Friday, June 16, 2017

Running On

Dear Brother,

I'm running again! I was off for over a month. At one point I even told my husband that i thought I didn't want to run anymore, ever. It was that bad. What changed my mind?
Well, 1st off, the weather. We had a lot of rain, and it was very easy to not want to run in the cold downpours. Now with the sun, or even the gray but warm days, I feel like getting outside and moving.
2. My schedule. Now that school is out I actually have time to run.
3. My energy. I started taking a multi-vitamin along with my iron supplements and it has made a huge difference in my energy.
4. Accountability. My daughter wants to run a triathlon, so I'm trying to get her started with running, working her into the Couch to 5K kind of program. Also, my aunt mentioned doing something, so having the two of them motivates me.
5. And one more thing .. I want to lose some weight, at least 5 pounds. When the pants start to feel too tight, it's time to get back on the road!
So now I have grand dreams - a 5K this summer, a 10K later maybe in the Fall or winter, then a half marathon in April. And then, maybe just maybe a full one next year.
 It feels great. And my shoes are happy again.

Higher Education

Dear Brother,

Well this week it happened. My oldest child graduated from high school, my middle child graduated from middle school, and we added a couple of parties, and a funeral in the mix.
Our Boy has been gone most of the week attending senior parties, or just impromptu get-togethers with his friends, enjoying every last minute with his buddies that he can. On Thursday we had a little discussion as to what would be worn under the graduation robe .. a compromise was struck mainly because he has no good pants, and he took the tie off once he saw that none of his friends were wearing one. But at least he had a nice button up shirt on, and good jeans.
I didn't cry during graduation this time! It was definitely a celebratory evening. Our Boy was one of 6 valedictorians, so instead of having them all give a speech, 2 of them gave the speech, our boy opting out of that.


The Girl who Swims is starting the countdown for her graduation in two years...

The next evening we had the graduation of our 8th grader - on to high school! She thinks she is ready ... she has no idea what's in store for her!


So next school season we'll have 2 in high school, 2 at home school, and one in college. How do I deal with this changing of the seasons?!
I embrace life - I am trying to still live by my motto I picked up early this year, Live Life Abundantly. On Saturday we went to a memorial service for the kids' classmate. It was a celebration of a wonderful girl's life, and even though it was sad and difficult, at the same time, it was a great celebration of a girl who lived life fully, and who is now running with Jesus. During the service, someone sang the song "Come to Jesus", and I kept thinking they needed to add a verse for this girl - Run with Jesus. She liked to run, she liked to run with her friends, even though she wasn't a star athlete, she did it because she liked it. That is living life abundantly.
And one more photo to leave you with - we've got another one who likes to hang on the rim...

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Go For a Run

Dear Running Shoes,

You greet me each morning, staring up at me with your eyelets, silently begging to be taken for a run. And yet I pass you over for my sandals.
I know, I know, it's been a month since I took you out for a run. But hey, don't stick your tongue out at me - at least I've taken you for walks in the evenings. The days have been long, not only with the sun staying up until 9 pm, but with all the activity going on around here. I have a senior graduating from high school, and an 8th grader moving up, and two homeschoolers that still need to finish their books. It looks like we will be doing some math through the summer. I must say, not having summer basketball has been a nice break, although I do miss it. I miss the games, and the visiting with our sports 'family'. But I don't miss the time it took up. And I know there will be more in the future.
But, dear running shoes, you won't be stuck in my closet forever. I promise. The 11-year-old has mentioned a number of times now that she wants to do a triathlon. In order to do that, we need to get her running first. Which means she and I will be starting a 'Couch to 5k' training plan next week. So you see, all hope is not lost, soon you'll get to hug my sweaty feet again and support me in my quest for mileage.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Up and Down

Dear Family and Friends,

A BIG thank you to those of you who made it to our son's graduation party! It was so fun to see everyone, and yet, we feel like we missed out a bit because we couldn't get around to talk to everyone. The Boy has been incredibly blessed by all of you, not just with the cards you left for him, but for your input in his life. I know that someday he will look back and see just how you played a role in his growing.  Thank you.
To those of you who could not make it, I totally understand. I didn't make it to some friends' parties this weekend either. And so for you, I have pictures of what you missed:
Good friends,


