Friday, June 29, 2012

Here We Go A- Triathlon-ing!

Well, it's finally here!  I'm on my way to NW Iowa to participate in a sprint triathlon with a good friend of mine.  I wish I could say that I've prepared as much as possible and that now it's all just about race day.... but the truth is that I don't think I've really prepared enough.  Maybe I'll have time to write more about this later, but right now (at this moment in my life), I'm just not into "training".  But doing this little tri has inspired me to get back in the pool, on the bike, and lace up my shoes.

(This will be my 2nd Sprint Triathlon!  Although I did do one sprint relay team, but that doesn't count.)

1st Sprint Tri: Cy-Man Triathlon  Ames, IA (Actually, I think it was technically Alleman?)
Fall, 2008
Mason thought I looked like a "little tic-tack" in my orange cap!  (Cy-Man Sprint Triathlon '08)

My cheering section post-race.  (They were awesome)

1st Olympic Distance Triathlon: Hy-Vee Triathlon, Des Moines IA

Summer 2009
Just a bit bigger venue....

And a bigger cheering section! (My family: Uncle & his wife, Mom & Dad, Sister & Bro-in-law, Hubby)
Don't forget these guys! (Mr. & Mrs. Flynn)

Oh, and don't forget this little peanut that came along for the swim, ride, and run!

Saturday's tri will be the first "distance event" that Mason hasn't attended. (Insert heartbroken face here) But having the chance to do it with Carrie and keeping the attitude that this is "for fun" will get me through.  I'll be sure to post an update (assuming that I live through it) next week.  Keep your fingers crossed that all goes well!  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Happy Accidents

If there is one thing I've come to realize in my parenting journey, it's that the best games/ crafts/ activities tend to be the accidental ones.  Take for instance, the adorable painted pottery we made earlier this spring, when I turned my back while using acrylic paints.  Ended up being a fun craft and great way to clean out my pots in the shed!

Or, Charlie's current game, "Silly Game" (basically running from the front door to the island chairs with a bendy straw) which stemmed from my awesome idea to use a straw to blow a fabric sheet across the floor.  

Yesterday, another super fun (according to C) activity was born.  It all started with the library's summer reading program tally sheet.  (Does anyone else think it's a little crazy pathetic that they only require FIVE books per WEEK to get a prize?) I ran to the bathroom and left the pen & sheet on C's floor.  When I came back, he was happily poking holes in it and was sooooo excited about his discovery.

As the daughter of an Occupational Therapist, I knew this was a good fine motor skill to continue, but kind of figured the librarians would not like the holey tally sheet.  (They are way anal here)  So I grabbed some scratch paper for him to use, and found a couple golf tees (finally a use for the ones I find on our dresser all summer long!) The scratch paper had little smiley faces printed on it, and he began poking out the eye dots with his tees, and asked me to draw more smiley faces for him to poke out.
And yes, those are undies!  (And no, we are not "there" yet.) 
Then we both drew dots on the papers and poked them out.
THEN, we took it one brilliant step further and drew different colored dots, and raided our golf bags for different colored tees.  We poked each color dot with that color tee.

Charlie thought this was the best game ever.  And honestly, his mama thought it was pretty darn fun as well.  Thank goodness for happy accidents!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Sad Little Dresser

You know how you have something in your house that once belonged to someone else and it has some sentimental value and at one time it probably had some monetary value as well (but those days are most likely long gone) but now it's just hanging out in the basement?  And you keep telling yourself, "I need to redo that dresser/ cabinet/ chair/ etc.")

Well, meet our sad little dresser:

This sat in our basement for the past 9 years.  M once told me that it belonged to his brother and was in his bedroom as a baby.  It was adorable, with a little lamb on the end for a super sweet touch.  But it really had seen better days.  One of the drawers was moldy from water, the boards were split in the back, and some of the nails were starting to bend and poke through the wood.  However, that did not deter me-- I saw some potential for something useful in my newly remodeled craft room.  (Kudos to M and more about room that later!!) 

And after a little love and affection, here is what that sad little dresser has turned into.  Isn't it cute!?

AND, best of all, it's super functional.  Now, rather than having all of my yarn & knitting supplies cluttering up an entire bookshelf, they are all housed nicely in this (Happy) little dresser, in my happy little craft room! And even better is the fact that though they may not be housed so nicely (it's messy inside!)--- they are closed up so nobody (but me) has to know.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Meet Me in [Lake] St. Louis!

