Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ode to My Uggs

Oh how I do love thee! With your real sheepskin lining and your charcoal suede outside. You were so coy with your hideous appearance! So much so that I wouldn't give you a second look. No,I would not wear those! Until happenstance landed you under my Christmas tree. Oh you are sly! Sly like a wolf. Like a wolf in sheep's clothing. Soft, cozy, comfortable sheep clothing. Baaaaaa...

I will never doubt you again.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Christmas is always a mixed blessing. I love the lead up to it. Not the gifts or the crazy frenzy per se. Rather, I love the feeling of this time of year. The joy of the season, the kindness of others and the stopping and appreciating those around you.

And so on this Christmas Night, I say to all who would be reading this. Merry Christmas to you, my family and friends. I am so thankful for you all. My life is richer and more blessed because you are in it.

And those who have recently replanted their roots back here. You have brought me light again and I will strive everyday to show you just how much you mean to me. I love you all.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Best Shirts Ever!

Tomorrow night is Chowda Fest 2010 at the Casa de Ross. Imagine my delight after wading through the interstate exchange that is the checkout stand at Kohl's today to discover these two t-shirts near the door.

Not only are they paying tribute to our favorite Christmas movie of all time, but they answer the pressing question of the day "what will we wear to our party".

Imagine my surprise when I brought them home and Sean just sort of looks at me like I must be kidding. He assures me he will wear it and he likes it, but I'm just not feeling the love. I just don't get it. I ask you..what's not to love here!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jingle Tails

This was the scene at our house on Saturday night. Boxes everywhere, crate paper flying. I had help decorating my tree this year. First, the tree is HUGE. Funny how out at the lot it didn't seem so big. Anyway, it barely fits in the house, but it made it and now stands with all it's glory (crooked glory cause it has one big bow in it's trunk). Anyway, with the addition of the Andre the Giant sized tree, came the need for many ornaments. And new lights. Sean wanted a blue tree this year, so I went out and bought brand new lights at the store. Unfortunately, three strands was not enough for said tree so I mixed in some whites. I really like the result though.

Maddie, Sarah and Mom came over to help with the decorating. Zach came to help too, but he mostly helped increase the butt imprint in our spare room couch playing video games. I called him in for his opinion several times which was always "two thumbs up". Yup, I LOVE that middle school boy. If I could just have him live here I would!

Anyway, it is fun decorating with a small one. They can only reach about a two foot area on the tree so the ornaments get congregated in one small spot. It looks awesome and I love it. Mom, Sarah and I filled out the rest of the zone. I love when Maddie kept picking up each ornament and saying "Oh, this one is beautiful". I won some vintage ornaments at the white elephant on Friday (who would get rid of those?), which proudly hang on my tree. I think the bedazzled nature of them was Maddie's favorite.

The best part was when she discovered our Hallmark Snowman/snow dog that plays jingle bells. It's in the picture at the top. Now normally I'm not one for cheesy Hallmark stuff like that. The story behind it is that when Dad first had his brain tumor (which we thought was a stroke) and he was in the hospital for a week around Christmas, the nurses had one of those at their Station. It was the only thing that made me smile that year at Christmas. Low and behold, on Christmas morning, I unwrapped one of my very own. That was 6 years ago and to this very day, pressing that snowman's hand and letting it do it's thing makes me smile.

I'm glad to see that it has the same effect on Maddie. Maybe someday that will be her vintage Christmas present one Christmas morning.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

Please bring me a time machine! A time machine makes a very good Christmas present. I can use it to go back in time to December 14th and travel at warp speed to December 17th. I'm never gonna make it through to Winter Break at this rate.

I have been very good this year.

Well....that is if I got the time machine and was able to alter the course of this week. If not, then I can make no promises to the prior "good this year" claim. You don't know what it's like with 27 pre-holiday children. No jury would convict.....

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Final Countdown

In approximately 36 hours my sister will arrive in Oregon. For good. Permanently. Sarah, joins the rest of the family, back where she belongs. I have waited for this moment for 10 years now. I keep pinching myself, but the bruises indicate it is real. I can't believe it is almost here.

Seriously. There are no words to describe what I'm feeling.

Walt Disney was right..Dreams really do come true.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Breaking up is hard to do

Dear Running,

I've known for a long time that this day was coming. Maybe it was inevitable from the start. A May-December relationship if you will. Oh you saw me, older, more experienced, as a challenge. I saw you as a way to recapture the days of my youth. The first few months were beautiful. We saw each other much more frequently then, twice, three times, once even four times a week. But then you began to take your toll on me and our time together became less and less frequent. I should have seen it then.

I know you will try to blame me for the straying. A bad ankle, a bum knee, lungs that never do work well. But you yourself are not without blame. I see you around with the others. Do you not think I notice you out there with those fit girls? Braids swinging, tights without shorts, making it look easy. I see your smile with them as you avoid my gaze. Oh yes, I see you You Player.

I'm on to you now. Hook me in with the promise of fitness, engage my competitive nature so that I don't even know who I am anymore when I'm with you. I don't like the snarky woman I've become when I include others in our time together. Competing with Sean like a fool! Never having a chance to enjoy the day because I'm pushing so hard I can't breath. Oh, I'm on to you running. And it's over. Oh, it's SO over. I gave you what I had and it just wasn't enough so I'm moving on. I choose me!

I'm sure there is someone else out there for me. Out there in my garage I think. Covered in boxes and subaru parts, patiently waiting for the prodigal girl to return home to her.

And so we part running. I'll see you around.

P.S. Call me sometime...............Doh!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

When is enough, enough?

So today I read that the Gov. is calling for teachers to work for free as a good faith effort and to "do our part". He is volunteering to take a 5% pay cut and work 4 days for free over the next few months. That is all fine and dandy, he makes $93,000 a year. All said and done his sacrifice is like $5000. Helpful, yes and appreciated of course but Mr. Kulongowski I'd like to point out a few things to you.

1. I already am on a salary freeze, I have been at this rate for 2 school years.
2. I have 3 additional cut (non paid) school days this year.
3. My contract hours are from 8am to 4pm on school days.

I have never worked my contract hours. Could I get my job done in those hours? Maybe, but I highly doubt it. Not to the standards I have for myself to give my students the best eduction they deserve. My workday usually starts at 7:45 and ends around 5:30. I then go workout for an hour and go home and grade papers for another hour. Weekends always involved at least 1/2 day spent on work. Those are all "unpaid" hours. I'd bet they range from 10-20 unpaid hours on average a week.

Then there are the supplies. The pencils, folders, paper and notebooks. The art supplies and technology. Who pays for all that? I do because our budgets have been so cut that if we want it, we buy it. I am eternally grateful for two mothers (Mine and Sean's) who support my classroom with amazing supplies and reading material. I have put on a swimsuit racking up laps in the pool or tied on running shoes along side my students to earn money during fundraisers so we can go on a field trip or buy special art paper. This is not what I envisioned when I signed on. This is not how a civilized society prioritizes it's children.

Additionally, I am required to maintain my teaching license by continuing my education. For me, that means earning a master's degree. That's 45 credits at about $350 per credit. I pay for that, and for that do I get a better job? No I don't. I get to keep the job I already have.

Do I complain about this and quit? No, I do it because I love my job. I love my job in spite of the climate and constant comments from the public. I love my job in spite of the parents who sure like to tell me how to do my job, but won't do theirs. I love my job in spite of the burnouts I"m surrounded by and the increase in negativity brought on by tired and stressed co-workers. No, I don't throw in the towel but rather I keep my head up and I keep going. I do it for the kids, and I do it for how the kids give me hope, even on the bad days. Each new day is an opportunity for greatness and I live for those days. We celebrate small victories while we wait for the big ones.

But I will not stand idly by as our Governor claims we need to "do our part". We have been doing our part sir. I'm glad you are finally stepping up to do yours. But it is with deepest sincerity that I say to you, Mr. Governor, I am doing my part, I will continue to do my part, but enough is enough. Please do not ask me to take any more away from my family than this job already has. Find another way.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Laying down rubber at PIR!

This was the scene at the Winter Wonderland Lights Fun Run held at Portland International Raceway on Saturday night. It was a total blast. They put together a fancy drive through lights show all over the race track and for either 2, 4 or 6 miles depending upon how many laps you wanted to do, you could run right through the holiday joy. I opted for 4 while Sean tackled 6.

I've been to PIR many times before. This was the first time I got out on the track though and I'm sure there is little chance that I set any type of a course record. Although, now that I think about it I can say I set a P/R for the course. Especially since this was an inaugural event!

While the biggest challenge of this course was staying warm and dodging families with strollers, toddlers, or wagon sleighs pulled by dogs in sweaters, it was still one of the most fun events I have done. I ran it with my friend Olivia and her dog Hurley who not only sported a green argyle sweater but a pink tutu as well. While it was fast for me, she was at a nice easy pace which allowed her to talk the entire time keeping my mind off the cold and wet that was the evening. The lights were cool to run through too, especially since I am a Christmas Junkie. I love all things Christmas.

