Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A yammering post 'bout nothing

I can't believe I haven't had a moment since Christmas to blog about the day! Our little Ellie was very sick and not much up for Christmas presents, but Mitchell was wild about the gifts. It was a delight to see sheer joy radiate from him. We had wrapping strewn everywhere as Mitchell plowed through the presents shrieking in delight at each new item.

We had the pleasure of hosting Christmas dinner at our home this year. My grandma and great aunt even joined us. It was quite a feast...I am surprised the table withstood the weight of the fix'ns! It was scrumptious! It was the relaxing day I had hoped for.

Mitchell and my nephew played until they were delirious with exhaustion. We adults enjoyed a few rounds of a new game called Buzzword and then our favorite game of all...Balderdash! The more tired we got the more clever the answers we wrote!

Now I am sitting pondering 2008. What a year! As we leave it behind I find myself down with a wicked cold and holding a heating bill for over $500. Apparently we were almost Smokey Acres revisited. Our heater's circuit board (I don't know what it is but it turns out it is very expensive!) has been "arcing" and at some point caught fire and fried itself. All I knew was I punching the buttons on the thermostat to no avail. We went just one night without heat and it only got to 51 degrees inside. Thank goodness the fog set it and kept a bit of warmth close to the ground. We bundled up in sweatpants and blankets and snuggled in deep.

But heat or no heat, I am thankful to have a house we call a home. I am thankful for my dear hubs and our amazing children. We make it through ups and downs together. Though, I do admit that I am hopeful for a few more ups in 2009! Whatever comes our way we will attempt to take it in stride and have some fun and develop more character along the way!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bringing Back Santa

When my brother and I were young, Santa would come visit us before bedtime on Christmas Eve (or the eve of Christmas Eve). We wanted to have this same tradition for our children. So we called up Santa and he made a surprise visit that left my son and nephew speechless!

Santa was his jolly ol' self! It was wonderful and amazing to see him after all these years. And, like magic, his pack had the exact presents the boys asked him for as they sat on his lap...well, okay, he had the fifth thing my nephew asked for!

Unfortunately, Miss Ellie was under-the-weather. She didn't want to sit on Santa's lap...she was clinging to me like a monkey. When Santa asked her if she wanted a "horsey" she shocked her head "no" and turned away. Then Santa said, "I bet instead of a horsey you want a pony!" Magic words! She spun head around and gave a nod that said, "Well, I wouldn't turn one down if you have it in your bag there." How does Santa know these things!?!? Ellie hung onto that new pony even as she rested after Santa left.

Santa reminded the kids to be good and to mind their parents...Santa is good! And, if they behave today, he will be sure to visit our homes tonight after they are sleeping and leave special gifts for them.

The kids were beyond impressed that, at his most busy time, Santa came to see them. And my brother and I had the joy of giving our children something that was so special to us growing up. We witnessed everything from the eyes of parents and know why our own parents made sure Santa came to see us every year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Katie and my BIG Teeth

One thing I am totally self-conscious about is my overbite. It is a dosey. I have to keep myself in check because if I ever let myself go slack-jaw with boredom I get a look of complete, "DUR!" It was the thing the "Mean Girls" in high school picked on. It is one of those quirky attributes I should embrace, like the bump on my nose, but I am not there yet...even after 35 years!

So I go to pick up my children from preschool. While I am waiting for them to gather up all their gear I look up and see Katie is making a beeline for me. Katie is an inquisitive little pip who tells me her name every time I see her.

"My name is Katie."

"Hi Katie."

"What's your name?"

"My name is Jennifer."

"Jenfur?" she looks at me puzzled. "I thought you were Mitchell's mommy."

"Well, I am, but my actual name is Jennifer."

"Hmmm...Why are you Mitchell's mommy?"

Good gracious! "Well, I guess I am Mitchell's mommy because God wanted me to be his mommy."

"Hmmmm..." She seems satisfied with that answer but begins to hone in on my face. I think she must see a booger or something. I wait with dread...what is she going to say? And, then she spills it... "What's wrong with you teeth?"

"Excuse me?" I feel myself get hot. We have a mean girl in-training here!

"Your teeth. What's wrong with them?"

"I don't think anything is wrong with them." I squirm under the intense questioning. Where are my children? I start to look around.

"Why do they stick out like that?"

"They don't stick out." Total lie. It is obvious they do. But, really, it is just mean to point out.

"Yeah, like this..." And that evil child does an amazing beaver impersonation.

I think I have flashbacks to high school. I may even have lost consciousness for moment. When I regain my composure I kneel down to little Katie's level and I say, "My teeth stick out Katie so that I can bite things. All kinds of things." She looks at me like I have sprouted a third eyeball and she backs away. Thankfully, my children arrive in a screaming fury at their delight that Mommy-with-the-big-honking-teeth has come to take them home.

I am sure little Katie will mention me in therapy years from now. She probably has dreams of enormous teeth chasing her around. For now, she will likely continue to stare at me from a total awe of my big teeth. Though I doubt she will, but should she ever question me again I may have to add in a little growl for the full effect!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Cuties!

Mitch and Ellie were combed and polished for their Christmas program at school. It is rare to see their cheeks so clean and their clothes stain-free! Ellie does have a Kung-Fu Panda tattoo on her arm, but we'll let that slide!

Monday, December 15, 2008


... is super cute!
A dear friend provided us with these pj's that are hand-me-downs. I love hand-me-downs! And now, Mitchman is properly attired to save the a single bound of course!

Friday, December 12, 2008

White Christmas

We are gearing up for another White Christmas...Central Valley style! Instead of snowflakes and flurries we get fog. The kind of fog that has traffic reporters stating how many feet you can see rather than how many fractions of a mile.

