Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Merry Christmas! 

We are in our 2nd yr. of Donald's unaccompanied tour to Japan. He has spent the majority of his time with VAQ 141 on the USS George Washington (now in Norfolk for RCOH) and USS Ronald Reagan. We've been lucky enough to stay her on beautiful Whidbey Island during his absence. We've visited Donald twice this year, and have loved the opportunity to explore the beautiful country of Japan, and learn more about theJapanese people. Donald was able o return home for a week in August and will be home for a couple weeks at Christmas. 
Jillian (14) has caught her stride, is excelling academically, and had a great freshman volleyball season. Her biggest interests are music, reading, humanitarian work, and writing. She is an old soul in a young body, and I love our conversations together. 

James (13) is an energetic, fun loving, goof ball. He loves music, math, track & field, drama club, and drawing. He's very dedicated, creative artist, and I love seeing a little of what's rolling around in that brain of his. He not only has a hefty role in the | upcoming drama production, but also did the set design sketches. 

Claire (11) loves school, running, piano, baking, fashion, and basketball. Whatever she does, she gives it 100%. She is my reliable little go-getter, always willing to help. She is rocking he first year of middle school, with her lowest grade being a 97%! 

Hannah (11) is my passionate, introspective, animal lover. She is a talented reader and writer, who loves performing, being outside with her horse, Cody, and playing piano. She's playing trumpet in the school band, and is participating in drama for the 3rd year. Last winter she was Jim Hawkins in the school production of Treasure Island and had a solo. 

Sophia (7) is a gregarious, energetic 2nd grader. She LOVES stories; Telling them, hearing them, and writing them. She has never met a stranger, and is curious about everything. Her favorite things are talking, playing games, elephants, math, PE, and recess. 

I am staying busy with the kids, house, yard/garden, piano students, accompanying the high school choir and church congregation. I also run regularly to burn off the crazy. Donald will be in Japan a little longer, after which time he'll rejoin us on Whidbey to finish his military career. He is doing great things as a career counselor and was just named sailor of the year.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Long Overdue

Here is a recap of 2011 (since I didn't blog once last year) and a little bit about how we're doing.


While Donald was still in Iraq

the kids and I celebrated Christmas and rang in the New Year in Rochester, NY with my brother and his awesome family. The cousins got to spend lots of time playing and the mommies got to visit and share in the parenting/housekeeping responsibilities which Jen and I both enjoyed. We enjoyed the snow and went to the Museum of Play, which was awesome!

We travelled via Space A military flights. See picture below...It was quite the adventure trying to get a flight home. We had multiple delayed flights and finally went to the airport early on a Sat. to catch our 9am flight which ended up being delayed until midnight that night. It was a really long day for the kids and me at the airport…followed by an overnight flight (w/ layover) back to Tacoma and a 3 hr drive home. But the time spent with family was well worth the hassle of getting home!

This was the plane we flew in...the seats fold out from the sides. After take off we all laid out blankets and slept on the floor.

The kids began dancing with a Scandinavian Folk dance group in Jan...They had lots of fun and looked super cute in their costumes.

In February we reached what we thought was the halfway point of Donald’s deployment. I started swimming again...with my friend Kamie, started teaching piano lessons and we got snowed in.

March Here are some St. Patty's Day pictures....

Nothing says St. Patrick's Day like a good game of Twister!

Jillian turned 9. Here she is celebrating her B-day at Red Robin. She got her ears pierced for her bday.

April The kids and I took a road trip to visit my friends Jessica and Steve Poston…who I hadn’t seen in over ten yrs. We had a great time and the kids got along fabulously. They took us to The OMSI...we could have spent days there! The trip made me grateful for true friends, those who you can enjoy and feel so comfortable around no matter how long it’s been since last connecting.

The Mayne and Poston clans minus Jess (taking picture) and Donald (deployed).

