Family Moab

Family Moab
In Arches National Park

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Family Football

CU Boulder hosts a parent weekend every October, like many other universities across the country. Yesterday was Aden's last one as an undergraduate, and we made the most of the crisp fall weather, glorious mountain backdrop and fan-full football stadium. Starting with an early morning arrival at the crack of 9:30, we invaded William's apartment with prosecco and orange juice, bagels and lox, fruit salad and cream. William had just emerged from the shower and had to beg Aden to bring plates; he apparently has none, which leaves me to wonder how he's been eating dinner.

Brunch was consumed in short order, prosecco bottle duly emptied, and off to the tailgates we went. The parents of William's roommate hosted a tailgate just outside the stadium and we chatted and consumed beverages with them for a while. I stuck to caffeine, hoping to make it through the afternoon on still-shaky, post-COVID legs, while Aden and William downed hard selzers. We were dutifully wearing white t-shirts, to follow the brief of "white out" requested by CU, which looked great until William shot-gunned a selzer all over the front of his shirt.

From there to the stadium we went, eager to watch the countdown toward Ralphie's run. If you aren't familiar with CU, let me explain: the mascot is a buffalo (a real one!) always named Ralphie, and the buffalo runs - with it's madly scrambling handlers - around the field before and at the halftime of every game. The Ralphie we have now is a "baby" female which only requires four handlers, while the Ralphie before her was a giant requiring six. Before each game the countdown highlights a video of all things Ralphie, including interviews with former football players and handlers who describe the buffalo in loving terms. I always cry, either because I was deprived of a mascot while at Harvard or because Ralphie is just so dang cute.

We didn't have high hopes for the actual game because CU was the last team in the NCAA to get a win, the sole fanbase without one. But the day was fine, the stands were full, the white-out working to best effect - and Cal, our opponent, was also ranked poorly. After a full afternoon of good defense, halting offense and bonding both with our family and with everyone in the stands around us, CU pulled out a win in overtime. Our three kids joined the hordes on the field as Boulder officials scrambled to get the goalposts down and out of the way before the students could tear them down and abscond with them (a la Tennessee). Parents in the stands with us danced, sang, took photos and generally lost their minds over a 1 and 5 record. What can I say? Coloradans know how to celebrate the small things.

At the end of the day the kids seemed shocked that we'd had so much fun. William mused "I've never had so much fun at a game, and I wasn't even sitting with friends!" I laughed and he tried to backtrack, saying "But family of course is the best, Mom." On this occasion, as on so many others, I have to agree.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Fall Milestones

I'm relieved that leaf-peeping season came a little late this year. When I finally emerged from the house after ten days of isolating in the bedroom, the maples and the cottonwoods were still green and only the ashes had started to turn, at least at this elevation. On Sunday, Daniel drove us up to Evergreen in the foothills  (two more hours toward the 50 he needs for his license!) and we saw a few aspen trees waving golden boughs. I know in the high country they're lit up like thousands of bright candles, and hopefully we will still get to peep this coming weekend on another of Daniel's drives.

COVID really hit me like a Mack truck; I even fell asleep once while reading, my head in my hand, balanced on my side and one elbow. Somehow I napped in this position for an hour, unmoving. Scary stuff, and yet because I didn't require the hospital or breathing assistance, it qualifies as only a moderate case. If you haven't had your fall booster yet, I definitely hope you get one.

While stuck in my room I missed a girls' weekend in the mountains and a national conference for SwimLabs. Yesterday morning I received multiple congratulatory texts from co-workers about a national award I won for swim instruction; they sent photos of the big screen, the award, and a video of my boss's kind speech. I'm touched, semi-relieved and semi-sad that I wasn't there to see it go down in person, and also surprised (still!) that my career has turned in this direction. Not what my father had in mind when he paid for Harvard, I think. Life takes many unexpected turns.

But fall (like every season) is a season of change, and continually offers a jolt of surprise. Leaves morph into vivid flame, the rain falls, and our children continually grow and experience new things away at school. I love watching as their sweaters and jackets emerge in Snapchat photos, and hearing their new challenges when they call to celebrate milestones and to vent frustrations. My hope is to keep changing, too, to heal and restore strength as well as to take on new adventures and appreciate the beautiful changes that string us along through life.