Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Random musings........

Today's blog is just a bunch of rambling on a variety of topics! Enjoy......

Starbucks is on my s*&t list! What higher-up at Starbucks decided to start making the stupid Vivanno drinks, which are just a pathetic attempt to steal some of Jamba Juice's customers? In order to carry the ingredients for these juice based drinks (hello? Is this not a COFFEE joint?), they no longer carry the decaf mocha frappucino drink base. STUPID! And if you ask me, this discriminates against those of us who have real allergies to caffeine and cannot have it (although, mind you, if I COULD have caffeine, I would greedily indulge as I need every ounce of energy I can muster!). So, they lamely try to reproduce this delicious, cool, icy sensation for me by making a creme frap with a couple of shots of decaf and some chocolate. It's just sadly not the same and it makes me put on my angry eyes! It's a small indulgence, a trifle really, so why, I ask you? Why do they have to take away the one thing I love? Well, besides the toffee almond bars. Those I love almost as much as my own children. But still...............

You've got mail! I love mail. The real kind, that comes in the mail box. Look how much things have changed, you had to wonder. You thought I was talking about email. Right? Right? But I'm talking about real mail, written in pen, with a stamp and everything. But who gets real mail anymore? Where I used to look forward to a bonafide letter, I now get all excited by a new issue of Ladies Home Journal. The promise of a new magazine now holds the charm a letter once held - unopened, full of surprises, news, tidbits of info., pictures and more. Today I got a bunch of stupid ads, a water bill and a movie from Netflix. Yippee. Is it too much to ask that I receive a real letter or even a postcard now and then? Yeah, I know, I have to WRITE a letter to RECEIVE a letter. And who writes letters anymore?

Camping in the rain. We just got back from a rainy camping experience only to send the kids off to day camp. Tonight is their one and only overnight of the week and it's been raining off and on all day. Where we live, rain comes in all sorts of varieties. Today it was mist followed by steady showers (you know, like the shower you take to get clean?), followed by random sprinklings. When I dropped off additional supplies for the kids (raincoats, boots, a little candy to sweeten the deal), they were all in various stages of soggy. Better them than me, I say! Can't wait for that 4 a.m. "come and pick me up, I'm freezing and wet and I wanna come home" phone call!

Selfish indulgence! I had a great day. First, I put on my biking gear and went out to put my bike on my car so I could ride on the trail after I dropped the kids off at camp. But alas, it was raining and I do not ride in the rain (mostly because I have enough trouble just staying upright on a bike, adding in the elements is risky). So, I quickly changed into my "alternative workout clothes" and took the kids to camp, stopping at Starbucks for a few moments of bliss enjoying my hot mocha and almond twist and reading the paper. On my way home, I decided to stop at a darling little shopping center near my house with unique stores and great ambience. I got lost in the toy store for over and hour, then meandered around the rest of the "village", making selfish purchases (a brown newsboy cap - but it was SO cute!). While in the natural products store, I got a call from my best friend Tonya asking me to meet her at a new pizza joint near my house. Well, I'm not one to turn down a lunch date, so naturally I obliged. There I was, enjoying a beer and pizza buffet in the middle of the day (thank God day camp was babysitting my kids!). Then, of course, I had to take care of some "kid duties" (sigh) but that didn't stop me from going to Starbucks (again! gasp!) and getting my frappucino (well, sort of, see above). And a toffee almond bar. And now I'm home and my husband is making dinner (it involves crab and tomatoes, two of my favorites!) and I am FINALLY going to work out, and maybe later I'll even take a bath. I feel so spoiled today!

Cooking. Why Jeff likes to cook is beyond me. I love to bake (hence the ample hips), but cooking is just WORK in my opinion. First of all, trying to coordinate three or four different dishes and have them all hot and ready to eat at the same time seems like torture to me. Then, when I read a recipe, and it has more than five ingredients, my eyes glaze over and I move on. Oh, but don't let that make you think I don't cook dinner! I do! For example, last night I prepared a lovely orange chicken, fried rice and fresh sliced oranges for my family's enjoyment. They loved it, and eagerly went back for seconds (except Arlie who went back for thirds and fourths of the rice!). Who cares if it was Trader Joe's frozen entrees? I sliced the oranges. Geez.

