Archive | December, 2015

2015 in review

31 Dec

What a whirlwind of a year.  Some of my favorite points of the year:

  1.  Finishing my first 50 miler.  Glad I got to do Virgil before it was ended.  It was tough, but I had a great day and raced well.

    Couldn't scream...or do anything else except hold back tears of joy and pride until I was safely in Eric's arms.

    Couldn’t scream…or do anything else except hold back tears of joy and pride until I was safely in Eric’s arms.

  2. A huge 45 minute PR at Mendon just a few weeks after the 50 miler.  In retrospect, I’d probably not sign up for ultras so close together.  Then again, every time you do one, it gets a little easier…muscle memory and all that jazz…
  3. Salsa lessons with my love.  The perfect surprise gift from Eric.  We had a lot of laughs and even learned a little somethin somethin!
  4. Hosting some cycling races.  This was a new challenge for us, and there was literally blood, sweat and tears put into both the Fat Bike race and the Crit.  But they both went well overall.  I’m not sure cycling races are something we’ll ever do again, but never say never.  If anything, I think we’d stick to fat bike races–fatty lyfestyle rocks.
  5. Our annual anniversary trip to the mountains.  Eric was injured, we were both recovering from bad doctor news, it was just the two of us, hiking, climbing mountains, paddling, swimming, playing in nature.  And of course summiting Snowy Mountain and eating pizza afterwards is the best way to spend an anniversary.<3 him, <3 the mountains, and <3 cold mountain water

    on a family adventure!

    on a family adventure!

  6. Mighty Mosquito.  I am super proud of #TrailsRoc and what it has become.  But taking on a relay race/ultra seemed daunting to say the least.  It ended up being perfect.  I was so proud that day, so full of love for this amazing community that we get to be a part of.
  7. Camping in Ithaca.  We got to camp down at Buttermilk/Treman twice this year, once alone and once with friends.  I love it there–the trails are gorgeous.  CT50 is my next adventure, and I am excited to spend a day traversing some tough terrain but seeing all the beauty that area has to offer.

    swim in waterfalls to cool off and relax.

    swim in waterfalls to cool off and relax.

  8. A trail marathon at Letchworth, followed by a backpacking adventure, followed by some cheerleader-ing.  I never would have thought I would rock out with consistent 45-70 mile weeks, but I did for a couple of months this summer.
    mobile aid station stop for some food and drink refills!

    mobile aid station stop for some food and drink refills!

    the best crew a girl could ask for

    the best crew a girl could ask for

  9. Our annual Placid Christmas trip–hiking, new breweries, hot tubbing, opening presents early, climbing another 46er.  Good times, fun had by all.

    Christmas eve sunrise on a mountaintop. Can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be.

    Christmas eve sunrise on a mountaintop. Can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

  10. Applying to become foster parents.  We have no idea where this will lead, but we are excited to be able to open our home and our hearts to some kids who need it most.

 

Looking ahead to 2016, we have some big plans.

  1. My main running focus for the next few months is to race Cayuga Trails 50.   Another challenging race, but covering some seriously beautiful trail.  We’ve aid stationed for this one for years…and it’s been playing on my mind every time…what would it be like to go the distance here?  About to find out this year!
  2. Tupper Triad (possibly this winter?)
  3. Saranac 6er (ultra style of course)
  4. More 46er peaks
  5. Finalizing plans for Many on the Genny, our latest and (perhaps) greatest race idea yet!  It’s been 4 or so years in the making, and we are beyond excited to see it come to fruition.
  6. Fostering.
  7. Loving.
  8. Laughing.
  9. Living.

 

For all of you who helped make 2015 a special year, THANK YOU!  We’ll see you in 2016 for another great one!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to do better at

 

Advertisements

2nd Annual Christmas in Lake Placid

28 Dec

The short version of our trip:  It was perfect, we climbed, we hiked, we chilled in a hot tub, we went to some breweries, we met awesome people.  No words or pictures will ever do justice to the vibrancy of the colors, the smell of clean mountain air, or the feeling of being so small and content.

