Words to live by...

"A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others." ~Author Unknown

"A good wife is her husband's biggest fan -- no matter how crazy he is." ~Me

"May God give you.. For every storm a rainbow, for every tear a smile, for every care a promise and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share, for every sigh a sweet song and an answer for each prayer." ~ Irish Blessing

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Inauguration Day with Kindergarteners

It is not very often that you watch something that you know is historic.

Political beliefs and differences aside, you have to admit that Tuesday was pretty unbelievable.

Seeing the unthinkable number of people gathered to rally around a new president was amazing.

We were encouraged to watch the inauguration with our class if we wanted to.

I remember sitting in elementary school watching Clinton's inauguration, and that wasn't even "historic."

I'm not sure how much my Kindergarteners would get out of watching the inauguration, but I was sure I didn't want to miss it, so I found a way to watch it. Google came through for me with a Barack Obama coloring sheet to keep my kids busy with during the show. I told them they could either sit at their seats and color, or they could pull some chairs up to the TV and watch the inauguration. Either way, they needed to be aware of what was happening, what the big hooplah was all about.

About half chose to color, the other half chose to watch. I could've predicted who would've done what and I would've been right. Even at five, you can tell the kids that have a sense of life outside of themselves, and those that don't. I sat with the kids watching the TV and nearly fell out of the chair laughing from a few of their comments. The adult world of politics collided with my crazy world of five years olds. When you spend all day with them, you start to think of them as adultish. When you bring in something new and different, you really see how truly LITTLE they are.

For example...

1) I was trying to explain what a president does and why this particular president is important. I told them there has never been a girl president, then I asked if any of them would ever want to be president. About five of them raised their hands, many of them girls. I said "wow, maybe you might be our first girl president! You better invite me to your inauguration if you become president" to one of my little girls and she lit up. Suddenly she looked really excited and exclamed "I'M GOING TO WEAR MY HANNAH MONTANA DRESS!" She was thrilled that she has already figured out her inauguration attire.

2) When Aretha Franklin sang, one little girl leaned over and whispered in my ear "Is she married to Obama?" and I laughed and said no, she's just a famous singer. She thought for a minute and leaned over and asked "Are they at least friends?" Haha. Many made comments about her big hat.

3) A group of three girls were sitting next to each other when one of them suggested they play "mom". The other two looked confused and the first clarified: "I'm going to be Michelle Obama, you two can be the daughters" which then set off an argument that consisted of "I want to be Michelle Obama" "No I want to be Michelle Obama" "No I do"...

4) I got into a more indepth conversation with my little Hannah Montana dress wearing future president. I asked her why she wanted to be president. This was her honest response: "The president gets to live in the White House. Only you have to be careful when you go there, you can't break nothing." Haha. Both literally and theoretically true!

5) One kid turned to me at some point and said "Why does everyone cheering for him look so sad?" I then tried to explain that sometimes people cry when they are happy. He simply looked at me like I was nuts, rolled his eyes, and turned back to the TV.

6) One less interested kid turned to me during one of the more borring parts and asked if there were cartoons coming. Ha.

7) Everytime they would show Obama on the TV the kids were cheer and scream. It was as if they were seeing the Beatles. Many of the coloring pages turned out pretty good. Others had Obama wearing pink eye makeup and lipstick. Not exactly "patriotic" but pretty funny nonetheless. Chris had to remind me that they ARE five.

8) Later in the afternoon, way after the inauguration was over, we were working on a writing prompt that had to be done by the next morning. It was about what they do on a snowy day or something. Of course the vice principal chose this time to come do an informal evaluation. I thought all went ok. Later I got his notes from his visit. One of the observations was "4 or 5 kids were having a discussion about whether Obama is black or brown." Clearly not what they should've been doing at that time, but I think that's a pretty good conversation for Kindergarteners. I don't think the VP was amused. I was.

It was a pretty hillarious experience that I will never forget. I'm glad I got to share such a historic moment with the true youth of America. These are the kids that will be most affected by decisions made by this and coming administrations. I can only believe they will be treated with the respect they deserve.

Perhaps in 30 years we'll see my little one in a Hannah Montana dress becoming the first hispanic woman president... and the world will marvel at her awesome fashion sense.

