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(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

Where did this month go? Well, once we heard my brother Scott and his wife Lori were coming to visit with their four grandchildren—all boys, aged six and under!—we had to get in gear to have a house that would be safe enough for the youngest two who were not quite two and half years and 15 months. The first challenge was dealing with our non-stop messes of dog hair, dirt, and mud, especially in this in-between weather season.

But beyond that we had to think more about real hazards. It’s one thing to have to re-develop those eyes in the back of the head for watching a puppy—it’s entirely another thing when the stakes are so high because you are dealing with little people who also put everything in their mouths. At least we already had gates thanks to the dogs and their muddy paws.

Seriously, although we had twins, at least we weren’t outnumbered by our children when we were together. Dealing with four boys is nonstop chaos. We had all these ideas for getting out of the house, but had forgotten how much work it is just to get out of the house! Thank goodness I had saved the blocks and the Brio train set—although it would have been a good idea to have cleaned the pieces before I had all the “free” help beside me launching the pieces into the bathtub and the surrounding areas. And then there was Jackson to help by playing with the older boys with Nerf guns and the game systems and Christiana to do some artwork with them.

Thankfully only the youngest got sick—pink eye and a double ear infection. When the medications kicked in, he forgot his troubles and got happy once more. With vigorous hand washing and sterilizing, we all stayed healthy and thus happier too.

So glad our winter weather stayed away until after they left. Not only did they have safe travels, but we also had the great outdoors, as in visiting Red Rocks Amphitheatre, or the minor outdoors, as in the local playground, for running off a lot of energy. There is no way our modest 1940s house was up to containing five adults, four kids, and two dogs all day and all night.

Furgus loved the kids way more than they loved him—you can only take so many wet willies, you know? However, he didn’t care what they did to him—he just loved the attention. On the other hand, due to Sam’s unknown shady past, he stayed in his crate or played outdoors with Furgus, coming out to socialize freely only after everyone born in this millennium had fallen asleep.

We adults also snuck off—women on one day and men on another—to get incredible Chinese foot and body reflexology massages at Ying’s Hairstyles here in Englewood. Too bad Scott and Lori can’t get those every week for dealing with the challenges of caring for all that energy—the energy the boys require of them and the energy the boys have day in and day out!

Yes, the visit required a lot of energy from those of us who aren’t used to dealing with little ones every day, but the children also brought a lot of joyful, youthful energy into our normally quiet home.

And when the whirlwind of their energy and activity left our home, we took off with our own family on our own high-energy adventure to ski at Copper Mountain for a couple days. Thanks especially to all the gorgeous snow that dumped on the slopes while we were there, skiing required even more of our energy than usual.

Even home again, the activities kept up as Sherman and Christiana had to plow the snow that dumped in Denver and she and her boyfriend finished their spring break here with us. By the time she and her friends left to return to school, we were exhausted.

Between all the young kids and older kids here over the last week or so, I’d lost a lot of my own energy. So yesterday I focused on recharging my batteries with a hot bath, a good book, some yoga and ZUMBA, and a good night’s sleep. Which means I’m ready to run—literally—just as soon I finish writing this and just as the sun has warmed up enough to melt last night’s ice from my paths.

(c) 2012 Christiana Lambert, Copper Mountain, CO

Nothing like leaving the Mile High City for a day trip into higher elevations. Sherman and I are lucky because we got to go skiing today at Copper Mountain. However, today means more to me than a get-away into the elevated parts of the state.

This day, the Thursday of Holy Week, is Maundy Thursday. So despite my post-skiing fatigue, I went to church tonight—and managed to keep open my eyes.

What a sight each year to watch our church’s third-graders walk barefoot up the aisle. Although the little boys wear suit jackets and ties while the girls wear dresses to commemorate the first communion meals they will receive, first they come to get their feet washed. The ministers wash the children’s feet, just as Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. It’s another one of those “first shall be last and last shall be first” teaching moments. The ceremony never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

Jesus, as God’s son, had every right to be elevated, yet he stooped to wash the very dusty feet of those whom he loved. By performing a job normally reserved for servants and slaves, he chose to be lowly or undignified—the opposite of elevated.

Jesus knows that his time on this earth has come to an end, yet what does he do? He serves those who ought to be serving him as he nears his hour of need.

When he washed my feet, he elevated me forevermore, even in those times when my feet are firmly planted in the valleys, with those mountaintop experiences nothing but distant memories.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

This season La Niña has given the Colorado Rockies both snow and wind—and the gifts just keep going, even though we are more than halfway through April. After reading predicted wind chill values below zero, Sherman and I hesitated about going skiing—but it was April 15 and the snow was still so good!

At the last minute we bypassed Loveland Ski area, as we saw how the wind was whipping the snow around—there are few trees for wind protection on the slopes we ski and the chairlifts are slow—and continued on toward Copper Mountain.

The wind still blew at Copper and the snow was probably not as deep, but the trees and swift chairlifts provided protection from the surprisingly bitter cold. But the snow was still so good—and, in time, the winds began to feel more spring-like.

What I noticed most, though, had little to do with the snow or weather conditions. No, for the first time this ski season, on this last ski day for me, I finally felt free. The backpack of obligations I’ve worn all season has slipped off.

True, I only skied once before Mom died, but by the time I returned to the slopes in February, our dog Fordham was in deep decline. And, as much as our family enjoyed our March ski trip, we had just lost him, too, and later that week would be saying our formal goodbyes to Uncle Carrell and Mom at their services.

I am no longer responsible for trying to help anyone be comfortable in the ravages of some horrible disease process. Life and death decisions are not part of daily concerns.

After you’ve watched someone suffer long enough, you know you have to let them go. In your heart you begin to wish for them to be free even though there’s not a thing that’s going to free them other than death and its separation from you.

Now that my grief is not quite so fresh and does not weigh heavily on every minute of my day, sometimes I can begin to remember them healthy and whole again.

Frankly, it is only in the last two weeks that I have started to feel some relief from whatever has been bogging me down physically during exercise since around the time my mom had to go into memory care.

You see, I seem to have two ways of responding to stress, depending on whether the stress is immediate or ongoing. When Christiana was in crisis, my appetite for food reduced, but my capacity for pushing my body physically increased. With Mom’s protracted decline, I did more stress-eating and felt drained more often than strong while exercising.

Yesterday, despite all the hard—at least in my mind and muscles—workouts I had this past week, my legs and lungs felt strong. I could forget about trying to stay up and keep going, and just turn more attention into form. Form and joy. I felt as if I were flying, something I haven’t felt at all this year on the slopes.

The snow was so good. And as it turns out, there wasn’t an ill wind, just one that added a lot of color to my cheeks and nose—and encouraged my return to flight.

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

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