Why No Posts?

Tempting fate.

It sounds superstitious.

It is superstitious, but part of the reluctance to post has been a concern about tempting fate.

This life we’ve chosen, it’s outside the norm. Our children; their path is different from that of the vast majority of children.

We obviously think the path we’ve chosen is best for us or we wouldn’t have chosen it.

Our children are happy. They have lovely, laughter-filled, learning-filled, interesting-to-them, family-filled day after day.

I’m happy. I’m living the life I want.

As part of hospice and end-of-life doula training you think about your perfect end-of-life options and how you would need your life to change to bring that about. What people would you draw close to? What people would you stop seeing? What activities would you finally do?

This life I’ve got; this is it. These people, the ones I spend time with and learn about, these are the people I want. The ways we spend our days, the trips we take, the hobbies I have; this is it.

Buds would have to write his own vision of the life he wants, but most days seem to be a chosen path he loves. Certainly this family space is his favorite place to be.

This bubble around our life, it is sacred space to me. It can vanish with a too-quick left turn in front of a distracted driver, a visit to the doctor with unusual blood test results, or harsh light from a society that does not welcome alternate paths.

Our family will spend several days in Massachusetts this summer as we gather with Buddie’s co-Ephs for his 25th year college reunion. In preparation, the reunion committee published an updated “Facebook” with autobiographical essays from those who chose to submit them.

Buds and I have been fascinated by these 25-year snapshots of human lives. You can read Buddie’s essay here.

This morning, I read Denis Gainty’s. I’m not sure if Buds knew him at Williams, but if they had met, I think they would have been friends.

We won’t be meeting Denis at the reunion this year because he died unexpectedly on March 26, 2017. He sounds like he was a splendid human (as most of us do after we die.) But, I really believe we would have all gotten along from the final paragraph of the essay he submitted for the reunion book before he died.

“I’m including a picture of me with my kids. Here’s hoping that, through some happy chance, they get to find their own Williams.”

How beautifully that complements Buddie’s final paragraph:

“My time at Williams was sweet. In this open, internet world, I don’t know what Williams my children will find. Change comes and we try to meet it with an open heart.”

This understanding of children as people, not simply an extension of ourselves; acknowledging that life is a series of events that, if we are truly blessed, may lead to happy outcomes.

How delicious it is to me that these two men, one of whom has finished his journey, recognize that their children will/may find their own Williams; their own peaceful beautiful path, if they can.

I fully reject the idea that children should be putting off living the lives they envision until “later.” There may be no later, so supporting them as they wander through all the different ideas and options and travels and adventures, that brings me joy.

And sharing that joy via the blog, to a wider audience, that feels tenuous to me.

Am I tempting fate by broadcasting this joy? This diversion from the typical?

Processing that is part of the journey.

Addendum: I talked with Sarah at Williams this weekend about Denis. She didn’t know him well, but her memories of a splendid, joy-filled human indicate my instinct was right. He and Buds would have gotten along well.

Williams Weekend

Editor’s Note: Post contains video. View at the website for best experience.

Buddie’s 25th Reunion was last week at Williams, and I’m sufficiently recovered from the epic drive home to write about it.

We attended the 15 and 20-year reunions, and this one was the best so far. In part because the children are older and that makes it more relaxed and interesting for everyone, and in part because we didn’t cram all five of us into one dorm room. (This year we had a whole wing of five rooms to ourselves.)

Buddie’s parents drove down from Vermont to spend the four days with us, which means we’ll have gotten time with them three times within 3 months, which is a great benchmark to reach.

Buds loved his time at Williams, and his college friends are splendid folks. Added bonus that we like all their chosen partners, too, so it makes for a fun gathering.

We left early on Wednesday for the first-leg drive to Buffalo, NY. (It was also Bud’s birthday, so the karmic payback of making Yessa spend 11 hours in a train for her birthday in Italy.)

Loaded up and ready to head out.