Baths! I know there are some of you who hate taking baths. Not hate bathing (ick) but actually taking a BATH in your bathtub with bubbles and everything. For me, this is heaven! I could take a bath every night. And in the winter, sometimes I do! It should not be cold enough for baths in the summer, but again, we are in the Northwest, so occasionally a mid-July bath is in order. I LOVE running a HOT bath (read, your skin should be red and scalded for it to be hot enough!), and adding one of my nine or so scents of bubble bath. Add a stack of magazines or my latest book and I can stay in there for a couple of hours. Seriously. I don't get pruny or anything. Well, sometimes. But I'm just saying, a bath is such a nice indulgence and you just show me a grumpy person and I will say put them in a warm bath with "Moonlight Path" bubble bath and let's just see if they are not a happy camper when they emerge. Being submerged in bubbles, reclining in the tub, just relaxes you like nothing else. Candles are a plus! Of course, it helps that my tub is huge (corner soaking tub, which, after my upstairs laundry room, is the single best indulgence my house has!). And that is has jets, which sound so luxe but I have seriously not used the jets in probably six years. One time my kids used the jets. And it didn't turn out so well. Hannah had very long hair, and her hair wrapped around the intake valve, creating a suction reminiscent of "The Krakken" from Pirates of the Caribbean, as she was subsequently sucked against the large intake valve, which caused a hematoma the size of a dinner plate on her back. That sort of killed the joy of the jets. Plus, I found out once that if you turn them on after you've added several capfuls of bubble bath, you create a froth mountain that reaches to the ceiling! While impressive, this was a bit too much bubbly indulgence for my taste. I paid $500 for those jets. Now, I wish I'd saved the money. Could've bought more bubble bath!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Seersucker Pants

So, today I went to Target and I was enjoying my Taco Del Mar mondo burrito in my car (and spilling some of it down my shirt, further enhancing my lovely ensemble of sweaty sweats, frizzy hair and tomato red face, courtesy of a one hour walk on the trail) and I was people-watching before heading into the store. So, this lady parks and gets out and she's obviously taking her elderly mother on her weekly shopping trip. Mother gets out of the car, and she's wearing those huge sunglasses that old people wear (why?) that look like those things they give you at the eye doctor, holding a cane (in her defense, she was probably half-blind) but here's what she was wearing: seersucker pants, a white blouse, and, I kid you not, a purse shaped like a watermelon. And all I could think was, oh please, someone, please never let me wear seersucker pants and carry a watermelon purse! I know, I'm so mean, I shouldn't make fun of an old lady. Oh, and one more detail - the pants were pulled up to her ribcage and she was wearing a belt. And I'm thinking, she's half-blind so who picked out that outfit? And that PURSE? Yes, the evil daughter. I will never make my mom wear seersucker pants! I promise to dress her in jeans and a t-shirt until the day she dies. And her only accessory will be a glass of CC and water, that I promise you. Anyway, my mom never carried a purse. Much less one shaped like fruit. Geez......

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Flowing Lake

We took a quick overnight to Flowing Lake park. It was pretty close to home, not a very long drive at all, so a good place for an overnight. We left by 9 a.m. (something close to a miracle in this house, and only made possible by the fact that the older girls had to attend a training camp and left at 8:30). Once we set up we had lunch and then spent the afternoon at the lake where the kids went swimming in their clothes! We saw a mama and baby ducks. We headed back for dinner and later the kids and the dads went fishing. We took this trip with our neighbors Amy, Jason and Abbie. It was fun with just the little kids (and a lot less crowded in the camper!) but the girls would have enjoyed it too. The highlight of Harrison's weekend was being the first to try out the new "porta privy" which is a pop-up shelter (similar to those kids' playhouses!) in which you place the foldable, camping-chair-like potty. Think camping chair with padded toilet seat. You attach a bag to this contraption and there's your own private outhouse. We decided it should be for emergency only, and all of us felt slightly embarrassed by peeing noisily just feet away from everyone enjoying drinks around the fire. Especially when some joker would yell "I can barely even hear you!". Then, of course, was the "walk of shame" when the person who decided to do more than just pee had to cart the bag to the garbage bin. Harrison, of course, was the only person proud enough to do this and wasn't shy about telling us all about it, later swinging what looked like a stuffed chicken to the garbage can (how the hell much toilet paper can one use anyway?). Suffice it to say this new "addition" to our camper was pretty funny (but sure beat the hell out of stumbling your way to the john in the middle of the night). Aside from the potty business, we got rained on during the night! Not just a few sprinkles, mind you. No, this was a bonafide "you live in Seattle so you're going to get pissed on during the month of July" type of rain. Needless to say, everything got soaked (except us, of course, we stayed warm and dry in our camper snuggled under our down comforters!). But dragging all the soggy, pine-needle-covered accoutrements of camping home and having to hose them all down and dry them out is a bitch to say the least (but who am I kidding - I didn't do any of this - I unloaded and Jeff did the rest!). Still, it was fun and we are still loving our new camper. Oh, also while we were there, the kids had a blast taking photos. I will include some here and add some new ones to the sidebar. I let them use my new (very expensive!) camera and an older digital that we have. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Yoga, dark roots and other thoughts.........

