Thursday, July 30, 2009

A return to pessimism, Spudman and Shelves

We will keep getting on our bikes---or we will lose our tempers, yell, threaten to sell the bike and then take the training wheels off and ban Mckenzie from riding it ever again. That's more realistic anyway. I still have a small glimmer of hope for the bike, but I figure I'll have to give it another year before my frazzled self can handle bike riding with sobbing four-year-olds. (Loralee, you were too kind in your comment on my last post)

In case you (my two dearly beloved readers) were wondering what it is like to do the Spudman triathlon, I will now turn the time over to Mike, who really did it. I just pretended.

Mike: "Thanks goodness it wasn't an Ironman." Then he felt silly about being quoted and wouldn't say anything else. I guess I will have to secretly record our conversations now so that I can quote him on my blog. Anywho. . .

The Spudman is a great first-time triathlon because the swim, the most terrifying part for many people, is in a tiger musky-free Snake River. The river carries you most of the way. You don't have to do anything but doggy paddle, stick your head in for a few strokes, pop back up for fear of drowning, back stroke madly until you realize you are going to run into a tree on the bank, doggy paddle some more, wonder why in the heck you thought you could swim, stick your head in for a few strokes and Wow! You're at the transition for the bike. It took me 21 minutes to swim one mile. This normally takes me about an hour (And that hour includes only a couple instances of hanging desperately onto the wall while gasping for breath).

The bike is nice and flat and totally relaxed, especially if you're not planning on doing that pesky last part of the tri--the 10K. I wasn't, so I enjoyed biking the flat, only a few turns, course with Cristina. I tried not to break into song about how glad I was that I wasn't going to be running-- I figured that might be annoying. I instead concentrated on why I do not currently own a road bike. Every year I plan to buy one. Then I rent one and my back aches the whole ride. Any road bikers out there? Does your back ever get used to the upright fetal position?

After the bike I wished Cristina well on her run, gathered our biking stuff into a pile and calmly walked over to the finish line and handed a lady my timing chip. I waited a few minutes and then Mike crossed the finish line! He did so well! He ran a 48 minute 10K, had a nice fast 1:14:11 bike ride and I am sorry to say that he beat my swim time with a 20:12. Mike pretends he is not an athlete, but then he just does it. Good job babe!

Next we found Matt and Kristen and all the children. They were so nice and probably wanted to kill us for leaving them in charge of waking, feeding, clothing and transporting 7 kids. I should have given them a medal for their hard work. We watched Mark cross the finish line and then watched Cristina cross. I tried to feel a little bit sorry for not running, but mostly I just felt relieved. I signed up for way too many races this year.

**Side note to Self: You may not EVER sign up for a winter racing circuit, a marathon, a 24-hour relay race and then a triathlon all within 6 months of each other. Calm down. Choose two big ones. Return to 5Ks. Maybe a 10K. Perhaps a half marathon. Wait. Just calm down. Become a biker.**

It was really a fun weekend and we really enjoyed hanging out with the Pebleys and the Kings. Cristina has been an awesome training partner! She's helped me through all this madness that I signed up for and made it enjoyable to workout. Thanks Cristina!

Mark, Mike and Me, and Cristina--all happy to be done.

I also wanted to post some pictures of some shelves Mike built a couple weeks ago. Now our garage is perfectly organized. Well, it's closer at least. The shelves are awesome!

Mike even built a special shelf for my empty canning bottles. Soon these bottles will be full of peaches and applesauce!
Our garage has so much more room. We might even be able to fit two cars in it. If we owned two cars, we could definitely pull them both in. Wait, we do own two cars. Look, that red and yellow one is parked in the garage with room to spare!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Failure Parenting

About two years ago we bought a little pink bike for Mckenzie. It had purple squiggles on the wheels and a flower seat--and it was at the thrift store and it was only five dollars. She was too young for the bike at the time, her two-year-old feet barely reaching the pedals--and without a concept of steering, so we waited.

The little pink bike with purple training wheels came out every once in awhile, when Mike or I was willing to hold Kenzie and move the handlebars to steer for her. Last year she figured out how to turn the pedals, but still not the handlebars. She would push as hard as she could on those pedals on the driveway until she ran into the inevitable grass and then hollered for us to come and turn her around. The pink bike was not a lot of fun. I sighed and longed for the days when I would not have to get up from my perch on the porch to rescue her stuck pedals and wheels.