The view from our doorstep at noonish is not too bad actually (isn't our "grass" lovely?). You can't see the school, but you can see across the street. These are the kinds of days when I love working from home. Pounding away on the computer with a cup of hot java is much better than battling the fog that wrecks havoc on all types of hair and makes the skin "glisten" in an unflattering way.

Looking at the picture above makes me laugh. It looks like our tree has a wild hair. What is that about? The smaller tree next to it is working on the same design. There is actually an even smaller three to the right just outside of the picture frame. They remind me of the Three Bears...Papa Bear, Momma Bear, and Baby Bear.

But, I digress...back to the fog. The fog has Mitchell very concerned about Santa's ability to find our house. He is asking very detailed questions that have Todd and I creating wild answers that always seem to involve "magic." Santa is magic. No, Santa is not at all like God, but Santa is magic. Santa can hear you with magic ears. Santa knows when you are being naughty because he is magic. Santa's sack is magic and that how he fits toys for the whole world in it. It is a magic time of year!

So, Mitchell is somewhat convinced that the fog won't hinder Santa too much. He did ask that we set carrots out for the reindeer so they will be able to keep their strength up. His says Rudolph's nose needs to shine extra bright to cut through the fog!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

OK Santa! We're Ready! Almost... we still have cookies to bake and packages to wrap...but the tree is up and decorated! And, the yard is very merry indeed!
Two ornaments met their demise at the hands of Miss Ellie. She wanted to see if a glass ball would bounce and if an angel would fly. Todd and I wanted in on the action also and we broke an ornament apiece. Thankfully, our two were not fatally destroyed. They are propped up on the kitchen counter while the Elmer's glue takes hold. Mitchell was too busy supervising the whole process to break anything.
The kids are getting very excited about the big night when Santa will come and fill their stockings; have some cookies; and leave some special presents under the tree. Actually, I should say that Mitchell is excited. Ellie seems a little freaked out about a jolly ol' fat man walking through the house at night. We will be working on that!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Brutely Honest

I admire honest people. The friends that love you enough to say, "As a matter of fact, you do look like a hippo in those jeans." Or, "You have a chunk o' chives in your front teeth." I don't consider these comments rude. I think they are helpful. Seriously. Hipponess is bad and chives are gross.

I live with two very honest people. They can't help it. They don't know about white lies. They don't attempt to spare feelings. They tell it like they see it. They are children.

At first, this was an adjustment for me. It took my dear hubs to put it into perspective for me...they are 2 and 4. They are just observing, not trying to be critical.

Here are some comments I have heard in the last few days...

From Ellie...

I was kneeling on the floor getting her dressed and my slacks had that fabric pooch. Ellie patted this and said, "Look Mommy! You are a fatty."

From Mitchell...

While I was mindlessly singing along with the Christmas CD in the car I heard a growl from the backseat followed by, "Momma! Quit making that horrible noise!"

From Ellie...

I came in from doing yard work and was getting undressed for the shower. Ellie walks in and waves her hands hollering, "Shooie! Shooie Mommy! You smell like a poopoo ball."

So that is the bad...but then their honesty forms the sweetest words sometimes...

From Mitchell...

"Mommy, you sure are handsome."

From Ellie...

"I want you Mommy! I loooove you Mommy!"

From Mitchell...

"I have my happiest days with you Mommy. You make my heart happy. I thank you and God for my whole world." (This one I heard at bedtime a couple nights ago and it still makes me tear up.)

So, I say we be like children. Go out and be honest! Shake someone up! Make them smile! Make them laugh! Be a true friend! And do an honest to goodness chive check for your buddies!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I believe... exact words were, "you guys can have fun, just please don't get muddy." Apparently, what they heard was, "blah, blah, have fun, blah, blah, blah."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday!

The alarm went off at 4am today. I hauled my body out of my cozy bed and prepared to meet my Mom in town at Starbucks at 5am. We were going on a mission! We decided to take on Black Friday!

By the time I reached Starbucks I was awake and excited about our adventure. After a caffeine charge we headed to Kohl's. Madness! I have only been to Kohl's a couple of times so I wasn't too familiar with the layout of the store. Major disadvantage! We had a couple of items that we just had to find. We went scouting and I found myself sidetracked. I completely lost my Mom in the chaos. Somehow, she ended up in jewelry. She called my cell phone and I went in search of her. My mom is a short little thing so you can't spot her by looking over the displays. It wasn't until she popped out in to an aisle that I saw her. We regrouped and refocused and got what we needed too. We met some very nice ladies in line to chat with for the next hour while we waited to pay for our treasures. After that, nothing could stop us!

We went to my new favorite store, Sur La Table. I thought it was just another she-she cooking store...and it is... but they have the most fun gadgets and gizmos! Loved it! Then we were off to Joanne Fabrics and then to a well-earned breakfast at Marie Callenders.

I guess the breakfast recharged my energy stores because when I got home I tackled the yard! When we decided to by this chunk of property I wasn't thinking about yard maintenance. Ugh! Twice a year we have to do major sprucing up! So, I took on the trees! I got 12 of them trimmed and slick looking. My dear, darling husband even fired up the chainsaw and did some major hacking on a mess of a tree in the back. I wanted to try out the chainsaw, but he said he didn't want to go to the ER today...hmph!

As I type this the leftovers are heating, the kids are bathed and yummy smelling, the dogs are snoring, and I am realizing that I am insanely exhausted! But what an awesome day! Our Christmas shopping is near complete! Our yard is looking decent again! And, the sounds of an evening at home are around me. Good stuff!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Count Yer Blessings!

