Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Charlotte 10 Miler

In March I ran a 10 mile race with my sister, my sisters running buddy (Maria) and one of the trainers whose classes I take at the Y (Carissa). Carissa and I had been doing long runs on Saturdays and our pace was pretty similar so I was feeling good about having someone to run with on the day of the actual race. My sister is wicked freaky fast so I was operating under no delusion that I'd actually keep up with her on race day...especially with a baby on board (which I found out about once I'd already begun training). Don't get me wrong - I love to run but I don't love to run all by my lonesome. When I'm running solo it becomes more of a chore and workout but when I'm with friends the time flies by and it just feels good at the end unlike when I'm solo and the minutes drag on. Because I like to stay in "running shape", I'll run by myself any day of the week if that's what it takes to get the job done but it's not my preference. Clear as mud, right? Anyhow, I digress. 

My sister signed up for the race before me and then it looked really good so I joined in and then roped in Carissa. It was to be run on Charlotte's greenway system which I absolutely love and adore. The greenway system is one of my most favorite things about living here - it's AWESOME! 

Well, the initial race weekend was in February - the weekend of my birthday to be exact. We got lots of rain and all of that snow we had prior had melted and caused major greenway flooding. Most of the greenways are along creeks or streams and so if water is high - the paved path gets covered and so at the 9th hour they cancelled the race on that initial date and re-scheduled it for later in March. Luckily, my sister and Maria were able to make the trip back to Charlotte for the reschedule date. I mean, when I say they cancelled the race at the 9th hour - I mean 9TH HOUR - as in 7 something the night before so they were already in town for the first date. Awesome, right? Oh well, more time with my sister is always a bonus to me :). 

On with the race details! The weather was pretty good and the course was pretty well laid out and organized. The only negative I have about the course is that it was ridiculously hilly through the residential part at the end which just seems like a cruel joke at that point - you know? 
All smiles pre-race
 I tried to eat a decent breakfast to fuel me well for the race and I tried to really get my mind right. Surprisingly, and I do mean surprisingly - Carissa and I kept up with my sister and Maria the entire race. I had no idea what our pace was but I knew if we were keeping up with them it would be a pace I would be happy with. We all four crossed the finish line together. This race was organized by a group called start2finish and I LOVE that after you crossed the finish (like, literally RIGHT AFTER) line you could print out a little ticket that looked like this: 
It's kind of blurry because it's been sweated on and shoved in my purse and everything else, but it has your bib number, name, age, overall rank for the race, your rank within your gender, your rank within your age group, your finish time and your pace/split per mile. Truthfully, the only thing I cared about was that pace at the end. SUPER STOKED with my finish time and even happier that we all finished together. Like I said - social runner party of one. 
How cool is that? I wish all races did that. I mean, for elite runners (which just to clarify is clearly not me) that would be the jam because you'd know whether you needed to wait around or not and you don't have to stand and stare at an ever changing computer monitor or worse yet just wait until the awards ceremony starts and see if you get something. 

The medal was a nice little finishing prize and then they had a photo group there called Tapsnap and we got our picture taken in the booth and they printed one, Facebooked one, and emailed one. Me being a "picture person", I was in love with that whole concept and instant gratification result. I would also like to add that Tapsnap handed out free tubes of chapstick and I don't know what kind it is but it's not some cheapy stuff - I'm still using it and liking it. This is another thing I thought was really cool that I'd love to see more of at races because let's be honest - most people run with a buddy or spouse or group or whatever and if you don't run the same pace, it'd be nice to still get a picture together that is a good quality picture. 

There was breakfast and coffee immediately following the race and then we all entered a raffle to wear a new pair of Hoka One tennis shoes but we stayed until the bitter end and I'm sad to report we weren't the winners. Hoka's are not easy on the eyes, but I have a friend who is a competitive runner and she swears by them. They are in a lot of running magazines and forums I read lately too so there must be something special about them! 

It was a fun run with a happy ending for all! A few last pics before we headed home sweaty and tired. 

Catina and Maria are running a race this coming weekend in Outer Banks. I really wanted to run it with them and figured I'd be ready and able to do it. The idea is kind of cool - they have a double dare challenge where you run a 5K on Saturday and the half on Sunday and I thought that sounded super fun. Bonus: you get two medals! The problem is, my May weekends are INSANE and I just couldn't commit to one more weekend away from Tim and the kids not to mention the financial aspect of traveling, buying food, etc. Anyhow - I'm with them in spirit and I'd love to do it next year because it looks super fun. Good luck girls! I can't wait to hear all about it. 

A special visitor

In March, a much anticipated guest came to stay with us from Kennedy's classroom. It was a BIG deal...Kennedy and all of her classmates look forward to their turn with this guest ALL YEAR. They get to bring this guest home and then document their time with the guest - what they did, where they went, etc. During their time with the guest they also get to share "all about me" items with their friends through pictures and a poster that hangs up that entire week. 

