Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Halloween 2012 is finally in the bag. The past two years we have gone to the girls' aunt and uncle's 'hood to trick-or-treat on Halloween night and that is about it. This year I wasn't terribly excited about making the trek across town and so we decided to do a TorT at area businesses on Friday night and then attend a neighborhood Harvest Festival/TorT thing on Sunday. Tonight we stayed in.

Eloise chose her costume a while ago and it turned out okay. She wanted to be a race car driver and so I bought the costume on ebay and then she and I made her race car. The race car took about two hours to make. She wore it for maybe ten minutes.

Iris's costume was a little more of a dud this year. She didn't decide on what she wanted to be until about 10 days out from TorTing, and she wanted to be a cowgirl. It was an awesome idea for a costume, but it proved impossible to find cost-effective cowgirl boots. Then I basically decided for her to wear a Chinese dress a friend brought her from Hong Kong. I bought her a hat and slippers to go with it. When she tries the dress on, it doesn't fit. Gee, it did last time (dummy me for not having her try it on again before I bought accessories!). Can't return the hat and slippers. So plan C was go to Target and find something. We settled on butterfly wings. The stupid thing is that for the amount of money (and time!) I wasted on the butterfly wings and the slippers/Chinese hat I could have just bought her new cowboy boots! I didn't tell her that. Nor did I tell her I discovered that the Monster High costumes were on sale at Rite Aid, after we bought the other stuff. UGH. She would have loved to have been a MH girl. So, we spent a lot of money and in the end had an uninspired costume. Next year? We decide MUCH earlier so we can work out the first choice costume! 

Of course, the girls both looked adorable as always: 

TorTing in the business district was a lot of fun. We met up with some good friends and the girls got a ton of candy in about an hour. We all went out for dinner afterwards and it was a great alternative to Halloween night TorTing for us. 

Last year and the year before we did the "Halloween Fairy" where the girls could leave their candy bucket out and the Halloween Fairy would take it and replace the candy with a toy. Two years ago both girls were happy to do it. Last year Iris did it and Eloise didn't. I was a little stumped, because the whole point was to get rid of the candy, and Eloise didn't take the bait! This year I offered them cold, hard cash for the candy. Yet again, Iris took it and Eloise didn't. Since we went TorTing a bit again at the Harvest Festival on Sunday afternoon we told the girls upfront that they had two choices: don't TorT, or if you do, you have to sell us your candy. Iris was amenable to the idea, Eloise agreed at first and then, post TorTing, freaked out and had a tantrum about not getting to keep her candy. 

I still haven't figured out what the right solution is to the candy thing. Even giving up the vast majority of their candy they still ate a ton! I don't want to make it a lousy experience to have to give up the candy. 

We saved the pumpkin carving for tonight since the girls' pumpkins that were out on our porch were taken and smashed last year on Halloween. We wanted to keep that from happening again and I thought carving pumpkins and sipping hot apple cider would be a fun treat for the night since we weren't heading out. Iris carved hers 100% by herself! She had a little trouble and a few things break, but she did great!

Happy Halloween! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

San Diego: Part Four

Sunday marked our last day in San Diego. We flew home to dreary Seattle that afternoon. At least we fit in a bunch of fun before it was time to go!

I got up early for a run along the ocean. I was amazed how many people were up and about at 7:30 on a Sunday morning, including a ton of surfers. A quick three miles later and I was back at the cottage for a shower and to finish packing.

Before we left the beach cottage we had to say goodbye to some pieces of sea life the girls had come to well, love, a little too much.

We carried those things around all night on Saturday. Ew.
After saying goodbye to the seaweed, we headed down the street for breakfast. We ate at The Mission. Um, YUM. The food was amazing. The girls split pancakes, eggs and bacon. Matt had Rancheros Verde, which was some amazing yum covered in roasted chile verde sauce, and I had Papas Loco, a pile of rosemary potatoes, black beans, a bit of cheese, some avocado, jalapenos, a tortilla, some scrambled eggs . . . there was so much food it was out of control. My only regret is we ate here on the last day and couldn't bring home our left-overs! 

We liked the artwork.

My breakfast.

