The Flow Chart of My Family

I met all the kids, their Dad and their step-mom a super funky vegan restaurant for lunch. It is the kind of place that woman have body hair and my son with dreads is the “norm”. Not the kind of place I expect my family to be the “odd ones out”…

As we are siting having lunch I heard people behind us trying to “place” all the children-

“Well those blondes are theirs (referring to my ex and I)”

“That one (pointing at Tennyson) must be hers (pointing at their step mom)”

Later on Tay was holding the baby and they asked “do you think the baby will have red hair?” clearly trying to put together if Tay and Tag were siblings…

Let me draw this out for everyone-

My Ex and I are the biological parents to-

  • Tajh
  • Teagan
  • Tayer

Together we adopted-

  • Tennyson
  • Tru

My Ex has no relation to-

  • Taggart

I get where it is confusing, all white people with blonde hair look alike and all. This means, Tajh, Teagan, Tayer, Tru, and Taggart all look like my ex and I. Tayer’s hair is a little red which could be confusing, but he gets thrown in with the “all white people look alike” thing most of the time.

Where this is most confusing for people is Tennyson. Tennyson is hispanic, just really dark skinned. My children’s step mom is black and most people assume Tenny is as well, so they “match”.  While I can understand normal curiosity, at some point it’s just frustrating that strangers need to make sense of my family. More then that, it’s frustrating that people like to point out how different one of my children is from the others. As an adult, you should know better. Most likely if you are a stranger and question why one of my children looks so different from the others I will do my best to politely change the subject. There may be a point made of how I did not give birth to all of them, and I will move on… But if you catch me on a bad day politeness may allude me.

 

 

 

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Categories: Adoption, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dear Assholes of the Mountain,

While I believe there are many assholes of the mountain, I am only going to focus on a few. I don’t have time to write a book… maybe I should write a book?

I preach the gospel of spending time in nature. I am the for most advocate of getting your kids outside and having epic adventures with them. But, let’s be smart people.

In the heart of Phoenix we have Camelback Mountain. Per Strava, it is 2.2 miles round trip with 1,877 feet of gain. Yes, it is a beast! And while my training is calling for 10,000 feet of climbing or more per week, it is my new best friend. With this friendship has come a lot of stress on my patience, sanity, and overall tested my ability to not push people off the mountain… (seriously I would never do that… but some people make it hard not to…)

So stupid people who come to the mountains (any and all not just camelback)  for your selfies and bragging rights without real knowledge of etiquette or concern for nature- I call you out.

To the people with music blaring- You suck. I do NOT want to hear your crappy music and as a matter fact I would really like to listen for snakes. Thanks.

When a trail says “extremely difficult” there really is no need to ask the Ranger how difficult it “really” is. If you can’t look at the sign and say “eh?” and keep moving with confidence, get the fuck off the mountain and find something within your wheel house.

Up hill has the right of way. I actually heard someone tell his kid to move out-of-the-way of downhill hikes, um, nope. People going uphill should not be made to stop their momentum for downhill goers. Even when I’m runningdownhill, if it’s single track I will stop my run and pull off to the side, because it polite and my Strava isn’t that important.

Say hi! If you do not look at me and say hello I assume you are a serial killer. Now, if you look totally exhausted and like saying hello may take all your extra energy and you’ll die, I give you a pass. Otherwise, at least give a polite head nod and keep rolling.

To the parents/ relatives / friends with children- do not bring kids up anything that you can not do easily. If your ass can’t carry a kid down if something bad happens, you should not be there with kids. Listening to grumpy adults who are struggling themselves pressure tired children to keep going infuriates me. When it’s a summit hike and there are kids that clearly aren’t going to make it I get frustrated. Please take children to mountains, teach children about nature and caring for it. But, taking a child to something they are going to fail on does not instill a love for nature, it makes them hate it. Set them up for success.

Heat- you’re stupid. Look, I will be out running in the heat, so will my friends, but this is what we do! A novice hiker does not need to be out in 100 degree heat. AND—-

Kids in the heat??? This is child endangerment. Even I, me, this lady that does crazy shit with her kids, will not take my kids out in the heat. Over 95 degrees and the older ones could put in some miles, but the little ones will not be on the trails. And over 100? NO WAY will any of my kids be on the trail. I love my kids and value their lives… the risk is not worth any reward.

Please keep getting out into the mountains. Protect our public lands- protect our wild places- teach kids to love nature so they will do the same- but at least be smart about it.

 

Categories: Adventures with Littles, Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Road trips with a potty trained nursing toddler…

This summer Tag (17 months) has spent close to 4,000 miles in the car. We have adventured around Disneyland and gone back and forth multiple times to the San Juan mountains. I’ve done my best to make most of those miles during sleeping hours for Tag, but there have also been many hours in the car while he is awake. Tag has been such a trooper!

