Monday, July 30, 2007

My Week Recapped

As I mentioned in my previous post...I've been pretty busy hosting relatives that were in town for a small reunion. My brother and his family arrived in town last Tuesday evening and the rest of the gang joined us on Wednesday.

Here is a look back at our week.

On Wednesday we went to the aquarium with my Mom, my sister-in-law and her two girls. My niece, Ayanna, is almost's interesting to watch her with Baileigh and Mckenna since she is exactly between the two in terms of age. Sometimes she prefers to play with the older sibling and sometimes she and Mckenna hit it off. Regardless, there is always a lot of hand holding!
Finishing our hot day at the aquarium with some ice cream on the NJ river front with a view of downtown Philly.

Philadelphia Zoo

On Thursday we headed to the zoo. We had 8 adults and 8 children! It was a hot day but the animals were relatively active.
Mckenna, our cousin Abbie who is 7, Baileigh, and my niece, Ayanna.
This is my cousin's little boy, Cameron...he is about 10 days older then Brooke. These two were ready for a nap!
Talking to the ducks.

Six Flags

We ventured out to Six Flags on Friday. The park wasn't that busy so we were able to jump on all the kids rides without a wait!

My brother and his daughter, Ayanna...fearless on the roller coaster.
Waiting for the ride to start with Nana...Baileigh's roller coaster addiction grows more each day!
I LOVE this photo...can you get much happier then this?! Mckenna screaming at the top of her lungs as we rush down a hill.
We all decided to cool down in the Log worked! My cousin Lisa, her son, Cooper, and my mom.

Just Hangin Out

Our last day together we spent hanging out at our house. I haven't seen my brother in a year and I've only seen my cousin twice in the past ten it was nice to have these past few days to catch up.

A few photos from our day...
The kiddos...Abbie, Aryssa, Baileigh and Mckenna, Cooper and Cameron, Ayanna and Brooke.
Check out my nieces hair! I think she has already had approximately 7 haircuts! We've had three and I thought that was a lot at 16 months! Lovin on her it or not!
We set up the huge inflatable water slide and borrowed a bouncy thing from our friends...the kids had a blast.
It was a hectic few days, but considering I don't have a lot of family it was nice to catch up with some of them. Baileigh has been sad and moping around ever since her cousins left...good thing Nana has stayed in town a little longer which helps soften the blow.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I've Been Busy

It has been a crazy week! I've been busy entertaining this group!We had a mini family reunion that started Tuesday evening and just ended tonight. It included my brother and his wife and two girls from MI, my cousin Lisa and her husband and their three kids from NC, my Mom and her brother and his wife. Can you believe we managed to get a timer picture with everyone looking at the camera! We bribed all the kids with candy!

I have a lot of pictures to blog about our activities throughout the week...but tonight I'm tired!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Am I Ready For This?

I've been looking for a triathlon in August to replace the one I was going to do on the 12th since we'll now be out of town for a wedding. Last night I started strongly considering doing this Olympic Distance Triathlon next month instead of just a Sprint distnace...(there are 4 triathlon distances, Sprint, Olympic, Half Ironman and Ironmans). I feel a little lost in my training right now and I think if I had this on my calendar it would help me focus the next month on increasing my swim and run. It's put on by CGI who does such a great job! It's also in I could add another state to my list of places where I've done triathlons. It is the one weekend in August without any conflicts. However, it's also double the swim, 6 miles longer then my longest bike in a race yet, and double the run.'s something to think about though. Considering I hate running I'm not sure what to think of the 10K. I'll ponder I'll swim at the gym with the 1.5miles in mind.

By Permission Only

When I was gone the other day, Baileigh made a sign for her bedroom door. In case it needs any interpretation it says "By Permission Only. Just My Mommy." Notice how the "Keep Out" sign has a little girl behind it...I was informed that is a picture of either Mckenna or Brooke, depending on who is at her door trying to get in without permission! Not sure where Daddy or the dogs fit in the equation.

