Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Human Race

I know it's been a while.  I should apologize, I know.  Who knew training for an Ironman, raising two kids, being a wife, taking on a new (very) part-time job, and writing would be so challenging?


It's still going to be spotty around here for the next 30 days or so.  Your continued grace and support appreciated.

I'm still writing for my church as well as for the local online news publication.  I've written an article today in light of Monday's tragic events in Boston.

Before you read the article, allow me to fill in a little details....

Papa Bear has qualified for and run the Boston Marathon 3 times.  In 2003, I was just past my first trimester with Brother Bear.  My parent-bears joined us as spectators and shared in the joy of watching Papa Bear run the "race of a lifetime" (missing the birth of their 2nd grandbear).  There was an awful heat wave that year, but Papa Bear did great.   In 2007, Papa Bear ran again.  This time, my in-law bears and Brother Bear (now 3 years old) joined us.  They almost cancelled the race due to rain and floods.  Papa Bear ran his heart out for his family.  Papa Bear qualified again and we headed back in 2010.  This time, we had a diaper clad Sugar Bear, Brother Bear, and Papa Bear's sister.  He ran a Personal Best for the course.  We joked that the "3rd time was the charm".  It was a delightful, joy-filled day.

We only see the race in 2 spots.  We ride the train out to mile 16-17, watch the elite runners, and then wait for Papa Bear.  Once he arrives, we give hugs, kisses and high fives then we quickly hop back on the train and do our best to get as close to the finish as possible.

In 2010, we decided to stop a little short of where we normally go because the crowds were hard to navigate with a stroller.  We found a spot and packed ourselves in with the crowds, ten people deep.  Despite the noise, Sugar Bear was asleep in the stroller.  Brother Bear was on his Aunt-Bear's shoulders so he could see.  I was trying to get some pictures of the racers coming up the street.  I would jump up in the air and snap a picture in hopes that I might get a shot of Papa Bear or the massive crowd of runners.  This is what I caught instead:

This spot is 2 blocks from the second blast that occurred on Monday.

I tried, and failed, in October to qualify for this 2013 race.

This could have been my family.

To say this has affected me deeply is an understatement. 

It's not that there's a sense of gratitude that I'm alive - a "but by the grace of God go I" thing.   Instead, it is a personal feeling of having been in that crowd before.  Having celebrated the moment with these people on multiple occasions.  I feel like I know these people.

I am heartbroken.

That's the backstory.  Feel free to read the rest of my thoughts here.

Lord, have mercy on this world.

Friday, November 30, 2012

In other news...

It's official.  The cat's outta the bag.  No more secrets.


I couldn't even push the button to confirm.  I had to have Papa Bear do it.  I was sick to my stomach.

2.4 mile swim.
112 mile bike.
26.2 mile run.

I still don't know if I'm capable of finishing this thing in the required 17 hour limit.


But I'm (slowly) learning to harness the fear and use it as a powerful motivational tool.  When that tiny voice creeps in the back of my head, I've discovered there is also now a louder, stronger voice that tells her to QUIET DOWN (maybe not quite as politely...).

It's progress.  Slow.  But progress.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Deck the Halls and such...

It's November 29th and, apparently, I'm the GrinchBear that stole Christmas.  Because I refuse to take down my Thanksgiving decorations.  "Thanksgiving decorations?" you ask?  Why, yes Cyberbears.  Let me introduce you to Harvest R. Turkey:

YOU WOULD KEEP HIM UP AS LONG AS YOU COULD TOO, RIGHT?  He is the HIGHLIGHT of my cubs' November.  Seriously, what cub wouldn't love a 9 foot inflatable turkey?

We decided this year that Harvest R. was lonely.  So, we added another friend.  Cyberbears, meet Tom T. Turkey:

I know, right?  Is he not the cutest thing you've ever seen?  It's a regular farm around here (funny farm, that is).

(My decorator once mentioned that my affinity for roosters might be bordering on a problem.  Apparently my "problem" does not discriminate)

All this to say, we have been given the delightful gift of an additional week to prepare ourselves for the Christmas decorating frenzy and it seems that I'm surrounded by nothing but overachievers.  Don't they know they are WASTING A PERFECTLY GOOD WEEK?