Gosh, it feels like I haven't written a blog post for a zillion years.  And somewhere, in that zillion years, a bunch of my summer has already slipped away! Augh!  So I'll try to recap some of what we've been up to in the next few posts, but this one is reserved for the recap of our recent little get away to St. Louis.  Or more specifically, a little St. Louis suburb called, "Lake St. Louis".

You may remember this post that I wrote last year, detailing my college roomie and what an amazing person and mom she is.  And honestly folks, nothing has changed!  She's still just as amazing. And we had an amazing time visiting her and her (adorable) 3 kiddos.  Here's the recap:

C and I woke up, took our "good girl" to the vet (find that exciting story in yet another future blog post!) and then headed out of town.  C was an amazing little traveler and slept a bit as we made our way South.  Our hunger pains were setting in as we neared the tiny town of Donnelson, IA.  Mindy had informed me of this little gem of a town when we took our little road trip last year.    I'm kicking myself because I didn't take a picture of it last year, and made the same mistake this year.  I think I need a picture because stopping at this park is becoming a "tradition".  Anyway, we ate a healthy picnic Lunchables lunch (eww, I cannot believe I stooped to that level to feed my kid-- all for the sake of convenience.  And it was pretty awesomely convenient.) and then played on the playground equipment for quite awhile.  We had about a 2 1/2 hour trip left, so we loaded up and rolled into Mindy's house late that afternoon.  It worked out well because her girls (ages 6 and 4) were playing down the street when we arrived, so C had a moment to get his bearings, check out their toys, and ask for a snack.  Once the girls arrived at home, it was pure "GO" for the next three days.

Our plan was to go to the St. Louis Zoo and arrive within the first hour of opening (9:00am) when some of the attractions were free.  But, silly moms, we failed to check the opening time and missed it (8:00am).   All was well--we still petted the stingrays, rode the carousel, and rode on the train (the MOST exciting thing EVER for C!)

Checking out all the fish in the hippo aquarium. 
Probably C's favorite thing of the whole trip--the TRAIN RIDE
We thought we'd last about 90 minutes at the zoo, but our little troopers exceeded our expectations and we didn't waltz out the gates until close to 1:00.  (By that time, the moms in charge were getting hungry so things were suddenly more urgent than they were before) We had a picnic outside the zoo (a bird pooped on Min's foot---which all the kids thought was hilarious.  Since I am a kid at heart, I also thought it was freaking hilarious.) and we headed home.  I'm pretty sure we had not even reached the Interstate when all four kids were zonked.  Pretty darn cute (and quiet!) if you ask me.

Sleeping children; A beautiful sight.  
That afternoon, the kids played really well, we ate a yummy taco salad supper, went out for ice cream, and then played outside more.  
The whole gang out for ice cream!

Not to shabby for hitting off the tee for the first time. 

(Can you tell someone smudged ice cream on my phone?  
Sounds like I'm blaming it on C.... it was probably me though) 

I love Min's cultesac-- it's filled with friendly neighbors and tons of kids to play with  (and their toys!).  Of course, I also admitted that being the semi-bitchy and non-people person that I am after 5:00 pm, I'm sure if I lived with all these friendly people on my street, I'd be hiding in my back yard most days and nights.

We woke up and headed to the park for at least an hour of fun.  It's fun that the kids are at a pretty independent age (aside from Harry-- and kinda Charlie) so we can stand and visit and watch them.  (Not that there's anything wrong with babies who can't walk, it's just so much more awesome when they can walk and you don't have to hold them all the time!!)  After the park, we picked up some groceries (yes, with all 4 kids in tow--how do people with multiples do this!?  Are they just plain CRAZY!? ) and were definitely "those people" that you look at when you're shopping alone with the little sympathy smile where you're secretly telling yourself, "I'm so happy to be alone right now".  We toted our groceries home and then played on the giant waterslide in their backyard.  The afternoon was spent playing at home, playing outside, and C becoming more and more fatigued.

Making pancakes with Mindy--one of C's favorite things to do.

Bedtime snack of popcorn with M&M's.  Things are awesome on vacation. 
By Thursday morning, I think C was just completely worn out.  He was happy then sad.  He cried about everything.   My last straw was when he was sobbing over hurting his foot..... on a cracker crumb.  It drove me nuts bat shit crazy. I'm still a little embarrassed that Mindy's girls had to see me toss C in the corner five hundred times.  (But I think they've been in that corner before so it's okay.)  We headed out of town pretty early and stopped again at the little Donnelson park.  Our ride home was pretty uneventful and I'm still eagerly waiting for the day when DVD's hold my son's attention for more than twelve minutes.  (But hey, it was a nice 12 minutes!)  

