Friday, January 29, 2016

Walking on Ice

Now that I have no kids at home during the day, one of the things I get to do is go for walks.  I love going for walks.  When the girls were little, I'd pack them up in the stroller just about every warm day and we'd head out for a walk around the neighborhood.  We did this in St George, in Michigan, and even here in Illinois.  We'd walk to parks and let them play.  We packed snacks and games and books to keep them occupied.  I would often go walking with a friend, which, let me clue you, if you want to get to know someone really well, make them your walking buddy.  Something about walking allows you to talk about anything and everything.  When I think back on all the walking buddies I've had, I realize that I'm really naming some of my most treasured friendships.  But I am even happy to go walking alone, I put my earbuds in and listen to my favorite podcasts.  (This American Life, Radiolab, Serial, The Mystery Show, Stuff You Missed in History Class, Invisibilia, and Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, in case you were wondering.)

Julia got too big for walks in strollers a couple years ago (she looked pretty ridiculous huddled into our double stroller), and Ella grew out of them about a year ago.  Handily, Ella was also in preschool about a year ago, so I was able to do my walking while she was at school.  But school was only 3 mornings a week, and sometimes going to the grocery store and taking a shower took precedence over a walk.  The same thing happened this fall, she was in school every day but those 2 1/2 hours flew by so fast, I didn't always get in a walk. 

But now.  Now I can go walking every day.  I most definitely have the time.  And I can even go in the afternoon, when things have warmed up a bit.  There is something so refreshing about being outside, feeling the sun on your face, hearing the birds (even in January!), and knowing that your body is completely functional and you are able to go however far you want.  It's all very freeing. 

This week's walks have been particularly enjoyable.  Why?  Because of the ice.  I know that sounds crazy, but I promise it's not.  Early in the week, we had rain, which then froze overnight.  The sidewalks all had a very thin sheet of ice on them.  Slippery, yes.  But who says slippery has to be bad?  I had such fun "ice skating" down the road!  If I needed a break, I'd walk on the snow covered grass.  But I didn't need many breaks.  I felt like a kid, wearing socks on the wood floors, "skating" everywhere I go. 

And then yesterday the ice started to melt a bit.  Which meant there were little ice sheets along the edges of the sidewalk, just waiting for me to crunch.  There is something strangely satisfying about breaking an ice sheet.  I'm not entirely sure what it is, the feeling of power, the sound of the crunch, the web of cracks left behind by my shoe?  Maybe all of the above.  Today the ice melted even more, which meant more ice sheets to crack.  It also meant the ice on the pond I walk around was even thinner.  It took a lot of will power not to find a big rock to chuck into the middle of that pond.  Oh, I wanted to do it so bad.  But if I look ridiculous skating on sidewalks and smashing the icy edges, think how I'd look chucking rocks into a pond, trying to break the surface.  I am all for finding your inner child, but let's not go overboard.

This is all to say, I'm enjoying my "retirement" from being a mother of small children.  There are times when I am sad to say goodbye to that beautiful yet exhausting phase of life, but mostly I'm excited to be embarking on this new phase, the one where kids are more physically independent (even if we are on the edge of the emotional breakdown known as puberty), and I can go walking every day.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Why Hello, 2016!

2015 was an interesting year.  It had the best of times and the worst of times.  We had a most terrible May, which honestly felt like enough to call the whole year a wash.  But then we had that dreamy summer, which was really pretty incredible.  Between their visits here and our visits there, I saw my parents 5 times this year, and seeing your mom always makes things better.  Clark was a race running fiend (see his blog for more details).  Ella started Kindergarten and learned to read.  Julia read 46,574 pages (I kid you not!), and generally rocked the end of 1st and start of 2nd grades. I think all that wonderfulness makes up for May.

And how did I do?  Well, let's take a look at last year's resolutions, shall we?

  • Read Jesus the Christ.
Once again, I did not read Jesus the Christ.   It's a beast of a book.  And once again, I'm resolving that this will be the year I do it.  I've decided that Sunday morning is the perfect time to read a chapter.  And if I read one chapter each week, I'll be done before the end of the year.  I am a woman with a plan, and I've already read the first 2 chapters (because chapter 1 is the introduction).  Just you watch, 2016, I'll finish this book.
  • Finish my 30 by 30 challenge. 
Once again, I did not finish my 30 by 30 challenge.   I still have those last 4.  I guess we'll continue to put that on the resolutions list.  Maybe this is the year...
  • Go to the temple more.
I am so very happy to say that this actually happened!  I have been to the temple a LOT more than I went in 2014.  Between youth trips and going with friends and going while we were in Utah and a few actual, real deal dates with my husband to the temple, I think I made it at least 7 times, if not more.  It's not every month, but this is way more than I have been since we moved from Utah.  Win.
  • Keep learning Portuguese.
Check!  Duolingo is now a part of my daily routine, and it tells me I am now 50% fluent in Portuguese.  I think it must be the 50% that involves reading and writing, because I really can't SPEAK Portuguese, but we are getting there.  I understand a whole lotta stuff.  Win.
  • Blog more.
Not win.  Obviously.  New year, same goal.
  • Be more present with my kids.  Stop thinking about what we are going to do, and start enjoying what we are doing.
It's hard to measure if I did this or not.  I probably did sometimes, but I'm sure there was plenty of distraction in there.  Thinking back on the Summer of Dreams, I think being present is what made it so dreamy.  So there is that.  I'm calling it a win.
  • Give more.  Be quick to observe needs in others, and meet those needs if I'm able.
Again, this is hard to measure.  And, to be quite honest, this is a constant battle I have.  I am always striving to be the type of person who sees others' needs and just meets them, without a thought.  But I overthink everything, and tend to talk myself out of acting on promptings.  And I often don't see the need in the first place, which is kind of selfish of me.  I think this will be a lifelong struggle for me, but it's one worth fighting.  It's one way I can be more like the Savior, and oh, I want to be more like Him.

So, once again, I'm rolling over some goals.  Read Jesus the Christ.  Finish 30 by 30.  Blog more.  But I am also adding some new ones:

  • Walk 500 miles.
  • Read 12,000 pages.
  • Start my book blog (stay tuned, this one is VERY exciting)
  • Visit Chicago when it's not the dead of winter.  How we live here and have never been in the city in warm weather is beyond me....I'm not even talking "summer," just NOT WINTER. 
Here's to the new year!