Monday, July 29, 2013

A New Nephew!

My brother and sister-in-law's baby was born last night!  This is the first time I've actually been in town for a niece/nephew's birth, so it was fun to go hang out with him.

Secora was not at all sure about seeing him.  Not sure if she was worried she was gonna have to stay in the hospital again, or worried we'd be bringing the baby home.  The older girls were thrilled and wanted to keep him
Especially Sierra, she absolutely adores babies and only lasted about 5 baby-free minutes before she asked if she could have another turn holding him

Happy Birthday little man!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Spy Party

When we planned Sedona's birthday party, we were working with a pretty tight budget.  She decided on a spy theme, so we got on pinterest and came up with a set of games that the kids would enjoy and wouldn't cost an arm and a leg.

First up, homemade cake with a very simple spy silhouette and magnifying glass decoration
As the kids arrived, they got to make a spy badge.  We purchased the badges at an office supply store and I printed the inserts on card stock we already had.  We had already written in an assortment of spy skills, the kids picked their own name and then put their thumb print in the square (we already had ink)
They could also pick up a magnifying glass, silly glasses, lei and/or notebook with pen (all purchased, but a total cost of about $25)

The point of the party was to complete spy training and unlock the pinata (which was the biggest expense)
Decorations on the door (again, printed on card stock I already had)
First, our new spies had to make it through the laser field
Then, they had target practice.  My idea was to have water balloons filled with food coloring and water.  They'd throw them at the white sheet and it would look cool.  I didn't have enough coloring in the balloons though.  I only put in a drop or two in each balloon, definitely needs more.  Kids still had fun though.
Back inside, they learn to creep quietly by walking over bubble wrap (procured for free from shipments Josh received at work).  And then gave up on quiet and popped it all by gleefully stomping it to bits.
Finally, they had to hunt for the keys to the locks on the pinata.  We used squishy baff, but you could do dirt, rocks, water beads or anything else kids want to dig in.  We gathered up random orphan keys from around the house along with the keys to the locks (we used three padlocks we already had on hand).  We told the kids to dig for the keys, but that each person could only get out one. 
After finding their key (and washing their hands in a bucket of water), they ran inside to see if it fit any of the locks.
Once the pinata was unlocked, it was a regular pinata breaking routine, but no blind folds and three adults keeping everyone safe from getting hit.  Then they scooped up the loot in their evidence collection bags (labels printed on stickers I already had)
All in all, a rather simple, cheap party to throw and the kids seemed to love it. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

My First Triathlon

I completed my triathlon! As expected, I learned some lessons along the way, but it went pretty well over all:

   Woke up.  Yes, it's insanely early.  I was amped up enough to not have much trouble with it though.  I had avoided caffeine for most of the week and then started my day with a coke to help with waking up/energy.  Ate a bagel with honey and peanut butter (I usually have toast, but bagels are much higher calorie).  Played around on facebook to kill some time (I've learned I easily bonk when exercising in the morning...the longer I'm awake, the better).  French braided my hair.  Double checked my packing list and that everything was in my bag.  After much debate, decided to put my bike sticker at the back of my top tube.  Would have preferred it on the seat post, but it didn't fit there.  Considered putting it towards the front of the top tube, but realized it would be in my way when I tried to take out my water bottle.

   Left the house.  Drove through empty streets in the dark and realized our local radio stations don't feel it's necessary to play any decent music this early in the morning.

   Got marked by race volunteers...race number on each arm and age group on my leg.  Turns out I no longer know how old I am, I have to think about it.  Picked up my timing chip and got cleared to enter transition.

   Found the rack I was assigned to for transition.  Specific spots were not assigned, they were first come, first served.  I snagged the spot at the very end of the rack so it would be easy to find without my glasses on.  I chose the end closest to the bike exit so that I minimized the distance I had to walk with bike shoes on.   Racked my bike and laid out my gear.  I had purchased a hot pink hand towel (again, for visibility) for this.  I put my running shoes and a water bottle full of frozen gatorade at the back.  In front of that, my bike shoes with socks on top.  Chapstick between shoes so I didn't forget it.  On top of everything, my shirt with race number already pinned on (I didn't have, nor really want, a race belt).   I left empty space at the front of the towel to wipe off my feet.  I chatted with a few other racers while we set up, most of us at that end of transition were first timers.  After everything was laid out, I listened to some music on my ipod to be sure I stayed in "excited" territory and away from "panic attack, anxious" territory while I walked from the swim exit to my bike to the bike exit.  Then I took off my glasses and did it again "blind".  Finally, I sat down for one last check of my gear and to eat a larabar.

