Monday, January 29, 2018

remember, it's all luck

Thanks to the wonder of social media, I stumbled across a commencement address given by some guy named Tim Minchin---I don't really even know who he is but maybe that made watching the video even better. I rarely watch videos on Facebook. So, the secret is out. I probably just liked your video because I like you not because I thought the content was somehow outstanding. But anyway, this guy gave these graduates 9 life lessons---all of which were good, but one which struck a particular chord.

Remember, it's all luck. You are lucky to be here. You were incalculably lucky to be born, and incredibly lucky to be brought up by a nice family that helped you get educated and encouraged you to go to Uni ... Understanding that you can’t truly take credit for your successes, nor truly blame others for their failures will humble you and make you more compassionate.

With what little I've learned about the circumstances of my adoption, I am incredibly lucky to be here. It wasn't just the luck of being born. It was the luck of being found after being abandoned. It was the luck of being chosen by "a nice family that helped [me] get educated and encouraged [me]" and continues to support me at every stage in my life." It was the luck of being surrounded by coaches, teachers, parents of friends, and other mentors who invested their time and energy in my future.

You can study. You can train. You can work hard. You can do all the right things. But success is never guaranteed and should not be taken for granted. Because without a little bit of luck, it all could be profoundly different. Many of the good things in my life can be attributed to being in the right place at the right time. Of course, this doesn't diminish the fact that I have put in some long hours studying, working, and networking so that when the "right" time appeared and I could be appropriately positioned to take full advantage. But nothing is ever certain.

I fully intend to set the Js up for success in whatever way I can. It is my job. But it is also their luck that I subscribe to the school of thought that it is my job. I hope they are wildly successful in life and that all their hopes and wishes that they talk to me about before they fall asleep at night come true. More than that, I hope that with that success comes humility, vulnerability, and compassion. I want them to be the kind of people that wish to bestow their luck onto not only their children, but others as well. Because we all could use a little luck.

If you want to watch the whole address, it's here. It's equal parts wisdom and hilarity, which is kind of my thing.

And a gratuitous photo of these two lucky goofballs for good measure.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

road to CIM

Most often the fodder for the blog is the Chunglund children. But this time, it's all about ME!

Last year, Heidi whipped up some good Kool-Aid. It took a little bit, but I drank that sh*t right up somehow managing by April 2017 to find myself signed up for my first marathon. It has been quite the journey.

I got my first taste of running dirty. Because everyone runs 16 miles on the trail after making 30 fondant unicorn horns and frosting cupcakes for their offspring's 7th birthday, right?



I saw many many sunrises, did more fartleks, and ran more hills than I care to remember.



There were post-long run mimosas.


I got to witness my first ultra marathon up close and personal, while crewing for my dear childhood badass mother runner friend.




I got in a training run with a friend, who prior to this I had only had training swims with.


And we both finished! And she got her BQT! Bostom 2019!


I met a new friend, who happens to be the sister of the neighbor of another childhood friend living in Minneapolis. Small, small world.


I ate gallons of Gu and logged hundreds of miles. It has been quite the trip. Oh yeah, I tripped and fell a lot too.



But I always got back up.

I felt pretty emotional picking up my packet and realizing that this is where the rubber hits the road. We were about to see how well I had actually trained.



It all came down to this ...



I had the best cheering section.




I got emotional at mile 13 when I realized that I was going to be able to finish this and not hate it.

I finished marathon. I did it a couple minutes (give or take) under my time goal. But even better than that? I met many new friends, reconnected with old friends, and got to know existing friends waaayyy better.


And that's a wrap. I ran a pretty conservative, evenly paced race, and felt pretty good all the way through ... which begs the question of what my limits truly are. For now, I'm hoping to finish out the year with 1,000 cumulative miles. I'm not signed up for CIM 2018 ... yet.

Friday, December 8, 2017

J1 is seven!


My dearest J1,

I am so far behind on blogging. It has become a slippery slope and I am close to just giving up. But I won't. For you. I can't leave you hanging on your 7th birthday!


