Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Small Lack of Attention to detail

I really don't know why I can't focus on small details.  The first time I remember it being a problem was in my junior year of high school.  My English class was reading The Ox-Bow Incident.   I actually read it.  (I will freely admit that Cliff's notes got me through many a book -- but this was not one of them).  I even liked it.  In fact I had a hard time putting it down.  I was confident to take the test because I knew I had done the work.  I got a 46%.   The whole exam was quotes from the book and you had to match it to the character that said it.  There were seriously like 50 characters in the book.  They were split into 2 groups (the good guys and the bad guys) and I could easily classify them into the 2 groups -- but paying attention to each one of their little reasons for being there was a waste of my brain space.  NO, I do not have a clue which one always brings up the railroad in conversation -- I just know it was one of the good guys.

Anyway, this is a trait where Trent and I are completely opposite.  I even already wrote a post about it.  But I proved myself yet again yesterday. 

Catherine failed her eye exam at school and I took her in on Wednesday to the eye doctor.  Yep, she needed glasses.  Yep, her eyes were worse than Julianne's and she is a year younger than Julianne was when she first got glasses and I felt like a lousy mom for not noticing Julianne -- so now I felt even worse about not noticing Catherine needing glasses. 

After the appointment we headed to Lenscrafters.  Catherine was immediately drawn to this large, bulky red frame.  I did not like them.  It looked like she had an injury between her eyes.  I suggested she try on every pair they had and see if she liked them better than the red ones.  One after the other she said, "NO, I still like the red pair".  Finally with only 2 or 3 left she put on a very simple frame -- silver with a hint of blue, rimless on the bottom and she smiled so big into the mirror.  She turned and faced the technician who was helping us and he just said, "Wow, those look amazing on you.  It makes your eyes so blue.  It fits the shape of your head perfectly!" 

I was so relieved.  We got them, they had the lenses ready in an hour and I took her back to school.  Julianne went to a birthday party after school so it was nearly 6:00 pm when we picked her up and the two girls saw eachother for the first time . . .  and  . . .  they have the exact same pair of frames. 

This is something that would NEVER have happened if Trent had been in charge.  But to me . . .  glasses are glasses, most look about the same (except for the bright red ones).  So please don't feel bad if I don't notice something about you someday -- like new glasses, or a hair cut, or new tires on your car, or something else . . .  I really can't help it.  I have always been like this. 

I justify it to myself that my brain is just too full of other worthless dribble  interesting facts. 

Don't worry.  I will post pictures soon. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My First Writing Assignment

My ward has a writer's group.  I joined.  The first time it was just me and Sally.  When we left she gave me an assignment.  (she is afterall-- a teacher).  I thought about it for a month.   I wrote it a little after midnight last night and brought it to writer's group tonight.  There were now 3 of us Sally, Deborah, and me.  I thought I would share it with all of you. 

Assignment : What do you see when you look in the mirror

I was 18 the first time it happened, just a freshman in college. And I didn’t actually say them but I heard the words nonetheless. I was enjoying some down time with one of my hobbies – making cards with rubber stamps and glitter—when I needed some scissors to cut out a design. I opened my desk drawer and quickly turned the contents over, but the scissors were not there. I asked my roommate about them; she shrugged and shook her head. So I reached up for my new sewing kit and the bright blue handled scissors that were inside. The sewing kit was a graduation present from my Mom’s best friend. But I was pretty certain I would never need it. I had tried to sew before and always gave up-- finding the task too difficult; so I knew that kit was going to sit unused for a long time. My fingers were in place and as I started to make that first cut, I heard her-- right there in my dorm room. Even though I knew she was 1500 miles away, I heard her. “If you cut paper with your sewing scissors they will get dull.” She didn’t yell at me. She didn’t even correct me. She just reminded me of the facts- the simple cause and effect that would happen. I listened. I stopped what I was doing and set the scissors back in their box – safe.


Over the next few years there were many times I heard her in my head reminding me, but at least for a little while it was my little secret.

I was 20 the first time I remember hearing her words come out of my mouth-- a young newlywed. My mom always called my dad “honey” and it always seemed a little saccharine to me. But there I was one day saying, “Honey, let’s go!” and “I love you, Honey”.

And over the years the more I started to sound like her. I sang the same songs to my babies that she sang to me. I told the same stories that she told, like Fluffy the cloud. When I visited her house and answered the phone it always took me a while to stop the person talking and let them know I was not her. “But you sound just like her” they always answered back.

And the more I sounded like her, the more I wanted to sound like her. I don’t remember her yelling as much as I do. I don’t remember any sarcasm in her voice.

But I was really unprepared for what happened next.

I remember the moment pretty clearly. It was late. I was tired. I was in the bathroom in my pajamas just finishing brushing my teeth. I was smiling and vigorously brushing my front teeth while staring at the bottom of the sink. I spit and then glanced up at the mirror to check out my teeth, when I saw her. I blinked and then looked into the mirror harder, but she was gone. I had to close my eyes to remember what I saw and it was unmistakable. I saw the mom of my youth. The smile lines starting to form around my eyes, the crystal clear blue eyes that could see right through you, the slight puffiness from too many late nights and early mornings, the premature gray hair now a half centimeter showing again, the bow shaped lips and the laugh lines around them, and I was amazed.

Not only do I sound like her, but I look like her too.

And the crazy thing-- I am OK with it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009!

Another year has come and gone. It seems like I just wrote last year's Christmas Greeting!  Enjoy these recent photos of our family.  The short
story is that we are healthy and happy and hope you have these same blessings in your life!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Love, The Handys!

P.S.  the long story is below the pictures

We had a fun year.  We have now done all the "big" New York things: broadway shows, statue of liberty, Macy's thanksgiving day parade, Christmastime in Manhattan, Wall street, central park, the museums, the food, the shopping.  We have also done lots of fun things in Connecticut: going to the beaches, apple picking, playing in the snow, and watching the seasons change.  We have also learned some new things -- like did you know that New Canaan, CT where we live averages 49.7 inches of rainfall each year.  (for comparison Seattle--37.2  Houston-- 51.1  Salt Lake City -- 16.2)  We are pretty sure we are well above our average for rainfall this year.  It was hard to know if we had spring or summer because of all the rain. When we finally left for our summer vacation to California (Disneyland) and Utah at the end of June we had not even worn shorts yet because it had been so cold and rainy.  In fact, we never even turned on the AC until July 17!!  (Coming from Houston, this was quite the shock!!!)

Julianne (9 years- 4th grade) is just growing up right in front of our eyes.  She seems so mature and responsible.  She loves school, being social, playing soccer, and playing the piano.  Currently she has had a basketball in her hands as much as her mom will let her.  She loves reading and recently got into the Harry Potter series.  She is halfway through book 5 and fully immersed in the wizarding world!

Catherine (7 years- 2nd grade) is still all fun and giggles.  Her sense of humor is unparalleled.  She loves reading and hates to turn out the light on her books each night.  She loves school, soccer, piano and playdates!  She hates having loose teeth. 

Madelyn (5 years- Kindergarten) is so sweet.  She loves getting on the bus with her 2 big sisters each school day.  The world of reading is opening up to her and it is really a fun thing to watch her experience.  She wants to play soccer and play piano just like her sisters!  She prays for loose teeth (she hasn't lost any yet).  She learned how to ride her bike with no training wheels!

