Finally the day of the big half-marathon came! After a sleepless night and lots of butterflies in my stomach, my alarm rang at 6 a.m. to get ready for the big event. I rolled out of bed and started the clothes layering process for our run in the 28 degree weather (though it did warm up to the 30s by the time we started). My "team" (the friends I have been training with for months now) showed up a few minutes later and we drove up to the Charlotte Convention Center to check in and get ready for the race.
We were overwhelmed at all the people there to run the race especially the people we called "professionals" - the ones wearing tight spandex pants, also the old wrinkled men were professionals and the people already wearing t-shirts and shorts. Needless to say, I didn't look like a professional. It's ok though because I was there just to finish. The starting line was different than I expected, because there were so many people running the race, it was basically just a big crowd of people waiting to start running, we barely heard the shotgun and then finally we were off!
Alison kept us to a speedy pace for a couple of miles and then I started getting a bit of a sideache so Michelle and I let her go ahead and kept to a slower pace that I could handle - no pride here, I just wanted to finish without having to stop and walk. Then at about mile 4 something really fun happened, we were running on one side of a busy street that was closed down for the race and I heard two of my friends scream my name. They were driving to come cheer us on and were stuck in the traffic. That was a much-needed boost, especially since someone turned to me and said, did you know them? I felt like such a celebrity.
Then those same friends kept showing up at different mile markers along the way to cheer us on. I appreciated that SO much, it totally kept me excited and going. Also Austin and the kids made big signs and came to cheer me on - that was motivating too.
I truly enjoyed the entire race until about the last .2 mile when I just couldn't believe it wasn't done yet! Then I crossed the finish line and stopped on my wobbly legs and enjoyed a band and free food and drinks. Then my family and friends congratulated me so I felt special and the rest of the day I took naps and ate lots of chocolate and dreamed of my next race (probably in April and I know Tricia, Heather and Molly are dying to join in!)
Thanks for my cheerleaders and my team who made this such a fantastic and life-changing experience!
Cooper all bundled up to come watch the race.
Will and the sign he made for me.
The sign Austin and Cooper made - notice Cooper wrote, "I hope you can do it."
We decided to start a family tradition of driving to the mountains to get our Christmas tree! It was a couple hours away and a lot of snacks and dvd watching later, but we found the perfect tree. We rode up to the tree farm on a tractor-pulled hay wagon with some other friendly NC folks. The trees were beautiful - we could have chosen any of them and would have loved them. We even got free cocoa and cider at the country store afterward! But no rhubarb-strawberry pie, peach cobbler or soup - they were all out of everything warm and yummy so we settled for a peppermint-chocolate chip shake from Chick-fil-a on the way home.
We recently started giving Cooper and Will allowance every week so that they can learn to pay their tithing and have money for the little things that they always want me to buy them or they can save up for bigger things.
So far the results are interesting, Will has already lost his allowance from his first week - not hard to do when he changes his clothes 10 times an hour and has piles of junk all over his bedroom. So I will be holding on to his allowance for him.
Cooper has been learning the value of money lately when I say that he can use his allowance to buy stuff that he asks me for, all of the sudden he doesn't want that item much anymore. The other day he wanted a Gatorade and we said, sure you can buy it with your allowance, and he asked us,"Do I have to make a living with my allowance?"
Yes, Cooper you do, time to start saving up for the mortgage.
Anyone ever gotten gum in your clothes? Well today I did and I found the greatest tip for getting it out. Hot apple cider vinegar (warmed in the microwave for 30 seconds) and a toothbrush! Worked like a charm so I wanted everyone to know. Didn't come out quite as easily from my newly finished hand-knit sweater, but still worked. And it's a natural fix.
The boys and I went on a cross country trip last week on relatively short notice because we received word that my grandma had been diagnosed with cancer. Doctors estimate she has 2 - 3 months left to live. She is an amazing woman. I just wanted to be able to spend some time with her and make sure the boys saw her while she still had some energy and could be her perky self.
Some quick amazing things about my grandma:
She just turned 96.
Has golfed a round of 9 holes of golf every week to this day except in bad weather.
She has been married over 70 years!
She sent me a card on every holiday with $2 dollars in it (Halloween, valentine's day, Columbus day -- she remembered them all).
She is an amazing card player and gambler -- I was going to visit her this Friday. However, when I called Friday was Casino night. She bragged that she left with only $20. The free bus picked her up at the retirement home, paid for lunch and she wagged her fat gangster knot of cash in front of me of $450when she got back. Not a bad day at the casino for a 96 year old woman.
She made us our favorite meal every birthday.
Makes the worlds best Easter breakfast hands down.
Had season tickets to the Oregon State beavers for 30 plus years , during most of their run of almost 3 decades without a winning season (That is where I get my loyalty and sports dedication).
She made amazing peanut butter sundaes
The doctor asked if she could cut back to 8 glasses of coffee a day -- she said no and maintains her 10 - 12 glasses of coffee a day.
