Saturday, October 03, 2009

In August, I looked at a calendar, and realized that Kurt's birthday was coming at me fast---and it was a big one! He was going to be 50 at the end of September! Kurt (now known as "Pop-pop") needed something good for his birthday, so I thought a surprise party was in order. His favorite local establishment is Victory Brew--and after much discussion with them, they convinced me to have the party at my house, rather than at the restaurant, and they would cater! They would set up tents, tables and chairs, grills, and kegs in my yard; they would supply buffet tables, chafing dishes, lights for the tent, plates, napkins, waitstaff and everything I needed. I signed on, sent invites out, and plotted secretly for over a month, all the while not knowing whether Kurt was onto me---and all the while hoping for nice weather.
The rain started the second I stepped out of the movie theater with Kurt the evening of his party. Many of the guests had started to assemble back at our house at that time. I saw the drizzle and told myself it would stop in a minute---then it came down harder, and harder as we were driving home! I had to laugh, because the rain has destroyed so MANY days for me this summer, that this should have come as no surprise! But what WAS a surprise was the party back at our house---Kurt had NO idea and was completely surprised to see his family (some came from far away--thanks Kathy and M & M!) and years worth of friends in our kitchen when we got back to the house! He was even more excited when he learned that his favorite restaurant was catering --- and there were Victory hamburgers and a Victory keg in his own yard! It was a wonderful night with family and friends---I can only hope I made it a memorable 50th birthday for my honey!

Sadly, I didn't get everyone in pictures, and I didn't get pictures of the beautiful, water-logged tents!
After the weather-disaster that was triathlon #1, I signed up for triathlon #2 and continued my training through August and September. Triathlon 2 was a little shorter (swim 1/4 mile, bike 12.5 hilly miles and run 2 miles) and also a little closer to home. I wasn't all that nervous about this one, and actually got some good sleep in the nights leading up to the triathlon! I was excited, until the day drew near and I realized how COLD it was, waking up in the mornings! The predicted temperature was 48 degrees outside at the time I would be jumping into Marsh Creek lake---and I only hoped that the water would be warmer than that. I was more worried about how cold it would feel when I got OUT of the water and started biking in the cold, in my wet clothes!

It felt cold! But, I cruised my way through the bike ride (did I mention it was very hilly!??) and made up for some lost time in my swim. Even with my slow and heavy mountain bike, I did good time! (Don't ask about the swim---I did my usual "panic" mode in open water, and it took me a lot longer than I had hoped, and a lot longer than I could do the same distance in a pool!) The 2-mile run seemed very quick, even though I didn't do it that quickly. It was part trail run, part run over grass and tree roots, some concrete, and I was surprised that the 1/2 way point (turn-around) came up as quickly as it did. I was chatting with a friend for part of the way, and we weren't pushing too hard until the end was near!Here are a few friends near the finish line--they made a banner and were cheering us on every leg of the made all the difference in the world! This race was for males and females. My swim time was 13 minutes 11 seconds; bike was 50 minutes 48 seconds and run was 19 minutes 30 seconds. I came in number 147 out of 303 female racers; and for the females aged 40-44 I came in 27 out of 51. Some day I will make it out of my life of mediocrity, but in the meantime, I am pretty much middle of the pack!
And so, I did what I set out to do---a triathlon! And, I am probably hanging up my running shoes for a few months, until triathlon season starts again in the spring!

Jack was excited and nervous about his first day of preschool---he was certainly familiar with the classrooms, and some of the teachers, because had had been there almost every single weekday of his entire life, dropping off and picking up his brother and sister during the school years! He loved that he had his own new backpack, just like Nicole and Max!

(No, I can't even remember why Nicole was crying, but I know it was NOT because she was sad to see her baby brother off to school!)
OK, maybe I am a little nervous, but I think I'm going to like it here!
Jack didn't cry when Max and I said "goodbye," but he wouldn't quite look at us either. He came running to me when I picked him up 2 hours later, but for a few hours after that, he was mad at me! The same thing happened the 2nd day of school (he only has school 2 mornings a week), but he has been fine, and looking forward to school, since the first week!

August ended with the start of school for Nicole and Max. This was the first time Nicole was going to be at school all day; and for Max, this meant a 1/2 day of school that would be a lot of work and would not afford him much play time at all! I thought the whining would begin, from both kids, about a week or so into the school year!
I couldn't have been more wrong! I still haven't heard a peep, over a month later! Nicole loves being in school all day, and is doing extremely well. She is reading pretty well, doing great with spelling and writing, and claims that she is bored most of the day because everything is so easy! She loves eating lunch at school, and
is doing great this year! On the first day of school, Max was a little nervous going in---but no tears or crying! He came home off the bus with big smiles! When I dropped him off for day 2, he was instantly surrounded by a small pack of boys---all of his new "buddies"---who were playing tag and running around like they had known each other for years! In the following weeks, he has become closer to his friends; has started to learn to read sentences with his sight words; he has had a field trip to an apple orchard; he has improved his fine motor skills; and he couldn't be happier! Not one complaint that he hasn't been able to play very much! And there is a little first grader (a friend of Nicole's) who follows him around, tells him how cute he is, chases him, and blows him kisses! He is embarrassed to talk about it, but he always has a big smile on his face when he does! (Sadly for Nicole and Max, the girl will be moving away some time in the next few months--but I have a feeling that this won't be the last time Max and his cute little smile get chased around by a cute little girl!)
The rest of the summer flew by for us. We didn't take a big vacation, but we did have a "staycation"---one week when Kurt took off from work and we tried to jam-pack as many activities in as we could (kid activities that is!). So we spent one day driving to, and enjoying, Knoebels Amusement Park. The park got an A+ rating from us....except for the length of the drive!!!