Adam (3 years) just makes you smile.  He teases his sisters, loves his Mommy and Daddy and is happy all the time.  His big talent is puzzles.  He loves his "Joy school" days with his friends. 

Jamie and Trent are just running along chasing after the kids.  Jamie also did a lot of other running while training to run the New England Ragnar Relay (a 12 person 200 mile relay race from New Haven, CT to Boston, MA).  Trent does a lot of running racing from Times Square to Grand Central to catch those trains home!  Often he calls from the train quite out of breath due to the sprinting involved. 

We love to hear from all of you, so give us a call, leave a comment, or send an email our way.  And if you are ever in the NYC area -- give us a call!

My Favorite Party


For the second year in a row, I have thrown a Ladies Christmas party with my good friend Alyssa. We call it "My Favorite Things." We stole the name from Oprah. We take all the ladies who RSVP yes and divide them into groups (this year it was 2 groups of 7 and 3 groups of 8). Each person then brings a gift of one of their "favorites" for each person in their group. We set up bags for each group so that as each person arrives, they find their group section and place their gifts in everyones bag (but their own). At the end of the night everyone leaves with fun new gifts.

This year we randomly selected one person from each group to open all the presents at the party so we could all see what they all were. It is so much fun. So much fun that I did not even think for a moment to go and grab the camera and take a picture.

In case you were wondering, my favorite thing is to not have to make dinner. So I made and froze lasagna for each person in my group so that they would have a dinner ready for sometime when they needed it! And this is what it looked like in my kitchen when I started. I started out planning to make 8 -- but then had enough stuff to make 10. And it took me just under 1 hour start to finish.

The only tricky thing was fitting them all in my freezer. I stacked the foil pans alternating direction -- and learned this valuable lesson. . . the bottom foil pan can support 2 lasagnas on top, if you put a third on top the weight is too much and the foil bends and the top three crash down onto the bottom one and the weight displaces the sauce and cheese and stuff all over your freezer -- so-- unless you really want to clean your freezer -- remember that important fact.
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Friday, November 27, 2009

A Thanksgiving Spotlight Q&A

Q: What is your favorite pie?
I love nearly all pies – but I hate pie crust. I always eat only the filling leaving the slimy flaky crust to itself.


Q: DO you have a family tradition for Thanksgiving?
Besides overeating???? Not really

Q: Do you listen to Holiday music before Thanksgiving?
Yes and no. Yes because my kids play the piano and are practicing holiday pieces before thanksgiving to have them ready by Christmas – in fact this year they started on them before Halloween . . . but as far as popping in a CD of Christmas music – no, not until the day after thanksgiving.


Q: Can you share a Thanksgiving disaster story? (meals, traveling, fire in the kitchen, relatives etc.?)

The only funny thanksgiving story is from when Trent and I were dating. I really liked Trent and wanted to spend Thanksgiving with him and all he really knew about my family is that I was from Texas. So when he asked me if I had any plans for the holidays I might have said something like . . . “nope, just sitting here in the apartment talking to my family on the phone.” When the reality is that my Grandparents , and 3 different Aunts and Uncles who lived in Utah had all invited me to spend Thanksgiving with them. He must have felt bad enough that I would be alone so he invited me to his house for the weekend.


Q: What is your favorite thing to eat during the Holidays?

Mashed potatoes made with cream and butter.


Q: Where was the farthest you have traveled to spend a Thanksgiving?

from Texas to Utah

Q: What is your favorite kitchen tool?
no one favorite -- kitchen gadgetry is a bit of an addiction for me. I love my sharp knife, my IKEA cheese grater, my blender (so I can blend my salsa -- it tastes so much better blended), my pizza pans, my bread machine that I have never used to make bread, but use it to make roll dough 2-3 times each week.


Q: What would you do if you were given a full 24 hour to yourself TOMORROW?

Read, nap, finish a couple of projects, start my Christmas shopping


Q: What is your favorite day of the week and why?

I like them all for different reasons – Monday – because I crave routine and order, Friday – for homemade pizza and a movie with the kids, Saturday—because Trent is around and we do fun things all together Sunday—because we all relax together, Wednesday or Thursday – because it is Pizza day at school and I don’t have to pack lunches.

Q: Where/when did you meet your spouse?

at BYU at the beginning of our sophomore year 1995 – Trent was 21 and just home from a mission and I was 19. We married a year later.

Q: How many kids do you have?
4 kids– 3 girls and then a boy-- ages 9,7,5,3 (it almost looks like we planned them doesn’t it?)


Q: Where is your favorite place to vacation?
Right now with the kids – Disney and to see family
Right now without the kids – ANYWHERE


Q: What is your hobby?
What isn’t my hobby??? I like everything and have dabbled in all of the following . . . reading, writing, sewing quilting, embroidery, crocheting, organizing, blogging, decorating, cooking, running, swimming, basketball, volleyball, softball, politics, stamping, making cards, scrapbooking, fishing, skiing, waterskiing, etc. . .
But if a hobby is how you spend your time – well then I can’t forget these hobbies, folding clothes, clearing dishes, picking up toys, and saying, “hurry” as often as possible


Q: In what town did you grow up?

Houston, TX

Q: Do you play an instrument?

piano, organ

Q: What is the hardest thing you have accomplished?
hmmmm . . . that is a a hard question . . . does answering the question count????
well getting a bachelor's, teaching certificate and masters degree all in 5 years seemed hard at the time
running the ragnar relay seemed especially hard physically
but honestly-- making it through the day with 4 kids, having fun together doing all the mundane, normal tasks and knowing by the end of the day that I was patient and loving with them -- well that is the hardest thing I do -- and I have to do it every day, day after day, that is why it wins the award as the hardest.

Q: Are you a night owl or early bird?

whatever the need may be – no preference for one over the other I just hate it when I have to do both at the same time. In my ideal world I would go to sleep around 10:45 and wake around 7.

Q: What are 2 things you are thankful for this year?

my children and my husband

Q: What is your favorite store in New Canaan? Why?
Do I shop in New Canaan??? Can I afford it???? But I do go to the food emporium (which I hate) cuz it sure solves a dinner crisis on occasion and ds because I just like everything in the store even if I think it is all unbelievably overpriced.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Another bird episode


 


I sent Madelyn outside to get a ball that had been left on the porch. She came in and said, "Mom, there is sure a big bird in the sun room." I thought I misunderstood her. "What??? a big ball???"

"NO, Mom a BIIIIG BIIIIIIRRRRRRDDDDD."

I opened the door and yep, a hawk or falcon of some kind is frantically flying through the screened in porch.

How????


No idea. The only thing I can think is that it was scared by the lawn crew yesterday and flew so hard into one of the screens that it pushed through, as there is one screen now where the corner is loose. And It was not loose before.

Well, I am off to clean the screened in porch. There are feathers and bird crap and regurgitated mouse entrails all over. Sounds like fun huh

So my ornithology classes are a good decade in the past -- but I am not sure what it is --

not a cooper hawk, not a peregrin, not a harris hawk

I am thinking maybe a red tailed juvenile? as it did not have the red tail??

come on Carrie or Dad. . . I expect identification . . . soon

Friday, November 20, 2009

Save the Date

 
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Join us at Catherine's baptism.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Shopping for books

Each town’s library has a volunteer group called “Friends of the Library” who go around town and accept donations of books from the residents and then either once or twice a year have a big book sale where all the proceeds go to the library for new acquisitions. The first day of the sale is always Friday (they charge 5-10 bucks to get in and hard cover books are 3-5 bucks and paper backs are 1-3 bucks). On Saturday, there is no charge to get in and on Sunday the books are half price. But the day I go is on Monday. On Monday, the books are $3-5 a bag. It is so much fun to get books for this price. Today I went to the sale in Norwalk. It was $3 a bag. I got 3 bags full -- or 138 books (which is roughly 7 cents a book). Some of them I keep- some I use for gifts (because a lot of the books are in brand new condition) and some of the books even I don't want, but with my kids there helping me, we always come how with a few stragglers. Here is what I got today.
These are the 3 Adam chose.

