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Tip of the Momma 2 U: Stick’em Here, Stick’em There, Stick’em Just ‘Bout Everywhere

If the people at Walmart offered my 4 year old kid a sticker one more time, I imagined him saying, “It’s like I told the lady before you and the guy before her and the guy before him… I DON’T WANT A STICKER!”

And so I dread going in there every time because I’m sure it will be the last straw for him.

But he surprised me last week when he politely said “no”, making the moment awkward once again. But for the first time he sensed that it was awkward, and politely accepted the little blue and yellow sticker after all. Of course, he just stuffed it in his pocket and I tossed it before it ended up ruining another shirt.

But my kids really do like stickers. They even have their favorites…

But, I used to dread stickers, slumping my shoulders every time they picked one from a prize basket or received one for not bolting during an immunization. I would make stickers disappear frequently and LIE to my kids that I had no idea what they did with them.

Here’s why:

You know you’ve seen this before: A car window with about 15 to 20 backsides of stickers and about 3 of those stickers partially pulled off (just to see if it’s worth the effort), and you either dread the day your kid will discover stickers or you’ve declared that that will NEVER be you. But it’s one of those battles that you really just don’t want to pick when “picking your battles”.

So, I’ve already enforced the rules stating stickers may not be stuck in the following places:

A book

The wall

In/On the car

On toys

On appliances & electronics

On furniture

In your brother’s hair (or any person’s hair for that matter)

The dog

Yeah, all the FUN places kids want to stick stickers.

So where then can I stick my stickers mommy?

On paper

On the front of your shirt

On the top of your hand

Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

But my kids do love stickers. And I love stickers! They are a form of expression and sometimes worth a laugh or a smile:

The Tip of the Momma 2 U:

So let’s go back to the “No sticking stickers on Furniture” rule.

We have a tall bookcase we purchased at Target and one side of it faces my sons room. This is the ONE piece of furniture that the kids can stick their most treasured of stickers. All stickers that are not bookcase worthy must abide by the previous rules, eventually ending up in the garbage. Deal with it.

Eventually we will run out of room on it and I just may rearrange the room to expose the other side of it and we can start filling up that side.

Now U Tip Me:

Let me know (if you allow it) where your kids stick their stickers permanently. I may need it once the bookcase is covered.

Love,

Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tip of the Momma 2 U: Game of Names

There’s a new game that I must speak of! Well, it’s not that new. To be honest, I invented it. This makes it so easy to speak of.

In my family (the only people who have ever played it), we call it the Pistachio game. Apparently, I’ve been spelling Pistachio wrong in my head my whole life.

If you have travelled this summer, don’t be mad that you missed out on it. If you have yet to set off on a long adventure, this is a fantastic new game. Don’t forget about it! Although it will likely only be fun once with the same people, it may arise and even mutate at another point in time.

The Pistachio game is simple, requires zero game pieces (and therefore no purchase), and  requires some phonics knowledge and sometimes phonics disregard. The more people you know who were born in the 90’s, the more fun this can be.

It goes as so: Choose a name. Starting with someone in your presence is pretty common. Don’t pick the most easily offended until that person is obviously enjoying the game. You simply take the first syllable of a person’s name and add on to it the end of the word Pistachio. Now, say their new name with natural fluency.

For example: If my friend’s name is Bella, I announce to her that her name would now be Bel-achio. Pronounced: Bell-ash-ee-oh.

Doesn’t sound that great, does it?

However, it’s awesome if you know a kid named Jordan! Jordachio! Pronounced: Jor-dash-ee-oh!

Some names have multiple options. If my dog’s name is Eli (which it is), I can choose to call him Eliachio or Eachio. Pronounced: Ee-ly-ash-ee-oh or Ee-ash-ee-oh.

Don’t be silly and say that it should be pronounced Each-ee-oh. That’s how mutations of the game get started. Then, if it’s not funny, blame yourself.

Once you have gone through everyone present, start to think of people you know and love and morph their names! Once you run out of all the people you know and love, think of all the people who you’d love to call by their Pistachio names to their face. Mr. Bossachio! (Note: adding formal titles before Pistachio names is A- o.k.!)