We spent day #2 at Sesame Place! We have taken the kids there a few times over their long years, with ever-increasing disappointment. It is extremely expensive, extremely crowded (even on a week day), the staff is slow or non-existent, and I don't want to sound like a snob, but where do they FIND some of the people that frequent the park? I don't want to mingle with these people and share rides or pool water for fear of the diseases I may come home with!
Day number 3 of staycation: I had a previously-scheduled continuing legal education class that day, so Kurt and the kids were off to his parents for a fun-filled day of tickles, giggles and play!

The whining started early on day 4; we had some pretty tired kids. But we were going to show them some more fun, and they were going to LIKE it, no matter what! So, off to the Please Touch Museum in its newly renovated space! It was AWESOME, and I wish I could post 100 pictures of this place----which still wouldn't do it justice! (I am actually having difficulty posting pictures right now, so I will have to add pictures later.) By the end of this museum visit, I had really had enough of locales with seas of screaming kids, but we kept moving onward! Since we were really close to Philly, we took the kids to Dave & Busters and let them play arcade games and earn tickets until they were blue in the face! After a few hours, and a lot of money spent, they had enough tickets amassed to buy--- (wait for it!)--- one candy bar each! I couldn't help but think that I could have saved us all a lot of time and money by buying them one before we ended up at D & B!
For the last day of staycation, we were going to take the kids to another amusement park---Dutch Wonderland! But, they awoke with dark circles around their eyes, tears falling for any reason and no reason at all, and zombie-like demeanors, so we decided they had had enough! A nice relaxing day at home would do just fine for the end of our staycation! Did I mention that this week of running was all done in the one-and-only heat wave we had all summer!?
August also brought: Jack moving to a toddler bed (not one complaint or problem with the transition---and he has never gotten out of his bed until we come to get him in the morning!); a good friend of mine moving away ('bye Erin, still miss you!); and the first day of school for Nicole and Max!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The disastrous day that was my triathlon has come and gone, and I still can't get past it. The swim was canceled for safety reasons (the thunder, lightning and torrents of rain probably had something to do with it) but it was replaced with a run, so we had to do a run-bike-run...a duathlon, NOT a triathlon! I managed to finish the race, in pretty poor weather conditions, before the race was called 1/2 way through it, as the sky let loose and dumped 4 inches of rain in an hour. Or so I was later told. Because as I was standing there, it seemed to me that there was a lot more rain than that---but the scarier part was the thunder/lightning, the streams of water running by, and the mud and puddles up to my knees...and being unable to find my ride, or any friends or familiar faces. I did eventually find them...and everyone I knew did manage to get out of there OK (there were some girls who were taken out on stretchers in ambulances!)...and the skies did eventually clear and the scariness of the day dissipated and was replaced with disappointment. I learned to swim for this race! I trained for a triathlon, not a duathlon! My times for the day were OK, but had to have been affected by the weather! And so, I have decided that I WILL do this race again next year. But I also don't want to wait that long to conquer a swim in the river, and so I will be doing a smaller triathlon in the area in September. After all, it can't be any worse than this day was! But if I wake to any sign of rain that morning, I will NOT be getting out of bed!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

If I'm being honest, I need to step up the fun for the kids this summer! This has been my "selfish summer" so far, and will be for another 9 days, when I will participate in a triathlon (for better or for worse) and then I will take my training down a notch. If the kids had to return to school right now and write an essay about what they did this summer, it would go something like this: "I went to the kidzone at the gym." Since they don't ask kindergarteners and first graders to do these kind of essays, I'm off the hook for now! (It IS a nice kidzone with different creative areas, climbing structures and room to run, so they are never doing the same thing two days in a row, and they have made a lot of friends there!) Actually, since there is a 2 hour 15 minute time limit for the kidzone in the gym, we have spent our afternoons at home, playing in the yard, or being very quiet in the house, while Jack naps. Or, more likely lately, we whisper and tiptoe in the hopes that a very-tired-and-cranky Jack will nap, because he refuses more often than not at this point. Which would be OK, were it not for the crankiness. Which really is not OK evening after evening! So, we stay home in the hopes of a nap much of the time. The upside to this is that Nicole and Max have been playing SO well together. And when the three are together, they travel in a small pack and use a ton of imagination and creativity to play and learn. (Unless you let Max play Wii Lego Star Wars; then we've lost him for the afternoon!)

We have had a little bit of July fun. The kids went to camp for a week at their elementary school, and will go for another week in a different camp shortly. We have gone to a couple of local fairs and playgrounds.

Fireworks are a necessary start to July!

(See, I told you Max and Nicole were getting along so well! We didn't ask them for this photo op, but I grabbed it when I saw it!)

The kids found a new favorite restaurant for outdoor dining! It's too bad for our wallets that it's not a typical kids' place at all! It's a fine dining restaurant with a casual side to their menu and a more casual outdoor seating area that we love! In Downingtown, no less! Max was trying his hardest to make a great bear's face!

Some fun outdoor play; they are performers putting on a concert for their fans! (There was only one fall off the stage, which wasn't caught on camera, and no injuries from it!)

Yes, thanks for noticing that Nicole now has bangs, and no, we haven't taken her for a haircut in a long while. We were also wondering how the bangs appeared around her face one afternoon. Apparently she had a little incident with the scissors. We're still not sure, after a pretty heated cross-examination, whether this was an accidental or intentional fight between the scissors and her hair, but this is the look she is stuck with for a while! They would actually be cute under different circumstances. We'll take her to a stylist to get them prettied up once they grow out a little, and we'll make sure we step up her summer activities so her little brothers don't end up with crew cuts!