Thursday, November 13, 2014

Each and Every Day is a Gift

I'm absolutely unmotivated today.  It's really pretty ridiculous. 

I've been thinking a lot about this blog and how much I miss it.  I regret not having posted several times a week for the last couple years.  It was/is such a big part of my life.  I've watched my family grow on this blog, and adored every moment of it.  I've even gone back a few times and just picked a random month from sometime in the past and read through the events - some big, but a lot of them very minor.  I adore my family and I'm pretty sure I mention it on every single blog post.  I just can't help myself.  And, of course, when you see me with my kids or ask me about them on the street, I probably respond by rolling my eyes, shaking my head, and griping about whatever most recent thing they've done - forgetting homework, shitting their pants, refusing to wear deodorant - and yes, those all happened this week.  Lucky me.  But the truth, is that despite every single shitty moment (literally and figuratively), my family is my everything. They are perfect as they are, with chewed off fingernails, tangled hair that looks like a rat's nest, and poop-streaked underroos.  I absolutely wouldn't trade these days of loud little kids and backseat arguments for anything in the world! 

 
Each day is truly a precious gem.  I certainly know that tomorrow is not promised.  I know that today is a gift.  But the ability to remember the gifts of yesterday and yesteryear is truly amazing through the words and pictures posted on this blog.  And so, as I usually do when I'm here, I'm hoping to recommit to documenting the amazing adventures that Chuck and I are going through as parents and as professionals.  There have been unbelievably big changes in our lives this year, and yet, so much of our beautiful life has remained the same. Soccer practices, church on Sunday, piano lessons, laundry, school work, bills -- it all continues in a beautiful circle.  So, today, I want to tell you (and God) how grateful I am for all of it.  Perhaps I'm feeling a little sentimental, perhaps all the Thanksgiving posts are prompting my wistfulness, but here I am remember how much the love and friendship in my life means and how little the "things" in my life will ever mean.  Blessings abound, and those blessings can't be purchased. 

I hope that this will lead me to blog more, to share my life with you, and remember how amazing my family and friends are each and every day.  To each of you reading this (which I'm amazed that you all are still out there), please don't hesitate to send me reminders that it's time for a post.  I will absolutely appreciate any reminder you give me, because the stuff in this blog is who I am, what I'm made of, and absolutely something to hold onto forever.

Hugs to you all today - even if it's bromantic hug like the one below!



My animal whisperer (that's an injured butterfly).


 Eyes like Puss in Boots.
 

Our Halloween celebrations which seemed to go on and on this year. I loved it!
 




 
Toasting our family!
 

Two future presidents (or so they've declared)!
 

Time with my best friend and co-CEO in our nonprofit business (aka Our Family).
 

Sports for all of us!
 


 
 
 
 
 

 
I don't have a picture of Chuck running (which he's doing regularly now and I'm not), but his mom sent this to me and it's absolutely breathtaking, so I had to include it!
 
 
And even in our underwear.
 
 
Every moment is worth it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

6:08:47

It's official.  I checked off a bucket list item and a New Year's Resolution.  I can't remember ever having done that, and for this to be the first time, it's really impressive.  I ran 26.2 miles.  Seriously. Now, I know that people do this shit all the time, but I don't.  Ever.  Never.  I don't even like to run.  It was one of the stupidest things I've done because it took a ridiculous amount of time, discipline, and effort (and money, but I won't mention that).  To top it off, my training has been subpar at best.  Nonetheless, it happened and I finished within the allotted time.  I also got a medal. 

So, here's the run down.  We flew in on Friday morning at the butt-crack of dawn.  Later that day we went to the Expo with all the healthy people who made me feel really inferior just by looking at them.  Not a single person was mean, but I just felt that bad about my own ability to complete this monumental task.  Still, I had a good time!



I spent Friday and Saturday doing nothing but eating and enjoying time with our friend Bill and Patricia who housed us and gave up their bed so I could sleep on something other than the couch. They are better friends than I am!  I did squeeze in a light two-mile jog on Saturday, and it was beautiful!!!

That night I ate homemade fettuccine alfredo and headed to bed by 9:30 which Chuck watched the Aggies lose to Ole Miss.  I hated that for him, but obviously, I had other things on my mind - like what to wear for the big race!


And then the day was upon me.
 

It was cold when we showed up at 5:30 AM in downtown Chicago.  I had a banana for breakfast and a cup of coffee which adequately moved things along (...if you know what I mean, and I'm sure  you do). I was berating myself for not wearing pants in the cold weather. 

I figured it wouldn't be that cold.  It was a low in the 50s and high in the 60s.  Absolutely perfect weather.  Just look at this skyline!

