Tuesday, January 2, 2018

This New Year Has a Whole New Meaning

I don't really believe in resolutions, and I sort of want to punch those people who are all, "New Year, new me" (sorry if you're one of them....sort of), but as I watched 2017 become 2018 - from our bed with our little human between us because she seemed to think it was cool to celebrate my impending return to work with some good ol' sleep regression -  I couldn't help but admit that 2017 was one heck of a year. 

In January, we found out that we were going to have a little human.  Gasp, we were going to be responsible for a teeny, tiny person - First thought: Are we cut out for this?  Second thought: We better get Baby his or her own travel duffel.

In the months that followed, I learned that I was pretty good at feigning control. Each day I stood in front of my class and managed not to vomit (morning sickness is a real and cruel beast and lasts all.damn.day) and  I prepared to part way with some of my favorite foods - avocados and bubble water - as the mere thought of them turned my stomach inside out. I never did throw up on any child or in any hallway at work, so there's that. 

Brian and I managed to squeeze in some good adventures, visiting the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany over Spring Break.  We slowly began to share the news with friends and family and happily accepted the confidence they had in our parenting abilities, even when we weren't so sure of ourselves.   I traded morning sickness for a growing belly and killer heartburn.  Again, I did my best to look composed and, well, presentable (who wants to brush her hair or put on a face when her insides feel like they are melting?!), as the school year rolled on.  

Summertime meant preparing for our little human; I spent many hours organizing and reorganizing, vacuuming and re-vacuuming every space in our house (no, I wasn't nesting....I was enjoying summer as I always do), and when I wasn't doing that, I was preparing the mother of all binders for my long term sub.  It's good I don't believe in New Year's resolutions or I am sure I would have attempted to curb my obsession with schedules and to-do lists, and then what would I have done with my time? 

I found myself back at work as fall - ahh, fall, the best time of the year - approached.  And our little one was fully cooked and cooperative, and made her arrival after I met my students and before my dad and brother left for their long-planned Colorado trip, one I was sure would mean they would miss the arrival of our little one.  September 7th was the most transformative day of my life, no doubt; as HQ leaned to human, as her father says, I learned how to function with little to no sleep, shower in under three minutes, change diapers in the dark, and keep the cutest, most wonderful littler person alive and, dare I say, thriving. 

In 2018, we will continue to do our best to travel, to grow professionally, to help our little one navigate this world.  No resolutions needed because I'm truly living the dream!  

Friday, December 29, 2017

Ski Week 2017

Shortly after Runnells Christmas - mere hours after - we were at Mitchell International Airport boarding a plane for Colorado. The early, early morning flight was barely at half capacity, and having worked though the whole process a few times before, it wasn’t a total junk show traveling with our little adventurer. We were off to a good start. 

Our first day was packed - breakfast, REI, the climbing gym, ski pickup, Whole Foods, and settling into our condo - and a whole lot of fun. 

The rest of our time was equally enjoyable. Thanks to warm weather and sunshine, HQ and I got to spend a fair amount of time outside and explored a few different villages. Vail, Beaver Creek, and Keystone all proved to be suitable for parent-little human ski bumming, but BC took the cake: there was space for spectating, quiet corners to settle into, and oodles of cookies being distributed at the base of the mountain.  And while the mountains were low on snow and we often had shorter days on the slopes, skiing occurred every day; we also managed to find time to shop/explore Beaver Creek (hello, Smartwool store), ice skate, play games (Skip-Bo and Chicken Foot), drink several gallons of bubble water, and eat our weight in guacamole. 

After a season off of skiing, it was nice to get back into it, and we all managed to avoid injury, though I did drop a ski on the chair lift (thank you, rental skis, for that epic fail), had to glide on one foot off the lift (you should have seen how graceful I was...no really!) and then wait for my run-away ski to be brought up the mountain). 

we imported some imported Italian wine
Baby's first lift ticket
Baby's first gondola ride - Vail 

Date day at Beaver Creek

ski bumming with my little human at Beaver Creek - sunshine, a fire pit, and cookies for the win


I cannot thank our amazing friends enough for being so, well, amazing. They invited us to join them - and share their condo; they shared pro parenting tips and rolled our little one around Beaver Creek; they helped us navigate airports, restaurants, and mountains; they willfully hung out with us and our three-month old; and they took turns snuggling with HQ while Brian and I hit the mountains. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I’m fairly certain this village, our tribe, is the best!  