After breakfast we loaded up the car and drove north to La Jolla. All I knew about La Jolla is that the "seal beach" was there. I didn't even know how to pronounce La Jolla until Matt told me it was "La Hoya". The short to drive was beautiful. We were super lucky to score a parking spot right across from the Children's Pool Beach (which is what I had heard was the seal beach). Apparently it used to be a great little protected place for kids to swim in the ocean, until the seals and sea lions moved in. You can still legally swim there, but you have to stay away from the seals. It seemed like most people watched from the shore, but a few people went in. My kids were PISSED that we wouldn't let them swim, which was mostly because everything we owned was stuffed in to our suitcases in the car and we hadn't come prepared to swim. 

On the seawall separating the Children's Pool Beach from the ocean.
Children's Pool Beach is to the right.
There were a few seals in there, but I didn't get any great shots of them.
Looking out over the ocean reminded me of Maui. 

After we were done there we walked north along the shore. The palm trees were soooo tall! 
You can see Children's Pool Beach in the middle of this photo. 

Hard to tell, but there were a bunch of seals on this rock.

Found another rock full of seals.

The girls were searching these tide pools for sea urchins and crabs.

After we walked a big more along the shore we headed out to find some souvenir t-shirts and lunch. Didn't find the t-shirts until we got to the San Diego airport (hurray for $5 shirts!) and had a quick lunch at Panera. Nothing fancy. 

We were sad to leave the sun and sand and surf of San Diego. Hopefully we will get to go back some day! 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Snohomish River Run: Race Re-Cap

Since being injured, I have had to adjust my running, and racing, expectations. Since DNSing a half and full marathon I decided to start embracing shorter race distances. Hello, 10K, you saucy minx!

Everyone and their blogger buddy was writing up the inaugural Snohomish River Run a couple of months ago, so I hopped on the bandwagon. I knew I could be in decent enough shape to run the 10K (there was also the more-popular half-marathon choice) and after giving it about two seconds of thought, I decided to make a 50:00 10K my goal for the race. The race was being touted as "flat and fast", so that had to be good, right?

I talked two friends in to joining me, but in the end it was just Michael and I who, well, managed to sign up before the race sold out. 

On Saturday morning I woke up well before dawn to pouring rain. As a  Seattleite I am more than happy to run a race in the rain. It's all of the standing around and waiting in the (very cold) rain before the race that I wasn't looking forward to. I picked up Michael and as we drove closer to Everett, the rain slowed to a halt. YES! 

I decided to deconstruct the race as the good, the bad and the ugly (each list in no particular order):

The Good
  • The shuttles. (see also: the bad). To say I was pissed that the race organizers announced that onsite parking was limited and only available via a pre-purchased parking pass and that they were organizing shuttle buses from area parking lots, after I already registered for the race, is an understatement. However, when all was said and done, the shuttles worked really well for us. We got on from the Everett Park and Ride about ten minutes after we parked and caught the shuttle back from the race even more quickly. Easy peasy.  
  • The course wasn't crowded. AT ALL. Almost to a fault. It was really, really, non-crowded (is that a word?). Before the race I was super worried I wouldn't hit my goal since the 10K racers were starting 15 minutes after the half-marathoners and I thought there would be lots of weaving involved trying to get around the slower racers. There was some weaving, but it didn't affect my race time. 
  • The on-site massage therapists. When Michael and I finished we walked past the massage tent and there was no one on the tables. Oh, my. I immediately asked if they were taking people and they said yes and Michael and I each hopped on a table! DIVINE. 
  • The food. Admittedly, all I tried was one cup of soup, a piece of bread and a chunk of banana. But the spread was amazing. One of the best I have ever seen! 
  • The race medals. They are super awesome and were for the runners of both distances! My only peeve is that we were handed a bubble-wrapped medal. How so anti-climactic. My wish is that the volunteers were putting them on racers, or at the very least handing them out ready to be put on ourselves. 
  • The race shirts. A good color (red!) and a great style (women's cut!). WELL DONE. It is amazing how many races give out god-awful shirts that immediately donate.
  • The gear check. The volunteers at gear check were super well-organized. 
  • The AG awards. The top three finishers in each age group won an award, which was a glass mug (apparently the higher you placed, the bigger your mug!).
  • The volunteers. They were all super awesome, just being there, being kind and lending a hand. 

