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Sunday, November 22, 2009

I'm still here!

...I just can't seem to find any time to write about it. Most of my "computer" time is spent via my phone, whose capabilities are pretty limited. Life is busy and full and complicated. I'm still riding my bike, thanks to the beautiful November weather we've been enjoying after a cold, wet October. I've been running a little...up to 2 miles, but it isn't going so well. lol. My class has reached and passed critical mass...past the number where I feel optimally effective, so that part of my life has taken on a new stress. Nathan is playing club volleyball in St. Louis, so three nights a week one of us is gone for 4-5 hours between the drive time and practice time.

Life is hectic. Add to that some other things that are going on in my life. Not bad, necessarily, but things that I have no intention of discussing in a public setting such as this. And yet, just chattering on about life withough mentioning all of that feels fake. And so I don't write about anything. For now, anyway.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ride the Rivers century

I rode my first century this past Sunday. What an experience! I "decided" to do this century back in June or so, and then went back and forth all summer about whether or not to actually do it. I'm glad I did!

The weather forecast the week before the ride was enough to make a person bipolar. Up and down, up and down. "Yea! Highs in the 60's!"...."Ugh...lows in the 30's...." Well, when we started, the temperature was a blistering 39. Definitely on the "ugh" side of the thermometer.

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I'd like to say it warmed up quickly, but it really didn't. Even when the sun came out, it was pretty cool. It wasn't as bad as I had anticipated, though.

We started in St. Charles, near the Ameristar Casino. I rode for the first mile or so with a friend, but once we hit the first hill he was off and away. Here's the first bridge we crossed...

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We passed Westport and Creve Coeur Lake, around which was the monster hill of all time. Oh, my gosh...it just kept going up and up and up. You know that children's song, "This is the Song That Never Ends"? Well, I was humming, "This is the hill that never ends/It just goes on and on my friends/We starting climbing it a long, long time ago..." You know how it's hard to keep your bike upright when you're going really slowly? That was me. I got well acquainted with my granny gear!

The ride was primarily road riding, but we did ride on parts of some trails. This one was somewhere around Creve Coeur.
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The first SAG, or rest stop, was about 25 miles into the ride at the St. Louis History Museum. Good snacks, but only two port-a-potties and lines at both of them. 25 miles is a long time to wait for a bathroom when you're hydrating like crazy!
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After leaving Forest Park, we rode into downtown St. Louis. Traffic wasn't terrible, but with a Rams game later in the day, there were already quite a few people around and the tailgaters were already set up. I was very glad that there were other riders around during this portion of the ride. I was definitely a little intimidated by riding through the city streets.

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There's the pack...way ahead of me. This was to be a theme for the day, except that usually they were too far ahead of me for me to see! :) In the city, I was able to catch up at the stoplights.

The next section of the ride was along the Riverfront Trail.

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There was a mix of river views and industrial stuff.

Rest stop number 2 was about 43 miles into the ride at the Old Chain of Rocks bridge.

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It's a very pretty bridge.

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After crossing the bridge into Illinois, I was on a bit more familiar territory. We rode the levees along the river though the Hartford/Wood River area to Alton.

100_0458Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower, Hartford IL


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These were fun. The levee is broken up in several spots by roads that cross it. You have to ride down from the levee, get off your bike, walk it across the road, pass through another set of gates, and then ride from a standstill back up onto the levee. So much fun to ride uphill from a dead stop after riding for 50 miles, but it was definitely a nice break for a bodies that have been sitting on a bike seat for all that time!

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Melvin Price Locks & Dam 26, East Alton, IL. Incidentally, this is also the home of the National Great Rivers Museum, which is a neat place to visit.


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The Clark Bridge in Alton is one of the prettiest bridges around, in my opinion, and worlds better than the tiny little Clark Bridge it replaced!

Rest stop #3 was at Russell Commons Park in Alton. At this point, we were 59 miles into the ride, and I was starting to realize that I felt pretty good. All along as I planned to do the century, I was very unsure that I would be able to finish it, but 60 miles into the ride I wasn't even feeling sore or tired. It was a little distressing to see all of the riders who zoomed by me, but I know that I'm slow and I wasn't out there to race.

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Lunch stop! I still get a kick out of seeing this many bicycles in one place. :)

100_0469Yes, I took a picture of my lunch. It was sooo good! The roast beef sandwich I had was truly the best roast beef sandwich I've ever eaten...and it wasn't just because I had ridden all morning to get it! Hats off to Lone Wolf Coffee Co. for a fantastic meal!

I went to high school in Alton, so this portion of the ride was something like home territory for me. The first thing we saw on the Great River Road was the Piasa Bird painted on the bluffs.
Piasa Bird
The legend of the Piasa Bird is an interesting one.

The River Road is a beautiful area to drive or ride any time of year, but particularly in the fall when the trees are changing colors.
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My aunt lives in the Calhoun County area, and I went to college in Quincy, so I've logged a lot of time driving on the River Road. I can remember stopping with my parents for peaches at the place below.
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After passing through Grafton, we did some riding on the bike trail that parallels the road. Very pretty, but hillier than the (blessedly) flat road. I had to walk my bike up one hill here. :(
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A neat thing about the ride was that we got to ride two different ferries. This caused me a little stress, though. As I rode along the bike trail, I could see the parking lot for the first ferry. I hadn't had any problems finding the trail markings before this point, but I started doubting myself. Did I miss a turn? Am I going too far? Oh, no...I'm going to have to ride even FURTHER! Never fear, once we reached the Marquette Park stables, there was a turn and a short 1/3 mile trip back to the ferry.

I lucked out and made it to the ferry just as they were loading the cyclists, so I didn't have to wait at all.
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Here are some of the other riders on the Brussels ferry.

After the first ferry, we passed through about 10 very farm-y miles.
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As we had gotten off the ferry, I just let everybody else go ahead of me. At this point in the ride (about 80 miles in or so), I had been passed by probably 90% of the riders (another 8% probably having started ahead of me!) and was clearly going to be at the back of the pack. I actually stuck within sight of the pack for a while...I felt pretty good after getting off the ferry...but eventually they passed out of my sight, as I knew they would. Well, that was OK, but when the group of riders from the next ferry started passing me...THAT was a little depressing!!

And funny, too...I mean, these people had to wait for the ferry to cross back across the river, load the cars, load the bikes, cross back across the river, unload the cars, and finally unload the bikes...and that still wasn't enough of a head start for me to cover those 10 miles to the next ferry without getting caught!!


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Here are some other riders on the Golden Eagle ferry...only about 10 miles to go once we cross!!

The end of the century, funnily enough, was about the same place that the Katy Trail ride ended!
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I have a picture of myself, back on a much warmer day in June, eating lunch at this building after riding the entire Katy Trail. :)

That was pretty much it. I rode into the parking lot, and the ride was over. It was a little sad...I felt such a sense of excitement and accomplishment...I did it!...but at the end of the ride there's no finish line or cheering group. You just pack up and go home. And I guess that's just kind of how life is.

I did think it was one of the less friendly rides I've been on this year. Probably 75% of the people who passed me (and, as I said, there were a lot!!), didn't speak at all, even to signal "on your left". Overall, however, it was a great experience. Trailnet provided great maps, the route was scenic, interesting, and well-marked, and good support was available. I'm already thinking ahead to next year's rides....

My first century...how I got there

I actually did it. I completed a century, a 100-mile bike ride. I feel a little bit like the guy in the commercial..."I can't believe I [rode] the whole thing!"

It all started in April 2008, when my mom and brothers gave me a new bike. The first time I took it out on the bike trails, I got lost and ended up riding almost 20 miles. I decided that, if I could accidentally ride 20 miles, I could do it on purpose, too. That summer, I just rode locally on our wonderful bike trail system.

This year, I was excited to get out on my bike as soon as possible. I think my first ride was in February. I have an aunt who's an avid cyclist and runner, and we started talking (emailing) about bikes and riding. She suggested I come and ride a leg of the Katy Trail bike ride sponsored by Missouri State Parks, one of the shorter days, you know, "only" 50 miles. I thought she was delusional, but the more I looked at the website, the more I thought about doing the whole ride. So, eventually, I did.

The exciting thing about the Katy ride was that I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it. Then I started wondering what the next big thing would be. Around that time, I got a flyer from Team in Training, and one of the events was a century ride in Arizona. I started thinking about that, and while I never got around to going to the Team in Training meeting, the century idea stuck. After coming back from the Katy Trail, I started looking on the internet for bike rides and found the Ride the Rivers Century...right in my area!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Homecoming weekend

I remember being in high school and all the fun and excitement surrounding big events like Homecoming. Now that I'm parenting two teenage boys, I'm looking back at my high school days and appreciating all that my parents did to make that fun possible. Here's my Homecoming day this year:

10:15 Leave for Nathan's football game.

11-1 Football game. Brrr...what a difference between this game and two weeks ago when we were getting sunburned! Saturday I was huddled up in a blanket and holding onto the precious heat from my hot chocolate.

