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Holland Haikus

August 17, 2017 Fun No Comments

The Netherlands has been good to us and we were sad to leave its beautiful countryside, its lovely people, and our unlimited wi-fi.

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One thing I am not sad to say goodbye to is the wind! I thought I had been on windy rides during Ironman training on the Pacific coast, during races, riding across Iowa. The Netherlands wins the wind war. To pass the time while riding into these punishing winds, I took to writing haikus.

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The wind in Holland
Relentless in its blowing
Makes cycling harder

One must love cycling
Enduring the Holland wind
How many more miles?

The hills are calling
At least there will be less wind
Suffer differently

Wide open spaces
Remind me of Iowa
With far more windmills

Windy Holland ride
A big help on the way out
A bitch coming back

Flat landscape seems nice
Windmills and canals and dikes
Motherfucking wind

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Even Greg got in on the action:

Equipment matters
The wind is nothing to me
Aerobars are friends

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I Woke Up Like This

July 28, 2017 Fitness, Fun 1 Comment

Greg and I went out for a long bike ride on Wednesday. The route took us along the river and canals that run the border between Belgium and the Netherlands. We had to take a ferry across the canal at one point and I was chatting with another cyclist as we crossed. As we disembarked the ferry, he turned to me and said, “Let me be the first to welcome you to Holland.” Yay – another new country for me!

Welcome to Holland!

Welcome to Holland!

 

The bike trail that I had been riding on was paved and flat and glorious. You could see for miles around and the scenery was stunning. In all honesty, it looks like Iowa! I have several friends riding RAGBRAI this week and I felt like I was riding with them (except without 10,000 other cyclists and Mr. Pork Chop waiting in the next town).

Corn fields for miles

Corn fields for miles

 

And onion fields, which is more like central California

And onion fields, which is more like central California

 

As I was cruising down the path at a fast pace, a bee slammed into my face, just at the base of my left nostril. It hurt like a bitch! Instant stinging (surprise!) and my eyes were watering as I continued pedaling and rubbing my face to make sure I had gotten it off me and the stinger wasn’t still in there. I haven’t been stung by a bee since I was a young kid and I quickly remembered how not fun it was. The area didn’t swell up or become inflamed, so I forgot about it. I even forgot to mention it to Greg until later that evening. “Oh yeah, I got stung by a bee and it hurt like a bitch.”

The rest of the ride was mostly uneventful. More beautiful scenery. A chat with (and assistance from) a lovely Belgian couple who helped navigate an unmarked detour. Sunny skies for the first time in a week.

This bridge was part of the detour

This bridge was part of the detour

 

I woke up this morning (today is Friday) looking like I’d had a stroke. Or that my attempts to look like Kylie Jenner didn’t turn out as intended.

don't hate me because i'm beautiful

don’t hate me because i’m beautiful

 

WTF, delayed-onset allergic reaction?!

I think you can kind of see the spot where the stinger entered if you look really closely under my left nostril, which is totally a place that I want people paying close attention to on any given day.

Just because it’s funny, I took the below picture first. I had to take a second picture in better lighting conditions (and with a slightly better expression) because this looks like a mug shot taken at 3 AM after a bar fight. My mouth is already crooked, and the puffy lip on the left side just exacerbates the whole thing.

inmate number 260717

inmate number 260717

 

So, as was the case with poison oak (which I was never allergic to as a kid), I guess that I have developed a mild allergy to bee stings in my old age. Good to know! I’m glad it’s just a mild allergy, because my reaction to poison oak is now violent. This doesn’t hurt or itch, so I guess I got off easy.

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Daily sMiles

July 27, 2017 Fido, Freewheeling, Fun No Comments

Miles often comes along when I take care of little ones, which means he’s no stranger to a children’s park. It’s true that he doesn’t enjoy those parks as much as he enjoys a dog park, but it’s also true that children are known to drop food and he is happy to clean up after them.

One thing he has always struggled with is the swings. He has a love/hate relationship with them because it’s so fun to chase a kid on a swing, but then the swing comes right back and hits him. He’s finally learned to stay out of the way, but he can’t help but bark in protest.

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I found a short zip line at a children’s park in Bad Hoenningen last week and just had to try it out. Miles and I were out for a run early that morning and there was no one in the park. I zipped down that cable, giggling the whole way! It was so much fun that I made Greg go back with me to capture it on video.

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There were definitely more people in the park at noon than there were at 7 AM. Particularly, there were two women sitting on the park bench right next to the zip line feature; one woman was visibly crying. I felt bad having so much fun (and that there was so much commotion with Miles’ barking) while she was clearly not having an enjoyable time.

This video captures it all perfectly:

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I’ve decided that Miles is frustrated with the swings because he wants to join in on the fun! A few days prior to this zip line incident, we were at a park alongside the Rhine River in Cologne. There was a swing contraption there that was conducive for dogs (obviously). It wasn’t hard to lure Miles into the swing with me and I think his smile says it all:

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Oh Darling, Let’s Be Adventurers!