   Left my glasses at transition and walked inside to the pool deck with my prescription goggles, swim cap and nose clip.  I knew there were two bathrooms, but had a heck of a time finding them at first.  After a potty stop, I dipped a toe in the (very cold) water.  Decided I should swim a warm up lap since I had never done laps in a 50m pool before.  I knew the pool was deep, but it was just different from the pool I practiced in and for some unexplained reason, it still took me by surprise and I got a ton of water up my nose when I jumped in.  Made me glad I decided to do a swim warm up, I was much better prepared for pool entry when the race started.  After my warm-up lap, I sat in the stands to await the pre-race meeting.

  Pre-race meeting, national anthem, lots of sitting around either unable to see anything or with my goggles on.  Chatted with a guy sitting next to me who had done the same race last year and answered all my questions about how the swim was going to go.  Noticed an old acquaintance sitting near me and it turned out we were assigned consecutive start numbers, so we talked about training and goals, made last minute trips to the bathroom and got in line when it was nearing our turn to start.

  It was just about my turn to start.  I doubled checked that my timing chip was securely attached to my left ankle, put on my goggles and then my swim cap and last, my nose clip.  I noted with relief that the swimmers in this pace group (about 11minute/400m) were taking some breaks at the end walls and changing strokes as needed to rest.

  I was at the front of the line and the official was telling me to step over the start line and then confirming my timing chip was working and I could start.
 I'm in the blue/black top and shorts and purple swim cap at the end of the lane, cleared to start and getting in the water

The first 50m of the swim went great, but as expected, I lost the nose clip by the end of the lap.  Became very thankful I'd done so much non-nose clip practice, but still would have preferred to have it.  Second 50m also went well.  The remaining 300m was a bit of a slog.  Mostly free style, a little bit of breast stroke when no one was near me, and some back floating (kicking legs, but no arms).
I'm the second person in the middle lane.  Taking a little breast stroke break to avoid passing the person in front of me (we were nearing the wall)
Later on, a back float break for a short while
Back to swimming.  Only about 125m to go!
I kept up pretty well and only got passed once or twice while swimming.  I took a few short breaks at the walls and let some more people pass there when we got bunched up.  My official time ended up being 14:22, which is roughly the pace of a turtle.  I can't remember how much of that time was out of the water (walking up to the start and out to the exit), but no matter how you slice it, this was slower than I was hoping for.  I also need to be better about swimming continuously without a break before I can attempt open water swimming (and longer triathlons).

  I was out of the pool and jogging towards transition.  My walk through earlier in the morning definitely helped here.  Prescription goggles are awesome to have, but they are an approximation, not crystal clear vision.

Transition was pretty quick...threw on my shirt, put on socks and shoes and stuffed my chapstick in the side pocket of my shorts before heading to the exit.
Swim to bike transition, I'm sitting down in the green shirt
Some people right behind me were trying to ride out of transition and got stopped by a race official.  It was very clear in USAT rules, the pre-race packet and at the pre-race meeting that that's not allowed, pay attention to the rules!
Bike exit of transition
 And away we go!
  The bike is definitely my favorite leg.  I did better here than I expected and this was where I made up some ground and passed a few people.  Aerobars are definitely at the top of my tri gear wishlist though.  I didn't have any and had already spent quite enough money on other things were more necessary, so I did this race without them thinking it wouldn't be a big deal.  About two miles in, I was really wishing I had some.  Along those same lines, I really need to spend some time practicing fast flat repair.   Thankfully I didn't have any problems this time, but it's bound to happen eventually.
All smiles on the bike
  Frantically yelling at Sedona to stay on the side of the road and not run out to me

I'm glad I had practiced getting out of my shoes at the end of all my practice rides.  You have to dismount before you enter transition and I just knew if I got off my bike and tried to walk to the rack with my shoes on, I was gonna face plant (my bike shoes are very slippery on the bottom).  Even if it didn't save me any time, or cost me a little time, I wanted those shoes off.  I had a little trouble with the velcro on one (it kept re-sticking when I was trying to take my foot out), but I managed......just in time to see the guy in front of me try to get off his bike with his shoes on and tumble to the pavement.  Thankfully he was okay, and even his pride seemed intact as he joked about how graceful he was.  I'll definitely stick to taking my shoes off before I dismount!
Walk in from bike

My goal here was 50 minutes even though I had no real reason to assume I could do that. I had never reached the goal in training despite trying several times. Thanks to a flatter route and having people to race, I finished in 46:45.