Today I went to yoga, which I LOVE and is truly the only exercise I'll give up a morning of sleeping in for. When the class was over, one of the women asked "does yoga ever make you cry?" The instructor replied with "oh, yes..." and proceeded to explain about "muscle memory" and "pent up emotions" blah, blah, blah. I'm all for the idea of that and everything, but I have to say yoga has never made me cry. Oh, I've thought about shedding a few tears when I have to hold a downward dog for five breaths (she always does more than five, totally faking us out), or when I have to do that stupid pigeon pose that makes me feel like I might, in fact, permanently dislocate my hip. And perhaps I've even gotten misty-eyed over the fact that I can't make it to coffee after yoga (thus violating my "no pastry left behind" rule). But if I ever cried during yoga, I'm likely to be crying tears of joy over having an hour to myself, and ending it with that ever-blissful "corpse" pose which I'd like to stay in all day sometimes. I wonder if it would be in bad taste to just stay in corpse for the whole class?

Anyway, I then got coffee on my way home, which I promptly spilled on my shirt. Also, I had pigtails in during yoga which I took out after class. So, imagine how stunning I looked - all poofy hair, coffee-stained shirt, yoga-pant-wearing, tacky flip-flops on feet. But I was only going to the thrift store anyway, so who cares? Except I saw someone I know there. But how embarassed can you be when you run into someone at the thrift store (oh, you shop here too? I'm just getting a few things for my camper. Yeah right). Anyway, I LOVE shopping at this tacky little thrift store. It's like a treasure hunt every day. I could just stare at the books for hours. In fact, the book I'm currently reading came from there. I picked up another one today. It's my little guilty pleasure. Hey, some women buy expensive shoes. Shut up.

So, I came home and dyed my roots. I hate grey hair! What is the deal with that? I got my first one when I was 17 so that's a pretty unfair lot, don't you think? And now I've got that grey temple thing going on usually just a week after I spend $65 getting my hair professionally done. So, in between I have to go with the $6.99 Nice and Easy root color. Jeff calls it Nice and Sleazy. Whatever. At least I try to look my age (wait, I'm 40.......). Anyway, thanks, Dad, for this gene. Grey hair is only sexy on men.

And while I'm at it, damn all of you who didn't tell me how sucky it is to have a teenager! Why are they so mean? Why are they so dramatic? Why can't they just be happy? Actually MY teen will read this blog, so here's a message - snap out of it, Hayley! Life is good. People are good. Only you can change your attitude. There.

I have to go prepare dinner now. Or get it started. Or something. I don't know - Jeff started this dinner last night because I'm having my friend over. And now I have to finish it because he has a meeting (damn meeting!). Last night he made the BEST dinner of BBQ rubbed cedar planked salmon, roasted new potatoes and spinach salad w/ peaches. YUM! I love it when he makes us a nice dinner - it's like eating out only better! I'm so glad I have a good husband who likes to cook. What a lucky girl!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE reading. I was an English major in college and so for years I was forced to read the dull tomes of Dickens, Dostoevsky, and Dunne. For ten years (no kidding!) after my college graduation, I did not read a single book. I fell in love with magazines, full of gossip and the season's best fruit recipes, short little snippets of information that could be read in, say, the space of time it took to take a pee. Reading a novel? No thanks, been there, done that, need a break. Soon after graduation, children came along and my days were full of Dr. Seuss and Disney. Books from my childhood were resurrected, and new ones made their way to the "favorites" list. I can still recite the first few pages of "Horton Hears a Who" by heart, and for all the times I read "Goodnight Moon", I could have earned another college degree. And while those pages of children's fantasy and rhyme delighted me, I longed for a book to take me away - from diapers, runny noses, sleepless nights and "how to" parenting guides. So, I started reading again. And now that many more years have passed, I've read countless books (being in a book club really helps - I highly recommend it!). But this year I decided to keep track of the books I read in the hopes that I could start a "reading" list for, well, life, I guess. Something that shows what I read, when, and whether or not I would recommend this book for someone else. My usual MO is to read a book and pass it on. I rarely keep my books now, and that's partly because I keep buying more books! I've discovered the thrift store for picking up more reads, and I make frugal use of my coupons at Barnes and Noble and Borders. I could spend HOURS in a bookstore (especially now that most have coffee shops - thank you Starbucks!). So, here's a list and review of what I've read this year:

Currently reading - "I Feel Bad About My Neck" by Nora Ephron. This is a collection of essays about getting older. I'm on chapter three and so far I've had a few laughs (although the chapter on cooking failed to keep my eyes from shutting and opening so heavily that the words became skewed and blurred). I'll let you know about this one. Probably going to pass this one on to my mom! (HAHA Mom, no offense!)
"The True and Oustanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters" - an account of a movie producer and her sister who is diagnosed with leukemia. The entire book is written in letters from the narrators point of view. Interesting. Predictable, but still a nice read.
"The Ten Year Nap" by Meg Wolitzer. I was so disappointed with this one. This is an account of several women friends and their trials and tribulations after taking the "ten year nap" (read- taking time off work to have kids - HARDLY a "nap"). It got rave reviews but I found it a bit jaded and boring. The "scandal" is not scandalous enough for me and I left it feeling flat. Blah.
"Peter and the Shadow Thieves" by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. This is a series by the popular comic writer Dave Barry and renowned author Ridley Pearson. It's designed for children ten and up, but I've been reading this series to Harrison at bedtime. The backstory is that it's the story of Peter BEFORE Peter Pan, the story we all know. Full of adventure, fantasy, twists and turns (and a bit of adultish humor), we have both loved these books equally and are currently at work on "Peter and the Secret of Rundoon" - the third and final installment.
"Twilight" by Stephanie Meyer. This is the first in a three-part vampire series that is sweeping the nation, especially popular with the teen set. Hayley is totally addicted to them, has re-read them several times, and plastered her door, walls, binder and computer with references to the series. She just dyed her hair a dark reddish/brown - like Bella, the lead character in the stories. Coincidence? I think not. I found the books somewhat amateurish in writing (the author is, in fact, a newbie, a Mormon housewife who said the idea for the books came to her in a dream). I don't feel compelled to continue the series, but I may reconsider.
"The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield. This is a very good "ghost" story set in perhaps the early 1930's. The story of a very dysfunctional family and a set of mysterious twins sets the scene for this book, which takes several turns and leaves you asking more questions at the end.
"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" by John Boyne. A very different story of the Holocaust told from the point of view of a Nazi officer's child. The ending is surprising and unexpected and it's a sad and poignant tale of the Holocaust through a child's eyes.
"Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen. One of my all-time favorites. I picked this book up a year before I ever opened it. I thought it was about Africa. Wrong - it's about the circus around the turn of the century and all the depravation surrounding it. The story is told from the point of view of one man, both when he's young and when he's old and it's done in such an amazing way, considering the writer is a woman. A really good story with a great ending. Loved it and it got two thumbs up from Jeff, too.
"Peter and the Starcatchers" by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Again, the first in the series mentioned above. I totally recommend these books - for a parent/child combo or just individually. This story "starts" the story of Peter Pan and involves mysterious "starstuff" that holds special powers.
"Freedom Writers Diaries" by Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers. This is a book/movie. I had seen the movie and loved it - very compelling and a true story. It's pretty amazing. The book was equally good, and was better able to paint a portrait of teenagers trying to make it through high school in Long Beach's gang-infested neighborhoods. A novice teacher with idealistic principles comes in and tries to make a difference, and, amazingly, does! Teens should read this one.
"Whistling in the Dark" by Leslie Kagan. This was a book club pick. I enjoyed it a lot. It's the story of two young girls who are basically left to their own devices one summer when their mother becomes sick and is hospitalized. Their teenage sister is busy with her own life, their alcoholic stepfather is uninvolved and there is a child molester on the loose. The girls set out to find out the molester's identity, and pray for their mother to get better and come back.
"The Space Between Us" by Thrity Umrigar. This is a story of modern-day India and how the castes are still so divided. It's not unusual for the middle class in India to have "servants" and household help, and this story constantly tests the lines between friendship and the caste system. Sad, but a good read.
"Patty Jane's House of Curl" by Lorna Landvik. Like her other novels ("Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bon's", "Your Flame at Oasis Lake") this is a quick read about a girl who's dad goes missing in the hours before her birth and how her mom makes it all work out. There are some good surprises, too. Easy, quick read.
"Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. This was a hyped-up, Oprah-recommended book (always a mistake!) that ended up being disappointing. The book is written in three parts - Italy, India and Indonesia and is about a woman who travels through all three in a year, basically indulging her selfish self (in my humble opinion!). The first part, about Italy, is nice and the descriptions of the food made me want to visit there (yum!), the part about India was decidedly boring (she studies in an Ashram, blah, blah), and the part about Indonesia described the beauty of the country nicely, but in all, the book left me feeling like I was ripped off. Never a good thing.
"Absolutely Organized: A Mom's Guide to a Clutter-Free, Stress-Free Home". I can't even remember who wrote this one but suffice it to say she's an idiot and NO HOME WITH KIDS can ever be clutter or stress free. Enough said.
"The Undomestic Goddess" by Sophie Kinsella. She's sort of the queen of "chick-lit" so this was a quick and easy read. A story about a London lawyer who makes a major mistake, walks out of her office and into the lives of two rich people where she mistakenly gets a job as a domestic servant who can't cook or clean. It's funny.
"Good Grief" by Lolly Winston. A woman's husband dies, and this is the story of how she deals with it, dealing w/ her mother in law and finding new love. Another book club pick and a quick read. I enjoyed it enough to want to read another one of her novels.