You will always hold a special place in my heart. You are my first child. The one who made me mom. I remember the first time you rolled over and told me that you loved me. Oh the gratification! After months and months of being your round the clock all you can eat buffet, bouncing you to sleep, wearing your little ass all over town on hikes on shopping trips---all the damn time, I was finally rewarded with some reciprocation on your part. I (and perhaps you) definitely turned a corner that night.


Since those days of non-stop crying and eating, you appear to have committed to a trajectory of being the reasonable person (when compared with the conduct of other children of similar age, experience, and intelligence---indulge me in a little lawyer humor, if you will), being excellent, being hilarious, being one of my all time favorite human beings on this planet (which of course, could be because you are my mini-me). I am not surprised when your behavior chart comes home nearly every day with excellent---nor was I surprised that your report card was outstanding. Of course, neither were you. You told me that you couldn't wait to get it because you knew it was going to be amazing.


You are unbelievably kind and thoughtful, not just for a kid, but for a human being in general. I am always proud to hear that you make good choices when you are with others. As much as you want to tell me about your day---you always take the time to ask me how mine was too. And as much as you think you need me, I need you just as much. You are such a bright spot in my life and I am so blessed to be your umma. You are also direct. Very direct. Which I guess is not surprising---given who your parents are.

I know sometimes it's hard being a kid. Grown ups are always telling you what to do ... brush your teeth, clean your room, hurry up. You, my dear, are doing a fantastic job. I am impressed with your self-confidence and your willingness to try everything whether it is a new activity or a new food. I am most impressed with your sense of self. You know who you are. I hope you never ever lose that and I will do everything I can to foster it because it will serve you well for the remainder of your life.

I guess that's mostly it. Just keep being awesome and do great things. I know you will. Dream big and fly high because I will always be here for a soft landing.

I love you more than there are stars in the sky.

Xx, Umma


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

J2 is 2 squared


Dear J2,

You're 4! You've been 4 for almost a month! And I've been so busy with our life that I am just now getting to writing your annual birthday letter. First of all, I love (almost) everything about you. You are simply the cutest person that I know. The smile, the little voice, when you get down on one knee and give me a flower---it all makes me feel so happy that I am yours. Every day I can't wait to come home and give you a snuggle. Until you start whining. It sort of ruins the magic and I'm cool with going back to work.

You love crashing into things, shooting things, climbing things, jumping off things. ALL THE THINGS. You have been nicknamed the master destroyer by your Auntie Rachael.


You are so naughty. But I get it. It's probably fun. I bet it was super cathartic to empty an entire new bottle of shaving cream onto the bathroom floor. Being naughty is fun. Plus, you are so super cute doing it. Yeah, I get it. But for real ... if you could dial it back just a bit, that would not be terrible.



You have a love/hate relationship with your sister. She really loves you. You kind of hate her. Of course, I'm kidding. But again, it would not be terrible if you were a little nicer to her. She's sensitive and emotional and she once asked me why you don't like her. Doesn't that just break your four year old heart? Probably not.


Like every other human to ever walk this earth, you prefer to have your own way. Unfortunately, you have a brain malfunction when you don't get your way. The "awww, but I want it," is inevitable each time you are denied your heart's desire. I feel all your feels, my dear. Trust me.

You love girls. All kinds. The common folk and the princesses.



You have the highest highs and the lowest lows. I am either the person you love most in the world, or the one you hate because I won't let you eat cheese off the floor. Because why wouldn't I let you eat cheese off the floor? It's really baffling for a four year old.

Other parents have deemed you my payback for having the perfection that is J1. Thankfully, your devilishness does not tarnish my crowning parenting glory that is your sister.

But I love each and every bit of you. From the top of your head to the tips of your toes. I love seeing you stumble out of bed in the morning, rubbing your eyes, making a beeline straight for a mom hug. I love watching you sleep and peppering your little face with kisses. I love all your faces---cheesy smile, silly face, laughing face. I love when you hold my hand and when you snuggle up and when I'm falling asleep I love when you come in and kiss me good night.