Good food,

Good family,



I must say, having company over is quite an impetus to clean up the house and yard! It was sparkling on Sunday after days of 'spring cleaning'. The kids all pitched in to help ... ok, maybe it was more like mandatory volunteering, but we worked on it as a family, and then got to enjoy it as a family. 
Seeing the people from our church mingle with family members mingle with school friends mingle with neighbors was a little surreal, but yet really cool. The Boy has lived here basically his whole life, gone to the same church his whole life, and only attended one school besides homeschool. That makes for a lot of people he has known for a long time. And because The Boy is pretty outgoing, he also has a lot of people he knows for a short time. It's one of the things I admire about him - like his dad and uncle, he can talk to anybody easily. For some of us it takes a bit of effort. 
The party wound down and the seniors were making plans. But then some tragic news was communicated to us, and plans changed. 
A friend of our kids' - a student at their school, a running partner of my daughter - was killed in an accident yesterday. Every parent's nightmare became a reality for her parents. My heart is hurting for them, and for her friends, and even more so for the friend who was with her at the time. It's going to be a hard week for our school, balancing the pain and grief, and finding the balance with graduation celebrations at the end of the week. This school is small enough, that it is like extended family (- my siblings know what I'm talking about because of the high school we went to). Please pray the kids, the staff, teachers, and the family as we grieve this week. I have a feeling cross country season in the fall is going to be kind of difficult for our team.

Friday, June 2, 2017

It Takes a Village

Dear Cousin,

Do you remember those summers when my mom would let me spend a whole week with you at your house? One year it was a whole month. Those were some fun times! We played in the pool, we rode the horses, we ate tons of Popsicles ...
I never wondered about it before, I just enjoyed it! Now that I am a mom, I wonder if she did it to have some time off .... Oh, I know she had plenty to do - especially in the summer; what I mean is time off ... from me.
I love my kids, I love having them home (I wouldn't have homeschooled if I didn't!) But yesterday my older 3 were at school and my younger two were invited to go to Portland with a neighbor for the whole day. Suddenly my day looked different. Instead of driving from store to store with 2 children who would need snacks, drinks, bathroom stops, refereeing and other attention, I would be driving from store to store by myself. I could stop anywhere and anytime I wanted to. The feeling of freedom was enticing.
And then I got a phone call that a friend needed help with her little ones, and they are much younger than mine, so I could easily imagine and sympathize with how she was doing that morning. So I offered to take one along with me to run my errands - and I got lucky - I got the baby! She is such a cute 6 month old and we had a great time driving all over town. She slept most of the time; and when she was awake she was happy. When we finally made it back to my house we had about 45 minutes of playtime and cuteness overload.
I thoroughly enjoyed having the baby with me. And I also enjoyed having baby's mom come pick her up when it was time. My kids weren't home yet, so I was able to get some other work done also. Maybe it was a brief glance into what being a grandma is going to be like. Not that I need to be one of those any time soon!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Champions

**Dear readers, I'm trying a new format for my blog. Hopefully it will spur me on to write more often here.**

Dear Brother,

Last Friday night I made it home by 1 am. I know now that I am no longer a 'spring chicken'; my recovery took all weekend.
I was out with The Mr. watching our kids run in the State Track Meet. It was so exciting! On Thursday, the Girl Who Swims, and Runs, ran the 3000 m race at State. She's only a sophomore and she, and her teammate, qualified for State! We were pretty proud and excited at the Districts meet when she came in 2nd behind her teammate - knowing it was the time and place she needed to go on. So anyway, all season the meets have been either held in the rain, or hail, or cold. Until State. It was warm, really warm, and I'm pretty sure my girl was not used to it. She didn't have a great time, but she didn't come in last either!


The next day more excitement came our way. We headed back to Eugene ... the only two days I ever want to go there ... to watch The Boy race. His was the first race, the 4x100 relay. At Districts he also ran the 100 m and the 400 m, but placed 3rd, just missing the chance to run State in those. We were anticipating the relay teams to take 1st place ... they are fast! And they kept us on the edge of our seat the whole race! The Boy was the anchor leg for the 4x100, and he really moved. He was in first place, we were going wild, and then out of nowhere (it seemed to us) another kid passed him and took first at the last second ....
So then we hung out the rest of the afternoon/evening watching a number of other boys on our team place 1st, 2nd, 6th, in their events. The excitement grew as we all began to realize our boys team could take the championship points! So, it was finally time for the last race, the very last race of the whole meet, the 3A Boys 4x400 relay race. Our boys ran so fast, fast enough for a 3 second PR, and then once again, in the last 50 m, that same boy from the earlier relay passed our first place boy and took it.
But you know we weren't too upset. Our boys ran so fast, and did so well, and yes, they took the Championship, that we were ok with 2nd place.
The Boy with the paparazzi
There was a lot of celebrating and picture taking afterward of course. And then The Mr walked back across campus to get the car and then came back to pick us up - and all of this added up to a long day and getting home at 1 am. Not that I mind so much. It was quite an exciting way for my son to end his athletic career.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Running Blood