Thus, Harvest R. and Tom T. are staying up until after dinner tomorrow night when I have
relented to the pressuredecreed it time to deck the Four Bears Halls.

Someone has to be the slacker, right?

On another Christmas-y note...

Not to be outdone in the crafty area (snicker, snicker, snicker), I decided to help Sugar Bear with a "make at home" Christmas  Ornament she received at church last night.


I'm pretty sure I'm going to Hell for the words I thought in my head whilst "helping" her.  It was a project made in a country where they have teensy, tinsy, nimble little fingers.  This is the finished product:

Poor Joseph looks like he put on his headgear after a long bender, and Mary, despite the smile on her face, is hanging tough through what look to be some pretty wicked hemmies.  And whoever swaddled Jesus (my money's on Joseph) felt that Jesus wasn't ready to SEE the world just yet.  And the best part?  Sugar Bear and I ended up with glue ALL OVER US.


Jesus really is the best gift, but after this craft I think an itty bitty glue gun ranks right up there.

I've just now guaranteed nothing but coal in my stocking for Christmas.

Assuming I actually hang it up before December 24th.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

He can't help it!

Brother Bear recently did some "personality testing" at school.  Papa Bear and I were shocked by how accurate the personality testing was.  It is just amazing to me that the "core" of who we are can be set at a mere nine years old.

Part of the take home from this was a bullet point list of the characteristics for their personality.  Again, we were taken aback by the accuracy of this list.

For example.  One bullet point said:

  • Can be messy

Do they have cameras in my house?  Exhibit A, CyberBears:



I used to be a bit skeptical about Personality Testing.

Not so much now.

Oh, and this part of his "personality"?  Gonna send me to the crazy house.  Fast.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Measuring Stick

I'm letting you in on a little secret....I've written about the "key" to my parenting success.  Read more here.

I don't share important secrets like this often. are welcome.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Branching out


I would have never thought I'd be sitting here today typing this post. I am!  Today, I (nervously) announce that I have a new title to my resume:  columnist.  I have joined the team of a local online publication and couldn't be more
nervousexcited about it.

The team I'm working with is amazing.  The path I followed to get here was divinely suggested by a dear friend who has a keen knack for connecting the perfect puzzle pieces.  Everything worked out so simply and organically.  Despite my anxiety (need I say, FEAR), it was such an easy decision to make.

The column is titled "Imperfect Parenting."  I hope to share the thoughts, feelings, and challenges I have in my parenting journey.  I hope it is fun, entertaining, and maybe even enlightening.  But, I'll settle for fun and entertaining.

I hope you join me on this journey.  Read my introductory column here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Job Security

During a dinner time discussion last night Sugar Bear said, "Mama Bear had to go to college so she could get a good job."  (Seems the little cub was listening to a recent conversation in the Swagger Wagon with Brother Bear!)

On a whim, I asked her what Mama Bear does.  Her response:

  • folding clothes with me (her favoritest chore!)
  • teaching kids spanish (uh..hmmm...Mama Bear no hable espanol!)
  • baking dinner
  • baking breastiss (breakfast)
  • eating (cub knows her Mama Bear)
  • teaching
  • helping (when asked who and how Mama Bear helps) she said, "Helping me!  With lots of things!)
I decided to then ask her what Papa Bear does at work.  Her response:
  • Help the people.  (How?) By doing stuff.
  • Goes on rocket for a little bit (really?  cool!)
  • Clean the windows
  • Managing.  That means if some people are hurt, he checks to see if they are fine.

I love my job.  I really do.

Friday, September 14, 2012

One-woman band

Although I have no musical experience whatsoever, I recently had an experience where I found myself a one-woman band of clanging and banging cymbals.  To read more about my experience and what I learned, click here.

Happy Weekend!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Time to VOTE!


Suggestions are in for the naming contest for our newest addition.  Now it's time to VOTE!  I've added a poll on the upper right hand side.  It's a simple click, and no hanging chads.

Remember, vote early and vote often.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Four years ago, all my wishes came true when you joined our den.  And then, as quickly as you could blow out that candle, Sugar Bear, we woke you up this morning to tell you YOU WERE FINALLY FOUR.