May Donald was supposed to come home…we found out, 2 days before projected departure (their squadron was all packed up, he’d even boxed up his office and computer) they’d be staying…with no known return day. L It was tough for me, but so much harder on the kids. We always have a countdown chain (which has a few extra rings on, b/c I’ve learned) but telling the kids we didn’t know when he’d be coming home was rough.

I went to CA for my Grandma’s 90 birthday party. It was great to have a few days off from the 4 big kids and get to hang out with family and enjoy the sunshine.

Randy, Cynthia, Me, Sophie, Grandma, Mom, Sara, Lisa and Dad.

June 2 days before Donald returned home Sophie fell off the bottom bunk of the bunkbed and broke her arm.

Here's a picture of my little trouble maker and a Costco container of grape tomatoes.
She'd taken a bite out of almost every single tomato. :-/


Luckily I got one decent picture of James. :-)

August was busy as usual. It started off with the Whidbey Island Tri- I got a person best, but it felt pretty rough. Then the Swarthout Family Reunion:

Lisa, Sara, Me, Mom, Dad, Cynthia, Wendy, Chris

Here we are at Ape Caves near Mount Ranier.

James Baptism:

Glad so many family members could be there for his special day.

and Donald, James, Claire and Hannah’s bdays:

Here's an action shot of Hannah and Claire huffing and puffing.

Enjoying some Kapaw's Ice cream by the Coupeville Wharf...
almost time to go back to school.

Jillian and I chopped off our hair and donated it to Locks of Love.

September- Back to school!!!

Donald, James and Jillian went backpacking in Colorado for a week, and had a blast...despite a bad storm that forced them to hike out sooner than planned.

October- Halloween! I made (and decorated w/ glitter) Jillian, James, and Claire's costumes. I was pleased with them, but very glad we already had fairy and butterfly costumes.

James with his throwing star.

Jillian and Piper
Two cutie patooties!

November Donald’s parent came to visit for Thanksgiving week. It was so great to have them here.
Here is the Gratitude Turkey.
The kids told us what they were grateful for and I wrote it on feathers which they decorated. The only poster board I had was hot pink on one side and yellow on the other, hence the neon turkey...in years past he hasn't been quite so flashy.

December- Always busy with parties, recitals and Christmas. I was in charge of the Christmas program at church. It went well, although there were a few little logistical glitches w/ people getting up/leaving the stand.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Day
The girls are wearing dresses that Grandma Mayne made for them.

Sledding!!! That's Jillian and Hannah on Donald's back, with James giving them a little push.

This year:

Donald has changed commands and is in the middle of his shore duty (no deployments for 3 yrs! Yippee!!). He's been doing great at work, he's also taking prerequisite classes to get into nursing school (either while in the Navy or when we get out), and started mountain biking regularly (we live 2 ½ miles from the kettle trails, so it’s fun and convenient).

Sophie and I have started running with the running club on base and I’m enjoying running more than I have in the past 20 yrs. I've been spending as much time as possible working in the garden/yard, getting things ready for the warmer weather. I'm really looking forward to those warmer, longer days.

Jillian turned 10 in March. She loves the 4th grade, her teacher and science club, she’s an avid reader…in fact, one of the few things she gets in trouble for is reading when she should be doing other things. She’s getting very proficient in her piano playing…although she broke her arm a few weeks ago in a downhill bike crash. She’s handling the break well, and hasn’t let it slow her down at all (I’ve had to lay down the law…no rollerblading or running.)

James is 8 and has been doing really well w/ violin and tumbling. He’s a little character. He’s the youngest and smallest in his 3rd grade class…and there were times when I thought maybe I should have held him back a yr., because of those things, but he’s thriving in school. He’s also my little artist (although he, Claire and Jillian all are great drawers). He just placed 2nd in the “Celebrate Writing Contest” in the 3rd-5th grade division.

Claire is my little student. She loves everything about it. Her teacher, the structure, the challenge of it all, the learning. She’s our little math whiz. She’s an intense itty bitty spit fire of a 6 yr. old. She, Hannah and James are all in tumbling right now, and she’s about ready to pass up James skill wise.