Our family would simply not be complete without the J2 experience.



I love you more than all the stars in the sky,

Umma




Wednesday, October 4, 2017

because it's really never enough


My mom. She was beautiful. She was thoughtful. She was kind. She was the kind of mom that I hope to be. (Except let's be honest, I really don't want to carve pumpkins. Sooo messy. And sharp tools!) She made birthdays extraordinarily special. She made sacrifices for family.

She was mine. And she was gone too soon. Just when I was starting to gain momentum as an adult, she was gone. And that leaves me here. Wanting more. Thinking about all the things I am missing. That she is missing. That J1 and J2 are missing.

I usually try to get the kids' birthday letters done before I open this vein. But I am behind. This year has been extraordinarily hard. Some of it brought on by myself---e.g., thinking it was a good idea to train for a marathon---some of it brought on by forces over which we have no control. I am struggling. Struggling to keep my head above the water. Struggling to dive deep when the waves crash, with the hope of coming out better, brighter, and with more depth and self-awareness.

And as I hold my breath waiting for the storm to pass, it's then I miss you the most. Because in this past year, I definitely would have called you. A lot. All the time. I am not sure I have ever needed you more than I have in the last 12 months. I can't tell you what I would say, but I am certain there would be tears. I'm also not entirely sure what you would say in response---or if it would even make me feel better. But sometimes you just need your mom. The person that loves you in a way so completely and unconditionally that it is beyond description.

Each year is one more year without you. Each year is another year where I try to be as good as you were at this whole mom thing without being able to call you up and ask how you managed to get me to piano lessons, swim practice, Girl Scouts and still put dinner on the table---while here I struggle to just get the Postmates driver to show up at my door rather than in the alley.

Maybe I attach too much significance to all of it. Maybe if I called, you'd be like "f*uck, Nina, I don't know." Just kidding, my mom would definitely not drop the f-bomb. Regardless, of whether any particular conversation would be good, bad or indifferent, I just miss having the chance. The chance to even have a bad conversation. Maybe even the chance to disappoint you. Whatever. Just the chance for more. I look at some of the last photos I have of us together and have to remind myself to be happy I had you until I was 23 years old. But it will never be enough. Because really, all I want is more. More time. More photos. More you. More mom.


 




As an adult and particularly as a mom myself, I can clearly see that you gave David and me the best of you. I am doing my absolute best, which is far from perfect, but I hope I can honor your memory by giving J1 and J2 the best of me.

I just miss you. So much. That is all.





Monday, September 25, 2017

p is for perfect

Our trip to Disneyland was just that. Perfect. Barely any lines. We got on all the rides we wanted to do. Kids were at the perfect age/size so they could and would ride most of the rides. Kids behaved wonderfully. Disney worked its magic and we had such an awesome time.

We started on Friday in Disneyland, where I made the family stand in line for a photo. Because it is what moms do.


Of course, J2 has to be the little clown. The only time he stood nicely for a picture was if it was with a character ... see for yourself.


Friday night we risked it and tried to go back to the park for the fireworks. About 15 minutes before the show started, it became self evident that we had really pushed our luck---so we headed out and watched the fireworks as we walked out of the park.


Sunday we geared up for California Adventure, which for all you like minded moms has alcohol. Everywhere. If you need a beer to get you through a Disney Jr. dance party, California Adventure does not disappoint.


That thing in the background that looks like a giant ferris wheel. Do not go on that. It is terrifying. It is like a ferris wheel on crack.

Mickey ears. $25. Lunch at Ariel's Grotto. $250. Autograph pen. $8. The look on J2's face when he sees princesses? PRICELESS.





J1 alleges that her favorite ride was California Screamin'. She also loved the Matterhorn. I think part of that has to do with the fact that her brother was too little ride them---so it was extra special.


You couldn't see her in the photo from the ride because she is so short and we weren't in the front of the car, so here's the only proof we have that she actually rode it ... TWICE.

So much fun, so many memories. I declare the National Lampoon's Chunglund Vacation a resounding success! And now I don't have to do that again ... at least for another few years.