May 27, 2017 Fear, Freewheeling, Fun 1 Comment

We are nothing if not adventurous, Greg and I. Booze and snacks aside, I’d say that adventure is somewhat of a defining quality in our relationship. From running and kayaking (and faulty spray tans!) on our first date, to SCUBA diving the day before our wedding in Belize, to our triathlon escapades, to pretty much every trip in the van. Who am I kidding? Relaxing in our backyard hot tub turns into an adventure around here.

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10 years of adventure: 2003 – 2013

It’s something I really like about us. Greg has brought out the adventure in me, and I like myself more because of it. It requires one to have the “I’m up for anything” mentality, which is sometimes hard to come by. Finding happiness in being up for anything requires that you not let yourself attach too much expectation to the outcome. I think that’s where people get hung up.

Remember how fun this was? Me either.

Remember how fun this was? Me either.

I was feeling stale with things at the end of 2015. Everything seemed to be the same-old without any big prospects on the horizon. Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t looking to sign up for another Ironman or have kids or anything crazy like that. I was considering volunteer opportunities. I was considering learning a foreign language. I was considering looking for a new job.

I mentioned my feelings to Greg and he confessed to feeling the same way. I shared my ideas and he introduced another: taking a year off to travel. I paused and spent about 23 seconds to consider all of the possibilities before yelling, “AREYOUFUCKINGKIDDINGME?!?!? YESSSSSS!”

And then I remembered who I was dealing with. So I reined it in, like, “I mean, that would be fun. If you think so. I’d be game. I don’t know. I mean…”
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His first idea was to buy a boat and sail the Mediterranean, but we quickly abandoned that plan and opted for traveling around Europe in a new, custom-built (by him) campervan. He said it was something he’d been giving some thought to for a while. He was about to celebrate a milestone birthday and it might be a fun way to shake things up.  It would take a lot of work, a lot of planning, but could really be fun. I think I cried happy tears, then I started making lists.

The adventure has begun, as you have seen with the new van being built. We’re also riding the documentation roller coaster with having our birth certificates and marriage license apostilled, trying to finagle a long-term visa without a residence/address, getting all of our adventure gear over there (four bikes, four sets of skis, kayaks, necessary clothing/helmets for these sports, etc.), and making sure Miles has the appropriate authorization. We’ve said from the very beginning: If Miles doesn’t go, we don’t go.

And then there’s the adventure of what to do with the house while we’re gone — to rent or to sell? We’ve decided to rent and are working to find renters within our network (rather than the scary Craigslist universe). Things look promising after calling upon my Facebook network for help.

Everything is falling into place, as it tends to do when you research and plan like crazy. After more than a year of scheming, it feels surreal that it’s actually happening. We bought three one-way tickets to Germany today.

Here we go!
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Daily sMiles

January 4, 2017 Fido, Fun No Comments

Here are a few shameless dog pictures, just because this good boy makes me happier than almost anything. Sweet Murphy, too.

These dogs just want to be together all the time. And they want to be where I am all the time. Fine by me! As a person who works from home, I’m happy to have people to talk to. They’ve been known to hold a conversation better than Greg. Ha!

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Fall fun at Tina’s.

 

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Pete’s fantastic pic of Murphy at Fort Funston.

 

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The Three Amigos reunited! Murphy, Miles, and Archer at Coyote Point.

 

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Their respective treats (Murphy turned 2 on Oct. 23 and Miles turned 5 on Nov. 8) were vanilla ice cream encrusted in Fancy Feast cat food, garnished with a Milk Bone. These were served in my great grandmother’s fine china, of course.

 

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My audience while I do my DailyBurn or YogaDownload workouts.

 

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The best view of the outside world is from here. Make yourself comfortable… Notice dog beds/crates aplenty in this room.

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The magic hour at Davenport Landing on New Year’s Eve 2016. No filter needed.

These sweet pups, among the others I take care of (Lola and Maru), really enrich my life. Between them and the kids I take care of (Carver & Abel, Ashwin & Neela), I’ve got it pretty good. I don’t go to an office with coworkers anymore, so I’m taking the interaction where I can get it. Murphy does like to protest vocally when you give him a command, Maru’s baby teeth draw blood, and Miles is stoic AF, but it’s a good crew.

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Welcome, 2017!

January 2, 2017 Family, Fido, Fun 1 Comment

Happy New Year! 2016 definitely had its share of ups and downs, including a lot of change for me. I quit my job, learned a completely new trade that launched a new career (Thanks, Kelli!), we bought a new van, we sold our old van, and Trump won. So there’s that cloud of fear hanging over everything…

But alas, things are good around here and I’m the last person who has anything legitimate to complain about. After a 6-month hiatus of no weekend trips or travel (with each other), Greg and I loaded up the ol’ Honda Element and headed over to Santa Cruz for an overnight. We stayed in the dog-friendly bungalow at a quaint B&B and enjoyed everything the coast has to offer. Booze and snacks to be sure, but also much-needed sun and sand.