 

The long version of our trip:

 

We headed out on Wednesday, thinking we might hit an easy trail for a little run when we checked into the hotel.  It was very overcast and therefore started getting dark even earlier than the already-t00-early-sunsets this time of the year, and Eric didn’t have a head lamp.  In a serendipitous moment, we drove by a small brewery in Tupper Lake.  We made a U-turn in a church parking lot and pulled into the Raquette River Brewery.  We chatted with one of the brewmasters while sampling amazing beer.  No joke–I liked every single one we tried.  The guy was super cool.  They have a huge fire pit area outside and in the summer they do live music and have a bbq food truck, too.  We will be back.  You should go, too.

adk

We checked into the hotel room, which was kind of weird.  The place we stayed last year (was pretty nice…use it if you can) no longer accepts dogs, and we really wanted a hotel with a pool/hot tub, but also didn’t want to spend a lot (we are used to camping…getting a hotel room is a splurge that we don’t love making to be honest–more than once I actually said I wished we’d just camped since it was so warm haha).  We ended up booking a different one.  The room was ok (nothing special…but alright…we aren’t ever there for long because there’s too much else to do and see to waste time in a hotel room).  The hot tub and pool area were disgusting.  We’re talking paint peeling, ants crawling everywhere, stuff in the bottom of the pool, and no jets in the hot tub.  This of course didn’t stop us from using it (it almost did, but then I realized that normally when we’re in the ADK, I’m swimming in a lake with god only knows what, and as Eric pointed out, this pool clearly had a lot of chemicals in it so it was at least “clean” water).  We will not be staying here again, though (unless they update their pool area).

sign from the pool area...pretty sure it hasn't been updated since the sign was put up in 1980...

sign from the pool area…pretty sure it hasn’t been updated since the sign was put up in 1980…

 

We decided to head out to grab dinner at a pizza place called Bacci’s in downtown Placid.  Then we swung by the Lake Placid Brewery for a quick Ubu ale.  We got “home” and went to bed relatively early because we were going to get up early the next day to try to make it a 3-peak day.

 

For the report on climbing Porter, go here.  It was a great climb, super warm, and relatively easy.  At the top, there were very clearly storms moving into the area (the cool thing about being up so high–you can see stuff like that), so we headed back down to try to beat the rain.

 

We started to drive toward the ADK Loj and Street and Nye, and it began to pour.  Yikes.  We discussed our next move while driving around the ADK Loj and made the decision to skip Street and Nye this time.  It had been so wet and muddy and slick on Porter, we didn’t want to chance getting hurt or not being able to finish before it got dark (that lack-of-headlamp was coming back to bite us haha).  Better to be safe than sorry.  As we’d been driving toward the loj, we had seen a trailhead sign pointing down a closed-off seasonal road.  It was a trail to South Meadows and the Marcy Dam.  We decided to try it out since it was still early and from what little we could find online, it seemed this trail was about 3-4 miles long, but pretty flat, which meant we’d be able to make good time on it.

Picasso earned a trail name: Tour Guide, or TG, since he's always out front leading the way haha

Picasso earned a trail name: Tour Guide, or TG, since he’s always out front leading the way haha

It ended up being a great find!  The seasonal road led to a trailhead and register about 3/4 mile in, and then the trail was another 3ish miles to get to the dam.  It was well-worth the hike, which was over gently rolling hills and across some pretty creeks.  We chatted as we hiked and made it to the dam to find STUNNING views.  As soon as we got there, I didn’t want to leave.  It felt other-worldly.  There was one other family there, they were very nice, we chatted for a bit, and then we headed back to the car.

one of many creek crossings

one of many creek crossings

simply stunning

simply stunning

my favorite guys

my favorite guys

some of the pretty trail heading toward the dam

some of the pretty trail heading toward the dam

I had packed stuff to make crock-pot beef stew for Christmas Eve dinner, but we were starving and it was about 2:30.  On our way back to the hotel, we made a stop-off at the Lake Placid Brewery again for a quick snack (their mac n cheese is AMAZING fwiw).  We got back to the hotel, I prepped dinner, Eric gave the dog a bath, we opened Christmas presents and then headed back to the hot tub.  The rest of the night we just chilled, watched Christmas movies and drank in bed.  Relaxation at its finest.

