Thursday, January 30, 2014

Happiness, Joy, Luck, etc.

My daughter, Rosie, loves gymnastics.  She's 9 years old and has been doing it since she was little.  Last year she decided to take it to the next level and joined the team at her gym.  She practices four hours a week and has just started competing in meets this year.  She plays other sports….soccer in the spring and fall and skiing in the winter; but gymnastics is undoubtedly her favorite.  You'll often see her doing cartwheels in the middle of a soccer game and she tends to use them, cartwheels that is, as a means of getting herself from point A to point B.  For a kid who has a hard time sitting still, I am in awe of her ability to get it together and focus when she gets to the gym.  Oddly, there is something about it that calms her, despite the fact that she's running and bouncing around all over the place.  I get it.  When I was a kid, I loved to run.  Like gymnastics does for Rosie, running always gave me the greatest thrill.  At the same time, it always was, and continues to be, a calming force in my life.  It makes me happy AND keeps me sane.  Go figure.  Last week Rosie had her first official meet.  She was incredibly composed.  I was not.  I did my best to hide it.  She ended up with a 4th place finish on the beam and a 5th place finish overall in her age group.  The surprise on her face when they announced her name was priceless.  Her joy was tangible.  Not just from receiving the awards, though.  From the minute she stepped on the floor and started her routine I could feel how happy she was to be out there.  That was pretty cool.

Later, as I looked through my pictures, I noticed that she'd had her fingers crossed throughout the awards ceremony (note how they remained crossed even after she received her trophy).  Enter the power of luck.  I knew it was her hard work and dedication that had gotten her up on that podium.   Deep down, she probably knew it, too.  But she believed in the magic.  And that's part of the whole package.  Even now, at age 39, I know there's a sprinkling of luck involved with every race I run.  And I gotta believe that it's that little element of surprise that keeps us coming back and helps us continue to find the joy in what we love.  My lesson of the day?  Have fun, work hard and always keep your fingers crossed.  Thanks, Rosie.

Listen to this:
Don't Wanna Dance - MØ  

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pass It On

When I dig around for new music, new meaning both new to me or newly released, I try and steer clear of the mainstream channels.  Whenever possible, I aim to unearth songs and bands that are off the beaten path, but that I think are worth a listen.  That said, I was more than thrilled that Daft Punk and Lordes took home grammy awards last night.  In my humble opinion, they are both pretty amazing.  And like their fellow musicians they, too, were once unknown.  So a big congrats to them.  Now back to my point.  Over the past couple weeks, I can't tell you how many times I've been listening to Spotify or Pandora and heard a band or song that has literally stopped me in my tracks.  My first thought tends to be, wow this is fantastic.  My second is usually, how is it possible that more people don't know about this music?  Don't get me wrong, I'm sure many of them have a solid following.  And their committed fans may not want these lesser known gems to be on the beaten path, so to speak.  But we can certainly spread the word in a grass roots manner to get more people listening, right?  Everyone needs to make a living.  I like to think that my efforts will help, if only a little.  This week, why not take a minute to spend some time listening to something new.  Listen while you're running.  While you're cooking.  While your driving.  While you're working.  Then listen again.  And if you still dig it, share it.  I'll start.  Here are the albums I've recently downloaded and spent some solid time with.  Pass it on.


Bright Moments - Natives

I Break Horses - Chiaroscuro 

NewVillager - NewVillager

Damien Jurado - Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Sun

Friday, January 24, 2014

TOO COLD, CONT. (anything for BACON)

Well, fellow runners and readers, I rarely post two days in a row.  Primarily because I don't have time and also because I don't want to bore you with too many stories.  But today, after my experience on the road, I feel like a little follow up to yesterday's post is necessary.  And, if I'm being completely honest here, I now have BACON on the brain (thanks a lot, PegLeg1983).  So, here's the low down:

TEMP: 5℉ (-9℉ w/ the windchill)
WORKOUT: 2 mi warm up, 8 x 400@5K race pace w/ 400 recovery, 2 mi cool down

Come hell or high water I was not going to do this workout on the dreadmill.  So, I bundled up, covered my exposed flesh with Vaseline, and headed out....again.  You can imagine my devastation when I got down to the track and it looked like this:

Nothing was happening on this puppy today (though I did give it the old college try).  What the hell was I going to do?  Here's where I get bonus points for the BACONATOR award; along with extra points for stupidity.  I took out my phone, removed my gloves, absorbed the shock of frozen fingers for a sec, downloaded the MAPMYRUN app, suffered from a bit more shock here, pressed "begin workout" and mapped out a 400 so I could do the workout on the road next to the track.  Talk about 'village crazy', RunningFire11.  Today, I wore that crown with pride.  But, still, I banged out those 400s like nobody's business.  It was me, the road, the trees, and 5 measly degrees. And NOTHING else.  Not even the squirrels.

I couldn't help but feel like and were talking about all 3 of us as they sang "We're gettin' dumb."  I'm pretty sure the Winchester policeman who drove by me and slowed down during my 4th repeat shared this sentiment.  I am proud to say I got every single 400 done.  I had to stop and tie my shoe once.  That was rough.  But otherwise, once my feet warmed up, it wasn't too terrible.  I cooled down faster than usual as I could not wait for the ridiculously large and expensive coffee that I would be purchasing for myself as a reward.  Here I am on my last turn before home:

That look is both elation and pain and maybe a little shell shock.  All I have to say is thank the LORD for music.  There is no way any of this was happening without it.  I got inside, shed my layers, put some new clothes on and got ready to head out.  I did take this last shot just to prove how insane this whole situation is.  Note the windburn (and shine from the vaseline).  Not the most attractive shot.  But, remember, I'm going for BACON here.

So there it is, folks.  The true story of a crazy, swine-obssessed runner who can't stand the treadmill and has officially gone off her rocker.  Thanks for listening.

Listen to this: (or whatever it is you need to get you through this weather)
Keep It Up - Blackbird Blackbird 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Too Cold: A Top 10 List

The display on my dashboard after my run yesterday:
Song...awesome.  Temp...not awesome.

When I woke up on Monday it was 6℉ (below zero with the windchill).  As previously mentioned, I typically do my long run on Monday, and I actually look forward to it, but in these temps, my motivation is not quite as high.  During the winter, I'll run inside on the dreadmill up to about 8 miles but that's about all I can mentally handle.  So, this past Monday, it was outside or bust.  After I dropped my girls off at school I came home and procrastinated; checked email, did a little laundry, brushed my teeth a second time; hoping the temp might rise a bit before I headed out.  At 9:30 it had reached 10℉ and I figured that was the best I was going to get.  Off I went.  Winter running is hard.  So is a lot of other things.  What are you gonna do?


1. You have to coat your face, ankles and any other exposed skin in vaseline for extra protection from the elements.
2. You run past a construction worker who gives you a confused look and asks what the hell you're doing. (yes, this happened Monday)
3. You start to feel a tingling sensation on random spots of your body mid-run.
4. You seek out hills because the extra effort will warm you up.
5. You're laces are too tight but decide it's too cold to take your gloves off and would be too difficult to fix them if you did.
6. You're hands turn white when you come inside.
7. You take a hot shower post-run but you can't warm up (or get out).
8. It's 2 hours later and you still can't get warm.
9. You want to hug the barista at Starbucks when she hands you your coffee.
10. You have a text message from a friend when you get back that says, "you didn't go, did you?"

And you smile because you did go.  You might be borderline nuts, but you don't care.  You are a runner and there is no off-season.

Listen to this:
Need You By My Side - The Sun Parade  


Coronado - Deerhunter   
off of Halycon Digest
(great song, great album)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Long Weekend

