Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tri and Tri Again - Anatomy of a Triathlon

Warming up beforehand. A little yoga never hurt anyone!

Waiting to go in the water with the elite wave. Jeff is the short guy in the back!

Just swam 400 yards! Whew!

Coming out of the swim, goggles off!

First transition. Out of the swim, put on socks, bike shoes, shirt, while dripping wet!

Can't forget the helmet. It's a USAT rule!

Leaving on the bike, minutes from the swim. See you in 9 miles!

Coming in on the bike. Dismount!

Second transition. Switch from bike shoes to running shoes.

Leaving on the run. 1.6 miles.

Coming in from the run. Don't go right! Follow the cones. Elite class does it twice!

Back in the water! No wetsuit this time. 400 more yards.

Back from the swim! That was fun!

Swim to bike transition. Put the sweaty socks back on!

Heading out for another 9 miles!

Back again! Ready for a run?

YES! Double triathlon completed!
Make it official - cross the finish line!

A well-earned medal!
Jeff completed his first double triathlon today. It was a super sprint tri (shortest distance), which meant 400 yards (1/4 mile) swim, 9 mile bike and 1.6 mile run - twice! The second time around there was no time to put on a wetsuit and of course, he had just completed the first tri and had to muster the energy to do the whole thing over again! He was in the elite class with 27 other crazy men and women who did it twice. Despite having a badly injured hamstring, he pulled it off and got an awesome medal and lots of cool swag (tech shirt, sunglasses, race belt, etc.). Even at almost 41 he's still able to pull of amazing feats of physical strength and endurance (ok, he can't leap tall buildings in a single bound, but he's a superhero to me!). Way to go, Jeff! I loved being your race support and taking photos. You're an inspiration!

Friday, June 26, 2009

How To Care For a Guinea Pig

Harrison has become the temporary owner of Max, the class guinea pig. So, as if we didn't have enough animals, we now have a rodent to add to our mix. And sometimes Harrison is gone at his dad's but poor Max is left behind and I really don't know much about guinea pigs. So, I asked Harrison to write down some instructions on how to care for Max in his absence. Here is what he wrote (on a post-it note):


Check his food & water every two days or so and mabey pet him. Mabey give him a few carrots. - Harrison.

Well, that's good info! "Mabey" pet him? I'll try to keep the poor little thing alive in Harrison's absence. But no promises!

Best Husband Award!

Tonight we went out to dinner and I realized as we walked into the Mexican restaurant that I was still wearing my running shoes (and capris - very stylish combo) because I had just finished taking a walk with my neighbor Carla. I felt like SUCH a dork in my running shoes and said to Jeff, "don't I look like a dork?" to which he replied "yes"! But then, on our way up the stairs he said "here, why don't we switch shoes, you can wear my flip flops and I'll wear your running shoes" so we did (and ewww.....mine were sweaty but he put his bare feet in them anyway!). I instantly looked better and couldn't believe how generous he was! I mean, really? To switch shoes with your wife so she doesn't look like a dork and then stuff your feet into her sweaty sneaks? Now, that is true love! What a guy!

Who Made This Big Mess?

Anyone remember the show "The Big Comfy Couch"? There was this annoying person dressed as a clown named Loonette and every show she would make a mess and then go "Who made this big mess?" and then she would nod knowingly and say "Oh, me, huh? Well, I guess I'd better clean it up! It's only fair!" and she would go about cleaning up the room doing the "ten second tidy" (and quite cheerfully, I might add). Well, my kids watched that show faithfully but somehow that message never quite sunk in. They just left for their dad's house and here is a list of their indiscretions: sofabed still out, covers strewn about all over the floor, Monopoly game spread out over the garage floor, BB gun, BBs and eye protection thrown on the office floor, kitchen counter covered with plates, cups, a large bowl encrusted with pancake batter, mixer with beaters cemented in pancake batter..........I could keep going. The point is, they are now gone and unless I leave this mess for the next three days, I have to clean it up. In fact, I already had to clean up the kitchen mess because both sides of the sink were packed full of dirty dishes (and the dishwasher next to the sink was completely empty and ready to receive all those dishes). Hayley is the main culprit this time - the BB gun thing and the Monopoly game were Harrison but it was Hayley who left the bed undone and made the pancakes. And, I'm sorry, but she's 16 and she should know better (they all should know better, we have no toddlers in this house). To think that the magic cleaning fairy just comes and makes this all go away is just crazy. And it's even more infuriating that I can't do a damn thing about it. There's no way in hell their dad would agree with bringing them back to clean up (although, in my opinion, that's the solution to this problem). So, the best I can do is saddle them with extra, unpleasant chores when they return. And then they complain that "it's summer and we're supposed to be relaxing!" Yeah? Me too. In fact, I believe I have been so drained of energy that I shall need to refuel at The Rock or some other venue where adults go. And where there is no mess or pancake batter to clean up. Children, you have been warned! Yucky chores await you. Next time? CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELVES!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bad Veins