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I can’t wait to show and tell you everything that we have going on. I know I say this a lot, but you should expect to hear more from me this year. Seriously. We have so much going on.

Wishing you all the best in 2017!

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Archer!

July 20, 2016 Fido, Fun 1 Comment

We had the pleasure of taking care of a sweet Goldendoodle puppy for a week. Of course, hindsight is everything and it could have gone either way. As it turns out, Archer is ~18 months old and such a special boy.

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I just sent him back home with his parents and things are pretty sad around here. Within five minutes of him leaving, these two were sound asleep. I’m sure they were dreaming about their little brother…

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Archer listens well, minds well, doesn’t shed, sleeps wherever I am (including curling up in the bathroom while I was showering or getting ready or doing my business), doesn’t get on the furniture, doesn’t beg for food, doesn’t run off when not on a leash, quiets his bark when told to, and is otherwise the best dog ever. Kudos to his parents for doing such a great job in training him!

That said, having a poodle mix for a week was quite a cautionary tale. His fur is SO HIGH MAINTENANCE. I’ll take Miles’ and Murphy’s shedding all day long over the work that Archer’s coat required. I was careful to brush him out a couple of times every day — quite time consuming — and he still looked like a ragamuffin most of the time. Not only that, there were tangles/mats all over that will need to be cut out. I was really surprised about how difficult it was to maintain him.

It was Camp sMiles around here for Archer. He had never really spent much time around other dogs in a situation like this and he took to it very well. More than that, he had never been swimming! Miles and Murphy showed him the way and he caught on very quickly. These three had the most fun all week long!

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We can’t wait to have the opportunity to have sweet Archer back for another visit.

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Raccoon Underground Railroad

March 25, 2016 Fear, Fun 1 Comment

I got home around 10 PM last night after having dinner with a friend. It was late-ish for me, but Thursday is my Friday and I’ve had a particularly momentous week and life is good right now, so I wasn’t quite ready to join Greg (and Miles) in bed. Instead, I opted to sit in the hot tub and listen to one of my meditation podcasts to end the night. After undressing, I put on my fluffy robe and went out to the hot tub. I disrobed and lowered myself into the 104* water. Ahhhh.

As I was getting out, I picked up my robe and my phone managed to slip down the crack between the tub and the deck. What are the chances?!

I’m a problem solver, so I instantly thought of the “grabber gadget” someone had given me when I was broken. I knew right where it was in the basement (even in the dark) and retrieved it quickly. Only problem? My phone somehow landed several inches away from the space and I couldn’t reach it with the grabber. Fuck.

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I thought about my options:

  1. Go into the garage and try to find heavy gauge wire and stick it down the slats of the deck to try to scooch my phone to where Greg created an access point for the sprinklers, a distance of about two feet and a corner.
  2. Leave my phone overnight and get it in the morning. Leave it on the wet ground underneath the deck, with the meditation podcast still running.
  3. Crawl under the deck to retrieve it.

I chose Option 3.

I donned a headlamp and nothing else to army-crawl under the deck in the very dark night to retrieve my electronic device that I apparently cannot live without. SOMEONE MIGHT TEXT ME BETWEEN NOW AND 6:30 AM, YOU GUYS.

There were probably raccoons under there. They run rampant in our neighborhood and like to taunt the dogs, so I’m pretty sure our under-deck area is a rest station on the Raccoon Underground Railroad. There were certainly spiders and maybe even snakes and slugs and snails and rats and mice and I don’t even want to think about what else. I made myself one with them. Me and my headlamp, army-crawling toward the soothing voice of the meditation podcast. I made eye contact with none of these things, thankfully.

Of note: when I say “army-crawling,” the actual maneuver was more like a forearm plank, tip-toeing myself forward to the phone and then backward to get the fuck out of there. So basically it was a bonus workout for the day. No wonder my abs are sore today.

My phone and I were reunited and at this point, and I was bare-ass freezing. I needed to get back into the hot tub, obviously. But I couldn’t get in with under-deck dirt and muck all over me. It would be a waste of precious water and time to come into the house to take a shower, just to get clean enough to get back into the hot tub.

Being the problem solver that I am, I turned the hose on and “showered” with freezing cold water in my driveway. Then I got back into the 104* water and giggled at my antics until my soothing meditation podcast was over and I went to bed.

P.S. No one texted me.