I know. In times of great upheaval it is very hard to remember to count your blessings. But, with Thanksgiving upon us, now is the perfect time to take a moment and give thanks.

I am very blessed and have many reasons to give thanks...

1. I have faith in God and trust He will provide for my family.

2. My husband is just amazing. He loves me even when I scare myself when I see my bedhead in the mirror.

3. I have two absolutely incredible children who are happy and healthy and keep things hopping!

4. I absolutely treasure my parents, my brother, my nephew, my niece, my in-laws, my aunts and uncles, my grandparents.

5. I have amazing friends that I can laugh and cry with.

6. I have three doggies that defy their arthritis and greet me each morning with a wagging tail. And, I have three cats who let me pet them...sometimes.

7. I have a home bursting with laughter and love.

8. I have crazy low cholesterol.

9. I have legs that like to run.

10. I have a job. In a tough economy, I am blessed to have a paycheck coming in.

That is just a few of the things I am thankful for this year. Be sure to count up your blessings, you will have more than you realize!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Disneyland truly IS the happiest place on Earth!

I love, love, love Disneyland. I can't recall a time when I didn't realize there was a Disneyland. Growing up, my grandparents lived in the LA area so we were regular guests at the famous theme park. Disneyland has always been a special place for me and, now, I love sharing it with our kids. I am delighted that, despite a screeching ride on the Matterhorn with Mitchell, they love Disneyland too!

We spent a full day enjoying Disneyland. We rode Dumbo, the Disneyland Railroad, The Monorail, Finding Nemo Submarines, Astroblasters, Pirates of the Caribbean, Astro Orbiter...and, um...yes, The Matterhorn. Mitchell's favorite ride was Autopia. He and I shared a car and he LOVED driving around the course. Driving with him is not for the faint of heart or the was a rather jolting experience that had us both laughing!
Ellie said she most liked "The Boats." I am not sure if she meant the Storybook Land ride or It's a Small World both of which we rode. Ellie also met Dear Minnie Mouse, who is her favorite character!

We need to rack up some more Dream Dollars on the Disney Visa since Mitchell and Ellie are already wanting to go back. And, judging by his expression in the photo below, I would say that Todd is rip-roaring ready also...

That man just makes me laugh!

So we have some lessons we learned at Disneyland...

Keep a bit of Disney Magic in your heart this Christmas Season...

Be good to our planet 'cause we need her...

Make friends with all gorillas...

And remember, it is always good to be a little bit, well, Goofy!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tractor Kids and Christmas Shopping

My husband is a dear and patient man. He loves me and therefore accepts my quirkiness without question. Today, he gamely joined me Christmas shopping. That's right...I said Christmas shopping.

I absolutely love Christmas. I love giving gifts. I love baking cookies. I love decorating the the tree, the house, the yard. I love talking to our children about the birth of Jesus. I love the whole package, with one exception...I do not like to shop with crowds. Oh, I like to shop...just not with hoards of people clamouring about and breathing down my neck. So, about this time every year, I get the itch and off we go!

My wonderful parents took care of the kids for us today so we could freely shop for Transformers and anything Disney. Before the birthday party where I hear Mitchell made the first hole in the pinata, Grandpoppa took Mitch and Ellie to his work where they had a bunch of fun on the tractors.

I admit that I chose not to include the picture of darling Miss Ellie digging in her nose for gold!
Now, I remember how much I loved to visit my Dad's work as a child. I remember climbing up on those great tractors and sitting there pretending I was plowing a huge field. I remember the bouncy tractor seats and the feel of the enormous wheels. I even remember the smell of the parts department inside the building. Because I know this, I know what a wonderful time our children had today. I love that they are rough-and-tumble rugrats! I know that they were proud to be visiting Grandpoppa's work place. It was a special treat for them. And, I really hope Ellie didn't leave any boog's on a steering wheel.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Skinny Jeans

In dressing our two-year old, my hubs managed to unearth the last remaining article of clothing sized at 18-months. I walked in as he was wrestling Ellie into the ultimate in skinny jeans.

"I think those are 18-months," I commented.

"Let's see how they look," he replied.

With one great tug the jeans were on and Ellie was upright. She started to laugh and lost her balance. Unable to bend her legs, she fell over like a board. We all started laughing at that point. Daddy asked if she could stand up. She gave her legs as stiff swing and then firmly declared "No!" then she burst into a fury of giggles.

As I was walking away I heard Daddy tell Ellie, "We need to put these in the giveaway bin so I don't find them again!"

I just love that man!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Three for Three!

Five weeks ago I completed my first of three half-marathons. Today, I crossed the finish line of number three with my brother. It was the Inaugural Two Cities Marathon and Half. It was SO fun! I completed the race in 2:28:06 with Jason a step ahead of me with 2:28:05. If anything, we are consistent!

In the picture, Jason is celebrating the approaching finish line and I am cheering on the cheering sections! We made it our goal to cheer those who came to cheer us on and the response was so amazing! Our bibs were personalized, so as we clapped for those on the sidelines, they would yell support using our first names..."Way to go Jason!"; "Alright Jennifer!" It was a blast! I still get the tingles!

We were fortunate to have support from friends and family. When you find yourself miles deep in a race there is nothing better than a familiar face rooting you on!

The course was great! The breakfast at the end absolutely hit the spot! I love my shirt and my sweatshirt. It was a great adventure that I would definitely do again!