This is a song she used to sing that I think just captures her fun personality (notice the shoulder shake, expressions and smiles as she sings it to my kids and I on our last trip. If only everyone could have a grandma like Grandma McKeehan.
Cooper has a good friend named Brady who lives a few doors down the street from us. They have played on the same sports teams and spend lots of time together. Brady ate dinner with us tonight and he is the most helpful boy I have ever seen. Plus, he is an only child, and usually I would expect kids like that to be spoiled and used to being served, but not Brady. When I asked Cooper to set the table, Brady said, "Oh! Can I help?!" Then he pretty much set the whole table including folding the paper towels into pretty little squares.
Then, after dinner, Brady asked if he could do the dishes! Um, yeah! So he led Cooper into doing all the dishes - handwashing them because the rest of the dishes are being washed in the dishwasher. They spent a good 20 minutes doing this and every time Cooper kind of slacked, Brady would call him to action. It was really sweet to hear their conversations, they talked about what kind of sports teams they want to play on when they grow up - pro football for Brady and pro baseball for Cooper though he can't decide whether he wants to be a 1st baseman or pitcher. Then they decided that after their sports careers they could own a restaurant together and they could be the washers!
My favorite was Brady's excitement over the plate that he got SO clean. By the way Brady's shirt is off in the pictures so it wouldn't get wet, not because I'm a pedophile.
Will seems to be on the constant lookout for a girl that likes him back. He's moved on from Kennedy - only because "she doesn't like me" he says. The other day he asked me to help him make a special note for a girl on his bus named Alondra. The note was just to alondra, from will, but I did convince him to add a picture or two. Then he told me that he wants to find a girl he can kiss on the lips.
Where does he come up with this stuff? Well, he told me that a boy he sits next to on the bus who is 6 has a girlfriend who is 13 that he kissed on the lips. "But they didn't marry, because he didn't kiss her during a wedding," Will assured me.
I'm hoping that these adorable comments and conversations last forever with Will, I'm sure there will come a time when he is not so eager to share these things with me. Cooper hasn't mentioned anything about girls ever since he told me that he kissed a girl on the bus when he was in kindergarten and I mentioned it to Austin and then Austin asked him about it and he was super embarrassed. So the other day I told Cooper that he needed to always talk to me about girls and his thoughts, etc.
"Do we have to talk about it now, Mom? I'm not even in middle school yet," Cooper responded in a very Cooper-like way.
SORRY LADIES -- It is a Bank Holiday so Dad is making a blog entry.
Baby girls are amazing. I love having boys, but now, having sufficiently ensured my kids have some interest in sports (it will not be all ballet, drama class, and choir practice), I am REALLY loving Paris. She just can really do no wrong in my eyes and I love everything about her -- for now.
This is at a baseball game that was like in the 30's. There she is still smiling and cheering her brother on (Picture Courtesy of John Mixon -- What a friend, not just along for the ride, but adding value!).
And I know some of you are thinking what about Will? He sure seems like a drama candidate? Maybe, and that would be fine, but I actually think he is going to shock everyone and be the most talented athlete yet. That is if they will just finally let him wear the gear!
I've been reflecting on this bit of history I have been witness to in this presidential election. Barack Obama is our country's first African-American president. While watching coverage of his victory, I have seen people in Martin Luther King Jr.'s church cheering and crying with joy, the streets of Harlem are filled with people celebrating, and Jesse Jackson shed tears over the victory (though that may just be because he wasn't the one elected). It is amazing that we have come so far as a country - from slavery and segregation and prejudice to electing our first black president. President- elect Obama has huge expectations to live up to within our country and around the world. He definitely inspires hope in people and I was impressed that in his campaign victory speech he addressed those do not support him yet, and he will be their president too. I like that and I hope he can bring our country together. It will be interesting to see how he meets the challenge and fulfills his campaign promises.
Last night while watching the election coverage, I saw a bit of new technology that I couldn't believe and wonder if one day our children will feel is commonplace. In the CNN studio in New York, they had a reporter beamed in from Chicago through a hologram. This was accomplished with technology with computers and cameras. It was like the hologram that they have on Star Wars. They also had this huge touchscreen that had percentages of the candidates who were winning in individual states and statistics about the demographics.
I was in the car for four hours yesterday driving the kids to the apple orchard in Flat Rock, NC and listened to NPR the whole way. They were doing specials about the different experiences of people voting around the nation. There were first-time voters, older voters, new US citizen voters, etc. I felt a new respect for our freedom and opportunity to vote in an election that will be fairly counted, not manipulated like in other countries. Also, we have the privilege to vote without fear of retaliation for our choice. I am blessed to live in this free nation and felt a renewed gratitude for this privilege that I have taken for granted.
