40 Year Old Ninja
I keep writing posts about how I can't believe my kids continue to get older but I think this birthday shocked me the most. Mark, my husband who I first met when he was 24 and playing soccer for a living, has suddenly hit middle age.
Do you know how unbelievable that sounds? I remember thinking 40 was a lifetime away, but here we are, celebrating four decades of my husband being alive. For a lot of people, they might look back at this point and think about some of the things they should have done in all those years of living. I'm sure Mark sometimes has those thoughts too, but as a close bystander, and his admiring wife, I'd like to take a moment to recognize (and I mean "reck-a-nize" said with some serious sass and a hip pop) what this determined fellow did with his first 40 on Earth.
Any mentions of Mark's soccer career will indefinitely make him wiggle like a worm on a hook. For whatever reason, he doesn't bring it up and he doesn't like when I do either. But I can't help myself sometimes. I just think it's incredible how he's practically lived two lives already, possibly three.
First he was a soccer player, then a graduate student in Chemical Engineering, and now a working Scientist with a family of six. I mean if he can do all that in 40 years, what's in store next?
Before last week, that would have been a rhetorical question. I thought I knew exactly what he was going to do.
With his drive, athletic abilities, and adventurous spirit, I was convinced that my husband was the next American Ninja Warrior.
We watch the show all the time as a family and I couldn't stop imagining Mark, dominating the obstacles, and hitting that buzzer. I think all of my enthusiasm might have given him a glimmer of hope too. He even spent a whole weekend trying to install Olympic rings for workouts (a.k.a. ninja training) in our garage.
Because of this not-so-secret dream of mine (and even though he'd never admit it, maybe a little bit his too), we surprised him by celebrating his 40th in true ninja style. I signed us up, along with some fit family and friends, for an adult fitness class at Warrior Tech, a nearby ninja gym. The intensity level was definitely high. After the warm ups were done and the workout started, cousin Julia yelled out, "I'm never coming to Mark's birthday again!" Then she called the next day and said she could barely walk, "Thanks a lot Mick!" (Haha)
To be honest I didn't expect it to be that hard either. I thought we'd be standing around watching people try ninja things instead of actually working out. But even with the unexpected sweat and soreness, we managed to have a good time (even Julia).
Once the class ended everyone got to play around on the ninja obstacle course and do things only trained professionals should probably do. Half of us got injured in some way, but the owner of the gym called them "ninjuries" and congratulated us. Somehow that made it all better (right guys?).
Check out the compilation of videos below for a look at the guys in the group trying the Salmon Ladder. My favorite is where cousin Tyson chipped a tooth and Julia, his wife, says "This is getting expensive."
And here's a video of Mark, me, and our cousin Victor running up the warped wall. In my mind this looked much more impressive than it does here and I feel like a dork for missing the "buzzer" that Victor provided for me. It took everything in me just to pull myself up on the platform because I was pretty sure if I fell backwards I would be on that ninjured list.
Thanks so much to our friends and family who came to celebrate with us and to all those who were with us in ninja spirit. And thank you especially to Aunt Bala, Audrey, Hope and Mavette, who babysat all four of our kids so we could get out of the house. We love you!
The week after his birthday party, Mark went with his co-worker Ryan (who was in the Salmon Ladder video and on the right of the pictures above) to a rock climbing gym. Whatever dreams I had for him, and any secret ninja dreams he might have had for himself, were extinguished on that day. He came home reminded that American Ninja Warrior is made for smaller, lighter, and younger people who have impressive grip strength.
For now, Mark is content with the "Weekend Warrior" or maybe "Ninja Dad" title.
You never know with this guy though, he is always an inspiration to me and I love his passion and perseverance for whatever God puts in his path.
Happy 40th to my hot old ninja. Even though they might not be on American Ninja Warrior, I know you have many more buzzers to hit in this life.
I'm excited to see what they are and cheer you on for each and every one.