I am not sure what the next challenge will be. For now, we will keep our miles up and see what strikes our fancy. I know I am not up for the challenge of a full marathon. I wasn't envious of the runners who split from us after Mile 12 to complete the longer distance. We shouted cheers to them and were thankful the finish line for us was just around the corner. I would like to see my dear hubs and my sis-in-law in running shoes. Or, maybe even in a leg of a triathlon relay. I think we will have to see what spring brings!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Our two-legged children are super cute... meet our four-legged family members...who are also super cute!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Cowboy, A Superhero, and a Fairy

The kids were supercharged and ready for trick-or-treating this year! We met up with my brother and his crew at my parents house so all three kiddos could trick-or-treat together. They were all so cute and kept us in stitches all evening! Mitchell was a cowboy; Lukas was Captain America; Little Ellie was a fairy.

We trick-or-treated just a few houses, but the kids' pails were plenty full. We had a group of adults following the kids around. Brenda dressed up and joined the fun as an adorable witch. I love her stockings!

We spent the remainder of the evening sitting around my parents kitchen table while the kids burned off their sugar highs. Something about sitting around that table that brings out the laughter. It wasn't long before stories were being told and memories were being rehashed and we all doubled over with laughter. That kitchen table is the gathering place and could tell many stories about my funny family!

Friday, October 31, 2008

An Ooey, Gooey Good Time!

There is something about that first reach into a pumpkin. That first handful of seeds and pulp. It is
sheer goo and stickiness and it screams Halloween! I love it!

Tonight we finally had some time to sit down and enjoy a good old fashioned pumpkin carving! Mitchell was drawn to the tiny pumpkins this year so we found ourselves with three mini pumpkins and one larger sized one that Ellie immediately claimed. Mitchell was completely on board with cleaning out his pumpkin, but Ellie looked inside hers and then at us with a look of confusion. Surely we were not expecting her to dig out that gooey mess! She gave it the old preschool try but quickly decided she was much better at supervising pumpkin activities rather that actually partaking in them!

In the process of our carving event we learned that Alty and Sprocket both love pumpkins! Todd offered each a taste and ended up in a tug-of-war with Alty to get his pumpkin top back! For an old girl with a few missing teeth she has a strong bite!

When all was said and done we ended up with four very clever pumpkins. Ellie supervised me in making a traditional jack-o-lantern with triangle eyes and nose (well, as near triangle as I could manage). Todd's pumpkin was an angry face complete with eyebrows. With Daddy's help, Mitchell's creation was a scary pumpkin with a big nose. I tried to be uber-clever and carved my pumpkin on its side so the stem actually became the nose.
Now we get to enjoy phase two of the good old fashion pumpkin carving...eating the seeds! Todd got busy cleaning and salting and baking the seeds. I am certain they will taste a good as they smell and they smell really good!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Learning to be all things!

What is the appropriate response to your two-year-old dropping a bottle of bright nail polish on the bathroom floor and having said bottle shatter?

Be thankful.

Yes, be thankful.

Be thankful that...

1. No little toes or feet were cut in the process.

2. 95% of the polish coated the tile extra thankful for Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser! The remaining 5% was split between a bathroom rug (and they are meant to be disposable right?) and the bedroom carpet (and, should we ever move, that carpet will have to be replaced anyway!).

3. The broken bottle contained a color that really didn't look good on my toes anyway.

4. Auntie Sara was visiting and was able to whisk the kiddos into the other room and keep them occupied (painting her toes!) while I attacked the mess. And, I must say Auntie Sara's toes looked downright splendid. The more polish the better right? And, who says the color on the toesies of the right foot must match that of the left foot?

5. I looked into Ellie's eyes the minute that bottle shattered. At that moment, I saw it was an accident and, honestly, what does a pink floor matter? Had I not been able to clean up all the polish (or most of it anyway!) would it have really and truly mattered? No. I see the spots of pink polish on the carpet as signs of an eventful and happy childhood in progress.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nike Women's 1/2 Marathon! I ran like a girl...

... strong, fierce, and sexy! OK, I wouldn't exactly say strong. I do admit that Mile 4.5 found me walking, fighting back tears, because my left foot zinged with pain at every step. So I can't say strong exactly.

And, well, I know I wasn't sexy for certain. Sexy is the opposite of dripping sweat; a goofy gait to avoid pain; a big zit on my forehead. So, I guess sexy is out.

But fierce! Yes! I was fierce! When I ponied up at Mile 5 and told myself that the Tiffany necklace at the finish line would be mine, I was fierce! When I decided I would run through the pain in my foot and LOVE those monstrous hills, I was fierce! When I zoned out and focused only on that yellow line in the center of the road, I was fierce! So fierce is in! Fierce stays! I ran like a girl...fierce!

And, I had bunches of fun!

I ran the San Francisco Nike Women's 1/2 marathon solo. I finished in a respectable 2:29. I would have liked to have come much closer to a flat 2 hours, but with an achy foot and a 1/2 mile walk in there, I am pretty satisfied. I finished just steps behind the first place runner of the marathon. He did two miles for every mile I did! That is pretty zippy! Show off!
The hubs and I had a very nice weekend in the city. We found my name on the wall outside of Niketown amongst the names of 19,999 other runners! It was a wall of names, but there is something cool about seeing your name in print...even though I was on the crease!

The race kicked off at 7:00am on Sunday. It took a full 13 minutes to cross the start line! My hubs escorted me to my pace corral and stood by me until the crowd began to move forward. He bravely brought a Starbucks sandwich into the gaggle of girls which had one woman sniffing the air. He kept the sandwich low and discreet and waited to eat it until after we all started running. My hubs was swept up for a couple steps but eventually made it to safer ground.