Last week we watched the neighbor boy (who is four like Kenzie) and his dad hop on their bikes and ride around the block. Kenzie turned to me and said, "I want to ride my bike mom." I sighed a little at the prospect of walking behind her while she got frustrated about not being able to go where she wanted. "Will you ride your bike with me?" Kenzie asked.

"Sure. Go get your shoes on," I said. She raced to the house and put on her barbie crocs, not the most suitable biking shoes, but I figured it would be like it has been--down the driveway-stuck, to the neighbors-stuck, get off the bike and desert it for other toys. I got my bike anyway just to humor her. She got on her bike, turned out of the driveway and kept going. When we got to the corner--a slight uphill, daunting for my 4-year-old, I encouraged her to pedal faster to make it around and up the corner. She was elated and her face was flushed with the pleasure of accomplishment when she made it to the top and around that corner. We went around the "short" block. When we got home she said, "That was so fun! I want to do it again." She went faster and I again encouraged her on the corners to accelerate and cheered when she made it.
"Oh! There's a hill," she said everytime we hit a little bump in the sidewalk where a tree root had elevated it, and then she laughed when she succesfully navigated the challenge. She said she wanted to go further, so we went around the big block. Halfway home we met Mike on his bike.

"Are you done?" I asked when we got home, thinking of how she often says whiningly,"Mom, my shoes are tired," after walking three houses down the street. "Or would you like to go around one more time to show daddy how you can do it?"

"Again! I like riding my bike. I am good at it," said Mckenzie, still flushed from her last succesful ride. We paused for a drink.

Meanwhile, Mike pumped up the tires on her bike and when she got back on she zoomed down the street.

"Kenzie," said Mike, somewhat alarmed at her speed, "do you know how to stop?" She drug her toes a little and turned the wheel into the grass. "Push your feet back. See there's the brake."
She took off again, and we followed, Hannah quiet in the back carrier on my bike.

The first corner, she accelerated, leaned out and crashed spectacularly. Her knee was banged, and she sobbed a little. But she got back up and with a little more trepidation headed to the next corner. This time she panicked, turned too sharply and got stuck in the grass. Her excitement was fading and my heart was pounding for her.

"It's okay Kenzie. You can do it. You did the corners so good those first two times. You can do it. Let's go to the next one," I said.

She wouldn't go around the next one. Her pedaling crawled to a stop and the corner had a slight hill so she started rolling backwards and she cried out. Mike pushed her around the corner and up the hill.

"Don't worry," I said. "You got it. The next corner is a flat one. Show Daddy how you did it before. You can do it." She accelerated and put an unconvincing smile on her face. She headed into the corner, didn't turn and fell onto the grass, crying uncontrollably.

Heartbreak was something I thought I'd left behind in my melodramatic college romances. The ones where when they were over I sprawled dejectedly on the floor and moaned about how "my life was over" or where I ate a whole bag of reeses peanut butter cups and then tried to throw them up. Those were the days--and I thought they were gone. I had arrived at a fairly confident and competent part of my life, and these were my shields.

As a parent I have found heartbreak and insecurity once again. "Why, oh why, did I tell her to accelerate into the corners?! What kind of an idiot am I? You don't accelerate. This is all my fault. That was good when her tires were kind of flat, but now I've ruined biking for her," I thought. And it was more heartwrenching than feeling my own failure to watch my daughter's confidence falter and then fail. It was overwhelming to think about all the times I might give her bad advice, teach her misguided information. I felt so inadequate.

"Kenzie," said her dad, holding her sobbing body in his arms. "Do you want to stop riding now?"

"Yes," she sobbed, not really hurt but crushed. "I don't want to ride anymore."

"Well, you have to get back on. You have to ride home," said Mike. "You can do it."

She pedaled very slowly and carefully home, tears streaking her cheeks.

Today, I casually suggested we ride our bikes. She agreed. She got on her bike, pedaled a little and then began crying. She cried the whole time and dragged her feet. I hurt a little for her, but was frustrated as well. I only know one thing to do.