Here's to a bright future.

Find that smile

This week was long.

Despite it only being a four-day workweek, and an entire morning of one of those days was spent watching the inauguration, it felt long. The kids were a bit crazed, and with the weather so outstanding, it was hard to spend all day inside working. I'm sure they felt the same way about spending all day in school learning. I had my mid-year evaluation scheduled for Thursday afternoon, requiring me to put together my professional portfolio for the year. That got postponed to Friday morning. Friday morning, it got postponed to Monday. Which is fine, but I am one to worry and stress about these things until they are over. I also started my grad class Thursday night, and despite getting out an hour and a half early from a three hour class, that made Thursday very long too.

I tried to get out when I could. Chris joined me on a very refreshing ride home from work on Tuesday. Spending an hour and a half on the bike to get home is much better than 45 minutes in traffic and then an hour on the blasted trainer. I got to class early on Thursday and sat outside before class, watching the sunset, and feeling horribly out of place on a college campus. Seriously, it hasn't been THAT long since my good old college days, but being back to the world of smoking and texting made me feel really old. I found myself slinking back into my old shell, wishing I had a book to read or something to ease the awkwardness of just sitting.

I had a great night with my friends last night in Ft. Collins, eating some interesting food and watching a pretty terrible movie. But it's always fun to get out with them and laughs were in abundance as usual.

Today I slept in. A lot. Then went about my day walking the dog and then going on a ride... the actual purpose of this post. The weather was nearly perfect. Somewhere along the path I noticed that I was smiling. The stupid uncontrollable kind of smile that finds its way onto your face without noticeable provocation. It felt so good to be out, doing something I know how to do, working hard, listening to some tunes, enjoying the day.

It felt good.
I rode about ten miles, racing the the batteries on my GPS, before stopping for a mid-ride snack. I sat by College Pond, ate some delicious peanut butter pretzel MoJo bar, and took some pictures of my pretty bike.

And one of me. Not a good one, but does show off the fact that my new Melenzana hat that I won in the snow race makes an awesome under-helmet hat.
Before Chris left for Camp Lynda this weekend, he put on my new present. Pink seatpost clamp!! SWEEEEEEEEEEEEET.
Trucky The Ducky wanted to go swim in the pond, but she had to settle for the shoreline instead.
After relaxing for a bit, enjoying the sunshine while the Camp Lynda-ers were fighting the rain and mud, I headed back onto the path and rode the 10ish miles home. I rode hard most of the ride and it felt good to shake some cobwebs out of my legs.

Random thoughts from my ride:
* I LOVE the new shiny pink stuff on my bike. It makes it fun and girly. However, I think the beauty might be attracting the prairie dogs and mesmerizing them with awesomeness, because I nearly ran over several that were just sitting there staring up at me with awe.
* I need to find a way to get a new ipod. Somehow the "sing-along-relaxing-songs" that are on my ghetto shuffle to get me through the drive home from work do not work well for bike rides.
* It's fun to pass decked out roadies on my fat-tired single speed. I smile. They sneer.
* Frisbee golf looks fun, I'd be terrible, but I should try it sometime.

Tomorrow is supposed to snow a bit, so the plan is to do homework, catch up on housework that has slipped without a house-husband around to take care of everything, and hopefully make some fudge then proceed to try my hardest not to eat the entire thing alone. Yum.

Happy weekend to everyone! I hope you find your smile somewhere this weekend.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Spy

What does one do with 65 degree weather and MLK day off of work?

Climb The Spy in Boulder!

The Flatirons were looking as beautiful as ever when Chris and I arrived at the parking lot around 10:30 am. Last night involved a bit of, well, drinking with the girls, so that combined with tired legs from Saturday's race meant the morning hike was not the most pleasant hike of my life. As we got going though, I looked forward to another Flatirons climbing adventure. The Spy is a little finger-like structure that juts out to the north of the First Flatiron and the Flatironette. At only a 5.4 rating, and an estimated two pitches, we planned for a quick climb.
On the hike up, we saw this tree growing out of the middle of a rock. Now that's perseverance.
Chris led up the climb looking as cute as always. He made it to the first belay station just as the rope ran out, and I followed up the first pitch a bit tentatively. I've made good progress in the gym, but climbing outside always seems to freak me out and slow me down. There wasn't many good hand holds, and I like hand holds, so that made things a little tricky. I got stuck in a few trees on the way up... seemingly a retarded predicament in the middle of a huge rock slab.
Once at the first belay station, Chris kept going up the second pitch. He was nearly giddy with the fun climbing that came in that pitch. At some point you climb on top of this huge block and continue climbing on it where it gets pretty narrow with exposure on each side. The holds there were great and I enjoyed this pitch as well.