2:00 Pick up the girls' corsages
2:30 Eat lunch

3:00 Wash the body paint from last night's game off Daniel's back

3:30 Remind Nathan he has to get ready

3:45 Remind Nathan he has to get ready

4:00 Remind Nathan he has to get ready

4:15 Insist that Nathan get ready since we have to be at his girlfriend's house in 15 minutes.

4:20 Help decide between two ties

4:25 Make boys stand together for a picture of the two of them before the dance

4:30 Leave to pick up Nathan's girlfriend

4:35 Turn around to go back to house and get Nathan's girlfriend's corsage.

4:45 Pictures at Nathan's girlfriend's house.

5:00 Drop off Nathan and Delissa at supper.

5:15 Pictures at Daniel's girlfriend's house

5:45 Pick up Nathan and Delissa

7:45 Drop off Nathan and Delissa at the dance.

Ahhh....relaxing at home for a couple of hours. Took a nap...

10:45 Wake up and go to pick up Nathan and Delissa

10:50-11:10 Wait in insane line of traffic to get into the high school parking lot

11:40 Drop off Nathan and Delissa at party

12:00 Text from Jeff "Are you OK?" as I was pulling in driveway

Quick shower!!

12:35 Leave to pick up Nathan and Delissa from party

1:10 Drop off Delissa

1:30 Finally back in bed for the night!

It's so much more fun to be tired because you're the one having fun, but it makes me happy to see my kids enjoying their high school experience. And I'm soooo happy that prom is 6 months away!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

School stuff

We're getting ready to learn about graphing in my first grade classroom, so we've been sorting different collections of things by different ways. We've sorted students by different characteristics of their clothing; sorted completely different items into groups; and sorted foam pieces by shape, color, and size.

Today we worked on putting items from a group onto a graph. We had practiced this on the board with magnets yesterday, so we reviewed what to do as a group. Then, the students each sorted a handful of shapes by color and chose two colors to use. They were to glue their groups of shapes onto graph paper. After the review, we looked over their work together and decided if the graph could go into the "Yes! That's right!" group or the "No, not quite" group and taped them on the board. This is what we got the first time around:


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After reviewing each graph and deciding if it was correct or not, we repeated the exercise. This time, we had a much better result:

Graphing

It's always exciting to see the kids "get it". Now if only I can teach them to figure how many more and how many fewer!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Club volleyball

We are entering our first foray into "elite" sports. Nathan tried out for and made a local (St. Louis area) club volleyball team. That's pretty exciting. He has a lot of potential to be a great player. The excitement, however, was quickly followed by stress.

Club volleyball is not only a huge financial commitment (and, honestly, we couldn't do it without help), but it also requires a large time commitment. Practice three times a week in St. Louis, I knew that before signing on. But last night I got an email about athletic training, uniform fittings, etc., all on top of the 2 hour parent meeting I have to be at this week. I'm hopeful that once things are set and they're on their regular schedule I won't have this ball of panic in my chest. I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that the other local boy who made the team has practice at the same time so that they can carpool.

Someone who also did the Tour de Coal ride on Saturday kindly emailed me with some suggestions for my first century. The main thing, of course, is to keep riding and get in at least one ride of a good distance. I'm hoping to manage something on Sunday, but with the way my week is shaping up I can't imagine how I'd get in a weeknight ride...and I'm tooo chicken to ride in the dark before school. (Not to mention the fact that getting up at 5:40 is plenty early for me!!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tour de Coal


Yesterday was the Tour de Coal in Benld, IL. It's a metric century, or 63 miles. Last month, I rode in a "60-mile" ride that turned out to be a 68 mile death march. I had terrible leg cramps from about 25 miles on, largely, I think, because I didn't drink enough. It's pretty easy to stay well hydrated when it's hot outside because you're dying of thirst. Cooler days, while great for riding, make it a little harder to remember to keep drinking.


The Tour de Coal was my warm up for the Ride the Rivers century next month. My first century. Gulp. I was a little apprehensive how it would go after struggling so much last month. I even told the friend I rode with, "I should have sent my century registration before this ride!"


Despite a rainy forecast, we had a really nice day for a ride. The sun was out a lot of the time, and it was fairly cool. The route was advertised as flat to rolling hills with some substantial hills. Pretty accurate. I love the rolling hills. They're a lot of fun. Not so much a fan of the bigger ones, though!! At one point, I went down a pretty steep hill. I've gotten braver than I used to be, but this one made me a little nervous. At the bottom, I thought, "Boy, I'm glad I didn't have to go up that hill!" And then I came around a corner and was facing its evil twin!
One of the nice things about the organized rides is you always find people to talk to. This one was no different. I rode the last 20 or so miles with an older man who passed me. After he passed, I decided I was going to at least keep up with him and so pedalled along behind him. After a while, I pulled alongside me and started chatting. Nice guy, but he managed to unintentionally insult me twice in our time together. First, he told me I was good to ride behind because I'm big. Okaaaayyyy. Then, later, he told me it was good that he came across me because he had been starting to break a sweat!! So...I'm fat AND slow. Haha. I know he didn't mean it that way, but it sure came across that way. If he was someone I was going to hang out with in "real life", I'd have called him on it for sure!!
Overall, I was slower than I'd like to be, but I felt great until the last ten miles or so. Then, we hit a very unwelcome headwind that really slowed us down. That's when I had to start the self-talk: "Only 10 miles...you can ride 10 miles...you've done it before....only 9 more miles...you can ride 9 miles...you've done it before..." And I did, indeed, do it. :)
The rain started about 10 minutes after we got into the truck. Great timing! For us, anyway. I'm sure it was a little disappointing to those attending Benld's fall festival. All in all, it was a good ride. Well marked, nicely spaced SAGs, and a good route. I'll likely be back next year for it.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Casey

Casey Kaili

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are never far from my mind. Both my nephew and my brother are serving in the Middle East. Both are on their second tours of duty. That's my nephew above in the picture with his daughter, who is now 5. He's a gunner on a helicopter crew serving in Afghanistan.

At least, he was until Thursday night. On Thursday night, a missile hit the back of his helicopter. The pilot was, thankfully, able to land the helicopter safely, but Casey was seriously injured by shrapnel. The war has been made far more real to our family. We read in the papers all the time about people who are killed and injured, but this person is ours.

He was sent to Germany, where he had six surgeries, and arrived at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., tonight, where he is undergoing yet another surgery on his abdomen. At this point, the tests show that no vital organs were damaged. He has a lot of therapy and healing in front of him, but the outlook is positive. Please pray for him.

Families sacrifice for each other. That's just part of the job. Military families have an even bigger burden to bear. I've watched my niece live though her (single parent) father's year-long deployments and regular absences for trainings. I've watched my nephew's young marriage fall apart during his first deployment. Seen his young daughter live without her daddy. It's hard. You know it going in, but you know it like you know labor pains hurt. The knowledge is intellectual until you're in the middle of it, and then you have a whole new awareness of pain.

And through this ordeal, I've seen my sister-in-law's sacrifice and love for Casey. He's not really my nephew. He's not really her son. He's the baby a friend of hers gave birth to...a friend who wasn't really prepared to have a child. He's the baby that she raised for several years until her friend decided that she was ready to parent. And "ready", here, is a relative term. My sister-in-law has been a constant source of love and support for Casey. She's been the one at his high school events, at his boot camp graduation, and even more...she's been the one to care for and bear with him through the day-to-day stuff of raising a child. Not the "fun" stuff, but the real stuff.

And I've watched as his "real" mother has pushed herself to the forefront at his wedding, and now again as this drama unfolds. And watched as my sister-in-law, out of love and a desire for Casey to be happy, to avoid feeding drama, steps backward. She is the embodiment of the real mother in the story about Solomon's wisdom, the one who is willing to give up her child to avoid him being cut in half. And she'll be the one who is supporting him once the "excitement" is over. And, in the long run as well as the short, she's the one who gains. Because though she didn't give birth to him, she's the one who's had him, in a very real way, for most of his life.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

7/14/09

Distance: 14.229 mi
Time: 1:07:33
Avg. Speed: 12.7 mph
Max. Speed: 20.7 mph
Calories: 527.6

Monday, July 13, 2009

Plans

I have some bike rides planned through October. I had seen something about the Ride the Rivers century ride, which looks to be cool and isn't far from me. I thought a century would be a neat accomplishment and something to keep working towards. Waiting til October gives me more time to prepare for it, but it also gives me plenty of time to backslide. Knowing myself, I know that I need closer goals to work towards as well. So...

August 22 I'm riding 60 miles.

Sept. 26 I think I'm doing this 75 mile ride.

That should put me in good shape to ride 100 miles on October 11. I hope.

I think I've managed to drag one friend into the 60 mile ride, and I'm working on several for the century. The cool thing, though, is that I'm meeting new people, too, as I do different rides. I'm loving this cycling thing. :)

7/13/09

I got up this morning at 5:10 to ride my bike. Daniel spent the night at a friend's house, and Nathan had volleyball camp at 8:30, so my babysitters were gone during my normal bike ride time. If I didn't get up and ride before Nathan left, I wouldn't have been able to. Also, I figured it was good practice for when school starts again.