Here are most of the ones Madelyn chose (yes, she went with me -- she was coughing all night and so I kept her home from school -- has she coughed at all today? nope. . . but better safe than sorry)


You should see if your libraries have these friends of the library sales and see what you can get for $9 bucks!





Friday, October 16, 2009

The costumes currently




I convinced Catherine to be an angel (and then bought the costume at Target). Yeah!!!! I have not done the hem or the tulle trim on the devil costume yet . . . and I may not ever . . . and then Madelyn -- well today she found the tinkerbell dress that my friend brought to the costume exchange I had and now she wants to be that . . . but what will she want to be tomorrow????
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dear Future Jamie,

Dear Future Jamie,

I am writing myself this letter as a reminder of some information I may need at some future date. It may be random and have no overall cohesive thought, but there are just so many things rattling around in my head that I want to remember in the future that I figured I should just write them all down as quickly as possible.

First, please remember that when searching for costumes for your children for Halloween you should only allow them to suggest things that you already know where to buy. For example, if Julianne ever suggests she wants to be a "red devil" and you know full well that all the costumes available to purchase look skanky you should just flat out say no! Remember the important part is to "SAY NO". Under no circumstances should you suggest that maybe we could look for a pattern and I will sew one for you. Because if you do, you just might find one Simplicity 2861 and then beofre you know it, you have spent 60 bucks on fabric and notions not to mention the 2 full days of cutting, sewing, making darts without a dart marker, remembering how to do zippers, cursing overlaid sleeves, hating gold trim, and abhorring tulle -- especially tulle that must be cut into strips, gathered, and made into a trim for a slit or made into a collar that your daughter then despises and states that it itches -- (well duh, it is tulle!). Remember the 3 trips to Walmart (and not the close Walmart as the close walmart does not have a fabric section) and remember that for whatever reason you live in a place that chooses not to have any normal fabric stores whatsoever -- no Joann's, no Hancocks, no nothing -- yes there are a few upscale designer upholstery fabric stores but i am pretty certain that gold tulle, red glitter knit fabric, and red metallic netting are not found there. Also, Jamie, remember this-- that if you make your daughter the darling little headband with the devil horns that is really quite cute and was the easiest part of the whole dang thing -- that there is a chance she just might start to behave like a devil (or maybe her behavior last night was just the result of pre-pubescent pre-teen angst -- the jury is still out).

Second, under no circumstance should you take all your children to look at patterns for the first child's red devil costume. Because as they peruse all the costume choices they may find one they like more than the costume they had already selected. This results in agreeing to sew one more costume for Catherine (a wizard cape) and having 2 other screaming children who no longer want to be Belle or the Lion. I am sure I will write myself another letter about Catherine's costume but I have not started it yet which bring me to the 3rd thing.

Remember that time passes -- no matter what. Today is Oct. 15th. Which means that no matter what -- I have only 15 days to muster the energy to start Catherine's costume. And if i don't Halloween will come and go -------------------

Aaahhhhh! I just remembered . . . Halloween is on a Saturday so the costume parade at school will be on Friday so I take that back -- I have only 14 days to not only muster the energy to start her costume -- but also to finish it.

Well, future Jamie -- I have so much more to share -- but I have to go start sewing!

Love,
past Jamie

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Madelyn -- NO TRAINING WHEELS!!!

video

My three year old boy!

There are just not enough words to tell how sweet Adam is. He is just such a happy, fun, nice boy. He loves being a boy. He loves balls, cars, trains, dirt, airplanes, motorcycles, boats, and mud. He loves being with his sisters, and he loves teasing them relentlessly.

That it is even possible that he is already 3 years old is unbelievable to me. Enjoy these photos of his big day!

Fall Soccer

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Poetry

Just know

it's killing me sitting here at home

for so long

thinking you might be talking to someone

or not

b/c someone might have called

or stopped you in the hall

and by then the person was gone

you may be discussing our future right now

or a client called back for further advice

their toxic assets are killing them



update -- trent just called -- he was stuck in a meeting and our future will have to wait until tomorrow!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Good Ole' Regular Life

Nothing near as exciting as running to Boston has happened in the last week. I must say that the race really did wipe me out. The week before with all the getting ready and the week after trying to recover from not sleeping and just getting back to the routine of life seemed to take it out of me.

Not to mention the school library volunteer trainings, class coffees, open houses, enrichment, soccer practices, activity days, soccer games, homework, and a major decision about Trent's job looming over me.

And on top of that the kids still expect 3 meals a day and clean clothes plus lots of story time and laying with them at night.

And of course the occasional tantrum by the pre-pubescent teenage wannabe.

I was tired. I even for the first time in my whole life hired a housekeeper.

I liked it. Probably a little too much.

There were some funny moments. Like this one.

Adam was watching me get ready to go somewhere and I had just finished "beautifying" myself. I quickly picked him up to race down the stairs and he put both hands on the sides of my cheeks and looked at me and said, "Mom, you have dirt on your eyes."

Wow, if that doesn't make me feel good about the make-up I am wearing I don't know what will.

Then later that day at dinner. I had made cilantro chicken pot stickers from Trader Joe's and an asian noodle side dish (which was very yummy too, I might add). I was encouraging all the kids to try the wontons and Catherine after eating one said, "Mom-- you can have all the rest of my tampons -- I just don't like them that much."

Let's just say they didn't seem so appetizing after her mis-labeling. I politely corrected her trying not to laugh since she doesn't even know what a tampon is, but she proceeded to use the wrong word about 3 more times during dinner. Thank goodness we did not have any company.

Another great moment happened with Madelyn today. Today was the first day that Kindergartners could by lunch. I told her this morning that I would be packing bagels with cream cheese, fruit roll ups, a drink, chips, and apples or she could buy chicken fingers, salad, and fruit from school. She opted for the chicken fingers. I figured it would be good to buy on the first day when they were sure to have lots of helpers to help the kids figure it out. We don't buy lunch at school too often as it is kind of pricey ($3.50 a day). But since I don't ever send chicken fingers in their lunch boxes I figured it would be fun for her.

As soon as she got off the bus she said the best part of her day was buying her lunch. I asked her how the chicken was and she replied, "Oh, when I got up there I saw that if you don't like what they are having that day you can just get a bagel with cream cheese and since I love bagels i just got one of those instead!"

I started cracking up. She chose to pay $3.50 for something she could have had in her lunch for maybe $0.25. I let her know that in the future we would not be over paying for bagels. If she wanted a bagel she could take one from home.

For all the good laughs, there have been a few not so great moments too. Like Julianne chipping a tooth, the nurse calling with Catherine sick at school, 6 days of a healthy Catherine followed by her throwing up today all morning, Adam spilling lots of water (not that that is so terrible but today he spilled 4 large glasses of water in under 2 hours), and (as always) Trent's long hours in the city.