It is always nice to be home, but we missed our hosts right away.  Having friends that you can hang out with for three days and never feel judged, never have to look right, and never run out of things to say is one of the best gifts in the world.  It's even better when your friend has kids the same age, has awesome toys, lives in an awesome neighborhood, and agrees to drive everywhere!  I wish the summer were a million times longer-- I would already be planning our next visit.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Things I'd like to Know....(before the world ends)

So I have to admit, I kind of think the whole Mayan prediction of the end of the world is freaking fascinating.  I won't go into my (lack of) theological beliefs right now, and I'm in no way hoping that the world actually does end next December, but since we may possibly only have another 6 months  here on Earth, I have some questions that I'd really like to know the answers to before that fateful day arrives.  Here are a few:

1.  How can you love your child so much that it hurts and still crave nothing other than spending time away from them? 

2.  How come the people working at the customer service desks always have to call for a manager to give them a code & then spend forever waiting to proceed?  Really?  I am the first person who required that specific code?  And why don't the customer service people just watch what the managers do and then steal their little code & make it all go faster?

3.  How come the nights when you can't/ shouldn't get drunk are the ones that it inevitably happens-- and the one night of the year when you have a babysitter or don't have to work the next day all you can do is nurse your glass of wine/ beer and dream about going home to bed?

4.  Why do I love the Iowa Hawkeyes even though they appear to be a bunch of thugs?

5.  How can we put a man on the moon (we'll save the conspiracy theory for another blog) but not invent a panty-hose that doesn't run?

6.  Why was the month of June warm and sunny when I was a kid and now it's cold and rainy?

7.  Why do gray hairs have to be all coarse and pubic-like--not just gray?

8. How come Janet Evanovich can't let Stephanie Plum age a little and develop as a character?

9.  How can a person who smokes a pack a day have crystal clear lungs and a marathon runner who has never smoked a cigarette can die from lung cancer?

10. Do the stuffed animals and toys really come alive at night?

11. Why hasn't anyone created a plastic cover that protects open laptops from babies/ toddlers?

12. I seriously do not understand how you can scrape every ounce of dried glue off the top of the orange Elmer's Glue container, literally see through the little hole, and yet it remains plugged.   WTF?

Let me know the answers if you know them!  And I'll post more questions in the future-- just didn't want to overwhelm anyone with my random thoughts.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Marbles in a Jar

Last week we attended a beautiful service in memory of my grandmother, Ruby Bomgaars.  The pastor at the service did such a nice job of sharing memories and stories about my grandmother.  And then, he made mention of a poem he knew that talked about our days here on Earth being like marbles in a jar.  He explained that each of us has a "jar of marbles" and that the average person, living to about 80 years of age would begin their life with about 29, 200 marbles in their jar.

Wow, so if I am lucky enough to live to the ripe ol' age of 80 that means I only have about 16,000 marbles in my jar.  (And it also means that I'm close to halfway through my life! Yikes!)

BUT.... Here's the kicker.

Nobody knows how many marbles are in their jar.  So while I may go through this day and the next thinking I have 16,000 marbles left, what if my jar only has ten?  Or twenty?  Or one?  So I'm left with the cliche thought that none of us know how much time we have left on this Earth.

But..... Here's the other kicker.

Nobody knows how many marbles are in anyone else's jar either.  So when we're going through our own very busy and productive (sometimes) lives, and someone wants to visit us or have us join them for a party or accompany them on a trip that may be a bit of a hassle for us.... we don't know how many marbles are in their jars either.  Perhaps their jars are overflowing with marbles.... or perhaps they are down to single digits.  And while I certainly don't encourage saying "yes" to everyone and volunteering for everything, I do think it's important to take advantage of the opportunities the universe presents us with  when it comes to sharing our life with other people.

Last Friday, I received some very sad news.  A young school counselor was killed in a terrible car accident.  The woman was my sister's age and had a gorgeous little boy about Charlie's age.  She was one of those people who had a contagious smile and a voice and giggle that is impossible to forget.  I had the opportunity to get to know her through UNI's graduate program when I volunteered to do tape critiques for the students.  Our paths crossed again when I became the school counselor at Parkersburg Elementary as she had held the position prior to me.  She and I talked on more than one occasion about some student needs and best ways to help them.  We would often see each other at the ISCA (Iowa School Counselor's Association) conference, and we'd talk shop while eating lunch or grabbing coffee.  This past year, she was recognized for being a leader in our field and doing some amazing work with her students.  She appeared to have so much passion, energy, and love for her profession-- which I totally admire.  Of the many school counselors I've had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with, she was one of the best.