I love a good long week-end.  Thank you Martin, George, Abe, etc.  But, there are some drawbacks, too.  I can't go running on most Mondays that we have off due to the fact that my kids don't have school and my husband has to work.  I am programmed to run long on Mondays, both physically, and even more so mentally.  And when Monday rolls around and I can't lace up, I miss it.  It's not a complete freak out situation.  I do realize that not running is a pretty minor trade off for a mini-vacation and I don't sweat it too much. That said, when running is your (eh hmm) therapy, well, you know.  Another pro, though, is waking up and knowing it's a short week.  Oh how I love the short week.  First, you skip the regular Monday routine all together.  That's huge.  Then, everything is easier when Friday is that much closer.  It just is.  Take this morning, for example.  At 4:30, my 6 year old came into my room and wanted to discuss fairies, whether or not they are real and if they are, why she can't see them.  Not an easy one to answer, especially that early in the morning.  Two hours later, I headed downstairs, giddy for coffee, and ended up getting in a fight with my espresso machine.  On multiple levels.  First, I had to pick through my trash to find a missing part that I accidentally threw away last week.  That was not awesome.  After that didn't fix the problem, I had to start tinkering, unscrewing, poking and cleaning.  Normally, all of this would piss me off to no end and there would likely be some expletives involved.  But, not this morning.  I'm going to go out on a limb and give credit to the long week-end for my ability to deal.  Undoubtedly, I was a bit more relaxed than usual since I'd had the extra day off.  Then, on top of that, knowing I only have four more days of this morning routine, I was able to get myself through it without a total meltdown.  So, despite the cons, which are barely even cons when you break it down, it all works out pretty nicely in the end.  Long live the long week-end.

Listen to this:
Rich Doors - New Villager  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pajama Days


noun: 1.strong and barely controllable emotion.

Grace, outside in her pjs, at XX o'clock...
...on Saturday.
My six year old LOVES the week-end.  I get it.  Most of us do.  But I truly believe Grace likes this two day stretch more than most.  Me?  On the week-end, I like to get up, drink some coffee, and then maybe head out for a run or go skiing (if it's winter) followed or replaced by whatever else needs to get done depending on the urgency.  Grace?  On Saturday she likes to wake up and NOT get out of bed.  She tends to chill out for a while, sing a little, maybe snooze again or read a book or two.  She will eventually roll out of bed but continues to do whatever she can to draw out the morning.  She prefers to keep her pajamas on.  All day.  I don't always let her do this, but when I do, she'll say something later that night along the lines of, "See mom.  When you leave your pajamas on all day there's no rush to get ready for bed because you ARE ready for bed."  So smart, that Grace.  It's not that she doesn't like school or hanging with her buds.  She loves those things, too.  But nothing is as good as Saturday morning.  And she'd trade soccer for pajamas any day.  Every single morning we have the same discussion.  The only change in the below conversation is the day of the week and the number of days left until Saturday.  Here's how it goes.  Every day.  Monday through Friday.

Grace: Mom, do we have school today?
Me: Yes, Grace.  It's Wednesday.
Grace: Do we have school tomorrow?
Me: Yep. Tomorrow is Thursday
Grace: How about the day after tomorrow? (I kid you not, she keeps going)
Me: That's Friday.  You have school then, too.  The day after that is Saturday.
Grace: YES!!!! (here she genuinely celebrates despite the fact that Saturday is 4 days later than she'd hoped it was)

We all have our passions.  I am passionate about running and music.  Grace is passionate about lazy pajama days.  On Thursday night, she gets a little twinkle in her eye.  By Friday she's got a skip to her step and she's giddy.  I love it.  It's not the most typical passion for a 6 year old.  But it makes her so damn happy.  I've gotta believe (hope, pray) that she's not going to be 40 years old and still want to live, work and play in her pajamas.  But for now, she's doing something she loves every week and she does it really well.  I am doing my best to live by her example.

Listen to this:
Ages Places - Wildlife Control  

Monday, January 13, 2014


Ah, Monday.  Here I sit.  Again.  I'm not going to complain.  I will not have a case of the Mondays (easily one of my top 10 favorite movies of all time).  No, today I'm going to try and put a positive spin on this typically dreaded day of the week.  Please forgive my efforts to be bright and cheery if you are not one to embrace this day.  I'm not really either, but today I'm doing my best.  Happy Monday.