In addition to the lights, there were loads of people dressed up in holiday garb. I was passed by elves, reindeer and more Santa hats that I can count. But the feel of the event was so much fun and a fantastic way to kick off the holiday season in style.

I will be back next year! I'm going to go for the 6 miles, and a quicker pace. I'm also going to need to shop for a much better costume. My "I heart Santa" headband just wasn't quite enough to really reflect the sentiment!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 20(top10) style!

I have a lot of things to be thankful for this year. So here is my tribute to Thanksgiving 2010. Top 10 style!

10. A Subaru with butt heat. I love this car!

9. Mizuno Wave Nirvana's-
In spite of my feelings about the band Nirvana, these are like foot pillows!

8. Starbucks Seasonal Drinks-
The best overpriced indulgence around and they make everything better.

7. Parades-Macy's today and The Corvallis Community tomorrow.
There I said it, I love a parade.

6. 27 Goofy 8 & 9 year olds!
These kids have the most amazing hearts and make me hopeful again.

5. My teaching team.
There are days that I wonder why I left my old school. Then I look around
at the two amazing women I work with ever day and I remember. ROCK STARS!

4. Wednesdays with Olivia
Trainer and Friend. Never knew that was possible! She pushes and listens. Wow!

3. One crazy genetic disaster named Rogue.

2. My friends.
I once had a magnet that said "Friends are God's apology for Family"
I believe my friends are my family, the family that I picked myself.

1. My Family
Words don't do you justice my family. You are my #1. I love you!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Times are tight and life is short. Be grateful everyday for what you have because my guess is you have so much if you would just take a moment to see.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why Technology Sucks!



Today was all about technology for me. It started out with waking up to my alarm. I went to bed expecting to wake up to my Flash Alert telling me school was closed and I could sleep in. Flash Alert is an automated system that teachers are required to sign up for that sends us a text or e-mail message notifying us of school closures. So imagine my surprise when I got up this morning to a blanket of snow and no text. Huh, must be an oversight, I'll check the district web site.

Hmm, the website is down. Ok, I'll check the TV. A quick scroll through the local stations confirmed my sadness. My dreams of snowmen and hot cocoa melted quicker than the whipped cream on said cocoa as I drug my sad ass to the shower. Out of the shower and a text to a friend confirmed that there was no cancellation. We agreed to ride together in my Subaru because my car is the snowplow and it has butt heat. I headed back to the bathroom to do my hair.

The phone rang. Who the heck would be calling me. It was the school secretary implementing the phone tree. Apparently all technology had failed and she was notifying us of the school closure for the day. Woohoo! Snow Day back on, technology failed!

I kicked off my shoes, turned off my flat iron and poured myself another cup of coffee. (Of course not before doing my duty and calling the next person on the phone tree list) About 15 minutes later my district showed up on the TV screen crawl of school closures. About an hour later my text finally arrived telling me of my snow day. Had I not gotten the old school technology phone call and I would have been at school before that damn text ever came. Good thing I never got rid of that land line!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow Schmo!

Quit talking about it people. Oregon snow does not like to be prepared for. It doesn't like to be hyped. It sneaks in with little warning. The sky turns that trademark purple and it snows. Weather people scratch their heads in wonder. Where did it come from, why didn't we see it?

Because it is Oregon snow. It's magical and much like all things Oregon, it can't be told what to do.

So quit friggin talking about it. I believe in you Oregon snow. I shall wait for you to bring me my snow day when you are ready. I have faith in you. Snow days will come if you just believe. Patience my friends, patience and faith....snow days will come.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Lately in Casa de Ross it feels like we have a constant battle of the sexes going on. Rogue vs. Bailey, Sean vs. Me. Us vs. the animals. Everything feels like a big competition and no one ends up winning. Even fun events are less fun when they feel more like competitions. I'm super competitive so I know I'm part of the problem but jeez. We have a terribly underweight dog, a permanently injured in some form wife and a cat powered by pure evil. Sad but the three of us together can't even form a complete team. Somehow even with a broken hand Sean seems to constantly emerge as the powerhouse of the family.

Life just ain't fair sometimes. I've got to get an edge somehow. Time to schedule that bionic surgery I've been wanting.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Armed for Exercise?

I love to run. Not news to anyone who knows me or has ever read this blog. My legs are feeling better again so I'm actually getting out there a few days a week. Normally I wouldn't consider this a problem. Except for one little thing. Pacific Standard Time.

The only other totally predictable fact about me is that I am a work-a-holic. I arrive at least an hour before the kids and stay at least that long after them. That's on a good day. This isn't normally a problem because I go to the gym on my way home and work out there so it doesn't matter what it is like outside. Except, back to point one of this blog installment. I love to run. Outside, not inside. I hate the treadmill.

Oh, the problem is now coming into focus. Ever since we had to "fall" back, it is now dark when I leave the hallows of my school. So if I want to run outside I have to run in the dark. I hate running in the dark because I am a girl and the dark is scary. Last night I ran with my friend Laura after work and I almost didn't want to go because it was pitch black by 6:00pm. A quick text to Sean let him know where I was headed. Phew, if I didn't return home later that evening they would know where to look for the body. Furthermore I had forgotten my I.D. so this could guarantee that the "Jane Doe" on the 10:00pm news would most likely be me.

Now mind you, all this text was in jest, but therein lies a small piece of truth. The rules are not the same for men and women who run after work. They should be, but they are not. And it pisses me off. But, the fact remains that I can not run in the dark, by myself with the same level of security that Sean can. Is that ok? No, it isn't, but that is the society that we still live in today and it annoys me to no end. Could I run with mace, a pit bull or a Colt revolver? Yes, of course I could. But I shouldn't have to and that is what continues to annoy me to my core.

So will my rant cause a change in my behavior and a new found sense of bravery and freedom? No way. But sometimes, I just need to rant a little about the continued inequity even in this day. I do still hold out hope that my little niece Madeleine won't have to worry what time it is, or how dark it is when she is my age. Society, I've got a fantastic girl coming your way, please don't let me down.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Problem Solved?

Rogue Ross has lost almost seven pounds since August. Since he is not exactly a chunky monkey in the first place it is an understatement to say I have been "concerned". We have been buying all kinds of venison dog food trying to find that magical taste that will get him eating again.

Yesterday we found it! Ziwi Peak Venison Jerky style dog food. Even the bag looks tasty. I pulled Sean over and laughed at the major oversight on the quality control of our favorite dog store. $113 for a bag. Ha ha! That's hilarious. I wonder how much it really costs. Um, nope not a joke. It really is $113 a bag. Luckily for us, there is a smaller option. A 2.2 pound bag for a measly $24. With my discount that brings it back down to about $22 bucks which of course I am much more willing to try.

Rogue who has normally been doing a perfect teenage angst impersonation when I try to feed him started doing the happy dance before Sean could even get the bag open. What's in this stuff? Crack? Anyway, he polished off his bowl before it even hit the floor. I'm not sure it was even chewed. The worst part is he begged for more all night long and even kept it down perfectly.

Now comes the dilemma. We have spent a fortune on this dog over the 6 years of his life that he has been in our home. Medical expenses galore will have us working until we are 90 at least. But $113 dog food? Seriously? For some reason that just kills me. I tried explaining it to Rogue this morning as he was anxiously awaiting me to put his bowl of perfection on the floor. Sean heard me and laughed at the thought that I was trying to reason with the dog as to how long I'd be able to keep up this food. Sean himself pointed out "It's cheaper than the vet and if it gets him to eat".

Rogue had a much more creative solution to the whole problem. Let's see how his idea pans out. If not, I think it's going to be up to the man in the Red Suit. Time to call in the big guns.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

You're No Shaun Cassidy!

This is Shaun Cassidy. My first love. I bought this album when I was in 3rd grade at the ripe old age of 8 and knew I had met my soul mate. Those eyes, that smile, that hair. Oh yes Shaun, someday you would be mine. I listened to his album over and over and over on my little pop top record player in my room. I planned our life together. I played the game on my hand which predicted how many children we would have. The answer, two. Of course the girl would be named Shauna. I practice writing my name in perfect print, Mrs. Shaun Cassidy. I loved my initials "T.L.C". It didn't matter that he was older than I, by like 13 years, true love has no age. I wrote him of my dedication and I went to the mail box every day awaiting his reply of instructions on where we would start our lives together. The letter never, ever came. Stupid postal workers, stealing my life plans.