 
Sunny until late afternoon when the clouds rolled in with a small chance of rain.  By the time the race started, the sun was finally in the sky, but still cold and windy. 

The first wave of racers started at 7:45.  The second set of racers started at 8:00.  I was literally one of the last people across the start line at around 8:30.  This is what it looked like behind me.

And yes, it took me almost thirty minutes to get to the start line from my corral (corral K - the very last corral for beginners, elderly, injured, and amputees - not kidding).  Luckily, I was ready to take off my jacket at the start line and handed it off to Chuck on the sidelines the second time I saw him.  The weather was beautiful. I started out with a pace group that did a combination of running and walking.  They ran 5 minutes and then walked one minute throughout the entire race.  I kept up with them until mile 16 when I hit a wall.  I have to tell you that I felt pretty freakin' fabulous all the way through the first half.  But, then it seemed like maybe I failed to hydrate properly and failed to take the energy goo that I was supposed to ingest every 40 minutes.  So, I had a really, really hard time at mile 16.  Nonetheless, I kept pushing because I am nothing if not determined.

Plus, I had the most amazing group of people cheering me on!  Sweet Chuck skipped a huge Texas A&M home game to fly to Chicago and cheer me on - even when he thought there was a good chance that I wouldn't finish. He and our friends Bill and Patricia (and their two little boys - ages 9 and under 1) trudged out to the sidelines to watch me pass them all by at mile 14 and mile 16.  As for Chuck and Bill, they hauled their asses all over the city to see me at no less than 12 different spots along the race.  That is absolutely unbelievable!  I think most people have friends and family at only a couple places along the course, but I was blessed to have support almost every other mile.  It was so amazing and humbling.  And then, when they couldn't be there with me and they knew I was having trouble and feeling bad, I had to most amazing thing happen.  I started receiving text messages from friends and family all over this country - and even one person in Canada!  I was overwhelmed and close to tears because who would have thought that many people would make an effort to support me in such a way.  I was blown away!  So, please accept my humblest appreciation for everything everyone did to get me across this finish line.  Here are some of the pictures Chuck took (starting at Mile 11.5):

Mile 11.5


Mile 13.1


Mile 16 (feeling bad)


Mile 21


Mile 23

 
My view of the Finish Line
 


Most importantly, Chuck deserves so much praise!  He even walked with me for part of Mile 25 when I was pretty much hobbled up and not sure how much more my body could take.  After I crossed the line, I hobbled a couple blocks trying to find a way out of the protected area, but my feet were killing me.  I sat down and took off my shoes, then put them back on and hobbled another block, until I reached a grassy area and plopped down in relief.  I absolutely could not walk another step.  I iced my feet and struggled to give directions to Chuck to come help me.  That amazing man talked to multiple security guards trying to get back in the secured area to find me.  Eventually, he walked up with a security guard and then helped me back to the car (several city blocks) by letting me piggy back on him.  I absolutely would have accepted a wheelchair if one had been available.

So, here's the moral of the story.  Yeah, there isn't one.  I finished. That's it.  Out of sheer will power, I crossed that finish line.  And there is only one scenario where I can ever see myself doing that ever again.

Thank you a million times over to everyone who helped me get through this event.  It was incredible and I can still barely believe that it happened!

Eventually, I ended up on a couch with pizza and a sub sandwich and the sweetest people surrounding me!



The next day we headed to the airport where we drank beer each time our flight was delayed (3 times).  And I wore my medal the whole damn time even though the other marathoners were not so vain.  The truth is that I'd still have it on if it people wouldn't give me strange looks.  And my favorite part was finishing in 6 hours, 8 minutes, 47 seconds with an overall place 16,967th among females.  I don't think I'll ever forget those numbers.  What a weekend!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Evie - that girl!

My sweet Evie-girl turned NINE years old on Sunday!  Can anyone believe it?

Look at her here --




And now she's NINE!

I have to tell you, she is more than I could have ever expected.  She's so full of personality and wit. This girl is constantly amazing us. Truly.  I think there for a while, we were underestimating her, but I don't anymore.  She's the alpha dog with her brothers and remembers the most bizzare details about life - especially when it benefits her!

She has a best friend named Lira. They are two peas in a pod and inseparable.  If we allowed it, they would live together at one house or the other.  I'm pretty sure if I offered, Evie would pack her bags and move in with Lira and her family. It probably helps that Lira is an only child and her parents are awesome!

This weekend, Evie asked to go to Joe T Garcia's for her birthday, so we invited her BFF and family to join us.  The mariachi band sang her happy birthday while she pouted about the unwanted attention.  We didn't care.