We will keep getting on our bikes. We will probably fall a few more times. That's part of bike riding. But we will keep trying and eventually we'll make it around the corner again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Peg-legged Hobo

So I'm back to the boot. Lately, my favorite look is "the hobo" and the boot goes nicely with this.
Despite the boot, this weekend I'm scheduled to head off to Burley for the Spudman triathlon, where I had aspirations to have the fastest swim time (out of our group of friends that's going), especially since I'm not running.

Those aspirations were squashed when I went up to Pineview with Mike for a little practice. I got in the water, started thinking about tiger muskies and almost drowned. If it weren't for my superior aqua jogging skills (developed reluctantly and bitterly while nursing a college track injury), I don't know what would have happened. I seriously forgot that you are supposed to breath out while under the water. I couldn't figure out why I could only swim a few arm strokes before almost passing out. I was pretty sure my frantic splashing around was attracting swarms of sharp-teethed, hungry muskies too.

On Monday we went back up to Pineview for FHE with Matt and Cristina and Mark and Kristen. Cristina and Mark are also doing the triathlon. Once again my aspirations were squashed as Mark out swam us all and I kept stopping to tread water and admire the scenery. I'm really good at treading water. I wish they would have an aqua jogging race. I could win hands down. Unless my old roommate Sharlyn was racing. She was an awesome aqua jogger who taught me the ways of endless water treading. Oh well, I guess I will just have a good time at this triathlon and try to forget that I am competitive. (I'll still beat your swim time, darling husband)

Now for the family journal part of this post:
Thursday was Stake Lagoon day-- we went with Dave and Summer and my parents came for a little bit to watch the girls. We parked for free at the train station (we were going to ride the train but I was being a brat and we missed it), took the free shuttle to the park and then we got into the park for free and bought $10 worth of tickets. The girls got to ride about 5 or 6 rides and I got my share of dizzying from Tilt-a-Whirl and Music Express. (Ahh such fond memories of Music Express. My favorite memory is riding with Kathryn and Adam in high school and laughing my head off as Adam tried to defy gravity and keep us from squashing him.)
The girls loved it. They loved being with Gracie, their cousin and they loved being dizzy.

This pictures is right before we went on the Tilt-A-Whirl. I wasn't sure how Hannah would react but she laughed her head off the whole time. Kenzie has already been introduced to the thrills of Lagoon. So she handled it like an old pro.

Riding the kids version of the swings with obvious delight.

It's mandatory to ride the car-ride, right?

Hannah cried for a minute when I wasn't going on this ride with her, but then she forgot about me when she saw the steering wheel.

On Saturday we went to visit the Oquirrh Temple. Did you know the Moroni statue was struck by lightning?

Kenzie and Hannah playing in the fountain with Gracie. (Not that I condone this kind of behavior, since it's a holy fountain and all.)

We missed Sherrie and Josh, so we left a spot in our picture to Photoshop them in. They just have to visit the temple and sit on the very edge of the fountain.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bitten by a Spider and other meanderings

Yesterday I was washing the dishes, which may or may not have been in the sink overnight, when I grabbed a plate and suddenly felt as if my poor little finger was being stabbed by a really sharp needle. I dropped the plate, and saw that a red-colored spider (we call them crab spiders, but I don't think that's right) was biting my finger!!! It makes me all shivery and nauseous just writing about it. I shook it off into the disposal (with minimal shrieking) and then turned on the in-sink-erator. I hope that spider met a terrible doom. I was completely freaked out. So freaked out that I have decided not to do the dishes again. Ever.
I'm pretty sure I have been bitten by a spider before--but it wasn't while I was paying attention. Mike is hoping that I will develop the ability to spin webs from my fingers and climb walls. Personally I'm just hoping to develop the ability to have multiple children at once that grow up and leave home within the space of a year. In reality, I haven't noticed any effects. I can't even tell where the dang thing bit me and the aversion to dishes might have been a pre-existing condition.
Speaking of conditions, I'm out of the boot! Hooray. I may be prematurely celebrating, because I have to put it back on if it starts hurting again. So far it has been a little achy, but I'm chalking that up to not being used to walking on it. We'll see how it goes this weekend. I'm not supposed to run for another 4-6 weeks. No running, no dishes, what am I going to do with myself?
I guess I'll just eat a lot (on paper plates), not that that's any different than normal.