And now, she's gone.  Her little adorable boy is without his mommy.  And this is the part that is just killing me.  Nothing about this situation seems fair or right or just.  It's all bull$hit if you ask me.  This is not the way things are meant to be.  This is not what is best for her beautiful little boy.  You cannot convince me that this was her time, that this is all part of the plan.

My thoughts keep slamming into what her parents, siblings, grandparents, and especially her little boy are experiencing right now.  A grandparent should never ever live to see their grandchild pass away.  It just doesn't make sense.  A parent is not supposed to lose their child.  It's just backwards.  And a little toddler, who hasn't even really gotten to know his amazing mommy yet, should not have her taken away from him.  

While attending my grandmother's funeral was difficult, it was very peaceful and memorial.  It was a time to reflect on a long and productive life.  We looked at 80 years worth of photos-- freezing in time moments that were monumental (weddings, births, anniversaries), casual, silly, and fun.  And while it was incredibly sad to say goodbye to someone I've loved my entire life, it seemed to feel natural to let go of an 80 year old woman who has really lived her life.

I haven't decided whether or not I'll attend my colleague's funeral, but I am sensing that if I do, I will not leave her service with the same sense of closure and peace that I left my grandma's.  Rather, I will likely leave with questions, confusion, and anger.  Questions about why someone with such a positive light in this world would be taken away.  Confusion about "whose" plan this is and whether or not I'd really want to have anything to do with a god who takes mommies away from their babes.  And anger about why tragic things happen to amazing people.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

From Sugarplum

I've been wanting to write a post about my grandma Ruby but it's one of the more difficult things to do right now.  However, because I have a few moments on this beautiful summer morning, I'm going to make an attempt.

A few weeks ago, C & I were visiting my sister in Illinois.  We had been busy from the minute we arrived on Friday evening and throughout the day on Saturday.  So when Sunday morning rolled around, we called our parents with the hope that we could Skype for a minute or two.  It didn't really surprise us when they did not answer (Sunday mornings mean either: church, long walks, playing in the garden, or coffee & donuts with Grandma Viv.  --or a combination of these things) but it did surprise us to receive a text from Dad explaining that they were headed to Council Bluffs because my grandma Ruby had fallen.

Immediately, my sister and I assumed that she had broken her hip-- afterall, isn't that what tends to happen as a result of falls?  But much to our disbelief, we soon learned that the conditions were much worse.  She had actually hit her head and suffered a brain injury.  My parents kept us updated throughout the next few days, but they were very clear that the outcome did not look good.  My heart feared the worst-- and then my brain started to question what the worst might be.  The doctors knew they were dealing with an 80 year old brain, but were unable to know if or how she would ever recover.  The possibilities of "what ifs" were tremendous and I can't imagine being in her children's position and needing to make decisions that would ultimately affect her life, quality of life, and eventually her death.

After 72 hours, the decision was made to move her from the ICU to a patient bed.  She received pain medication and was monitored closely.  Hospice services were utilized and by Thursday night, she had passed peacefully away.

My dad called me as I drove to our staff breakfast on Friday morning.  The words stung as he informed me of her passing, but I also felt this rush of peace flow through me.  Knowing she would not be "living" in a nursing home, hooked up to monitors and tubes and machines-- possibly for years, was a relief to me.  And while I'm still not convinced of an actual afterlife, I know that she was a spiritual person and believed my grandpa Arv was first in line to greet her with open arms.  (And honestly, the thought of having them together again -after 21 years apart- give me the strangest sense of peace-- I just cannot explain it.)

However, the whole situation is just surreal to me.  I'm so blessed that Grandma Ruby and Auntie San were just at our house to visit Charlie (& me?).  Charlie gave Grandma the biggest hug and had drawn pictures for her.  He was so excited to see "Gamma Ubby" and show her all of his things.  They arrived while C was napping so we had time to chat in the kitchen, although now I"m not sure what we talked about!  It was just light, fun conversation.  I showed them some letters I had found and we talked about "the old days".  :)  When it was time to leave, we agreed to find a time this summer to visit and see Grandma's new place and take Charlie to the Omaha Zoo.  We talked about putting it on the calendar for July-- only a few weeks away.  As Sandi and Grandma left, Charlie gave Grandma Ruby an "oooh-ahhh" (ask a Bomgaars family member for the story on those!) and hugged her so tight.  We waved goodbye as they drove away.  Charlie kept waving and saying, "Bye Gamma Ubbi!  Bye Nandy!  Love You!" and I was laughing--already looking forward to the upcoming zoo visit.  