I am not good at getting up, but I had an online friend who was also getting up, so I felt like I was accountable to someone...even if the someone is 4 hours away. It was pretty dark at 5:10, but by 5:30 it was light enough to ride. Boy, was it chilly!! I tried pushing myself some after warming up, attempting to ride for 5-minute increments at or about 16 mph. The first increment, I held out for 4 minutes. The second one I managed 3 minutes. I felt, for the most part, like I was riding in jello. Maybe I was pushing too hard after pushing myself so hard on Saturday.

My stats for the ride most certainly weren't very important...but I saw a fox on the bike trail!! Not 1.5 miles from my house, basically in the center of town. Very cool!

Distance: 17.025
Avg. speed: 12.3 mph
Max. speed: 21.2
Time: 1:22:52
Calories: 619.9

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Minor revelation

Nothing earth-shattering, for sure, but when I was sitting in church today I did have a minor revelation about something.

Back in January, in the midst of a not-so-pleasant conversation, Jeff asked me if I was happy.

"(sniff, sob)...sometimes," I answered.

He asked me what would make me happy, and sadly, I didn't even know. I told him how I never really had an opportunity to find my "thing". I've been raising kids since I was 19. I'm not complaining--my kids are blessings and my own doing, for sure--but I've been parenting and working and going to school and married to first one man and then another. I've always done whatever it is that my husband wants to do. With Jeff, we do a lot of camping, we watch a lot of movies, and we go to sporting events. And I love those things. But they're none of them "my" things. I didn't even know what I'd want to do if given the opportunity.

Well, in church today I realized (kind of out of nowhere, because it had nothing to do with the message...except I guess just in looking at what God has done in my life over the past 6 months) that biking has become that "thing". I wasn't looking for it to or planning for that, but it has taken that place.

Of course, that leads to some reconfiguration in our lives. It has been a real adjustment for Jeff that I have something apart from "us" to do. I've tried to interest him in cycling, but he couldn't be much less interested in either participating himself or just being involved in what I'm doing there. I guess he's accustomed to me being available (for the most part) for whatever, and now I have other plans. He's been fairly supportive (understanding that I needed to be riding to train for the Katy Trail ride), but sometimes I wonder if that's wearing thin for him as he realizes that it wasn't just a one-time ride but is, instead, more of a lifestyle change.

It's going to be interesting for me to balance this new love with still making my husband feel secure and loved and still fulfilling my role in our family. I'm not quite sure how that'll work out. And I hope, additionally, that he can find (or return to) something of his own so it doesn't seem so one-sided to him.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tour de Donut

Well...what an experience. Today dawned cloudy and slighly ominous. I actually got to Staunton pretty early, and Daniel and I checked in and got our t-shirts and everything. There was a huge pack of riders...1,120 showed up to ride today, trusting that the weather would be good to us.



In front of us...


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Behind us...


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As we stood in our place in the pack of riders, it started to rain. Of course, it was windy and chilly, too. Trying to think positive, I said, "Well, it could be worse."



Daniel looked at me like I was crazy and said, "What are you DOing??? Do you WANT it to rain harder??"

And then it did.

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It POURED on us. Big, fat, hard raindrops. All you could do was laugh...and shiver. We were soaked. The worst part was waiting in the rain for the start. We were there for about 40 minutes before they started us off. Once we were riding, I didn't feel cold anymore, though I still needed sunglasses to keep the rain from pelting my face.

I've never ridden with so many people before, so that was a little scary, especially combined with the wet roads. Daniel stayed ahead of me for the first 10 miles, and I was starting to wonder if I was going to get my butt kicked by a kid who's only ridden his bike twice this summer.


One thing I hadn't really expected was HILLS. There were sooo many hills on the course! My legs definitely got a good workout today! I am usually a big chicken going downhill (just ask Jeff about riding bikes at Meramec State Park!), but today I needed the momentum just to get up the next hill. At one point, my bike spedometer showed I was going 29.9 mph. I had to just hold my breath and pray.

I saw Daniel at the first donut stop (Prairietown...about 10 miles in). I believe he ate 6 donuts there. I limited myself to 3. I left that stop before he did, and I didn't see him again until he crossed the finish line.

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The first 10 miles were quite an experience, what with all the other riders, the rain, and the hills. I was asking myself, "Why am I doing this?" After that first stop, though, it got easier. The second stop was in Wordon. I ate 3 more donuts, which made the 6 I had planned to eat; then I ate one more for good measure.

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The end of the ride was really neat. There were people standing on the sides of the roads clapping and cheering for us. It was a nice boost there during the last 2 miles. In the end, I crossed the finish line after 2:02 hours of riding...and 2:16 including the time at the donut stops.

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I averaged 14.1 mph over the 32 miles, which is my best average speed yet. I was really surprised by that because of all the hills and the wind. Even with my best effort yet, I was number 453 to cross the finish line, barely in the top 50%. But still there. :) Daniel and I are both strategizing about how to do better next year!

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bike log 7/9/09

Today Daniel and I took a ride in preparation for Saturday's Tour de Donut. In case I haven't posted this yet (I think I only did on facebook, so I apologize if I already put it here), here's a video that gives you a hint of what we're in for...




We're doing this ride together because he was annoyed that I wasn't taking him with me on the Katy Trail (and never will...it was too lovely to only be responsible for myself!), so I offered to do this ride with him instead. Unfortunately, he hasn't been too motivated to train. He did manage to drag himself out with me today, though, and it was a nice ride.

It's nice to ride with someone else again. I'm once again getting accustomed to the solo rides, but company makes it more enjoyeable. We actually got a chance to talk, something that can be in short supply with the busy schedules of teenagers. And having a partner makes it easier to ride faster...and to be dragged back as well. He was definitely struggling by the end of the ride, but he hung in there. He wasn't at all happy with me because I told him that we were going to ride a 22-mile loop, but it was actually 26 miles of riding (time to and from the loop)...I had told him that before, but it didn't really register.

Distance: 26.541 mi
Time: 2:02:18
Avg. Speed: 13.0 mph
Max. Speed: 20.1 mph
Calories: 1038.7

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bike log 7/7/09

Back on the bike after mud volleyball weekend. I was a little worried how I'd do because I somehow tweaked my bad knee in the mud, and after Monday's league volleyball game I couldn't straighten it. Not good going into Saturday's ride. It was OK, though. I woke up with my knee feeling better, and the lesser range of motion didn't affect my pedaling.

Distance: 17.044 mi
Avg. speed: 13.8 mph (I think that's a new best!)
Max. speed: 21.7 mph
Time: 1:14:25
Calories: 666.1

I've decided that I am, indeed, going to do the Ride the Rivers century in October. I'm excited. Now to work up a training plan. I've googled and come up with one resource that I'm going to combine with a book I bought a couple of months ago (Bicycling Magazine's Century Training Program: 100 Days to 100 miles, by Marla Streb. The book has all kinds of information, but seems a little thin on specific DO THIS training info.). This is definitely a challenge I need to work up to, but I have a few months to go. I'm busily trying to drag every cyclist I know into doing it as well!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bike log 7/2/09

I did not want to ride my bike today. The first thing I thought this morning was how little motivation I had. But...Jacob had vacation Bible school for 4 hours, and I hate to "waste" that time apart by not doing something out of the house. After some hemming and hawing, I went.

Every time I do this (drag my complaining self out of the house to ride), I'm glad. Once I got on the trails and started pedaling, it felt great. Of course, it helps that today was a beautiful day--gorgeous!!--but it just felt good to be outside and riding.

Distance: 16.08 miles
Time: 1:14:04
Avg. speed: 13 mph (an increase...would have been more if I hadn't spent some time texting while I rode...also, the last portion of the ride home always kicks my butt)
Max. speed: 24.1 mph (after a hill, but I kept it up for a while :D)
Calories: 625

Once again, I felt pretty good on the hills. I felt pretty strong overall today. And, while the scale doesn't show it, I think my body has definitely tightened up. I won't be modelling swimsuits any time soon, but wearing one won't be as painful.

Bike log 7/1/09

Distance: 24.135
Max. speed: 21.4 mph
Avg. speed: 12.3 mph
Time: 1:58:02
Calories: 855

Notes: Went 15 miles out on bike trails, rode home along the road. Lots of hills on the way back. I'm getting a little bored with same old bike trails, so this was a nice change. Well, maybe "challenging" is a better word than "nice". I was so close to getting off and walking up the first hill, but I did better on the remaining ones.

I'm dragging a little this week. I'm missing having company on my rides, and I'm kind of goal-oriented with the donut race and the century coming up. After the donut race, I'm going back to just riding because I enjoy it. I think my focus on getting faster (which, frankly, isn't happening) is taking away some of my enjoyment of just being out and doing it.

Monday, June 29, 2009

6/29/09

I had a chance to get in a better ride today. Just on the regular bike paths here in town. I maybe need to start branching out to some road riding because I'm getting a little tired of the same old paths, wonderful as they are.

