Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas 2008

This year we stayed in town, but we had so much fun just hanging out, being with so many of our friends. IronGreg's parents came from Wisconsin, so we went over to Greg and Laura's for dinner and game night:
IronTim and IronKaren (who is pregnant!!) and Laura's dad and sister (the one I run pretty much all my marathons with - gray sweatshirt) were there, too. Here's our group photo:

On Christmas Eve we went to the midnight service and Ally and Bobby got to read the scripture and prayer and light the advent candle. They did great, and the service was beautiful. 

Then on Christmas day, Greg and Laura and Greg's parents came for dinner at our house. First we went for a group hike (Laura and I classic skied), and we followed a HUGE grey owl in the woods for a while - it was so cool. I don't know how he managed to fly from tree to tree with that gigantic wingspan. I kept wondering if he was eye-ing up Zurich to determine if he should eat her.

When we got back to the house, we found that Ally was painting pink and blue streaks into Pat's (Greg's mom) hair - it's called Girl Crush hair painting and the label says it washes out in one washing but she JUST got it for Christmas so I hope it really does wash out. ;-) She and Ally really bonded it was so sweet it almost made me a bit weepy. When she was done, she also gave Pat and Laura makeovers with eyeshadow and lipliner and the works. Let me just say Ally doesn't have the steadiest hand for lipliner, but it was so cute that Pat was such a good sport!

Bobby and Ally kept calling her Grandma Pat, so we just made her their honorary grandma since they don't ever see grandparents. (My parents are in NJ and my mom basically takes care of my dad who is in a wheelchair after a debilitating stroke 3 years ago; Bob's dad passed away, and we just never see his mom). They really adored Greg's parents.

For dinner I made (yes - you read that right - I actually cooked even though I think cooking is a big waste of time -- aside from Christmas, of course. If I've got three hours,  I'd rather go for a bike ride than stand around a stove drinking and stirring)... but anyway, I made a lemony-buttery, lightly garlic-y chicken with capers over angel hair pasta. It was great! Pat brought an assortment of desserts and we all ate and drank, and ate and drank, and ate ad drank... I feel so FAT that even my socks are tight - but it was all good. ;-)

This is how much we ate - this huge pile of dishes is just what didn't fit into the dishwasher -- and that left side sink is ultra deep and it's completely overflowing.

Then we played balderdash... I love that game...

... and then everybody left. It was a perfect day. Last year we went to Hawaii, but I would have to say that this year's celebration was just as beautiful because we all loved being together so much. I am truly blessed with amazing friends.

So today I get back in the saddle with working out relatively regularly. Uffda - so much rich food! I called Nick and Steve and they came over for an emergency kitchen spin, and then Nick and I also ran afterwards. Tomorrow is the Gear West team spin at the shop, and Sunday morning is the group run, and Sunday afternoon, Steve and Helen are having a x/c skiing party. Much as I enjoyed eating everything in sight, it'll feel good to actually zip my jeans up all the way again... hopefully soon.

Hope you all had a great day, too. God bless us. Every one!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

'Tis the Season...

... blizzards in Minnesota. It is what it is. We deal.

... and then we get outside! Here is Bobby - we are out on the trails behind the house.

... and Ally who brought along her friend Jordan.

On the last day of school, Ally's class room invited the parents to look around the room before they regaled us with carols. Here she is proud to show us that one of her papers made the penmanship bulletin board - whoo-hoot Ally!

... And Bobby's 5th grade class put on a full musical that was amazing! These kids put on a 45 minute play - memorizing all their lines and singing and dancing --- it was fanTAStic! We were so impressed.
Here he is with his friends Isaac, Mark and Ryan. I just have to say how glad I am about the school change. Bobby has so many more friends at our new school. They genuinely like him, and it is such a relief to see that he fits is so seamlessly here. He doesn't even bite his fingernails anymore. I continue to be amazed at how wise a move it was for us. 

... the cast picture.

Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The one good thing...

... about the -10 degree temperatures we are "enjoying" is that it makes the snow for x/c skiing really, really fast. 