Once at the top of the fun second pitch, we had some lunch and Chris tried to keep me positive about the upcoming section and subsequent JUMP from the top.



White Marni's DON'T jump.


But to get off The Spy, I HAD to jump from a tall rock, to a slanty rock, with a nice drop down a gully in between. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK.

This is the jump. You step down from the top rock to the middle rock, and then the rock at the very bottom is where you land, and it's at a good angle. Basically you just jump forward and hope your feet stick to the slanty rock in front of you. Chris made it look easy and graceful. I sat, paralyzed and freaking out for several minutes before jumping to the rock like an elephant. It was neither easy nor graceful on my part. But I didn't fall (after Chris gave me a safety line to hold on to, and as he stood there holding me into the rock so I wouldn't fall back). I basically hit the rock, hugged it, and then proceeded to cry. You'd think I had just jumped from a burning building.


I = not a fan.

Chris now says he's going to incorporate jumping off stuff into my training plan. We are starting with the couch. :)

This face makes me smile:
The Spy was fun. It took a bit longer than I anticipated, but at least the weather was perfect. After a hike back down to the car, we drove to Pearl Street and celebrated another successful climb with HUGE sundaes from Ben & Jerry's. YUM!

It was a pretty good MLK day for me and Chris. It felt like summer... warm, leisurely, low-stress. Makes me long for... well... at least Spring Break.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Herd of Turtles

Yesterday was Leadville Winter Race #1, thus ushering in the 2009 race season... like a herd of turtles.

Early morning ski traffic left us wondering if we'd even make the race. With some skillful driving by Chris, we did make it -- with five minutes to spare. I quickly scanned the scene to see if any girls were there this time (last year, I was the only girl to race the one that I did). I was happy to see one other girl, complete with pink helmet and gears. At least I had someone to worry about during the race, which is totally necessary when one is slogging through the snow pushing a bike.

Before we knew it, someone said "go" and we were off.

I let most of the pack of boys go first, as I'd lined up at the back and knew my single speed would limit my ability to push up the gigantic hill at the very start. I quickly passed the other girl and headed up the hill, leading another guy on a single speed and a guy with gears. Pretty soon we all hopped off around a soft corner and started pushing. At this point the single speed guy hiked past me, the guy with gears started cursing the creaking noises coming from his cranks, and I couldn't see the girl any more behind me. I hiked a few feet and hopped back on the bike to wind through a trail leading to the massive 3.5 mile climb up a snowy road. I was happy to stay at a steady distance behind the single speed guy the whole climb, as we quickly dropped anyone behind us. I was breathing hard, but overall felt pretty good climbing the hill. The cold air and being at 10,000+ feet was making my lungs burn and feel like they were cramping. That wasn't a good feeling. I finally convinced myself that lungs probably can't actually cramp, and that I was most likely fine. We were climbing up to around 11,000 feet and the scenery was well worth the burn. Chris had tried to convince me to take the camera along to capture some of the beauty, but with as many times as I could foresee myself falling into massive snow drifts, I didn't think I'd risk ruining our one remaining portable camera.

Pretty soon the road turned onto a great trail, and I had to get off to hike -- losing sight of the other single speed guy. Being at the back of a pack of 30 riders leaves a nasty chopped up trail on any type of climb. I was fine with walking some of it, and kept a solid 2.5-3 mph hiking pace to keep me going. I'd hop on and ride anytime I could find a solid line, but I hiked A LOT of the middle section of the course. I kept glancing behind me to see if the other girl or gear guy were catching me, but I couldn't see anyone behind me or ahead of me. Finally, at some point, I stopped to pee and took a nice look around at the scenery. There were beautiful hills draped with clear, untracked snow, and I thought of a fancy wedding cake with fondant on top. I believe it was at this point that I realized just how hungry I was, and everything soon resembled food. This made me laugh. A lot.