1. My girls are back in school which gives me more time to do lots of things.
2. Tomorrow is new music release day on iTunes.  New music = good mood.
3. I don't get to run on the week-ends during the winter because my family skies, so I'm eager to get back on the road by Monday.
4. Monday is also my "long run" day, which I happen to love.  For real.
5. My girls play soccer after school on Mondays.  This is nice for 2 reasons.  First, it's the ONLY activity they both can do together at the same time.  Second, it's really fun to zone out for an hour and watch them play.
6. Mondays I tend to hit Whole Foods.  I don't love to grocery shop, but I do enjoy this store, particularly their coffee bar.  Mike makes a mean latte.
7. I tend to check out from RWM during the week-end, and I get exited to plug back in on Monday.
8. We always have a newly taped TREME to watch on Monday night.
9. Only four more days until we head back up to NH to ski. (skiing is a close 2nd to running for me)
10. Sunday nights are much worse.

Listen to this:
The World is Spinning - Opus Orange  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Try Something

Last night my 9 year old got home from gymnastics at 8:00 and sat down for dinner with a scowl on her face.  I asked her what the problem was.  Her answer?  "I'm so cold.  It's so cold outside.  This house is so cold.  It's annoying."  Translation...I'm tired and feel like being mad at something and/or someone.  But, in fairness to her, she's right.  Our house is old and very drafty.  It's colder than most.  We have space heaters in our kitchen and our kids' bedrooms.  You'll often find us sporting hats and scarves, and in my kids' case, jackets, inside when the temperature really drops.  Case in point:
Rosie doing her homework 
Grace watching a show.
 It's not bad throughout the entire season, just when we get into the single digit territory, which has been often lately.  Winter is kind of rough in general.  Being cold and uncomfortable sucks.  It tends to put people in a bad mood.  What I didn't say to Rosie, but thought to myself, was suck it up Buttercup.  We've got three more months of winter so you might as well grin and bear it.  Instead, I put on some music and started dancing.  At first, she covered her hands with her face, clearly mortified.  But, I could see a smile forming through her fingers.  So, of course, I kept dancing.  She was still rolling her eyes at me but now she was laughing.  "Please stop, mom.  You're embarrassing me." (and so it begins at age 9, but that's a different post) "No way!" I yelled.  I started singing along, using my wooden spoon as a microphone.  Yes, I was fully aware of how ridiculous I looked.  But as you can guess, I could have cared less.  Rosie hopped off her stool and started dancing with me.  Both of us were laughing now.  The kitchen was no longer chilly.  It was down right hot.  Okay, maybe just warm, but still.  Two lessons here.  First, they say music warms the sole.  I'm going to have to agree with that one.  Second, sometimes all it takes is a little something - in this case music, dancing and a bit of humor - to turn a dour situation into something else.  And likely, something better.  Does it always work?  Ha! But when it does, it's incredibly satisfying.  Try music.  Try dancing.  Try something.

Listen to this:
Eleven - Thao & Mirah (feat. Tune-Yards)  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

RWM Daily Songs: 2014

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
~ Bob Marley

*Note: Scroll down to view and listen to this playlist w/ Spotify.

Come Alive - WE ARE TWIN 

Electric Love - BØRNS 

Glow - IYES  

No One Is Lost - Stars 

That Did It - Sleigh Bells (feat. Tink) 

Under Stars - AURORA

Even If I'm Loud It Doesn't Mean I'm Talking to You - Tove Styrke

On the Fence - Milo Greene

Borderline - Tove Styrke

Running with the Boys - Lights

Ride - TV on the Radio

Seeing Stars - BØRNS

Fly With U - Far East Movement

Vagabond - MisterWives 

I Bet My Life - Imagine Dragons 

Listen - The Kooks - NOVEMBER ALBUM

Level - Far East Movement - NOVEMBER SONG

Baby Don't Lie - Gwen Stefani

Echo - VÉRITÉ 

Heavy Metal Heart - Sky Ferreira 

Tidal Wave - SNOWMINE

10,000 Emerald Pools - BØRNS

You Haunt Me - Sir Sly  OCTOBER ALBUM

L.A.F. - Broods - OCTOBER SONG

Bad Habit - The Kooks

Thousand Miles - Tove Lo

Your House - Steel Pulse

All We Need - Odesza (feat. Shy Girls)

Middle of the Night - Vinyl Thief

From the Night - Stars

Miracle - Ghost Beach

Lights Out - Bishop Allen  SEPTEMBER ALBUM

Beggin for Thread - Banks - SEPTEMBER SONG

I Might Survive - Architecture in Helsinki 

Sweet Ophelia - Zella Day

Surrounded by Your Friends - Hooray For Earth

Walk This Way - Mø (Lido Remix) 

