Good Morning for a 5K

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Yesterday morning my son and I headed over to the high school for a morning run with a bunch of other people. It was the annual Hearts for Hunger 5K to benefit the Vermont Foodbank. We ran it last year and it was a great event, so we signed up again this year.

It was a chilly morning so we ditched our sweatshirts at the last minute. It was about 52 degrees at start time so it was pretty ideal for a run. My son had asked me ahead of time: “Is it OK if I ditch you?” It was, and he did.

He ran ahead and I lingered in the scrum for a bit. Once I was free to follow my own pace he was far ahead. I could see him pretty much the whole time, and we high-fived as I approached the turn-around point and he was heading back. There was a water station there so I slowed to take a drink. That was my mistake.

I kept getting closer to him the whole way back, but at one point he turned around and saw me. I wanted to catch him. I had a little pride I guess, but he was having none of his old man catching him at that point. He had a little pride as well. We ran uphill and we both were getting pretty hot in the bright sun, but he kicked it in and finished before me.

I was kind of out of gas at that point. Too little sleep (my daughter had a late performance last night in Burlington) will do that. But close to the finish line I could hear someone coming up from behind me. I picked up my pace but he kept coming. So I sprinted across the finish line with him close behind. Then I really was out of gas.

I thanked the guy who tried to catch me for giving me a push. I wanted to finish behind my son to avoid any future ribbing from him. So, we both pushed ourselves and felt good about it and ate a cookie and drank some water. We waited around for the awards and raffle and he took home a box of fudge. It was peanut butter fudge (um, what?) but hey, free fudge.

This was our second 5K this spring. We will do more as they come up. The marathon in Burlington happens Memorial Day weekend. Back in the day that was an annual event for my wife and I. Maybe one of these days we can do it with our kids. That, however, will require I have a little bit more gas at the start.

Not the Ideal Painting Day, but Whatever

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I sat looking out at the sunrise, waiting for it get light. Yesterday afternoon my daughter moved everything out of her room and we prepped it for painting. It was cold out, in the teens. But she really wanted to paint her room this weekend. She asked plenty of time ahead, and was willing to put in the effort. How could I say no?

She had a couple of friends over yesterday and we got to it–taping and cleaning and then painting. The problem is that it was really too cold to open the windows and air the place out. Thankfully, we had gotten low emission paint from the hardware store. This was intentional, due to the season, and it worked like a charm. It smelled a bit paint-ish but was not all that bad. We cracked a window and ran a fan and it cleared right out.

Her room was a mess last night, of course so she spent the night at one of those friend’s houses. All three of them did. The plan was to head back home and paint together in the morning. I, however, as an adult with some time management skills, as well as some experience with teenagers, knew that that was an unrealistic plan. There was no way they could get up in time to paint a second coat and put the whole room back together in time for bed tonight. So I painted the second coat myself before I picked them up.

I admit I like to get it done right. It is an excellent learning experience, however, to let your children take on a painting project. It is a good skill of itself and it is empowering. My daughter can now look at those walls and say “I painted that.” That feels pretty good. My dilemma is that I prefer, if possible, to avoid paint on the beams and the rug and the windows. The second coat was a little more thorough and tidy, but the first coat was more powerful, despite the messiness.

So I sipped coffee until the light rose. Then I put on old clothes and got the job done. I picked up the three girls late in the morning. They painted a dresser themselves, and then I helped them get started on reassembling the room–bed returned to the corner, clothes back in the closet and so on. They took care of the rest.

No, it wasn’t the best time of year to paint. We had to suck in some paint fumes (although not too many) and clean up with less room to work. They had to paint the dresser in the basement rather than on the porch or in the garage, but easy enough. And it is one more project not to be done in the summer. If my daughter had not insisted I would not have done it that way, but it got done, and I got to watch the sunrise, and she is happy. I guess that last one was the priority.

Going to Sleep

Ah, the woes of being a parent. My two children seem to be having some trouble falling asleep.  Some commennts they have made recently while they should be falling asleep:

I think I heard something.

I can’t stop thinking about bad things.

I have a question: Can I have two cookies in my snack tomorrow?

I have to tell you something: Why does Mars look so rusty?

I have something else to tell you: Tonight, Jupiter was the only planet in the whole sky.

Can I have a band aid for my cut? I cut myself when I was playing with the Playmobil horse.

Today, at school, I found some treasure in the sandbox and no one would let me keep it.

I don’t want to go to school tomorrow.