 
All she really wants for her birthday is to hang out with Lira and get presents.  She doesn't much care about the Frozen-themed cake we ordered or the roller skates.  This actually sounds pretty normal to me, but tell me if it isn't.

Oh, and George photobombed them.  Of course, if I had asked him to take this picture, he would have acted all shy and refused.  It is his way.


And just to make sure all the kids get equal time, I ran across this picture of Luke the other day and I love it.  Plus, I just have to brag about how sweet and polite he is to strangers.  Of course, he's not like that with me, but he's AMAZING with other parents and people he meets.  I observed it yesterday and I'm totally impressed.



Speaking of my crazy, wonderful, girl, I found Evie's letter to Santa Claus already written and ready to go to the North Pole!  Apparently, she and Lira have already been discussing the holiday and what they want for Christmas.  Unfortunately, I don't think Santa can bring her what she wants, but I have to hand it to her for creativity, honesty, and a full explanation. (Translation provided below with all misspellings in order to capture the full glory and fabulousness of this letter!)

  

Evie's
Chirismas
Plan
What I
Want for
Chirismas
 

 
I want a babby puppy and
kitten that does what I say. 
They can poop enything I want.
They won't be a robbot they will be
real. The kitten will have the
softest fur and lies kids.
They won't be fat. The puppy will
have ears that hange down and are
wavey, has fluffy fur, and likes
kids.  They can do tricks and they
are best friends.  They are small
and nice. They are mine and I
take care of them. They will
not run away and I can
bring them to school and in
my classroom every day.
They are super cute. They
love me to pick them up and
they love to sleep in my
lap and with me. They don't
bite or scratch.  They were
just born on Chirismas eve.
They love me the most of all.
 
that is what I want
for Chirismas.  Please Santa.
Can you also make it snow
alot? I want to see a snowflake.
 
I'm sary I'm not neet
 
[TURN PAGE OVER]



I'm sary for hurting
Luke, but I'm uste to it.
 
I want to bild a snowman
 
Love, Evie Lastname

This letter has made my month!  I LOVE it!  I have to admit I have some concerns about her spelling, especially since she makes straight As in school.  It's strange that she can't spell, but I'm going to ignore that and embrace the true genius of this letter.  It is so Evie!

Life Update (for those who care).

Wow.  I've missed y'all.  Seriously, it's like this place is my therapy (free therapy!).  Things have been proceeding at a fast pace as usual.  Our career woes are starting to finally settle into a more stable position - even though a year ago I would have never guessed we'd be here.  But I guess that's the beauty of life - like Forest Gump said, "You never know what you're gonna get."  Truly, we are blessed that our life changes only involved finances, jobs, etc., and not the loss of a friend or family member.  I'm happy to have my beautiful babies still annoying and loving on me daily.  How could I not feel blessed?

Let's check back in with my year of New Year's Resolutions. First, let me say, that I have never paid this much attention to New Year's Resolutions in my life!  Sheesh!  So, as for resolution #1, praying with the kids on the way to school everyday, I'm rocking this!  Thankyouverymuch!  Unfortunately, resolutions #2, posting on the blog, and #3, running a marathon, are pretty sucky.  Obviously, you know the status of my blog posting.  As for the marathon, I've been terrible at training over the last three weeks.  Absolutely terrible. 

I ran 15 miles about three weeks ago (and it sucked massively), and after that, I felt like I had accomplished all I wanted to accomplish.  I mean, come on...it was FIFTEEN freakin' miles! That's a lot of mileage for this non-athletic lady!  I've run a few times since then, but I haven't gotten up to the peak mileage of 20 miles.  Unfortunately, I've run out of motivation.  Completely.  Now, with that said, I'm still planning to go to Chicago and attempt to run the marathon.  We've purchased our airline tickets, and made arrangements to be there (just Chuck, no kids - they'd be seriously bored for the 6 1/2 hours of the marathon).  The deadline to defer my marathon entry until next year has passed, so it's this year or not at all.  And trust me when I tell you that I do not ever see me running or training like this ever again.  Not. Ever.  I mean, what is this "runner's high" I keep hearing about, because I have not experienced that.  So, for all those people who experience a huge rush of endorphins, then I can imagine how great running might be, but for me, I've got all the pain with ZERO endorphins.  So, no thank you.

Here's a career update: It's pretty good.  Really!  This year, I worked on increasing my business, and it really worked!  I could still use more clients, but I'm pleased with what I've done this year.  I had a goal at the beginning of the year to get into a real office space and out of my home, but I'm thinking that might happen.  Instead, it looks like I am going to take on a partner!  So, I'll take that and push off the office space for now.  Life is pretty good.  Plus, I had a huge client come in last month so I've been swamped trying to get an emergency filing completed (another reason why marathon training has fallen down my priority list).

