I was pretty proud of myself today. I started jogging (again) in January. At that point I ran 10 min out and 10 back and paid heavily for over-exertion the next day with really sore legs. Today at 0600 I drove to the bottom of Rocky Canyon Road, where the pavement ends, and ran uphill for 75 min and back down in 60. And feel GREAT! I'm not ready for the Robie Creek Run quite yet, but now I feel I will be.


Lights out, get out!

We came home to find that someone had driven their truck into a pair of power poles in our neighborhood and our house was out of power for the afternoon and evening. So my plan to trim the boys hair, then have them shower and head outside for some playtime was foiled. Instead, we decided together to head out for a long walk on the Greenbelt and a late, cold dinner.

After initial grumbling (William is 5, and struggles with transitions right now), we started walking and the play started. For the boys, it nearly instantly became an adventure, with derring-do, swordplay (sticks), bad guys around every corner, and much fun. As we started walking, Michael asked if we could take pictures of birds for the school's Big Break Birding Contest. Then we arrived at the big tree, and stopped for quite a while so the boys could climb and have adventures there.

As we walked, i got many shots, including mallard ducks, kestrels, a raven, what we think is a woodpecker, and this fabulous shot (luck, not skill!) of two great blue herons in the rookery near the Greenbelt.

Finally, we returned home (about 2 1/2 hours later!) and had sandwiches and fruit for dinner. Then we went to bed and I read stories by candlelight. It was a wonderful adventure, all the more enjoyable because it was unplanned.


Are you Santa Clause?

I loved this post by my friend Sonya terBorg on her blog, All Things, so much I had to repost it just to make sure I remember ot and have it available when I need it. Thank you, Sonya!

Dear Lucy,

Thank you for your letter. You asked a very good question: “Are you Santa?”

I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.

The answer is no. I am not Santa. There is no one Santa.

I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)

I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights.

This won’t make you Santa, though.

Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.

It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.

Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.

With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.

So, no. I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.

I love you and I always will.


Michael the chef

I've long had a difficult relationship with Michael about food. He discovered early that he had complete control over what he put into his mouth and has used it as part of his identity, defining himself as separate from his parents in part by how differently he chooses to eat.

A couple weeks ago, his disdain and disgust with what I cooked for him, even though the items had previously been on the 'acceptable' list, were too much to take any longer. I announced that I would not cook for him any more; I was tired of having what I make rejected and tired of the arbitrary changes in his decisions. From now on, he would have to cook for himself (under my supervision and tutelage). It was a traumatic evening for us all.

The next morning, Michael told me he'd decided to change his attitude about my decision (the night before, he'd been in tears because he was afraid he would starve). He decided that this was a good change and that he was fully capable of cooking for himself. That morning he made pancakes for himself, successfully.

Since then, with few exceptions, he's assembeled or cooked his own breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. He's made much the same choice that we made for him previously, but because he has control over the choice, he is much happier and eats much better than before. It has been, so far at least, a most successful change.

I also asked him, that first evening, to make a list of food he feels it's OK to eat, so he'd have a list to refer to in case of chef's-block. Here is his initial list:

  • Bread

  • apple

  • chese

  • pankeks

  • wofoles

  • crasens

  • penuts

  • cashows

  • cheps

  • samweches

  • carats

  • tost

  • eggs

  • yogurt

  • lettes


Michael's initiative

Today is a parent teacher conference day at Riverstone. Michael is hanging out with me in my office most of the day, playing legos and video games. He spent much of the morning working on a lego game he's designing; he has big plans for me to play it with him over spring break (he says it will take at least one whole day, and could take more if I want it to :-).

Later, we were walking through the arts wing of the school and saw a bulletin board showing 4th grade projects in tessellations, along with posters explaining how tesselations are created. He decided to create his own, went to speak with the art teacher, and started working on it. With a little help from the art teacher, he is about 40% done, after about 2 hours of work. He regularly impresses me with this kind of self-managed project. I was very proud of him.


William and counting

My favorite moment of the day was whe, while driving home, William started counting down, from the largest number he knows. He said: "infinity, googleplex, one-hundred, two, one...um...ten, nine, eight, seven," and counted down to one. I was impressed on three counts, as well as amused. A) William knows some pretty big concepts for a pre-schooler, B) he got all those in the correct order, and C) he self corrected as he realized he'd skipped a few numbers he knew. It was a beautiful moment.


Fun notes

Zimbabwe uses the US dollar as the main currency. Some of the dollars here have been in circulation long, long past when they'd be removed from US circulation. They are so thin and dirty, the portions that are whitish-beige in the US are brownish-tan. They're so thin, they feel like they can't be real bills; you can literally feel the dirt in them.

There are exceptions to the US dollar rule, too. The primary one that I've heard about is when travelling by local autobus. These are small minivans that travel semi-regular routes, beeping their horns and calling for passengers. In Mexico, they'd be called "combis." Because a trip one these are short, even one dollar is too much to expect. Instead, locals use half-South-African-dollar coins.