Thursday, May 31, 2012

And she blows her top!

Ok, not really, but Mt. Lassen did explode within this century. For Memorial Day weekend we checked #20 off our goal of visiting all the National Parks. Honestly, I'd never heard of Lassen Volcanic National Park until Jim and I started this little adventure. It's a touch embarrassing to admit, really, since I love volcanoes and geology and hydrothermal spiffiness.

Ever heard of it? No? Well, now you have and you should totally go.

One of the cool things about Lassen is the number of hydrothermal features found within the park. There's  this supposedly great area within the park called Bumpass Hell (yes, really) that is laden with hydrothermal activity. The trail was closed due to about 7 feet of snow so we only saw one little spring area.

Fortunately, most of the park was thawed just fine. We decided to hike a Cinder Cone volcano that was about 4 miles round trip. This is the longest hike we've drug Aeryn along on and she did so well I think we can up the mileage next time! As we began the hike we found these Fantastic Lava Beds. That's honestly what they are named but they truly are fantastic. Nature is incredible!

Just because she did well on the hike doesn't mean that she was always bubbling over with joy. About a quarter mile in she started to look like this was indescribable drudgery.

Until we ran into another family hiking with their 4 year old daughter, Zoey. Zoey decided that Aeryn was pretty much the most awesome person on the planet and wanted to be with her every second of the hike. We ended up hiking the rest of the trail together. If we went on ahead, Zoey would holler for Aeryn to wait until they were side by side again. Zoey's mom was quite appreciative to not have to carry her up the hill and loaned Aeryn her trekking stick for the journey. It made Aeryn quite happy.

Before we knew it we were at the top. I was a little surprised to see the double ring at the crater. Aeryn thought being at the top of a volcano was pretty much the coolest thing ever, as evidenced by the way she kept saying "Mommy, this is COOL!" Jim and I thought it was pretty amazing too. There was a trail leading down to the center, but since she was so happy despite it being lunchtime we decided not to push our luck and leave while the mood was still positive.

That afternoon we drove around and visited the other points of interest that were open. There was a trail through the devastation area from the last series of Mt. Lassen's eruptions (ending in 1917) where we could see huge boulders that had been ejected. Some of them were witnessed and photographed while they were still hot. Frankly, I'm glad I've never had to worry about a 2 ton scorching hot boulder falling from the sky anywhere near me.

That is Mt. Lassen in the background. The sun was so harsh that the clouds and snow blended into one bright spot. In person we could see the trails from where snowboarders had spent hours hiking up the mountain to earn the short lived joy of boarding down. When we took this picture a couple of them were in the parking lot after having finished their trip. I can't imagine climbing up a snow covered mountain, with or without a snowboard in tow.

We camped next to Manzanita Lake and it was beautiful. At dusk we walked the trail surrounding the lake where Aeryn explored and climbed and had a marvelous time. Until Jim tried to hold my hand that is, and then she freaked out a little. I'll blame it on having fallen in the lake (barely) while climbing on this log, even though I know that isn't the reason.

Highlights of this trip include:
finding the flush toilets in camp
making chicken fajitas for dinner
shaking chunks of ice off the rainfly when we packed up on Monday morning
Aeryn wanting to live at the Lake forever, and not go to school any more because she will "learn from nature"
surviving freezing temperatures at night
the camp store and it's reasonably priced sodas (root beer is a camping tradition!)
seeing the top of the cinder cone
the sheer number of ridiculous pictures we snapped

 I think we all came home even more excited for our upcoming trip to Yellowstone.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Snipets of Daily Life

Things have been pressing along lately. The sun has been out which is amazing. The communal lawn area of our apartments has been buzzing with activity as all the residents we've never seen have emerged from hibernation. It's funny how much life appears when the rain is at bay. Aeryn and I both got our first sunburns of the year this week, and sunblock has become a daily ritual again.

Jim is working long days for a little while. He's getting a research team ready to go to Bolivia (he's not going- hurray!!!) which means he's been getting up between 4:30-5:30a.m. and making it home around 9:30p.m. They gave him the early shift since "he's a morning person." In light of that declaration I'm not sure they have ever really met my husband.

This is what a "morning person" looks like at lunchtime on day #2 of a 4:30 wake up.