As for the kids, well we are in full swing of school, soccer, piano lessons, scouts, etc.  It's a rapid-moving day for all of us, and I'm taking it one day at a time because I honestly have no idea where I'm supposed to be tomorrow. 

And finally, I'm president of our local junior woman's club so that keeps me ridiculously busy.  I have to admit, I absolutely LOVE it!  I know it's a lot of work, but it's right up my alley!  I'm so lucky to be able to work with such amazingly talented women everyday.  Seriously.

As for Chuck, well he started a new job and loves it.  Lucky him.  The only thing he doesn't like is the commute - which is at least 40 minutes in good traffic.  It's soul-sucking for him, but it's worth it to be able to do something he loves and still provide for our family.

So, that's that.  Not terribly exciting, but not terribly boring either.  Hope all of you are well and loving life!

XOXO,
Me

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

First Day (Week) of School 2014

I'm thrilled to announce that all three children are back in school full time and doing well...and I am thankful!  I really needed to get back to work!

They all think their teachers are wonderful and nice.  Evie and Luke both settled into their classes seamlessly, and I'm so glad!


As for George, well, he's made a bit of a splash.  You know he doesn't do anything half way!  His name was drawn at the Parent-Teacher meeting and he won a door prize given out by his Kindergarten teacher.  Ummm...seriously.  This really happened.  When did they start giving out door prizes?!?  What was the prize, you ask?  It is lunch with the teacher at the restaurant of his choice some weekend.  He quickly informed his teacher that his favorite restaurant is Macaroni Grill.  I hope she wasn't thinking that McDonald's was going to suffice.



He was a little reserved when he first got there, but he's been a bundle of energy ever since.


Evie is super excited because third graders get binders.  I'm not sure why this is exciting, but it is!




And to further seal his notoriety with his teacher, he announced to her on Wednesday that the little girl that sits on the carpet square next to him is in love with him.  I'm not kidding.  She informed me when I picked him up.  Of course, I asked for more information.  He was very proud of himself.

Me, "What is her name?"

George replied, "July."

I nodded my head because I remember that name being on the roster.  "Where did she kiss you?"

He scrunched up his nose and thought about it before responding, "I can't remember."

I looked at him like he was crazy.  "A little girl kissed you and you can't remember where she kissed you?"

"Nope.  But I'm not going to marry her!"

I chuckled, "Yeah, I think you might want to wait a little while for that."

He thought some more, "I'm not going to marry her until fifth grade!"

Me, "Good plan, kid..."

I guess that's all I'm going to get out of him about that.

Later he proudly told Chuck about it and added a new detail to it when he said "July is in love with me!"  He continued, "And even after I accidentally pushed her down on the concrete, she still loves me!"

I cringed, "Oh, my.  This isn't sounding very healthy so far..."

The conversation continued, and I recorded parts of it, but it keeps shutting down my computer so I can't include it.

When Chuck heard the name "July" his eyes widened.  Apparently, he had met July at the Kindergarten popsicle party, so he nodded his approval at George.  She must be cute.  You know I can't wait to meet her!!!

And I can't wait to see what this week will bring!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The number 5

Luke's best friend (Gabe) and his little brother (Judah) spent the night last night.  That makes a total of five children in my house.  There are many aspects of it that I love.  For example, I love that they are having fun...I mean a lot of fun...after all, a houseful of kids is a lot of fun!  I also love that they will be going home soon.  I have no idea how my mom handled six children in one house.  The place is constantly a mess (and I'm not a very tidy person to begin with). 

They ate three pizzas last night, a gallon of Sunny Delight, ten popsicles, a box of fruit snacks, and heaven knows what else.  There are cups strewn throughout the den, a dozen blankets drapped on the floors and the couches, along with the same number of pillows and pillow pets.  The TV/X-Box was able to rest between the hours of 11:00 PM and 7:00 AM.  Currently, the four boys are chowing down on powdered donuts and blueberry muffins, while they play X-box.  Heaven help me if they keep drinking that Sunny D. Did you know that there is caffiene in Sunny D?????  Yeah, I didn't know that either...

As for Evie, she just got home from a four-day sleepover with her best friend, and she barricaded herself in her room (away from the boys) with all her Barbies.  Smart girl.