So, that's it so far. Now, I'm being "paged" (rudely, I might add) by Hayley to "get going" to take them to a movie. I will sign off now. More later!

Nothing much but something new!

So, nothing earth-shattering has been happening, but I feel a need to update the blog from time to time for all my loyal readers (ok, all three or four of you, right?). Last week Jeff and I hosted a BBQ for his department at work. We busted our asses cleaning the house. In particular, I cleaned out the kids' room (actually not Arlie's - I ran out of time and she's not here anyway, but still......). In Hayley's room I enjoyed unpacking no less than 7 bags (totes, duffels, sporty little backpacks) filled with the sad remnants of sleepovers past - deodorant, the errant toothbrush wrapped loosely in toilet paper (or not at all!), extra contacts, wadded up panties that were.......clean? Dirty? Not wanting to take any chances, all the clothing wound up in the dirty pile. And I realized, all those clothes she "doesn't" have? They were packed away in sleepover bags, taken to said sleepovers, returned to home, and relegated to the dark closet to be seen nevermore. No wonder she doesn't have anything to wear! In the end, I collected around 7 deodorants, three or four toothbrushes, $15 in change, and three huge bins of cosmetics, nail polish and toiletries. I especially enjoyed uncovering the party bag from Harrison's birthday party - in January! It contained some petrified candy specimens. I tossed an impressive number of candy wrappers from Hannah's room, too. And water bottles. I stopped buying disposable plastic water bottles at Costco, but did that stop Hannah's water bottle habit? It did not. She had five or six "reusable" bottles on her bedside table and strewn around the room. And who really needs 400 beanie babies anyway? Aren't those so YESTERDAY? Harrison's room always contains bits and pieces of broken dollar store toys and strange shapes of plastic that go to who knows what? Needless to say, I filled a large garbage bag, and an equally large laundry basket with items to be given away. I can't just throw away perfectly good toys, purses, unopened cosmetics and trinkets can I? My system also includes saving "unbroken, but unneeded" items for the geocaching backpack. Plastic beads, Happy Meal toys, rubber bouncy balls, those are the sort of swag we collect around here. When all was said and done, our house never looked cleaner and wouldn't you know it, no one went upstairs anyway? But for a couple of blissful days, Jeff and I could just walk down the "kids wing" and smile because all was right and orderly in the world. Then, the kids came back. I don't need to tell anyone with kids how fast the house can go from order to disorder in seconds once kids walk through the door. Between the annoying sounds of Spongebob coming from the TV, Toaster Strudel was left out on the counter, the milk found a permanent place on the kitchen table (because everyone loves warm milk, right?), and several pairs of shoes made their way under and around the table and in the family room. This is the bane of my existence. Sigh.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I guess I have to write about me..........

Ok, so my only "event" this weekend was a 5K. I had big plans to train for this and run my first 5K (I've walked several). But alas, I did not train adequately, and so I knew I would be walking this one as well. However, seeing as how it appeared most people would be running it, I really wanted to run a portion. So, Jeff and I awoke early on a VERY cold morning (foggy and under 50 degrees in JULY!), and arrived at Duck Lake. The previous day was "triathlon" day and this day, Sunday, was the "footrace" day. Everyone started together but some chose to do the 5K, some the 10K, and some the half-marathon. I started off running (ok, it was more of a very slow jog) and tried to keep up as long as possible. When I could take it no longer (my lungs were ok, but my achilles tendons were screaming), Jeff said "that was about a mile" (how embarrassing!). We then walked, increasing our pace as I realized the couple in front of us, walking with grandma and pushing twins in a stroller was beating us! Adding insult to injury was 75-year-old Margaret who was smoking me with her lopsided gait and run/walk pace. I was being left in the dust by two grandmothers! So, with all the energy I had left, I began to run, if only to pass up my elders and not feel like such a dork. I was totally sucking wind by the time I crossed the finish line, but at least I came in ahead of the Geritol generation (wow, a real feather in my cap, right?). However, I did wait for Margaret to cross the finish line and asked her was her secret was - running a 5K at 75? She explained that she and her husband started running at age 50 when their son got into running. They recently cut back their "50 events a year" to 25 and had just run a 5K the day before. That's it. I'm eating Wheaties and running my ass away from Starbucks. I want to be running a 5K when I'm 75! Anyway, I got my medal and had the kids take the obligatory photo (note how lovely I look after camping for two days, doing the 5K and having no shower). I'm inspired for my next event, however lowly I am on the athlete's totem pole. I finished, right?