But we are surviving. Sometimes I'm not sure which is more exhausting -- regular life or running through the night with 11 other girls to boston. Sometimes it's a virtual tie.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Ragnar Relay New England


The Course Details

194.9 miles -- Leaving from Lighthouse Point: New Haven, Connecticut and arriving into Harvard Stadium: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Our team of 12 -- named "Jen's Wonder Women" met at 5:45 am on Friday Sept 11. We packed up the suburbans and drove to the starting line.

We ran the race in honor of our friend, Jennifer, who is running her own race against breast cancer right now.

At 8:00 am with cloudy skies and 54 degrees, runner #1-- Krista took off.

There were 36 legs of the race with each person running 3 of them.

Our last runner arrived into Harvard Stadium at 4:00 pm on Saturday, Sept 12.

Here are some pictures and captions that tell some more of the rest of the story covering the time in between.



Now while this tells a lot about it -- there is more
the getting lost, the getting found, the things you eat, the reactions to the things you eat, the rain, the runner's diareah suffered by some, the car sickness, the pitch blackness, the headlamps, the potty breaks, the hunger, the fatigue, the exhaustion, the tiredness, the friendships made, the fun, the pain, the conversation, the watching everyone dig deep for one last run, the taking one for the team, the swapping of legs for someone who needed it, the going the extra mile (in this case literally), the cheering, the support, the teamwork, the comraderie, the months of training, the voice inside everyone's head telling them to keep running, the prayers said and answered, the cars that start, the joy of the finish, the vow while doing it that you will never do this again, and the realization while typing this that you probably would.

Like Father, Like Son

Adam awoke last Saturday and came into our bedroom with a plan. He got himself and his daddy dressed.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Race is here

I have just finished my last training run before running in the Ragnar New England Race. I have been training since May. I have run on average 50 miles each month. . . With just over 200 total miles. I have run in the rain, run in the dark, and run in the heat. I have run on an empty stomach and run on a full stomach. I have run further than I ever wanted to and more often than I ever wanted to. I did not lose a single pound with all that running, but I ran anyway. Sometimes I ran fast (which for me is anything under a 10 minute mile) and sometimes I ran slow (around an 11 minute mile) but surprisingly I was pretty consistent at running about a 10 minute 30 second pace despite the varying conditions I ran on (hills, lots of hills).

I ran alone and I ran with my neighbor Melissa. I ran early in the morning before Trent left for work (5 am) and sometimes I ran in the evening. I hired lots of babysitters while I ran. My friends offered to watch my kids sometimes when I ran (thank you Moya, Laura, Keri, Gail).

I have read books and magazines about running. I have talked about running. I have listened to lots of others talk about running.

And now the time is here. The race is Friday (and Saturday). I am runner # 11. I have 3 legs to run. I have only driven to Boston once, and now I am going to be running there. Crazy huh???

I am so ready for it to be done.

Because, I am sick of running. I am sick of every song on my IPOD.

I have tried to love it. I have tried to like it. But at the end of it all here is all I can say about it . . .

The only thing I like about running is knowing I did it.

That is it. Just knowing I exercized for the day and it is over. Just knowing I took out some time for me (which was often very, very hard to do).

Running with a friend made it more bearable . . . but you still just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other over and over again!

But I am looking forward to a crazy 30 hours with 11 other crazy women. All of whom have become better friends in the last 4 months. Between all of us running, we have 38 children. Isn't that incredible. Watch out Boston. Here we come! We truly are wonder women.

I will take lots of pictures. And hopefully post them soon after the race is over. Unless I am just too tired. Or . . . maybe I will be out running again

or not.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The First day of school!

All three girls started school at the same Elementary school today. Here is our day in pictures!

The NFL Preseason Game

Trent and I had the opportunity to hire a babysitter for 10 hours so that we could go to the NY Jets vs. the NY Giants preseason football game. We were excited to check it out as neither of us had ever been to an NFL game of any kind. We packed lightly -- something we are not used to as we are usually hauling kids and all their stuff. We each took a backpack with 1 book to read on the train and our rain gear (rain coat, rain pants, and rain boots). It had been raining all day and the forecast was for 50% rain through the whole game. Once we got there, we found out you cannot take backpacks into the stadium. (Now, you can take any other kind of bag . . . they did not seem to care about the size) We saw some people take their backpacks, empty them and stuff them into a purse and then they could get in. The one lady at the check point even suggested we could hide our backpack somewhere outside.

Now, does that sound like a good idea to you? Couldn't that create a bomb scare? Lets have all the fans just drop their bags in random places????

We were glad that my cousin Jessica had driven to the game as she kindly put our bags in her car. Plus it was fun to watch her get the "royal" treatment. She was on the inside of the park and we were on the outside and she explained that she needed to take our bags into the park (which we could not do) and go put them in her car. They gladly let her take the bags in and even provided a golf cart to race her quickly to her car and back!

Sherwood Island State Park

The day was stunning. The water was cool yet refreshing.

But the beach was rocky. And somewhere under the water those rocks were razor sharp and I got 3 or 4 gashes that were each an inch long. They hurt. A lot.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Things that go together

In Shrek--the musical there is a whole song devoted to things that go together. It is one of my kids' favorites

You and me, we belong together.
Like butter and grits
Like, kibbles and bits!
Like, yin and yang,
Sturm and Drang,
Like Eng and Chang attached at the hip, but not an old lady hip that might break.
I'm gonna be on you like a fat kid on cake!

Like Cupid and Psyche,
like pop rocks and Mikey,
we’ll stick together like that Velcro stuff, I’m the fuzzy side; you’ll be the spiky.
Ooh! Like little kids and pajamas with those funny things at the bottom, you know, feeties.
Like donuts and… oh, what goes with donuts?

Donuts and . . . diabetes~!


So let me add my own thing that goes together

BOYS AND DIRT



English Tea and India Day

Last week, we decided to have an English Tea. We invited some friends and set the table with China. The kids had lemon zinger herbal tea, cute little shortbread cookies, and yummy lemon mousse with cream and a freshly picked raspberry on top (I would post that recipe, but one of the other kids moms made it). It was delicious. The kids were so cute. They spent an hour at the table adding more and more sugar to the tart lemon tea (and still none of them really liked it). They also spoke only in a british accent. It was priceless to eavesdrop.

Once the tea was over, we decided to watch Pride and Prejudice (the short Kiera Knightly version). They all loved it. We had such a good time.

So, this week we had India day. We dressed the kids in homemade Saris, learned about India, put Bindi's on their foreheads and ordered take out from a local Indian restaurant. Then we watched Bride and Prejudice a bolliwood version of pride and prejudice that is very entertaining. The kids loved seeing all the bright colors and dancing.

Madelyn turned 5

Almost 2 weeks ago, Madelyn turned five years old. She is such a sweet girl. She is excited to start Kindergarten and go to school with her big sisters. She wanted a Hello Kitty party. We invited all her friends and hoped for good weather. But like most days here this summer . . . we got a lot of rain. So we had a big indoor party.

One of our birthday traditions is that after our kids open their presents, we set them aside and don't play with them or unpackage them until that evening. Then we put all the other kids to bed and just the birthday girl stays up late and gets to play with her new toys all by herself (or with Mom and Dad). It is really fun to do. I tell them they can stay up on their birthday as late as they want. If they make it to midnight, I inform them that it is now no longer their birthday and that they stayed up as late as they could on "their birthday" and then they go to bed. Madelyn made it to midnight. She honestly did not even seem tired, but as soon as her head hit the pillow, she was asleep.