Once you’ve gone through everyone you know. Start thinking of names of people you wish you knew.

Examples:

I’ve yet to meet someone name Susan. I would call her Susachio. Pronounced: Sooz-ash-ee-oh.

or What if we knew a guy named Buster? He would certainly let us call him Bustachio! Pronounced: Bust-ash-ee-oh.

or How about Mr. D? We would call him Mr. Dachio! Pronounced: Miss-tur-dash-ee-oh. If you said Miss-TURD-ash-ee-oh, you may be entering a mutation game. Watch it!

This is a super fun game! It has the potential to provide the first half hour of fun on your cross country trip.

Share your experiences with me if you can name names! Tell me if “Pistachio” is the best word to morph with.

Love,

Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for mutations of the game “The Pistachio Game” or discoveries of names added to Pistachio that result in cursive words.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Stranger Things Have Happened All The Time

I got a job! You can tell because I stopped writing. If you know me, you know that I love to talk and/or write. I’m finally a teacher and, in this profession, it’s like being a stand up comedian when ever you feel the whimsy. I can’t get into the politics of teaching (I just ate lunch), but I will tell you that it is the most entertaining job I’ve ever had. I thought my own kids were funny by DNA. I even used to say “You’re welcome” when I thought they knocked it out of the park.

It turns out, kids are just hilarious. I watch my youngest, now 7, at karate and I hope to cheese and rice that no one thinks I’m laughing at their kids. Sometimes I get tears in my eyes and pretend I’m crying with pride rather than laughing at a whole bunch of kids just being kids. That’s how it should be.

Pause the digression… back to catching up.

I got a job. I love my job. We have lost our dear Jake (the old man black lab) and our two awesome geckos in the years that have passed. We now have an Australian Cattle Dog and a Cattle Dog/Border Collie Mix. Both of them are blue. Yes, I cannot put my black slacks on until I walk out the door to go to work.

The kids are growing as fast as I can’t stand. The older one is a Tweenager and the youngest is almost 8. I deal with a middle schooler. I deal with my husband dealing with a middle schooler. I also deal with an 8 year old dealing with a middle schooler. I deal with a middle schooler dealing with being a middle schooler.

Somehow, after 14 password history guesses, I got into my blog account and now I feel the whimsy to write. This could be fun. I might find the time. Blord knows I still have just as many insane moments to write about now as I have in the past. The new school year is getting ready to start and I might just find the time to write a little diddy now and then.

It’s like I said, “Stranger Things Have Made Breakfast on Tuesday Dog Park”.

Love,

Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tip of the Momma 2 U: Tired of Flash Cards?

I don’t know how some people do it, how they study for a test with flash cards. Kudos to those who can.

I am not one of those people. And I realize that my child is semi-responsive to that method of learning.

In my son’s third grade class they are starting to learn multiplication facts. Starting soon, those who miss two or less on their test each week will receive a pop. A little drink I still like to refer to as Soda.

My son will just DIE if he doesn’t get a Soda each week. At least that’s how he acts about it. But I’m happy to see that he’s motivated. He doesn’t get to drink soda at home and very rarely at restaurants, so I have no gripes about it, as long as he doesn’t have the opportunity to down it just before I pick him up from school.

So, back to the flash cards. Years ago, before my child was even a twinkle in my eye, I knew that a game of Jenga existed in which the blocks were modified with dares and tasks written on each block for a drinking game. Tsk, tsk, and shame on people for taking such an innocent game and turning it into a beverage consumption game. Heh.

Anyhow, taking that concept (which my children will never hear of… from me) I came up with a fun way to go over the multiplication facts and not lose my mind with the redundancy of flipping cards while my kid answers back dryly and then we shuffle and do it for four more minutes. By the way, bless his teacher’s heart for at least providing the flash cards for us. If I had to make them, I might cry.

Alright, enough whining from me. The bottom line is that, there are adults and children who do not learn well from flash cards.