I can’t wait to go to school tomorrow.

I have to return my library books tomorrow.

Before you got home we could hear a mouse over by the art table, and you know what? At school, Kristen told us that one time she was with her lawyer and a mouse, I mean a squirrel, popped its head right out of a hole in the wall and she screamed!

How soon is it until Christmas?

I don’t know what I should dream about tonight.

For Christmas, I know just I should order from Santa–a tractor!

I’ve tried everything I can think of to fall asleep but I still can’t fall asleep; I’ve tried to lie this way and that way and do everything and I still can’t even though I tried really hard.

I have to go poop.

When you gotta go…

Learning Personal Finance

We went to the farmer’s market in Hinesburg yesterday. I emptied my wallet. I didn’t even get all I could have gotten, but our bag was full and the kids were antsy. Next time I’ll bring two bags. And make the kids carry one.

This market was great. I arrived with my two children right when it opened, at 9:00. It was held in the Hinesburg Town Hall. There is a summer farmers market weekly but once the fall hits it whittles down to once per month. We missed the one in October so I was eager to be there for this one.

I purchased leeks, onions, potatoes, garlic, spinach and other stuff. I was happy enough. I was looking for food. My daughter, however, was looking to spend some money.

I had told her I would give her some money so she could buy some things herself. The space is small and I figured it wouldn’t be crowded first thing. So I gave her five bucks and told her she buy whatever she wanted. We did a lap to start us off, to see who was there selling what. We tasted a purple carrot and looped back around. At the first vendor she bought a delicata squash, a tiny one, but cute and just right for her. A couple of tables down she bought some popcorn. It was purple, still on the cob but dried, four ears for a dollar. She bought four. Then she bought some of those purple carrots. She considered a stone charm, but it was five dollars and she didn’t want to blow it all in one shot.

This was great for both of us. She felt a sense of responsibility and I felt safe with her learning some lessons in how to spend money. I really don’t think I could have said no to anything there she may have said she wanted to buy. It was a farmers market.  She wants to buy carrots and mini squash? I’m good with that. She wants to but some jewelry made by someone here in town?  I’m good with that.  She wants to buy honey, jam, hand spun yarn, fresh bread, eggs? How can I say no? It was ideal.

She is now the eager one, asking when the next market will be. There is one every Saturday somewhere around here. The next one is in Burlington, then Winooski, Shelburne, and back in Hinesburg again. And there are  others well into the winter. My daughter would gets the shakes if she saw all the vendors in Burlington compared to little old Hinesburg. I’m thinking we may have to take advantage of that. I can give up five bucks for this endeavor for several weekends if she is still into it. I have been wanting to go to these this fall and winter anyway. Fresh local food this late in the year? I can go out of my way for that.

The eggs we bought yesterday and way good, and I turned cauliflower, spinach, garlic and leeks into a fine dinner tonight. And the popcorn? Pops white, tastes great. And that was just one ear. That popcorn may have been the best deal of the lot.

Photo Deconstruction

I let my son handle the camera for the first time yesterday.  He has seen me use it, and his sister.  He has see lots of photos.  So he has a basic understanding of what to do and of what makes a good photo.  But could he take a good one?  His sister has managed to take some winners.  So I had high hopes. Here is his very first one, and what I make of it:

The Boy's First Go at the Camera

The Boy's First Go at the Camera

First, notice that he did his best to aim at what he identifies as me.  He did cut off the top of my head.  Well, OK, he pretty much beheaded me.  But he is not tall.  He is a kid.  He looks at my torso more than at my face anyway.  So I think he was going for what he wanted to capture.

Notice as well the framing.  He didn’t place me in the center of the frame. I am off to the side.  In this way, he is able to include some of the background to give the subject some context. Smart kid, that.  The mail waiting to go out, the uncapped water bottle, the clock on the wall–all are clues to what this scene is about.

Notice as well the dorky sweater.  It was cold in the morning and I tossed that thick baby on to keep from getting chilled.  But by taking the photo when I am wearing it he will have some fuel to rib his old man down the road.  “Look at that dorky sweater!” he will proclaim.  “You were/are so uncool.”

You may be able to tell as well that the focus is soft.  He was going for a warm look.  As I said, it was cool in the house, so the slightly less than sharp focus lends a somewhat homey quality, makes it feel warmer.

So he got it all right.  He took a video later in the day, when his sister got off the bus.  That was a hoot.  He’s got potential.  Do we have a filmmaker in the future?  Or a photojournalist? Or maybe just someone who knows how use a camera?  Time will tell, eh?