Miles: 19.630
Max. speed: 22.2 mph (downhill, but I WAS at 20+ on my own today :D)
Avg. speed: 12.7 mph
Time: 1:32:57
Calories: 732.5

I did a couple of hill repeats at the end. I also was trying to stay at 14-15 mph. After doing passably well on the Katy ride, I'm thinking I might actually want to try for some speed in the Tour de Donut in two weeks. I managed to keep at or near my goal on the way out, but slowed way down on the way back.

I'm recovering from the big ride. My rear itself isn't too sore, but my skin still has some spots that are somewhat chafed. I find myself missing the ride, though, now that I'm back in the real world. I guess that's good, to leave wanting more. And it gives me something to look forward to for next year.

Bike log 6/28/09

Rode around 10 miles just around town. 8 on the bike path with Jeff. I was towing Jacob. Another 2 riding back from dropping off a truck at my mom's house.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Katy Trail bike ride

We had a GREAT time!! It was hot as can be, oh my gosh it was miserably hot. I don't know that I've ever slept so little in my life...in bed after 10 (and the last few nights I had a terrible time falling asleep and didn't get to sleep til after midnight) and up around 4 or 4:30 a.m., and I'm sure that I've never pushed myself so hard. And it was wonderful. I met so many new people AND got to hang out with my aunt Nancy. It was a blast. Here's a loooonnnngg rundown on the week.

SUNDAY: We arrive in Clinton. Jeff and Jacob drove me there, which stuck them with about a 9-hour round trip on Father's Day. I have the best husband in the world! After they dropped me off, I checked in and dragged all of my stuff (I took waaaayyyy too much stuff. Next year I'll take about a third of what I took this year.) to where Nancy was camping and set my stuff up. We went to enjoy the a/c and wait for the rider's meeting. After the meeting, I met three other people from my hometown whom I'd never met before. Eventually, we headed back to the tents, to shower, and to bed.

MONDAY: Clinton to Pilot Grove (61 miles)

Everybody got packed up before I did, so I was back in the breakfast line. I made some new friends (who happened to live in the St. Louis area) and then headed out on the trail. The weather wasn't too bad until noon. We had good cloud cover. I caught up with Nancy in Sedalia while she waited for the vendors to set up for lunch and we stuck together more or less for the rest of the day. Monday was a 61 mile day, and I was REALLY dragging by the end of it. The day ended with a couple of long inclines which were pure misery. Possibly the hardest part of the day came towards the end. We stopped at a SAG (kind of like a cyclist's rest stop with water, Gatorade, fruit, bathrooms, and moral support) that was only about 4 miles from the end.
And then the girl there said that we actually had 6 miles left. My odometer was off. I wanted to cry. I know it's "only" two miles, but it was a long darn day.I have never been so glad to pull into a place as I was to see Pilot Grove. My rear was sooo sore, and I was wondering a little what the heck I got myself into. Even so, I was having fun. We got the tents all set up, and then I headed over to the shower truck for the first of many cold showers. I'm sure it had hot water, but after riding all that way in the heat, all I wanted was to cool off!!We had a nice dinner, then I read for a while in one of the shaded pavilions while my phone charged and then went to bed.

TUESDAY: Pilot Grove to Jefferson City (64 miles...or 67 miles if you're insane)

I was ready this morning. I didn't want to be one of the last ones packed up. The second I heard a tent unzip, I jumped up, scrambled to the end of my bed, and let the air out of my air mattress. I hustle back to the front of the tent to start getting stuff packed, and for some reason I looked at my cell phone. It was 3 AM!!!!! So...back to sleep til about 4:15 or so. Then we got packed up and had our first encounter with The Pancake Man.

The Pancake Man has a griddle that's maybe 10 feet long. Maybe it's more. He has a machine that shoots out batter for 4 perfectly-sized pancakes at a time. Maybe it was just riding 61 miles the day before, but I have NEVER had a better pancake (sorry, Mom). We also had fresh fruit and sausage. Then, we headed off. Honestly, I was kind of dreading this day. I was really sore from Monday, the heat was supposed to be as bad, and the ride was even longer.

Somehow, though, Tuesday was much easier. Nancy and I rode together for a lot of the day. The trail was really pretty and had a lot of shade. Maybe Nancy remembers more anecdotes from the day...I just remember it being a nice day.After 64 miles of riding, we had a decision to make. We could either ride a shuttle into Jefferson City or ride an extra 3 miles into town to the park where we were camping. I felt pretty good, so I asked the volunteer at the SAG about the ride in. He said there were a few hills, none bigger than the first bridge on-ramp (there were three bridge/overpasses to cross, including the big bridge over the Missouri River). Well, surely I could handle that, so off I went. Nancy and our friend Randy, being somewhat smarter than I was, opted to take the shuttle.

Well, those hills were miserable!! The bridges weren't too bad, but it seemed like all I did was climb hills after that, too, and the last hill up to the park was a killer. I was about half dead by the time I got there. All I could do was lie on the ground for 45 minutes or so until I could both breathe and stand at the same time. After the recovery time, I was OK. We set up our tents and hung out for awhile in the shelter before dinner. After dinner, we got to hear from both the director of the Missouri parks dept and Jay Nixon's wife. The parks guy was dressed in a suit and tie...in the 90+ degree weather. Probably kept his speech shorter!Tuesday night we got a welcome respite from the heat. Storms off in a distance sent in some nice, cool breezes. We were a little nervous about the storms forecast and the trees blowing around over our heads, but the rain stayed away and we had a nice, comfortable night of sleep.

WEDNESDAY: Jefferson City to Herman (50 miles)

We left Jeff City nice and early. We were on the road by 5:30 a.m. because the ride had a police escort to help us get across the big bridge before rush hour traffic got started. Once we got back to the trail area, the Pancake Man served us french toast (also very good)...and off we went again.Wednesday was a challenging day for me. Instead of pedaling along at my own rate, I chased the back wheels of some of the faster guys. I managed to hang in there for most of the day, only dropping way off once, and they were kind enough to wait for me a the next SAG. We pulled into Herman by 10:40 and got the tents set up.

Once all of our group made it in and got showered, we walked (uphill...I swear, everywhere we had to go was uphill. I hate hills) to lunch at a local restaurant. Not my favorite meal of the trip, but one of the more entertaining ones. I was talking away (no surprise there) when one of the guys with us made a signal that he was tired of listening to me babble. So I offered to not speak for the rest of the meal, AND HE TOOK ME UP ON IT. (Don't get any ideas!!!) I am proud to say that I remained silent for the rest of the meal until he gave in and asked me to please start talking again. Unfortunatly for the rest of the table, the vacuum left by my silence was quickly filled by someone else. I, meanwhile, managed to get my point across here and there with expressions and gestures. I did feel a little sorry for the guy from Texas who joined us after the beginning of the silence sentence. No one bothered to explain to him what was up with the mute girl at the table.

We had dinner that evening at Mt. Pleasant Winery. Beautiful building...uphill, naturally. Up a pretty long, steep hill. And that was supposed to be our storm shelter!! No way would I be dragging myself back up there in a storm, and luckily we didn't have to. After dinner, some of us headed for some ice cream, and I learned that I can, indeed, ride my bike in a sundress. If I'm careful.

THURSDAY: Herman to Augusta (38 miles)

I was pretty beat this day from pushing myself the day before. That 38 miles felt like a long way. It was probably my hardest day since Monday. I don't remember anything too noteworthy from the ride, but at the end we were faced with yet ANOTHER hill. This thing was a monster. Since I was dragging halfway into the 38 miles, I had decided early on that no way was I climbing that hill on my bike...but even walking my bike up I had to stop and take a break. Nancy, on the other hand, rode the whole way up. That woman is something!! I was both proud and amazed. I never could have done it.

We got a fantastic camping spot that night. Great shade, right next to the bathrooms (flush toilets...ahhhhh!) and the air conditioned dining room and just down the street from the shower truck. The only problem was that we had (you guessed it) another hill to go up to get there. I walked my bike up and then went back for my bags. My thousand pound bags. As I was hoisting them onto my shoulders and looking despairingly at the hill, a guy across the street offered to carry them up for me. Oh, my gosh! It was like the sun came out and angels started singing. I definitely took him up on the offer...though I took a lot of grief from my camping family for my "Sherpa". And let me tell you, it was worth every verbal jab!!

The shower truck had some major problems getting parked where the ride staff wanted him, so we all went to lunch just as nasty and stinky as we got off our bikes. We ate at a neat little restaurant, Bella's Cafe, uphill from the restaurant. The food was great, and the waitress, who was seriously harried by the influx, was wonderful as well.Back to camp for a nap and some talk and relaxing before dinner. After dinner, we took a shuttle up to the legion hall for our last rider meeting. Then, we walked back. I had planned to go hit the wineries, but they were closed. We hung around outside talking for a while and then went into the a/c to play some cards.

