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)'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' 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 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??!

Summer fun

Whew! July was a nice, relaxing, laid-back beginning to summer, but since the end of July, we have been going nonstop. When I think back on the past month, it conjures up memories of playing, exhaustion and Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem about burning the candle at both ends. But, I am very happy to report we survived all the crazy, busy, fun, busy, craziness of late.

James and of buddies at the reunion.

It all started w/our Swarthout Family Reunion (From my maternal Grandma down). We were small in numbers this year (only about 30, compared to the 100+ that will attend next yr.), which made it very relaxing and low key, except for the fact that I was still dealing w/ CPS junk and Donald was away for training and unable to join us until Sunday. It was nice to have time to visit w/ everyone there, and the kids had a great time w/ their 2nd cousins. Stacy and Jaime took us out on their boat which added to the fun. I attempted to slalom water ski (which I haven't done in 10 yrs.). The experience, like so many others recently, reminded me that though the confidence remains, I am no longer as young and coordinated as I used to be...And left me with a huge bruise on my left leg to continue reminding me. (picture to come...b/c it really was a picture worthy bruise)
Of course there was singing.
Aunt Kathy, Stacy, Grandma and Mom

Here's a cute one of some of the girls...Claire, Jana, Sara and Jillian.

We stayed at Frog Creek Lodge...there were lots of frogs there.
Here's G.G. with Claire, Hannah and some of the frogs.

After the reunion, my mom, Sara, kids and I made our way to Olympic Nat'l Park. We spent the day hiking and enjoying the beauty there, then barely made the last ferry back to our island (literally the last 2 cars on). A few days later everyone (except Wendy) arrived in Seattle for our annual sisters' reunion. We spent a day in Seattle going to Pike's Place and the Pacific Science Center, then spent time on Orcas Island and in beautiful Victoria, B.C.

Cyni-mini pouncing at the PSC.

We also all participated in the Whidbey Island Triathlon, but the tri will get its own post.
Here's one of us eating out. I thought it appropriate since many of our
activities revolved around food.

We had 4 birthdays in August...Donald's, James' Claire's and Hannah's! All this before mid-August!
Since then....Sophia has gotten her cast off, the CPS case has been closed, and I planned and led a 3 day church camp for the 8-11yr. old girls. The camp was a success, despite the rain's best efforts to spoil our plans. The girls were trained in how to be secret service agents. Badges, sunglasses, campfires, canoes and nerf guns were involved, as well as sewing machines, work gloves, window washing supplies and many other things. Hopefully they learned a little bit about how to serve others w/ no thought of reward.
Factor in ballet lessons, violin lessons, back to school shopping, dentist and dr. appts (I'm getting tired just thinking about it), taking care of the garden, house and kids and it was a full month. Even with all the busyness, I still had time to go blackberry picking, play with my kids, read a few good books, plan a last minute RS lesson, and do so many other things. I feel so blessed that my time is overflowing with so many wonderful things right now. If life's gonna be crazy, and hectic I'm glad it's crazy and hectic b/c of so much good stuff going on.

Tuesday is the first day at Coupeville Elementary School for Jillian (3rd) and James (2nd). The twins begin kindergarten there the following week. They are all getting very excited (and a little nervous) about it. Jillian is my little worrier. She seems to be feeling much better since we went and wandered the halls of the school and found her classroom. The kids have O'Rourke-K, Steiner- 2nd, and Gebhard- 3rd. Still don't quite grasp what it will be like to have only one child home for 3 hrs of the day, but it will be realized soon enough. I'm sure I'll miss them, but I'm looking forward to a few hrs of quiet in my day.

And here's a picture of Sophia in the Swiss dirndl that used to be mine when I was a little girl. To give you an idea of how tiny I was...I have pictures of me wearing it when I'm 2 1/2...and Sophia is only 10 months old.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mom of the Year!!