Anywho . . . what would a meandering post be without some sort of real action?
Before all of the fourth of July excitement, we used our Tracy Aviary pass to get into the zoo. You can get into the Ogden dino park for free and the zoo, on the first Thursday of every month with that thing. We also used it to get into the zoo in Alabama. It's wonderful.

The zoo was pretty crowded, but we had a good time. We got there at about eleven, walked around, ate our lunch and left when Kenzie started throwing a huge fit, right as Hannah was no longer amused, and right before a huge rainstorm settled in.

A lot of people ask us if Kenzie and Hannah are twins, esp. when they are sitting down. They are starting to look a lot alike.

Giraffes are always a crowd pleaser.

Hello Zebras. I didn't get a picture but the girls' favorite were the penguins. We waited around for about 10 minutes hoping the penguins would jump in to the water, but no luck. One waddled up to a rock and looked poised to jump in, but I think he was just taunting us.

Orangutans seem so cuddly and nice, until I remember reading the "Life of Pi." Then I think of them as scary with really long arms.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Archery, Fireworks and Burned Hands

Quick, quick! Ask me a question about competitive archery. I'm your answer woman! Or at least I will be until tomorrow when my brain moves onto more vital trivia such as "where exactly Snow White the POlly pockets dress is" or "why the band-aids are located in a box in the closet next to the q-tips," or "the complete plot of Cinderella, Little Mermaid, Bugs Life, Sleeping Beauty and fine points of the movies that not even the writer knew about when they wrote them." VITAL.

My brain puts an expiration date on things that I learn. If I don't use it at least once a day it usually doesn't stick around. This explains why I no longer remember basic plot lines of any books that I read. I just don't use that information. Imagine: Me, "Kenzie, wasn't it so funny when Heathcliff (insert something from Wuthering Heights because I can't remember anything but his name)?" Kenzie:"Mom why can other people wear tanktops today?"

Yeah, I'm working on the fine literature discussions around here, but so far the best I've gotten is in-depth discussions on the evilness of Ursula in "The Little Mermaid." (Mommy, why is Ursula bad?" Me, equivocating, "Well, maybe Ursula didn't have nice parents or someone was mean to her. Wait. I mean, Ursula chose to be bad. She CHOSE it! Remember Kenzie it is not your circumstances but how you react. Ursula chose to be bad!")Pathetic. So I'll only be able to recall archery facts until roughly tomorrow.

I just spent the last two days learning the finer points of archery for a story I'm writing for the Standard. It was really interesting. I'm going to put archery on my list of "Things I Want to Do When I Have Hoards of Money and Time and Energy." That is a long list. Archery is a fascinating sport with a long history-- and that my friends is how I am going to transition in the Fourth of July pictures. You know, history? 1776 is history. So is the fourth of July. Well, it was a good effort anyway. And you didn't really think I had a great story about using archery in our fireworks until we burned our hands, did you? Oh. I'm sorry.

Here's a lot of pictures: (and I'm sorry I said I was going to write more often on this blog and make it less of a family journal. My life is pretty much nothing to write about if there's no cute girls and fine husband to redeem me. So back on with the status quo.)

Sat. Morning (the 4th) we went to the Hooper parade. It goes right in front of Mike's parents' house so we don't even have to get there early to get spots. Plus they throw candy. If you look carefully in the parade pictures I believe you will see me eating candy in every picture.

We love living close to our families. Kenzie and Hannah love their cousins. And check out that awesome velcro-hooker-boot action I've got going in the background.

Hannah and Gracie were so delighted to see each other. I love how they squeal with delight when they meet. After the parade we got to go swimming with Sherrie and Josh and their kids at Josh's work pool. (He's a PT and they have a pool in his building.) Kenzie tried so hard to be as brave as Kandelyn and even jumped in a few times, although she hated it.

That night we celebrated by going up to my Uncle Delbert's in Liberty. His house is right across from the city park and it is small town Fourth of July at its best. Here Kenzie and Hannah are peeking from the window of the three story playhouse (!) in the backyard.