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Runnells Christmas

This past weekend was the annual Runnells Christmas gathering at Grandpa's. Per usual, it was a fantastic time with a family I am beyond blessed to have married into. The group was extra large this year with great aunts and uncles, second cousins, and new arrivals -- namely our little lady. 

We ate well - ham and turkey, jell-o, cookies and custard (a special shout out to the makers of the cheese potatoes sans onions!!). And we laughed a lot.  If the white elephant gift exchange items weren't chuckle-inducing enough (someone is now the proud owner of a turkey statue), the youngest members of the crew did their part when we attempted (and mostly successfully executed) a picture with Grandpa and five of his six great-grandchildren.  Oh, the faces little people make when they're not on board with the grown-ups' plans -- or are placed in a nativity scene!

The holidays are a magical and heart-warming time, no doubt.  Having such wonderfully loving and entertaining people to share in the joy of the season makes it all the better.  With one celebration in the books, it's onto some ski season fun in Colorado and even more Christmas cheer.  I have a lot to celebrate this year!

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Beautiful Weekend

On Thursday, I met my mom at her office as she walked out the door for the last time as an employee of Citizens Bank. After 21 years, I know that she will truly be missed, but the bank’s loss is our family’s gain. Too soon, I’ll be back to work at West, and HQ will get to spend her days with her Grandma JoJo! 

Friday night was Mom’s retirement party. And while it made me slightly more anxious than I would like to admit to leave Harper, it was really nice to spend the time celebrating Mom. And it was lots of fun to be back at Kelly's Bleachers, the scene of many family shots, family softball games, and other shenanigans. I can't complain about getting to spend time with cousins or with our little Badger game/concert crew.  

The next day, my birthday, was filled with many of my favorite things, at least those that don’t involve mountains or international travel. I set an alarm (not my favorite) to ensure I was at the gym with some of my favorite people for one of my favorite classes of the week. Sixty minute of cardio and a bit of lifting were a great way to start my day and to balance out the weekend’s birthday treats, including the donuts I *had* to bring to the gym!  

I headed home for birthday snuggles with our little lady, some time with Brian, and some vacuuming (one of my most favorite things!!) before we joined my family for traditional birthday weekend fun, picking out our Christmas tree. This year, we took advantage of the excellent weather and cut down our own. And while Harper slept though a good portion of our outing, we’ll give her credit for choosing the perfect tree. I’ll take credit for finding the perfect treat - chocolate caramels with sea salt - at our stop at The Elegant Farmer (haven’t been there in ages!). Now, to exhibit self control and ration them... 

We drove west that evening (one of Brian’s favorite things...though we didn’t make it nearly as far west as he would have liked) on what turned out to be a really scenic drive for an excellent dinner (with veggies cooked exactly to my picky liking). The ambiance was as great as the drive and the company, and the smell of the fire reminded Brian and me of being in Turkey, which was a birthday bonus treat, kind of like when Bri let me have the last bite of our shared dessert.  

And while the outcome was not what I had hoped for (but sort of expected), we closed out my birthday gathered in our living room taking in the ups and downs of the Badger game. Even a loss is tolerable with family gathers around - I love me a full house. 

Thanks to our fabulous little sleeper, I woke up well-rested Sunday, which meant I was ready to do some climbing, and I did a lot of it. And after, while HQ rested up for another evening of celebrating, Brian and I enjoyed a nice little lunch date, and he didn’t even finish the last sip of our shared drink (happy birthday to me!).  Later that evening, we met my in-laws for burgers and custard (it’s a good thing that working out is also one of my favorite things). They’re so good to me!

I went to bed Sunday feeling blessed beyond measure - and a bit older. So many wonderful things filled my weekend: family, friends, blueberry donuts, tradition, physical activity, ice cream. And the icing on the proverbial cake was that I didn’t have to spend any time thinking about work or going back to it on Monday. I’ll save that for the New Year. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Different Sorts of Game Days

Saturdays sure have always kept me on my toes - what lucky Badger gear should I wear and what items  should I avoid (those super cute but oh-so-bad-luck-inducing Bucky socks).  What time should we head to Madison and in what order to hit the bars?

And with an undefeated season on the line and the bad guys of Michigan coming to town, this weekend will be no different....except now it's ensuring burp rags coordinate with Badger gear.  The past few Saturdays have been really nice ones, and not just because of the Badger victories.  We got to spend game day with family.