 Bike to run transition

 Sedona was screaming, "run momma run!!"  Pretty sure she could be heard on the WHOLE course

  The run.  I don't much like running and it's soooo hard for me to stay motivated without music.  I walked from transition for the first couple of minutes until my heart rate was down (learned that lesson the hard way during training).
Nope, not running, not even for a picture.  Heart rate has to come down first.

The rest of the time went like a typical run for me...slow and sort of steady with plenty of walking breaks.  I had planned on 45 minutes for this leg since I knew it'd be hot and I'd be worn out from the bike.  I finished in 42:06, so I'm happy with that.

The Finish!
This race series provides all pictures for free.  Pretty cool, huh?

  I just wanted to be not last.  A few weeks before the race, I added on that I also did not want to be last in my age group.  I accomplished both of those goals (I wasn't even second to last!) and I loved almost every minute of it.  The training and the race itself were much more fun for me than just running.  I am already signed up for a full marathon at the end of the year, so I'll be doing that, but I think I'm going to focus on triathlon beyond that.   I'm thinking a long term goal of an ironman 70.3 (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run).  Maybe before I'm 35? 

Sedona Turns 6!

A certain vivacious little girl has officially joined the rank of big kids!

She is still just as active as ever.  Like, I'm honestly starting to think ADHD, active.  She is the queen of bouncing back, nothing keeps her down for long and she's almost always happy.  Temperment-wise, Tigger is her doppelganger.

 She has a new dimple in her cheek this year from when she fell and hit the edge of the stairs a few months ago.  Her hair has stayed lighter than her sisters' and maintains more of a curl to it.

Her innate talent seems to be math.  She just gets it without much instruction at all and she loves it as well.  She's never had much interest in reading, but suddenly in the last two weeks, she has started reading signs and other things on her own, including ones with sounds she hasn't specifically been taught yet.  It all started when she checked out a butterfly book from the library.  She really wanted to know what the book said and couldn't wait to get home, so she started reading it in the car.  It was like that was her realization that she can read after all, and now she's in that stage where she likes to read things and then check that she's right.

She's still a cuddler.  She's happy to play by herself, but she's always coming back to say, "can I have a snuggle?"  She loves a good group hug too.

She loves all things animal, but especially reptiles and bugs.  Her favorite games are dress-up, playing "college girls" (pretending to be grown-up), and just generally running around with a rubber lizard, frog or snake in her hand. Turn her lose outside and she will find a mud pit to roll in.  Okay, not really, but she's guaranteed to come back with enough dirt on her to necessitate a change of clothes.  She has a little giggle she does whenever something makes her happy (really, it's very similar to the Tigger, "hoo hoo hoo hoo!" thing) that makes us laugh no matter what's going on. 

I repeatedly asked her for a birthday wish list and all I got out of her was a new dream light (she broke the one she got for Christmas...that was a tough lesson to learn) and a "for real microscope". 
Newborn Sedona with big sister
1 year old and experiencing an Oreo for the first time (she liked it)
Two: Touring an ice cream factory
Three: shucking corn
Four: Walking the streets of small town Montana
Five: Taking care of chickens for a Girl Scout project

Last night being five

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Week of Awesome

This has been the best week in at least 3 months, maybe the whole year. 

To start off with a bang, I successfully completed my triathlon!  (full post coming up tonight or tomorrow).  

From there, things only got better.  Back at the beginning of the year, we accidentally ended up with 3 cars.  We had purchased a large truck (suitable for towing) last fall, but then Josh's parents were making an international move and ended up gifting us their 2000 Escalade (also suitable for towing).  Josh did quite a bit of mechanical work on both vehicles and we just hung onto them for a while because we couldn't decide what we should do car-wise.  We ended up selling the truck on Monday.  The money from said sale was enough to pay off Secora's hospital bills, buy 4 new (desperately needed) tires for my van, and fill our freezer/pantry with roughly $600 worth of food (again, post coming soon).  There was a little bit leftover.  Enough that we could take a small vacation on the cheap.  Maybe a few camping trips, or a weekend in Galveston, we weren't sure.