 

The next morning, we had decided to check out the Peninsula Nature Trails.  I had read that they were very pretty, easy, great trails for running.  We figured we could hit up the trails for a quick run before heading back to Rochester.  We ran for about a mile before deciding to hike because a. the trails were EXTREMELY technical–a broken ankle waiting to happen and b. I kept stopping every 2 minutes because I’d seen something else beautiful and wanted to take a picture.  We did about 3 miles, checked out the views of Lake Placid and the Placid Dam, and then headed back to the car.

adk5

adk4

Runnnnn!!!

Runnnnn!!!

I think it’s safe to say that this is a tradition that’s here to stay.  Eric and I don’t really like the commercialized, stressed-out feeling of “normal” Christmas, so this version of Christmas suits us both much better.  I am already itching to go back and climb more.  Everyone you meet in Placid is always so friendly and interested in the same things Eric and I love to do.  There are so many beautiful trails–everywhere we go, I think we can’t find anything more beautiful, but then we do.  We spent a lot of time this trip talking about how much we’d love to live in Placid or the ADK, how there’d be a different trail to hike or run every day, how everything everywhere is so pretty.  It’s incredible.  I am already counting down til we can get back there to do some more exploring!!

Porter Mountain

28 Dec

In keeping with our new Christmas tradition, Eric, Picasso and I headed up to Lake Placid for Christmas 2015.

 

On Christmas Eve morning, we got up, packed up, and headed out to the trail head for Cascade/Porter Mountains.  Last year’s plan had been to hike them both together, but I tore up my heels in new winter boots, so we called it quits after Cascade.  This year was all about unfinished business.  We also planned to knock off Street and Nye, which is why we were up and at the trail head at 7 am.

 

It was barely light when we got started.  We had packed our Hillsounds (kind of like Kahtoolas) and also some heavy duty crampons, fully anticipating ice at the top of the mountain.  We saw very little and ended up hiking in just our trail sneakers.  It was 60-something degrees and 80% humidity, so we ended up ditching jackets pretty early on in the climb.  Up, up, up we went.

adk4

Re-reading my blog post from last year, I have to laugh–the trail is pretty steep in places, but every year I get stronger, and I know because this year the hike didn’t feel too terrible.  Every time I started feeling less excited about climbing, we’d hit a nice “catch-your-breath” section of easy climb or flat or at least no more giant boulders.  When you have short stubby legs like me, those big boulders kill you.

adk3

While the trail wasn’t slippery from ice, it was extremely slick from mud and melted ice/snow.  We were often in ankle-deep mud puddles, and I was so thankful to be rocking my Columbia Out-Dries.  My feet stayed completely dry and safe, and I had zero blister issues this year!!! Hooray!!!  The mud was slippery, brownie-batter mud in places, and the slide marks from hikers before us were evident.  I almost fell a couple of times, too, but managed to stay upright thanks in large part to my hiking poles (and also my lightening quick reflexes).

lotta this..

lotta this..