The Bad
  • Not enough porta-potties. Dear race organizers of every race, ever: use whatever logarithm you need to to figure out how many porta-potties you need for the number of attendees, and double it. You're welcome. 
  • The shuttles. (see also: the good). 
  • Not enough shelter or heaters. Rain was in the forecast for quite a while before race day. I was surprised there weren't tents set up for people to hang out under. There were maybe two small heaters set up, there should have been many more.
  • Dis-organization. This wasn't awful, but I did notice a few things other than what I already mentioned. Like, as I crossed the finish line the first thing I was handed was a red ticket and told I could use it to enter a drawing because I was wearing a skirt(?). I asked a couple of people working the race what I was supposed to do with the ticket and no one knew! I never turned it in. Also, the AG awards were being passed out kind of randomly as people went and asked for them. I have to say, I was so glad (spoiler alert!) they gave Michael and I ours, as we were ready to leave, but it sounded like maybe there was supposed to be an awards ceremony at some point. 

The Ugly
  • The start times of the half-marathon and 10K. This, more than anything, made me really annoyed. The website said the races were going to start at 8:30 and 8:45, respectively. While we were waiting for the race to begin they announced they would start at 8:45 and 9:00. The half-marathon started maybe 8:47 or so. Once those runners were off the crowd cleared out considerably so Michael and I went to take off our coats and check our gear then use the porta-potties again. As we emerged from the porta-potties we heard them counting down the 10K start and the then the gun went off. I looked at my watch, it was 8:54. I took off running for the start line, freaking out. If you want to run fast in a race, starting at the tail end of the crowd is the worse place to be. I started jumping through through the crowd and luckily that worked out okay. My heart rate sky-rocketed. I immediately lost Michael, despite hoping we could run together, but my PR was my primary focus. I knew my friend Alma was running the 10K at a similar pace so I kept my eyes peeled for her. About a mile in I heard someone calling my name from behind and it was Alma! So happy to see her. She was at her car when the gun went off and had to sprint to the start, but seemed to be managing just fine by that point. 

Overall, I am super happy overall with the race. Right when Michael and I got there I saw some friendly faces and got to finally meet an online friend who I have interacted with for a while, so that was great. The course was flat, just as advertised!, and the river was pretty. We ran a bit on the road and a bit on a paved trail, which was great to have the course change a bit. I have to admit that hills in a race (SMALL hills) are a nice distraction from pain, oh dear god the pain just flat, flat, flat. It was such a fun surprise to get to run with Alma for some of the race. I loved that she chatted a bunch with me and seemed to know, like, half the people we passed. At one point she told me to go on ahead while she dropped back a bit, and then she ran with me again and then, poof!, left me in her dust at about mile 4, finishing 2nd in our age group.

I ran fast, and it really hurt. I was having flash-backs to the RnR half and all of that pain and kept telling myself that if I missed my goal I would only have to try again and start over. No, no, no, I did NOT want to do that! My mind started going all over the place and in hindsight I wished I had just hyper-focused on my form. Though Alma mentioned my form looked good in the beginning of the race, I am no so sure it held up when I was dying running that last mile. I think this race photo right before the finish line looks promising, though. I don't see a heel strike, score!

Photo by Hovde Productions.
I titled this one "DOMINATING IT!" 
The big reveal is that I beat my goal by 30 seconds, coming in at 49:30. I was 3rd in my age group, too! My first ever AG award.  That was pretty cool. I finished 8th (of 187) of women, and 22nd (of 248) overall for the 10K. I worked hard for that! Seriously, it hurt.

The big winners! 

After finishing and catching my breath I wandered over to grab some of the hot soup the race was serving. It was quite tasty. If Michael and I weren't planning on heading to brunch right after the race, I would have tried more of the goodies. I was in a fog and wondering what I missing at the finish line and it was the chocolate milk! I am not sure if they didn't have any or I didn't see it, but I like to re-fuel immediately with coconut water or chocolate milk. I also wished I had been given a bottle of water, it sucks to try and replenish fluids with a dixie cup of water. 