The race was fairly non-eventful for me. I walked and pushed my bike a lot, and I rode most of the downhills. Often I would do a nice little left-foot-dabbing-skateboard-style-push down the hills just to keep my bike moving in the chopped up snow. There were a few downhills that were fast and sweet to ride on. I tried to let go of the brakes, as those just caused some serious fishtail action, but I never could get into much of a fast groove. I never did fall into the snowbanks, which was good and also a bit disappointing :)

Around mile 8 (of the supposed 12 mile course), I was getting ready to be done. I was pretty tired, hungry, and had a massive snow clown foot going in my bootie (I forgot to wear the booties that don't have holes cut into them for my cleats -- as I rode flat pedals yesterday -- so the snow built up in that hole, shoved on top of my toes, and made me look like I had clown shoes on). The clown foot was funny looking and I really wanted to ride it in to the finish to get a picture; however, one steep uphill hike left my toes numb when my shoes shoved through the cleat hole and had some serious circulation issues like that. I took a few minutes, sat down, and cleared out the booties before heading to the finish.

I still didn't see anyone behind me, and a quick cheer from Chris at the final road crossing left me motivated to keep moving... until I hit a downhill that I had to walk because of the choppy, soft snow. Walking downhill is a bit aggravating. The final downhill to the finish was fun and rideable (yay!) and I was soon across the finish line.

I couldn't wait to hear how Chris had done, and I had been kicking myself for the final few miles that I didn't ask as I passed by him on the road. Turns out he won! I am very proud of him for sticking out the race and working hard to beat some very fast guys.

It might not have been super speedy, but I won too. The other girl and the gear guy came through the finish line a few minutes after me. Good thing I didn't piddle away more time than I already did between the peeing, sight seeing, and bootie cleaning. For my first single speed race, and only my second snow race/ride, I'm pretty pleased with my results, and very pleased to beat a girl that had gears. My goal was ride the course in 2 hours, and I ended up coming in around 2:20, so I probably could've and should've gone faster. I rode 99% of the uphills on the road, without too much trouble on the single speed, so I'm happy about that. The trails were difficult when they were soft, but fun nonetheless. The location for this race is unbeatable. The peaceful feeling that comes along with the silent snow-covered mountains was much needed. I got to get away from everything, everyone, all stresses, worries, disappointments for a few hours. My mind needed the release, silence, and solitude.

We had a great time before and after the race with Brett, Bill, and a few new friends.

I spent the rest of the night trying my hardest to stay awake past 6:00.

I'm so excited for race #2 -- the night race -- coming up in a few weeks. That'll be a chilly one!!!

(Hubby has his own race report up, full of great pictures -- check it out!)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gravity Shmavity

So, I rode my bike today.



Too bad the "calm" wind was actually a crazy wind where I went. Anytime you stand up and pedal like crazy to go 5 mph DOWNHILL and then get blown at 15-20 mph UPHILL, something is wrong with the world.

Just to prove I'm not a big whiny baby (at least when it comes to the wind), I took this picture:

Isn't water supposed to go down when you pour it?

It turned out to be a fun little ride -- maybe not all I intended it to be -- but at least I got out. And I got to see my new pink stuff in action!

In other news, I survived my first week back with kids after winter break. They were pretty good, and all very excited to tell me about what santa brought them. I got a new student this week, who is has a lot of special needs. I'm very proud of my kids for welcoming her with open arms and being so sweet and helpful. It is always amazing to see how little kids look at new people. Hopefully this week will bring more encouraging signs that they are growing up and getting ready to make some good progress in the coming months.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to a three day weekend next weekend, full of my first bike race of the season, potential snowshoeing, Partini with the girls, and some relaxation before starting up my masters class on the 20th! In the next few months, I will become an expert on the historical and legal background of bilingual education -- woooooo, can hardly contain my excitement for that one!

Saturday, January 03, 2009


Yesterday, Rhonda The Singlespeed got in touch with her feminine side.

Thanks to hubby for the awesome new headset, stem cap, and for setting off a pink explosion.

Next up on my wishlist? A pink seat post clamp and pink pedals! She's looking pretty! Thanks hubby!