Enjoy the pictures of her day!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Why is it?

that alarms can never malfunction at . . . say 2:00 on a Wednesday afternoon?

Last night, our Explosive Gas alarm went 85 dB blaring at 2:50 in the morning. Wow, that will really wake you up. We ran frantically through the house. We could not smell any gas. We opened all the windows (to let in the 98% humidity air into the house) and then I looked up the owners manual for the alarm on the internet.

Mainly it states, "Never ignore an alarm." Also, if it is an alarm for GAS (as opposed to CO) we should evacuate immediately and not even use the phone or any electric appliance and then call the fire department.

So, that is why I was on the computer. We just could not smell anything (and our heating oil and propane both have that dead animal smell added into them.)

Then I got to remembering chemistry (from way back in the day) that propane is denser than air. Meaning if you have a leak it will be along the floor or sinking down to the basement. Since it is our stove on the main floor that is the only propane appliance we have -- it began to seem unlikely that the propane gas could float up the stairs.

Same goes for the heating oil which was way down in the basement.

So . . . being pretty certain that we weren't about to explode, we called the fire department. I explained to them that our GAS alarm was going off -- (although now it had stopped) and that we opened the windows and never smelled anything and how it was the alarm upstairs and the propane stove was on the main floor and the heating oil in the basement. And they asked if we could smell anything. We said NO. They said, yeah, those alarms malfunction all the time. Go back to sleep.

Too bad we had just spent one adrenalin filled hour running frantically through the house with screaming children or maybe we could have gone back to sleep.

The kids were back asleep fairly quickly. Not me. Not Trent.

3:30 a.m.
3:45 a.m.
4:00 a.m.
4:15 a.m.
4:30 a.m.

at 4:35 Trent finally sounded like he was asleep.
at 4:45, I gave up. Seeing as my alarm was going off at 4:50 to go running. Trent said I woke him as I left and so he got up after that.

When I got back from running, Trent was ready to head out the door. I figured the kids would sleep in some and was hoping that after a shower I might get a little nap.

Just as Trent walked down the stairs, Adam started to cry.

I got him back to sleep and hopped in the shower. As soon as I was dressed, Madelyn came bopping in at 6:30 -- wide eyed, ready for morning.

AAAAAHHHHH!!!!

Why????

Why me?????

On the plus side, all the kids have been really good so far this morning. Sometimes I think they can just sense that mom cannot put up with too much. Maybe they have an internal Mom explosion alarm????

Friday, August 7, 2009

Reflections on Relocating

We have lived in Connecticut for 1 year. I have been thinking about lots of things in relation to the move. Here are some of them.

1. A catalyst is a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected. Without the catalyst, the reaction would still happen, it would just take longer. Moving is a catalyst. It speeds up the doing of all the things you would eventually get around to doing . . . like organizing the junk drawer, cleaning out your closet, getting rid of stuff, actually making the trip to goodwill, having that garage sale (or tag sale as they call it here in the New England area), and more. Having now done 2 moves (from Sugarland to Katy in March 2007 and Katy to Connecticut in July 2008). I got to do a lot of the things I would have pushed to the back burner and ignored for years (possibly). And as painful as it is to have done, I am glad I did it. Now, I am more organized, more on top of the piles of stuff, and more aware about not letting those things wait. Having done 2 moves and knowing that someday again I will have to move keeps me acutely conscious of leaving too many things left undone.

2. The reality is . . . most of what matters you take with you. It is hard to leave extended family, but technology and travel really make the world seem small. That said, after a year this is what I miss most about Texas.
  • bluebell icecream (all the flavors -- especially the fruit ones and the fact that it is still a half gallon) We were surprised one day with a delivery of 4 half gallons all packed in Dry ice from the Baker's and it was such a treat.
  • The Texas flag -- you just kind of get used to Texas flags flying level with the American flag and that they are everywhere. I don't think I have seen one CT flag out flying. It is fun to have a little state pride
  • Wide open spaces and flatness -- neither exist here
  • Proximity, ease, driving, 24 hour grocery stores --with Trent on the train, there is little chance he can stop by home depot and pick up something or grab this at the store -- as the train doesn't exactly stop and wait -- when he drove to and from work he could do all sorts of things just on the way to and from work -- now those each require a special trip and did you know that nearly all the grocery stores are closed by 9 pm -- I used to do a lot of grocery shopping at HEB at 10:30 or 11:00 at night.
  • BIG stores -- like HEB, and Supertarget, and superwalmart. There is a "Super" Stop N Shop fairly close, but . . . there is not too much super about it. You don't have to be very big here to be considered SUPER

Sunday, July 26, 2009

We did get some new toys!

We got some fun new things.
 


Trent's parents got to help put it together.
 


The kids love it!!!!!!
 

and I love the new couch!
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Nana and Grandpa come To CT

The rest of our trip

While in Utah, we swam, visited family, went to the provo 4th of July parade, had fun . . . took another 400 photos. . . (I think I have an addiction!)

I love to see the temple!

After California, we spent a week in Utah. We went to the Oquirrh Mountain Temple Open House.

Disneyland

We had a great time in California. We spent 5 days in Disneyland. We were with all of Trent's family for 1 day. I took a little over 1500 photos during those 5 days. You can all thank me now for only sharing my favorite 9 photos with you.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Guess what happened today?????

I had to turn on the air conditioner for the first time!!!!!!!

Oh, Baby, this is such a different world than Texas!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Because Getting there is half the fun

We had a great vacation. I plan to dedicate many other blog posts to the fun we had . . . but not this blog post. This blog post is going to be all about traveling cross country with 4 children.


First, getting to and from the airport with 2 adults, 4 children, 4 large rolling duffels, 1 car seat (even though legally we probably should have taken 2 more booster seats), 5 backpacks, 1 computer bag, one rolling carry on case, and 1 double stroller is not small task. The simplest way would have been to drive to the airport in our van and pay to park it there while we were gone. The $23.70 a day parking rate would have totalled (over 15 days) to $355.50; and we just might have actually paid it (which would have been a huge bill to swallow)-- except for one problem. We flew out of one airport (White plains) and upon returning 2 weeks later flew into another airport (JFK).


So . . . how to get to and from the airport -- I looked at car services (starts around $150), hiring the college aged kids from our church congregation (they each charge about $120 and have to drive your car), and finally decided on renting a van.


It worked well. We rented a van which was not only cheaper than all the other options, but in the end quite convenient. Trent went the day before to the airport (actually rode the train there from work) and drove home in the rental van. We were able to take our time loading it up and then just drove to the airport and turned it in.


We liked it so well, we did this 3 times. Getting to the airport. Getting to our hotel in California from LAX (this one was the most expensive because we did a return to their location by Disneyland-- not back at the airport -- but it was still cheaper than a shuttle for 6) and then again returning home.