Now if it were only warm enough to go out and ski...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Lights Run; Lego League Tournament

Christmas Lights Run
Friday night I went to the Start Line (local running store) for a beautiful night time run around the marsh and through neighborhoods to view the Christmas lights. It was a full moon, so we really didn't even need our headlamps. Afterward, the owner, Charles, had wine and sandwiches for us. How can you NOT love Minnesotans - we definitely make the best of our less-than-desirable weather.

Out on the run. Hard to see but there is a great light display behind us:

Me with Jessie and Charles:

Post run spread at the store:

Lego League

What? You never heard of Lego League? I hadn't either until we switched schools, and Heritage Christian Academy has a team. 
Bobby loves Legos, so when he learned that five other kids in his class were on the team, he decided to join and be the 6th member. It's been amazing. It's sponsored by 3M and there are 160,000 kids worldwide who participate. Here's what they do:

Build a robot (base materials are Legos) that can accomplish tasks on a field course. 
You use a little computer to program your instructions and if successful, your robot will accomplish it. The course is a vinyl mat on a table, and all the teams get the same mat to practice on and to compete on. But the robots each team made varied widely, and had assorted attachments. The robot has to maneuver around the course, performing tasks, like picking up and dropping Lego people into a specific area, knocking Lego boulders off of rubber rings, pulling levers, turning out lights, etc. So these 5th graders used motion detectors, light sensors, and battery operated motors to program their robot to do all this stuff - I was so amazed and impressed. 

They also had to perform a 5 minute skit about Climate change. Theirs was a TV newscast. It was great!

Next they had a head-to-head competition with the 32 other teams. 

Anyway, their team is called Steel Claws, and at the tournament yesterday they won 1st Place in Programming and came in 2nd Place Overall, so they are going on to the State Tournament next month! 

The boys were so excited they were jumping up and down. They really worked hard on this project.

The boys with their 1st place plaque for Programming: Daniel, bobby, Spencer, Isaac, Josh, and Tanner in front.

What a smart way for 3M to get kids inventing stuff - then 3M can hire these little geniuses in the future!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ironman this weekend!

Someone named Barry Roesler asked me to post this: (His name is familiar, but do I know this guy? Anyway, here it is...

For the 18th consecutive year, NBC will present the ultimate showdown of raw athletic competition and human perseverance -- the Ford Ironman World Championship in
 Kona, Hawaii -- on Saturday, Dec. 13, from 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. ET.  The 90-minute special, a network television staple since the 1980s, has won a total of 14 Emmy Awards during the race’s illustrious history and Emmy Award winning narrator, Al Trautwig will provide the voiceover for this year’s broadcast.  Please follow this link to a photo of the chaos that begins the race.


This year, among the highlighted athletes are a T6 paraplegic that was injured in a Motocross accident, a Navy SEALS member that has raised more than $300,000 for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and a two-time terminal cancer survivor, to name a few.Below you will find a link to the trailer as well as a link to the Ironman Web site broadcast page.


Ironman Online Media Center

 Ironman YouTube Trailer



Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Reindeer Run

Guy, his son Jeremy, Ally, Bobby, Holly and Josie and I ran the Reindeer Run around Lake Harriet last weekend. It was SOOOO crowded! We never did get to really run, and had to be happy with 34:30. Jeremy started dodging the crowd and pulled ahead and finished in 33:30 and earned a $20 gift card at a running store - great job Jeremy!

Here we are huddled in the tent before the start.

Afterwards, we stopped for coffee and then headed home to get the tree up. We are fake tree people, so it goes up in about one minute. We have some ornaments that contain verses from 'Twas  The Night Before Christmas, so the kids take turns reading them and hanging them.

Bobby taking a turn.

Then Robert took out his Rock Band and Guitar Hero game for his Wii, and played with Bobby and Ally. 

We cracked up when Robert said, "I'm so good at this game it's embarrassing." The kids and Bob and I were duly impressed. 