So, I have bad veins. I mean, not that this is a major character flaw, but still. Since I have to have my blood drawn pretty frequently, I get to experience the unfortunate side effects of having bad veins and it's not fun. For one thing, I always have to go in fasting. Which means I'm also probably pretty dehydrated. Which does not bode well for bad veins. So, the technician usually starts out by applying that little tourniquet thing? You know, the one they pull so tight that you're pretty sure your arm might fall off (and frankly, is the more painful part of the process, because latex against bare skin with tiny hairs? Not a good combo!). Then, they have you make a fist. You know, to "plump up" those flat little veins with nary a few drops of blood running through them. But, having bad veins, mine don't plump. So, they flick my skin a few times with their latex-gloved fingers, I guess to scare the vein into jumping into shape. When that doesn't work they start looking for good veins in other areas of my body - sides of arms, back of hands, ankles. Yes, ankles. Crazy, I know. After a few bad experiences, I now refuse to have my blood drawn anywhere but the usual - inside the elbow. I KNOW I have some good veins in there. Or at least a few that will behave long enough to give a little blood. So, then the tech decides they better make the stab (I think there is time limit on this but I'm not sure, all I know is they finally decide to just go for it) and, more often than not, it's a fail. But, oops, now the needle is already firmly implanted under my skin so they decide to fish around by moving the needle in, out, up, down and sideways in an attempt to accidentally stab one of my bad veins. Sometimes they do. Other times they have to start the whole thing over - on the other arm. Once they hit paydirt, it's all downhill from there. The blood is plentiful (hence the four tubes) and everything is A-Ok. Until it's over. And they put that little cotton ball on and tell you to apply pressure. Then, they insist on putting that horrible papery white tape over the cotton ball. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it's totally obvious - HEY! I just had my blood drawn! Wanna know why? I hate the papery tape/cotton ball combo. I would rather have a Spongebob bandaid than the tape. So, I get to leave then, but of course I wore a short sleeved shirt so I have this big blob on my arm screaming MEDICAL PROCEDURE. So, naturally I have to take the tape off. And it hurts. And sticks. And leaves nasty red marks on my arm. Now, I have a big ole bruise and nasty red marks. Which prompts the response OH WOW! What did you do to your arm? No, getting my blood drawn is never a subtle thing for me. Which is why I treated myself to Starbucks after. Better than a lollipop!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Beer Fridge

We spent a good part of yesterday driving hither and yon trying to find a suitable fridge for our "new" beer fridge. We didn't want to buy new, seeing as it was going to be drilled for beer taps, so it was a challenge to find something decent, that worked, at an affordable price! But we finally did (thank to Mom's Appliance on Aurora) and Jeff set to work making it into the "new" beer fridge. He had to install a new board for the taps as the old one was too thick, and that required some new bolts, but it's done and ready to be plugged in for the two kegs of beer he's currently working on - Milestone Ale (for work) and Independence Ale (for our 4th of July party). He even saved the magnets and stickers from the old beer fridge to make this one look broken in and tacky right from the get-go! Go Jeff!

First and Last!

Harrison's last day of school June 19, 2009

Harrison's first day of school, Sept. 2008, 4th grade

Arlie's last day of school June 19, 2009

Arlie's first day of school, Sept. 2008, 5th grade

Hannah end of school year, June, 2009

Hannah's first day of school Sept. 2008, 8th grade

Hayley, May 2009, end of sophomore year!