Second, the timing. Our first flight left at 7:30 am. That means we had to leave our house at 5:45 am. OUCH! With 4 kids, the early morning thing can be brutal, but it does have its advantages . . . like the kids clothes stay clean since they only wear them for 15 minutes before you leave. . . and they stay out of your way when you are finishing up loading the car the night before . . . and the house stays clean (if it was clean when you went to bed). Traffic is not usually an issue this early-- however, this is prime travel time for business travel and the airports are generally very busy which means long lines to check all that luggage and long lines at security. We were a cutting things a little close but had finally made it to the front of the security line. I handed the TSA agent our ID's and boarding passes. She looked them over closely and then informed us that the agent at the counter had given us the wrong boarding passes. She had given us our boarding passes only for our flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles, not for our first flight from White Plains to Atlanta. They let Trent and the kids move to the side while I RACED back to the counter, interrupted the lady at the counter, and rapidly stated, "You gave me the wrong boarding passes, and our flight is scheduled to leave in 10 minutes!". The agent quickly helped me and additionally used her radio to warn the gate people that a party of 6 was just coming through and to wait for us. I ran back to security and we made it to the gate (which is not hard to do as this airport is teeny tiny) only to find that our plane wasn't even there yet.


Our flight home was a red-eye. It left at 11:05 p.m. Despite the all night flying thing, this was probably the easiest time I have ever had getting to the airport with 4 kids. I packed in the morning, we played all day, we said our good-byes, and headed to the airport around 9:30 pm. There was no traffic, the airport was empty, the security line was incredibly short (something that nevers happens in Salt Lake), and the kids were tired from a long day and were rather subdued (unlike the morning flight where they were so excited you could taste it~!).


Plus, all four kids fell asleep rather quickly on the plane. Now, just FYI, we did not bring pillows and blankets for the us or the kids -- that is just one more thing to carry and keep track of. On every flight I have ever been on, there are always pillows and blankets-- but I of course had never traveled on Jet Blue. Jet Blue does not have pillows and blankets for free. They are 7 dollars. Instead you get their jet to sleep pack for free (one eye cover thing, and a set of earplugs). Can you believe they charge $7 for a pillow and blanket??????


While our kids slept, Trent and I should have been sleeping. However there was one problem. The woman (who was traveling alone) 2 rows in front of us, in the aisle seat passed out into the aisle about 15 minutes into the flight. The flight attendants turned on all the lights and came over the PA asking if there was a doctor or nurse with their credentials on the flight. (there was a nurse -- and really -- who knew that medical professionals should travel with their licenses????) The nurse knelt in the aisle right in front of me and was taking her pulse, and the flight attendants were hopping over the lady to the front and back of the plane quickly and they were rummaging through luggage trying to find hers and searching for her name, and one was on the phone with the captain, and one was on the phone with Medlink (the airlines medical advisory). The brought a blood pressure cuff and the poor nurse tried like 10 times to get her blood pressure but the plane is so loud she could never get it. They were giving her oxygen and she would come to and try to sit up but then she would pass out again and then she would come to and they were trying to get her to drink orange juice (which she did a little). Medlink was telling the nurse to start an IV and our plane was going through some pretty impressive turbulence and the nurse wasn't comfortable doing it (not to mention the tight space she had in which to work). Let's just say -- there was enough going on to keep Trent and I wide awake for the first 3 hours of the flight. We kept wondering if we were going to emergency land and for a while it looked like we were headed to Lincoln, Nebraska, but then the woman came to and drank some more. But then she was back out and it looked like now we were headed to Kansas somewhere, but then she was awake again. And finally after 3 hours she seemed much better and was back in her seat. (the nurse now looked like she was going to pass out -- but I think she had been pretty stressed!). Curiously the woman refused all medical treatment upon arrival and insisted on walking off the plane and up the concourse unassisted. We all think she must have been diabetic??? Who knows? but it made for a pretty crazy flight!


But back to timing -- the kids slept about 4 hours on the flight and 2 hours in the car (thank you NY traffic) and Trent and I got about 30 minutes each. It was a long next day. The kids had enough sleep to refuse to nap and just be plain grouchy. Trent and I each tried to nap in the morning. Trent napped in our room for 3 hours and then he had to go return the rental car (drove to manhattan and took the train home). I napped on the couch with the kids watching TV and playing around me for 3 hours (which means I did lots of refereeing, channel changing, volume controlling and very little napping). We ate donuts for breakfast at the airport and when it came time for lunch, I opened the fridge and found nothing so I opened the freezer and found ice cream (obviously we have the most important things). So my kids had ice cream for lunch. About 3 pm they were hungry again and since I knew we were picking Trent up from the train station at 4:15 and going to Costco for pizza, hot dogs and a small fortune in groceries, I did what any good mom would do and let them have icecream again. By 7:30 that night all the kids were sound asleep. Trent and I were out at 9:30 and though Trent had to catch the train in the morning for work when he called at 8:30 am from work, we were all still asleep. Madelyn even slept until 10:30!!!! CRAZY!!~!!!

Third, driving. We drove from California to Utah. 10 hours. 4 kids (and all that luggage I mentioned previously). I figured the kids would sleep. After 5 days at Disneyland combined with a 3 hour time change, I thought everyone would be exhausted. Apparently only the parents were. The kids were so excited to see the new movies I had bought that they all stayed awake to watch them. (Note to self: bring old, tried and true, movies for car rides so that your children will be willing to let themselves fall asleep when their eyes start weighing heavy as opposed to forcing their eyelids to stay open so they can see how the movie ends). Surprisingly, I found the car ride pretty relaxing.

Flying with children vs. driving with children. I have to say that as long as the driving can be done in one day -- I think the driving is better. You are flexible on time, you never have a flight attendant tell you that you cannot take your 2 year old to the bathroom, you don't have to take off your shoes (only if you want to), you don't have to wait in lines, you have a little more space. You can take sippy cups filled with water. You can stop anywhere for dinner. You don't have to buy a pillow and blanket!

So there you have it. The stories of the getting to and from and to and from.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Julianne's 9th birthday!

Grandpa comes for a visit!

Friday night pizza and movie with the Researchers!

What can I say? Our Friday pizza and movie tradition is so popular that even some of Trent's co-workers wanted to join us in the fun. Reilly, Jennifer, and Tracy made the train ride out to see us. Our girls were in heaven!!! We watched High school musical 3, had pizza (of course!) and Trent made his famous cookies for everyone! So if any of you ever need a fun Friday -- you know where to come! Consider this an invite to all of you!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Criss Cross

Criss Cross Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins


My review


rating: 2 of 5 stars
I picked this book up at a used book sale and grabbed it because it had the newberry medal winner seal stuck on it. As I held the book the seal started to unstick and roll. I was having a hard time liking the book and started wondering if it had really won the Newberry medal or if someone had haphazardly stuck the sticker on this book by accident. I read another 20 pages and then had to go look online to see if it was really a winner.



It is.



So, with affirmation that others had in fact liked this book enough to grant it an award, I kept reading. I figured it had to get better, right?



Well, now I am done with it. I thought it was OK. not great. not terrible. The story has multiple characters and changes points of view often. You are stuck in the heads of 14 year olds. I AM SO GLAD I AM NOT 14 ANYMORE. I really can remember thinking like them-- trying to glean as much meaning out of nothing. feeling predestined for something great, but not knowing what. and knowing there were experiences to live that would change your path forever but not really knowing where to go to live them.



I don't know who I would reccomend it to -- there were some funny moments and I liked the coordination of a few key illustrations, photos, and writing styles.


View all my reviews.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare


My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was like finding a kindred spirit. The main character has come to Connecticut from Barbados and finds all about New England to be a little crazy. The story is set in 1687. The author's note at the end says ". . . [these men:] and the freemen's struggle to preserve their charter is known to every schoolchild in Connecticut."