I had to take a picture to prove to her someday that at one time in her life I was the only one allowed to freely enter her room at any time without needing special permission! Unfortunately, I know that will eventually change!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Third Times A Charm

This was my third weekend in a row of triathlons. Today was the New Jersey State Triathlon...I had so much fun! I had to leave the house around 5:20am so I convinced Brad that he shouldn't come and bring the girls. I wanted them there in the worst way but it feels so selfish to put them through a morning that is three hours before they normally wake up!

I tried to stop at Starbucks and McDonald's on my drive out of town, but neither one was open...I'm not really a morning person so I assume that if I'm awake then everything else should be open!

I arrived in plenty of time and got my transition area set up. This race had about 800 participants in the Sprint and another 1,000 doing the Olympic distance making this the biggest tri in the state.

Lake Mercer is in a beautiful state park not far from Princeton University. The weather was in the upper 70's and the water temperature was 80 degrees...making it wetsuit illegal according to USAT rules. The swim was crowded and it was one of the first times I experienced truly being kicked and being swam over. It was also the first time I saw several people signaling the kayaks nearby for help.
As I was in the water waiting on my two minute warning I heard the MC talking about a special father/son team competing today...38 year old Ted and his 7 year old son, Brandon, with Cerebral Palsy. I thought it sounded too similar to the duo I saw at my triathlon last week. I turned around while treading water to see the same yellow raft I saw last weekend being carried by four men and put in the water with a small boy inside. The father uses the triathlons to raise money and support for CP research. Of course, I became emotional again...I learned it's easier to have a good cry on the bike then swimming! I was again inspired and motivated by this team and managed to get a picture of them on the run.
My swim went really well, despite the tears and the kick to the jaw. I felt strong and fairly fast. I ended up swimming the 500 in 11:49 which put me 354th out of 732. I transitioned to the bike and headed out on the 13.5 mile course. The ride had a lot of rolling hills that reminded me of my training rides and felt very comfortable for me. I passed a lot of people and frequently found myself maintaining a speed around 21 or 22 mph. My finish time on the bike was 47:04 and my average speed was goal was 17mph so I was close. I had a good transition to the run and set out with my loftiest goal the 5K in under 10 minute miles. I'm a slow runner and I've been working on picking up my pace. I think that I really won't increase my speed like I hope until I loose another 5 to 10 pounds, but I've still been trying to shave a little off my time. Two weeks ago I ran a 11:15 mile pace in Philadelphia. Last weekend I was down to a 10:30 pace. This weekend I managed a 9:59 mile pace...that is a good run for me and I was thrilled to finish the 5K in 30:56! My overall time was 1:34:44.
I really missed hearing "Go Mommy, Go Mommy!" at every transition. I love having Brad and the girls there to support me and motivate me...but I also knew they needed a good nights sleep after a busy weekend. I promised Mckenna I would take some "muscle pictures" for her.

The only nice thing about being there alone was that it gave me a chance to wander around afterwards and watch the Olympic finishers and do some people watching.

I didn't get to go to church this morning, which is a big negative to the Sunday morning triathlons. However, I felt like I saw God at work and experienced him today more then I do some mornings in the traditional setting. Today solidified my love of triathlons. It's a bunch of individuals in healthy competition that create this unusual community that encourages fitness and a healthy lifestyle and achieving personal goals. I love the fact that you can pass someone, and yet they say something to encourage you and motivate you to continue! Today I determined that this is just the beginning for me. I hope to do at least five triathlons every season. I also decided that it would be neat to see how many triathlons I could do in different states. So far I've done 3 triathlons in 2 states. With our military lifestyle I should be able to do triathlons all over the US.

I had fun this morning! A lot of fun. I usually don't say that about exercise...but I truly enjoyed myself today. I'm ready for a little break but I'm sad that I won't have another triathlon for awhile. I had planned on doing one in mid-August but now I'll be out of town for a wedding...I'm hoping to find another one later in the month before the Danskin in September.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Late Night

Last night we had our great friends over for dinner. Our girls were playing so well together that it was 10:00pm before we knew it...way past these little one's bedtime. However, they all found pj's and had crawled onto Baileigh's bed for story time, compliments of seven year old Emma who had to do all the reading.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

We Survived!