Hannah is my little sponge. She's very observant and absorbs knowledge like no one I’ve ever seen. She loves to read and is our little mother hen. She’s also very affectionate, loving, and sweet and always the first to try to help or comfort others when they’re upset. Her teacher told me she was having trouble getting an autistic boy to stop wandering around the classroom. Hannah came up with a game to help the boy remember to stay in his seat while they’re, and it’s working brilliantly. J

Sophia has mastered the art of fit throwing…although they never last long (thank goodness). She is a great talker. It’s very rare that I can’t understand her, which was not the case when my others were this age. She’s a lot of fun and loves music. Sometimes I’ll be singing, whistling or humming while doing things around the house and she’ll come up to me and say, “Tank you, mommy, for doing dat song. I weally like it!” She is enamored with James violin and will hold it and “play” it any chance she gets. She can get a decent tone out of it too, so we might have another violinist in the family.

Powerful Birds
by James Mayne

Is that an eagle soaring high?
With bristling wings and bright green eyes.
Its yellow beak,
its great black chest,
its frightful face,
its golden nest,
The nice white legs,
The loyal
Powerful bird,
It's here! It's here!
The nest is here!
Beautiful things,
The creatures of wings,
Their claws of

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Family Fun! Well, for some of us.

The Whidbey Island tri (1/2 mile swim, 20 mile bike, 3.8 mile run) is a long sprint triathlon (meaning it's shorter than an olympic distance tri, but longer than most sprints)...it's also been called a cyclist's tri, b/c for an experienced triathlete, the swim takes less than 15 min., the very hilly bike ride takes over an hour, and the run takes less than 40 minutes. Unfortunately, the cycling is definitely where I need the most work. Despite this, I'm determined to do this tri every summer I can. It's a gorgeous area, a nice clear, clean lake, the volunteers are all very friendly and it's always well organized.

This year, it happened to fall the weekend of our sisters' reunion...so I mentioned this to everyone and said that I'd really like to participate if it didn't mess up other plans...and everyone else decided they'd like to do the triathlon too! Yippee!!!

I don't think there's anything funnier than watching a bunch of people trying to
wriggle into super tight wetsuits.
Almost time to start!

After the warm-up...mentally prepping for the next few hrs...no backing out now.
And yes, I know I have huge arms and shoulders.

Here's how the tri played out for me...if you're not interested don't read.
I'd been taking open water swim classes, which helped my swim time, despite the fact that during the start I was kicked in the face by a swimmer I was trying to pass. It wasn't intentional, she just wasn't swimming straight. It knocked my goggles off, gave me a little bruise next to my eye, and shook me up a bit. Once I finally relaxed into my pace and position in the swim I was fine though.
You can see the bruise near the inside of my eye.

Then, near the beginning of the cycling portion my bike chain came off. Grr, this was a little frustrating as I was on a steep incline, and I had a hard time getting clipped in and moving again. I finally walked up someone's driveway w/ my bike and road down it, to get enough momentum to get up the hill.
Everything else went fairly smoothly (very slowly but smoothly) for me. Although I had some bumps along the way, I was happy w/ my time. Considering I just had a baby 9 months ago...and spent a lot of last year unable to exercise I couldn't have expected more.
My mom, Sara and Jen raced as a relay team, and placed 2nd in their category. My mom even beat me in the swim.
Jen looks like she's skipping to the finish line here.

This picture was stolen from my friend Deb's commentary as an observer at triathlons..found here.
And I think Lisa (first time triathlete) was just happy to be done, and will never let us talk her into doing anything ever again. She was a very good sport about it.

Cynthia placed 2nd in her age group.
Here she is w/ Sara, who did an awesome job on the bike ride.

Here we are the day after... none the worse for wear.
Note the glasses strategically covering my bruised eye.
Pretty sexy, huh?
Not too pleased w/ the fact that they write our age on the back of our leg...So
discouraging to watch some 60 yr. old lady fly past you on the run.

Next summer my goal is to do an olympic distance tri. (1 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 10K run). Who's with me???! Anyone??!