Well, it was not known at all to me a "schoolgirl" raised in Texas. So I found the history interesting as well as the fictional story relating some of the problems -- witch hunts, puritans, quakers, and rigid religious beliefs. Maybe as my children have to study Connecticut history I will learn "what all schoolchildren know."



But the real enjoyment of the book was just reading about someone else discovering 4 seasons for the first time. Barbados and Houston must be very similar (the character describes barbados as hot, humid, and always green, the air thick -- sounds just like Houston to me!)



So this was my favorite quote in the book



"All at once Kit was aware that this New England, which had shown her the miracle of autumn and the white wonder of snow, had a new secret in store. This time it was a subtle promise, a tantalizing hint of beauty still withheld, a beckoning to her spirit to follow she knew not where. She had forgotten that summer would come again, that the green would spread over the frozen fields, that the earth would be turned up to the sun and the seed sown, and that the meadows would renew themselves. Was this what strengthened these New Englanders to endure the winter, the knowledge that summer's return would be all the richer for the waiting?"


View all my reviews.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

One thing I have saved

I have been cleaning out the storage room and finally came across something I wanted and knew was in there somewhere. It really is a crazy box filled with stuff that I just can't let go. Every thing in the box reminds me of what I am capable of. For example -- I saved all of my physics notes, homework, and tests. I thought physics was fun -- really, really hard, but fun. I love to look at it all and remember how hard I worked solving all those problems -- They were hard classes and I keep that stuff because I want to remember how hard I worked for those A's.

But the thing I have been looking for were these. My homemade flashcards from a Botany class -- At one point in my life I knew and could identify 200+ different trees and shrubs -- I knew their common names, scientific names, their families, and the key to identifying them all. And I could. I could see nearly any tree or plant and tell you the name of it -- and if I didn't know the name, I knew what family it belonged to.

And I loved doing it. Trent hated going on walks with me while I took this class. "Can't we just walk without having to identify everything????"

The sad thing is, we moved here and I knew that at some point in my life I could have figured out what all the plants were in our yard, but I just couldn't remember. I finally had the nature center come out and do it for me. (the boringest blog post ever) I was really bugged that I couldn't find the cards and do it myself.

But I found them. And the craziest thing . . . the more I looked at them, the more it all came back to me. . . like I was rediscovering this crazy place in my brain that I had forgotten was even there. And so I am back on my way to being a plant nerd.

I wouldn't recommend going on walks with me for a while.

Memorial Day Parade

Merwin Meadow

Last Sunday evening the weather was so nice so we went and checked out this little park close to our home. Enjoy the pictures -- the kids had a great time!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Re-doing the bathroom

This was our powder bathroom. Pretty wild wallpaper. Without the aid of the camera's flash, the room is actually quite dark. I did not like it. So a few weeks ago while the owner was here he asked what I thought about the bathroom and commented that he did not care for it.

I sure hope he meant it -- because as soon as he said that I knew that the wall paper would be gone SOON~! I spent the week stripping the wallpaper -- (I should say right now, that I am not a huge fan of wallpaper -- it seems that it is so easily dated and very hard to update and refresh without major work. )




Underneath the wallpaper were lots of holes in the wall and this lovely paint color -- apparently this color must have been a favorite!




And here it is now!!!! We went with the same plain khaki color and swapped out the 80's polished brass light fixtures. (One funny thing -- when I got back from Sherwin Williams, Madelyn asked me if I got the paint. I said, yes and then she said, "did you get purple?" I laughed and said no -- she cried and asked what color I got? I said Khaki -- and she replied, "Khaki is so BORING!" But she likes it now, she has told me it is her favorite bathroom now!)
I am still looking for more wall art and a few more accessories, but this is so much better to work with!
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Running again

See my new little gadgets on the right!

I am back to running again. It had been almost a year since my last run. It is amazing how time flies when you are avoiding exercising.

The thing is -- I had really gotten into a good routine -- my friend Amy and I would run at 5:15 a.m. for 3 miles. When we couldn't run in the morning (if one of our husband's was out of town or something) we would watch each other's kids and take turns getting our runs in. I was getting faster (I had done a couple miles at a pace of 8:30-- which for me is really good!) and I was even enjoying it -- a little. But the thing I enjoyed the most was just knowing that I was taking good care of me. It also gave me the "stress relief" I needed as we had just found out we would be moving for Trent's job in New York City. That was definitely not the kind of news we had been expecting. Especially when we had just built a house and moved in and just decided to have another baby.

And then one morning, I finished a run and came inside to find I was spotting just a little. I was worried. It was like deja vu. I had miscarried at 9 weeks, 3 years earlier (between Catherine and Madelyn) and it had been the same thing - I had just a little spotting. But I assumed I was in the "safe" zone as I was a little over 18 weeks pregnant -- I even had a Dr's appt that day for the ultrasound to see if we were having a boy or a girl, but the baby had no heartbeat.

So I stopped running -- I delivered 2 days later and then had to recover. Then school was out and we were packing and moving. Then we went on vacation. Then we arrived in CT. Weeks of unpacking and settling and not being able to get anywhere without a GPS and all the new schedules and then just when I thought I should start running again it was WINTER.

I got a treadmill (a hand me down from someone who never used theirs) with good intentions but it didn't amount to any exercise. It was dark and cold and different.

But spring can do all sorts of things to you. I always like to clean house, do projects and exercise. Before I knew it, I was actually using the treadmill. And now my stamina is enough that I can do the hills. Saturday, I ran for 40 minutes up and down hills and felt great!

I also have some added motivation -- I am signed up to run the New Haven, CT to Boston, MA relay Sept 11 and 12 with 11 of my friends. It is 180 miles with each runner running 3 of 36 legs (each person runs around 15 miles). Wish me luck -- I have a lot more running to do before then!

Since I was running on the treadmill I haven't been using my Nike Plus, but since I started running outside I have been using it again. I love it! It is so great -- it works with my IPOD and is so easy to use! Plus, now it will post all the new runs right here!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I heart Google Maps Pedometer

One of my favorite tools on the internet is the google maps pedometer.


http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/


You mark your starting point and your route and it will tell you how far you have gone, how many calories you will burn, and my new favorite thing -- it will tell you the changes in elevation. The routes can be for runners or cyclists and you can even zoom in enough to mark the sidewalk you are using so that you have the most accurate route.


Each route can be saved. I like to think of it as a "free" GPS runner's watch. With this to mark your routes all you have to do is time yourself (which even the cheapest watch is capable of doing).



So I have started biking again. I put the 2 kids in the bike trailer (just like I used to) and then I bike (just like I used to) -- BUT, these roads around here are not like I am used to. Let me explain . . .



Here is the elevation change graph of a very frequent route I did in TX all the time. (X axis is miles traveled, Y axis is feet above sea level)







The absolute value of change in elevation is only 15 feet -- so even though it looks like I went up and down a lot, there really is not much change the whole time.

Here is the elevation change graph for the route I attempted yesterday here in CT. Our playgroup was going to a little park with a pond and beach area and the weather was stunning and it was only 5.5 miles round trip from our house. So I loaded up the kids in the trailer and headed out. (notice the absolute value of change in elevation now is 300 feet)


It took me less than 20 minutes to get there -- and boy was it a fun ride! But WOW, the way home was a different story. I knew it would be hard. So when my friend offered to take Madelyn home in her car I gladly gave up her 47 pounds of additional cargo. Right at the 4 mile mark, I had to walk my bike, and then somewhere around 4.5 miles, my friend came by and picked up Adam (30 more cargo pounds) and the whole bike trailer (30 more pounds). I made it the rest of the way easy -- what a difference 60 pounds makes.