Every Friday night I would sit at the TV swooning while watching "The Hardy Boys". There was my Shaun in all the 70s Technicolor glory on our big console TV. Parker Stevenson, whatever, my heart belonged to Shaun. One time he actually got to sing on the show. I remember nearly passing out in 3rd grade ecstasy just at the sight. I also remember my father's words " What the hell is wrong with her?" My mother assured him it was a harmless crush but he was mortified by the entire event. He said if I couldn't control myself I couldn't watch it anymore. Parents, they just don't understand but someday when my Shaun came for me they would see and they'd be sorry.

Fast forward about 33 years. Shaun never came, but Sean did, so I did just fine. Now I'm teaching PE to a bunch of 3rd graders myself. Something strange has happened over the summer to my girls. It's this:

Justin Beiber. The main PE teacher plays his songs and the girls scream. They swoon, they know all the words. They run to me and they tell me "I'm going to marry Justin Beiber, we are going to have two kids and live in Hollywood." They jump up and down and squeal in bliss.

And all I can do is think to myself "What the hell is wrong with them?"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fun House Mirrors

I have body issues. This isn't a secret to anyone who knows me. It has been going on for years. I remember exactly when it started. It was one of those health screening at school. I stepped on the scale. The lady slid the height thing up to tell me how tall I was, but I have no idea what that number was. Nope, the only number that I heard was my weight. 74 pounds. I believe I was in 4th grade at the time. Now 74 pounds is a perfectly acceptable weight for a kid my height at that age. I was not overweight in the least. But somehow attaching that number to my body did some sort of crazy brain scramble which haunts me to this day.

I spent the next several years attempting to stay at 74 pounds. I grew taller, but stayed similar in weight over the next few school years. I remember in Middle School I had friends who desperately tried to fatten me up by filling me with M & Ms and any other candy they could pump into me. I never saw myself as skinny. In high school the battle continued. I put on a little weight, then freaked out about it and would survive on Jiffy box cakes for a week at a time. My parents were supportive, sent me to counseling, and were happy for anything I put into my mouth. I never did the anorexia or bulimia thing, I just didn't eat much. When I finally graduated from high school I had mostly grown out of it and was a healthy 101 pounds. Skinny, yes but not dangerously thin by any means.

When I got married two years later I weighed 105 and swam in my altered down size 4 dress. I stayed fairly small until I was mid 20s and then the climb began. I got rid of my scale, deciding that weighing myself was unhealthy and moved on from there. I had some minor health issues and took some medication which cause some weight gain, but for the most part, unhealthy lifestyle choices made me creep up and up on that scale.

The breaking point for me came about 5 years ago. I had spent a year in hell. My first year teaching, an unwanted hysterectomy and months of slowly watching cancer rob my Dad of all he was to us, eventually stealing him all together. I ate, and ate and ate and ate. One day I took myself to the Dr. because I was having a lot of trouble with my breathing. I learned two things that day. One, I had asthma and two, I weighted 160 pounds. I drove home in tears and joined weight watches the next day. Over the next several months I lost about 20 pounds and was stuck for a long time at 140. When I looked in the mirror I still saw a huge cow, but it was getting better.

Last year I discovered running. Real running. The kind that cleanses your soul and renews you. I've blogged about it before, you know that journey. I lost another 5 pounds and was headed back down to where I wanted to be. Then the skid happened and the knee put it at a stand still. So now I'm back to the land of the middle school girl who looks in a mirror and sees a huge girl. Like then, friends assure me that I look fine, but my clothes tell me different. Nothing fits like it did, nothing looks like it did. I try to talk but people don't get it. They look at me like I am crazy and comment on my body image issues.

Until last night. I met with my trainer for our weekly session and she gets it. Thank God! She gets it. I have a plan. I have some goals and for the first time in a long time I feel hopeful again. I know that I will never be that 105 pound bride again. I can't even imagine what I would look like at that size. She was a girl, I am a woman. I wouldn't trade this life or experiences to go back. But I know that somewhere between then and now there is a healthy and happy woman who can set and reach goals, who can walk with her head held high and who can rock a fine pair of jeans.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dogs love Fall

Today we went for a nice Fall hike out at my Mom's place. I honestly can't remember the last time I hiked out there. We got up early (thanks to the return to standard time), went out to breakfast, grocery shopped and still had beautiful weather before 10:00am. So Stafford suggested we take the dogs out.

We agreed to meet at the farm in just a few minutes. Of course, this being Oregon, the few minutes was all it took to take a beautiful blue sky and cover it with foreboding black clouds. We managed to beat the rain for the majority of the time, but for the last stretch we pretty much tested the water resistant capacity of all our clothing.

However, the dogs, all three of them were enjoying every minute of it. Sure, they'd soak up as much water as their coats could take and then you'd hear the jingling of the collar as they shook the excess off. For about 100 yards it sounded somewhat like a church bell choir as the tinkling of tags was almost synchronized.

Even though we got a little wet, it was still a great reminder of the beauty of where we live and how much I love my Mom's place. As we got back to the truck, the sky was clearing again and the sun was heating up the pavement on our drive back. Sometimes taking a break for a brief hike in the rain is all it takes to put a new perspective on all of our minds. I think Rogue's face sums up the feelings of the day.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hugs not Drugs

Normally after a really crappy day I like to reach for a delicious cocktail. Something with a sugar rim always makes me smile or at least gets those goggles on that make life look much better.

Turns out that sometimes, just sometimes the open arms of a husband is much, much better. Especially when the problems are so ridiculous that they reduce you to tears. Silly tears over stupid stuff. Not important stuff, but the stuff that sends you right over the edge nonetheless and leaves you slightly hysterical in the bathroom. Fighting the dog for possession of the toilet paper because you forgot to buy Kleenex again. Another stupid shortcoming and more tears. Until the key is in the front door.

And the life line appears, in the form of an outstretched blue cast. Which feels pretty much like a regular arm after all.

Thanks Scraps. You are the best.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Earning our Candy!

This is the official "Ross/Williams" Corvallis 5k running team. We have Lucy VanPelt, Charlie Brown and a Rag Doll. I personally find the RagDoll to be the most scary costume, but then you know how I feel about dolls.

This morning we all ran the Corvallis 5k through OSU's beautiful campus. I was worried about it yesterday as I went to bed to the sound of pouring rain on my roof. However, this morning the skies had cleared and the sun was shining which made for a beautiful morning and a perfect fall run.

The run itself was fantastic. I wore my new Mizunos and I absolutely love them. They didn't really match my Lucy dress, but hey, it's hard to get that saddle shoe look out of a pair of running shoes. No matter. We looked pretty good all things considered. I found that dress yesterday at the second hand store for only $14 which is much less than the pain it would have been to try and fashion something out of duct tape which was my original plan. So yay for thrift store finds.

The only downside of the entire even was at mile 2.9 when I rounded the corner just about the time Laura said "let's pick up the pace and finish strong." I dug down, pushed hard and completely crashed. Seriously. I crashed. Falling on pavement is never a fun thing to do, but as an adult it is even more annoying than as a kid. First, you are totally embarrassed by the fact that you are going down and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Everything moves in slow motion as time slows to a crawl and your bionic movements pause with every shift as you head down, down, down to the ground. The last thought in your head is usually something like "shit, this is going to hurt" followed quickly by "Oh crap, how many people are going to see this?" Well, in my case since I did it right at the corner and there was a wall of spectators watching, the answer was way too many. I'm hoping that none of those cameras there caught it because that is more than my 41 year old pride can take. However, other than leaving some skin on the pavement and some bloodstains on my dress and leggings, I think I got away pretty good. I don't even think I lost more than about 10-20 seconds in the "nothing feels broken, get up and run stupid" conversation I had in my own head. On the slightly annoying side, not one person except my running partner and team mate Laura asked if I was ok. Trail runners would have sacrificed their own times to help me up. Roadies jump over you or get annoyed you are blocking them! Here is a small sample of the damage.

All in all, it was a darn fine day. Sean set a PR and won 3rd place in his age category. I think I set a PR myself at 33:05 but I'd have to double check back to my last road 5k which I think was about 5 years ago. Regardless, it was a beautiful day to get out there with other costumed fools and have a blast.

Next year, Zombies!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Never too old!

I love Halloween. This year we have the pleasure of coming up with two different costumes. The first is displayed above. The costumes said "Dracula" for Sean's and "Fallen Angel" for mine. Whatever, we went for mostly dead in our interpretation. We had a blast. We wore these fashion masterpieces to the birthday party of a friend. I can't believe how pregnant I look in this picture. Especially since I'm not. No, that is nothing but a good old fashioned combination of many weeks without regular runs to anything but the candy dish. In my defense, the "one size fits most" costume was less than forgiving. Who are these "most?" I want to know!

This look was pretty easy since the costumes were already made and we just had to do the make up and accessorize. For informational purposes, my jewelry was my grandmothers and I think it makes the outfit! So here is a holla out to my Nanny! Thanks for that rock star ring!