The mascot for Union Academy is a cardinal and they've named this cardinal Red Rocket. Now, according to my sister that name can be used for other things (ahem) but I digress. Without further ado... our time with Red Rocket: 
He came along for the ride at Avery's birthday party. 
He helped Kennedy and her Daddy build a milk carton bird house. 
Assisted, er observed the all about Kennedy poster making project. 

Kennedy did this canvas painting of Red Rocket over the Christmas holiday, but she wanted a picture of she, the canvas and the "inspiration" - Red Rocket himself. 
He got fun rides in the scooter basket! 

& pretty much hung out with Kennedy every where she went while he was with us. 
For documentation purposes, I thought it would be fun to share his letter to the class about his time in our home here: 
Hello Boys & Girls! 
I've got another fun adventure under my feathers and I'm excited to tell you all about it. After I went home with Kennedy on Friday, we went to have dinner and play at her cousin Declan's house. Kennedy wanted to ensure that I stated safe from the "little ones" so she left me nice and warm in my bed in  the car but she told everyone all about me. 
Saturday morning was full of excitement ans Kennedy's little sister Avery had a birthday party planned and I got to go along for all the fun. We went to a really neat place called Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville, NC. Have any of you ever been there? I got to help Kennedy feed goats right out of her hand. I got to see a baby kangaroo run and then jump right into his mothers pouch. I saw animals I had never seen before - bison, water buffalo, giraffes, watusi, peacocks, llamas, pigs and the list goes on and on. Kennedy was really brave and fed all kinds of things, but I got a little overwhelmed and hid inside of Kennedys' Mom's vest to stay warm and safe. After Lazy 5 we went to a nearby playground and had a picnic. It was an exciting adventure and I"m glad  I got to go along for the ride. 
On Sunday we went to church and then I helped Kennedy and her Daddy make a bird feeder to hang in the front yard. Since I know so much about birds and what they like, I was sure to add  my input and test it out to make sure it was satisfactory. I think hey did a great job and lots of birds will come and use their feeder. 
On Monday I was sad for Kennedy to go to school, but her little sister Avery and little brother Greyson took good care of me. When Kennedy got home, she was so excited to tell me all about losing a tooth at school (she even got a cool tooth necklace to wear it home in) and the Cat in the Hat book that Mr. McAuley sent home with her to practice. She said if she practiced really hard she would read the book aloud to the class the next day. Well, practice she did- I heard that book there times before bedtime. Aside from reading we also worked on Kennedy's all about me poster. 
Tuesday was an exciting day for Kennedy because her practice paid off and she was the first student to get to read a book aloud her all her friends in class. After school, Kennedy's Grandmother had to take care of Kennedy and her brother and sister because her Mommy was sick. We worked together to make her a get well card and it made her smile. 
Wednesday I got to learn all about Dr. Seuess when Kennedy shared her Weekly Reader with me. He sounds like a really cool guy. Kennedy read Green Eggs and Ham to me two times before bedtime and I think I would like to try green eggs and ham sometime. 
Today I finalized my letter to you all and Kennedy and her Mommy worked on getting our pictures together to share with  all of you. I'm so excited about pajama day and reading lots and lots of Dr. Seuess books with you all tomorrow. 
I'm ready for my next adventure. Until then - chirp you later! 

These next pictures are a tad belated, but still worth sharing so I'm including them. This is Kennedy's Valentine box she made for her Valentine's party at school. I totally remember making these in elementary school, don't ya'll? 

Kennedy received 4 balloon-a-grams at school: one from Grey and Ave, one from Honey and Big Jim, one from her friend Izzy and one from Tim and I. She's a loved little girl for sure! 
We made some Valentines to send out to family this year. Some of our Valentines were made with hearts cut out of Valentine color scheme paint chips compliments of Walmart. 
Others we painted with sweet little thumb prints. 
Inside each of them was a note written from Kennedy and either a bookmark or picture or both. I mean, who doesn't love to receive a Valentine, right? 

Speaking of, look at this one that Kennedy made for her Daddy. 
& I got an equally sweet one as well:

Even Avery got a sweet Valentine from Big Sister! 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