Probably 1/4 of our road tripping miles were spent with my other Littles in the car, which actually made things much worse! Tag wanted to play having them there and sleep was much more difficult for him. One evening drive was probably the worst I have heard him cry ever.. he was exhausted, the other kids wanted to sleep and didn’t feel like playing… So we stepped out of the car and watched the sun set..

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Eventually Tag fell asleep and I was able to rive the remainder of the way home throughout the evening while everyone slept peacefully. Rare quiet moments for a Mom…

So what tips do I have for road tripping alone with a toddler? Glad you asked..

Be flexible- I know, easier said then done… Any time we hop in the car I assume something is going to go wrong. I try and have a general idea of when he will nap, where we will stopped for gas, when we will grab a real meal, but I also assume it wont work out. Being a potty trained toddler he knows saying he has to go potty will stop the car immediately, he uses it. He also is still nursing and will ask for the boob when he wants out of his seat. I try and distract if I can, but I also do everything I can to respect his words.

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Have extra everything- I have extra water bottles for him, toys, books snacks,            EVERYTHING! Toddlers love to throw, and I would rather clean up 5 water bottles from the back seat when we get where we are going then fumble around trying to pick up the only one we have while driving. I also try and have a new exciting something to distract him from the fact that he is in his carseat again. New toys, stickers, anything to make him forget he is once again doing the thing he does not want to do ever, sitting still

Caffeine- That should probably be #1! An over caffeinated Mom is much more willing to sing, dance, and talk things out with a toddler. I might be a little crazy RIE parenting style, but toddlers do understand a lot. When Tag is having a moment in the car we talk, about everything. I explain to him we have to be in the car for a while longer and talk about the things we can do. It’s EXHAUSTING! But it works. When I give him options he can usually find something that will make him happy. Then I have some more caffeine… (I’m going to need a Hi-Ball sponsorship…)

Podcasts or Audio books- For you. Not gonna lie, one of the most amazing things is driving through the night while your kids sleep and you listen to your own happiness. Do it. The best kind of alone time you can get!

And always be willing to call things off. This last trip home I had big plans of driving through the night and getting home while he slept. Well, after weeks of travel and living in the mountains with kids my exhaustion level was crazy high. No amount of caffeine could help me make it… So I pulled off the road into the mountains and slept. There is no reason to risk falling asleep at the wheel, and after a great nap and some breakfast my buddy and I made it home safe and happy!

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Categories: Parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Revenge Body

Apparently that’s a thing?

I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on how in shape I am lately. True to what we are taught as young girls I was struggling with taking the compliments. I would qualify it “yeah I mean, I could still lose some here”, but slowly and with practice I’ve started to simply say “thank you”.

This is by far the best running shape I have been in in years, and I am very happy with how my body is performing. But the other day the compliment was not one I was willing at accept…

“your revenge body looks great”

Umm… excuse me?

If this is a revenge body, doesn’t that imply I am trying to hurt some? I am trying to make someone jealous? That this transition I have made has everything to do with someone else, their actions, their feelings? Or my desire to control their feelings? I suppose it could mean I put in the work to look this awesome myself, but in order to be able to show it off for others…

But no. Excuse me, but fuck you.

I did all of this work on myself for me. Not for revenge, not to show off to others (except on instagram 😉 ), all for me and the things this body can do for me.

I started running after baby #2 and in training for my first half marathon with my Ex- Husband got pregnant with baby #3. I lied to my doctor at the time, informing her I had totally run before and that I would be fine continuing to train, and I was fine. I ran my first half at 21 weeks pregnant then laid off until after the birth.  My Ex and I continued to run here and there, nothing crazy and totally not serisouly. It was something we did together and I was slow! But we had fun.

Eventually we began dabbling in trail running and I met my bestie Lala. Her son and my #2 were in kindergarden together. I saw her wearing and ironman shirt and casual asked “so do you like, just run too?”

Her “Yeah, kinda…”

By that she meant “Yeah I run ultras. 100 milers. I tend to win stuff too”.. but true to ultra runner form she was humble.

Pretty quickly I jumped in to crewing her at her races. I loved it! Nothing like getting to take care of someone while they take on an epic adventure. I crewed my Ex too. I would take care of the kids while they and our other running friends all went on adventures together. I would cook for them, support them, and run a little here and there myself.

Then my kids started running. I supported them, hung with them while they trained, and ran a lot of their races with them. I ran on my own sometimes too, but my major focus was them meeting their goals.

And then there is #6’s Dad. I began not only supporting him at races he was running, but also helping him with his business. My running took a major back seat at this point, but I’m a mom and taking care of people is what I do… So I continued to take care of everyone else.