FRIDAY: Augusta to St. Charles (27 miles)

After the rest of the days' rides, this day was a piece of cake. Right up until my flat tire. Luckily, my riding partner knew just what to do (since I only had the vaguest idea...something that I should maybe do something about) and fixed it for me. As he worked, tons of people passed us by. Once it was finished, though, we were back in business and made up quite a bit of time. Pulling into St. Charles was a little bittersweet. Boy, is my body tired, and I missed my family (except Nancy, of course)...but I had a lot of fun and met some neat people. And now I'll miss Aunt Nancy. :) I can't wait til next year!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Katy Trail bike ride

As anyone who's been within conversational (or blog) range of me in the past several months knows, my aunt Nancy and I are riding the Katy Trail on an organized group ride from June 22-26. 240 miles in 5 days...yikes. We ride all day and tent camp at night...which should be quite a change from our camper.

Jeff is taking me to Clinton, MO, tomorrow (almost today) afternoon. I'll camp there and then depart the following morning. If the forecast holds true, Monday's high should be near 100 degrees. I will be drinking A LOT of water and Gatorade!!

I am very excited and a little intimidated by this undertaking. It will definitely be a challenge. I've done a lot of riding in preparation but have never ridden as far as I'll ride any of the first 4 days. I'm also excited because I realized last night (during insomnia-induced web-surfing) that I am actually going to have "free time" after the riding portion is finished each day. I'm not entirely sure I'll know what to do with it, but hopefully it'll all come back to me!

If you're interested in seeing how it's going or what I'm up to, you can go to this link during the ride. Each night they'll post pictures and info from the day. Wish me luck...and pray for good weather!!

http://www.mostateparks.com/katytrail/2009ride.htm

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bike log 6/18/09

Rode with Daniel today. Once again, got a later start that I should have. We planned to ride abou 15 miles. Since he's going to ride with me in the Tour de Donut in July, I've been on him to get riding. He's been assuring me that he'll be just fine. I think maybe today was an indication that he has a ways to go.

We really needed to ride at about a 15 mph pace to get back in plenty of time to pick up Jacob from VBS. The pace would be a stretch for me, and I ride regularly. In addition, Daniel hadn't, it turned out, eaten much. A good reminder for me that, despite the fact that he's 16, he still needs his mom. lol. It was also the hottest day I've ridden this year so far (my bike computer said 105, but I think that was pretty high. That's the heat index I heard, but we only had a forecast of 95. Anyway, it was hot. Having learned my lesson in the past, I made sure to drink lots and lots of water.

Daniel ended up needing to slow down, and finally I had to leave him behind in order to get home in time to pick up Jacob. Not long after I left him, Daniel had a flat tire. Since our van is currently awaiting a new engine, I had to get his bike home using my little car. Thankfully, my brother lent me his bike rack before he left for Iraq...I just had to figure it out on the fly. My positive take on the afternoon is that this flat tire is God's way of giving me some tire-changing and repair experience. Hopefully I don't need it next week!

Distance: 17.52 mi.
Max. speed: 23.4 mph
Avg. speed: 12.7 mph
Time: 1:22:57
Temp: mid-90's
Calories: 663.7

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bike log 6/17/09

First hot day in a while. And little rain in the forecast, for once! I'd planned to ride an hour and a half or so but got sucked into facebook, so I ended up riding 40 minutes. Not sure if it's not riding for a week and a half or the heat or the fact that we played 3 hours of nonstop sand volleyball last night, but I was feeling slow. Of course, on the way back I started really feeling it...just in time to stop. :(

I had a couple of stretches on the way back where I worked to keep my speed over 15 mph and did well with that. I even (triumph!!) managed 15 mph going up the killer hill at the end of the trail. Yea!

Distance: 8.229 mi
Max speed: 21.7 mph (downhill)
Avg. speed: 12.3 (which tells you how pokey I was the rest of the time. This actually surprised me a little. I thought I'd have had a higher avg.
Time: 40.09 min
Temp: ~85
Calories: 301.4

I'm hoping I can manage one big ride tomorrow, and then I'll be packing for my Katy Trail ride. Very exciting! =)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Challenges

Well, we've had a heck of a past week. There have been some major things that have really interfered with my relationship with God, starting Tuesday. Something that I've really been struggling with has reared its head, and it makes me pull away. I am trying to push in towards Him instead, but it's difficult.

Then, we went camping with some old friends this weekend, and on the way home, the engine in our 2005 minivan blew. It is, in the words of the mechanic, "toast". So we get to replace our engine.

And today, I went online to pay one of our credit cards only to find that our credit limit has been slashed. I think this is for the best, but all the sudden our financial crunch is very real because we have no credit cushion.

Whew. I've shed some tears lately.

In the end, I think all of this will work together for our good. I certainly am reminded over and over again that I am no better than anyone. I am a deeply flawed person who makes plenty of mistakes. I know in my head that God loves me anyway, but getting that into my heart and really the fullness of my being is a process for me.

As far as the car, well, that's just a flat out miserable situation. BUT, it did give a chance to really shine a light on our wonderful family. My sister-in-law made the 5-hour round trip to tow our camper back home. My mother-in-law's boyfriend first made the 5-hour round trip to pick us up and then went back with his brother then next day to tow our van back on a trailer so that we didn't have to spend $400 to have it towed home. My brother was willing to make that same drive if he could have come up with a trailer. No one wants to spend their weekend afternoon/evening making that drive, basically for nothing, but they all did or were willing to out of love for us. That was very touching.

And, finally, the credit cards. I have known for some time that we really need to buckle down and get our finances in line. Now we have to get serious about it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

6/19/06...Berkeley

Here's a new picture of our labradoodle. Last time I tried taking his picture, I couldn't get him to sit still long enough to get a good picture of his face.

He is one sweet dog, but boy, is he high energy! We are signed up for obedience training though, and I am really looking forward to Wednesday night--his first night there. It should be a noisy first half, though, with all those dogs (well, maybe 4-5) meeting for the first time! When I called to sign him up for the training, I told them his breed, and the lady I was talking to said, "OH, yes!" At the vet, too, the nurse/tech/assistant (whatever the term is) said that every labradoodle she'd seen was the same way: sweet as can be, smart, very high-energy and no attention span.

I guess a lot of people are pretty into the breed, or cross, to be more accurate, because they're supposed to be more hypo-allergenic and shed-free, but even the dogs who are those things (Berkeley isn't...oh, my goodness, the amount of hair he sheds!) are very energetic. The people we got him from (for free) got him from a breeded, so I'm sure they paid quite a bit for him. The ones we see listed in the paper are priced from $550 into the $1000s. That's a big investment to lose.

We love him, and we're happy with the decision to get/keep him, but we had a rough beginning as those who've read my blog for awhile know. More buyer beware--I did do some research before we got him, but I just paid attention to the things that confirmed what I already thought (the George Bush school of research, LOL).

6/18/06...Why you don't take movie advice from 12-year olds

One nice thing about having another girl around the house (even our dog and cat are male, plus a husband and three sons...I am SO outnumbered LOL...although that reminds me of when I was pregnant with Jacob...I really wanted him to be a boy so we could name him after my dad. Someone was surprised that I wouldn't want a girl to help even out the numbers, and I told her, "I don't think of it as being outnumbered, I think of myself as the queen of my house! ) is that she does give pretty good advice on clothes. At 12, she is FAR more in tune with what's in style than I am.

I trust her advice on clothes, but not on movies anymore! Not that it should come as any surprise that a 12 y.o. would have different taste in movies than someone who's 33...When the movie In Her Shoes (Toni Collette, Cameron Diaz, Shirley MacLaine) came out, Kels went to see it and wasn't impressed, so we never saw it at the theater. A week or so ago, though, my bargain-crazed husband came across the movie in a $3 DVD bin and, remembering that I had wanted to see it at one point, bought it. We picked it at random the other night (truly at random...he actually held 3 movies behind his back, mixed them up, and I picked top, middle, or bottom), and ...

I LOVED IT!!

What a great story! After it was over, I missed the characters. It was just the way I feel when I've read a book that I love. I had the best feeling at the end. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it!

Now Jeff, on the other hand? He slept through the last half and thought it was somewhat slow. Of course, his idea of a good movie is Friday the 13th or Saw, so obviously we aren't that movie-compatible. (But what a good guy to try and watch it with me anyway! )

6/18/06

We took Jacob fishing last night. We'd tried fishing with him a month or so ago on a camping trip, but they weren't really biting then. This time, we took him to the same lake we took Daniel and Nathan to when they were small (about 5 and 4). There are just bluegill and catfish, but they almost jump onto your hook.

Jacob and Jeff caught one fish together, then Jacob pretty much lost interest. It was pretty hot out there, so we weren't upset to pack up and head back home (to the air conditioning!).
We just got home from a trivia night. It was the first time these people had run one, and it went REALLY late. Plus, we were sitting in the middle of a bunch of kids who were treating the evening as a fun night out at a bar...made it really difficult to hear the questions, and they were cheating (!), texting their friends for answers. (And yes, I'm sadly aware of how old and crabby I sound here!). When one of the guys at are table said something to them about toning it down, one of them told him to "F*** off!", which didn't sit well and touched off a heated moment. I wanted to head to the other side of the room...I'm not at all comfortable with conflict. And who goes to a trivia night and gets into a fight?