At the split for the two mountains, we began a descent in a waterfall (so this is why they call it cascade mountain).  It was very steep and very slick and there were patches of ice.  I started to think about what would happen if one of us broke something here, if we’d be able to get back down without needing an emergency rescue.  We descended for probably a quarter mile, but it took 30 minutes (this may be exaggeration–it felt like it took forever–I toned down my hyperbole) because we were being careful to pick good footing and not get hurt.  Then we began to ascend again.  The summit was kind of a let-down in my opinion.  It’s not very big like some of the other mountains we’ve climbed.  We were able, though, to see a beautiful sunrise before we descended.

the sunrise made for some pretty spectacular pictures!

the sunrise made for some pretty spectacular pictures!

our little family

our little family

As we were going down, we realized we hadn’t seen anyone.  We finally started seeing some families about a mile from the cars and enjoyed playing “Will They Make It?”  (Me: Oh for sure.  Eric: Not a chance. She’s got on fuzzy Uggs, Shme).  Everyone we saw was very pleasant.  At the car, we had a quick snack and talked for a bit with a guy who was getting ready to head up.

 

This hike (and Cascade) is a pretty easy one if you’re looking for a good one to start with.

 

To read about the rest of the Christmas adventure, go here.

some random thoughts from a quiet run

20 Dec

Tonight, as I was cruising through Durand on a nice little spin (because I felt guilty for not having run today and I had tried to go to the store to get some last minute gifts for Eric and left the store after about 5 minutes of stress looking at all the people and all the stuff), I came across some women hiking.  They were all in long black robe-dresses, and one of them had a pentagon  necklace, and for some reason I immediately was like, “Oh.  Wiccans. How weird.”  I have no idea if they were Wiccans, but in the moment, those were my thoughts.  As I ran away (after a brief, pleasant conversation), I started thinking about how religion itself is weird, and all religions are really just “cults,” but some are more accepted cults than others. Again, my language nerd thing came to play and I was thinking about how cult has such a negative connotation when in reality it’s not a bad thing necessarily–until you start asking people to drink the Kool-Aid or something…  I thought about how if I had to say what my religion is, I’d say “trail church.”  And a lot of people think it’s weird.  That it’s unhealthy.  That I need to stop.  And I hate being judged for what makes me feel good better than almost anything else out there.  And then I realized that I shouldn’t need to think Wiccans are weird, because that was doing to them what I hate that some people do to me.  I don’t know if I’m expressing that correctly or not…but yeah…religion.  Man, it’s some weird shit.

 

I like running for many things, friendships and sharing things with others is one of them.  But sometimes it’s nice to get out by yourself and just be.  It’s like some weird form of moving meditation (in fact, there are people who teach that).  When I’m running alone, the deep thoughts can be pretty awesome…or really weird.  So here are some of my other deep thoughts from this run:

  1.  There is so much trail to discover.  Eric and I went on a mission to find a trail at Durand that is listed on some maps, and while we were unsuccessful in THAT endeavor, we instead discovered some OTHER new (to us) trail.  This evening, I set out to see if I could link the new stuff and found ADDITIONAL new (to me) trail.  I was so excited the whole time I was out cruising around it.  Gorgeous.

    cool new trail, PLUS a ginormous tree to climb. what's not to love about that?

    cool new trail, PLUS a ginormous tree to climb. what’s not to love about that?