The quick drive over from Buffalo to Williamstown gave us time to check in then wander around campus on Thursday. (The full festivities didn’t begin until Friday.)

Buds lived in “The Old I” (stood for “the old infirmary”) for part of his Williams tenure. He lost his room key so he would climb in this window to get in his room.

Buds looking at the window he used to climb into.

We headed to the gym and wrestling room to see what had changed…not much.

The indoor track.

Buddie’s mom brought a cake to celebrate his birthday.

It’s says “46” and “25.” Perfect topping for the weekend.

Mary’s almost been caught by all three grands.

After a rather painful night in the dorms, we headed out to the Mass MOCA Museum in North Adams, MA.

(Note to self for the reunion in five years: Rent a house off-campus with college friends. Staying on-campus was fun and easy, but not comfortable. Do not forget the horse-hair blankets and slippy sheets.)

A quick breakfast snack together.

MOCA was fantastic. More time to explore would have been wonderful. We can do that in five years.

The grands trying out VR for the first time.

The musical art room.

Hanging out before the next exhibit.

Buds and Buster went down to Spring Street for a Magic Tournament on Friday night, which they both loved.

Telling us of their adventure.

Peter, Sarah, Ellen, and Eric were Buddie’s best college friends. Ellen didn’t attend the reunion, but we got to spend time with all the rest and their families.

Playing games.

Dining hall meals

Walking in the parade.

We swam in the pool. (Sarah was a college swimmer, so we all enjoyed the pilgrimage with her.)

Buds and I got in a workout.

We enjoyed exploring the new Sawyer Library, which was stunning.

I loved the various carols for all different types of studiers.

There may have been attempts to crush each other in the movable shelves.

The joy of being on this beautiful campus as Buds and his Williams tribe shared stories, pointed out buildings, laughed, and reminisced, it was delightful.

Buds, Mike, Peter in front wrestled together. Eric in the back.

They’ve all known him since before me:

The first time I met the gang in NYC in 1994.

Peter served cake at our wedding.

Sarah and Ellen wore those huge lapels with a smile.

We heard a hilarious story from Eric when he and Peter went to the grocery store in the small town I grew up in. They got asked if they were models because not many men dressed like them in our town.

Williams folks at our wedding.

And we’re all still here, 25 years later.

I watched the 50-year folks with special appreciation this year, and Buds and I visited with some 40-year alum. You don’t know what life holds, but having good folks with you along the way; that’s what matters.

One last note, we drove straight home after the reunion, setting a new family record 18-hour drive. The children, Chip The Dog, and I held the previous 17-hour record. Buds was proud to be part of this new record-setter.

See you in five years, Purple Cows.

All the alum from 1992:

Buds on the bottom right in a gray-looking shirt.

Buster’s A Teen

He turned 13 a month ago, and it doesn’t seem to have changed him much. He’s still the same thoughtful, kind, sensitive soul he’s always been.

We had plans for a little birthday party, but Yessa started spiking a fever a day before and we had to change up our plans. As is his way, Buster wasn’t disappointed, just ready to enjoy the time with the five of us. (Four, really. Yessa watched from the couch.)

She was not alone on the couch:

They offer furry comfort.

Tough to tell, but Waffles has snuggled himself under her arm to offer warm love.

Whipping up one of the two cakes.

The vanilla cake Buster picked from Lindsay’s website, Moist and Fluffy Vanilla Cake, was amazing. We have never had a batter that was so moist and delicious. It was like mousse. Buds and I would have eaten all the batter, but that was frowned upon.

This batter…

It makes me faint from deliciousness.

He also requested a red velvet cake, which Monkey took on.

There was a plan to decorate both cakes to look like books; Yessa in charge of one, Monkey in charge of the other. Once Yessa fell ill, we gave the book cakes a raincheck and focused on enjoying our weekend time together.

We still frosted them.

Some sculpting.

Crumb coat in place.

He wanted pizza.