But, on a good note, we placed 4th out of 40 teams...not too shabby!

6/16/06...Family fun but not much else

I've come to the conclusion that I can either be a decent mother or housekeeper but not both! OK, well, maybe I could be both if I could tear myself away from the computer. Misplaced priorities! We've had a nice couple of days, but my house is sure showing some neglect.

Yesterday was Nathan's 12th birthday. He's with his dad this week, but they had decided to go to Six Flags to celebrate and invited me along. Usually any "whole family" events are planned by his wife and/or myself, but this time it was actually my ex-husband's idea. Very nice. If you'd told me 6 years ago that we'd be getting along well enough to invited each other (and each other's new families) to family events, I'd never have believed it. Time heals a lot, as does happiness with my new life and the fact that his wife is wonderful!

Anyway, I didn't see that much of the older boys since they were off riding rides with their dad, but we had lunch together and I got to hang out with Kim and their little ones. They're right around Jacob's age, so it made for a nice little group. It was good for Jacob, too, because usually we spend most of our time following the older kids around and he doesn't get to do much, but yesterday I made a point of doing a bunch of things HE wanted to do. He's growing up so quickly...I'm glad I have these summers to spend with him.

Today after breakfast, Jacob and I took Berkeley to the dog park. I'm so pleased that our town has one. Until we have our fence built (which, between trying to figure out the town's crazy fence regulations and working on the basement too, might just be this side of never!), it's nice to have a place where we can let Berkeley off the leash so he can just run. He definitely needs it! After about 1/2 hour, we moved from the dog park to the playground. Jacob pretended to drive me to Six Flags (guess he had fun yesterday! ) and had fun on the slides. AND he was actually cooperative when it was time to come home!

We've finally started Berkeley in obedience class. I had to sacrifice Wednesday night volleyball, but hopefully it will be worth it. I really need some guidance in training him, because we want to be able to take him along when we camp, etc, without him acting like a maniac. The instructor seems very confident that we'll see marked improvement by the end of next Wednesday's class, so we'll see...I just want him to come when I call him! Wednesday night he got out because I had forgotten that our garage door was open and let him follow me into the garage...of course, he ended up tangling with two SKUNKS (when I saw them, he was on his own because I wasn't getting anywhere near them!). Luckily, he didn't get a direct hit, but he has smelled subtly skunky since then (as do our garage and stroller now, as well!), so tonight is bath night. Right now would be the perfect time, but I promised Jacob that I'd wait for him.

OK, well, with that said, I'm going to get going and try and tackle some of this mess!

6/14/06...My garden

What a mess, huh?

Can anyone tell me why the plants we WANT we have to work so hard to cultivate and nurture, while the weeds and volunteers thrive with inattention? That monster plant you see to the right of the garden? Volunteer. I'm guessing it's a pumpkin plant. Jeff thinks watermelon, but I don't remember having watermelon last year. This is what happens when your compost doesn't get hot enough but you still dig it into your garden after a year or so, I guess. Speaking of compost, I have some monster potato plants sprouting in mine right now! Way better, as a matter of fact, than the ones we planted last year.

We kind of half-a** most things, and the garden is a good example. I shouldn't say "we"...it's me who does that. Jeff is good about taking the time to do things the right way. Me, not so much. In fact, the stakes you see marking the different plants in the garden may or may not have the correct vegetable on them because I just went ahead and planted everything thinking I'd remember what was there. And, of course, didn't remember where ANYTHING was, LOL!

I did manage to do more weeding this morning. Jacob has been wanting to have picnic breakfasts at his little picnic table, so we took our pop-tarts (breakfast of champions!) outside to eat. Then, we played together and tossed a ball to the dog for awhile to wear him out. After that, Jacob drove his little car around the yard (just one that you move with your feet, not one of the cool, battery-powered ones that I know he'd love but we haven't found cheap enough at a yard sale yet!) while I weeded the garden. After being gone for a week, I have a lot of catching up to do there!

6/13/06...We're back!

Hard to believe it's mid-June and I haven't updated since the end of May! It's been a busy couple of weeks! I had two days off after the end of school, and then we left for our Florida vacation. This week is the first time I've actually FELT like I was on vacation...because we all know that, while vacations with the kids are (most of the time) fun, they certainly aren't any kind of a break!

We spent two nights in Marietta, GA, with my aunt and uncle on the way down. That was really nice. My family always went to visit them for summer vacation when I was a kid. Back then, they lived in New Jersey. We had a wonderful time there, and they had a pool, which was a big deal to us--we could have spent the entire vacation in their back yard and had a blast!--so I have never shared in that disdain that so many people seem to have for New Jersey. Lots of happy memories there. But I digress. It was really nice for my kids to get some time with my aunt and uncle. They all got to know each other a little better, and now I think that my kids have an understanding of why my aunt and uncle are so special to me. And my aunt and uncle got to know the kids, as well (and liked them!! ), so it was good all around.

We spent the rest of our vacation camping at St. Andrews State Park in Panama City, FL, apparently also known as the "Redneck Riviera". There were certainly a lot of southern license plates in the campground, but I've always thought of "redneck" as being more a state of being than a physical location, so I'm not sure the nickname works for me. We had a wonderful, relaxing trip. We spent every day but one at the beach. Everybody got plenty of sun, but with liberal use of sunscreen and forced wearing of t-shirts for those overly pink midwestern bodies, we managed to avoid any major sunburns.

Jacob LOVED the beach. His beach. Every day when we pulled into the parking lot, he would get all excited and say, "It's my beach!! It's right over there!" Of course, that love for the beach made for some more difficult scenes when it was time to leave... The state park had a beach within its boundaries. It was about a 5-minute drive from our campsite, which was nice. The beach was actually along St. Andrews Bay, but the bay runs into the Gult of Mexico right next to our swimming beach. The water was SO clear!! And that white sand...just beautiful, and it didn't burn your feet!

So, we spent 6 days relaxing in the sun. The water was protected by a jetty, so it was pretty calm, and it was plenty shallow for Jacob to go out quite a ways with no problem. Of course, one of us was always right there with him. He had a great time wading, splashing, hunting for seashells, and building and destroying many a sand castle. It was good for the older kids, as well, because as the water got deeper (but very rarely over where they could touch), they could swim, snorkel the jetty, splash each other, and try very hard (and without much success) to master the skimboard.

We also rented a pontoon boat one day, which was surprisingly stressful. Neither of us had ever piloted a boat before, and the depth of the bay varied quite a bit. We were both worried about running aground and damaging the motor somehow, but we managed the day without any problems. We spent the boat day exploring Shell Island. We did some snorkeling and shelling on the bay side and then hiked across the sand to the Gulf side. Oh, my goodness. It's just SO beautiful over there! And the beach that we stopped to swim at had maybe 10 people in sight!
All in all, a great trip, but I'm glad to be home, around my own things, my own bed (well, the bed in the camper is ours, but it just isn't the same!), and --of course!--my computer again!

5/29/2006

What a nice Memorial Day weekend! Beautiful, if HOT, weather. No rain for once. We spent much of the weekend outside at my FIL's house. He has a sand volleyball court in his yard, and it gets a lot of our time on these long holiday weekends. Yesterday we just had family games, and it wasn't pretty, but today some of our volleyball friends came over, and we had several really fun games. Boy, will I be sore tomorrow!!

Jacob entertained himself much of the day or played with his cousins. My FIL has a huge sandbox next to the court for the kids, and Jacob had a ball there. Last year, we had to have someone watch him whenever we both played, but this year he was pretty self-sufficient. Of course, we and all of the rest of the family were right there, but he was happy as a clam playing by himself or with the other kids.

Back to school tomorrow for 1 1/2 more hours! My classroom is approaching ready for the summer...have some cabinets and my desk to clear off, but I'm far ahead of where I was last year at this time. Well, last year at this time we were already OUT of school, but I wasn't finished with my room until after the last day. Of course, for our poor custodians, the work is just beginning. Until I began teaching, I never realized how much work takes place over the summer at a school! I spend quite a few days at school over the summer preparing for the next year, and they are always there. Things to fix/build, walls to paint, floors to strip, etc. It's quite a process!

5/29/06...If you give a mom a cookie...

***Moved over from old blog

"If You Give a Mom a Cookie" by Julie Tilsner
~inspired by Laura Joffe Numeroff's book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
(saw this in Parenting magazine and thought it was cute enough to be worth typing up to share!)

If you give a mom a cookie,

She's going to want a latte to go with it.

But before she gets a latte, she has to find her toddler's pink ladybug boots.

To find the ladybug boots, she has to venture into the playroom.

When she tries to straighten up the playroom, she finds Daddy's left shoe, the salad b owl, and an open package of graham crackers. She also finds her cell phone.

So she'll yell at her toddler about the cell phone and wake up the baby from his morning nap.

But as she goes in to pick up the baby, the cell phone will ring.

Whe she answers, it'll be the doctor's office reminding her that she had an appointment this morning and would she like to reschedule, say, sometime in November.