Not that I had any aspirations, but The Mom of the Year Award will definitely not be going to me this year! Let me, let me sum up. I'll give the condensed, then longer version. We found out Sat. at the ER that Sophia (almost 9 months) has a spiral fracture in her tibia (big bone below the knee). We're not sure how it happened (although we have a theory), and we think we know approximately what time it happened, but can't know for sure. It's amazing how much easier this would have been w/ a child that could speak.

So here's the longer version. Wed. night I had my open water swim class. Donald was home w/ the kids. While Sophie was playing in the living room (the baby proof room), and the kids were watching a movie, Donald went outside to put the cover on the pool. He said he was gone for 5 minutes at the most. When he returned, Sophie was beside herself, crying inconsolably. He got her ready for bed, she fell asleep while he was feeding her, he put her to bed. At 9:30 pm (I was home by this point), she woke up screaming. I got her out of bed, and she immediately threw up. So I thought, "hmm, must be sick." Gave her Tylenol, but still couldn't get her to calm down. She was acting like she was in pain. Anytime I'd adjust her position on my lap she would start screaming. Donald gave her a blessing and I took her to the ER. They checked her ears and throat, said she had an ear infection and sent us home w/ antibiotics.

Thurs. and Friday she was still very fussy, needy and not her normal self (even w/ the ibuprofen). She was having an especially hard time w/ naps and bedtime. By Sat. morning I was pretty concerned and exhausted (I'd probably slept a total of about 3 hrs. Friday night). Luckily Donald's flight had been postponed until Sunday, so he was home. While changing her diaper, Saturday morning, Donald noticed that one of her calves was really swollen. It didn't seem to bother her when he touched it, but he picked her up and she wouldn't stand on that leg.

This was a big aha moment for both of us. We started thinking back through the week about when she was fussy. So, we took her back to the Drs. They did multiple X-rays, found a spiral fracture and splinted her leg.

We have an appt w/ the orthopedic surgeon tomorrow. They should cast it then. Sophie seems to be feeling great now that her left is splinted. It hasn't slowed her down much, although she gets mad that she can't pull herself up to standing anymore. We aren't 100% sure how she broke her leg (like I said, mother of the year), but since it's a twisting injury we speculate it's from her pulling herself up on the child's gate. She likes to pull herself up, then rest her foot between the slats. We think she must have done this and fallen, w/ her foot stuck.

To sum up. Sophie is doing great now, Donald is gone for a few weeks of training and I'm feeling like a bad mom b/c I didn't notice her swollen little leg sooner. Oh, and I just had a surprise visit from Child Protective Services. She was here to write up a "safety plan" for our house, but came in and said everything looked great and she didn't have anything to write. She said that due to the nature of the injury we would still have to talk to a couple more people and fill out some paper work, but that she had nothing but positive things to report. Good times!

In all of this I have noticed many things that I am grateful for: Our medical benefits are great! Being in the military, we don't have to pay a dime for all this. This experience also made me realize just how blessed we've been when it comes to our children's health and safety. Considering that we have 5 extremely active kids, I am amazed that Sophie was the first of the kids to have an ER visit for an injury. None of the kids have ever had a broken bone or stitches. Jillian is the only one that's ever had a hospital stay (not including birth), and that was for an allergic reaction. I have friends with children who struggle w/ health issues. Their strength is absolutely amazing to me. I honestly don't know how they keep their sanity. I was a completely drained, emotional wreck having to watch Sophie suffer, and she is fine, it wasn't even anything that serious.

My sweet little girl w/ a splint on her leg.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A nice quiet game of chess...

See full size image

Today James was trying to teach the twins (age 4) chess...and getting VERY frustrated with them. I was observing and trying not to laugh.
The conversations went something like this...
James: Hannah, you don't want to move there, then Claire can kill you with this one or this one.
Hannah: (who has the sweetest, highest voice of any child I've ever met) That's ok if Claire kills me, I don't mind.
James: UGH! (slaps hand to forehead)

Few minutes later...
James: Claire, that piece only moves diagonally.
Claire: No, it can move this way or this way or this way. See?! (Showing James that indeed there was nothing obstructing movement in any of the directions she wanted it to go.)
James: MOM!!!