The high-schoolers had their District Track meet this week - two days (roughly 11 hours) and what excitement and entertainment they brought to the spectators.
Out Girl Who Swims and Runs is heading to the State meet next week in the 3000. She came out strong in the beginning, staying at the 2nd for most of the race. Towards the end though there was a girl in 3rd who looked like she really wanted that spot. (Only the top 2 advance to the State meet.) We were screaming, yelling, encouraging her loudly, to pick up the pace because there was a girl right behind her! Ok, it was probably more like 10 feet .. but it was too close for comfort. But our Girl picked it up at the end and took 2nd. As a sophomore, she's heading to State.
The Boy also had a good meet. He placed 3rd in his 100m dash and 400m run, which wasn't quite what he wanted. But he also runs both relays and his team took first in both of those - so on to State for them!
I'm pretty impressed by all the runners and throwers out there this week - competing in downpours, dealing with lightning delays, and gusts of wind - and still running and throwing their way to the end takes a lot of strength and determination.

In My Corner

** Disclaimer: I wrote this back on May 8, and hit the Save button instead of the Publish button. but even though it's a week later ... it's still true **

Track season is winding down. We have Districts this week and then the State meet next week. Pretty sure The Boy will be at state in both relays. And there is a chance our Girl Who Swims and Runs might make it there in one of her races. This week will tell us.
We've had some late nights with track meets (11 pm last Friday!), and between the Middle schooler and the High schoolers we've seen a lot of races. But I can honestly say I really like it! I like seeing the kids out there running, I like the team comradery, and the friendships that my kids have developed on their team.
This year has been a little bittersweet as our son has a number of Lasts. This is his Last track season. His last Twilight Meet. His Last team uniform. For 13 years he has been a part of a sports team. We've sat through numerous games/meets cheering for him and his teammates. I realize we have 4 more kids to cycle through numerous more competitions, but being the first with the lasts, I'm learning the process.
The younger two have not been sitting at home doing nothing. We have been attempting to finish up homeschool. The few sunny days we have had makes for some sporadic schooling inside. But we've managed to have class outside a few times. And we enjoyed a walk over the new bridge in town for our exercise class last week.
This past weekend their months of singing and practice came to an end after their final performance of kids choir. Their amazing choir leader adapted a book into a play, and our girl auditioned, and got, one of the lead roles. And she nailed it. Little K had a side role as a ballerina. She is also learning through this experience about how to handle jealousy and not being the one in the spotlight.
Our older girl sang; she danced; she acted [she fell, making it look real enough in practice that someone thought she had hurt herself; she bounced up and said, "No, I was just acting."] One of her opening lines was about how worthless she was ... talk about good acting! Dad and I were about near tears. The play was about labels - and how we find our worth in God, not in what other people think or say about us. It was a great play for all the kids to absorb, even more so I think for my 11 year old, who is entering those difficult years of adolescence.

So even though our days, and evenings, have been full, I am also planning the Boy's graduation party coming up in less than a month. This past Saturday with 4 of the 5 kids out of the house, I decided to paint - and begin to work on the list of things to do before the party. I dislike the prep work - taping, laying down drip cloths, but with my history of making messes, I knew it had to be done. And I'm glad I did. I managed to get the hallway painted in one day, along with plenty of paint on my hands and clothes. And I really like my nice bright white hallway now ... I'm wondering what will I paint next?!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

April holidays

The sun was so bright and warm on Saturday! We got the grass mowed, and other jobs done around the house after the Mr got home from work.
I was thinking how great it would be if the sun shone again like that for Easter Sunday.
Unfortunately, it didn't. The clouds moved in and a few teeny sprinkles of rain invaded our Easter egg hunt.
But, the kids didn't seem to mind.
The grown-ups didn't seem to mind.
The food was numerous and delicious.
The company was entertaining.
Here are a few photos I managed to get of my crew before they changed out of their church clothes. I had to text them on the way home (we were in separate cars) that there was to be no changing until after picture-taking!



 On another note .. April is a big birthday month around here. So a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my brother-in-law, my sister, my niece, my sister-in-laws, my daughters and my husband. (I think that covers all of them....)



Thursday, April 13, 2017

Time for something new

Age is just a number.