So here’s my Tip of the Momma 2 U: Any brand of this tower game can be purchased and used as a teaching tool. Our particular tower was for Multiplication facts. Here’s how it works:

Take one tower containing 48 blocks. Write a multiplication question on each of the two widest sides of each block with a sharpie pen. I was able to write all facts of 1’s through 9’s multiplying by 1 – 10. With the remaining blank spots I wrote things such as “Count by 3’s to 30” or “0 X any number” (in which the child would reply “equals zero”).

Have a print up of the Multiplication Facts Table nearby in case there’s a discrepancy about the answer and also so your child can easily test him/herself.

You can play this game like a typical game of Jenga where you try not to topple the tower. My son decided to construct another tower with his correctly answered blocks.

Another idea: Place them in a bag or basket and randomly pick them out to answer.

If you have littler ones who are learning to read or spell, try one of these:

Write common sight word on the blocks

Write tasks such as “Say a word that starts with C” and put the whole alphabet in the game

That’s not all, right? Give me some more ideas!

Love,

Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

 

A Classic Movie Night: I Still Have Stars In My Eyes

My son’s birthday is in December. This last year he turned 9. If there’s one thing I’ve felt since becoming a parent and and having left the 365 days of sun in California for more seasonal states, it’s that I might never host an outside birthday party for this child.

That’s alright, our other kid has his birthday in the other extreme: August. We usually let our December boy help out with the plans so he can get the best of both worlds.

Having his birthday parties in the past have been hit and miss. There were times where many had to cancel at the last minute due to contagious illness or weather conditions. So I’ve adapted and learned to watch the weather, invite many, and have a back up plan.

This post is not about the hardships of a winter birthday. It’s about STARS (insert mystically music).

This last December, I decided to host a “Classic Movie Night” themed birthday party. My son loved it! I didn’t have to think of any games (which I’m really bad at planning) and we got a chance to invite our grown-up neighbors and get to know them while the kids watched the movie.


This movie night had EVERYTHING. There was crying, shrieking, laughter, spilling, munching and lots of socializing.

We made nifty invitations in the fashion of a movie event gala. I sort of wanted it to have an Oscar Party feel about it. Being that it was a Classic Movie Night for 3 to 12 year olds, we offered these three choices for a feature presentation:

  • A Christmas Story
  • Home Alone
  • Jurassic Park

I don’t know how it happened but, in the midst of a Christmas season, “Jurassic Park” won.

Then it was time to get the party gear…

We chose the colors of Black, Gold, and Red for balloons, plates and platters.

To give it that “Red Carpet” feel we bought, well, a Red Carpet.

And what is a movie theater without a Concession Stand?

I printed up voucher tickets for the kids to turn in for their share of Popcorn (served in popcornesque boxes) and other treats.


My son’s favorite snack to hand out is a little diddy I found in a Rachel Ray magazine year’s ago. They are sushi pieces consisting of the following ingredients:

Fruit Roll Ups (sugar)

Rice Krispies Square Mix (sugar)

&

Twizzlers (more sugar)

Now you know why I came up with vouchers: Management of Sugar

And of course you gotta have chopsticks for those.

We set up the living room as best we could to contain 10 kids as they watched the movie, chatted it up, and shuffled back and forth for goodies.

So why is this post about STARS???

Well, to enhance the magical, glittery feeling of going to a premiere of a classic movie, I purchased about a million little shiny gold and black STARS! And I sprinkled them all over the red carpet in our wood floored foyer for easy clean up later.

I can still remember what they look like… And that’s because I’m still finding them. EVERYWHERE.

On my socks

On my butt

In the couch


On the dog

On the kids

In the shower

In the Washing Machine

In the Dishwasher

In my Purse??

Upstairs

Downstairs

Under the Rug

In the Basement

Outside

In the Vaccuum (though I’ve emptied it numerous times since then)


So the moral of the story is, Do Not sprinkle cute little shiny stars all over your foyer unless you are prepared to be reminded that you did this for years to come.

It doesn’t bother me one bit, actually. It’s a pleasant reminder of the great time we had. Luckily we don’t have any babies, dogs or cats who like to nibble on the such.

Hey, there’s a party game we can play in August: Find the STARS.


Love,

Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

I GOTTA KNOW:

What are you finding here and there from long ago? Share it in a comment below!