When I found myself super pregnant and alone, running was what I leaned on. I knew I needed an outlet so I turned things up a little. I was putting in pretty decent miles on the trails and with every run felt stronger and happier. I was genuinely hooked on this silly running thing like I had never been before.

The birth of #6, Tag, was the most spiritual experience of my life.  Not only did I feel more powerful then I ever have before, but my bond with nature was solidified.

((Almost giving birth on a mountain))

Naturally after having Tag I needed to get back to the mountains as fast as possible. Taking care of an infant alone is stressful, the only way to handle the loneliness and hormonal craziness was to get out there. I am proud to say my strava does not have even one zero week after I gave birth. I got out there slowly, walking, hiking, and eventually running. For the first time in my life I saw running as something that could be and should be a priority in my life. I begged people to watch my kids so I can run. I wear the Tag to hike up the steepest mountains I can. Sometimes my miles have to be hiking with all the kids or laps around the park while they play. I made the decision to do anything I had to to get my miles in and accomplish the goals I set.

To be 100%, I have no time for vengefulness. I have 6 busy kids, adventures to go on, and training to get done. Any and all free time I have is working toward my goals, and I no longer feel Mom guilt for getting shit done. It took me 14 years of parenting to decide that if I put myself first everyone wins. Better late then never?

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Categories: Parenting, Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Kids Hate hiking

It’s that time of year again! My kids and I head out on some awesome Mommy and kid adventures: me smiling from ear to ear with pride, them skipping their way up mountains all day. I mean, that is what my social media shows after all! And for some reason that was what  I was expecting…

I have two tweens, and they happen to be two of my most opinionated children I own. Apparently they thought going to Silverton Colorado this year was going to be a lot of walking around town, hanging out at the library, and eating candy. Ummm?? Have they met their Mom??

My oldest is out-of-town so it was just the youngest 5 and I in a tent. Every single hike I suggested was met with whinnying and complaints. The tweens wanted no part of it. They picked apart every hike trying to decide which would take the least amount of time. They wanted to get hikes done quickly then go to town…not my idea of living in the mountains.

I was mad. I was hurt. I was legitimently wondering where I went wrong… We have spent countless summers in the mountains. We have spent days hiking together happily… What was different?

Then I had an epiphany-

A happy Mom is a caffeinated Mom. So, more caffeine for me…and headphones!

Look, I knew in my heart they would be happy once they go out there. Every runner that has been out for a while knows how hard it is to get that motivation back. I knew a couple of miles in they would find their groove and be those mountain loving kids again. But it was ME that was the real problem. I was getting hurt by their refusal, I just had to figure out how to get myself out there and “out there” in a positive mood!

So that’s what I did. I shoved my headphones into my pack and over caffeinated myself. I was ready for whatever foul mood they wanted to pull. And guess what? They had fun!

So Mom hack #207- Caffeine, caffeine, and more caffeine! Plus some headphones! (which I never ended up having to use!)

Categories: Adventures with Littles, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To the Lady pathetically forcing her kid to clean up blocks at the library:

Just stop. Seriously.

Your half hearted “we are going to go potty then clean up the blocks” to your not even 3 year old was pointless.

What value is there TO HIM in cleaning up the blocks?

So now he went potty and YOU are cleaning the blocks.

Every so often you chase him down, tell him sternly “we are cleaning the blocks” – to which he laughs- then you go back to cleaning the blocks yourself… in silence… and he goes back to running around in pure joy.

My 14-month-old is watching, taking it all in, that’s what bothers me the most. He doesn’t understand this angry Mom, silent to her little one that just wants to play.

I really try to not judge–

Maybe you are exhausted- I’ve been there.

Maybe he has some extra challenges none of mine have.

Please just calm down. He is suppose to resist, suppose to run around instead of cleaning, he’s so little.

If he doesn’t clean this one time I promise he won’t go his entire life unwilling/unable to clean up after himself.

If there is a mess when you walk out the door, more kids will come and play and the mess will get bigger.

The world will not come crashing down.

BUT- if you need the mess cleaned you have to work harder. You have to talk with him the entire time, YOU have to calm down, YOU have to engage with him.

So pick one.

Stick with it.

And have a better day.

 

 

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When you make a promise…

My children are trying to marry me off…

Tea (11) “you promised me you were going to get married

Tajh (13) “We have a list”

And they proceeded to give me the list.