Hayley, first day of school Sept. 2008, 10th grade
Look how much the kids have grown up this year! It's amazing to see how many changes they go through in just one short school year. Time flies.............

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Book Reviews!

I just finished my 12th book for this year (and wow, it seems like I'm slowing down on my reading lately). Reading classics for book club has not been easy and so slogging through those boring books has seriously cut into my reading for pleasure time! But here's a list of what I've read so far, and my reviews:
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - I've read this one before, but it was a re-read for book club and really a great book! Everyone should read this at least once in their lifetime.
2. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - I would have enjoyed this as a first read when I was younger. I found it a bit tedious to read and the dialect was kind of hard to follow. The story is good, though it's not one of my favorites.
3. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis - this was a book we read for 5th grade book club with Arlie. It was actually a really enjoyable story, well-written and interesting. It's a "kids book" but I enjoyed it plenty as an adult reader.
4. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris - what can I say? It's David Sedaris. He's hysterical. While some of his stories border on psycho, most are really funny and make for a quick read.
5. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson - This book was just ok in my opinion. It was a very compelling story of a man who pretty much moved mountains and built schools for girls in Pakistan but there was a lot of "fill" that made the story boring at times.
6. The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne - there's a reason why this is a thorn in the side of so many high school students who are required to read it. It's BORING, predictable and the old English language writing style is just tedious to read. It felt like a chore the entire time.
7. Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner - This was a funny, easy "chick-lit" read. I like Weiner's style of writing and she really gets at the heart of her characters.
8. Kerplunk by Patrick McManus - this was a recommendation from Jeff. He has been a McManus devotee for years and I've never thought of reading these humorous hunting and fishing stories because, well, they're just not something that I'm interested in. But his writing is hysterical and the characters are unforgettable. I'll definitely read more of McManus after this.
9. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan - Corrigan has a nice style of writing - kind of like having a conversation with a good friend. I enjoyed the book - a story of how she deals with a cancer diagnosis while at the same time dealing with her father's own cancer diagnosis. Funny and witty.
10. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer - probably the worst book ever written. Meyer's writing style is so bland and amateur that I simply cannot believe her success. Her first book, Twilight, was passable because it was her debut novel, but the second time around she could have thrown in a few original metaphors. The story was just not believable - and not because it was about vampires and werewolves. I shudder to think about reading the final two in the series, but my girls insist I must. Bleh.
11. Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult - I enjoyed this book as much as I enjoy any book of Picoult's but I realized they are all pretty much the same storyline with different characters. Not very original. But again, she's enjoyed amazing success. However, quantity of books does not make one a good writer. Her quality could use some improvement. Still, I am captivated by the characters and storylines and she does good research.
12. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen - this, too, is a young adult novel, but I enjoyed it! I picked it up on a whim because it was a Newberry winner (and I found it at the thrift store!) and found it to be quite a read. It's a survival story and I actually found myself sucking in my breath in a gasp from time to time as another exciting/scary/unfortunate thing happened to Brian, the main character.

I'm currently reading "Twenty Wishes" by Debbie Macomber so I'll post about that when I'm finished.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Last Day of School!

Today was the last day of school for the kids and this is what I did first! HAHA! Well, actually first I went to Hannah's end of year recognition assembly, where she did a couple of songs with the choir (I tried to record it but the camera's batteries were dead!) Then, I went to the elementary school for their recognition assembly and slide show (always very cool and this year a lot of my own photos were in it!) We were supposed to have a party in our neighborhood, but the stupid Seattle rain in June canceled that! We've had nothing but beautiful weather for what seems like ages now, and today it pours! We ended up going to McDonald's for lunch, picking up Hayley at school (she stayed after for an ASB meeting), dropping Hayley off at the mall for a movie w/ friends, shopping at the mall, coming back home for about a half hour, dropping Harrison off at an end of year party, going back to the mall to pick up Hayley, coming back home, and now I'm waiting to go pick up Harrison from his party. Jeff left to drive Arlie to Vantage to meet her mom for a 12 day visit. It's going to be a long, rainy drive for him! It's supposed to rain all weekend (SO fitting for the end of school) so that might, quite literally, rain on our parade, as we planned to go to the Fremont Solstice Parade (complete with naked, painted bicyclists!) But now we might just do some busy work, like getting firewood for the fire pit this summer and acquiring a beer fridge! We're in a crucial stage of beer-making and we NEED a new beer fridge! I've put out a plea on Facebook and perused the Craigs List ads. Tomorrow night we're going to yoga out at a special event yoga class/concert (after dropping the kids at their dad's) and Father's day will be spent kid-free, hopefully kicking back and relaxing! If things go as usual, it will rain until the 4th and then our real summer will start! I knew I planned all those camping trips in August for a reason!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Awesome Field Trip!