Sunday's costumes need to be worn for a local 5k costume event. That will be more of a challenge. I'll post the photos. Until then, I have to go hit the candy dish again. After all, I don't have to wear this costume again for a year or more and..I'm in training!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Boys, Beer and Meat

Today my house was filled with two distinctly boy smells. Beer brewing and meat smoking. The boys finally got around to brewing a batch of their famous brown ale. I'm not a beer fan in general, but damn those two can brew up some good beer. It's even worth giving up my big bath tub to the two carboy fermentation fest going on in the make shift brewery. I can shave my legs elsewhere.

The other marvelous smell came from the smoker the boys bought this weekend. A smoker and buy one get one free pork shoulder roasts created a smokey, meaty, delicious feast at my house for dinner. I was even moved to look up a coleslaw recipe on the old Internet to do my part.

All in all this very manly fest made for a most excellent Sunday. We watched the inaugural Korean Formula One race on the tele, prior to the DVR getting cut off due to the bad weather delays. No NASCAR in this house though. I do have my standards and have to draw the line somewhere.

So boys, thanks for a delicious dinner and a reminder of why I wanted us all back together in the first place!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rendered Speechless

This is the Snow Princess Barbie in Brunette created in 1994. I had no knowledge of this doll until I was called her last night by a parent who was nearly in tears at my conference table. It seemed like a normal conference. I was sharing samples of her daughter's work so far this year. We were discussing how I may need to move her out of my reading group and into a higher level and she just stared at me. I explained to her how well her daughter was doing and how she has really taken off. Nothing, no words. Slightly confused I pulled out more samples of the work, showing the perfectly formed letters creating well written sentences. I showed the trajectory line of her September reading score to the October reading score. I explained while she is not yet on grade level she is making excellent progress and is at the top of my reading group. Still silent but at this point I notice the tears that are beginning to well up in her eyes.

She then shocks me with her words. "Please, please don't move her"." What?" I say," why not?" She then said, "you believe in her, you work with her, you have found the key to our daughter". Now I am the one with the tears welling up, but I am the professional so I can not let them show. I then state, "Oh no, it's not me, it's just her time, some kids are late bloomers and it just takes them longer to get into the groove". She then goes on and says to me "You don't understand, every year it has been a struggle just to get her to school, she cries, she makes herself sick, she tells us how stupid she is and her teachers call her slow." At this stage I am rendered speechless as she tells me that the past experiences have included labels and gross generalizations by professionals who should have known better if they had only taken the time to look. It broke my heart.

Now I get that we all have classrooms full of quirky kids who have different learning styles and crazy behaviors. We are not teaching the same kids who we sat with as kids ourselves. As a child the worst behaved kid in my class would occasionally not follow directions, or get out of his seat when he wasn't supposed to. This year I have a student who throws chairs, clears table tops, and screams when he doesn't get his way. I have another who at 8 has decided he is in charge of his own life and goes against all parent rules (which aren't enforced anyway) on a daily basis. This year I'm lucky to have all my students in their seats at the same time. I have one who can perform wonderfully if he is allowed to squat in his chair and lean on the table. He can work for 15-20 minutes silently focused in that position. Previously I had spent 15-20 minutes a day asking him to return to his seat every time he got up. I have one who needs a mental break about every 30 minutes so she either gets her book from, or takes her book to her locker. She doesn't bug anyone on the trip to or from said locker. But the minute it takes her to get there and back allows for a mental reframe that keeps her going the rest of the work time. It is who she is and is what it takes to keep her from falling apart because school is hard for her.

It takes time to learn about what works and what doesn't for my students. That is my job, it is what I am supposed to do and I take pride in doing it well. Sure most days I don't think I have succeeded and I ponder the day and evaluate what to change.

And then there are the days when I am called "Snow Princess Barbie" during a conference, about a girl who is doing well. The exact statement went like this "You know you are Snow Princess Barbie at our house." I say, "oh wow, thanks, I've never been called that before. Wow, thank you." The mom smiles and repeats "Our daughter came home and told me the first week of school, Mom, I have Snow Princess Barbie for my teacher this year". I thank her again, say my goodbyes and prep for the next family. I don't think about it until this morning when I wake up and wonder "who is snow princess barbie?" And so I do a google search and discover that Snow Princess Barbie was created in 1994 and is a rare, unique and collectible barbie of which only 265 dolls were ever made.

I am rendered speechless. It is I who now have the tears in my eyes as I truly realize the extent of the compliment. It is the much needed answer to my daily question "Do I make a difference?"

Thursday, October 21, 2010


The past two days were made up of approximately 24 hours of being at school. Two 12 hour days of parent teacher conferences. Well one day of full teaching followed by 4 hours of conferences and then a solid 12 hour day.

That's a lot of hours sitting and talking. This year I had all but 5 of my regular class show up and I had at least 12 kids in my reading group show up too. I also had some past kids stop to say hello which is always a pick me up.

All in all it was a great experience this year. Supportive parents and kids who are doing pretty darn well at this early date. I kept really busy which made the time go pretty fast.

Now I have a 3 day weekend to make up for the crazy two days. I'll take it. I think I'll start now.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Ode to the Girls

Yes, it is national breast cancer awareness month, but those aren't the girls I'm talking about here.

I think the secret to a long and happy marriage is not mutual respect or undying love. Nope, it is having girl friends. Not for him, that wouldn't help! These are my girls. This week I had two interactions with two of my favorite girls that helped me see the light. Would I eventually have come to the conclusions that I did if not for the time spent with my girlfriends? I believe wholeheartedly I would not have. I'm just not that reflective.

The first insight was less of an insight and more of an affirmation, that I am not evil. This came from my trainer whom I also call my friend. Over the past month our weekly sweat sessions had become my favorite workout of the week and even more recently they have become the highlight of my entire week. I realized how much I missed that connection with someone while I work out. A physical therapy session if you will. Having someone who will push you while sweating it out with you is so awesome. Recently the conversation has turned more confessional on my part and as it turns out, she gets it and makes me feel better. So an hour later I'm not only physically trashed, I'm also sporting a new renewed spirit and in a much better space to go home to the husband. Thanks Olivia!

My other shout out goes to my often quoted and much loved girl Erin. This week she reached rock star status as she helped me sort out in my own round about way why I have been so damn pissed off for the past couple of weeks. She helped me figure out two things. First that my anger wasn't actually at what I thought it was and two, that it was just a symptom of something else that I hadn't even considered. Yes, she is that good. No couch, no regression therapy, just a short drive from work to what will most likely remain my happy home. For that I give Erin the Cody 5!

Thanks ladies for keeping me centered in an off kilter world. My glass is lifted in your direction!

Monday, October 11, 2010


Today I took myself for a run after work. Well, I took myself for a run after PT is a little more precise. I was supposed to call Stafford, but I was so wrapped up in my own head and thoughts I forgot until about 5 minutes in. Oh well, he will forgive me I'm sure.

The run was nice. First, I kicked up my pace. Usain Bolt I will never be, but I did run sub 10 minute miles for 27 minutes. The air is cooler and it is getting dark earlier so I think that the days of the safe after work run are numbered. Especially since my running partners are all MIA for various reasons these days. But today, the quiet in my head and the cool in the air was exactly the ticket for what turned out to be a bizarre day.

In PT today my therapist informed me that I can pretty much return to my regular activities for the most part. This means back to running as I can and back to classes at the gym. Wait..what? But my knee still feels like sandpaper. Is it always going to feel like that? I don't quite get it.

Then I gave a quick check of the cell phone on my way to PT and what do I see? The news that a very dear friend is pregnant. Wait...what? Double wait..what? I am absolutely thrilled for her/them, it is just so unexpected. This racks up my unexpected friend pregnancies to two in the past 5 months. Both will be absolute wonderful additions to the world of families and I would give anything to have all my students have the kind of families that these two children will grow up in.

I think though that with each new announcement comes a bit of chaos in my own brain of unresolved issues. They are mine and choices I made and that ultimately I would make again given the same two options on the table. But human nature wouldn't be what it is if you didn't have the ability to wonder.

Or wander, like my mind did, on a crisp fall evening, enjoying the trees, feeling the crunch of the gravel beneath my feet and feeling alive. And so like the changing of the seasons of the earth, so goes the changing of the seasons of our lives.Time marches on, and the best thing to do is jump right back out of your head and into the game. Besides...I always welcome the opportunity to be another "Auntie Tracie". I'm good at it, I have experience, and you can always, always count on me to have gum.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Extreme Home Makeover

Ok so the wallowing in self pity is over. No more worries about pointless rants for the time being.

What brought about this change? Nothing, I just built a bridge and got over it. Time to move on. To the new couch and love seat I'm hoping to purchase today. We have had the same lovely purple couch since the day we bought this house. I'm pretty sure there is still Casey and Marley fur embedded into the cushions permanently! It matches nicely the rawhide chew goo left from the teething months of Lucky and Rogue. Yes, the years are not counted in the Ross house by rings like on trees, but rather by dog damage. It was our first actual furniture purchase as grown ups. But that was 12 years ago. It's time to let the purple beauty go and bring in the new. It's glory days are over. Am I sad? Slightly, but like earlier said bridge I'll get over it!