So if you are ever in need of a good workout I can reccommend a few routes and loan you a couple kids and a bike trailer. According to the google maps calorie counter -- that whole ride by myself (not towing 110 extra pounds) burns 660 calories. And in towing the kids -- 1100 calories!

Too bad I celebrated my surviving the bike ride with a 1000 calorie chocolate milkshake!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A different kind of exercise

So . . . I can hear Julianne's temper rising upstairs-- the huffing, the "Aaaaagh", the stomping of her feet.

Finally, I ask, "Julianne-- what is the problem up there?"

She hollers back, "Mom, I am very, very mad. I am cleaning up my room and my silly putty is gone. Do you hear me??? Gone, Gone, gone, GONE, GGGGOOOOOOOOONNNNEEEE! You don't understand, I had it right here and it is gone, I tell you gone!!!!!!!! I am so mad at Catherine or Madelyn or Adam or AAAAAAAAUUUUUUUGHHHHHHH!"

I am just about to reply with some ideas on where to look when she chipperly states, "Oh, wait, here it is -- oh, I remember when I put it there!"

Now she seems fine.

This girl is all over the map. One moment she is mad, the next sad, the next cheery, the next giggly, the next furious, the next silly, the next helpful, the next defiant, the next pouty, the next tender --

I get exhausted watching her exercise all her emotions every 15 minutes or so.

Please tell me this is normal behavior for girls.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Not quite what I had in mind

Today after lunch my two sweet little ones (Madelyn & Adam) proceeded to dump 8 wooden puzzles, 5 floor puzzles (each about 24-30 large pieces), and 3 150 piece puzzles into a big pile. Trying hard to maintain my good humor in the situation, I called them over and explained that when we make big messes we have to do lots of cleanup. So we started the sorting. 30 minutes later we were finally finished. Madelyn exclaimed, "That was so fun, let's do it again!"

I have talked her out of it for now, but I won't be surprised if I walk into the room again and find the puzzles all mixed. Sorting is at least a good skill, right?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'm an organ donor, Are you?


This past weekend, after a four year wait, my 21 year old cousin was the recipient of a new kidney. It was such a great relief for him and his family -- after the years of dialysis and the years of being so sick.


Kyler (my cousin) had previously recieved a kidney from his mother when he was about 1 year old. That kidney started to fail 4 years ago and he has been waiting for a kidney for a long time.


The reason I am blogging about this, is that the donor of his kidney was a 33 year old woman. We do not know any other details about her life or death, but it is certainly a tragedy when someone this young dies. It especially hit home for me as I am a 33 year old woman. I am grateful to the family of this 33 year old woman who was able to honor her wishes to donate her organs even in a time of such despair. I don't know how many other families were blessed to be recipients, but I am sure many, many families have been given the gift of life for one of their loved ones.

I am sure there are many of you who if you were to befall some tragedy would be willing to be an organ donor but you just have never made it official on your driver's license or notified your family of your wishes. I am hoping that you will change that. Unfortunately, none of us know the timing of our life.

Be aware that even if your driver's license indicates you are a donor, most hospitals will honor the wishes of the family even if it is not what the individual would have wanted. So have the discussion with your loved ones today and let them know what you want to have happen should something go terribly wrong.



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How many ways to change a light bulb?

I googled "light bulb changing jokes" (because isn't that why google was invented? to find out really irrelevant information?). Did you know there are whole web pages devoted to these kind of jokes? I read a number of them and some were quite funny. Here were two of my favorites



Q: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?


A: One, but the light bulb really has to want to change.



Q: How many believable, competent, ``just-right-for-the-job'' presidential candidates does it take to change a light bulb?

A: It's going to be a dark 4 years, isn't it?







What it really comes down to is this. We all know that changing a light bulb is a simple task. And yet, twice now I have come face to face with a light bulb that defies changing.




The first time was in our home in First Colony. We had a light bulb about 25 feet high in the middle of a staircase with walls on both sides. On one side about 16 feet up there was a large window with about a 2 inch window sill. Trent and I tried everything. We are lucky to still be alive. We tried putting the ladder on the stairs (using textbooks and phonebooks to level the stairs) and I would hold the textbooks and Trent would climb the ladder. At one point, I remember that Trent had one foot on the top of the ladder and one foot on the windowsill and I could just see him falling, landing on the stairs, rolling down and taking me and the ladder with him. It was after that vision that I put an end to our ridiculous ways. I was 8 months pregnant with Adam and did not want him to lose his father before he was even born.
Several nights later, we were playing games with some good friends, Andy and Laura, and we were retelling our feeble efforts. Andy asked to look at it and the next thing I knew, Trent had hoisted him so that his fingers could reach the window sill. Andy did a pull up (with just his fingertips) and managed to stand on the window sill (with out going through the window) and then putting one foot on the other wall did this crazy spider man thing and got the bulb changed. (I think Laura and I were both having heart attacks). But in the end, Andy made it down in one piece and we sold that house so we would never again have to change the light bulb (well, that was just one reason). Trent and I still laugh about it; In our mind Andy will always be "spider man."

So with this memory fresh in our mind, we noticed a couple of months ago that one of two flood lights high on the exterior of our house had gone out. Naturally, within a few weeks the other one went out. We were trying to come up with how to go about changing it when Trent suggested that the next time I talk to Peter (the owner of our house) that I should ask him how (if ever) he had changed those light bulbs. When I asked him about it, he volunteered to change them. (and I was not about to argue otherwise) So, yesterday was the day. Peter had bought one of those telescoping light bulb changing poles that reaches 11 feet. (the box even assures that "You too, can change a light bulb in minutes!" )



The first bulb went relatively well, It only required hanging halfway out a 2nd story window, 20 minutes, and my saying "please, don't fall out the window" 10 times.



But the second one was a little more problematic. The angle was all wrong for being able to get to it from the window. So we tried a 7 foot painters ladder, in an uneven flower bed with a birch tree right in the way. As Peter climbed the ladder, it would start to lean, so I grabbed the ladder, and he grabbed the tree. If he stood on the very top (which the ladder explicitly states in one of its bright red labels that you should not do) and put one foot in the tree, with one arm holding the tree, and the other arm holding the pole, he could reach it. I actually thought for a moment that this was not so bad after all.



But then the new light bulb would not fit because there was a fitting ring that was stuck in the socket. He tried to knock it out using the other end of the pole at which point he commented that it probably was not the best idea to jam a metal pole into a live socket. It was then that I noticed another warning sticker on the ladder that stated "This Ladder conducts electricity."


After much trying, and even with Peter and the tree becoming very, very close and personal. The new light bulb just would not go in. It serves me right for buying the "green" fluorescent bulbs that use less electricity, because as it turns out, they are shaped just slightly different than the traditional light bulb.



Peter was going to head to the store to get another light bulb, when I asked him about one other light bulb that I was unsure how to change (this time buried in the garden). He commented that he had just changed that light bulb and was surprised that it was already burned out. And in a funny turn of events, we determined that the whole socket was bad and perhaps even that light bulb still worked. We checked it, and it did. And IT was the same kind he would have gone to the store for. So he climbed back up the ladder, made a little more love to the tree and . . .




Let there be light! I think we were just as happy as God was on the first day!



Only the happiness was for two things . . . the light and the fact that no one was harmed in the changing of this light bulb.