  2. Durand has a whole lotta trail.  I’ve got a 10 mile out-and-back/loop (some sections are loop, some are out-and-back) that Liz, Eric and I created during Dirty German training.  That doesn’t include any of the new stuff I’ve found since then, so I’m guessing it could get stretched to probably a 12ish mile loop with limited repeats of trail.  It is by far my favorite place to run/hike/be.  I. Love. Durand.  I wish the county would take better care of the trails, because they are the best the county has to offer–wetlands, swamp, trail next to lakes, ridgelines, awesome climbs, beautiful forest.  Luckily, #TrailsRoc is taking care of it.
  3. New trail-running game: how far away from my car can I go and still make it off the trail before it gets dark?  Every time I’d hit a juncture, I’d think about which way I was going to go, how much farther from the car that would take me, and if I could realistically make it back before it got dark.  Legit focus and thought required.
  4. Strava needs to stop “smoothing” my elevation out.  According to my Epson watch (which is super accurate because of–insert tech speak here), I ran 6.5 miles with 980 feet of elevation gain–considering I wasn’t trying to get any elevation (minus the stair climb repeats at the end…see below), that’s pretty impressive.  I didn’t even hit any of the major climbs of the park except for Snake Hill, which I only ran once.  According to Strava, 502 feet of elevation gain.  This is a consistent trend I am noticing–Strava says I ran about half the elevation that I actually did.  I ran the same stair climb repeats today, but on Strava’s elevation profile, it looks like I ran completely different climbs.  Strange.  Kinda lame.
  5. Am I the only one who comes across these weird purple tree/plant things and thinks I’m in a real-life version of Frozen????  They’re at Durand, but also at Powder Mills (I’m sure other parks, too, but these are the ones where I KNOW I’ve seen them).  Super cool looking.  Does anyone know what they are??? Because I think I’m interested in getting some for our garden.

    what are these things?? My camera doesn't do them justice--super purple. super cool.

    what are these things?? My camera doesn’t do them justice–super purple. super cool.

  6. How many times do you need to run up the stairs, around White Lady’s Castle, and back down again to get to 1 mile???? durand 3  I don’t know actually.  Because I lost count, but I think it was about 7.  I was going to quit about halfway through because I kept thinking about how ridiculous it was to run in circles.  Except that I wanted to count the stairs but kept thinking about life and forgetting to actually, ya know, COUNT the stairs, so then I’d have to circle around the castle and do it again.  Around the 5th or 6th time, I counted.  There are 52.  I’m sure I could have found this information on The Internets.  From now on, this stair climb repeat will be called “Deck of Cards.”  Trying to work in more stair climb repeats in anticipation of crushing through CT50 this spring.
  7. I decided to end my run going down to the beach–I wish I’d gone farther out and then come back because it was gorgeous down there today.  I even saw some people who had just gotten engaged taking pictures with their friends, which brought back great memories of getting engaged to Eric, which made me smile my way through the end of my run.  I can’t believe this is less than a week from Christmas and I was on the beach.  I even ran in the water, which was deliciously cold.  Because why not???
heaven on earth?

heaven on earth?

So that’s that.  It’s almost Christmas.  I ran through Lake Ontario today, on the beach and over amazing trail.  My one regret from the evening run was that Eric was not with me, because every time I’m on trails or see something amazing, I always wish for him to be there with me.  Thankful to have a partner who loves to adventure in the woods as much as more than me.  Next adventure: the ADK!

Korima

17 Dec

Last week, we saw Run Free, a movie about Caballo Blanco (real name Micah True, but with a name like Caballo Blanco….well then again, Micah True is a pretty cool name, too).  Caballo Blanco was a man who lived much of his life in the Copper Canyons of Mexico among the Raramuri (the running people), training and living and loving with them.  The story itself is fascinating and inspirational–one about bucking the system and living authentically, being who you really are and finding other people who become your tribe, people who can accept you for you, even though there are parts of you that may be weird, even unlovable.  I loved the movie–while it obviously focused tremendously on running and ultras, so much of it was also about life, about being thankful for what you have, about sharing those gifts and joys with the world.  In fact, if I had to share the main point, I think it might just be that the purpose of life should be to share what you have with the world–whatever gifts you’ve been given (because we have all been given SOMETHING) we need to share them.

 

One of the things that stood out to me the most was when Caballo talked about “korima,” the native word for giving without expecting anything in return.  “Well duh,” I thought, “of course you give without expecting anything in return.”  But then he told a story of how he went down to the Copper Canyons with a truck full of coats and sweaters to donate.  Every morning, he’d wake up to find food outside of the truck he was sleeping in.  He never knew who was bringing it.  He didn’t know who to thank.  The person or people doing it didn’t do it for the thanks.  They just did it because it was the right thing to do–they had extra, someone else had nothing, so they gave away what little extra they had.  And that’s when I realized korima is a concept that’s pretty foreign to me and I think probably to most of us.  Because even if I physically expect nothing, when I don’t at least get a verbal thank you, I often find myself annoyed.  But in Raramuri tradition, giving is only pure when you expect literally NOTHING–no actions, no gifts, but more importantly no WORDS in return.  And that is a truly beautiful concept.