East of Eden - Zella Day  

Run-Time - Imogen Heap  

Strange Desire - Bleachers  AUGUST ALBUM

The House - Air Traffic Controller - AUGUST SONG

Static Lines - Creases

The Wyld - Odyssey

All - Blackbird Blackbird  

Left Hand Free - Alt J  

Ages Places - Wildlife Control  

Beware the Dog - The Griswolds  

Play It Right  - Sylvan Esso   - JULY SONG

So Long, See You Tomorrow - Bombay Bicycle Club     JULY ALBUM

Turn Up the Radio - OK Go  

Can't Do Without You - Caribou  

Stronger Than Ever (MJ Cole Remix) - Raleigh Ritchie  

Where We're Going - Dae  

Start Again  - Bishop Allen - JUNE SONG

I Never Learn - Lykke Li   JUNE ALBUM

Toothless Grin - Jinja Safari

No Rest For The Wicked - Lykke Li 

Keys - Hooray for Earth  

The Heart That I'm Hearing - Galantis  

Ten-Twenty-Ten - Generationals 

Champion - Donora  

Harder Before It Gets Easier - David Wax Museum  

Move - Pacific Air   - MAY SONG

Distraction - Bear Hands -  - MAY ALBUM

Run And Hide - Paris Carney (feat. D-WHY)  

Don't You Give Up On Me - Milo Greene  

Embrace - Goldroom  

Keep On Running - Andy Bull  

Happy - Robert DeLong  

White Lies - Max Frost  

Big Deal - Dream Machines    

XXX 88 - MØ (feat. Diplo)  

Water Fountain  - Tune-Yards   - APRIL SONG

Sweet Dissaray - Dan Kroll   - APRIL ALBUM

Lanterns - Birds of Tokyo  

You Know Me - Air Traffic Controller  

Don't Wait - Mapei  

Somebody Loves You - Betty Who  

Kick - Colour Coding  

Cruel City - Augustines  

Compliment Your Soul - Dan Croll  

Start A Riot - Jetta  

Coattails - Broods   - MARCH SONG  

Voices - Phantogram   - MARCH ALBUM  

Gotta Get Thru This - Daniel Bedingfield  

Pretty Things - Broods  

Cold War - The Morning Benders  

Skeletons - Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.  

Bird On A Wire - Rogue Wave  

As I Lay My Head Down - Other Lives  

Elastic Heart - Sia (ft. the Weeknd & Diplo)  

Young Hearts - Strange Talk  

Lonesome Dreams (album) - Lord Huron  

Tourists - Bright Moments - FEBRUARY SONG  

Chiaroscuro - I Break Horses FEBRUARY ALBUM  

Don't Wanna Dance - MØ  

Keep It Up - Blackbird Blackbird    

Need You By My Side - The Sun Parade  

Coronado - Deerhunter   

Rich Doors - New Villager   

Ages Places - Wildlife Control  

The World Is Spinning - Opus Orange   

Eleven - Thao & Mirah (feat. Tune-Yards)  

Grizzly Bear - Will Calls (Diplo Remix)

Black Magic - Magic Wands  

Unique In Its Madness - of Verona  

Will Calls - Grizzly Bear (Diplo Remix) - JANUARY SONG

Wildewoman - Lucius  - JANUARY ALBUM'


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Monday, January 6, 2014

January "To Do"s

After a ridiculously crazy December, from the standpoint of both the holidays and the flooded rental house drama, the dust is finally settling into the month of January.  Hallelujah.  I've gotten one run in since 12/26 so, as you'd imagine, I am chomping at the bit to get back out on the road.  This will require several tweaks in my so-called "festive" lifestyle.  Earlier to bed.  Earlier to rise.  Fewer spirits, of the liquid assortment.  More whole grains.  Less time on the couch.  More time on the road.  As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that while I'm planning to tackle this list in January, several of these items will be on there all year long.  They aren't really resolutions, per say, just things I'd like to do more of on a more consistent basis.  To me, that sounds easier to process.  And without a definitive date attached, I am more likely to succeed.  Right??  So, here's to a new month and a new year.  Onward and upward.