Hayley "tris" not to fall off her bike!

A couple of weekends ago, Hayley fell off my bike while riding it around an RV park. She had to push the bike back to the camper while bleeding from her knee and hand. A few years ago, she fell off her bike and took all the skin off her leg from knee to shinbone and refused to ride her bike for a year. So, you can imagine the bike was Hayley's biggest challenge (staying upright, that is - haha, just kidding Hayley!). But Hayley had total confidence in the triathlon. No worries for her! She bravely refused a wetsuit for the swim in Duck Lake (ewww........part of the reason I wear one is to NOT touch the ickies!) and pulled ahead of everyone to be the first swimmer out of the water. She transitioned fast to the bike (watch that towel fly!) and quickly led our pack of kids in the biking. I barely saw her transition and then she was off for the run at lightning speed! She came in first overall of our kids, sprinting across the finish line to receive her medal. All in all, a pretty professional race - she looked good in all events! When asked if she would do it again, she said "maybe" a little hesitantly. C'mon Hayley, after that performance? She's ready for a sprint tri!

Hannah will "tri" again!

Hannah had total confidence in the triathlon. She wasn't nervous and figured it would be "easy" after she swam a 1/2 mile with me a couple of summers ago. Biking and running? No problem - she loves to bike and her running was amazingly improved this year after we figured out why she hated sports (because she had arthritis and was always in pain!). She ran all the time in school and her times were good. So, she ventured into this new frontier with total confidence and anticipation. She got in the water and offered last-minute advice to her younger siblings, and then did a solid swim, followed by a smooth transition to the bike. She was the first of the pack off on her bike and came in right behind Hayley. She slid on her running shoes and was off on the run, which was steady and solid all the way to the finish line. She received her medal and water and at the trophy presentation, when asked if she'd do it again, she said "Yes!" with confidence. Later she said "that was FUN!" and said she would definitely "tri" again! We're considering a "team" tri or perhaps a mother/daughter event in the future. Yay Hannah!

Harrison "tris" something new!

Of all the kids, Harrison was definitely the most nervous about the triathlon. He's a worrier by nature, and having something "big" to accomplish was giving him a real case of nerves the morning of the tri. He called me in tears (I was at Jeff's event) and asked me a million questions. After reassuring him that this was just for fun and passing on some advice from Jeff when I did my first tri ("just plan to be last"), he seemed ready to go. Once we tugged and pulled him into his wetsuit (not an easy task for anyone!), he got in the water and seemed pretty confident about the swim (this after "failing" the swim test at a local pool earlier in the week!). He did great in the swim, beating two other participants out of the water. The transition took some work (and an arm tug by mom to get out of the wetsuit), but he was soon off on his bike (after tossing his towel like a sail into the air behind him), determined look on his face. He pedaled back furiously, and tossed aside his helmet. Then, he was off on the run! His cross-country training from the fall came in handy as he ran the full 1/4 mile without stopping and crossed the finish line on the heels of Arlie. He got his medal and couldn't have been prouder of his trophy! Add to that he was the ONLY boy participating, so he came in first for boys! Yeah, Harrison! When asked if he would do it again, he answered "hmmm........maybe" but he was grinning his gap-toothed grin so I think he'll be back for round two!

Arlie's first tri!

So, Arlie did her first triathlon and it was quite an experience. She did not exhibit too much nervousness beforehand.......instead she had the quiet confidence of an athlete. The swim had given her some jitters beforehand and she wasn't sure if she wanted to wear a life jacket or not. But, armed with her wetsuit, she bravely entered the waters of Duck Lake and swam around the dock. Off to the bike! Arlie peeled off her wetsuit like a pro, quickly put on her shorts and t-shirt, laced up her running shoes and, not to be outdone, donned pink plastic, sparkly sunglasses. And she was off, pedaling away on her pink bike, complete with plastic baby seat attached to the back. In what seemed like minutes, she was back for the run, stashing the bike in the rack and tossing off her helmet. Off she dashed, on Harrison's heels, and quickly pulled ahead of him. Around the baseball field and she plodded down the home stretch, out of breath and grimacing but sprinted for the finish line! Horray! She received her medal and bottle of water and collapsed on the ground, smiling but exhausted. At the trophy presentation, when asked if she would do it again, she answered a hesitant "maybe". But we know that competitive spirit won't be squelched! She'll be back!