 

But the more I think about it, the more I don’t think it can truly exist.  Because even when you aren’t “getting” something, you always “get” something from doing the right thing.  Even Caballo “got” something in return–the love and devotion of a community who ran with him, who searched for him when he disappeared, who mourned for him when he was found dead, who still run a race (unofficially) through drug-cartel territory because it’s tradition, it’s to honor his memory.  Because even when the things you get aren’t physical, you still “get” things in return for doing good things.  And really those non-physical things are usually way better than anything physical anyway.

 

Eric and I have decided to move forward with the fostering certification process for unaccompanied refugee minors (or URMs).  We attended a meeting, got all of the paperwork, and we’ve already begun discussing how we can rearrange our house and our lives to meet the needs of children who are coming to us from a refugee camp after potentially seeing and experiencing all different kinds of traumas, most of which we can’t even imagine–sexual abuse, labor exploitation, unspeakable violence and uncertainty that no child (or adult really) should ever have to deal with.

 

We never even considered this option until about 2 or 3 weeks ago.  We wanted to open our home to a family.  We didn’t think about the possibility of fostering refugees.  We actually didn’t even know that it WAS a possibility until we got an email asking if we’d consider it.  But as soon as we read that email, it really seemed like a no-brainer.  At this point, fostering is not about us.  I know some people are thinking this is a way for us to solve our infertility problems and build our family.  And in some ways, yes I suppose there is a little truth in that.  Having kids around here would be pretty cool.  But in reality, it’s not as simple as that.

 

These kids will never be ours to keep. We will never have the opportunity to adopt them and make them legally our children.  Because of where they come from and the uncertainty of their home countries (meaning they could have other relatives or even parents still alive back home), they will never be adoptable.  They will be eligible to stay with us until they turn 18 (and they sign themselves out of care) or 21 (if things are going well, we can have them until then).  They will get phone cards to call home if they have family there.  I didn’t think to ask at our meeting, but I’m sure if they wanted to go back home and there was a family member there to care for them, they could leave to go back home prior to turning 18.  With fostering, the goal is always reunification of the family when it’s safe for the child(ren).  So they will be “ours” but not entirely ours.  They will probably never call us mom and dad (last night we were discussing what they’d call us actually).  In some ways, I say who cares?  “Traditional” is not necessarily something that really matters to us.  And yet there’s something kind of sad/scary about the uncertainty of raising kids who may never consider us mom and dad, who may choose at 18 (or even before that if family is located) to leave and never come back again.  Do I think that’s the reality of what will happen?  Not necessarily.  Even though the concept of “parent” will be more complex than having a biological kid or even adopting a young child, I still think we will likely form bonds that are deeper than just “thanks for housing me for a few years.”  But we’ve talked about how the ultimate goal with fostering is family reunification, how if after a few years with us family showed up, we’d be happy that “our” kids were back with their families, that we’d have been able to keep them safe and healthy for their families for the time being.  This is what fostering is all about.  It’s not about what WE need.  It’s about what THEY need.

 

Don’t get me wrong here.  They will be our children in OUR minds.  At the meeting, the woman was talking about respite care–about how if we are taking a family vacation or have to travel because a family member dies, the kids can go stay with a respite care family until we can take them again.  And my first thought was, “What the hell? Aren’t they supposed to be part of the family?? So they go with us on vacations??? They know our families, so if someone dies, they come with us???”  As we left the meeting, that was one of the first thing we discussed–we both had that same reaction of “wait…they are part of our family, why wouldn’t they do ‘family’ stuff with us???”  We are both willing to have kids here who are welcomed, 100% as part of our family.  And I am really excited for that potential, for them, for us, for our family and friends who will get to meet what I am sure will be some incredible kids.