 

A Reptile Obsession: Our Take on Lizards & Snakes at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

THE BLUES OF WINTER

Let’s pretend it never snowed on Groundhog’s Day in Colorado this year, on the very same day that Punxsutawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter, and that the weather forecasters of Denver never predicted a Winter Storm on the day that my family and I were supposed to preview the Lizards & Snakes Exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Yeah, let’s pretend that when we went on Saturday instead, Phil was chillin out in his hollowed out log over at Gobbler’s Knob granting us a redo since the weather kept us away from the preview event.

THE REDO

Getting right to it, we joined the awesome crowd at the Museum on Saturday for the newly anticipated Lizards & Snakes Exhibit and took along a friend of our boys to see what we could see. Packed in the Grocery Getter with clear roads before us, we headed for Denver. Since we invested in the Family Membership last Fall, we have used it four times, totally paying off. The T-Rex Encounter was a more-than-pleasant bonus for our money and now we were heading off to double our bonus on this new exhibit. The best part? My 9 year old LOVES all things reptiles. In case you didn’t know, we have two adorable Leopard Geckos.

We also used to have a Corn Snake and my son recently did a report on the Gila Monster.

FUELING UP

Arriving around noon, we brought our own packed lunches and ate first in the Museum’s Cafe’ dining area. Yeah, we’re pros. At their own table, the 9 year old debriefed his pal on a few facts, scarfed down lunch, got super pumped and jumped up ready to go straight to the third floor. He meant business.

GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS

After a bit of ooohing and ahhhhing upon entering, we immediately made our way over to the adorable Kim who was searching for her pal “Bo”. She quizzed the kids on some of the capabilities and hunting techniques of snakes and finally found “Bo”. Don’t worry, he’s just a virtual pal. No need to freak about snakes on the loose. And don’t think it didn’t cross my mind.

The number of live lizard and snake species was more than expected. I was impressed by their active behavior and the cleanliness of their habitats. My son is very sensitive when it comes to proper treatment of contained animals, so it’s a big deal when I “pay” to see animals in captivity.

As usual, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science offers a lovely crew of volunteers to give our kids hands on demonstrations and displays to enhance their learning experience. My personal favorite experience was finding that the Gila Monster’s skull has the same bumpy texture we intricately imitated for my son’s school report. (I assumed it was the skin that was bumpy.) I got my 4 year old to touch the skull since he was the trooper who went with me to four different stores in one day in search of the specific ingredient that gave our Gila Monster that perfect look (more on that in a future blog post).

The other impressive display/demonstration was that of the large replication of a snake’s skull. My 9 year old impressed us all by having all the right answers for the volunteer. The gentleman used the skull to simulate how a Burmese Python can fit a big ol’ deer into that seemingly smaller mouth. As our 6 year old guest stared straight into the open mouth of the skull, my husband assured him that he would easily fit in there.

One of the highlights for families was the large hexagon tank in which you can observe 4 species of Geckos chilaxin in their resort-like surroundings with two big brother cameras. You do the driving as you control joysticks to focus, zoom and pan out on them.

But what ultimately caught the attention of these three boys was the interactive “Hunt Like a Rattlesnake” simulation. Each boy had a chance to be the rattlesnake, flicking the snake’s tongue to smell out a rat, viewing the rat through the snake’s eyes, striking at the rat, and then ultimately chowin’ down. We had to return to this one last time before leaving.

After taking a look at a real life Burmese Python, the boys ran over to try and lift the 15 foot, 100 pound Anaconda. This feat required assistance from dad, who lightly helped with the tail, allowing the boys to lift that sucker up off the ground.

Before heading back to “Hunt Like a Rattlesnake” I disassembled the 3-D snake and lizard puzzles before the kids came around to put them back together. In true fashion, my 9 year old and the husband looked for a system to putting the snake back together and found the convenient numbering system on the underside, putting “Bo” back together again. The 4 year old, a puzzle fanatic, insisted on doing the lizard all by himself.