I knew it was a women's run when I saw the Ghiradelli Chocolate Mile. I couldn't imagine eating chocolate at that point but I nabbed a couple squares for my dear hubs.

This race was so unlike any I have ever run before. There was the chatter of women the full 13.1 miles. There were random calls of support from runners to other runners. When the road split between the 1/2 marathoners and the full marathoners, I found myself yelling cheers and good luck wishes to the strong women doing a full 26.2 miles. There was a sense of camaraderie. The course was packed and there was definite support from runners of all different levels and ages to other runners of all different levels and ages. It was truly a great experience.

And, yes, I did earn my Tiffany necklace at the finish line! That little baby blue box was grasped tightly in my hand. I have yet to take the necklace off. It has reminded me that I can do anything no matter what obstacles I face...and also that my hubs will always be there right beside me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

City to the Sea...accomplished!

What a wonderful weekend we enjoyed at the Central Coast! My brother and I ran in the City to the Sea 1/2 marathon. The course took us from downtown San Luis Obispo to the Dinosaur Caves Park in Pismo Beach. As a bonus, we were able to spend some time with the kids by the water and some quality time with our relatives who live there. My aunt and uncle opened their beautiful home to us and cooked us an amazing pre-race meal! We also enjoyed seeing our cousins who had fun with our kiddos. Two of our cousins are in college and one is almost there. They are such bright, beautiful, and balanced girls! I hope my hubs and I are fortunate enough to see such a commitment to family in our kids when they are older!

I am not sure whether the kids enjoyed the beach or my aunt and uncle's home more. On our drive home, our son yelled, "I want to live at Uncle Bobby's house!" To which our two year-old replied, "Me too!" But, judging by the photos, I think they enjoyed the sand and surf quite a bit as well!

So my brother and I won our race! Well, we decided that to complete the race on our own two feet would be winning to us! We finished in a very respectable 2:28...actually I finished in 2:28:22 and my brother finished in 2:28:21! We ran the entire 13.1 miles together and then he beat me by a 10th of a second. I was surprised because I can never catch Jason when he sprints. I think the fact that his knee was giving him grief enabled me to stay glued to his tail the last hundred feet!

In all it was a wonderful time! I think this will become an annual event for us. I told my grandma she should run it with us and she resolutely stated, "No way!"

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Singing in the rain!

I think that running over 5 miles in the rain equates to running the full 10 my brother and I set out to accomplish this morning. Maybe?

I was delighted when I stepped outside this morning into a light drizzle. We need the rain! Then I thought, "Wait! I am on my way to a run!" So, for the first time in many years, I ran in the rain with my brother. And, it was fun! At first, my mother instinct kicked in and I thought, "We are going to catch the death of cold out here!" But we trotted along at a nice even clip and enjoyed singing some Laurie Berkner songs. I admit that I cannot carry a tune...I do like to sing though! I pity all within earshot of my vocal skills!

Those of you without kids or grown kids are missing out! Laurie Berkner rocks! She has these catchy little diddies that, as my brother said, get stuck in your head all day. So we sang Victor Vito and I tried to recall the words to We are the Dinosaurs and Laurie has a Pig on her Head (or something like that).
As my brother and I completed our first loop, we realized we were quite wet and it likely wasn't the best idea to continue on course since next weekend we will be running the City to the Sea 1/2 marathon. Now is not the time to get sick (like there ever is a time)! So we packed in it and I immediately directed myself to Starbucks for a cup o' java to warm myself up.
Surprisingly, I feel supercharged! Something about running and singing in the rain did me some good. I feel invigorated and ready to take on the half next weekend! Now that is rock'n!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

From the kids' perspective

Kids truly do say the cutest things...

  • My hubs and I round up the kids each night to say prayers. One by one we tell God what we are thankful for and send up any needs that we have or the needs of others. After her little prayer - which I know God understands verbatim - Miss Ellie says "The End" and claps her hands in delight!
  • After two nights of Mitchell barely eating any of his dinner I told him, as I tucked him in at night, that we would be having a favorite of his for dinner the next night...mac and cheese with hot dogs! He bolted upright and said, "That's what I'm talking about!"
  • Todd had worked in the office in the morning and when he changed into his grubbies to work on a car he left his dress socks on. When I brought the kids home from school, Ellie honed in on those socks. She ran over pointing to Todd's feet asking, "Wha hoppin?"
  • Mitchell was going back and forth between a cowboy and a pirate costume for Halloween this year. I told him he needed to decide because I am not a speedy seamstress. "I know!" he exclaimed. "I will be a storm cloud!" My hubs and I looked at each other and just started laughing. Yep! It's our kid that wants to be the big Cumulonimbus. Thankfully, he has reverted back to cowboy!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I Bonked!

For the third time in my years of running varied numbers of miles I bonked. I hit the wall. My mind said, "No more!" And, my body went kerplunk!

My first experience with the wall occurred while training for my marathon in 1999. During a 16-mile run I was hit with pace-wrecking fatigue. No longer would my legs take the strides I needed to complete my run. I was done. Crushingly done.

My second experience with the wall was during my last 1/2 marathon in November of 2007. I ran 8 miles strong and steady. I felt good. I felt that, though my pace was slower than I had hoped, I was going to knock out the last 5 miles with minimal pain. Then BAM! I was done. I wanted to scream! I wanted to cry! Mostly I wanted to call my dear hubs and have him pick me up and cart me home. I ran/walked...well, stumble/walked...those last, horrid 5 miles. I throbbed with pain as I crossed the finish line. I remember asking Todd why I was the only one hunched over and fretting for Ibuprofen. He was so dear and said, "You finished. Congratulations."