All Kinds of Sweetness

This is a couple days after the fact, but here is Grey's big "shiner". He fell and hit the corner of something and I swear to you instantly a bump started growing off of his forehead like Pinocchio's nose grows in the movie. It was crazy. The boy will not tolerate any kind of ice compress either so really wasn't much I could do besides try to hold him down and place a cold rag on it. Luckily the swelling faded as the day went on but he had a nice goose egg and bruise for several days afterwards. 
 I swear it's a blessing he's not injured more often because he climbs everything in sight - notice him sitting on something in the picture below. People told me about the boy differences when I was pregnant but it honestly amazes me to see the innate differences between he and the girls with each passing age/stage. 
 So, remember these little gems I made for Avery's birthday? Well, I had lots of leftover cake and icing that I did not want to go to waste. So...I set out to look for a way to utilize my rainbow leftovers. 
 I knew I wanted to try to make cake pops but they've always intimidated me truthfully (not sure why). I found a recipe pretty quickly online and from what I could tell the quantity of icing used was/is key in cake pop success (for those of you who want to know - less is more). Basically I crumbled up all my leftover cake and then used my hands to mash in the icing until it was what I felt was a good "rolling consistency". I put a candy stick into each ball and then popped them cake in the freezer on a cookie sheet for about 15 minutes and while they hardened up a bit I melted the chocolate/almond bark. From there you pretty much just dip each one into the chocolate to coat and then you can do one of two things: 1)put on parchment/wax paper to dry or 2) insert the sticks into some type of form and decorate your pop. I did both just to see which method I preferred for future reference. 
 It kind of depends on what you're going for. If they are just to eat and indulge in for your family I would do the above, but if you're making them for something special doing them as I did below would be prettier. I used sprinkles because I knew my kiddos would dig that, but you could really decorate them for whatever occasion they were being made for. 
 Listen - this was SO SUPER EASY and they were delicious and they were cute (in my opinion). Bottom line: don't be skeered of the cake pop makin'!
 The kids loved them - I'm sure your shocked. 
 What's not to love, right? Because I had all kinds of colors mixed in they were kind of speckled on the inside, but I was thinking (like I did with the jars) you could do pink/blue for baby showers and red for Valentine's day - so many cute options. 
 This boy - he loves a treat. The moment you say treat he starts grinning and giggling. I totally identify with that type of reaction to sugar. Totally.

 Seriously. I love it. 
 I mean, even with mouth full - just the sight of it makes him smile. 
 He's not above sniffing his treats either. 
 Or pounding them as it turns out. That a boy! 
 My babies - they are growing so fast. I took these pictures of the girls when we were outside one day and when I uploaded them later and looked at them my breath caught because I was struck by how BIG both of them look. It really does go by so very fast.

 I'm so thankful for so many things about each of them, but as I've stated before: I mostly thankful for their relationship with one another. I hope they always find joy in spending time with one another. Right now...most of the time...they play well together and I'm so, so thankful.  
 These two are a work in progress when they are playing solo but each week I catch more and more glimpses of times like this: 
 & this

 Grey still isn't really saying their names but the first thing he says every morning when I get him out of his crib is "sissies"? When he sees them he lights up and when we pick Kennedy up each day he squeals with delight when she gets in the van. I love it!

 These two are pretty much thick as thieves - they don't have issues often and when they do they are quick to resolve them. This picture cracks me up. Tim and I were out somewhere and Mom was with the kids and she had allowed the girls to go out in the back yard while she fixed supper and could check on them through the window every now and then. Well, they decided to turn on the hose and have a little mud fun. I laughed and laughed when I saw this. I'm sure it was a bit messy to clean up but I bet those memories will last a long time. I mean, I totally remember making mud pies as a kid - do you? 
 We didn't really do anything for Saint Patrick's Day, but I did manage to get all my kiddos in green for church that following Sunday. No pinching here please! Trying to get a decent picture of the three of them is challenging...clearly:
 Kennedy does this weird forced smile thing and it flares out her nostrils. It's really lovely. Really. Avery, well - you just never know what's going to happen with her and Grey is actually my most cooperative subject if he's still long enough. Third time was a charm in that scenario. 

 See what I mean, this is K's natural beautiful smile but I'm not sure what my #1 smiling subject is doing here. 
 I usually just keep clicking away and in the end I'm always glad because I end up with sweet shots like this one which I adore: 

 In full disclosure, I felt like you should see this picture because after he almost impaled himself on this flutophone, he then got mad when I corrected his "positioning" and retaliated by whacking his sister with it. Despite their love, they keep it real sibling style too. True story - I just noticed yesterday that it is still on the refrigerator from where I took it away and put it in "time out". I'm guessing a month is long enough, you? 
 Nana was here for a visit around St. Patrick's Day so that Tim and I could have a mini-getaway to Asheville (thank you free business trip...thank you very much). She got crafty with Kennedy and made a leprechaun house. Now, Kennedy had convinced herself that a leprechaun would be coming to our house and that she'd trap it in this sweet little bungalow she created for it. She had it rigged up with a stick and all so that the lid would fall on him after he climbed the ladder and peeked inside. Gotta love the imagination. 
 and the stellar, seasonally appropriate artwork. 
 What's a leprechaun house without frilly curtains and a window box planter complete with flowers. My girl...she thinks of everything! 
 Y'all know I get really into the elf thing at Christmas, so I figured I could oblige a little leprechaun fun. The leprechaun left half eaten green M&M's and Skittles trailing across the kitchen table and to the leprechaun house door. He also left a note and green milk for their breakfast. 
 It was a fun little Saint Patrick's Day surprise. Kennedy wanted to save her house, so he could visit again next year. We obliged. Until next year leprechaun house!