With the sunshine little critters are emerging. We were at a BBQ a few weeks back where kids entertained themselves finding newts in the bushes. Since then the kids have been looking in the soil around bushes every time they are outside, sometimes finding little critters.

I'm so glad my little girl isn't afraid of a little dirt (or bugs).

She's starting to understand that it's healthier for the critters to stay in their own home, rather than ours, and will put them back with minimal complaining after just a couple minutes. I love to see the enthusiasm all the kids have for every little thing they find. Is there any toy that can compare with the thrill that comes from nature?

And such it is, snipets of springtime in the Davis home 2012.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I'm a Hippie!

Lindsey, Marci, Randi, Audrey, Laurie, Me, Heather
For reals.

After my ranting about not knowing why I run I think I've figured it out. It's because I feel AMAZING afterwards - not always, but at least often enough that I don't completely forget it. I finished my first Half Marathon this last weekend and truth be told, I think I want to do another one. But before I start to sound like it was all peaches and cream, let me spill my own perception of Saturday's reality.

I carpooled up with Laurie and Marci (both ran the half pregnant, btw) and was absolutely terrified. When asked if I had a time goal I was a little caught of guard because I had only two goals for the silly thing and neither of them had anything to do with time. They were simply:
1. Finish
2. Not die

I think it's safe to say that I met them both! Wahoo!! While the race was timed, I also wore my Garmin because even though I didn't have a time goal per se, I was concerned with my actual moving average. I stopped the timer when I had to stand in line for a hundred years to use the privvy so my watch time is a little different from the race time.

According to the race chip I finished at 2:41:26 with an average speed of  12:19/mile. I came in 279 out of 377 in my age bracket - aka NOT LAST!!! I don't fancy myself a competitive person, but I do care a great deal that I'm not last at anything. According to the Garmin I finished it in 2:36:46 which made my moving average pace 11:50/mile. Since most of my long runs have averaged 11:30/mile and none had been longer than 9 miles I count this as a huge success. Mile 11 was the hardest for me and I ended up walking at least a half mile. I had really hoped to not walk at all, but in hindsight I don't mind that I did. I was the last one in our group to finish and everyone was so cheerful and supportive when I finished that I was completely overwhelmed and almost collapsed into tears (That almost happened a lot through this experience).

Jim and Aeryn surprised me by driving up and being there just before the finish line. I seriously had to choke back the tears when I saw them (See? More near-crying). We hung out with the girls before heading home. As soon as we started home I felt completely sick and stayed that way for the next few hours. The afternoon was spent with me constantly worried that I was being a wimp and apologizing for being tired. By Sunday I was completely over that and starting to feel proud of myself for surviving. Today I went running again and pushed myself to cut about a minute and a half off my per mile pace because suddenly I have this crazy feeling that I can actually do this. It's funny how that happens.

It was a really fantastic day. This was a fun race and one I think would make a great annual tradition. Who's on for next year?

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Squirt humored me. I wanted to go for a walk. And take pictures. So she let me.

It was a lovely afternoon. A bit chilly, but nothing that bright sunshine couldn't fix. We stepped off the beaten path and explored within the woody area of the trails near our house. She was drawn in by the wildflowers.

And the twirling...

After which we walked some more, getting caught on the thorns of blackberry bushes as we went.

We heard frogs croaking and trees creaking in the breeze. Then we headed home, and continued our non-adventurous life as normal. The excursion lasted about twenty minutes, but it felt like quite an escape. It's amazing what a little bit of green can do for your day. {We love Oregon!}

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dirt is therapeutic

I'm finally feeling hope that we will have a garden. The community garden plots we were assigned are in a fantastic sunny location. It's almost perfect, except that the gardener who had the plots last year (or sometime before that) planted a bunch of mint. I love fresh mint. I crush the leaves and add them to a hot bath, garnish a pretty dessert, make a ginormous batch of tabbouleh, or just run my hands through it and smell the awesomeness. But I don't like growing mint.

The stuff is evil.

It hides behind a disguise of attractive leaves and alluring scent just to spread mercilessly throughout whatever ground space is available. The entire garden plot is a giant mess of massive root systems entangled around one another. Then, the person of last season decided to mulch over the whole thing.