Cake #1

Cake #2

He’d gotten gift cards and money to choose presents from his grands and aunts and uncles, so on his official day, he had a couple presents from the family.

One gift was a set to make round ice balls. An odd gift, it might seem, but he became entranced by the set at Kel and Paula’s, so we wanted him to have his own.

Overall, it was a lovely birthday.

And with Waffles’ loving ministrations, Yessa was soon well, too.

He thinks he’s helping.

Happy Birthday, Buster. We love you, now and forever.

Streak Breaker

Note: Post contains video. Read at mommie2zs.com for best results.

I broke a long streak of many months with at least one post when I didn’t post anything in April. Living life and not writing about it.

Buds and Monkey are still working on moving the blog over to a private server. I’m a little mentally stalled by that since I know it will mean changes to how things work and look.

Many things going on with the our crew. We’ve had trips to Vermont, Virginia, Florida, Iowa, and soon to Ohio. We’ve had birthdays and Girl Scouts, and love, laughter, and tears.

And I was the target for musket shots at a Civil War Homeschool event because I teased the Lieutenant.

Please note that Yessa shoots at me with much less alacrity than many of the other children.

A few random photos with explanatory posts to follow eventually.

A few long drives.

Beautiful day for being out and about.

All getting so big.

So tall.

Saturday workouts.

Beloved nieces come in all heights.

The new game store space.

Monkey’s smile/look intrigues me in the above picture. She’s an enigma.

These “smiles.”

That’s better.

Mission Complete

It started with the New Hampshire Compulsion. I’ve spent the past few years chewing over this challenge like a dog gnaws on a bone.

Given enough time, sometimes the dog finishes the bone.

The New Hampshire Compulsion was a long bet I made with my buddy Todd. We had ten years to finish in the top 10% in the Crossfit Open (for me) or complete a lifetime 50 marathons (for him). The Crossfit Open rolls around once per year and consists of 5 or 6 workouts. Everybody submits their scores online and there’s a global leaderboard so you can see where you stand. I’m in the 45-49 year-old age bracket. Five years ago there were 1,600 people doing the competition at this age. This year there were over 13,000 men in this age group.

Got ‘er done.

2017.1: The year started with ups and downs. The first try was disappointing, and exhausting. The worst part was burpee box jumps–throw yourself on your chest then stand up and jump over a 24″ tall box. These favor lightweight, explodey types, which I’m not. I didn’t finish the first time, finished but miscounted my reps the second time. The third try was finally solid, and valid. I was very happy to do great on third try. Improved from 79th percentile to almost 94th.

Getting pumped up for the first workout

2017.2 Every year there is a workout that includes muscle ups. This movement also favors lightweight, explodey types. Fortunately, this workout was structured so you could do considerable work before getting to my sticky wicket. For the first time ever (EVER!), I successfully made muscle ups in practice, but they never showed up in my two tries at this. All the practice and failures left me with bruised ribs that didn’t go away until the final week.

98% there for the 40th time

2017.3 This was a complex, technical movement (squat snatches) that I’ve never felt good at. But it played to literal strengths. I got through the first two parts of the workout with one second to spare, putting me in the 94th percentile. Zach and I then put in lots of practice to try again. The second try started great but then I became stuck in glue.

Can I get a golf clap?

2017.4 A long grind of a workout that I only tried once. Slow on the row but disciplined on the HSPU. When they went away they were gone. Final results put me at 94th percentile.

This part… horrible.

2017.5 Finally, right in my wheelhouse! This last workout relies on strength and persistence. All the characteristics of a turtle. I did a little better than 98th percentile on this.

Gonna crush it

Here are a few things I learned in this 4 year journey.