We survived swimming lessons! It's been a long 2 weeks for me, and for Brooke who has had to wait patiently though her sisters lessons.

Baileigh improved a ton. I would say that she can officially swim on her own now. She can jump off the diving board and swim about 25 feet to the edge of the pool. It isn't always pretty, but she manages to get there. Her strokes are improving and her confidence in the water has doubled.

Baileigh loves to dive! She is still mastering the form...but despite a few belly smackers, she would get out of the pool and immediately start asking her teacher if she could try again. As soon as she would surface she would ask "Did I do it?"
The first few days with Mckenna were rough, as you already know, but thanks to Miss Sara and bribery thing improved! By the end of this week Mckenna was brave enough to swim away from her teacher a few times. She somewhat conquered her fear of the deep least she was compliant and didn't scream but she was anxious to swim back to her comfort zone.

Brooke was a trooper as her primary job was to hang out with Mommy and encourage her sisters and delivery their towels after lessons. She took her jobs very seriously and was anxious to great them with a hug and towel when they got out of the pool.
Today we stayed after lessons to swim with the girls friend, Brooke got a chance to enjoy the water, too.

Fair Fun

Pulling out all the stops on the bribery for good swim lessons...I told Mckenna we could go to the local farm fair if she made it through the second week of swim lessons without any crying, which she did! Her agenda was cotton candy, rides, and to pet animals.

Our plans almost got cancelled due to a late afternoon rain shower, but it ended up being the best thing because it kept everyone else away from the fair for awhile.

I'm not a huge fan of these types of fairs...some strange people (aka pedophiles) and the rides make me nervous since they pack up in a truck and travel. We stick to the small rides and avoid anything like a Ferris wheel. The girls think it's great and I appreciate that they are still at the age to be mutually excited (well, almost) over a little farm fair as they can be at Walt Disneyland.

Brooke loved the petty zoo area. She kept pulling hand fulls of grass out of the ground and throwing them at the animals to feed them. Then she would laugh and clap and dance. She was drawing a crowd almost as much as the animals.
The girls got to pet goats, rabbits, and chicks. One strange man with a huge snake asked them if they wanted to pet his snake with a strange look on his face...we ran the other way.
One cow was pretty loud and seemed irritated. Mckenna said a few times "Look at the mad cow"...I thought that was pretty funny so I egged her on by saying "What is he?" just to get her reply again louder, "he's a MAD COW!"
In two hours we road our rides, ate our cotton candy (and kettle corn), saw some animals, avoided any trips to the porta-johns (aka honeybucket, outhouse, etc), and parked without paying $10...that is a successful trip to the farm fair in my opinion.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Puppy Love

Our beloved Ranger is almost nine years old. He has been the best dog with the girls. He puts up with a lot from them...including being dressed up and decorated on a daily basis. He also receives a lot of love though, and for all his yawns and sighs I think he loves every moment.

This would have been a really cute picture if Ranger hadn't sneezed just as I was taking the photo!

Moments Like These

I was in the bathroom when I heard a loud thump and then I heard Brooke start crying. Apparently she forgot about the step down into our family room and hit the wood floor pretty hard.

Before I could even make it out of the bathroom she began to quiet down...apparently she didn't need me, her sisters had it covered.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I Just Wanted A Nap

I hardly nap. I'm not really anti-nap...just can't nap well and if I do I'm not tired at night. But today a nap sounded good. 30 minutes. That's all I want. Instead...the girls sneak in and "decorate Mommy." I guess the girls are following my lead with picture taking since Mckenna suggested "let's take a picture of her so we can show her when she wakes up." For the record...I was awake the entire time.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Round 2. I got there early to get checked-in, get marked, and set up my transition area. A lot of $7000 and up bikes. That's not intimidating. Like I mentioned previously...this was a small race of about 200 and it is a practice event for a lot of elite triathletes (like myself, ahem).