So today, what happened? I have no idea. I set out for 10 miles. I ran the first three like a breeze. My pace was quick, my mind was ticking. About 4 miles in I began to get a bit concerned. At 4 1/2 miles I was done. I hung my head and silently cursed myself. I was so upset with me! Then, something happened. I realized, with a great blow, that I just ran 4 1/2 miles. I ran on my own two feet, by my own sheer will. No, I didn't reach my goal for the day. But, I will reach my goal for the race. I have been so blessed with the ability and desire to run. Yes, I had a bad run, but I didn't have a bad day. I bonked, but I recovered. So I changed my thought. Instead of berating myself for only knocking out 4 1/2 miles I am delighted because today I ran 4 1/2 miles!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hydrox vs. Oreo

It is my humble opinion that Hydrox cookies have nothing on Oreos! As I did the working mom dash through Vons on my way to pick up the kiddos at Grandma's house this evening, I came across an end-cap that made me pause. It was a beautiful display of delightful cookie sandwiches nestled in that classic blue packaging. I admit I stopped because I thought they were Oreos and I have yet to come across an Oreo I didn't devour.

Then I noticed that kitschy logo that took me back to my Granny's kitchen where a snack before bedtime was a given and was always accompanied by a tall, cold glass of milk. How long had it been since I had a Hydrox cookie? Far too long I reasoned as I grabbed a packaged and tossed it in the cart.

I loaded the groceries in the car taking special care that the blue package with the old time logo sat in the seat next to me. I started the car and opened the package taking only enough time to acknowledge that the Hydrox is 100 years old this year. That is one old cookie! I ate one cookie and, could it be true? I ate another to confirm. And, yes, a third, just to make sure. It turns out the Hydrox cookie sandwich isn't all my memories made it out to be. I am definitely an Oreo girl. The chocolaty cookie part just wasn't as chocolaty and the creamy center part just wasn't as sweet and creamy as the Oreo.

That's not to say that the package of Hydrox will make it through the weekend unscathed. I feel pretty confident that all those cookies will be gone by Monday...Tuesday at the latest. They definitely are not what I remembered but I will enjoy watching the kids dunk them in tall, cold glasses of milk after their baths. Then, someday, they can reminisce about the olden days when we sat around the table as a family enjoying a bedtime snack. And, they will wonder when they last ate a Hyrdox cookie.

Monday, September 22, 2008

One race down, three 1/2 marathons to go!

Sunday, the 21st found my whole tribe on the running course! Only Mitchell and I had intended to run, but an ambitious little Ellie made sure she and Daddy ran too!

Thanks to my running buddy, Julie, I had a great race! She has an amazing ability to stay on pace mile after mile. When running solo I am a bit erratic. I run fast, then slow, then fast, then slow, then slower... But with Julie setting the stride, I finished the Cross City 10K in 58:43. I averaged 9 minutes and 29 seconds per mile! I love it! Julie finished a few steps ahead of me with a 9:25 average mile. What a great run for both of us!

The next event was Mitchell's 1/4 mile kids race! What a proud mama I was when he said he wanted to run like Mommy! As I walked to the start line with Mitchell, Ellie became adamant that she would be running the race too. So, with two running toddlers, my dear hubby had to dust off his sneakers and shake the cobwebs out of his knees.

Mitchell decided he would run with Daddy so I ran...carried...and then ran some more with Ellie! Mitchell had a great race! He ran his 1/4 mile in 2 minutes and 47 seconds! He had little legs of fury! Miss Ellie was an unofficial entrant so her time was not recorded, but I will say, we ran crossed the finish line dead last. For a two year old in a 3-4 year old race, I am just delighted that she finished on her own two feet...even if I did carry her for a couple steps mid-race!

Look at Mitchell's happy little face as he crossed the finish line with Daddy right behind him!
Miss Ellie looks a bit bewildered but she was mighty happy when she ran across the finish line amid a crowd of people cheering for the last, and littlest, runner!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Walk on the Wild Side

We took our four-year-old, Mitchell, to see Walking with Dinosaurs. We kept him in anticipation of a "big surprise" until we were in the car driving to the event locale. We asked Mitchell where he thought we were going?

"I don't know."

"What is something you have been wanting to see?"

"Hmmm... I don't know," Mitchell replied again.

"What big animals have you been wanting to see?"

"I know! Camels!"

"Camels? You want to see camels? OK, what other big animals have you always wanted to see?"

Mitchell looked at us nervously, like he is afraid to say it in case it isn't true. He squeaks out a soft little, "dinosaurs?"

"Yep! We are going to see dinosaurs!"

At this point we witness screams of excitement and a general bit of happy thrashing in the car seat!

I must say that we enjoyed Walking with Dinosaurs as much as Mitchell did. The dinosaurs were very life-like with blinking eyes and slow, plodding movements. It was easy to spot the actors in the small dino costumes and the stability bars under the bigger dinos, but I found myself so caught up in the theatrics that none of that mattered. I was so glad we splurged! We actually bought "cheap seats" but were front and center to the was perfect!

As one can imagine, Mitchell has been talking about dinosaurs non-stop since the show. It the car this morning he asked me so sincerely from the backseat, "Mommy? Can you tell me all about Walking with Dinosaurs?"

"Don't you remember sweetie?"

"Yes, but I want you to tell me what you remember and I will listen."