Before heading out, Michael and I got a massage from Experience Momentum Therapy, which was blissful. I mean, as blissful as a sweaty, post-race, fully-clothed massage can be. The massage therapist was nice and knowledgeable and worked a bit on my legs, paying special attention to my IT band. What a perfect way to end a race! 

All in all, I am happy about the race. I hit my goal, I had fun and the weather held up. Success!

ETA: I also managed to win a free Team Sparkle skirt for wearing my skirt "on the podium" (so to speak). If you race in a Team Sparkle skirt and win an award, Team Sparkle will send you a free skirt! 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Running Wild: Weekly Re-Cap

Racing week! I will write a separate re-cap for that, but until then I wanted to get up a re-cap of the whole week. Nothing too exciting to report (besides the race, of course). 

The one awesome thing is that I realized that one year ago today I ran my first race, the Pumpkin Push 5K. I was pretty proud of myself, I ran the whole thing and finished strong in 33:00. It was so much fun. I ran with my friend S, who is pregnant now. I think I will probably start forgetting some races, but not the first one!

So, let's see.

Weekly total: 10.3

Monday: rest

Tuesday: 45 mins elliptical

Wednesday: bootcamp

Thursday: 4.1 miles

Friday: rest

Saturday: 6.2 miles

Kicked some serious butt on this one, if I do say so myself, but it was very, very hard. 

Sunday: rest

So, so, so sore today. My right hamstring is the worst. I expected to feel it in my quads, but I guess that pain only shows up when I am doing much longer races. Thankfully my IT band has been pretty hush-hush on the issue. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

School Pictures

Aw, would ya look at these little monkeys? 

The company that took their school photos let us have the photo downloads for free. I guess that's kind of cool, then I can share them with all of you! 

I am so happy Eloise's signature smile was captured. Who smiles with the middle of their mouth more narrow than the edges? Eloise, that's who! Too cute. And you can see a hint of her first lost tooth, too.

Iris said she felt like a model because the photographer's assistant was helping to primp her and make her look just right. She loved it!

I think we're about 35 days in to the school year. My first post on the subject of school definitely came off as disgruntled, since that was the head space I was in the day I wrote it. Fortunately, it was commentary on a small slice of school life and it didn't reflect our family's overall feelings about how school is going so far. 

Every day I pinch myself, amazed that Iris has not once proclaimed that she hates school and doesn't want to go. Au contraire, she actually looks forward to it. Every single day. When Matt and I made the decision to send Iris to public school our number one hope was that she would like school and be happy. So far? Done and done. Yes, school isn't as challenging as I would like it to be for her, yes, she's still working hard on her social skills . . . but the main thing is that she is happy. She doesn't fight about going to school. She doesn't complain about school at the end of the day. She doesn't fight me over doing her homework, at least not much. She whines a bit, but doesn't freak out like she did when I would do some homeschooling work with her last year. Apparently her teacher told her the class that they can't get angry with their parents about homework. I am so glad the teacher said that! A couple of times Iris caught herself complaining and stopped because she remembered I wasn't the bad guy. Ha! 

One thing that has been going on with Eloise is that I was starting to get very worried about about how "behind" I perceived her to be with her reading and writing. I was comparing her so heavily to her sister, who was reading chapter books like Junie B Jones by this point in her life, that I panicked. Luckily her teacher explained to me that Eloise was well within the normal range of learning to read. After I spent a few days spent in the classroom I realized that yes, she seems to be very middle-of-the-pack when comparing her reading abilities to her peers.

The other night Eloise had a sleepover at our house with her best friend. The girl and Eloise took turns reading a book each from a little stack they had brought home from school. Not sure about the friend, but Eloise mostly has her books memorized, but she is working so hard on it! I feel like any day she will just "get it", which is, well, what happened to Iris. So we'll see. 

Overall, so far so good! This has definitely been our best year, yet, I think, in terms of overall happiness. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Beautiful Story About a Runner Friend

If you don't read Michigan Runner Girl's blog, you really should. You might already be familiar with her, as she writes for Another Mother Runner, as well!

Heather (MRG) recently ran a story about my friend Dani that is so inspirational. 

I loved the whole post, but especially the reminder that "running reveals anything is possible". It is so true, isn't it?  