I joke that during the entire year of your threes,  I would comfort myself each night with the thought that we were one day closer to four.  And now, here we are.  I love four.  It's my favorite age.  I just can't believe you are already here!

My goodness, how your personality has grown this year.  You love to talk and sometimes resort to extreme volume in order to be heard in this talkative den.  You know what you want and have no problem making it clear.  Recently, you've learned to express your displeasure with your Brother Bear by balling up your fists and screaming at the TOP of your lungs.  I can't help it, but sometimes I giggle a little before I redirect you.

Your passion for princesses and glamour is only surpassed by your love of fashion.  On a recent trip to a department store, I was taken aback by your confident fashion sense.  You love to sparkle and shine.  Little do you know, you don't need fashion to make that happen.

You still live life with an exclamation point at the end of every sentence.  I pray that inner joy, that lovely spark, never leaves.

I constantly worry that, as the second child, you get my parenting "leftovers."  Instead of spending hours at the library, we spend hours running errands and carting around friends.  With you, I've been more free range.  I've let you make more messes.  I'm not sure I'm doing it right this time around either.  Just know that, while my parenting may be different, my love for you is never leftovers.

Welcome to four Sugar Bear.  It's going to be a great year.

Today on Facebook, I've written a little about my thoughts and preparations for Sugar Bear's birthday today.  Click here to read more.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Welcome addition

CyberBears, I'd like to introduce you to the newest member of the Four Bear Family:

Isn't she purty?

After months of searching Craig's List and every other nook and cranny, I have procured a new-to-me bicycle to replace my sad, pitiful, eight hundred pound excuse of a bike.  (Any question as to what my goal is should now confidently be answered!)

She's a beauty, and a very welcome addition to the family.  But since we'll be spending a significant amount of time together, I feel she needs a name.  Papa Bear is partial to "Mama Bear Needs To Get A Job To Fund This Hobby" but I'm leaning towards "Little Grizzly."  I thought it would be fun, however, to let you guys help.  So...

In the comments section, offer your suggestions.  All are welcome (PG, please).  Multiple entries per person are allowed.  On Friday, I'll have a poll of all the choices and we'll have a good old vote to choose her name. Winner gets...bragging rights (hey, I just bought a "new" bike folks).

On that note, I thought I'd update you on my "progress."  I'm 25 weeks into an over 52 week process.  There have been lots of ups and downs.  Times when I've been able to see the finish line in my head and know I can do this, and times when I've wanted to just lie down and give up.  I'm learning things about myself and challenging myself in ways I never thought possible.  I'm learning more about the awesome teamwork in my marriage, basic mechanics (it's an Allen wrench, not an Axel wrench), prioritizing (I have a blog?), fatigue, and flexibility (both physical and mental) than I ever thought possible.

I still grapple (almost daily) with feelings of fear as it relates to this process.  But, that was the point of this exercise, and I'm trying to embrace it.  Some days are better than others.

To date, I'm glad I decided to do this.  And I KNOW I couldn't do it without the support I've received from each of you.

Keep it coming.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Running with Endurance

When I told y'all I love the Olympics - I wasn't kidding.  I am now suffering the effects of Acute Olympics Withrdawl (AOW).  The shakes are gone, but the night sweats still persist peaking at about 7:00 p.m. Central Standard Time.

The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?


I can't think of a better way to recover from the Olympics than to relive them by writing about one of my favorite Olympic moments.  I'm weaning myself slowly, Cyberbears.  In the meantime, you can click here to read what I have to say.

Only five hundred and thirty eight more days (give or take) until the next Olympics.

Not that I'm keeping track or anything....

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Spelling it out

A rousing game of Scrabble with Papa Bear got me to thinking about words.  Today on Facebook, I'm expounding on words and what they can do.  Click here to read more.

(Oh.  And if anyone is interested, I WON.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

When the cubs are away, the bears will....

EAT.  Okay, and play too.  And workout out.  Oh, and watch some Olympics. And play Scrabble. And Rummikub.  Oooh, yeah!  And nap too.  And, and, read books that don't rhyme.

But did I mention the eating?

If you can't tell already, Papa Bear and I are on vacation.  Glorious, glorious, cub free vacation.  Not that I don't love my cubs and all, but, WOO HOO!  No whining!  No crying!  No fighting!  And, most importantly:


I may have mentioned this once or three hundred and forty two times, but the cubs complaining about the dinner I cook?  DRIVES. ME. CRAZY.