JANUARY (& 2014) 'TO DO's:
1. Drink less wine and more NUUN
2. Start training for the Shamrock 1/2 Marathon and Boston Marathon
3. Go see some live has been WAY too long
4. Go watch the LHS ladies run at an indoor track meet
5. Purchase nothing for myself or my kids unless it is a basic need....Santa is officially on break
6. Meet up with some Loopsters and Oiselle team birds
7. Do more yoga
8. Trust my instincts
9. Stress less
10. Smile more

Will Calls - Grizzly Bear (Diplo Remix)

Wildewoman: Lucius

Friday, January 3, 2014

Here's To Adventure

"The most difficult situations always make the best stories."  
~ A. Ladd

Our experience last week (click for story) could be described in two ways.  According to my children, it was the ultimate winter vacation adventure.  Skiing, sleeping in a house and then 2 different hotels, eating out every night with their cousins, staying up late (because they were sharing a room with mom and dad).  Totally awesome in every way.  According to me and my husband, it was the most stressful, chaotic and expensive winter vacation for all the same reasons.  So, not ideal, but not a total wash either.  As I mentioned, we ended up heading home earlier than planned because Jeff and I couldn't handle another night in the 'hot tub time machine' cabin, much to my girls' chagrin.  For 2 days we slept in our own beds, cooked our own meals and wore clean clothes.  Sweet relief.  I even managed to squeeze in a 45 minute run, my first of the new year.  YES!  And then?  Well, then dear, sweet Mother Nature decided to start the year off with a bang and threw down a nor'easter of epic proportions.  For real.  After our week from hell (or heaven, depending on who you ask) one might think we'd all want to curl up on the couch and hunker down in the storm with a good book and a hot drink.  Not a chance.  On Thursday morning, we ate some cheerios, drank some coffee, hopped in the car and headed back up to NH before the storm got so treacherous that we couldn't travel.  School was canceled and the snow was piling up.  We were going skiing.  As predicted, the driving conditions were horrendous.  Thank heavens for Spotify and iPods.  This one was a nail biter.  Our second in less than 2 weeks.  Okay, it does kind of feel like we are turning into the Griswolds of the classic movie series, Vacation.  For some odd reason, we continue to travel from one place to the next followed, much like Clark and his family was, by the constant flow of chaos.  If that makes me Beverly D'Angelo, so be it.  We are who we are.  What I'm starting to realize, is that my choices in life mirror my choices in running.  I am constantly seeking out that next great adventure on the road, knowing that it will undoubtedly be accompanied by all sorts of chaos, both good and bad.  But that's the thing.  It's the chaos, along with the discomfort, the challenge, and the uncertainty that makes each one great in its own way.  Most of them are crazy enough for a good story and all of them are good enough to keep me coming back for more.  So, here's to adventure...on the road and in life.  May they never end.

Listen to this:
Black Magic - Magic Wands

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


"Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties."
~ Helen Keller

The day after Christmas I emailed my coach and told him I needed a little break from running.  I was burnt out, both physically and mentally, and I needed to recharge my batteries.  At the minimum, I planned to take the school break off and just relax and ski with my family.  He agreed that a little running hiatus would be a good thing and that the timing was perfect as I would need to pick back up in January in preparation for Boston.  Done and done.  That same day, as we were packing to head up to NH for the week, we got an email from the woman who owns the house we rent for the winter season.  She let us know that the dishwasher had been leaking due to a broken gasket and as result the basement had flooded.  Her words, "It's not good".  Awesome.  Once we confirmed that most of our ski stuff had made it out safely and that the house was 'relatively' cleaned up and in the process of drying, we proceeded as planned.  All 9 of us.  My brother and sister in law, their 3 kids (along with their 2 guinea pigs and dog, Huckle) would be following behind us, and were planning to stay with us for 3-4 days.  All of us were giddy.  We arrived that night to a very damp house with a ripped up basement, wet carpets in the living room and a warped kitchen floor.  Not ideal, but we were willing to roll with it.  The owner told us that a clean up crew would be in the next day to continue working on the house but not to worry about it from our end.  Fine by us as long as we had a house to come home to.  Ah ha ha ha ha ha.  On Friday morning we were all out the door by 8:30am, excluding the animals, of course.  At about 10:00am, my husband and I ran into our neighbor, who is also a handy man and had been helping out over at our rental.  As we rode up on the chairlift together, he let us know that he'd just left our house and that the clean up crew was in the process of completely stripping both the basement and the first floor, all of them sporting hazmat suits due to the high amounts of mold, and that, in his opinion, there was no chance in hell we were getting back into the house for the rest of the week.