Two weekends ago, HQ and her cousin Tommy got to take in their first game together, and Tommy and I got to share popcorn and chips.  With Badger alums for parents, both Tommy and Harper are sure to receive lots of not-so-subtle hints that THE University of Wisconsin is a great and honorable institution and the school of choice - cheers to my favorite member of the Class of 2039. While we missed Uncle Jeff, it was so fun to see the rest of the Kaminski crew and to share some HQ time with them.  And it was really nice to see my cousins and hear what will surely become classic work stories (Thanks, Annie, for keeping us laughing!).

Harper spent her most recent game day meeting her Jarvis family.  Like Tommy, Winston is quite the handsome little man, and he surely will show HQ the ropes when it comes to all things little human. We had lunch, caught up on life, and managed to get some pretty cute pictures of the little cousins in their Badger gear.  There is something especially heartwarming (and game day anxiety erasing) about watching the people who knew you when you were your baby's size - your baby: gosh, will that ever not sound like the craziest and most awesome phrase?! - snuggling up with your little one!

With the holidays - and my birthday - fast approaching, we'll surely have more time with family, and I cannot wait -- for that time together and for more checks in the W column for Bucky!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Fall + Colorado = Happy Runnells Family

Lucky for us, we have a good traveler because we surely wanted to take advantage of the time off she provided us. So, last week we had to show H.Q. around one of our favorite places, Colorado. 

It certainly was a different trip with a little human along -  no late nights, for one thing -  but we were able to get out and enjoy the sunshine and the fresh mountain air. We saw friends, summited mountains, shopped on Pearl Street (someone got her first Patagonia gear), drove about in our rental mom-van, and survived solo air travel. 

As always, the trip was far too short, and we certainly didn't get to do everything or see everyone we wanted, but that gives us a great excuse to head back sooner than later.

mountain views from the mom van

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Recently, Brian suggested we take a short trip to New York. Now, talk of our upcoming Colorado trip made sense - it’s our place, after all, and we have someone new to share it with! - but heading east wasn’t on my radar. It was a short flight, much like to Denver, and Brian thought it would be a place I’d enjoy. It would be a perfect little getaway. He was right. Brian also thought it would be nice to bring my mom along, and, again, he was right! We are big time in debt to her, so it was the least we could do! 

The Unti-Runnells crew flew into New York as the city lights lit up the mid-evening sky; from our seats we could see the Statue of Liberty, 1 World Trade Center, and the Empire State Building - this trip was off to a great start. 

Our first full day in NYC involved a leisurely start. We tested out our subway traveling skills, ate lunch at an expansive Italian restaurant and shop, which made me feel like I was truly back in Italy, and visited the 9/11 Memorial, which, like Normandy and the Anne Franke House, was a powerful and poignant experience. 

We closed out our first full day in the city  with a trip to Times Square. Oh, the sights...and sounds....like the man signing his ‘iTunes hit, “Ignore”....

That night was mom-daughter date night for JoJo and me. When we planned our trip, Brian suggested we take in a Broadway show - he’s full of good ideas that BR. The Carol King  musical, Beautiful, was playing: We were sold! And we had a blast! The show was fantastic, and I haven’t stopped singing those “Tapestry” tunes since then. I couldn’t help but replay bits of my childhood, for which Carol King, James Taylor, and Meatloaf form the soundtrack . Mom and I ended our day with a dinner date - and manages to avoid buying a giant cherry cheesecake, which was no easy task as it looked sooooo good. It was such a blast to share this experience with my mom! 

The next day, while Brian explored one part of the city, Mom and I navigated the subway and another part of the city together. We stopped for coffee (for me), strolled about, and ultimately made it to our destination, the 9-11 Museum. Again, what a powerful experience. There really are no words for it! 

After our visit, we made our way back uptown to Central Park, where we ambled about before enjoying a Turkish dinner. Then, thanks to my awesome husband, I got to enjoy a second night of excellent music, this time at a Tedeschi Trucks Band show.  It was our first official Mommy-Daddy night out, and we enjoyed ourselves (TTB is amazing, so how can you not have a great time?!), though both of us could barely hang after 10pm (we didn’t get back to the apartment until midnight - go, us!).   

We got to do a last little bit of NYC exploration the next morning, our final morning in the city. After some good people watching and plenty of picture taking in Rockefeller Center, it was time to grab lunch, pack up, and head home. 

What an excellent trip - now, to convince Dad to join us on the European excursion Mom and I began loosely planning during the much appreciated time we had together!