If only I had known that was the last time I'd see my Grandma.  Aside from the fact that I'm SO sad that we didn't take a picture that day, I wouldn't have done much differently.  We had a wonderful conversation, we played with Charlie, we talked about memories, we just had a beautiful afternoon.  And as far as the picture thing goes, it's just one of those things you can't get hung up on.  I wish I had thought to take a picture of Grandma, Dad, me and Charlie when we all were together for Nora's baptism too.  (Four generations-- Three firstborns!) But we didn't and instead, we have some great memories.

My grandma's funeral service was beautiful.  The pastor did an amazing job of remembering the lady that we loved and will now miss.  My cousin put together a photo video filled with years of photos and memories.  Watching the video brought me peace in knowing that she lived such a full life.  And while I  wish we would have been able to get our four generations photo and make that trip to the zoo, I know that it's best not to dwell on wishes but rather those memories that we can cherish forever.

* Grandma always called me "Sugarplum".  And although I don't think I ever signed my letters from Sugarplum, it's always who I was when I was with Grandma.  And, because of that little nickname, every time I have ever seen a lipstick, purse, frosting, decoration, book, recipe, or novelty item with the name "Sugarplum", I always have--and now I always will, think of my Grandma Ruby.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Back in the Pool.....

Have I mentioned that Someone talked me into doing a Sprint Triathlon at the end of June?  (June 30 to be exact)

Have I mentioned that I'm still out of shape?  June 30 has just seemed so far away for so long.  Until now.  I mapped it out on the calendar the other day and realized.... I better get my butt moving or I'm going to be a hurting unit come June 30!  (Okay, so I'll probably be a hurting unit anyway.....)

I've participated in two triathlons.  My first was a triathlon held near Ankeny.  It was a great sprint race (750 meter (0.47 mi) swim, 20 kilometres (12 mi) bike, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) run) and provided me with motivation to do more triathlons.  So I trained for the Hy-Vee Tri, which was held the following summer.  Hy-Vee is an Olympic distance (1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) swim, 40 kilometres (25 mi) bike ride, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) run) so I was a bit more apprehensive and did much more extensive training.  I remember that training being difficult-- and draining of all my energy.  I couldn't ever seem to get enough to eat or sleep and I blamed it all on that dang training.

But the morning of the Triathlon, everything went well. Although my goggles were twisted and leaking and led me to Breaststroke the entire mile swim, I was too nervous and riding too fast to really use the Aerobars on my bike, and I pretty much bonked during the run, I still had a really good time and finished in 3 hours, 11 min.  I was psyched to do more and more and more!  I had race fever!

And then, the day after this lovely pre-race photo was taken, I peed on a stick and realized maybe the training was only a part of why I was so fatigued and hungry.  It turns out Mr. Charlie had been accompanying me on my training runs, rides, and swims, for about seven weeks.  (Okay, now honestly, I had an inkling.... but I knew I'd be too nervous to do the bike ride if I knew I was "with child" so I just chose one of my favorite ways to deal with things--- avoidance.)

So while I had race fever, I also had this huge new life event to look forward to.  I didn't feel comfortable road biking after I learned of my pregnancy (I'm a bit too  nervous about hitting the pavement), and running became something horribly painful as I dealt with a ton of sciatic and lower back pain throughout my pregnancy.  But swimming was the one thing that I did right up until the week before Charlie was born (unfortunately for the lifeguards on duty--I don't think any college kids want to see a hugely overdue pregnant lady waddle into their lap pool).

I've always loved to swim and feel sort of "at home" in the water.  I love the rhythm of lap swimming and the muffled sounds of the water.  I love the way your body heats up but the water stays cool.  I love the peaceful and "alone-ness" of lap swimming-- even if you participate with others, it's not like running or riding where conversation is possible and sometimes encouraged.  It's just you with your thoughts and the water.

So as this June 30 triathlon approaches, it dawned on me that I should probably get in the pool.  And today, the first day of lap swim at our outdoor pool, presented the perfect opportunity.  Since C is attending daycare a few hours each morning this summer (more about my guilt later) I'm really trying to take advantage of that evasive thing called "time".  So I headed down to the pool, jumped in, and swam a 500 (10 laps) with two warm-up/ cool down laps.

The sun was warm, the water was cool, and my muscles felt strong.  Everything about it felt amazing-- and it was just what I needed to become excited and energized about this race.  Back in the pool is a good place to be!