Jillian kindly stepped in to "help" Claire, and James took over for Hannah who'd lost interest. They had a great time playing, especially b/c Jillian (who hates to lose) didn't mind losing while being proxy for Claire.
I sure love my kids and their individual, quirky personalities.
Where was Sophie? She was busy in another room. Her only desire would have been to EAT the chess pieces and that might have sent James over the edge.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Family Pictures and a Whole Lot More!

In February we had a fabulously fun little family reunion in CA. Last fall we discovered my brother was gonna be going home to CA w/ his family in Feb. Since this is a rare occurrence w/ him being so busy w/ his surgical residency, we all jumped on the chance to meet them for vacation. All the siblings and most of the spouses (except Rick and Donald) were able to attend. We stayed for 2 weeks and had a great time celebrating Sara's birthday, going to Disneyland, hanging out in San Diego and letting the cousins play together. They all got along great and I was sad to split up Ty and James when it was time to leave
This picture makes me crack up. I'm sure the photographer hated me...I'm talking in more pics than anyone else. This one looks like Chris and I are singing a duet...and mom is busting a gut.

Out to dinner celebrating Sara's Bday. M & D, siblings and cousin, Tim.
Happy kids at a happy place! We hardly had any wait for the rides too! Very fun day!
This was at a fun park designed to look like an old village...each bldg is a play structure, some of the building are connected by tunnels/bridges. Very cool! We also fed ducks and despite the kids' best efforts no one fell in the nasty green water.

And after surviving the flights (both w/layovers) to and from LAX w/ 5 children under the age of 8....I feel confident that I can do just about anything! Makes me tired just thinking about it. We did have one traumatic experience at SEATAC. We were walking on the moving walkway, and I was coaching the kids to keep moving and watch their step as they got off the walkway. Hannah, who has always been my "has to experience everything for herself" child, noticed a penny conveniently located on the metal plate at the end of the walkway. So, she front of all of us, at the end of the walkway, and fell (thank you Mr. Newton). James fell over her. The rest of us managed to get around her, but in her efforts to get the penny, her shoelace was eaten by the walkway. I had to yank her free. I'm sure it was a sight to see...carrying a backpack on my back (where else), a baby on my front, and someone else's carry-on in a hand, while trying to haul my screaming 4 yr old away from the jaws of the walkway monster. Good news: She got her penny, and was pretty pleased about it too! Lesson learned? Probably not.

March was a great month as well. James had a violin recital, which went really well. I've been very impressed w/ his focus and love of playing. I hope he never loses either. He's the blonde, left of the very excited little brunette.
Jillian celebrated her 8th birthday. We had a fun party w/ family and a few of Jillian's friends.

In April, both sets of Grandparents came out here for Jillian's baptism. We also went to the Skagit ValleyTulip Festival.

Beautiful! I think the tulips liked the weather well enough, but I was a little chilly.

So, I found this picture on my camera....I didn't take it, but this is pretty typical. I love that my kids love to read, but I hate that there are usually at least 50 books strewn across the living room at any given time.

Other than that, just life as usual here. Got the garden planted, it doesn't LOOK as great as it has in years past, but we've already gotten lots of carrots, spinach and sugar snap peas, so hopefully the yield will be good despite my neglect.
Donald and I celebrated our 9th Anniversary last month, and there isn't anyone I would rather go through this crazy life with. He's a wonderful friend, father and sweetheart. So glad I convinced him to marry me. ;o)
Finally enjoying some summer weather, after my coldest 4th of July ever...the kids were all in coats, hats and gloves and complained to leave before the fireworks show was even over. Love that coastal breeze!

I've been attending a weekly open water swimming course w/ my friend and fellow triathlete, Kori, and it's been great! I've learned a lot that I can hopefully apply come tri. time, and the class is about 45 min. away, so it's been nice to have time to visit on the drive down and back.