The only question is do I go with Forest Green or Ruby Red. So hard to know since it will probably last another 12 years.

Hmmm, I wonder if I can manage a new area rug out of this too....

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Speaking of Bullshit

My last blog post was all about senseless death and the bullshit we focus on in life. I guess this is a carry over from that.

Cause we are smack dab in the middle of a big pile of bullshit right now.

Job bullshit, marriage bullshit, just a bunch of senseless crap everywhere.

I think it's time for a step back and a trip to the woods. Maybe that will happen tomorrow and everything will look better.

I sure hope so.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tired Ramblings

Sean and I just got home from the "Celebration of Life" of his step brother who basically died of complications of being an alcoholic. At 47. What a depressing load of crap.

I know I am normally sarcastic and funny on this my blog, but I'm just not feeling it so much right now. 47. That is exactly 6 years away from where I'm at right now. While I don't have a drinking problem myself, I still think what a sad, sad waste has occurred.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time dwelling on the depressing nature or the details of the event. What struck me as so strange is the fact that all anyone could say was how sweet he was and the overarching theme was that of childlike innocence. No major accomplishments, no family left behind other than the family he was born into. There were childhood friends who have lost touch. There was a 1st grade teacher. And there were parents, who seemed to busy themselves with the day so that they didn't have to think about the reason.

Steps. How did that particular phrase come to be anyway? Steps are what you use to raise things up. What do they have to do with making people become a family? How does kids of the woman your father marries suddenly become your "family". We were asked to attend a "family" function after the event. We declined. The only "family" of ours was Sean's Mom and we already showed our support for her. We avoided that side of the family in life, why would we embrace it in death?

Rambling. That is what is happening here. I don't know why other than it was just so damn depressing of an afternoon. Life, over at 47 mostly by choice. I just don't get it. Nothing much to show for it except a room full of confused people wondering the same thing. I hope at my funeral there are things to celebrate and people who are excited to have known me and to have been in my life. I want to embrace the life I make for myself.

Take a look around you. Tell those you love that you love them. Seize the day, live your life and make your choices. If it matters, make it matter, if it doesn't, let it go. Life is too damn short for all the bullshit.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Stranger than Fiction

I'm training my class this year with a dog clicker. Yes I said it, a dog clicker. Conditioned response is the name of the game. I click, they stop talking. Yes, it's all about the response. Speaking of which, here are some priceless stories so far this year.

Like the kid who came back from recess to put his coat in his locker only to discover a lacy blue thong had fallen from the sleeve. Not initially noting their original location, he proceeded to swing them around on his index finger indignantly asking " Who did this?" Who put underwear on my coat? "Mrs. Ross' did you do this as a joke?"

My immediate response was to rack my brain as to how a 7th grader lost her underwear in our room, prior to coming to my senses and the more likely mishap of a mom doing her laundry with her kid's coat. A discrete drop in the backpack and a call the next day confirmed that those in fact were hers. And for the record when it happened I did what my friend Erin likes to call "lost my shit". I laughed hysterically. The sight of an 8 year old boy swinging a thong around on is finger trying desperately to determine it's owner was more than I could take and I lost it. I can't help it, it was hands down in nearly 8 years of classroom experience, the most funny moment ever.

Or the birthday party that happened today. Birthday parties are normal at school, however usually they involve only a parent sending in treats. It is rare that the parent actually shows up to deliver the goods and pass them out and clean up. And then there was today. Both parents showed up along with both sets of grandparents, and about a dozen cameras to boot. It was like a freakin' family reunion. "Oh so sorry, don't mind us 3rd graders trying to conduct a class here". Ironically it was the same family. Sean asked if she brought more underwear. I of course thought in my head "yes, panty favors for all".

And then there is my daily battle with two different kiddos on opposite sides of the mental health spectrum that makes everyday a joy because much like the box of just never know what you are going to get.

Oh, and the kid in my PE class who wants to be a boy and is pissed off that people have figured out she isn't. This revelation occured after the the big argument about how kids were being mean to "him" by saying "he's a girl". "Well, she is a girl" was my response. No "he's" not came back at me, followed quickly by "when did Mrs. Ross become a meanie, she used to be so nice."

And finally, for the record, if you ever get into a battle of the "my dad is stronger than your dad"variety between 3rd graders and it seems there is no end in sight, I've found the trump card. The exchange in my room went something like this:

"Hey Mrs. Ross, my Dad can lift like 750 pounds of weights, can your dad?"


(boy 2) "Duh, because he is too old"

Boy 1 " oh, well then can he lift like 200lbs"

me: "nope"

"jeez, can your dad lift any weights at all?"

me: "nope"

Kid-"he can't lift any weights at all? Really? Why isn't he strong at all?"

Me: "nope"

Kid-why not?

Me: "cause he is dead, my Dad died a few years ago"

Kid: "Oh man mrs. ross- that sucks!"

me: Tell me about it.

Normally I don't allow the word "sucks" in my room but it did seem appropriate here. Harsh, yes, but damn it was funny. And somehow I'm betting that my old dad got a kick out of that one too!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Weekend? What Weekend?

This entire weekend was spent getting ready for the room mate. We emptied a closet, actually two and dismantled and rebuilt an office. Serves me right having to work the entire weekend to get it done. I was supposed to have cleaned and decluttered the office during my summer break. But alas, I did not.

So we spent the weekend getting the spare room converted into a short stint bedroom for our much anticipated and very welcome brother in law. It is going to be a super fun 3 months!

We can't wait for him to get here. It is going to be a blast.

But I would like my weekend back. I think I need a weekend to recover from our weekend.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Motivation in a Cowbell!

This is my shiny new cowbell. I earned it today by swimming. In the water. At the gym. This cowbell is really what got me through it. Olivia walked in and announced " I have your cowbell". Those four words were all it took to make me jump into the water and give it my all.

You have to truly know my core dislike of the water to understand the magnitude of the power of the cowbell. When I was two I fell in a river and nearly drown. My mother, who was never much of a swimmer herself saved me. I didn't think it affected me. I took swimming lessons as a kid in school and a few at the local pool over the summers of my youth. But as anyone who has watched kid swimming lessons knows, those are not mad skills and as long as they don't drown, they will most likely pass the lessons. That was when I stopped swimming. My career ended at 12. I'm not actually sure I ever put my whole face in the water. Now here I am at 41 trying to swim again. This is where I learned how fearful I am about the water. I panic, I choke, I feel like I can't breathe. I just want out of the water. I think, that river of so long ago haunts me still.

Today something strange happened. Sure, the lure of the cowbell is what really got me in there. This is my second cowbell and like this one, the first was earned by exercise. That was a 5k though, piece of cake compared to this one. But as I was swimming, well, something that sort of resembles swimming, I began to see the draw of the sport. In the water I felt weightless. The sense of quiet calm (well except for the breathing panic) was just out of reach. But I had a glimpse of it a time or two. It's out there and it makes me wonder if possibly, just possibly is this my sport?

So as I waited for Olivia to go get my well earned cowbell for me, I was shocked and amazed to hear my own voice answer this question she posed as she headed into the locker room...

Olivia: "same time next week?"-(referring to our weekly personal training sessions),

"Yes" I said,

Olivia: "pool or gym?"


Wow, I said "pool" with out even thinking. There is no cowbell. There is no motivation. Well, except the motivation to get better, and maybe to find the calm, the quiet, the exact opposite of everything else in my days.

I'll let you know next week.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Insane fun!

This is the after picture of the First Friday clan after we finished the Warrior Dash yesterday. I have never in my life been that filthy before. Nor have I ever had that much good clean (oxymornic comment I know) fun. For 48 minutes I was a kid again!

We signed up for this event when we first heard about it in the spring. The idea is a 5k trail run with a bunch of crazy obstacles thrown in for good measure. It's billed as "The craziest frickin' day of your life" and they aren't kidding! The trail run itself would have been challenging enough with some crazy steep climbs and descents, but along the way we got to wade through chest deep 50 degree water and climb over logs, climb cargo nets, scale hay bale pyramid stacks, repel down steep embankments, climb over old cars, weave through crazy yarn mazes, climb a vertical ladder, and army crawl through a mud pit complete with barbed wire to keep you honest and low (ask Sean about that, he lost a bandanna on the poky part!) . Oh yeah and my personal hands down favorite obstacle; fire jumping!

I honestly can't believe I did this event. I never would have thought I'd love it as much as I did. Do I have any regrets? Why yes I do, just one. I regret that I have to wait an entire year before I can do this again!

They run like 5 events across the country. I wonder if I could follow them like a groupie. A Warrior Dash groupie. Yes, I think I've found something to add to my bucket list......