UW Game Preserve
Female red-winged blackbird on a beaver lodge.

Frog camoflauge!
Geese in a row...........
Blue heron rookery

Bald eagle - Juanita Bay Wetlands

Duck at UW Game Preserve

I love this one! Juanita Bay Wetlands.

Also a favorite! Turtle trio! Juanita Bay Wetlands.

These were mutant dandelions - they were as big as a man's hand! This game preserve was built on a former dump - hmmm.......toxic waste?
We took a GREAT field trip on Tuesday with Arlie's class to UW Game Preserve, Juanita Bay Wetlands, St. Edward's Park, and the heron rookery. We saw so much wildlife and it was a beautiful day. We hiked for HOURS, through grasses as tall as our heads, on the trails and in the park. The teacher took us on what she claimed was a "short hike" through St. Edward's park. We hiked up and up and went right off the trail and up the hillside, ending up in someone's back yard! She said she had lost her way, so went around to ask directions of the owners, then emerged out the back door, holding two big boxes of popsicles! It was HER house. The kids were thrilled (and the parents were duped - we had no idea!). It was an exhausting day, but so much fun!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stop Touching My Stuff!!! Or Bad Dog Shade, part ??

My recent posts about there being no respect or boundaries for other people's stuff in the house can now extend to the DOG! Shade, to be exact. He has taken to hopping up on our bed at night. Now, when my sheets were in need of changing, I didn't mind (just this one night and I'll change the sheets tomorrow - however, that changing sheets thing didn't happen the next day or the day after that, or the day after that, but I digress.......). The thing is, while I appreciate that the dog is old and surely more comfortable on OUR bed, he has a perfectly adequate blanket and pillow (yes, his OWN pillow) at the side of our bed which should suit any dog just fine. The REAL problem here is Jeff. Because he LETS the dog get up in the bed and then claims "he just jumped up and wouldn't listen to me when I said to jump down." Yeah, right! True, he has NO control over his dog (we all know who the real alpha dog is around here!), but seriously? Last night I got in bed and not only was Shade lying on MY side (as usual) but his BUTT was on my pillow! It's one thing to have him lie at the end of our bed (preferably on his own blanket so as to keep the dog hair to a minimum), but this dog claims my side as if it's his own, and then has the nerve to plant his backside on my pillow where I put my FACE? I think not. Needless to say, I lost it! I ranted and raved, pointing out how hard I work and how difficult it is to find time to wash sheets in the face of our ridiculously huge laundry piles, and how these were brand-new, clean sheets just put on the bed, etc. and ended with "I want a new pillowcase," slammed the bathroom door behind me and proceeded to get ready for bed. (Jeff did get me a new pillowcase, but still.......). I think the real problem, and what set me off, was that it's like there is NO space in this house I can call my own. The bathroom gets overrun with the girls taking my makeup, my bed is claimed by the dog. No wonder I sit and read on the toilet! It might only take me a few seconds to take care of business in there, but I will sit and finish a chapter of my book because it's the only place I KNOW I can be alone, no one bugging me (and that's not even entirely true, because the kids and Jeff will stand outside the door and talk to me!!). I just think my bedroom should be my sanctuary, at least a place I can escape and know that my ONE HALF of our queen-sized bed is mine and will remain undisturbed until such time as I would like to crawl in and escape (for about five hours, since that's all the sleep I get these days anyway). I swear, if things keep up like this, I'm going to rent a studio apartment for myself. When I want to escape, I'll say something like "I need to pick up a few things at the store!" and I'll race to my apartment where I'll bliss out in total solitude! And perhaps drink tequila straight from the bottle. SIGH.........

