Monthly Archives: June 2014

Five Great Ideas for Baby Shower Gifts

It seems like a long time ago that our first baby Murphy was born. Today, he is now taller than I am! (How did that ever happen? I guess it is inevitable that kids grow.) Almost fifteen years have flown by since his birth.

But, I still remember being tremendously pregnant with him. My office mate Faith threw me a baby shower that I will never forget. My husband and I lived far away from our families, so we appreciated everything that our friends did to make the arrival of our baby boy as smooth as possible.

There are a few gifts that I still remember almost fifteen years after that baby shower. Obviously, they meant a lot to me. Hopefully, the next time that you go to a shower you can pick out something for your friend or relative that is just as meaningful.

Also, you should note the context of our lives at the time. We lived at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park at the time that our son was born. It is about 80 miles north of Flagstaff, AZ where we currently live. My husband worked for the National Park Service and I was the marketing director for a non-profit organization based in the park. So, our situation was a little out of the ordinary.

One of my favorite gifts came from my friend Greer. Greer was one of most fun people I ever worked with. He always had a funny story to tell. Like me he was also transplanted New Yorker, who ended up living for a time in Grand Canyon National Park. He had a wonderful dog named Gus, who he loved more than anyone has ever loved a pet. Greer’s stories were so funny that I frequently would laugh so hard that I would have tears streaming down my face and I would almost fall off the chair.

I am sure that my baby shower was the only one that Greer ever attended in his life. So, I am grateful that he put up with all of the baby shower antics and shenanigans, which were not his style. Greer’s gift was a onesie purchased from the Old Town Shops in Flagstaff, AZ. It was orange and had a little pumpkin on the front. My husband and I thought that it was just adorable and started calling our son pumpkin shortly after he was born. It stuck for quite a while.

A baby bodysuit or onesie is a great shower or baby gift for new parents. They come in a variety of fun brands and designs. Let’s face it. When your bundle of joy is first born they will be experts at messing up their clothes. Having a good supply of baby bodysuits around is a lifesaver for a new parent.

Baby bodysuit

Admittedly, I don’t remember who gave us the infant carrier, but it was a great gift. I took three months of maternity leave after I had my son. I have also gained a lot of weight with my first pregnancy. What can I say? Being pregnant made me hungry. But, I lost it all within a few months with the help of two shower gifts. They were the the infant carrier and the jog stroller. By an infant carrier, I mean the carrier that straps to the front of you and you put the baby in facing you. I believe that we had a Snugli brand carrier. I know that there are many other brands out there.

Since we lived in Grand Canyon National Park, I was blessed with lots of great places to walk. I would put my son in the Snugli and go for 1-2 hour walks around the rim of the canyon. The baby would get in a good nap and I would get in some good exercise. Once he was old enough we switched from the Snugli to the jog stroller, which was another great shower gift that I received from my work colleagues.

Footies for babiesFooted pajamas or blanket sleepers are another great option for shower gifts. You can never have enough of these when your little one is just born. You never have to worry about the baby being cold or kicking off their blanket when they go to sleeping in these cozy jammies. Our son just loved footed pjs when he was young. Even when he grew into toddler and big kid sizes they were always his favorites.

The last gift I wanted to mentioned was a play mat called a Gymini. Now, I know that if you don’t have children you will not have any idea what I am talking about. It is a soft mat with two arches over it. Little toys (some with mirrors) hang down from the arches. For some reason, babies go crazy over this thing. It provides hours and hours of baby entertainment. As a bonus, if you have cats, when the baby is safely sleeping in their crib it makes an irresistible place for a cat to take a nap. (Our cats couldn’t stay away. RIP Felix and Classic Oscar. They loved our son’s Gymini.)

The day after our son was born two visitors appeared in my hospital room, but our dear friends Kim and Mike. They came bearing some festive balloons and a huge Curious George stuffed animal that our son still has to this day. (He keeps it hidden in the back of his closet where his friends can’t see it when they come over.)

For those of you looking for a baby or shower gift in the near future, I hope that you will select a one that they will remember for years to come.


Melissa Canepa Murphy

P.S. Greer P. If you ever decide to publish your series of short stories including “Greer and the Buzzer Factory” and “Greer and the Pink Princess Phone”, I am still available for the PR.

Trail Runners and Pajama Pants

Trail runners are different. I like to think to think that this is a good kind of different rather than a bad or scary kind of different. We prefer not to run on pavement or roads. We often choose the steepest, rockiest, and most difficult routes to run. A typical run might result in a tumble, with some abrasions, bruising, and bleeding. Yet, we love running on the dirt, through the mountains, and immersing ourselves in the outdoors. I consider this the good kind of different, but then I am biased.