Friday, September 3, 2010

Super Star!

PT today was not pretty. I've become one of those people who are stuck in the past. I work through the exercises with the strength of a grandma with a walker. My pride no longer exists. It was lost long ago. I keep replaying June over and over in my mind. I could run 13 miles then. I can't run 13 blocks now. It's pathetic and so am I at this point. I have become one of "them".

It's a good thing I don't have children or I'd be one of those parents like the one's my co-worker Jason had to deal with last night at our Open House for the new school year. He teaches PE for the 3rd-7th graders. We have PE everyday which is fantastic and will hopefully make a difference in the probably 60% obesity rate I saw in the kids that came to visit last night. But while my families were asking about schedules and materials and generally academically oriented issues, poor Jason had entirely different conversations.

His entire evening was spent listening to the glory days of the parents PE experiences. Or of their HS sports, or even a few in college. No one cares what he is going to be teaching the kids or what they need to be able to do. Nope, they want to talk about the incredible athletic prowess of their youth. How Nike never recruited these folks is a mystery because clearly they were Super Stars. Now they watch sports instead of play sports. They push their kids and talk about how great they were as they drive through McDonalds. They've got six packs alright, well except for the ones who buy it by the case. Yup, those are some Super Stars there.

I don't want to be a Super Star. I don't want my glory days to be in June of 2010. I need to pony up and get with the program. Apparently this involves me getting off the couch and into the pool. ICK. No one, but no one needs to see me in a swimsuit. But after last night combined with this morning's PT, I guess getting into the pool is a better option than upping my ESPN cable package. I wonder how much it costs to put in a private pool.....

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Left Coast Calling

An open letter to a long lost love.

We have cold oceans, but warm camp fires. We have wet rainy days, but Goretex wardrobes. We grow hops and barley and grapes. We have no shame in a Sunday brew session. We have only two seasons, but that doesn't stop us from enjoying our outdoors. Our pace is slower, our coffee is richer, our conversation is deeper and so are our connections. We protect and defend our children and celebrate their right to be who they are. Our love knows no end. We have things to do and places to go and people to see.

We have sacrifices, yes, no doubt there are sacrifices to be made. Our houses are smaller and more expensive, our salaries are smaller and our classes are bigger. Yes, on paper we are worth less. But the payoffs oh the payoffs are so much more than can be adequately described in a pros and cons list. We are more than a pros and cons list.

We have maple bars.

We are the Left Coast.

We are calling.

We miss you and we want you to come home.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Testosterone Shift

I just waved good-bye to my brother. Technically he is my brother in law, but that is only because the law says he is only related to me via marriage. To me, he is my brother and I adore him. I'm so thankful that my sister chose him. He was in town for the weekend, brought by business but mostly spent in pleasure. We had a blast hanging out and talking about the old times, the current times and the what might be times.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the what might be times.

For the record, I don't think that my husband has smiled that much in ages. He was like a kid in a candy shop and I'm pretty sure he considers Stafford to be his brother as well. Running, beer sampling, meat eating, story telling, male bonding galore at Casa de Ross this weekend. For the past 48 hours this house has been in testosterone overload. You couldn't really tell the difference, except there were a few more dirty pint glasses and a distinct running gear smell in the air. But the bonding, laughing and sense of a lost tribe member coming home were priceless and I'd gladly repeat it for the next 50 years or so. Like I said, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the what might be times.

I'm also keenly aware of the subtle shift that has taken place in my house. The testosterone shift. It's not a major fault line, there are no cracks in the surface even. It runs much deeper. In fact, the effects will only be seen if the "what might be" does not come to fruition. The difference is that I instead will be the one who picks up the pieces and offers the support. Funny how a boy might not see what he really wants until he gets a tiny glimpse of what could be. Those only children, turns out they need a brother.

Yep, I am crossing my fingers, legs, toes, and even my eyes for the "what might be" times.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Smell of August

Today I returned to my classroom in the capacity of teacher for the first time since June. I was struck by two things when I walked in.

First, everything was exactly where I wanted it. While this might not seem exciting to most people, my past experience after coming back from Summer break involved at least one full day just organizing the furniture that was dumped together in the center of the room, or worse, left out in the hall. I then had to recreate my room from scratch each year. Nothing was on the walls, nothing was out on counters, on tables or in book cases.

This year I walked back into a classroom which looks more like I have been gone a weekend rather than an entire Summer. I could begin teaching the kids tomorrow if I had to and that is all because Timber Ridge has the best janitorial staff on the planet.

Which brings me to the second best thing about walking into that room. The smell. There is nothing like the smell of an August classroom. I don't know if it is the fresh wax or the sparkling sink or what. But that smell of a new beginning, a fresh start is intoxicating. It's one of my favorite things about teaching, and while I know it will only last until the end of the first day, it makes me excited about what I do and ready to start again. It's like the spring of the school year!

So I salute you the fantastic custodians of the world. I hope that I show my appreciation on a daily basis, but if not, I hope you know how ready I am to start the new year because of you!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Back in the Saddle.

The bike saddle that is. It could have been the socks that created the magic of the day. Or maybe it was the fantastic company or perfect riding conditions. Maybe it was all that sugar and fat storage I had built up over the past week of vacation. Quite frankly it doesn't really matter what the exact formula was to align the cosmos and allow me to get a taste of why I loved Mt. Biking in the first place. I'm not back to where I was, but I think I saw my MoJo not too far out ahead of me. Look out, cause MoJo Quest 2010 is on again. Oh yes Mad Skills you will be mine again, will be mine. Bwahahahahah....

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Yes, this is a happy crab. Of course it is happy, it is a cookie and cookies by nature are happy even if they are shaped like a crab. I picked up this little guy in Bandon on our vacation stop there. Little did I know that he would soon become my mascot for my classroom next year.

Why have I selected a little crab for this role you ask? Well the answer is simple. I have a feeling I'm going to be feeling a little "Crabby" this year! I learned yesterday with 11 registration days still looming out there before the first official day of school that my class enrollment currently stands at 37. With this much time before school starts it is highly likely it will increase from there.

37? Children? In my classroom at the same time? Oh holy hell are you kidding me? It's going to be like herding cats in there. I don't even have enough chairs or tables for that many kids. 37 eight year olds has the potential to be a mob if I'm not careful. They will have name tags until Halloween!

I should have known something was up when I started having my back to school nightmares while actually on vacation with Sean last week. Tonight at dinner my mom asked me if there was anything I was going to need for school this year.

Uh, I'm thinking a Margarita maker would be a nice start.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Livin' Life on the Edge!

This is pretty much what I felt like when Sean announced that this year he really wanted to take a no plans vacation. We had a few loose ideas of things we might like to check out on the way, but the only "official" plan was, "no official plans". Wow, talk about throwing Tracie completely out of her comfort zone. I like to plan everything right down to the exact detail. This didn't sit well with me although, I think I faked it pretty well. Only Erin knew the true extent of my terror of this "no plans", plan. But, I put on my big girl pants and got over it. The Ross Magical Mystery Tour was born.

So as it turns out, the no plan vacation was about the coolest thing we have ever done. I loved it and would highly recommend that everyone give it a shot at least once. I think we have started on the first of many adventures to come that will involve pointing the car in the direction of the day and just going for it. After all, isn't that really what those damn bucket lists are all about anyway? Living life, not talking about living life. Life on the edge. I kinda like it!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dream a little dream..

I will never forget the day I got up before the sun and stood on my parents back porch and waved as my sister and her family drove away to their new life in North Carolina. That day my heart broke into a million little pieces. I had no idea that it was possible to cry as many tears as I did that day. I never thought I would be whole again.

My sister and I have a bizarre relationship. We are nearly seven years apart, but I believe that we couldn't be closer if we were identical twins. We always joke that we are twins but there was just a slight delay in the birth of the second. She is my best friend and I can't remember any major fight that lasted longer than a few hours or so our entire lives. I was so excited to get her in my life and will treasure her always. A long distance relationship is difficult to maintain. There is no doubt about that, but we have made the best of it with 3000+ miles between us. In the time she has been gone she has had a daughter that I only know through visits a couple times of year at best. But just like her older brother, I couldn't love her more if she was my own.

And so when the e-mail came when I was visiting them last week that there was a slight possibility of a job opportunity back here in Oregon I could hardly contain myself. I listened as they discussed the pros and cons of moving back here, of the job itself, of removing the kids from a school the love and friends they know. I felt selfish for wanting it and tried desperately to convince myself that they are at their home there, that Oregon is my home, not theirs anymore. Yet try as I might, a tiny little flame of hope started burning deep inside my heart that had gone dormant so many years ago.