The "lake" (I use this term loosely being from Michigan) was covered with a film this morning. NICE. And let's just say that when I showered this afternoon I was covered in a brown film, too. I opted not to wear my wetsuit because the water was in the low 70's and the course was only 1/4 next weekend I think Lake Mercer is going to be too warm to be wet suit legal, so I thought I would practice.
Swim summary...okay. Not sure on my time. My goggles fogged up and I couldn't see anything on the swim back. The water was gross and shallow. I saw some women trying to run through the muck, which stirred it up a lot for those of us trying to swim. Hopefully when the results get posted online there will be a breakdown of times for each element and the transitions. I felt faster last weekend but it may have been due to the wet suit and the current.

Getting ready for the bike. My transition was pretty good...again, don't know times but the fact I didn't have to take my wet suit off helped.

My fans cheering me on...they are the best part of the triathlons. "GO, MOMMY! GO MOMMY! GO MOMMY! sticks in my head and keeps me going! They wouldn't be here if my wonderful hubby wasn't willing to wake them all up early, get them dressed and come out to watch me every 30 minutes for 15 second. I'm so thankful and appreciative of his support and encouragement! The big talk of this triathlon was a poorly marked turn on the bike course. I would have made the same mistake as many, but we drove the course last night. I started to doubt my memory though when I realized no one was in front of me because they missed the cut off. I didn't know the level of uproar about this until after the race. Apparently a bunch of the guys on the expensive bikes that used this morning as an easy practice all went the wrong way at 30mph and it added about 4 miles to their route. They were livid! It was a poorly marked turn, and on top of it an ambulance was parked in a bad spot so you were blind to the sharp turn until it was right upon you.

The bike course was fairly flat and I think I maintained a speed close to 18mph. Around mile 12 I was passed on a quiet country road. I've never been so honored to be passed. It was a man pulling his son. I wish I would have had my camera. It was beautiful. It was awe inspiring. It made me cry. This boy had special needs and his Dad pulled him in a raft on the swim, transitioned him to a special carrier and pulled him behind his bike, then pushed him in the run. There is a famous father son duo older then this that have done Ironman's. I've seen footage of them and it was amazing. But to get passed by this father-son team and see the young boy with a huge grin as he felt the wind on his face took my breath away. I cheered them on and then fought my tears as I followed. I seriously felt like I was hyperventilating. It's hard to bike while having a good, emotional cry. I hope I can always remember the look of joy on that boys face as I complain about running, or biking...or any able bodied things that boy would love to be able to do.

My run went much better this week. I wasn't a lot faster then last week but I believe I was somewhere in a ten minute mile pace. Still slow, I know, but not bad for me. I think my run was better because my thoughts were still on the boy. I kept thinking that I can't stop running simply because I can! I didn't struggle as I kept thinking that I'm running for the boy...but emotionally I was still reeling as I thought about my own kids and their health. I thought a lot about their awesome Daddy and how I know he would do the same thing if we had a child with special needs.

I never got a photo of the father son team during the race, but here they are afterwards.
Brooke is always happy to see me...even if I'm stinky...and covered in a brown film. If you look closely at this picture you'll see how filthy my face still is from the lake!
Baileigh talks a lot about wanting to do a triathlon with me when she gets older. I would love that! I'm a little concerned that her primary motivation at this point is to eat orange wedges and hot pretzels at the buffet afterwards.All I know at this point is that I finished the race in a time of 1:38:07. The bike was two miles less then last weekend and the swim today was 1/4 mile versus 3/4 last weekend. I think those two factors and a slightly faster run pace accounts for the time improvement. It was kind of nice to do a smaller venue...closer to home, not such an early wake up call, etc. But I enjoy all the pomp and circumstance with the big next weekend will be fun!