Mulch = good

Not pulling any weeds before mulching = bad

I know the trick though, in Utah I'd do the very same thing. It was such a dry climate that if I cut off the weeds' chance of seeing daylight they'd croak and be easier to pull. Not so here. There is enough moisture and the soil is fertile enough that when Spring arrived I found a massive field of healthy weeds with enormous roots buried under a compressed and saturated mass of leaves. Ick. At least the ground is soft and they are pulled out much more easily than I expected.

I didn't take a before picture, but this is after 3 days of pulling weeds & aerating the leaf mulch, 5 bags of yard debris to the garbage, and trying to barely stay positive about this whole deal.

Honestly, it doesn't look bad there - even to me. I do cry a little over the patches of grass thick enough to be mistaken for the adjacent lawn, but through the mud I see possibility.

And here's where it's at today.

I finally got it to where something can go in the ground, using nothing but a small hand trowel, spade, and my own massive strength. It's almost impossible to tell but there are 7 plants in there now, with more to come soon. I can't believe it's actually plantable! Every time I've walked by it there were another fifty thousand weeds to pull and now all of the sudden with the sun comes possibility.

Every single thing going in the ground was started from seed, so my fingers are crossed for a good outcome! No matter what, it's been so freeing to be able to dig in the dirt and pretend I can make a space a little bit better with my effort. I can picture the kids helping me harvest the produce and my heart runs amok at the adorableness of it all. Let's just hope I don't kill everything.

Monday, May 7, 2012


For as long as I can remember, I've been a morning person. It could be because my parents are morning people and therefore as a child I had no other option, but I really do just think it's how I'm wired. Sleeping in counts as 7:30 and if I'm still in bed at 8 I'm either sick or trying really hard to not feel I've completely wasted the morning.

For the last two Mondays, I've walked Aeryn to school. Normally she rides a bus that picks her up about 50 feet from our apartment door, but for the next couple weeks she's in a bike safety class at school. She leaves her bike there during the week and then we bring it home on Fridays so she's got it for the weekend. She rides, I walk, which means most of the journey looks something like this: (that is if I can see her at all as she rides quite far ahead of me)

She loves this. Eugene is the perfect place for a kid who likes to ride their bike. There are trails all around and the weather is pretty much amazing. 

Much to her dismay I don't let her undergo this trip alone, as I'm still a bit paranoid about one of the busy streets she has to cross. She isn't really concerned with staying where she can see me, but I can count on her to stop every time she comes to a fork in the road or street to cross, just to ask me for sure which way we're going. 

Have you seen these outdoor elliptical bikes? I'm pretty much in love. With the bike that is, not exactly the price tag. They seem to be surfacing everywhere we go now. This morning we passed 3 of them - and I struggled the entire time they were in view to not covet.

After getting Aeryn close enough to the school that she could continue on by herself, I headed home. The sunshine was bright and cheerful and there were countless birds gracing the morning with their song. I can't help but continue to be completely enamored with this place. It's like a part of me has always belonged here and just didn't know it. I sat under a tree and played my "with friends" games while the hurried cyclists, dog walkers, and other morning people passed on by.

It's so lovely.

Welcome, Monday. You've brought with you such a glorious morning. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What a day

What a full, magnificent, and completely exhausting day. I mean it.

First thing this morning, Aeryn found these cute little caterpillars on Pinterest. The girl is a little obsessed with Pinterest and I have only myself to blame. She still doesn't understand why I won't let her set up her own account. I suppose it could be helpful when gift-giving Holidays roll around to see what she's interested in, but I doubt even their servers have enough space to store all the cute puppy pictures that she'd pin. The thing about the caterpillars is that it's not a new idea, it just made her think of it. We pulled out our bag of pom-poms and found that ironically this is the exact project suggested on the back of the package. It doesn't matter if it's a new idea or not, she had a blast and it was really nice to be able to indulge her in something she saw online and decided to do all by herself.