By the end of the exhibit, about an hour later, the 4 year old was claiming to be hungry again, but we did not leave without first claiming his very own lizard wristband. And when we hit “Hunt Like a Rattlesnake” that one last time, the kids gave me the “aw-mans” and we headed out. 

Although there is a “no-photography” policy in this exhibit, you get a sweet little family photo-op at the end with the ever-friendly “Bo”. Your photo is accessible for free online to share with everyone you know.

NOT DONE YET

Be sure to check out the rest of the museum. We hit one of our favorites, Expedition Health, for another hour before calling it a day.

SEE FOR YOURSELF

The Lizards & Snakes Exhibition runs from February 3rd to July 8th.

Click here for more info and details on a membership. Like I said, we have been four times and we also received two free guest tickets with our membership. We still have yet to see everything. If you’re just visiting, you have many options in Denver to keep you busy. This is one not to be missed.

Love,

Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

THE RATING SYSTEM

The 9-year-old and 6-year-old (After about 50 minutes – 10 minutes before hunger set in again): 5

The Turkey Rating: A 5 during all his favorite parts. A 3 everytime we weren’t doing something he wanted to do.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Entertainment, Family, Kids, Motherhood, Travel

 

RAGBRAI

The new route for RAGBRAI has been determined for the year 2012. I am SO jealous of all the people that will be there this year. I know that, one day, my family and I will ride RAGBRAI again. We rode it in 2008 with my husband’s Uncle Greg. We called him G-reg. After he passed away in 2009 I wrote a story about our trip. The following is an edited version that focuses on the trip itself. If you don’t already know what RAGBRAI is, the story will give you an idea, but you can also google it up. If you ever experience it for yourself, I promise, it’s something you’ll never forget.

Love,

Marthaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

 

 

RAGBRA

Written in May of 2010

Greg is gone. But who am I to be the one who can’t take much more of this?  Visitations. Memorial Services. Funerals. Celebrations of life. No matter what, when you keep losing people this way, you realize that ribbons couldn’t save them. I’m tired of raising money, tired of using those causes to soothe my own soul. I was always doing that, wasn’t I? Leaning on a purpose, trying to find a connection with the deceased. Validating my attachment to people.

Two years ago, Greg was the pesty uncle who had to tell us about RAGBRAI. He was an instigator by nature. When my husband turned to me and said, “You should come along,” Greg shittily agreed. So I was in. But not because they wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. It was just to prove a 7-day bike ride across the state of Iowa with a 0.8 and a 5-year-old could not be done and, “Y’all better recognize, I’m not there to be your servant.” A mother of two could not handle support driver. She would be too preoccupied to successfully travel from one town to the next, find an acceptable campsite, pitch tents, locate food and do it over and over again for five more days. They would be let down.  One year ago, Greg was my friend and my memory, the pain-in-my-ass uncle who proved RAGBRA would be impossible to return to without him. And Greg always called it RAGBRA. I was jealous of that joke only because it was an easy laugh. “RAGBRA, RAGBRA, Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”

Greg’s steed of choice for RAGBRAI: Hybrid Cannondale. Canary Yellow and cute.

My pony: Kia Sedona. More of a Clydsdale. It was not a clever bus with loyal hardcores leading rookies. (How can I get me one-a those?) 

My husband’s purebred mistress: Specialized Tarmac Pro, cherry red, no spoiler.
 

We would do this again. I kept notes.

Day One – evaluate the day ahead. Collect newspapers, maps, free souveniers (i.e. little ziploc of dirt from current camp).  

Day Two – stay away from stables containing manure and horse flies. Always stake down tents and always expect 2am tornado/thunderstorm warning.

Day three was my hump day. I caught on quick.

Day Three – Find schools or gyms. When team leaves, you leave, don’t dilly, just leave. Document, take pictures, park anywhere and look like it’s your business. Park such as no one can block you in and be prepared to maneuver in reverse from the route. If you’ve done it right you have time to hand out snacks, pull out cowbells and get ready to shout like all hell. Wave, wave, snapsnapsnap. Get back in the freaking Clydesdale and mooove. Drive, drive, drive. Set up camp. Find spot central to pool, town square and next day’s route. This spot exists in every town but everyone knows it. Make sure phone is charged. Locate food.