While she's trying to mentally recreate her calendar, the baby will start to cry.

Then her toddler will run to see what's the matter and find the graham crackers.

When she finds the graham crackers, there'll be crumbs all over the playroom.

So the mom will get the broom from the hall closet and notice that Daddy forgot to buy diapers last night as she asked.

But she will find her toddler's pink ladybug boots.

And when she finds the pink ladybug boots, she'll remember her emergency stash of diapers in the car.

So she'll wrestle her toddler and her baby into their car seats and drive to the store to buy more diapers and more milk.

While she's buying the milk, she'll remember that she wanted that latte.

And if she manages to order her latte without a tantrum or poop episode from eiother of her kids...

Then she deserves another cookie!

Isn't that cute?? Of course, if it was me, I wouldn't bother straightening the playroom (AKA our living room), wouldn't have gotten around to making the dr's appointment in the first place, and wouldn't have eaten just one cookie to begin with! LOL

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bike log 6/6/09

Another day with absolutely no motivation. I don't know where it went. Of course, I rode my bike anyway, knowing that I need to be ready for my ride in just a couple of weeks. So I guess I am motivated; I just don't feel it.

Anyway, today's details...

Distance: 34.448 miles
Max speed: 23.4 mph (downhill, but I managed around 18 mph on my own steam later on)
Avg. speed: 11.4 mph (lame, but I spent a lot of the ride talking with a friend via text message, so I couldn't ride as fast and still be safe. P.S. I was riding on a bike trail, not a road.)
Time: 3:02:04 (again, blaming it on my friend)
Temp: low 80's
Calories burned: 1,212.6

I am also sporting a nice little sunburn. I wore bug repellant, but I skipped the sunscreen in the hopes that the trail would be shady enough to prevent a burn. It wasn't. I'm fairly pink right now. Plus, I have a nice white stripe on my left arm from my iPod armband. I won't be skipping the sunscreen again.

I felt really good once I got going. Another gorgeous day, and the breeze wasn't too bad most of the time. The couple weeks off definitely hurt me in one way, though. I'm going to need a butt-sized ice pack. I had pretty well toughened up with all the riding since the spring; I would hurt during the ride but not after. Now I'm back to during AND after. Oh, well. I'll get there again. Hopefully before the two back-to-back 60-mile days!

Incidentally, and nothing to do with my bike ride, today is the 11th anniversary of my first date with Jeff. My older boys, who were 5 and 3 at the time, have basically grown up with him in their lives...and are blessed by that. :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Togetherness

Being a teacher, one of the things I look forward to is having my summer to spend with my kids. Between my time at work, my time at home planning for work, my commute, and then all of the boys' activities, I don't get to spend a lot of time with them...unless you consider trying to halfway entertain Jacob while the older boys play whatever their current sport is "quality time".

On the other hand, while I miss them a lot when I can't be with them, I'm not a very good stay at home mom. I'm not good at accomplishing things around the house or planning quality things to do with the kids. Some moms put the rest of us to shame; I'm not that mom. I'm more the one you compare yourself to so you can feel better about yourself.

I'm really making an effort this summer (of course, I say that 3 days in...we'll see what the summer holds). While I'm still not good at planning beneficial Activities (and how can I not be...it's my job!! But still...), we're keeping productively busy. We aren't doing big things, but the things we do are together.

We baked cookies for Jacob's day care staff on Wednesday, took a long scoot (Jacob)/walk (me) and played at the park Thursday, and went to the bike trail for Jacob to ride today.

Jacob riding on the bike trailPicking flowers along the trail.
In addition, we are bit by bit working to reclaim our house from the disaster it became during the crush at the end of the year. Jacob started out very resistant, and while he hasn't entirely come along to developing a love of cleaning and organizing (and frankly, neither have I!!), he has become much more cooperative and pleasant about it over the past few days.

None of this is earth-shattering, but it's been nice. I've found myself enjoying our time together a lot and feeling even closer to Jacob than normal. (And I'm not ignoring my older boys in this post...they had school longer than I did, have been busy with their friends and end of the year fun, and been with their dad all day today).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bike log 6/4/09

Wow, what a gorgeous day!! I couldn't have asked for a nicer day for a ride. Mid 70's, sunny, light breeze, honeysuckle all along the trails. Ahhhh!!

Distance: 20.406
Max speed: 21.7 (downhill)
Avg. speed: 12.6
Time: 1:36:59
Calories (my favorite detail): 762.0 (even if you factor in the 200 calories worth of Gatorade I drank, it's still a nice calorie burn.

I so didn't want to go for a ride today. I would have much preferred to sit home and relax, but knowing that my big ride is coming up in just 18 days was good motivation to get out. The first day is 30 miles longer than my longest so far (34 miles), and I haven't ridden since the weekend before our anniversary (mid May).

I'm definitely going through a motivational dry spell exercise-wise. It's very hit or miss during the school year because there's so much going on, but now that I have the time I don't have much desire. Yesterday I went to the gym despite having no desire to and felt great afterwards. Today I feel good after my ride. Let me remember that feeling when I don't want to go.

This relates so much to things I've been reading and hearing in church and in an Andy Stanley podcast series I've been listening to on marriage. We can't rely on our feelings but on what we know to be true. Keep walking out what you know to be true no matter how you feel. Don't keep off the treadmill (or whatever) because you feel tired. Once you're finished, you usually have more energy. Don't stop doing things for your husband because you feel bored. Living out and ACTING OUT your love will build it.

Oh, let me remember this. And even more (and here's where I generally fall short), let me apply it in my life.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

May 27, 2006...Hearing Temple Grandin

This past week I had the opportunity to hear Temple Grandin speak. She is a woman with autism who has written extensively about autism and what it is like from the "inside". She has her doctorate in animal sciences and has designed many of the animal holding facilities used in the US today. While she is autistic, she has learned ways to cope and, probably more importantly, has developed an understanding of the ways that her autism has enriched (not really sure if that's the right way to express this, but she talks in one of her books about how if she had the chance to be nonautistic she would turn it down because she would miss out on some real positives in her life that stem from her autism) her life.

She believes that her autism, and the very visual way she organizes information (in fact, one of her books is titled Thinking in Pictures), enable her to excel in her field in a way that would be difficult for someone without her particular strengths. She talks about her ability to see things from an animal's perspective because animals are very visual, sensory creatures rather than language-based, as we are. I saw her at an event where she was promoting her most recent book, Animals in Translation, which made for a funny intersection between my work life (teaching children with disabilities; this year, in fact, I had 3 students with autism-spectrum diagnoses) and my home life (trying to figure out how to deal with my behaviorally-challenged dog).

It was so interesting to hear Temple speak. She was much funnier than I had expected, riffing on Cingular wireless, which was particularly funny to me because I'm a Cingular customer and have had serious phone issues...which may be more related to my LG phone rather than the carrier, but still! She talked about ways that she has had to learn to accommodate for her autism, things like creating a deep pressure machine, taking anti-depressants to deal with her panic attacks, translating words into pictures in her head, creating and modifying scripts for interaction with others.

The audience was very interesting, as well. I'd say it was at least 2/3 people who are involved with people with disabilities and 1/3 people who were involved with pets with "issues". During a Q&A session, she remarked several times to questioners that she needed them to be more specific/detailed so that she could get a picture in her head...which makes sense for everybody, really--if you say your dog is acting like a maniac (something I've said a time or two about mine!), what does that mean? Biting, barking, running around in circles? I guess for her, though, it was even more important to get specifics.

Possibly most interesting of all to me was ways in which, despite her great successes, she is still working to deal with the effects of her autism. Her voice and appearance were somewhat "different"--nothing huge--and she seemed to have some difficulty during the Q&A "hearing" the question. That is, she could physically hear it, but she a few times answered a different question than the one that the person was asking, and once interrupted a woman several times in answering what I think Temple THOUGHT was the question when the woman hadn't quite gotten to her question yet.

I really had just wanted to go home that evening, even though I was the one who'd mentioned to some people at work about the event and gotten the ball rolling. I had been away from Jacob all weekend and worked all day...really just wanted to be home with my family. I'm so glad that I went. Not only did I get to meet someone HUGE in my field, but I really came away with a new dedication to really looking for the strengths in my students and working even harder to try to see things as they do.

May 26, 2006...Why I love my job

***Post from my old blog. It's so funny how true this still is. Every day I pass my old class as I'm returning from lunch and they're going to theirs, and every day I hear them whisper, "There's Mrs. G!" They call out to me and wave. I feel a little bit like a celebrity. :) And they see me every day. It's not like it's any special occasion that I'm there...and yet, it is to them. 6/3/09***

I got to spend some time today with my class from last year...well, the ones who are now 2nd graders and with another teacher. I was at our school carnival with Raphael, who is in my class now and is by far the most oppositional child I've ever met! He drove me crazy the first few weeks he was in my class...still does, but he completely has my heart. Somehow it's the real stinkers who stick with you.