Aw! So cute! A budding paleontologist!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mice and Teeth

As I laced up my running shoes this morning I caught sight of something out of the corner of my eye. When I looked up, I found I was being watched by a the house! I am afraid of mice beyond logical comprehension. I looked from the mouse to my three dogs who seem too happy, fat, and old to chase mice. I weighed my options and opted for a mad dash to the bed where I landed on my sleeping husband. I explained the situation to this farm boy who reminded me that we had no mouse traps. This fresh knowledge actually made me light-headed. I instantly had visions of this mouse strolling through our home...walking on our sleeping children...taking liberties with our cereal boxes...pooping those little mouse poops!

My husband, my dear sweet husband, offered to walk down the hall and turn on lights so I could at least get myself out of the house for my run. He told me the mouse was more afraid of me than I was of it. I reminded him that the mouse was watching me and that I was the one who ran away!

So I went on my run, which was difficult because I had exerted so much energy freaking out about the mouse that I was actually spent. Seriously afraid of mice! Before I headed home, I went to Walmart to buy some mouse traps. I thought Walmart would be open, but I had to wait about 30 minutes. With time to kill, I went to Starbucks and grabbed a coffee and some breakfast. As I drove back toward Walmart, I passed a dentist office in the strip mall. I noticed it because it looked like a pretty rough place to get your teeth cleaned. That is when I noticed a poster hanging in the front of this dental office. It read...and I kind you not..."Pain is fear leaving the body." What the heck!?!? What does that even mean? Who in their right mind would go there for dental work? I just have one word in response to that...NOVOCAIN!

Now I am sitting here typing as my hubs...the dear man who fears no mice...sets traps. He is so sweet he agreed to set all four traps to calm my fears. My goal now is to get a shower so I can get myself to work. This entails entering the mouse zone! My head actually hurts at the thought. I guess mice are a part of country living though I didn't think of this when I signed the mortgage papers seven years ago!

Deep foot in front of the I go...

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Royal Throne

I believe that enjoying a trip to Lowe's or Home Depot is a sign of aging. As a child, I dreaded the weekend trips to look at knobs, lumber, and latches. Now, I get giddy with excitement! I think a sign of being even older is when a trip is warranted to buy new toilet seats and that same rush of excitement is felt.

Have you ever noticed the many toilet seat options? Did you know that they have seats that are ergonomically correct for your derriere? They have wood seats, clear seats, seats that are squishy, and seats that look like they are filled with water with fish in them. The have cheap seats and they have expensive seats. And, some manufacturers make seats that are antimicrobial. Yes, and these antimicrobial seats can even go in your dishwasher. Am I missing something? Do people really wash their booty seats in the dishwasher? This makes my stomach lurch. And, if such seats have been created to inhibit the growth of mold and mildew...why would they even require such a cleansing? It disturbs me. I am a Pine-Sol and Clorox girl! The dishwasher is strictly for dishes in this household! But I digress...

My hubs was very amused at my concern that we purchase a good quality seat. And, the kids amused us both by sticking their heads through the seats hanging from the lower shelf. We knew the seats had never been used, but there is still a gross factor here. We went through a number of handi-wipes back in the car as a prelude to the baths when we got home.

I am happy to say that after laboriously looking at every type of seat on display I found a nice Kohler design to rest our buns on. We hope you will like it too should you ever visit our humble abode! It isn't antimicrobial. And it doesn't have plastic fish in it. But, it is a nice place to have a sit down and do your business.

I think it says something about my week when the topic of choice is toilet seats!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fountain of Youth

Last night, we enjoyed dinner with my super amazing sis-in-law, Shib and my niece, Annie. We met at Red Robin after work since it is a favorite of the kids...and because Shib had coupons for free kids meals! Rock'n!!

After a yummy dinner, we went outside to "The Fountain". If the kids behave through dinner we tell them they can throw coins (no quarters though!!) into "The Fountain". Shib snapped the great pictures below that show the kids having a blast and burning off their dinner!

Good thing we didn't name Ellie "Grace". Doesn't quite seem to fit a little girl flashing her pull-up!
I think Mitchell is wondering if he can get his coins back for a few more throws! He has quite an arm on him! And, he is a lefty!

I love pictures taken from behind! It lets us see what they see. They see wonder in things we take for granted.

Running like the wind without a care in the world!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Murphy's Law

I am a case study for Murphy's Law: "If anything can go wrong, it will." Like today. We took the kids to the zoo. We had a marvelous time. There were literally hundreds of people at the zoo today. But, as I am a case study for Murphy's Law, it was my head that the bird poop hit. SO gross.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

No Vote, No Gripe

In November, the American voting public will take part in a historic election. What an amazing time this is! It doesn't matter whether the Republicans or Democrats claim the White House. No matter how the election shakes out, history will be made. We will either have the country's first black male president or the country's first female vice-president.

I don't care how people vote so long as they get out there and cast their ballots. The right to vote is an amazing perk to being an American citizen. We get to have a say in who will run our country. The power of the people is an amazing thing.

I truly believe that if a person doesn't exercise his/her right to vote then that person loses his/her right to gripe! Why would I listen to a person bemoan American politics if that same person chooses not to have their voice be heard? I get so frustrated on election day when the voices of the few make the choices for the masses.

My husband and I always go vote together. We go first thing in the morning on our way to taking our children to preschool and nursery school. We want them to witness us exercising our right to vote. We want them to be voters when they are older. We want them to care about their town; their county; their country.

So many people think that their vote doesn't matter. Think about grains of sand or granules of sugar. If you keep taking just one grain or granule away...eventually you will be left with nothing. It will take a while, but the pile will dwindle. That is how it is with voters. As voters we need to be a part of the pile! If voters keep choosing not to vote, then the pile will dwindle and the power of the people will be lessened.