What we can overcome in the space of a run, in the space of a training cycle, in the space of a race . . . just putting one foot in front of the other. We can transform ourselves when we become runners. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Times are a Changin'

September marked a milestone for me as a mother-- both of my girls were in school full time. I have been a stay-at-home mom since about half way through my pregnancy with Eloise, so 6 1/2 years! It has been awesome and I loved every minute of being a SAHM. Taking care of my family and our home is incredibly  fulfilling for me because it takes heaps of stress off of all of us. My husband has very little to worry about outside of his job (which is stressful enough!) and my kids know that I am always here for them and I can be a part of their lives in so many ways I never could if I worked. Being able to stay home and home school Iris last year, for example, was so important to Iris's development. 

But now that my girls are in school full time, things have changed.  It immediately proved a little, well, lonely and boring to be a SAHM in an empty house. On my girls' first day of school I interviewed for, and got, a very part time job. This past week marked my first full week of work, which is two four hour days. Not exactly a huge undertaking, but just enough to give me something to do outside of the home that also helps pave the way for me to get back in to the work force. Eight hours a week is kind of perfect. And the job is completely flexible with my girls' school schedule. If the girls are off, I am off. 

In addition to working I am also volunteering in each of the girls' classrooms. I do one morning a week in Iris's and one afternoon a week in Eloise's, so about a total of five hours a week. I am often helping out with other school projects in addition to those scheduled volunteer times. Last year I chaperoned a lot of kindergarten field trips, but so far this year the field trips are happening on the two days I work, so I haven't done any of those. I am not feeling too much guilt about chaperoning since I am in the classrooms every week already.

Right now it feels like a perfect balance. I am still 100% at home when my kids are home, I am able to work a little, volunteer a little and still have time to take care of myself and my home. Luckily I can fit in (almost) all of my running/exercise, my appointments and my errands while the girls are at school. 

I forsee this balance to hold for at least the next few years, at least until the girls are old enough that I am not needed as much in the classroom or for fieldtrips. Some day my girls will probably be embarassed to have me around school much, huh?

I'll try not to think about that right now, though. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

San Deigo: Part Three

Saturday was a beach day! It was a bit too chilly for me to do any swimming, but I enjoyed my perch from the beach chair, watching the girls play on the Bay side beach for a while.

The girls played nicely together for a record amount of time! 

Their game involved Iris being a dog and Eloise being her owner and Eloise ordering Iris around a bunch.
It seemed to work out just fine!

Obligatory feet shot. Watched a lot of SUPers out on the bay. I was so jealous! 

The house we stayed in was right behind that brown one. If the tree wasn't there you could see it.
The path around the bay was just on the other side of the trash can.

After lunch it was time to head to the other side . . . the ocean!

Matt and the girls were ready to do some boogie boarding. It was a little breezy and I was too cold to get that wet, but I enjoyed standing in the shallow water and watching the action!

Mission  Beach to the north.

Mission Beach to the south.

The boogie boarder.

Waiting for Iris.

Matt and Iris getting ready for a wave.

Iris caught a wave! They really flew, it was a blast!

Waiting for Eloise to go. 

Eloise even managed to catch a few waves on her own!

Happy girl!

After we were done in the water Matt and I sat on the beach chairs and the girls played at the water's edge for quite a while.

Saturday night was our last chance to catch the sunset at the beach, so I rushed the family out the door and we just caught it:

The girls whined and whined about how long we were walking (at that point we had walked just under a mile) but I had a destination in mind: Belmont Park, which was at the end of Mission Beach. We had seen the roller coaster from the road and I knew the girls had a little bit of spending money left, so they would probably have fun at an amusement park.

The first thing the girls chose to spend their money on was Sky Ropes Adventure. This was a little tricky for Eloise as she was barely tall enough for it. Her pulley thing didn't move easily, I think she was putting too much weight on it. the bigger kids could just walk along without pulling on their ropes very much. Both of the girls had a lot of fun, though! 

After Sky Ropes Adventure they rode the Tilt-a-Whirl and then the mean parents made them head home. Rides are so darn expensive! They wanted to do the big rollercoaster but it was $6 per person and they were out of cash. 

We walked back to the beach house along the bay side path and then finished our Ben and Jerry's before heading to bed.