------------> Insert freak out and many, MANY, bad words here.  

Turns out, he was right. Not only could we not get back into the house that night.  We were likely not going to be able to get back in for weeks, if at all.  The work crew had packed up the whole house, both the owners' belongings and ours, and thrown it all in boxes for us to sort out.  As my 9 year old likes to say, OMG.  We had 9 people, 2 dogs and 2 guinea pigs and nowhere to go.  Literally.  My husband and I started scrambling like crazy people; calling every realtor within a 30 mile radius to find a new rental for the season and calling every hotel within a 10 mile radius to find rooms that would take both families and all of our pets.  (yes, I do realize the pet situation, particularly the fact that we were traveling with 2 guinea pigs, is quite humorous).  Here's how the next few days played out:

~ My family put everything we owned into our 2 cars and then moved the essentials into a bed and breakfast that evening.  It was a lovely inn but...the bedrooms were big enough for the bed and my husband's ski boots.  And that was it.  We had to share the bathrooms with our new neighbors.  All of them.  And we had to carry our 12 year old, 60 pound lab up the stairs because they were too steep for her to manage on her own.  Breakfast was really good, though.  Really good.

~ My bro and sis-in-law, their kids and pets moved into a different hotel around the bend from us.  Not ideal, given they were hoping to save cash on this vacation by staying with us and instead had to pony up for the skiing, the hotel rooms and all their meals.  They were unbelievable sports about the whole thing.  

~ Two days later, my family moved into a different hotel where we had a little more space on account of the fact that it was our own little cottage instead of a single room.  This was also a lovely place, though it felt as though we had jumped through the hot tub time machine when we entered the room and that Austin Powers was going to disco his way out of the closet at any moment.  We were so happy to have the extra space that we barely noticed the brown velour coverlets and beaded curtains.

~ On New Year's Eve my husband and kids went off to the mountain and I spent the morning at the rental, combing through the boxes and doing my best to sort out and pack up our stuff.  I danced around the guys in the hazmat suits and gas masks, zipping and unzipping the plastic to get from room to room.  It was very bizarre.  And I was a little concerned that I wasn't wearing a suit myself.

Each morning, throughout the entire adventure, I would have to drive up to the top of a hill to get cell phone service in order to reach my dog walker.  Our hotel let us have dogs, but they couldn't be alone in the room.  Of course.  Our walker, bless her, took Lucy all day for four days in a row.  Lucy went on a food strike on day three and refused to look at us.  I'm pretty sure she's still mad.  Finally, instead of spending New Year's Eve up in New Hampshire with our friends, we bowed out and went back home to Winchester.  We had slept in 3 different beds, lived out of the trunks of our cars, given away all of our food and eaten in restaurants every night due to our lack of kitchen, freaked out our dog, kicked my in-laws out of the house we had invited them to and gotten little, if any sleep along the way.  We needed to re-set.

Last night we ordered pizza, drank some wine, toasted to the New Year and went to bed at 10:00.  Best night EVER.  The silver lining in all of this?  Well, there were a few.
1. My kids (ages 6 and 9) had a BLAST and thought it was the "funnest" vacation they'd ever had.
2. Every single one of our friends along with many total strangers stepped up to help us out however they could when they heard about our situation.
3. We still managed to have a good time despite the chaos.
4. We met some really cool people along the way.

As planned, I didn't get a single run in.  I didn't relax and enjoy myself, either.  It was an incredibly stressful week and though there were pockets of fun, if I'm being honest here, I had a hard time getting through it all.  That said, it could have been much worse.  Today is a new day.  A new year, actually.  And we are already off to a really good start.  My resolution?  I am resolving to keep happy.  It's the only way.

Listen to this:
Unique In Its Madness - of Verona