We had a great time at Liberty Days. We ate a delicious dutch oven dinner at my Uncle Delbert's first and then headed over to the park. Oh yeah, I even made a flag dessert. I hope my Grandma was impressed. Hannah was not impressed with the caterpillar train ride. This was her expression the whole time.

Kenzie, however, was delighted. We also enjoyed watching the greased pole climbing and playing on the playground. They also have an awesome stomp. It's the only time I ever get to dance like a crazy person in public and not be cited by the police and thrown in to jail for nervous twitching. The girls didn't really love the dancing this year, so I was only able to use my mad crazy dancing skills during the hokey pokey and then it was off to the playground. Where, ohhh I'm sorry I can't push you in the swing girls. My boot will get sand in it.

After the Hokey Pokey and some wonderful 80s dance moments (that I longed to use my skills in but could only hear from the playground), we walked across the street and spread out on the lawn for the fireworks. Poor Hannah was absolutely terrified. Grandma Vickie tried to comfort her, but I think I heard her screaming when the cannons were quiet. When they broke out the Sparklers though, she was okay. Kenzie liked the big fireworks, but then she burnt her hand on her first Sparkler and refused to touch them for the rest of the night. Smart girl.

The next night we did a few Sparklers and a couple fireworks of our own. Hannah burnt her hand, so we were two for two on teaching our children the dangers of fire. Go us. It was a great Fourth. Happy Summer Everyone!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Do you know anyone that. . . (help please!)

I'm writing a story for the Standard-Examiner (Ogden,UT newspaper) about milestones--like 30th, 40th, 50th etc. birthdays and what people do to celebrate them. Have you yourself or do you know of anyone who lives in the Top of Utah (North Salt Lake and above) that has done something unusual, fun or crazy to celebrate a milestone in their life? I'm looking for a couple people to interview. If you do, would you either leave me a comment or send me an email with who the person is, what they've done and how to get a hold of them? My email is chambers dot steph @ gmail dot com.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Opposable Thumbs and Other Curious Tales

For the last five minutes I have been wasting time trying to think of some sort of animal with fingers and no thumbs. For a minute I thought apes had no opposable thumbs. I was going to compare myself to an ape. But Wikipedia to the rescue, because I would have looked really dumb for my claim to ape-ality. Because what do you know? Most primates have opposable thumbs. I blame my biology teacher for this lack of knowledge and this winding, non-funny introduction.

Anyway, I'm living the dream here in my Bledsoe Boot--for stress fractures of the leg-- and without the use of my right thumb for pinching motions. But no worries because when I was looking for a picture to steal of the Bledsoe Boot I read that, "The Bledsoe PTB Boot is designed as a flexible and attractive alternative to casting for the mid-tibia or fibula to mid-foot area while providing patella tendon bearing support." Attractive indeed. You should hear all the wolf-whistles I get these days as I stub around town. I did decide not to steal a picture though. You'll just have to imagine this very attractive hooker-style boot with lots of velcro. Although it has much less of a heel than most hooker boots and makes me feel like Captain Long John Silver.

I bet you're wondering how you too can acquire a Bledsoe boot. (I was pretty sure the doctor was calling it a "Blood Cell Boot" and I was thinking that perhaps it would inject something into my blood cells that healed bones, but really it's Bledsoe. I understand completely now.) Well, run lots of miles and then one week before your scheduled one and only marathon develop an acutely aching pain in your foot. Run the marathon anyway. And then because you are stubborn, and it's just a bone anyway, and you already paid the dang money and organized the team, run the Wasatch Back Relay. I know, I brought this on myself. Mike says it's because the human body wasn't meant to run that far. I say it's because my bones have yet to learn who's in charge here.

As for my opposable thumbs injury, I was playing volleyball on the Fourth of July, at my uncle's, in my boot, when my arm started to hurt from all the amazing aces I was hitting. I decided to try and serve with my thumb. That didn't work out so well for me. So for a few days my thumb has been unable to reach my fingers. It's getting better now, but for awhile there I couldn't do anything useful. That's kind of like usual, but a little more annoying.

Now everything is back to normal. Except the boot thing. We had a great fourth too. I'll post soon about how we celebrated (besides trying to play volleyball) the annual tribute to pyromaniacs everywhere.