Donald has been away a lot recently w/ small training dets...gotta love the Navy, always keeping life interesting! His squadron should be getting orders soon...originally they were headed to Afghanistan for a 7 month deployment, then the general over there was fired for expressing his discontent w/ Obama, so we've been waiting for some time now, to see what the new verdict will be....Japan? Afghanistan? N. Korea? I've found it best not to think about it.

And that about sums up the past few months. Here are a few family pictures. These were taken in June (gloom) by my friend Debbie.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Homeschooling monkeys and prayer

As you may know, I am homeschooling Jillian and James this year. There are many reasons why I am doing this, the most important two being that I felt very strongly that I needed to and James was not learning well in a school environment. It has been going well, and been a fun, positive experience for us all. James has more than caught up to where he needs to be and has gained more confidence in his abilities and become a better self starter (he still needs some encouragement, but it's better than when we began). We recently learned that Donald will be deployed to Afghanistan for 6-7mos. beginning in the fall. After weighing the pros and cons (I mean, how important is my sanity, really?), I've come to the conclusion that I can not successfully homeschool and single parent my children and take care of the house, yard/garden (2+ acres) and anything else that comes up. So the kids will be returning to school next year (and the twins will begin Kindergarten). I'm really torn about this...homeschooling has opened up so many wonderful opportunities for us, and I have been very blessed to get to spend so much quality time with my children this year, but I feel good about the decision. I'm grateful we have been able to do homeschooling, even if it is only for a year. Will we return to it in the future? I don't know....I don't think it would be wise to continue vacillating btwn home and public school in conjunction with Donald's deployment schedule. I don't need to plan that far ahead.

In other kids have always been good climbers, but I've recently learned that none of them are acrophobes, though, for their own safety, I wish they were.

This pic was taken Sat. If you look closely you'll see Hannah in red and blue clothes and Claire in pink. Claire was near Hannah when I first saw them, but by the time I grabbed the camera she was on her way down.
This pic was taken Friday. I went outside to check on the kids and found them on the arbor.
And here's one of Jillian last week at the beach at dusk. They love climbing on driftwood, and pretty much anything else they can find.

At church today we had a great lesson on prayer. Wanted to share some of the things that really struck me. In Alma 37:6 it says "but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass, and small means, in many instances, doth confound the wise." Prayer is definitely one of those small simple things, even my 4 yr old can say a heart felt prayer, yet look at the marvelous things that are brought about through prayer. The first vision is just one example. A 14 yr. old boy is struggling to know which church to join. He goes into a grove of trees and offers up a simple, heartfelt prayer that lead to the restoration of Jesus Christ's church upon the earth. I find it interesting that often our lack of faith is the only thing limiting God's hand in our lives. He wants to bless us and is able to bless us beyond measure, but we must first ask and we seem to forget that he is all powerful. We don't ask b/c we don't have faith in His ability to respond. There was a story by Elder Packer that I loved, "One Saturday, I was to drive to the airport for a flight to a stake conference in California. But the cow was expecting a calf and in trouble. The calf was born, but the cow could not get up. We called the veterinarian, who soon came. He said the cow had swallowed a wire and would not live through the day.

I copied the telephone number of the animal by-products company so my wife could call them to come and get the cow as soon as she died.

Before I left, we had our family prayer. Our little boy said our prayer. After he had asked Heavenly Father to “bless Daddy in his travels and bless us all,” he then started an earnest plea. He said, “Heavenly Father, please bless Bossy cow so that she will get to be all right.”

In California, I told of the incident and said, “He must learn that we do not get everything we pray for just that easily.”

There was a lesson to be learned, but it was I who learned it, not my son. When I returned Sunday night, Bossy had “got to be all right.”

This process is not reserved for the prophets alone. The gift of the Holy Ghost operates equally with men, women, and even little children. It is within this wondrous gift and power that the spiritual remedy to any problem can be found."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Make 'em laugh...