The Mr's number just went up one today. But it doesn't seem to be slowing him down any.
About 7+ years ago or so, I had to stop running because I was pregnant. I ran my last 5k for that season, in Sept of 2009. Around that time, the Mr decided to take up running. It wasn't something he did since I had met him in 1992. He was into cycling and mountain climbing back then. As time went by, as kids came along, as work and life got more demanding, cycling and mountain climbing kind of took a back seat. And then running came into his life. So at an age around 40, he ran his first half marathon (after a few 5k's). He hasn't really stopped since then. Around that same time he also took his first swim lessons.
Even though water is not his best friend, he keeps at it today. He has completed 2 sprint triathlons, which has taken hours and hours of training. So, I just have to say, I'm pretty proud of this guy - to go from zero to numerous half marathons and a couple of triathlons (with more in the future) - at an age when a lot of other competitors have been at it for much longer - makes me pretty happy for him.
Like a wise man I know said, "If you're not dead, you're not done."

Monday, April 3, 2017

It's Spring!

I think spring has finally come to our corner of the world. There was enough sun to lure us into a spontaneous trip to the beach. So we had 'school' out at the coast today.

 We started with Music Class - As we drove, I had the Zac Brown Band CD playing; K took over the guitar solos, M. managed the fiddle, I tried to keep up with vocals and drums.
We had a little lesson in Social Studies before we hit the beach. I needed to add something to our picnic lunch, so a quick stop at the grocery store yielded some chocolate filled croissants .. a little peek into French culture. I've heard that they eat chocolate with breakfast. Not having been there, I think I would like to research this firsthand at some point.
Our next class was Oceanography. We explored the tidepools and learned about sea anemones, mussels, waves, and the power of water on rock.
PE was next. The three of us climbed all the way to the top of the big sand dune. It took a little longer for me, but I made it!



And we even got an Economics lesson in today - K was lobbying for a stop at the ice cream shack on the way home; Unfortunately it was out of the path of the drive home, and beyond what I had budgeted for the little trip.
Not too bad for a homeschool day. Sad that the older 3 couldn't come with us.
#LivingTheAbundantLife

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Dedication

How many teenagers do you know who would get up at 4:30 a.m. on a school morning to jump into cold water?
The swim team does it willingly.
Every day.
For 3 months straight,
Including over Christmas break.
Not only that, how many of those teens would do double practices over the break, along with signing and abiding by a no-junk food clause for the entire season? Along with smelling like chlorine for a few months, because even though you shower right after, there is still a lingering smell from the pool, not a bad smell, but a lingering one.
This sport of their choice also means more laundry, more food, more I-can't -stay-up-and-watch -that-movie-because-I-have-swim practice-in-the-morning.
It means self-discipline, self-control, self-motivation.
But it also comes with teammates in the same position; friends who know exactly what you are going though; comradery that comes from mutual experience;
It comes with coaches who push you, believe you can do more; and motivate you to keep at it.
For my daughter it means getting herself downstairs on time every early morning to get a ride from Dad to the pool. She looks longingly at our ice cream on those nights when we have dessert (although we try and do it on the nights she isn't home).
She is a night-owl who loves swimming; which means, she has to adjust her schedule to meet her commitment.
So many life lessons wrapped up in one season during the school year.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Togetherness

On Friday I spent the whole day with these two

Actually I spend nearly every day with them; but this time we were in about a 3-foot radius of each other all day, from 10:30 in the morning until about 9 at night. And we weren't doing schoolwork.
It was a Go day.
We did our banking and then we went shopping - first for birthday gifts, and then we saw shoes, and clothes, and got a little sidetracked. Because we were suppose to be getting groceries.But first we needed lunch, so I took them out for a treat. We don't regularly go out to fast food places - except in the summer when we are at Grandpa's farm, so even Burger King for lunch in the winter is a special deal for my kids.
(Side note - I can specifically remember a handful of times my own mom took me out for lunch while we were shopping. Usually we had to get home to make lunch for others, but once in a great while we would stop at McDonalds for a special treat.)
And then it was on to grocery shopping. This is where their legs seemed to get tired and they both wanted to ride in the cart. Pushing a 6 year old and an 11 year old around the grocery store .... well, I just couldn't. So they whined a tiny bit, and leaned on me and leaned on the cart. But we made it through. It was close to the time we needed to pick up one older sister from school, but not so close that we had to go right away. So after storing the groceries int he trunk, we stopped into Burlington Coat Factory. You didn't' know that store was a special place, did ya? Well it is for my girls. Because ... It. Has. Escalators.
Yes!
Somehow their tired legs weren't so tired anymore. We checked out the cute dresses upstairs after the ride up, and then because of the clock, we had to take the ride down.
Heaven.
After a brief stop at the school and at home, it was back in the car to drop off the sister. Not enough time to go home again ... so -gasp- I took them out to eat again! Another kid favorite for supper -- IHOP. We had a fun time playing the menu games, and eating breakfast for supper. Then it was time to go - the reason we stayed in town was because the older sister was in her drama performance that night. So we had 'shopping, dinner and a show'. The play was very funny, and to top off the day's fun, they got some money to spend at the concession stand.
I think the two younger ones had a fun. I know I did.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Disappointment