Because, I love to cook.  I love to try new recipes.  I'm not crafty at all, but making food?  It's my art.  Those of you who scrapbook (I would rather stick needles in my eyes than scrapbook) - food - food is my scrapbooking.  And think I've mentioned (perhaps, just maybe) that I love to eat.

So cooking for picky kiddos (and subsequently eating said food) has become an exercise in boring.  I know, there are many of you who say, "have them try new foods! Make them eat the food they refuse for breakfast the next day! don't give up!"  Uh huh.  Sure.  That all sounds great and wonderful in your perfect little world.  But, um, I prefer not to go absolutely OUT OF MY MIND every night at dinner thankyouverymuch.

So, alas, one of my singular goals for vacation was to cook and eat "grown up food" without anyone complaining.

Sigh.  It's the little things, right?

I thought I'd share the recipes and review with my loyalest CyberBears.  Because I love you that much.

I'll have another post with more recipes.  But for now, enjoy! (Please excuse my pictures.  I took totally lazy phone pictures.  Because, while I love food, I'm clearly no food blogger.)

Sausage Pockets - I saw this recipe on "The Chew" and thought it was cool.  It's terribly easy with even easier clean-up.  I wanted something easy for our first day because we would be coming off of 2 long days of driving and I didn't want to do anything difficult (especially because I would be doing some prep-work for the week's breakfasts, lunches and dessert that day as well).  This was really yummy.  Papa Bear and I each added our own tastes, which was nice.  I LOVED how the brats turned out.  Charred a little (like I like) but super juicy.  This would be GREAT for a party.  Set up all the ingredients and let everyone select their items, wrap 'em up, grill, then throw away the pockets when done.

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins - While I wanted to cook and enjoy yummy food, I'm also practical.  I didn't want to spend the WHOLE vacation cooking.  So the day we arrived, I made a large part of the breakfasts and lunches (and the whole dessert) for the week.  That way, I got the benefit of yummy food each day, but not the work!  I've been making these muffins for a few years.  They never fail and are DEE-LISH!  They turned out a little moist this time for some reason (thus, they don't look as yummy in the picture).  I'm assuming it's because of the altitude and moisture where we are.  Still taste great, though.  Just whip up some eggs (and the not pictured bowl of fruits-my-cubs-won't-touch) and, voila, breakfast.  (Oh, and I know that's a lot of breakfast.  I'm still doing two-a-day workouts while on vacation, so I need the fuel.)

Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches - Yum.  This was the other dish I made the day we arrived.  It serves ten, so I made a batch and put in the fridge.  When it's lunch, all I have to do is toast some bread and then add my sides (the blueberries counteract the potato chips, so it was a totally healthy lunch!).  I loved this.  Thinking I might start making a batch of this on the weekends at home so I have some ready-made lunches.  Papa Bear thought the red peppers overpowered the chicken salad and chose not to put them on going forward.  The recipe called for focaccia bread, which I'm sure would make it even better.  I couldn't find it at the local store, so I made do with honey whole wheat bread.

Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze - Okay.  This recipe just proves to me that Bobby Flay is pure awesome.  Yum.  So very delicious, and so very easy.  I just wish there had been more (I halved the recipe).  Papa Bear and I both wolfed it down!  Will definitely make this again.  Mmm, mmm, good.  Served with easy sides of spinach and couscous.

Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Pasta - This dish had a lot of steps.  And I was tired.  Thus, it's possible I might have set off the smoke alarm.  So, while I liked the dish, I would likely plan it a little differently (make the sauce earlier in the day).  Nonetheless, it was super yummy!  I grilled up a chicken breast and added it to Papa Bear's plate as he needed some additional protein fuel.  I ate it without the chicken.  The sauce had a nice kick and the goat cheese...yum.  I'm not afraid to admit that I went back for seconds.  Served with my Mama Bear's famous salad on the side.

Good thing we're working out a lot on this vacation too(even though most recipes are from Cooking Light), right?

Mmmmmmm.... stay tuned for a few more meals and....dessert.  Glorious, glorious dessert.