I had most of my "old" class for both K and 1st grades. I see them in the hall every day, and I miss them so much. They were a really neat class. Even after a year, they come up and give me hugs all of the time. Justin actually came up at the school carnival and gave me a big hug. Then, they all wanted me to stay out there with them. Couldn't since I was heading in with my class, but it's really nice to be that loved a year after they were with me.

Most of them were annoyed with Raphael because every time I tried to get their picture he would jump in front of the camera -- which resulted in a big grin on his face. Now I know the trick for school pictures (during which it was like pulling teeth to coax a tiny smile out of him!)...I'll just try to take a picture of someone else!

I am usually exhausted at the end of the day, I never feel like I have enough time (although I think that's a universal thing; certainly not limited to teachers!), and it can get REALLY old dealing with behavior all day long and then at home, too, but I sure have a lot of love in my life, too. And to know you're making a difference, both at home and at work, to possibly change someone's life, is huge.

Of course, I'll have to reread this post many a time next school year, I'm sure, to remind me just why I work! Like when your kids are sleeping, it's a lot easier to think about how much you love your job when you have a break!

May 24, 2006

Ooh, it's been awhile since I could update. I've been busy as all get out. We had our weekend away last weekend, which was really nice. It's so weird to have no one else to be responsible for except each other!

It wasn't bad leaving Jacob since he actually left US...my SIL picked him up. Much better than us having to drop him off and leave! Berkeley did fine with my brother as well, although his unhealthy affection for their dog continued. The older boys were fine, as well, but that's to be expected since they were with their dad. I never imagined when I was getting divorced that it would be such a nice arrangement. It's like having a free babysitter every other weekend!
Friday night we got into the park near nightfall, since it took us so long to get everybody with their respective caretakers. We set up the popup pretty quickly. You'd think we would miss the extra help that the 3 older kids give, but not so much. We made quick work of setup without their (and Jacob's) distraction. After a nice, hot (which can't always be counted on in a state park campground!) shower, we headed to bed.

Sadly, I couldn't sleep past 8:30 the next morning. I was SO looking forward to sleeping in...I mean, 8:30 is sleeping in for me, but I wanted to REALLY sleep in! No such luck. We got up, ate a quick breakfast, and ended up spending the next 10 hours and 350+ miles driving around Missouri trying to get the Central region of our passport filled. I am proud to report that we did...one region down, 5 to go!! (Missouri has a state park passport, modeled on the National Park Passport, where you can get a stamp from each state park you visit. If you visit a certain number in each region, you get a patch for that region. If you get all of the patches, you get some certificate and 5 free nights of camping. It's become something of a quest for us, though between the number of miles we have to drive and the high gas prices, we'll end up spending considerably more that the $75 the free camping is worth!)

We saw a lot of neat parks. Arrow Rock, near Columbia, Missouri, is a historic settlement. We'd have loved to spend more time there. Another neat place was Rock Bridge S.P. We had planned to bike on the Katy Trail but ran out of time. We also saw some parks we do NOT need to return to; for example, Finger Lake S.P., which, while a nice place, is one of only 2 MO state parks set up for ATV use...not really our thing. We're more the hiking, floating, climbing type with the occasional cave thown in!

Sunday morning it RAINED! Thought we were going to have to pack up the camper for the first time in the rain (though FAR from our first wet camping trip..one of the main reasons we got the camper!), but it stopped raining around 11 (conveniently a half hour after I woke up! ) and everything was dry when we left.

On another note, school is almost over. Unbelievable that another year has passed. As much as my first graders (whom I've had now for 2 years) have been driving me crazy, now I am starting to miss them already. Crazy! I'm SO looking forward to just having some time with my kids, though. I feel like I haven't seen them for 9 months!

May 19, 2006

We celebrated our 4th anniversary yesterday, and it was low-key but nice. Jeff did MUCH better this time than he did for Mother's Day! We just went to dinner in town with the kids. Didn't want to go alone since we're going alone for the weekend and felt bad abandoning them repeatedly...especially since I was gone all night Wed. for a school board mtg. (ugh) and Tues. for the kids' awards assembly (terribly boring except for when they talked about my kids LOL). Anyway, a weekend camping with no kids or dog to take care of! Can't wait.

Took Berkeley over to my brother & SIL to meet their dogs. That was an experience! They have 2 big dogs, a greyhound (female) and a Lab (male). Berkeley (our male dog) spent the entire time trying (and occasionally succeeding) to mount their Lab. It was a little embarassing and pretty funny (he was quite determined and enthusiastic!), but I think it offended my brother's sensibilities that our dog kept trying to molest his! Hopefully, Berkeley will tone it down a little after being neutered! Otherwise, they had a great time chasing each other and playing. I think both "boys" were worn out by the time we went home. Crossing my fingers that this weekend goes OK with the dogs, or we'll be looking for a new place for B. to stay while we're in Florida!

Gotta go pack, but I'll make sure to post some pictures when we get back!

May 14, 2006...L

Okay I saw this on Blum's page and asked to play along. Wouldn't you know my letter would be L.

If you want to play too, here are the rules; leave me a comment here & I'll give you a letter. Then you post the results & these instructions in your blog. You use the letter you are given and make 10 things from it.

1. Liars- Can't stand them! My pet peeve is being lied to...of course, being a parent, teacher, and ex-wife, I've heard my share LOL! Luckily, my kids have never been able to continue a lie to me for long...a mean look and growl of "Don't you lie to me!!" makes them fess up quickly.

2. Labradoodle- Breed of my dog...and make no mistake, he's MINE! I loved dogs when I was a kid, of course, that was when my parents did all of the work. Now I'm the parent doing all the work--at least my husband splits the work with me! More than the work part though, I've really gotten attached to him.

3. La Fonda- My favorite local Mexican restaurant. Reasonable prices and within walking distance. Going there, or to any Mexican restaurant, reminds me of our honeymoon in Playa del Carmen...almost 4 years ago now!

4. Love- Amazing how many different kinds there are, and how loving a new person doesn't diminish the amount you have for the others in your life. Love is the only thing I can think of that, when used, grows rather than diminishes.

5. Library- One of my favorite places. Our town library is beautiful, an old Carnegie-funded building which was renovated 10 or so years ago. I probably provide half of the library's funding through my late fines!

6. Lent- My least favorite Church season. I don't enjoy sacrifice (which is the point, I suppose, or it wouldn't be sacrifice!) and hate fish. Those meatless Fridays were the bane of my existence as I grew up because my parents insisted that we clean our plates at dinner and fish
was frequently on our Lenten menu. Now that I'm the mom and I choose what's for dinner, it's not so bad, but BOY do I miss being able to have meet for those Fridays!!

7. Leisure- Something I desperately miss! Before Jacob was born, we were childless every other weekend. Now, we always have someone on the weekend (yes, I was spoiled)...and with 4 kids in 4 different sets of activities, seems like our "free time" is filled with taxi service!

8. Lonely- Yes, in some ways I am. It's a lot harder to make friends once you're out of school, and it seems like the people with whom we spend the most time are family, but it's mostly in "family" events rather than just doing things together as friends. Part of me wishes for those close friendships that some women seem to have...the other part of me can't imagine what time I could spend on them! I have so little time to myself that I have a hard time spending any of my alone time on someone else.

9. Let-down- My Mother's Day was kind of disappointing. I was really hoping to get to sleep in today but didn't get to...and then, everyone but Jacob slept in until 10:30, leaving me to take care of Jacob, the dog, and clean the whole house for our Mother's Day brunch by myself! Yes, I could have woken them up, but instead I chose to just keep going, get more annoyed with them, and stew until someone came down to help. Not very appealing, nor was it the right way to handle the situation. And, I should say, Kelsea and Nathan did most of the cooking last night...and Jeff is normally the one who's really on top of getting things together, so this was an isolated incident...but it still upset me.

10. Lunch/Left-overs- (a two-fer!) I usually take left-overs from the previous evening's meal for lunch at school. Since I only make meals that I enjoy, anticipating lunch always makes me really happy (probably the sign of a sad life or misplaced priorities LOL). When we're home during the summers, I have a really difficult time coming up with varied lunches, and I don't really care for cold meat sandwiches or much of the "easy" stuff. I have a friend who, any time she has me over for lunch, always has something relatively quick and easy but good and DIFFERENT. I guess I should consult with her!

May 12, 2006...Keeping the dog

He drove us crazy when we first got him. Boy, that first week was a rough one! But somehow, along the line I fell in love with him, and now he's not going anywhere!

Not that he doesn't need to improve his manners...but I'm reading a great book (at least, it sounds great, we'll see if I put any of the good advice into practice LOL) called Good Owner, Great Dog by Brian Kilcannon. That's always my solution to a problem...read a book about it! Then I'm not so good about implementing advice, so we'll see.

Now that we've made the decision to keep Berkeley, we're on to the expenses...neutering him, building a fence around our 1/2 acre lot, etc...I'm sure he'll be worth it. Of course, I imagined that with all the extra exercise I was getting walking him at least twice a day I was going to lose weight...HA! I think I've gained...all the stress of the first week, and I'm a real stress eater. I'm going to hate the pictures we take on vacation in Florida next month!