 

But I am still sad to miss out on things like watching the little-kids-discover-stuff phase (although I’d imagine young adults coming from places with so little will have plenty to discover here).  I zip about a hundred coats every day (ok, so more like 20) before dismissal and sometimes get sad that I may never zip MY kids coat (because as young adults I would think that they are able to zip their own coats, although if they can’t, I will do it for them).  We will not get to raise young children like “normal” parents.  Most likely we’ll have older kids–the kids who come are almost always teenagers, often older teens.  Teenage kids will be cool in some ways, but we are still missing out on the experience of parenting little kids.

 

And all of these things are ok.  Because this is not about us.  This is ultimately about humans who need something that we can provide.  It’s about giving someone an opportunity, just like a family gave my grandparents an opportunity 60(ish) years ago.

 

We would be lying if we said that taking on foster refugee kids was korima.  We will be getting a ton out of it.  Kids.  A type of parenting experience.  Learning about new cultures and sharing our own (and I am SUPER excited about that–other cultures are fascinating to me).  It will be challenging, no doubt, but also incredibly fun and rewarding (so ya know…like “real” parenting haha).

 

But that is not why Eric and I are doing any of this.  We didn’t set out to foster to “fix” our infertility.  [We still aren’t sure what the “fix,” if anything, will be for that right now.]  We are doing it because it feels right.  Because we have space in our home and our hearts, because someone did it for my family, because the thought of a child (because even as young adults, they are still children) spending another night in a lonely, scary refugee camp when they could be here with a loving family (and you, my friends, are part of that loving family) just seems too perfect.  Because we could offer them a chance at experiences, and a loving home full of laughter and support and care, and maybe most importantly a chance at an education and a pay-it-forward mentality to help someone else whenever they can.

 

This weekend, we will start to get our house ready.  We will fill out paperwork.  Among the many things that you must do to be certified, there are 30 hours worth of classes to take.  The next classes don’t start until late March, so the soonest we would be certified would be summertime.  After certification, we wait for CFC to match us up with kids (based on mutual interests), then we go in to learn more about the kid(s) through paperwork, then we decide whether the kid(s) are going to work for us.  So there’s still a long ways to go before we would actually have any kids here.  We are going to request a sibling group (because having grown up on a “kid farm,” I can’t imagine being an only child; and having lived abroad, I can’t imagine not having had someone there with me–in my case a roommate–to commiserate with and speak English to and be able to get through rough homesick times).  Or maybe we’ll end up with two kids who aren’t siblings but need somewhere to stay.  We would prefer younger kids, but when I think about it, I know that I probably won’t be able to say no to any child who they think would match our interests and what we can offer…because this is not about us.  This is about them.  And whoever or wherever “they” are, we are going to be ready to offer them the love of a family and a community, which is far greater than anything material anyone can offer.