By this day, the arrangement in the back of the Sedona was unfamiliar, yet still organized. It smelled of tarp and cold, cold mud. The kind packed up with morning dew.

It was all a cluster and the first half is still a blur. But, I was thriving. You could get lost here but the Iowan’s wouldn’t let that happen during this amazing week. By day three you wait for your riders, Clydesdale leaning over in a cornfield ditch. While you wait, you cheer for the unicyclist and woot-woot the traveling mini bar team. They are all your unofficial friends this week. Don’t forget the dives you ate at, the neighbors who invite you to their fire pit. Record the weather. Buy an umbrella. It’s all significant.

Day Four – Rest towns offer every food imaginable on a stick. Meet riders. Socialize with gear grinders dressed like bananas. Hosting towns and traveling vendors provide music, turkey legs, homemade ice cream, port-o-potty’s.

  • PURCHASE WINDOW PAINT!
  • Fly swatter
  • Bug Spray

We can’t ride that route again without Greg. Why would we? It won’t bring him back. Besides, it’s sacred.

Day Five – Consider booking hotel ahead of time for day five. Four days of humidity + rain = crabby kids = crabby men.

Day Six – The Finish Line.

On day six at RAGBRAI, the riders were my mission and the kids were under my spell. But I became overly confident as I left the comfort of the air-conditioned hotel to meet my riders at the end. Somewhere in-between carbs for lunch and carbs which would come in a can, my grocery getter drove into a T where RAGBRAI would cut me off. The country road transformed into a one-way with waves of riders gushing by. And for vehicles, for me, the only way was R, reverse, back it up, you don’t belong here.

This wasn’t happening. I would miss the finish line if I steered away from the herd. Going around could cost me the moments I worked so hard for. The role of support driver would be a joke if we weren’t there to meet them. The thought was sickening. My sadness suggested to my stomach that it could not take much more of this. What was I even doing here? Why would Greg choose to ride across Iowa with a family of four? He could have had it all to himself. He was perfectly capable. Independent. And now I was involved. So deep in it, I found myself suffocating in my desire to share the glory. Already suffering the loss my riders would soon feel if I couldn’t find a way to grow wings on this bitch and just get there.

My eyes clouded as I lowered my head down in shame. Sulking. Feeling sorry for myself. A tap on my window snapped me back at attention and I leaned away to find a broad shouldered shadow blocking the high sun. My reaction caused the form to take a courteous step back revealing a traffic director sporting a reflective vest. We stared at each other, sharing a brief moment of confusion, and he threw an unexpected shrug at me. “Whichwayyougoin?” said the shrug. Unbelievable. I had a choice? My tummy jumped back snuggly into place and it didn’t take but a second to gather up the guts to release my grip on the steering wheel, lift one finger and point left.

My savior did not question the rotund machinery I was operating. He pounced into action, with a hefty gait over to the route to take advantage of an immediate gap for us to enter. I chugged in carefully, gazing and entranced by the constant waving in of his arm as it welcomed us back. As we puttered away, the white words “RAGBRAI Take Us Home” written on the rear hatch window would be the last he would see of us.

As we floated into line, a climb began. We huffed just under 4 miles an hour uphill with a group of nearly sixty bikes directly in front, most of which were a team blazing identical jerseys. Behind me was an ocean of riders filling in, standing on their pedals, and riding straight into my rear view mirror. Ducking my head and squeezing my shoulders inward, I attempted to blend in and be of as little nuisance as possible. I was surrounded by concentration on the faces of amateurs, professionals, thrill seekers and leisure finders. They found a rhythm and with each pump to the left and then to the right their waves carried me up. I read their thoughts and became nothing less than a large bicycle for over a mile.

 

And, in the end, relief and sadness came over me as I reached an intersection and was sent away from the pack. I found a parallel path as the kids waved goodbye to the riders. I sat up straight and told myself to breathe again. A smile smeared on my face as I accelerated, determined to reach the river’s edge with time to spare.

Day Six – The Finish Line – Beer. Always have beer ready when your riders come through.

 

 
 
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