How do you deal with disappointment?
When you're six, crying is usually tolerated. Last weekend we got another round of snow, lots of it; so much that everything was canceled.
We had family from out of state arrive on Friday night. We were looking forward to basketball games and swim meets, sharing our lives with our visitors.
Then cancellations started trickling in. And all of our plans were wiped out. Little K had been so excited to have her very first basketball game and to have her cousins there to watch. When you've been dragged to numerous games and meets for older siblings, having someone special there to come to your game .... Well it's enough to send a 6 year old into a near frenzy. Alas, it was not to be.
So we readjusted, relaxed and spent plenty of time inside playing while the snow blew outside.
This last weekend we had a number of plans too. Our lives are busy, so nearly every day has plenty in it. But once again, disappointment visited our house. The fevers hit our youngest two minions. Once again, no basketball game, no church, no friends over to play (thankfully no cousins here either to get the sickness!)
But then on Wednesday, the skies parted. Well, the sunshine came out at least. The rain fell and melted all the snow. I was able to go for a run - the first time in 2 weeks. It felt wonderful. So even though there was disappointment, eventually there was joy.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Snow


The first snow day of the season was back in December and there was much rejoicing in our household and up and down the neighborhood. Kids bundled up and went outside to play for hours. Cold fingers and empty tummies drove them back inside, and then after a quick lunch and warm-up they were back out there. We parents snapped a bazillion photos of the kids in their snowsuits flying down the hill in their cute winterized outfits, on sleds, throwing snowballs, eating (clean) snow. We relished the peaceful quiet that snow brings - slowing down our days, with no where to go, and no hurry-up, we relaxed and enjoyed the day.
And then the second snow storm hit a few weeks later. My kids played outside for about an hour. No one wanted to go for a walk with me in the snow. Thankfully my visiting sister-in-law was up for it. She's from snow country - Wyoming/Colorado -  so snow wasn't any reason to stay stuck inside. Our days came to a standstill however; meets and games were cancelled. This time we didn't relish the slow-down of our days. We wanted to go places and take our visiting family to places, and we couldn't. We did enjoy the time spent visiting with family, and the no-need-to-get-up-early days. And yes, the snow was as beautiful as the first snow. But after the initial awe, I was ready for it to be gone, and for life to get back to 'normal'. How fickle we humans can be.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Preparing for Another Year

The Mr. came across our daughter, the One who Swims, laying on the kitchen counter. When asked what she was doing, she answered, "Instagram."
When it was mentioned that the couch would be more comfortable, her reply: "It's too far to walk."
Yup, a whole 15 steps away.
Swim practices have been hard on her this Christmas break.

She has been swimming daily-doubles with her teammates; along with a signed 'contract' to not eat junk food during the season, her swimming has really improved.
We're thinking we might approach the Boy's basketball coach and suggest daily doubles, and no-junk-food contracts for those teams also.

Basketball season is in full swing for high school now. (Our 8th grader finished up in October.) He has scored and gotten rebounds when he is in the game, so that has been fun to watch, although his playing time at this point isn't quite what it used to be. Every season is a growing season, a learning season. No one is ever too old to learn something.

Speaking of which, I look back on the 6 years our Boy has been at away-school, I don't think I am the same person I was when I sent my firstborn off to school at age 12. I've changed from an insecure, awkward homeschool mom to just an awkward, but-trying, mom. Sometimes it feels like we grew up a little along with our kids as they navigate the world.

As we begin a new year, the tradition of resolutions is on my mind. But I'm making some goals for this year. A few are similar to ones I made in January of 2016;
2016 - 1. Read through the Bible (didn't make it)
2017 - 1. Read through the Bible in a year - doing this with my husband and a number of other church friends.

2016 - 2. Run a 5k with each of my family members (we all ran the Thanksgiving 5K together)
2017 - 2. Run regularly - training to do a 5K, and a Half sometime this year

2016 - 3. Acknowledge family members birthdays (oops. Facebook only.)
2017 - 3. Visit my in-laws regularly (monthly??)

2016 - 4. Pray for my husband every morning
2017 - 4. Pray for my husband and each child every day

2016 - 5. Blog at least once a week.
2017 - 5. Blog.

2017 - More and more, when faced with opportunities, I am asking myself - Am I living abundantly? Am I Living, or Existing? Am I taking the easy way out?  Am I embracing the life God has blessed me with? So I am going to continue on with that as part of my decision-making process, trying to live this life abundantly.