on refugee kids

8 Dec
          Ever since I was a kid (because I can actually remember being a kid and seeing the news and being upset), every time images of refugees have come out, every time there are foreign wars, people dying, children suffering…every time, I cry. Watching the news on TV, reading about it online.  I can’t help myself.  I cry.  I cannot imagine that life, but as I’ve written before, it’s not terribly far removed from my family–my Oma is a refugee.  She actually pointed this out at Thanksgiving this year–I’d never actually heard that name used prior.  We’d always just said she was an immigrant, but the truth is that my family came here as refugees from Hungary after WWII.  And I guess maybe in some way that speaks to the stigma attached to refugees.  Better to come as an immigrant than a refugee.
          My family needed so much help when they first came.  They didn’t speak English, didn’t know how to do basic things here like grocery shop or get a drivers license.  They struggled, I’m sure, but they also had an amazing family who helped them along their way.  The Locker family took Oma to the grocery store and opened packages and boxes, having her repeat names of things and teaching her what food in the US looked like (because it was certainly different from growing your own on the farm).  They made sure my aunt was registered and attended school (“Have her meet our son on the corner and he will make sure she gets on the bus”–and they just had to trust that she would get there.).  They helped my grandpa get a driver’s license so that my family could drive to visit friends from back home.  They helped my grandparents to save their money, slowly, and eventually move to Buffalo, where my grandpa started his own business (which my dad owns today), then buy a house, then get snowmobiles to explore in the winter, and even buy a cottage on Lime Lake for weekend relaxation over the summer.  My grandparents were some of the hardest working people ever–I’m sure they’d have done well for themselves without the help.  But the Lockers certainly did make their transition smoother.
          So when the Syrian refugee crisis started making news and the controversial topic of resettling refugees here in Rochester started going around, we immediately knew we wanted to open our home up to a family.  We could be “the Lockers” for another family–a kind of pay-it-forward type of a deal. We are so lucky–we have way too much.  We bought a house (and a 4-door instead of 2-door pickup truck and I chose to leave what we both felt was an unsafe workplace for what was allegedly going to be a better place) thinking we’d be having a family sooner rather than later.  How long could it possibly take us to get pregnant, we naively thought?  A few months?  A year at the most?  Everything we did the year before and the year after we got married was done with the thought of “when we have kids.”  And obviously that hasn’t really panned out the way we’d planned.  The empty rooms in the house are a reminder of what we don’t have, and more importantly a reason to feel guilty–there are people who have nothing, and we have multiple rooms that sit unused.  So offering them up to a family in need seemed like a no-brainer.   Eric reached out and heard back that normally families get placed in their own housing, but sometimes kids who have been separated from their families or lost them come and need a foster home.  Would we be interested?
          We had never even considered the possibility of fostering refugee kids when we reached out about housing a family.  Our only thought had been helping an entire family.  We don’t have any information about refugee fostering at all.  We don’t know where the kids would be coming from, we don’t know how old they are, we don’t know what kinds of supports we would need/have (because refugee kids can have serious PTSD and emotional issues from having seen and experienced horrific things back home), etc.  Basically we know nothing except that we have extra space and a whole lot of love that we could give to a kid (or two?).  I am curious, cautiously excited. Refugee fostering is not adoption, and from what I’ve read the goal with refugee kids is always that when things settle down, family will be located and kids will be reunited with biological families.  So adoption never really becomes a “thing” and the potential for bonding and becoming a family, then having the child taken away would always be present.  And while it would be so exciting for the child and we’d be so happy to have supported in a time of need, it would be pretty depressing for us, too.  Then again, I mean, that is the point of all of this, right?  To do something completely selflessly–expecting nothing in return–loving for as long as necessary, but then letting go whenever needed.  But are we strong enough to do that?  Really, though, all of these are just pointless what-ifs, because we still don’t have any actual information.  We went to a meeting tonight, but the meeting never happened–we were where we were supposed to be, but the person we were supposed to meet with never showed up.  We left frustrated and disappointed, but also feeling more committed–there may be kids in this broken, over-used, under-staffed system who we could potentially help.  There may be something we could do.
          I’ve learned, over and over again in the past 5 years, that getting your hopes up too much can leave you pretty crushed.  So for now we are waiting for a call from the person we were supposed to meet with tonight.  We weren’t going to share any of this until we actually knew more, but Eric asked to put it out there, and the response from all of you has been overwhelming.  Thank you all for the well-wishes and good thoughts.  Fingers crossed that we will be able to eventually help some kids out, at the very least until they can be reunited with their families.  As I’ve said so many times before, we are surrounded by some amazing, caring friends…our kids, whether biological, adopted or foster, would be some lucky little ones to get embraced into the amazing community that we are surrounded by.
 love