community who has been helping first graders bake holiday cookies at our school for years was in the process of putting cookies in the oven. I was a little surprised to see her placing the squares of parchment paper directly on the oven racks but I will admit I did not strongly object. As another mom whom I often volunteer with put it, “I don’t want to step on any toes,” as I may already be known to do. Well, ladies, I can now tell you that parchment paper will indeed catch on fire if not placed on a baking sheet.

Charred remains of cookies decorated by first graders.

Less than ten minutes later, there were actually flames shooting up in the oven. The fire extinguisher was deployed by the quick thinking teacher. The kids who witnessed the scene complained of the smokey smell and exclaimed about the FIRE they saw. As I ushered a group of kiddos into one of the other first grade classrooms, the teacher said, without missing a beat, “Well, this is an exciting day boys and girls.”

Never a dull moment. On the bright side, this left me a bit more time to get today’s run in. My 7 mile run put me over the 1,000 mile mark for the year! 1,000 miles was a goal I didn’t know I had until I saw how close I was a few weeks back. Very appropriate that it came on a Long Run Friday, the last Friday of the year with the kids at school. I decided to run one of my favorite routes – along the Willamette River in Lake Oswego.

Willamette River from George Rogers Park in Lake Oswego. But not taken today. Today is a dreary day. It is December in Oregon after all.

An exciting day indeed. And, for the love of God, please only use parchment paper on a baking sheet or in a pan.

Photographic evidence of Long Run Fridays @MommysGapYear on Instagram and miles logged @Annaliese Dolph on Strava.

 

One Year No Work-iversary

I started writing this post almost two weeks ago. Where has the time gone? I feel like that is my personal theme of the month as I look back on this past year. This week marks the one year anniversary of the beginning of my career break. When I started writing this post, I decided to give myself the month of December to reflect on this last year.

When I decided to up and quit my job, I had so many ideas about how I would spend my days. Some have come to fruition. Most have not.

I have re-committed to running. Shortly before we moved to Portland, I had a stress fracture in one hip and had surgery. I was training for my first marathon, so it was a huge bummer. I worked my distance back up over many months, ran my own personal marathon, and will hit over 1,000 miles for the year.

I have been present for my kids and held down the home fort like never before. When I was lobbying, my schedule was very unpredictable. Our schedule revolved around the unpredictable general assembly. Now, my husband can schedule work trips without worrying about whether our babysitter can stay late or whether I will be in town. I am here. I am here for homework, bedtimes, practices, meets, tournaments and field trips. It is still not always enough. There are three of them, two of us, one of me.

I have felt incredibly guilty many, many days. Guilty that I have this privilege. Guilty that I am not fighting the good fight with my fellow nonprofit unicorns and social justice warriors. Guilty that I am not contributing financially to our family. Guilty that I am setting a bad example for my daughters. Guilty that I am throwing my career, and years of hard work, away.

I have thought a lot about applying for other jobs. I have applied for some jobs. I have started cover letters and then decided not to apply. I have applied to the wrong job (as in actually submitted a resume and cover letter to the WRONG job!). I thought for the first time that maybe I might want to do something completely different. My children suggested I work at the Athleta store at the mall. Not that different.

I have figured out what to wear. This sounds silly but not working requires a completely different wardrobe. And people dress different in the PNW. For good reasons, like, it rains ALL THE TIME. I have embraced Columbia. I tried wearing leggings as everyday wear, but it’s just not me. I bought some new shoes. I actually shopped at the mall some and am trying out a wardrobe subscription service of sorts to change things up a bit.

I have done and arranged for a lot of home maintanenace. We have two houses in need of repairs. New toilets, (another) new water heater and fixing the work of the a-holes who installed the water heater the first time at the beach. Making the Portland house our own, including new floors, a new wall, and soon to come – a pricey new deck to replace the current leaning tower of Dolph. Not to mention the rooms painted and furniture refinished. There is still wallpaper to take down and more furniture to work on. The beach house is in desperate need of new siding and doors. This will all take more time, and, of course, money.

I have not caught up on seven years of scrapbooking, haven’t even started. I have not sorted through the papers in my office space. I have not made that gym membership worthwhile. I am still striving to mix it up more in the kitchen with healthy dinners. I am desperate to read more.

For my one year no work anniversary, I will hit the 1,000 mile running mark for the year. I will enjoy chauffeuring my kids to volleyball, Tae Kwon Do, gymnastics, the school play, and a field trip for the Improv class to perform at a local elementary school. I will laugh a lot. I will probably yell some. I may get a little teary when I see my girl up onstage. I will find a fun dress for a cocktail party at a brewery with a Pearl Jam cover band.

Happy No Work-iversary to me!

Home Sweet Home

There is a little house in a small village on a skinny island past fields and fields of cotton and tobacco on the other side of the country from where I now sit. The small village is called Duck. And we lovingly call the little house the Ducky Dolph Inn. We spent our tenth wedding anniversary looking at houses on the Outer Banks. This was the smallest and maybe even the most dated but it had our heart and fit our family just right.

 

 

 

 

In Duck, we spend our days on the beach, eating donuts, and playing video games. The activities don’t vary much between summer and winter, just the proportion of hours spent on the beach and in the water. With no city lights nearby, the sky is filled with stars, and somehow, the moon almost seems bigger. Phone calls and emails can always wait when we are in Duck.

One very early morning and a few plane rides later and we are back home – in our “other” home on the opposite side of the country. Sans Daddy, as he hopped on another plane to California for work. And a rushed #1, as she had play rehearsal followed by volleyball practice. As I unpacked and vacuumed the sand out of the suitcases, I looked out my bedroom at the city lights and the hills of Portland, and thought how this house fits too. We love the endless hikes and the nearby snow and wide beaches (cold though they may be).

The girls and I all woke up before 5 am as we try to adjust our inner clocks back to West Coast time, but we all agree our time in our beloved Duck was worth it. For me, I am feeling a whole lot more relaxed as we face down another week of back to back practices, permission slips, volunteer signups and sleepovers.