The process is a slow one and they are no closer to a decision than they were when I was visiting. They did decide to continue with the application process which may lead to an interview which would at least give more information to make the best decision for their family. Her family, not mine. But in the meantime, try as I might not to get my hopes up, I know it is too late. In my head I am planning the fantasy of the return. I keep trying to reel myself back knowing in my brain that this is not reality, but fantasy at this point in time. If it doesn't come through in the end, I will understand and I will pick up the pieces again. I know I will have support to get through it again.

But the dream of what could be..Oh the dream. Imagine what would have happened if so many of the amazing individuals in our lifetimes gave up on the dream. Sometimes it is all we have and I for one am going to revel in it for the time being.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Got Dirt?

This is what 21 years of marriage looks like at my house! I came home from vacation last night to a beautifully wrapped present on my sideboard. Much to my surprise, this is all the loot that was inside. While on first glance this looks fantastic enough, it is the gift behind the gift that means the absolute most to me.

For those of you not familiar with the now traditional 21 year gift of "dirt" in the anniversary list, this is all mt. bike gear. I have a new stem and handlebars, ZuZu's pedals (yes, after my favorite movie no less) and five-ten grip shoes. Oh, and he got me flowers too. Sunflowers, my favorite, on socks, which means they won't die which makes them his favorite too.

Why is this stuff so important and why am I so excited about it after the 21 years of hard time I've put in to earn them? Well, it shows that he finally listened to me and is respecting my wishes. I am not a clipless pedal girl. I have fought them for at least the 21 years we have been married and I'm pretty sure they are a major factor in the lost mojo of the previous posts.

And so on this anniversary, Sean has given me all the very best products to be a crazy ass, dirt girl and reclaim my place on those beautiful trails! No longer will I have to battle for balance in a quick response necessary situation by fighting my pedals for control of my foot. The fact that he has given me this gift is his way of raising the white flag and respecting that I actually know what I need.

Screw those traditional lists. Screw those shinny rings, bobbles and such. No fancy dinner needed. Keep your leather, lace, paper. This "dirt" anniversary goes into the record books as hands down the best ever! Thanks Sean Ross for knowing what this girl wants and being man enough to give it to her.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Someone Get This Anniversary a Drink!

Today is our 21st wedding anniversary. I have no idea how that is even possible. I'm sure it is simply because I was a child bride. At least that is how I resolve those numbers in my head. However, while today is my 21st anniversary, it is only the second one that I have ever spent apart from Sean. Why am I not with the one I love today on this the "coming of age" anniversary ? Because I am three time zone's away. I am in NC visiting the family and loving every minute of it.

Past anniversary celebrations have included trips, out to fancy dinners, exchanged presents (both grand and simple) and generally had a wonderful time. Today I woke up with the worst hangover of my life thanks not having seen my sister in over a year and too much time spent on the back porch with too many bottles last night. So my first meal of my anniversary was a handful of Excedrin and not enough coffee. I tiptoed around the house while Zach and Maddie danced around displaying the proper homecoming for a long lost aunt. We finally left the house around noon to go to Costco and the grocery store. I began to feel human again and we headed over to the community pool where I lost all sense of reason and put on a swimsuit. We spend the next several hours splashing around and having the best time. Both of those kids are amazing and swim like fish. I am in constant awe of my Sister and her fantastic ability to raise such great citizens! After this white fish belly Oregonian had enough of the NC sun and humidity we headed back home to a wonderful evening of fish tacos (yummy!) and family fun.

Tomorrow we are going camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I can hardly wait. I've got a camera and my bug spray and I'm ready for fun. S'mores, coke zero and jiffy pop. It can't get better than that!

And so on this 21st anniversary I say to my dear husband, thank you for the years we've had and I look forward to the ones to come. I'm sorry we aren't spending this day together but I thank you for the nudge to get myself out here before my summer slipped away. I am adoring every second of my time here. You and I,hopefully have many, many more anniversaries to spend together. I look forward to reuniting much sooner than I will be prepared to leave here, but ever so happy to see you again.

Bi-coastal love. Jeez!

Friday, July 23, 2010

To Run or Not To Run

The results are in, the damage is done. Much as I suspected the MRI revealed tears in the left knee. On the one hand the validation that I have not turned into some lame ass wimp and in fact have torn cartilage is somewhat comforting. Of course then there is the other hand which says, what now? Well, what now is that I'm waiting (sound familiar) for the orthopedic surgeon's office to call me and tell me what my options are. Considering my self-referral PT of the last 3 weeks has done nothing to fix it so far, I fear the knife is in my future.

Which brings me to the question of the day. When my regular Dr. called me with the MRI results his assistant informed me that he knew I'd be chomping at the bit and that while I wait for the surgeon's call I may try to run no more than 3 miles at a time and not everyday. I was told NO STAIR TRAINING EVER. Which of course I knew because I'm pretty sure the training for "The Big Climb" is what caused this injury in the first place. So now I have to decide. To Run or Not to Run.

I have been less than charming since my running shoes where placed in my closet. I've been hiking, biking, and even working with a personal trainer, but nothing is the same. There is something about nothing but you, shorts, t-shirt and a pair of shoes hitting the trail that is so minimal but everything all at the same time. It grounds me and quite frankly I could use some grounding.

Does my knee feel any better since I stopped running? No, not really. Does it feel any worse? No, not really. Therein lies the problem. If I run while I wait, could I do more damage to an already damaged knee? Maybe, but then if they have to fix it anyway will it really matter? But if I don't run, can I do more damage to an already damaged spirit? I think maybe I might.

I don't know yet what I will do. Sometimes in life there are no easy answers even on trivial issues such as this. Take a chance? Play it safe? I just don't know. I wish I had a crystal ball to tell me. Heck, I'd settle for a magic 8 ball right about now. Of course it would probably just say "Ask again later".

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mojo Maker!

It's been a tough summer. My knee had me sidelined from two races I really wanted to do. I thought I had been taking it in stride until my dear sweet husband broke it to me the other night while on a hike. The conversation shifted to a mountain bike ride of a few days earlier. It went something like this.

Me: I don't know why my bike just doesn't feel right this year. I just feel shaky. I'm kind of a Scaredy Scaredenstein.

Sean: Yeah, you are a Scaredy Scardenstein.

Me: What? That's not very nice. I can say it, but you can't.

Sean: Well, it's true. You used to have mad mt. bike skills. You were crazy mt. biking girl last year. What happened? You've lost your Mojo!

Me: stunned silence......OUCH...That hurt.

Sean: Well.....

Oh man. I'm still reeling from that one. I guess the true ones always hurt the most. He's right, I know he's right but damn man, that is harsh! I had attributed the horrible start to the current mt. bike season to being over 40 and knee injury hesitation, but now.. man it's on.

Luckily I have the power of these socks. Mojo Quest 2010. I've got the power of the socks. I'll replace my energy food with Lucky Charms and that Mojo is as good as found. I hope the blur of the unicorn blinds Sean as I fly by.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Two Men, One Date

Today, I celebrate two anniversaries. The anniversaries of the two men who had the most influence on the woman I am today. Fate sometimes is cruel in the games it plays. Like dates. Like July 20th. The anniversary of my husband's birth, and my father's death. Two men, one date.

It has been five years since they became ever linked on this date. In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago and others like just yesterday. I am eternally jealous that they shared that last morning together. I was not so lucky, but that is not my story of the day. A few paragraphs and a lifetime of therapy probably can't fix that. But I am here today and today I shall attempt to honor them both. For without them I would not be me.

My father and my husband at first glance could not have been more different. Sean was my attempt at rebellion. Oh how that backfired! His long hair, torn jeans with "his ass hanging out", as my Dad used to say, riding a skateboard listening to "crap" on that too loud stereo. He was just the ticket to drive my family nuts. But oh how Sean with his no nonsense Irish charm won him right over.

Over the years Sean became the son my dad never had. Dad took a boy who couldn't locate a dip stick to someone who can rebuild his own car engine. He cultivated his love for motorcycles, tinkering and unfinished projects. Endless hours of treasure hunting in a shop filled to the brim. We now have a garage Dad would be proud of.

Sean taught Dad to loosen up a little. To appreciate good beer and to let your daughter try some stuff maybe you didn't think she could or would do. He taught him to see that there was more than one way to build a deck or fix a clock and that it didn't have to take an hour to cook a steak. Dad learned to get off the lawn mower and go for a quad ride.

Yes, the men in my life learned from each other and I too learned from them. So on this anniversary I bring you the top 5 list of things that show me that I get them both every day.

5. Have you checked your oil?
Every time I hear that I know Dad taught and Sean learned. I heard it weekly from the time I turned 16. It never sunk in for me. Good thing Sean was listening.

4. Practical Purchases.
I want a bike rack for the car. I've been wanting one for weeks. Sean does the research, knows the details of what we really need and finally makes a decision. All major purchases go like this.