In other news, Gabe convinced Luke to start Tri-Camp which is a camp at the YMCA that trains kids to compete in a triatholon. Gabe and his two brothers are also participating.  I'm not ashamed to admit that my kids are not terribly athletic.  Rather, we encourage them to be active.  If I had suggested this, Luke would have politely put up his hand and said with a smile, "No. I'm fine."  But a best friend has more persuasion than a mother.  His first training day was Monday night at 5:30.  We showed up with his swimsuit, a towel, a bottle of water, his bike, and his helmet.

They started out with laps in the pool.  All 12 kids were swimming up and down one lane non-stop.  Even though Luke's a fantastic swimmer, there's a big difference between recreational swim in our backyard and training laps.  In the end he was breathing heavy and telling me he was dizzy.  I patted him on the back and told him he'd be fine.  Gabe patted him on the back too and hovered to make sure he was ok.  (Sweet kid.)  Then I proceeded to transition him into a t-shirt, tennis shoes, and his bike helmet and sent him on his way to start the biking portion of the training day, with him complaining the entire time.  Luckily, he was in front of his friends so he tried to put on a tough face. And I was sure he would be fine. Gabe's mom even told me that the first time her boys went to tri camp they all three came home crying and angry and upset about the tough workout.  But, magically, they were totally fine and ready to go back.  I held onto her words like a security blanket as the evenign progressed.

As the kids made their way down to the bike track to complete at least three laps, George and I went over to make sure Luke was okay. In case I haven't made it clear in the past, I'm not the hovering type.  I would have happily left him there with the coach and headed out for a glass of wine or a little grocery shopping.  But I stayed.  It was HOT (as it typically is in August in Texas), so we sat in the car.  But then I noticed Luke wobbling back and forth on his bike.  I watched closely, cringing a little bit hoping he didn't fall.  I hopped out of the car and squinted my eyes to try and see Luke on the far side of the track.  Gabe and his brothers looped by, well ahead of Luke.  And finally, when Gabe and his brothers finished their second lap around the track, a fatigued Luke finished his first lap at the same time. 

We pulled him aside (another dad there to help).  I had already called Chuck to tell him how rough things were going, still with a little chuckle in my voice.  Chuck's response was, "That's what happens when you spend all summer sitting like a potato playing video games."  I totally agree.  Luke sucked down some water and we adjusted his bike seat for a better position.  He was tired, but he hopped back on his bike and kept going, probably completing just three laps (while everyone else was upwards of 6 laps.  Sweet Gabe and his brothers stayed with him for the last few laps and finally the coach called everyone to a stop.  Luke hobbled off his bike toward me, practically hyperventilating.  Gabe helped him get from his bike to me. Seriously, one of the sweetest kids ever.

And I'm the mom who still took a moment to snap this picture.  And I'm glad I did.  It really is one of the sweetest things I've seen kids do.


I rubbed Luke's back and told him he was going to be okay. The coach came over and told him he had done a good job.  And he kept saying, "I don't feel good. I don't feel good."  I looked at him condecendingly and said, "You're fine."  He whimpered some more.  I asked if he thought he was going to throw up and he said, "Maybe."  I laughed and said, "Probably not.  But if you throw up on me (I was wearing a dress for the meeting I was going to afterward), I won't have to go to my meeting."  I laughed a little, but continued to rub his back.  I'm the mom who always makes inappropriate jokes at the wrong time.  I told him to take deep breaths and he leaned his head on my chest until, he suddenly turned and ralphed all over the pavement.  All the kids (and myself) let out a collective, "Ugh-eeeew."  I sat him down and poured water on him to help him feel better.  And yet again, I paused to take a picture. 

 
I wasn't laughing anymore, but I was in amused shock. I mean, seriously?  My kid threw up after some swimming and bike riding?!  Really?  How bad out of shape is this kid?  And then I heard another splatter behind me and saw a little girl throwing up on the pavement.  I said to myself, "Okay. Maybe it was just a tough workout."  And then I turned to Luke and said, "Look!  Somebody else threw up too! You're not alone!"

Still not sure I handled it all correctly, but he was feeling better within five minutes and when he was finally standing up, he quickly stated, "Mom, I'm feeling better, so can Gabe come over?"

I did a slow blink as I stared at him in shock while Gabe started making his case for coming over.  I said no.  Just no, but maybe later.  Luke was pissed. Gabe was sad.  We all lived.  And on my way out of the parking lot, I offered for Gabe to come over the next day for a play date (certain that Luke would be recovered).  The lobbying for a sleepover that night continued, but I held firm.  We all needed some rest, especially with the news of Robin Williams and the massive tree that cracked in half down our street and fell on our neighbors' houses.  Our street was shut down for three days, and the tree people are here for a fourth day in a row to finish cutting down this massive tree.  It's been an intersting week to say the least.

 




 And I now have just two hours until these sweet boys head back to their own home!