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To My 18-Year-Old Self

December 4, 2014 Fun 1 Comment

Dear 18-Year-Old Molly,

Hey you! 18 years old! What a milestone! You are officially an adult, someone to be taken seriously. Are you ready for this responsibility? Probably not. You know little more about the world than you knew yesterday or even last year. None of that even matters, so don’t worry about it. You have your whole life ahead of you to worry! Don’t waste your precious youth on it.

A lot is going to happen in the next 22 years. Here are some things that you’ll learn along the way:

Don’t ever deny or down-play your small town Iowa upbringing. People will find you more interesting when you tell them that you graduated in a class of 34 people — most of whom were in your Kiddie Kollege class at age 4. Seek a community like the one you grew up with in Lenox and give your time and talents to it, no matter what size college/organization/city it is. The mechanics may be different, but in the end, the values are the same. Community matters.

You are learning right now to be careful what you wish for. As an 8th-grader in the girls locker room, all you wanted was something to fill your training bra so you could be like so many of your friends. Your wish was granted — and then some — by the time your Freshman year started. People look from your chest to your eyes and back again. These things can (and will) be remedied.

Speaking of wanting to be like so many of your friends: stop. It won’t serve you. Find your style. Find your rhythm. Find yourself. This is easier said than done.

The more you get to know people, the more you will realize you had a storybook childhood. You weren’t rich or spoiled by any means, but you also weren’t beaten or otherwise abused. You had food to eat, clean clothes to wear, school to attend, and loving family and friends. Assuming everyone’s life is like yours (or better), you will be shocked to find out how charmed yours really is. Don’t take it for granted.

Talk to people. Regardless of what you’re talking about, you’ll learn to gauge people. This is the important thing. You’ll find good people and bad, of course. Glom onto the good ones and learn from the bad. Curate a collection of people — friends, colleagues, hitmen — that you can count on. More importantly, be that someone to at least one other person.

Hold onto the relationships that matter. Some people will be in your life only for a short time, and that’s fine. It doesn’t mean they are less valuable. But there are other relationships that will endure and are worth fighting for, even when it seems easier to let go. Trust yourself to know which are which.

Related: allow yourself to fall totally in love as many times as it takes to find true love. The falling is the fun part and it’s worth doing more than once. Staying in love takes more work, though it doesn’t necessarily feel like work if you’re doing it right. Mending your own broken heart will teach you more about yourself than you can learn in any other way. It will also teach you empathy.

Be grateful for the strong, healthy body you have. Don’t start turning sideways in the mirror every time you get in/out of the shower, get dressed, go to the bathroom, or otherwise. Obsessing about what is (big boobs) or isn’t (flat stomach) there isn’t going to make either thing disappear. Apply the 80/20 rule by focusing on what’s good and committing to work on what you’d like to improve. Do not strive for perfection, as you’ll only be disappointed.

The best money you will ever spend will be to fix your smile. Even better than what you spend on your boobs. Adult orthodontia will come with a lot of negative side effects at the time, but in the end, it will absolutely be worth it. The lesson: don’t let short-term pitfalls get in the way of long-term goals.

If someone offers to teach you something, say yes. What you learn cannot be taken away from you. Take advantage of tuition reimbursement, training opportunities, internships, mentorships, seminars, webinars… All of it is valuable and you take it with you wherever you go. Teach yourself to apply everything you’ve learned along the way in the new scenarios you are faced with.

This one seems obvious, but I implore you to take it very literally: if you get knocked down (or hit by a truck while riding your bike), get back up. Keep getting back up until you can walk again. Then keep walking until you can run again. You are stronger than you think you are.

Be specific about what you want. This applies to every aspect of your life: family, career, partner, social. Don’t flounder about, waiting for what comes to you. Visualize what you want and figure out how to get it. You get one life, so be an active participant in it.

That’s about all I can tell you without giving too much away. It’s going to be a fun time! And the not-so-fun times? They’ll make for good stories.

Best of luck!

Love,
Your 40-year-old Self

P.S. Forty is just another F-word. It’s not so bad!

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Daily sMiles

November 6, 2014 Fido, Fun No Comments

Miles gained an affinity for his Halloween costume when he found out where lions register on the food chain.

Look at the determination in his eyes! He is out to get his next prey: string cheese.

Miles’ affinity for the costume was a direct correlation to how many treats he was plied with when asked to wear it. We spent weeks wearing it around the house and playing fetch in the yard so that he’d grow comfortable wearing the mane and not insisting on pulling it off every time he stopped moving. It got to the point that he would get excited every time I showed it to him. Your classical conditioning shit is more than a theory, Pavlov!

He wore it to the office and to a party on Halloween and made many people very happy. Even dog-haters couldn’t help but grin. The little girls who live across the street came running out in their pajamas screaming, “YOU TURNED HIM INTO A LION!” That’s right. Miles the Friendly Lion.

Or, if you are interested, make me an offer on him being your Cowardly Lion for next year’s Wizard of Oz group costume.

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