On it is a loud, foul mouthed “older” gentleman. My friend, a partner in crime, one of their favorite people. Not someone looking for a wife and 6 kids, someone looking to be free, and drunk. Another friend of a friend made the list. Not someone who is “stable” or to “normal”, but someone who is kind and the kids love. The rest of the list is either people who I don’t really know (including some of their teachers) and people already married…

“Umm.. he’s married”

Kids “That’s ok, we can break them up”

Oh goodness…

Wow…

So apparently I have to get married. I did promise after all…

Applications are being accepted via sevenwildandfree@gmail.com

The kids will look them over.

Oh my kids… these kids…

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To All The Haters…

I got a lot of crap before Tag was born for my “crazy ways” and “silly ideas”. Let’s remember, I have 5 other kids (and way more that came in and out during my fostering days) yet some people just knew I was making huge mistakes. No swings? No crib? No bouncer? Clearly I am insane! You cloth diaper? Well I’m bringing you disposable anyway, “just in case”.

Hi.

Hello.

I’ve done this before.

It’s rude. It’s not “being helpful” or thoughtful. If I say no and you don’t choose to hear my words, it’s disrespectful.

So to all those that did not believe I knew what I was doing, Tag has survived to nearly 7 months old…

Without a bouncer, swing, walker, jumper, bassinet, stroller, or even a disposable diaper!

I have held him, worn him, or set him down on a nice soft spot when needed. I’ve washed his diapers, by hand even, and never needed to use any throw away ones.  He has survived!

He is a happy healthy little man, even a little advanced if I do say so myself. (and I do, because I’m his mother)

You raise your baby your way, I’ll raise mine my way.

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Parenting Wins

Lately there have been many jokes about sending Tayer to boarding school. Conversations about “if” he does not get into the school my older kids go to where he will end up. There are talks of his potential career in politics, or him becoming the next RuPaul. He is confident, persuasive, flamboyant, fashionable, and intense. Whatever he does he will do it well. (All I can hope is that it’s legal)

I was sitting out front watching the children all play on their various wheeled devises. Tayer, per usual (well about 49% of the time), was being a jerk to everyone else. “Idol hands” as his Dad likes to say or basically just Tay gets bored, or uncomfortable, or hungry, or sad, or his feelings hurt, or ANYTHING and he becomes an asshole to everyone around. So, he was being an asshole and I sent him inside. I’m pretty sure I said “you’re being an asshole, go inside until you can be kind” because, good parenting.

So I sat smuggly proud of that awesome parenting moment. I won. He went inside, see what happens when you mess with this Momma!

And, as I reminded myself of how totally bad ass a parent I am I looked up at the giant picture window that leads into my living room…

Which perfectly framed the 9-year-old boy walking across it…

The 9-year-old boy walking across with such a calm fluid confident stride…

That confident stride with the perfectly well practiced “fuck you” face of a anger teenager…

The “fuck you” face that lead down to…

The double middle finger.

There was so much confidence there. So much swagger. I could not be mad. I giggled (he had passed and had no idea I saw). The other kids asked me what I was laughing about and I had no answer… I texted his Dad “you wont believe what Tay just did…”. This kid gives us a wild ride and I am sure his confidence will serve him well later in life so long as we are able to steer it in the right direction. For now he will keep us on our toes and challenge us at every turn…

Oh Orangie children….

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A reminder of how cute he was.. before he learned his middle finger skills….

 

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What Happened To My Sleeper?

Tag has not been napping lately, or at least that’s how I have been feeling… Yesterday I decided to write things down (because trying to remember anything is hopeless) and find out exactly how much my reformed crazy sleeper was ACTUALLY sleeping…

Tag went to bed at 8pm and woke up at 8 am- Win.

Nap:  9:30-10

Nap:11:10-11:45

Nap: 1:20-2

Nap: 3:50-4:40

Nap: 6:30-7

Bed: 9pm-6am

Ummm.. Excuse me? A total of 3 hours of napping over the entire day? Here’s the deal, that 3 hours is not even productive time for me. By the time I got him to sleep and escaped with my boob I had only a small about of time to get anything done before he woke up again. Yeah, totally not working for this Momma.

When Tag awoke this morning (at 6am, not ok) I decided to do a little experiment. Despite being totally exhausted and wanting to just go back to sleep, I got us both ready and headed to the mountain. We started hiking at 7:15 (he was awake until we got there) and within 2 minutes he was asleep. And Tag decided to nap for the entire 2 hours of our hike! .

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Must be nice to be so lazy…

So what did I learn? Apparently running/hiking my entire pregnancy does not create a baby who sleeps while laying still… My little coach is going to do whatever it takes to get me on the mountain no matter how many excuses I make… If you’re feeling unmotivated I will happily send him to your house the next time he wakes up at 6 am!

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Did I mention it was 99 degrees when we finished?! That’s sweat… gross

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Pretty sure the evil dictator is planning how he will torture me tomorrow…

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