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hannah's photo shoot!

As you may know, Hannah was chosen as the 2009 Honoree for the Arthritis Foundation's Jingle Bell Run in Seattle. So, she has to submit a photo and bio for their publications. We did our "photo shoot" on Friday (with ME as photographer!) and here are the results! We went with the cute one of her sitting on the bench (closer up), but I had to share most of them because they are just so.........Hannah!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Last night we attended Dakota's 4th birthday party and there were a lot of kids there. And, you know, I sorta like kids (haha!) so I was of course playing and talking to them all. There was one little boy who was SO sweet and kept wanting to take pictures w/ my camera. And I know a lot of people wouldn't let a 4 year old touch their $1000 camera, but this kid was like the paparazzi! He was shooting photo after photo and half of them were actually decent and he was loving it! It was the cutest thing (and yes, I kept my hand on the camera at all times). At some point in the party, Jeff came up to me and said "watching you with kids is like poetry." That just melted my heart! I think that's the sweetest thing ever. I really do love kids and I just "get" them so it's totally natural for me to gravitate towards the kids at a gathering and just enjoy their amazing little imaginations and creativity. Not too long ago, I was thinking about "careers" and I thought "well, I never did much in the way of a career." I mean, I graduated from college with a degree in English, and promptly got married and had Hayley. And then I had Hannah and along came Harrison and during that time, I realized I was continually working on a career in "children." Whether it was raising my own kids, or working at the hospital teaching parenting classes, or writing for a parenting publication, or doing in-home daycare, I've pretty much worked at a career with kids since I was 15 years old. And I still love it! And now I'm a nanny. And while some people might think that's just glorified babysitting, I know it's so much more than that. It's bringing my 26 years of experience working with kids to two little girls and learning a lot from them in the process. Myla and Dakota are amazing and Dakota's special needs have given me the opportunity to learn so much, while Myla's contagious spirit makes me happy every day. So, I guess, without really realizing it, I've made a career in children and I can't imagine any other career more valuable. Raising my own kids or helping with someone else's, I really do love my job! "Do what you love and love what you do" is a motto I can say I've adopted. But it's made so much sweeter when someone really values what you do. Jeff's comment really made my day!

The Virtues of Eating Crap

Well, not ACTUAL crap, but food that is not good for you. Nutritionally, that is. Good as in tasty! Like Starbucks for example. I've been cutting WAY back, mostly because I'm broke, but that's another story. So, the other day, I had a perfectly good opportunity to get Starbucks (I was actually IN the parking lot) but being broke, I decided not to spend my few dollars on it (after all, we needed toilet paper!) and I declined. But I was really, really craving my sweet treat and yummy coffee. I had to go to Target (to get the toilet paper) and while I was there, I inadvertently went down the aisle bedecked with Little Debbie treats! As you may or may not know, one of my favorite junky treats is Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls (and thanks to my cousin Shelly, I now know they are even better frozen -yikes!). So, I eyed a box of those little delights and realized that at only $1.24 for a whole box it was a BARGAIN compared to getting a sweet treat at Starbucks. Then, I checked the calorie content - 270 for two wonderfully chocolatey, cream-filled rolled up cakes! As opposed to around 500 for a scone or toffee almond bar, this was a virtual calorie bargain! Bargains all around. So I picked up a box and later enjoyed a package of Swiss Cake Rolls with a glass of milk (and might I add the milk had calcium, vitamin D and all sorts of other good things in it!). So, while eating Swiss Cake Rolls has always filled me with guilt, I now know that they are practically a VIRTUE compared to Starbucks and shall no longer riddle myself with all-consuming guilt for enjoying a few on occasion. I did hide them from the kids, though. Geesh, I'm not stupid!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dakota's birthday party!

We went to Dakota's 4th birthday party today. It was a lot of fun and I finally got to meet more of the extended family of the Lee's, whom I nanny for. Their girls are so sweet and fun and my kids just love them. They look forward to every opportunity they get to spend time with them. It's so fun to have little ones in our lives still, especially now that our kids are growing up so much! Here are some of my favorite party photos.