Today the boys actually had their suits on, I think their socks matched and their hair was even combed for church so we thought it would be a good time to document it. Not to mention that we arrived at church in time for the sacrament to be passed - I think I have forgotten lately that's the whole reason for sacrament meeting. Will had on a tuxedo shirt and a little bow of Paris' for a bow tie - a little of his creativity within the bounds of acceptable attire for church.
Don't we all get hungry by the time church is over on fast Sunday? The drive home can take centuries while our bellies growl for lunch. Paris thought of her own solution to this problem.
We got lucky enough to have another west coast visitor last weekend. John Mixon, a great friend of Austin's from high school came out from Seattle for a visit. He also got to tour Five Guys, the Whitewater Center, Mara Baseball Fields and the Q-Shack and even make an appearance at Cooper's baseball team party. Plus, many delightful hours with our kids. In Seattle, John lives an exciting life as a single with a great job, fun hobbies and the chance to actually sleep in and take naps anytime he wants. Therefore, I'm sure the family weekend with the McKeehan's was probably a bit lame for him, but we loved seeing him and appreciated him coming to see us.
Our friends, Dave and Jessica Fuhriman made the trek to NC recently and we had a great time showing them the local sites. There was Five Guys, Mara Baseball Fields, the Whitewater Center, Niko for sushi and the Q-shack for North Carolina barbecue. These are the official visiting locations for people who come to NC if anyone was wondering. Plus they got several quality hours with our delightful and energetic kids.
Dave, sorry your head is cut off, but it is a good picture otherwise and after all Will was taking the picture :)
So it was hot Saturday in Charlotte (About 90 degrees and a little humid) and as usual Will had like 16 layers of clothes for no reason except that he likes the gear. He came inside from playing out side, his face beet red, sweat dripping down, and drinking water like he was about to die.
I said "Will, buddy why don't you take some of your clothes off. It is so hot outside."
Will said, " I just don't want to dad. I like them."
I then decided I would try and come up with a clever analogy that he could understand. "Will, remember when the sun came out after it rained and we found all those worms on our driveway.
Will: -- "Yeah dad, I remember."
Austin: -- "And Remember how they were all fried up and dead because they got so hot in the sun. You are going to be like those worms if you don't take off some of your clothes, " I said pretty proud of my analogy.
Will: "Dad, Worms don't wear clothes!" he said dismissing my comparison and walking away like I was pretty stupid.
What could I say but, Touchee. And off he went back to the hot summer heat, 16 layers and all.
In the midst of shoving dinner in Paris' face, trying to find Cooper's baseball uniform, and pick up all the messes that Will collects behind him, I said, "I can't take care of all four people all the time!"
Will, "Mommy, there are only three people for you to take care of."
Me, "There are four, because I have to take care of myself too."
Will, "Mommy, I'll take care of you," followed by a big hug and kiss.
It's the sweet little moments like these that keep us going!
There we were sitting and watching the MARA Little League Cubs take on the Yankees. It had been a somewhat disappointing season thus far. Coop's team (The Cubs) had been doing fine (5-3 record) but he had not really shown the improvement this season I was hoping for. I mean he was solid, but I was hoping this would be his break out season. And yet, just last game he struck out and hit a couple of ho-hum ground balls. Had I created a monster encouraging him to play fall baseball? He had seemed to regress since Spring ball. All these doubts of an ultra-competitive-trying-to-live-vicariously-through-my-son-dad started to enter my head.
Since turning about 30, I had pretty effectively channeled my love for the game into watching my kids. I still play softball, etc. but have definitely prioritized my kids. So as Cooper seemed to plateau, this was very hard for me to take. It was not for lack of effort, Cooper and I had hit the cages countless nights (We bought the 150 round package), often play catch late at night in front of the house only lit by street lamps, and have practiced drills in the hot and humid summer.
But then something happened, he seemed to have a little extra zip in his throws tonight. He snared a would be double down the line and made the play at first. He did the splits to make the stretch at first and get a player out on a bang-bang play. Now it was time for Cooper to bat, my anxiety and nervousness settling in the pit of my stomach -- AND THEN THE GONG WENT OFF. First pitch -- Cooper drills the ball over the right fielder's head. He runs to first, I am out of my seat running along the dug out, screaming at him to run since he is not fastest kid in the world. He rounds second and takes a look at the ball rolled up against the fence and then third and the base coach is waving him home. The ball is thrown to the plate but not in time -- Cooper's first home run of the season and the first for the Cubs all year. I was so happy for him. Then came the best part -- Cooper running out of the dugout and searching for his dad (me) and running and jumping into my arms. I realize I am totally bragging about my kid on this blog, but for those who have kids and for those who might one day, that moment, of having practiced so many hours together with your son, after some rough games, was absolutely priceless.
As luck would have it, his next time up he hit a homer on the first pitch again. Cooper had not hit one the entire season, but today was his day. And a day I will never forget as a Dad. Let's hope he is not a one-game wonder. But either way, that moment was worth all the insane fees for MARA baseball right there.