Jeff's triathlon - he's a winner!!!

So, Jeff did his first triathlon of the summer this weekend. For those of you who don't know, a triathlon, specifically a sprint triathlon, is a race involving swimming (1/4 or 1/2 mile, depending on the race), biking (usually 12 miles) and running (a 5K)..........one right after the other. Most people couldn't complete ONE of these events, but triathletes do all three in a row. Jeff has done MANY triathlons and trains all the time. But this year he turned the big 4-0 and was lamenting his "oldness" (woe is me, I've gained 20 lbs, I'm old, my knee hurts, my arm hurts, I'm sucking wind when I run). So, the big day arrived on Saturday morning (also, in case you didn't know, these things start at an ungodly hour, this time at 7:30 a.m.!). The swim started pretty much on time and I tried as I always do to pick Jeff out of the crowd, but it's really hard when there are hundreds of swimmers all wearing the same color cap (in this case, the crowd was smaller, but it was no less difficult picking out "my" swimmer). However, I knew his swim wasn't going as well as normal when he was NOT one of the first out of the water. Eventually he did come out, and had a quick transition to the bike. Now, Jeff bikes pretty fast, so I knew I would not be waiting long. By this point, coffee-less and exhausted, I decided to have a quick nap on the grass. I was just drifting off when I heard "bikers in!" meaning some bikers had already made it back - Jeff being one of them! I snapped a few quick photos and he was off on his run (which was a bit slower and more lumbering than normal, but still steady). Not long after that, he was running for the finish! He picked up his medal and came over to me, smiling, but saying how hard it was (the run sucked, etc.). However, when I looked at his overall time, he was still pretty much in the same place he's been the past year or so. So, not bad for an "old guy" right? Well, imagine our surprise when we heard his name called for a trophy! He won second in his age group! Yay! His goal has always been to be competitive in his age group and this was the first year for him to compete in the 40-44 age group. So, props to him for bringing home a win the very first time! 40 is looking up!

Ocean Shores Big Weekend!

This weekend we traveled to Ocean Shores with our camper to participate in the "Big Weekend". This was a collection of triathlons and footraces, including the sprint tri which Jeff participated in, the kids' tri which the kids did for their very first time, and a 5K which Jeff and I did the following day. I'll give each one their due in a separate blog entry, but suffice it to say it was a fun weekend including go-kart racing, bumper cars, hanging out in the camper, watching movies, building sandcastles, and walking on the beach. A highlight was when we saw a mama deer and her baby just walking right near our campsite. We got within feet of them and then they crossed the road to the beach and went sailing over the bluff into the grass. Wouldn't you know it, I didn't bring my camera? But we have the memory! Here are some photos from the weekend.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mommie Dearest!

Ok, so today I did something horrible. I forgot to pick up Arlie from soccer camp!! I looked at the clock at 1:15 and thought "oh, I need to leave in a few minutes to pick up Arlie" and then promptly set to doing "stuff" at my desk and then casually wandered into the kitchen where Hannah saw me and said "What time does Arlie get home?" In a panic, I looked at the clock, and realized it was already 2:00 p.m.! I dashed out the door, wondering why I had not received a call from the camp saying come and pick your kid up already. Well, when I arrived, Arlie was just kicking her soccer ball around the field. A few other kids were milling around, a few parents chatted and the coaches were having a meeting on the lower field. So, it's not like she was abandoned completely with no adult supervision.......but.........she did tell me she had started crying and not one adult had asked her if she needed help or what was wrong! I asked her why didn't she ask the coaches to use a cell phone to call me and she said she didn't want to interrupt their meeting. I felt SO horrible.......what a bad mom! I asked her if she would forgive me for being such an idiot! I've never forgotten my kids before.......well, ok there was the ONE time where I kind of forgot to pick them up at school and my friend called me and said did they need a ride. I was only ten minutes late, but again, I was doing busy work at my desk and got distracted. I guess it's not as bad as leaving my baby on top of the car in it's carseat, or forgetting to pick Arlie up at the airport, but I still felt like a dork. This might be a good argument for a cell phone for my ten year old, right? Guess this is why they call us "wicked stepmothers!"