Get out there on Election Day and exercise your right as a citizen of these great United States! I will gladly argue politics with you all day long as you vote. If you don't vote, don't gripe about who takes up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The little tourist

Thankfully Mitchell and Ellie will be spending the day at Grandma's house. Why is this such a good thing? Mitchell dressed himself without a hint of supervision this morning. He proudly showed me his outfit and announced he was "very handsome." How could I ask him to change after that?

What does the offending attire look like? I wish I had taken a picture! He has on a yellow and blue sleeveless t-shirt with a truck on the front. He followed that with a different shade of blue shorts. Not so bad right? He then put on crew socks that he pulled up to his knees and completed the look with brown, slip-on dress shoes. I think the accessory that pushed the envelope is an old, orangey, yellow hat that I wore when I was about five-years-old. I found it in the garage while looking for something for Ellie. The hat is made of canvas that has gotten stiff with age. It is an old-school, beach-style hat that engulfs Mitchell's head like a salad bowl. The best part? It proclaims "CALIFORNIA" in bold, topsy-turvey letters. Yes, my son is styling! He has gone where fashion never dares to go! He just needs a camera slung around his neck.

But, I have to say that despite his gear, the proud smile of his face did indeed make him "very handsome" this morning!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tagged: 7 Things

The rules: Write a post stating 7 random facts about yourself. Then tag 7 others to do the same.

7 - I am training to run two 1/2 marathons just one week apart from each other...and considering a third.
6 - I LOVE containers and will organize anything given the chance.
5 - I am quite shy and over compensate by acting goofy and trying to make people laugh.
4 - I love reading at bedtime...first to my children and then on my own.
3 - I would love to be published some day...children's picture book, novel...something that makes people smile.
2 - I have a learner's permit to get my motorcycle license but am nervous because I am clumsy.
1 - My daughter is two and currently calls my breasts "Mommy's Balls."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Call me crazy...

...but I love to run! I know, I is not natural. Most people I know run for the benefit and not for the joy. I run for both! I began running in 1999 when I decided to give up skydiving for a land sport. I signed up to run a marathon for The Leukemia Society and so it began! Now my runs are much shorter and I run to complete the race not win it by any stretch.

These past couple of weeks I have been running four days a week and I am so happy to be putting the miles on my Brooks. Between my brother and a new running buddy, I am back to running on a regular basis and am starting to reap the benefits that running gives me. It helps me sleep better at night because it alleviates much of my stress; it gives me a clear mind to focus on the challenges of the day; it provides me with endorphins which help me to feel better about myself; and, goodness, it lets me eat like an absolute cow! I do love food!

My son has a pair of sneakers that he calls his running shoes. He helped me cross the finish line in a half marathon I completed in November. He stood at Mile 13 with my hubby and daughter and grabbed my hand to run the last tenth of a mile with me. (He must have know I felt like I was going to keel over. That is the last race I will ever run without properly training!) Mitchell is looking forward to the Susan Komen event held in Fresno every year. They have a kids run and he can't wait to put on his running shoes and race the other kids. The kids' route is extremely short and they win little gold medals on pink ribbons at the end. So, at four years old, Mitchell is already collecting race day t-shirts and developing a joy for the fury of fast feet.

I know! Many of you are shaking your heads thinking there is no good reason to run unless you are being chased! I felt this way too after my son was born and I attempted to get back into my groove. It just didn't happen. It would take me 20 minutes to run/walk a mile. At the end I was so exasperated and exhausted I never wanted to run again. I hung up my kicks, seemingly for good, but after my daughter was born I began to feel the pull again. I started slowly...running around the block...running to the end of the street... And, before I knew it I was logging miles again and loving it.

My poor husband hates to run so he was thrilled when he heard my brother was also taking up the sport. It saved my husband's knees and his sanity. I love to run in the coolness of the morning and my husband is less a morning person than he is a runner. We have our bikes that we enjoy together, but running is my passion alone.

I am looking excitedly ahead to the runs I have in the next few months. I also look forward to my training which brings me so many benefits. I may not run very fast, but I can knock out a few miles on any given morning. And, I get to be an example to my children to get out there and do something! Plus, there is just joy in the ability to stretch my legs and get my blood pumping on my own terms...not because I am being chased! Goodness knows if I was being chased I would trip and fall and there is not a bit of joy in that!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Weekend Fun!

What a fun weekend we enjoyed! We spent both Saturday and Sunday swimming with friends...a great treat to beat our Valley heat!

Saturday we visited my hometown and enjoyed a reunion of sorts. My parents best friends invited us all down for a day of swimming with their kids and grand kids. If you ever want to feel old, watch the little boy you used to babysit play with his own children in the pool!! Ack! In all, we had five children under 5 years old! What fun though! There were the beginning moments of shyness, but those were quickly displaced by belly laughs and squirt gun battles. Miss Ellie found herself as the only girl and rather liked flirting with all the boys...including the now grown man I used to babysit!

Miss Ellie and the boys! Mitchell, Ellie, Carter, Hunter, and Tanner

On Sunday we retreated to Hanford to spend some quality time with one of my dearest friends and her family. We enjoyed some swimming, some yummy barbecue, and some playtime for the kids. It was such a treat to relax in the pool and paddle around with the kids. I love spending time with my Hanford buddy because she is one of those rare souls who truly likes me for who I am faults and all! She is the friend who would not mind a bit if she found you rooting around in the fridge for a snack. Both Todd and I love visiting because her and her hubby's house is as comfortable to us as our house.

Cuter kids than this!?!? I think not! Little Mr. Griffin is on the left and Mitchman and Riley are on the right.