The power of a rising tide: Experience and practice matters. Todd has seen a similar change in his portion of the compulsion. What once was a big challenge (running a marathon, finishing in the top 90%) becomes routine. What makes it routine isn’t always fitness but experience. Your legs know the right pace; everything you’ve done you’ve done 5000x before. It’s a help.
You’re defined by your weaknesses: In the open, one big fail can eliminate you. I almost eliminated one of them this year but still got a little lucky that the workout gave me movements before my waterloo so my score ended up decently strong.
Going new places is fun: I did two things (squat snatches and bar muscle ups) this year that I’ve never accomplished or mastered before. Both of them are immensely satisfying when you get them right and neither are as hard as they look. They’re like a golf swing; 11 things have to happen in just the right order in a quarter second and the result can be enjoyable.

So, where to next?
Who knows, I’m just going to enjoy the celebratory videos for now.

Still Laughing

Buddie’s brain amazes me. As he said in his guest post: You can’t be married for 21 years without knowing your partner pretty well, but you can still learn new things.

This morning as we had a few quiet moments snuggled in bed before we began our Sunday, I learned his side of a story from our trip to Universal Studios. I’m still laughing at the different perspectives on the world.

Her perspective:

Monkey and I were finishing packing up the hotel room. The plan was to check out of the room, then head over to Universal to ride those last few rides all of us wanted to get in.

We had one inner tube left from the original four that we had for the Lazy River at the hotel.

Bob, bob, bobbing along.

Tube tower

I handed the tube to Buds, Yessa, and Buster and said, “Hey, you guys go give this away to someone in the lobby while Monkey and I finish up here. We’ll meet you down there to walk over to the park.”

Monkey and I quickly finished packing up the car, and headed to the lobby, chatting happily about our upcoming day at the amusement parks.

We walked into the lobby, and sitting on this blue couch:

The scene of the crime.

was Buds, squeezing the air out of the inner tube while Yessa and Buster looked around guiltily.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

Buds got that look on his face that says, “You asked me to do something I didn’t want to do.”

“There was no one to give it to.” he said, completely sincerely.

I scooped up the partially deflated tube, walked over to give it to another mom who said, “Thank you so much, you are so sweet.” Walked back over to my crew and off we went to the park.

His perspective:

I walked into the lobby. There was no one in line waiting to check into the hotel. There were people waiting in line to get tickets for the park, so they were obviously wanting to get out of the hotel.

I considered the employees at the check-in desk and envisioned myself asking them, “Hey, do you ever come float in the lazy river and would you like this inner tube to use?”

That didn’t seem right.

I looked around some more; the bartender, the guy playing a guitar…nope, nope, nope.

I asked Buster and Yessa if they wanted to give it to someone.

Nope.

Do I have a knife in my pocket? I asked myself.

Nope.

Okay, I can deflate it and hide it before Ginnie gets here.

Almost made it.

Then, this morning:

I asked Buds, “What would you have said when I asked you if you found someone to give it to?”

“I would have said, ‘I disposed of it in an environmentally responsible way.’ because I would have let all the air out, and you wouldn’t have wanted it to go the landfill with all that air in it, would you?!”

“And,” he continued, “I wouldn’t have put it in a plastic bag to throw it away, so that should have made you happy. In fact, the only thing that could have made you happier is if I had put it in one of your cloth bags and thrown it away in that.”

Oh my gosh, this man makes me cry with laughter. He gets me, he truly gets me.

This is what happens when the introvert and the extrovert are bonded for life.

Flanked by two extroverts…his worst nightmare.

New Doggie Great-Nephew Alert!

Jeremy and I have been colluding on Jeremy and Teresa getting a dog since they moved to Nash. I assured them that we would be puppy’s second home, ready, willing, and able.

And today the family expanded. T & J showed up this afternoon with a furry surprise for us.

Such sweet kisses.

We’re missing a flag to make this picture scream “AMERICA!”

Such a handsome boy.

I agree Duke, Buds does have delicious smelling breath.

He had very important secrets to tell me.

The new family.

Can’t wait to have decades of fun with this sweet boy.

So What Was Todd Up To?