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sun Banks Resort

For fourth of July weekend we went to Sun Banks Resort, which is on Banks Lake near the Grand Coulee Dam. The resort was nice, but loud, and had a big "party" atmosphere. The beach was great and the kids loved floating around on rafts and paddling in the inflatable boat. Georgette loved swimming and it seemed to improve her lame leg! We spent time reading, swimming, sitting in the sun, visiting with Greg and Heather and their gang (they were in a different part of the resort), and eating! For the fourth, we went to the Grand Coulee Dam and watched a laser show and fireworks show. We got there five hours early, and ended up thinking the laser show was too long (Hannah lamented "why did it have to be educational?"). The fireworks were nice, not the best show we've seen, but pretty cool. Dennis and Mary Anne visited for the fourth so it was good to see them again. Hayley brought her friend Laura along - it was her first experience camping and she loved it. I'm not sure how much she loved seeing the "uncensored" side of our family (for example the night after we had chili for dinner - phew!). I told her "what happens camping, stays in the camper!" We had a lot of laughs and the weather was great. We're looking forward to the next trip!

Happy Birthday Hayley!

Hayley turned 15 today! Time flies.........I can't believe I have a child going to high school next year! I still remember so vividly the day she was born - what I ate for dinner just before I went into labor, the drive at 5 a.m. to the hospital, the part of the labor when I grabbed Doug by the hand and said "go get that guy who was sweeping the floors out there - he can deliver my baby!" I remember the intense pain (drug-free!), and "back labor". I remember my sister's boyfriend asking me, after it was all over, "did you see God?" - ha! It was not THAT bad, but........well, ok, it was. I was sure I might die. But mostly I remember when I found out I had a little girl! I was SO excited. All my life I wanted a little girl and the realization that I now had one was amazing. I was so sure I was having a boy, I almost had a hard time conceptualizing a girl. I just remember how happy I was and I remember dressing her in her tiny, all-white outfit to bring her home. I remember walking in the door of our duplex and thinking "now what do I do?" I remember taking her out for the first time (5 days old, we went to Coco's to eat lunch and I was so paranoid about putting her down on the booth!). Now she's almost driving age. She wants a My Space. She wears eyeliner and miniskirts and texts faster than any person I know. Sigh! She's my girl. Happy Birthday Hayley!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Big F-ing Deal! Jeff turns 40!

I got Jeff a card today that said something along the lines of "Fun, Fabulous, Fantastic.........apparently turning 40 is a big f-ing deal!" First, minutes after I woke to greet him and wish him happy birthday, we had the "dog incident" (see last post). That sent Jeff rushing to get dressed and rush to the vet, even before he had seen his presents. Then, when he got back, we did the "present thing" and he went to work. There, they got him a pizza lunch (we also had pizza for dinner at his party!) and a few "happy birthdays". After work, we had a little party with some neighbors. He got lots of wine, cards and an REI gift card. The beer was flowing freely (in iced beer glasses no less - it's real classy around here!) and I noticed later in the evening, Jeff had moved on to Coke and..........something? Rum? Anyway, he got good and pickled and was sleeping it all off by 11. I think he's taking 40 pretty hard. But he says he's "recommitted" to living a healthy life (this after hurting his knee playing soccer, his elbow playing softball, falling off his bike - twice - and finding out his cholesteral is on the high side). You go, Jeff! I say it's about time he joined us 40 (and up) year olds!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sad day!

Today our 6-year-old Lab, Georgette, suffered a very unusual and tragic accident! She tried to jump on our bed in the morning, missed, let out a small cry, and suddenly could not use her hind legs at all! We took her to the vet, and then the vet emergency room (where Arlie and I spent four hours!). All signs pointed to FCE, or Fibrocartiligenous Embolism. This is a situation where a dog can be acting completely normal, and after playing (or a fall, such as in her case) suddenly collapses and is unable to use their back legs. What happens is the gelatinous fluid between the disks is suddenly pushed into the arterial system in the spinal column. It is essentially a "stroke" causing paralysis and nerve damage to the affected area (usually the rear limbs). At this point, Georgette can move her front legs normally, but her back right leg is completely paralyzed and drags and her left back leg is weak. Recovery can be complete or not at all. We just have to wait and see. In the meantime, we'll be taking her with us on our camping trip. We have a sling to help her move and walk and we'll just have to keep an eye on her and give her good nursing until we see some improvement, hopefully within the next few weeks. It's very sad to see a active, happy, playful dog suddenly become handicapped, but essentially, that's what it is. We will update her progress as she hopefully improves.