Jim was at school most of the day so it was just us girls for the bulk of the day. It went something like this:

Browse Pinterest with Aeryn looking over my shoulder
Make caterpillars
Snow White puzzle
Second breakfast
Aeryn burning her hand on the toaster oven heating element
75 or so Connect Four games
One My Little Pony episode on Netflix
Aeryn riding her bike while I ran down by the river
Shower (me)
Just Dance 3 (her)
World map puzzle
Playing outside 
Washing dishes
Putting burn gel on hand - again
Bake bread
Jim comes home (YAY!!)
Hang out at park with awesome neighbors
Eat hot baked bread with melty butter
Head to Hayward Field for UO Twilight track meet
Freeze solid thinking "It's May, what do you mean I need a parka still?"
Get Aeryn registered for kid's half lap run at the very last minute
Watch her joyously come in third.... from last
Freeze solid for a couple more hours of meets
Contemplate how many times we'll hear "And that is a new world record..." while living in Track Town, USA
Run into friends
Continue to endure freezing and vow to never wear flip-flops at night again
Head to eat ice cream
Change into sweats and wrap up in fleece

Aeryn is the girl in the light pink t-shirt and jeans. Yes, jeans.

See? She really did it! She got a blue finishers ribbon and is so very excited about it. I think we'll have to do this again. Only next time we'll decide more than 10 minutes before the race so she can wear something a little more comfortable than jeans. Now as of this week, two of our family have been able to run on Hayward Field. I think Jim is pretty thrilled.

It's so hard to believe how quickly the day has ended. Didn't it just begin?

Friday, May 4, 2012


We had another date night. I love those days. This one was a little quicker than some but we made good use of the 45 minutes we had between when Aeryn left for Activity Days and I headed to a baby shower.

Isn't he the cutest?  We ate at a local burger joint that several friends rave about. Burgers, garlic fries, and onion rings. The food was great and the company better.

I don't know about you, but I think we are downright adorable. I'll keep us.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Check the Box, Mom"

There was a question posted on Facebook the other day that simply asked "Why do you run?" Little did they know I've been asking myself that very question a lot lately. I've never fancied myself a runner as it's been something I've done only halfway for most of my life. Granted, I was on the track team my Sophomore year, but it was only my Sophomore year and I was half-hearted in my commitment - nothing like Adam Goucher who evidently went on to become someone in runner-land. I ran the mile in the last meet of the year - the only meet I participated in. It didn't help that I got sick and even though the mono test came back negative I was completely exhausted by 1:00 every day. Running after school was low on my list of priorities - and only happened because Celeste was great fun to talk to and we ran at the same pace.

After Aeryn was born, I had a gym membership and started going to run on a treadmill at night after she was asleep. Since she slept through the night regularly from 10 weeks on I had that freedom. But again, it felt inconvenient and didn't stick.

When I found myself divorced, I would spend the weekends that Aeryn was with her dad jogging the trails at Garden of the Gods. I bought myself a jog stroller and started trying to go even on the weekends that Aeryn was with me. I was out of shape though and it was hard, so it didn't stick.

When I moved into my parents basement I started to take advantage of their treadmill as it was in the middle of "our" living space. At one point I ran every single day because if Aeryn didn't hear me on the treadmill up the hall, she wouldn't stay in bed. This time I had motivation, so it stuck, until that phase was over and she no longer needed to hear that I was right there.

Then I bought a house, and Aeryn was with her dad for the Holidays. Not wanting to sit at home missing her, I went running. A neighbor commented on it and then I felt social pressure not to stop for I'd created an impression. Shortly after that I met a cute boy who likes to run and it was reinforced from another side. I started to run more often and push myself a little harder. I liked when a 5k was no longer hard and when my pants fit just a little bit better. But then I got crazy busy with the end of the school year, moving out of my classroom, taking a graduate course, preparing to sell my house, and getting married - so it didn't stick.

...Until we moved to Eugene and I found how lovely it was to run the trails near our apartment first thing in the morning. I loved the misty air, the dim light of early morning, and the cute little old man who would always smile and wave at me as though we were old friends. It was charming, and refreshing, and almost perfectly idyllic.

But then winter hit and I decided I didn't like the idea of running in a torrential downpour and started staying home more. Buuuuuut, I yielded to Peer Pressure (or rather a thought that it could after all be fun) and registered for a half marathon. Doing so has increased the guilt I feel when I don't run and also the joy I feel when I do something I thought was impossible. I'd say that running itself has become more pleasurable, but today sabotaged any thought of the sort. I had was a rough 9 miles and I felt like sobbing for the final mile and a half along with about three hours afterward. Fortunately I knew that my body had neither the spare energy or water to do so.  I am spent.

So why on Earth do I keep doing this? I'm not sure. I think it's just one way I can feel I'm conquering the impossible, and I get to check off a little goal box when I'm done.