Part of being trail runner and being different is not wearing the sort of gear a typical road racer might wear. Some trail runners wear shoes with extra toe protection so that you dont break a toe when they inadvertently kick a rock in the trail. Other trail runners use trekking poles to get up and down mountains.

Being a trail runner, being different, and knowing that anything goes in trail running wear, I didnt think twice about wearing pajama pants to the 2013 Soulstice trail race. It was early morning, I was tired, and I thought, Hey, why not just wear some pajama pants for warm up pants? I trail run in compression tights or shorts, which enhance performance, but do not provide much warmth. It is cold up in the San Francisco Peaks, near Flagstaff, AZ. Flagstaff is at 7,000 feet elevation, and the race is about 8,000 to 9,000 feet in elevation. The race is held every October. It is not uncommon to find it snowing during this time of year. I knew I needed a second layer to stay warm pre-race. Why not wear my pajama pants as that second layer. They are fleece pajama pants that always keep me warm. So without further ado, I pulled on my compression tights, sweat-vac race shirt, and Salomon trail shoes, then threw on a polar fleece jacket and my blue plaid fleece pajama pants and left for the race. When I went to the registration area to pick up my race bib, my legs felt nice and warm, even though it was below freezing. No one gave me a second look even though I was wearing my pajama pants. We are trail runners and we are different, and anything pretty much goes with trail running apparel.

Fast forward to May, 2014, and the Flagstaff trail racing season has begun. Every year I sign up for the Flagstaff Summer Running Series. Neil Weintraub , who founded the Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association also created the Flagstaff Summer Running Series. Neil has worked hard in keeping the series going year after year. The first race of Flagstaff Summer Running Series is Run for the Mountain. The race benefits the Mountain Charter School. This is a race held at Fort Tuthill on the outskirts of Flagstaff. It is all dirt trails running and pine trees.

It was a little cold the morning of the Run for the Mountain race. The weather was definitely pajama pants weather. I walked up to the registration kiosk wearing pajama pants and got my race bib number. No one batted an eye at the guy wearing blue plaid fleece pajama pants. The pajama pants kept me nice and toasty until it was time to start the race.

This is my fourth year at the Run for the Mountain race. My son Max and my daughter Emma were running the 5K, while I would run my usual 10K. One year the announcer at the Imogene Pass Race coined the term The Running Nation of Flagstaff. (The iconic Imogene Pass Run is a 17 mile mountain race within the San Juan mountains of Colorado, you run along a route which connects the towns of Ouray (7810 ft.) and Telluride (8750 ft.) by way of 13,114 foot Imogene Pass). It looked like many citizens of the Running Nation of Flagstaff would be running the Run for the Mountain race. Some of these citizens were elite runners and they would run in the same 10K that I was running. One elite runner, Emily Harrison, of Flagstaff, finished the Caumsett State Park 50K this March at 3:15 setting the course record. She won the USATF 50K National Road Championship. She also ran the second fastest 50K in North American History. Nick Arciniaga, another Flagstaff resident, took 7th place in the Boston Marathon this year. Nick also would be running in the 10K with me.

Dirk Murphy in his prerace fleece pajama pants.

Dirk Murphy in his prerace fleece pajama pants.

Being in my 50s, I always hang back with other local old guys toward the middle of the pack at the start of a race. The Run for the Mountain race started out fast. Luckily I had warmed up ahead of time with my blue plaid flannel pajama pants and was ready for the quick start. I ended finishing 3rd in the mens 50 to 59 year old category. My son Max finished 5th in the mens 13 to 19 year old category for the 5K. My daughter Emma finished 9th out of the womens 1 to 12 year old category for the 5K.

Earlier I had seen a guy on a bicycle leading the kids 2K fun run part of the Run for the Mountain race. The bicyclist was wearing a neon orange afro wig, and a blue super hero cape. I realized that it was my neighbor, who also was a trail runner and regularly runs Imogene Pass Run. I thought, Wow! That is different. My neighbors attire reminded me of the crazy attire for the annual Kahtoola Uphill race. Kahtoola is held every February at the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort just north of Flagstaff, AZ. You start running at 9,200 feet and run straight up to 10,800 feet. The course is about 3.3 miles. The Kahtoola Uphill race could be described as a winter running Mardi Gras, with crazy runners and skiers racing straight up a ski slope.

When I reflected on some of the outlandish running attire that I have witnessed at trail races, my mens blue plaid fleece pajama pants seemed downright conservative in comparison. So, I will keep on wearing my plaid fleece pajama pants as warm up pants at the local trail races. I find them comfortable, warm, and easy to don on and off. They may not look like other runners warm up pants. But, what can I say? Im a trail runner. Im different, but it is a good kind of different.

Dirk Murphy enjoys trail running and the outdoors when he is not spending time with his family or helping with his family’s business.