Bonus points to the 1st person to name the movie this pic is from.
So today was one of those days where I'm laughing b/c if I stop, I'll be mortified by a few choice event. It was my first Sunday playing the organ for the entire congregation. While my practicing has gone very well, and I'm picking it up faster than I thought I would, my nerves haven't gotten the memo playing for an audience was a big deal. I got to church nice and early, practiced the songs, played some prelude music and then 5 minutes before the start of church I was rudely interrupted by a blaring foghorn in the congregation...after a few seconds I realized I had forgotten to turn off the alarm on my cell phone, which was sitting in a pew very far away from me. So I stopped playing and said to the congregation, "That's mine." Someone got up and turned it off for me. Embarrassing moment #1 down....just 3 more to go. Opening song went well, yippee! Then it was time for the sacrament hymn...which I was a little frazzled about...and started playing about twice as fast as the conductor wanted me to. Of course I could sort of see this out of the corner of my eye, but was too busy trying to hit the right notes to really concentrate on her beating out the rhythm. Finally, on the second verse I began watching and slowing down. So throughout the first verse I could hear some in the congregation try to singing to her tempo, and most singing along to a blaring, too fast organ...what a mess! Only 2 more to go. After that I sat down in the pew w/ Donald and the kids. Claire climbed up on my lap and was looking at her "Friend" magazine. I was listening to the speaker, when I looked down and noticed that Claire had pushed my skirt all the way up to my hips (must have been in her way when she climbed up on my lap).....aaack. I quickly pushed her off my lap and pulled my skirt down. I really hope no one noticed. I was wearing black tights (kind of like pants, right?) so hopefully no one got a shocking eyeful. Only one more to go...So I get to Relief Society to play the piano, and Debbie tells me which songs we are singing...not a big deal, I usually just sight read my way through them anyway. Well, today a little practice would have been good b/c I didn't play a single right note the last bar of the closing joke! Everyone, including myself was laughing by the end of the song. Way to close the meeting. Aaaaannnnd I'm done! and look, all that before noon...just think what the next 10 hrs may hold?! Can't wait.

And here's the retrospective for 2009

Cooking w/ the kids...this is one of their favorite things to do. My mom made them each an apron for Christmas 2008.
I realize this is a terrible pic of me....In my defense I was 2 1/2 months pregnant and feeling crummy. This pic was taken on my bday. Donald took all the kids to the dollar store so they could pick out a present for me. Jillian got me an angel figurine, the twins got me head bands and barrettes (notice my hair) and James got me a vegetable peeler! Donald tried to talk him into something else, but to no avail. The end of April I took a week long trip to Hawaii! I stayed w/ my friend
Mayda and had so much fun!That spring Donald built a permanent fence/arbor around our garden. Pretty!
Jillian was in her school musical-BUGZ --she had 3 lines in it and was very excited. I think I would have enjoyed it more w/ subtitles. Echoey room, soft voices, speach impediments, heavy breathing into a touchy microphone...'nough said.
We had our sisters' reunion at my mom's house in June. Had a great time, wish Jen could have made it.

Sara did an internship on Orcas Island and stayed/played with us a little before and after. This is at Pikes Place Market. Walking to the Oak Harbor 4th of July Parade. The kids all dressed themselves (as usual), check out James' socks!
James and Jillian put on a show called "the flying bears". Check out the cool wings they made for their bears.
This is a cat that began showing up at our place this winter...we named him Baby Kitty, or maybe that's his name b/c we were too lazy to name him. We've been feeding him along w/ our two cats. Don't know where he came from, but he loves any and all attention which makes him a perfect (purrrfect) match for Hannah.
Claire is our little dancing princess extraordinaire. Here she is in action.This was taken the day I was admitted to the hospital for Sophie's, I did not get dressed up just to go to the hospital...we were at church when we realized it was time to go. Here's Sophia Joyce...born on Oct. 19th.
Thanksgiving at our house w/ Nana and Papa.