Lest you think Todd has been resting on his laurels as Buddie moves forward on The New Hampshire Compulsion, Todd provided entertaining proof that is not the case.

While Buds was working his way through the first round of the CrossFit Open last weekend, Todd was completing a 50K run, setting a personal PR of 6 hours, 30 minutes. (AMAZING!)

You can see the fun he was getting up to here:

In case you’d like a reminder of what happened when Todd and Buds were together a few months ago and what The Compulsion entails:

Congrats, Todd!

They are both on track to knock the Compulsion out of the park.

Orlando- Day 1!

Editor’s note: this post contains video. View at the website for best results.

Huge thanks to Paula and Kelly for kindly sharing their photos (mostly Paula’s) to enhance blog posts. I’m not giving individual credit by photo because I’m already having trouble getting these blog posts written since life keeps moving on, but it is hugely, hugely appreciated!

The big trip had been discussed for months. It was our kids’ Christmas present. Kate and Betty’s birthday present.

Gina and crew had just stayed at the exact resort where we were headed the week before, so we knew specifics about rides and the hotel.

(I think sending Gina ahead to do recon on all our trips should become the new standard. I just told her about the trip to Germany last night. We’ll see what she thinks about being the advance team for that one.)

Anywho…our tribe was driving down from Atlanta, then K, P, K, and B would fly in that night. Our stay was at the Cabana Bay Resort on Universal Studios property in Orlando.

Having a suite with a kitchenette was important for me, Buds and Paula loved the idea of being on property, and Kel was the reason we began planning this whole adventure since she had a work conference on Monday-Tuesday of the time we’d be there.

We immediately loved the resort and the room. The 1950’s theme is done so wonderfully, so neatly, so tongue-in-cheek. (Whenever I’d call the front desk, they’d sign off with, “Have a swell day!”)

Our living room space

Our living room space

The kitchenette

The kitchenette

The bedroom

The bedroom

Shower room- there was a separate room with the toilet.

Shower room- there was a separate room with the toilet.

The bathroom area.

The bathroom area.

The screen between the bedroom and living room.

The screen between the bedroom and living room.

The little touches that made you feel you'd stepped back in time.

The little touches that made you feel you’d stepped back in time.

We had time before the dear ones arrived, so we tested out the pool.

Let’s get this vacation started!

There were two pools. The one closest to our section of the resort had a splendid water slide. The other pool had the lazy river, and that was the one we ended up using most frequently.

After the children had their fill of swimming, Buds and I headed out to get a feel for our location relative to the parks, to see how long it took to walk to the parks, great places to eat, etc.

The resort has a bowling alley.

You already know who we bumped into.

We didn’t ever eat here, but the cafeteria was like being in The Jetsons.

The Jack LaLanne gym was a big hit with Buds.

Jack’s trophies

Part of the gorgeous, retro lobby.

Our section by day.

Our section by night.

The park was about a 15 minute walk on adult legs.

After Buds and I got back to the room, Buster, Yessa, and I decided to wander up front in the hopes that our friends would be arriving soon. THEN vacation would really begin!

Their taxi was pulling up as we walked up the sidewalk. Oh, glorious day!

They’re here!

SO HAPPY TO BE TOGETHER AGAIN.

We carted all their stuff to the room, quick switch into swim suits, and over to the other pool to explore the lazy river.

Already talking our lips off.

For our family, in addition to loving the time we were going to get with some of our best buddies, we were so happy, amazed, and a little doubtful that Buds was actually going to take vacation during our Florida time. We knew he wanted to, but Buds taking two days off in row…that just doesn’t happen.

But it…mostly…did. And it was magical.

Off he sprints to join the crowd in the lazy river.

Kel starts reconnecting with our kids.

And he’s nearly as tall as her.

Four adults, 5 kids, everyone comfortable, relaxed, and ready to play. Great times ahead!

Zachary’s face balloon had a leak. We blew him back up the next day.