On Tuesday, Spa Girl Tri held a contest on their facebook page.  You had to write a triathlon themed lullaby.  They would pick a winner to receive a free night's stay at the resort the weekend of the triathlon.  I've been interested in this tri since I heard about it, but entry fee plus resort stay was out of my price range and I didn't want the stress of staying somewhere else plus driving in from out of town.   I tried to think of a lullaby, but I couldn't come up with anything good.  All the melodies I wanted to use had already been used by someone else and the directions said creativity counted.  Late Tuesday night, I was headed to bed when I remembered I forgot to enter.  I took one last look at the entries and no one had done Stay Awake from Mary Poppins yet.  That's the lullaby I always sang to the girls, so I knew it well and put together a tri spin on it before going off to bed.

Wednesday was......well, nothing but stress.  I took the girls to the reptile show at the local library, but there was some trouble with the start time, so we ended up having to entertain ourselves for an hour and a half before the start, then by the time we got out, we were all starving and a car full of tired, hungry females is always a fun time.

Thursday morning, Spa Girl Tri announced I had won the free night at the resort.  I hardly ever win anything, and here I had won something big!  They said I could still have a second night at the discount rate, so we get a family vacation after all AND I get to do another triathlon!

And now, we're prepping for Sedona's 6th birthday.  Definitely headed into big kid territory!

Here's the original "Stay Awake" song:

And here was my winning entry:
Stay in shape, don't rest your feet.
Don't complain about the heat.
Mimosas wait at the finish line,
Stay in shape, don't moan and whine.

Though the swim is over now,
you've done the bike and wiped your brow,
you still have running to complete,
stay in shape, success is sweet.
Stay in shape, success is sweet.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Fun

Our days have been consisting of a lot of running around with the neighbors, riding bikes and just generally being kids in summer.  So, there hasn't been a lot to report lately.

Thought I'd pop in with a few recent pics from the park:
Secora trying to learn how to swing
Sierra having no trouble at all and spending most of her time on the swings, as usual
Sedona prefers the slides, but when she's on the swings, she likes to fly
Secora on the slides another day
The evening of July 4th, we went to watch the fireworks.  I tried to take a few pictures without the flash, but it was too dark and the kids were enjoying running all over the place
This is actually a pretty accurate representation of Sedona though: always on the move

I know I've threatened it before, but there a few interesting posts coming up over the next two weeks.  A write up about my triathlon, Sedona's spy birthday party and homeschool freebies.  I may even throw a recipe or two in there. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

2013 Goals Check-In

Half the year is gone and that means it's time to update on my 2013 goals:

1) Have the full year of lesson plans put together by the end of August. I'm getting there!  I've created a reading list for Sierra, made good progress on her history lesson plans and put in the first round of book orders.  Homeschool freebies will be showing up on the blog soon. 

2) Pay at least an extra $2500 to student loans on top of regular payments.  This one is highly unlikely to happen at this point.  We've paid about $500 extra, and I'm sure we'll do a little more, but I highly doubt we'll reach the goal.  Still waiting on some of the actual bills, but based on the insurance statements, Secora's hospital bills plus her ongoing therapy will be eating up the money that would have gone to this (along with almost all of our vacation budget...we're only setting aside $50/month for that now, thinking of doing an ultimate staycation: staying home, but taking off work and going to movies and bowling or something, just enough to feel like we got a break).

3) Blog more consistently.  Nope, still not doing great on this one.  Traffic is up anyway thanks to pinterest and I keep thinking I'm going to write more, but it doesn't always happen and I want to continue enjoying it rather than forcing the issue.

4) Market my lactation practice more effectively.  I set a modest goal of obtaining at least one new client each month. I've already more than met the goal for the year and am expanding my classes to offer a parent class geared towards breastfeeding babies over 6 months.   I've been fortunate to help lots of little babies lately.  I saw a full term, 7.5 pound little boy today and caught myself thinking, "woah, he's huge!" (he wasn't, that's perfectly average size).

5) Finish the quilt.  Triathlon training has consumed my thoughts and time recently, but I am still planning to finish the quilt.  It's just a matter of actually doing it.  It has taken A LOT of hours and will take A LOT more.  Hand quilting a king size quilt is still pretty high on the list of "Kimberly's least brilliant ideas". 


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