Not So Selfish

I watched our neighbor this morning drive along the road and pick up all the cans and bottles that my children and I gathered and placed by the roadside yesterday.  I had mixed feelings about this:

1. I was excited that someone else would take the time to clean up.  We were planning to head out shortly to pick all of those up.  The children, in fact, were looking forward to it.  But someone else beat us to that.  I don’t know if they were happy we had gotten things started, or upset that we had dug the ugliness from hiding under the winter’s layers.  I hope the former.

2. I was disappointed because the children really were excited to follow up on our previous day’s project.  When I told them what was happening, and they looked out the window to see for themselves, they were disappointed as well.  But I told them we could head up the road in the other direction and they got fired up again.

Today’s haul was a lot bigger.  We walked a lot farther, for one, but there were just a lot more items to collect.  We could not carry them all there were so many, so we left another batch to be picked up by someone.  My wife walked the kids up the road while I went for a run.  I met them on my way back and she ran herself.  I carried most of the load for most of the way.  The children wanted to carry everything they collected–they each had a bag–but the bags got too heavy for the longish walk.

We picked up three dozen beverage containers and left about ten to collect later.  Over 50 empty containers.  That is just way too many.  That was in a not-quite-a-mile stretch of road.  The nutty thing is how many I saw while I was running, farther up the road–at least as many.  The idea of that many containers getting tossed makes me squinch up my forehead.

I have tossed empties out the window myself.  I am not proud to admit that.  It happened only once, when I was a teenager.  There were a few of us in a Chevy Suburban drinking beer in the back on a long drive.  The driver was clean and we were being responsible–just a couple apiece over a couple of hours.  But we were underage.  We were afraid we would get pulled over by the police for some reason, I don’t remember why, so we tossed the “evidence” to the roadside.

The thing is, that memory still haunts me.  It wasn’t my idea and I was not the one to do the tossing, but i rue my abetting that act.  I don’t even have the consolation that we were pulled over.  I try to make it up now.  I imagine who tossed these glass bottles and aluminum cans and create my own stories.  I am proud that my children are so excited to clean things up.  They do not creat such stories.  They trust my answer to their question of who would toss their trash out the window.  Sometimes it is a mistake, I tell them, and sometimes people do things we would not do ourselves.  They have entered the world of trying to understand the array of human motivations.

I can’t imagine they will ever solve that mystery.  No one ever has.  But I hope they pursue it their whole lives.  It is a mystery that offers many questions worth asking.  Those questions make the mystery worthwhile.  As a parent, I will do what I can to engage them in the mysteries of the world.  I hope all of them are not as dirty as this on

What’s for Dinner

Last night I had the time to make a good dinner.  I whipped up cream of celery soup and fresh dinner rolls.  With fresh pears on the side.  It was wholesome and tasty.  The kids hated the soup, of course.  “This looks like throwup,” says the boy of joy.  He was serious.

OK, it did look a little like throwup, but only some kinds of throwup, not the gross kind.  Well, not the grossest kind.  But it did taste good–salty and fresh and creamy.  I guess you can’t have everything in a soup.  Especially one that your kids think looks like something your body already rejected.

At least the rolls were good.  They ate plenty of those.  So tonight I wondered what to make.  I had a lot less time.  The rest of the fam was off to the library where my daughter met a friend from school for some friend time.  It was me deciding and me making and I had had a long day.  I didn’t feel like making anything complicated at that point.  I just wanted to eat it.

But of course I wanted my family to have a quality dinner.  I had to make something fast that had no resemblance to bodily fluids.  So I made spaghetti.  We don’t have that all that often.  It is easy and we all like it but I tend to make things that are fresher if I can, or that are just more fun to make.  Spaghetti is just too easy.

My savior was the table.  Instead of the easy pour it into bowls at the stove approach, I set places and we had some spot lighting and we sat together and talked about our day.  I love that.  I remember eating spahetti as a child but more than that I remember eating together as a family.  I want my kids to remember that.

The bummer is that I had really been looking forward to making the soup yesterday.  I had never made cream of celery soup before.  Mostly because, well, it’s celery for god’s sake.  But I had all this celery since you can’t buy just what you need and I needed to make something with it.  I’m thinking next time I toss in a few carrots.  It will give it a little sweetness but, more importantly, some color.

But then again, do I want to hear my boy of joy say “This looks like…?”