Family Moab

Family Moab
In Arches National Park

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Spring is Maybe Here?

I stepped outside yesterday and caught two squirrels shagging on the back porch. At least, I think they were shagging - I've never seen squirrels do that before. Their act confused me because they swapped roles with some regularity, freezing for a moment mid-swap to catch me staring out of their side eye. Ah, spring.

As Colorado weather fluctuates between mid-80's / sunny and mid-30's/snow, I'm trying to clean up the yard and help our newbie plants along, watering on the hot days and protecting on the freezing days in between. It's odd to me that the weather fluctuations are behaving exactly like scientists predicted in my Environmental Studies textbooks. I took ENVS from 1999-2001 and lo and behold, predictions become truth on the daily. 

My hairdresser and I were conversing about current hot topics and activism, and I confessed to being a climate change radical in the early 2000's, dragging my young-at-the-time children to Green Team meetings and rallies. Aden referred to this experience in her honors thesis, when she traced her environmental interest (green spaces in cities) back to those early exposures. 

I started Earth Day activities at the elementary school and hosted newspaper reporters at our Green Team meetings. My efforts trickled off a bit when three kids in school with daily activities caught me in their wake - like a tiger by the tail. But some community efforts outlived my presence; Earth Day approaches now and the signs for creek clean-ups and the school drive to recycle electronics dot the neighborhood.

Life has worn down my sharp edges in the decades since I graduated, so though we use solar panels, xeriscaping and look to buy an electric car, I still fly on planes, my composting is shoddy and I don't always remember a clean re-usable cup at Starbucks. Now that my children are adults, I hope that perhaps their emerging activism will re-energize me and help me find new solutions to old problems, including what to do about randy squirrels.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Back to Church

 Early Easter morning found three of us in our normal spot in church for the first time since the pandemic. Daniel and I have been in the building for Sunday School many times over the past three years but never to a regular service. Not that Easter is a "regular" service; our pastor compared it to the Super Bowl or even a Taylor Swift concert. The choir was on point and the orchestra played superbly, but the most amazing thing for me was scanning a sea of happy, hopeful faces. The world has not felt happy or hopeful in recent months and so the joy of the singers as they bobbed to their hymns, the warm greeting of fellow worshippers, the welcoming waves from good friends a few rows up - all suffused us with a rosy glow.

I admit to feeling twinges of unease at the echoing coughs and sneezes that are so easy to hear in that cavernous space, especially when the crowd fell silent, but if I'm brave enough to go to airports, concerts and swim meets it's definitely time to go back to church. The sermon resonated, too, as Rev Mark prevailed on us to keep hope alive and to keep moving forward. 

Our college kids met us at home after the service and watched the online version as we prepared scrambled eggs and pancakes. They sang quietly along to familiar hymns and recited well-worn words of prayer along with us as we moved about the kitchen. Despite the heavy punctuation of non-attendance, the narrative of our family's faith journey still hops along. Though complacency has been jettisoned by cataclysmic events in the world, hope springs eternal alongside the daffodils that mark our Easter table.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Family Swims at College Club Nationals

 Two qualifiers, a mad scramble for tickets, a bout of COVID, a senior thesis and a week to semi-recover with grandparents; it was a whirlwind of titanic proportions that lead up to a fabulous college club swimming nationals for Aden and William. The highlight for me was timing during the Sunday morning session. William was standing near me as Aden swam the 100 free and dropped an astounding 1.3 seconds off her lifetime best. As I leaned over the bulkhead to stop the watch for a swimmer in my lane, William whooped and shouted in my ear at Aden's mad dash to the wall. Aden then jumped out of the pool and came in for a hug (as my next heat's swimmer was safely cruising away) and we both cried. She finaled in that event, and later that morning she joined her brother and another guy and gal to swim a  mixed relay that will land them on CU's record board for one of the top five swims of all time (50 years of the club's existence).

The kids swam that relay in the lane where their father was timing, and after the event concluded we were able to get family photos on deck. It was a priceless moment, a fitting culmination to all the effort Aden has put into the CU club swim team over the past four years, serving as women's captain the year after the pandemic and helping to rebuild the team. William overcame a bout with COVID two weeks before the meet to swim two best times and final in his best event. Less than a year out from ACL surgery, he jumped back in the pool in December and built himself back into fighting shape. He's also on the record board at CU for his 100 fly.

Bill and Connie were amazing as they drove to and from Columbus multiple times during our stay and indulged our whim of watching the entire Saturday session online when we couldn't get tickets to that day. They bought food, loaned cars, helped draw posters, and sat in the uncomfortable bleachers with us for hours, waiting for that one minute of swimming. Our college swimmers agreed that spending time with their grandparents in Ashland was a far superior reason for the trip than a swim meet, and the hours of cards and games more essential than racing.

My heart is full to bursting after a week of family time and watching all three of my kids overcome multiple challenges to support each other. The extended family support and generational example continue to prove that family stands up has your back no matter the circumstances - in today's world there is nothing better, not even trophies or record boards.