3. It's all in the little things.
I've been listening to my itunes through my computer. No speakers, it sounds terrible. Yesterday Sean came home with a set of tiny speakers. I didn't ask. When I lost my shuffle he waited two weeks then came home with a shuffle. He always stops at Starbucks after a hard workout to buy me a skinny latte. Dad used to stop by unannounced and clean my furnace filter. I grew up watching him do beautiful little things for my mom. These are damn fine men.

2. Sense of Humor.
My father and I share the same sick adolescent boy sense of humor. Nothing is funnier than watching someone fall down or otherwise embarrass themselves in some way. Dad and I wore out a VCR tape once of a lady getting hit in the face by a door. I literally lose it laughing my ass off. I also have a lightening fast quick wit usually sarcasm based. That's not vanity speaking, it's 100% truth and my best quality. It came from my father. Sean gets that. He laughs at my jokes and he DVRs "Wipeout" for me. Sean doesn't get embarrassed by my humor, he encourages it.

1. Taco Bell
Every year on Father's Day after spending the day with Sean's Dad, Sean drives me through Taco Bell. What more is there to say?

Happy Birthday Sean. Thanks for keeping Dad in our hearts and in our lives. Thanks for sharing your day every year with such grace.

Cheers Dad. I love you and miss you everyday. And I hope with all my heart that I make you proud.

I think I'll go check my oil.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Perfect is as perfect does.

I have a new hobby. I have discovered surfing! Oh no, it's not the kind on a cool old school long board and some salty air. No way! This kind involves my trusty Mac and a goal of procrastinating on my summer projects. I have discovered the "Next" button on Blogspot. As we all know, I enjoy being a lurker and I'm fascinated by the world of blogging so I've had a blast surfing my way through other people's lives.

The biggest thing I have learned as I scroll though the lives of others is that apparently everyone has "beautiful" children and blessed lives. Well and that people are big fat liars! I have yet to come across anyone who admits to having children who are either less than attractive or bratty. Funny, these must not be the people who live in my neighborhood.

I would love to see just one shred of truth in these entries. I mean I'm all for happiness and bliss, but there are limits to how much perfectness a family can endure without someone going a little crazy and downing a fridge box of cheap wine, and family size bag of ruffles right before they jump on the Pizza boy at the door.

Me, I'm more of a realist. So here is how my summer is going so far. I have started my summer de-clutter projects in the office and am horrified to realize that we have dodged a bullet in that no one has called in the show "Horders Buried Alive" yet. I'm about 2/3 of the way through that room.

My exercise plan has taken a nose dive as I continue to await my MRI to diagnosis the mystery knee. However, after two weeks I finally have an appt. for the scan. The marvels of having insurance. What about those poor people without? What if it had been an emergency? While I have been moving via daily hikes, it just isn't the same and the depression of not running has me behaving badly in the kitchen. See, not that beautiful family of other blogs. Nope, I actually resorted to eating Hot Tamales today and I don't even like them but I found a box in back of the cupboard. That is pathetic. The ironic part is that I have loads of Peeps on top of the fridge but I'm saving them for when I'm back in training. Yup, I have a beautiful and blessed life. Blessed with beautiful peeps that is!

On the plus side I am super excited to visit my sister in just a couple of weeks. That will most likely be the highlight of my summer. That and Sean and I are planning on hopping back on the bikes tonight. Maybe that will help drive out the pity party demons that have invaded my happy, carefree summer days.

Maybe there is something to the perfect life blog posting. Maybe it's just a case of mind over matter. So this is my perfect life posting. Maybe not perfect, but mine. I guess that is perfect for me. Oh and did I mention my exceptionally good looking dog?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dog Days

I guess there is a reason they call them the Dog Days of Summer. I've accomplished about as much as Rogue over the past few days. Seriously, other than hiking every morning (thanks Erin), I've been more lazy than I care to admit.

At least I finally scheduled my trip to visit Sarah. Maybe that will be just what I need to prompt me to get going on the projects I have put off all during the school year for Summer thinking I'd have the time to get them done now. I have the time, just not the motivation. Where's my motivation? Lance is having a terrible tour. It's just depressing, why even get off the couch?

I hate to admit it but I'm slowing crossing over into Erin's year round school camp. I'm not much good with this unstructured down time. It would help if my knee didn't have me off the running train and other "more fun than hiking" exercise options. But I need to accept that until the MRI confirms or denies the possible diagnosis, I should get off my duff and get some crap done.

I will do that. Really I will. Tomorrow. Right now I think I need to go take a nap, or maybe work on that butt indentation on the couch. It's starting to pop back up again.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Race Official

This is Sean after completing the "Fueled by Fine Wine" half marathon this morning. I was supposed to run it too, but since my knee currently has me sidelined, I was the "official event photographer". Isn't he cute? I think I'm going to keep him! I love a man sporting some bling!

Right after this picture we walked back to the car where I was the "official window blocker" while he changed his clothes and I grabbed my unused race number and we headed back down to the event where the real fun was happening. I love a race that ends with more than a dozen local wineries pouring delicious Pinot Noir at 9:30 in the morning. We sampled some fruit of the gods, munched on some string cheese and ate some delicious salty meat! There are no pictures of that cause I'm a public school teacher and it wasn't even noon yet! From there we loaded ourselves back in my trusty little subie where I became the "official pace car" to get one tired racer back home. He is currently content to sit on the couch watching Formula One and Tour De France on the DVR.

With my "official" duties done for the day, I rewarded myself with some Crazy Days shopping downtown and a new pair of Teva flip flops for only $19. While I wish I could have run with Sean in this event too, it was fun to get to see him finish for once. I think I screamed louder than any other fan there. I was kicking myself for forgetting the cow bell! It's good to be a fan sometimes and for Sean Ross, I'm one hell of a fan! Awesome Job Sean! Can I touch the medal?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Evil Lurks in Spandex!

"Coffee will stunt your growth!" "Gum takes 7 years to digest", "Coke and pop rocks together will choke you". These are all lies of our youth. We believe them because they were told to us by people we trusted. These were the words of mothers, fathers, grandparents. It had to be true, and we continued believing the untruth.

Out of the 70s and into the 80s. Enter Jane Fonda. Fitness Goddess. She brought it to the masses. Her striped hideous body suit and braided headband dancing around in the heart of the aerobics era. Oh how I loved my Beta video tape workout. "No pain No Gain" was drilled into my head as I sweated and "felt the burn". Oh I was smoking hot and I believed everything the fitness guru told me.

Here it is 20 years or more into the future. I'm not so smoking hot anymore, but I know a good workout when I see one. So I've done boot camp, spin class, stair running and trail running. All in that quest for health. As my body has aged I've felt the "pain". As I felt it I was transported back in time, back to the mantra "no pain, no gain". So it didn't really phase me when my knee started hurting on a more regular basis. I'm doing more these days, and like it or not, I'm older. (Notice I said old ER, not old), so of course I'm going to feel it more. I've had conversations with friends about the pain and they assure me that sometimes things just hurt, that's just what comes with some activities. I agree wholeheartedly.

So imagine my surprise when my knee decided to puff up like an old water balloon after my last run. Sure the run hurt, but no more than normal and actually not quite as bad. A fluke I thought, it will go away. But rather than go away, it go worse. By the time night fell, I could hardly bend my knee.

Two days later a trip to the Dr. confirmed my fears. There is actually something wrong with my knee. Not sure what because I'm in the midst of the insurance game before I can get the much needed answers of an MRI. But the conversation I had with my Dr. did not leave me confident.

ME: "Well, it can't be too serious right? I mean I can still run".
Dr.: "You have to be very careful about running when you are older"
Me: "I'm 41 years old, I'm not Old!"
Dr. "I said old-er, not old, I'm younger than you and I have arthritis from running"
Me: "Oh, well, but if it was a tear I couldn't run right"
Dr.: "Oh, you'd be surprised. The body is a remarkable thing, it can work through injury, the injury just continues to get worse.

Me: "Oh, so then, I have a 10k on Sunday"
Dr: "I can't run anymore, Dr. "G" can't run anymore, running on injury creates permanent injury. Have I ever told you about a book called "Chi Running"

Me: Yes, last time I was here.

Dr: Yeah, so are you going to listen to me this time?

Me: Yes, yes I will, So about that race on Sunday? You're saying I can't run my 10k race on Sunday then?"

Dr.: Long drawn out sigh..."I wouldn't"

He pretty much lost me after that. He said I can walk, swim (oh good, you all know how I feel about that one), and potentially bike if my knee can take it. Whatever, I just want to know when I can run again. I'm not going to give up yet. Much like those bandaged Tour Rider's, bloody and battered but still on the bike, I'm hanging on to a pipe dream right now. But I'm hanging on for dear life.

See, the problem is, I came to this sport "Older". I'm not finished yet, I just got started. I will listen and back off, but I'm not done. However I do have a few parting words for a certain evil doer.

"No pain, no gain" Jane? Really? Kiss my ass lady. If my MRI is denied, I'll be sending the charges to you!