We did finally get some real snow! And I just learned that the country club down the road actually grooms a trail for us - I can't believe I've lived here three years and didn't know that. I'm heading over Thursday morning with my neighbor Lynn to check it out.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Spin, a Soldier, and a Kona Qualifier

Kitchen Spinning
is back in season - here are TriNick and Dia sweatin' to Coach Troy. They (and Bob and I) did a two-workout session and then had beer and beef stew. yum!

Our good friend Robert will be re-deployed in February, and since his lease was up on his condo, he's going to stay with us for a couple months. Some of you know him from IM Florida, which he did with us in '07. On past Veteran's Days, he's gone to the kids' school to visit and have them sing songs to him and many other servicemen and women. He was recently promoted to Major. Bobby and Ally love him, so obviously they are thrilled having him around.

A couple days ago he delighted them with an MRE: 
That's "meal- ready to eat" for those of you civilian folks. This is an enchilada... and while it was fun to cook up (a few tablespoons of water in a mystery chemical in the outer bag heated it up in about 30 seconds - seriously), this meal was intended to be fuel, not gourmet.  But Ally nonetheless was all excited about it so he gave her another one to take to school to show her class. What a hit! They were talking about chemical reactions in science, so the timing was perfect. Her teacher, Mrs. Goettsche, helped her prepare Meatballs in Marinara and they also shared the other goodies like crackers, cheese spread and gum. 

Robert left yesterday morning for a couple days of training prior to deployment. I have to admit it saddened/scared me to see him in his uniform, knowing he's going back to the scariest place on earth in just a few short weeks. 

On a happier note, Holly, Diane, Merilee and Iwent to General Mills for lunch with Chae (who works there). GM has the BEST corporate cafeteria and we often go there to meet Chae for lunch! This is much of the crew that I did Whistlestop with a couple months ago. I love these girls. Gigantic kudos to Merilee who qualified for Kona at Arizona a couple weeks ago with a 10:55... congrats Merilee!!!
... yeah I know I look pregnant in this picture, but I'm not, okay? ;-)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Reunion

This is Ally and Sophia (Trimama's daughter) at Target Center Thanksgiving morning.

Sophia: ALLY!


Sophia: How r u?

Ally: Awesome! How r u?

Sophia: Awesome!

Ally: What's that?

Sophia: I brought a Webkinz.

Ally: Cool! Can I see?

Sophia: Sure!

Ally: Neat.

Sophia: Thx. He can run the 5k with us.

Ally: Cool!

Sophia: LOL

Ally: LOL!

They hadn't seen each other much since our vacation in Washington state, so here is how their excited reunion went when they saw each other at the Target Center. It was so funny seeing them texting each other while they were right there. So cute. Little girls love their phones.

We all ran together until about the last few blocks or so when the Soapinator took off and finished strong... but Ally came in at 38:50 - her Personal Best! Way to go Ally! Not bad for an 8 year old!

Here she is running with Hugo and Baby Owen:

And here is a group shot after we all came in:

front: Baby Owen in the stroller, Ally and me
middle: Erik (Sarah's hubba - it was his first 5k and he was WAY ahead of everybody!), Laura's sister Sarah (who runs pretty much all my marathons with me), Kelli (Baby Owen's mom)
back: Hugo (Owen's dad), Laura the bride, Greg the groom, Christy, and TriNick in the way back.

Time to get to the best T-day dinner EVER. We ate at our church - no fighting siblings, no drunk Uncle Eds, no quibbling over the dark meat... and Pastor Dan had us all playing Bingo for "valuable" prizes, and we even had a scavenger hunt, so there was a lot of running around inside and outside the church - the perfect thing after a big meal.

After that, Laura and the bridesmaids headed back for the rehearsal while I stayed back at the house getting everything ready for the after-rehearsal party at our house. It was great! About 30 or so of Laura's and Greg's family and out of town friends came over for little sandwiches and cocktails. Greg made the most beautiful toast to Laura - everybody wanted to cry. He is such a prize!

After the guests left, Christy and Laura and I got in our pj's and talked until Laura kicked us out of her room so she could get to sleep.

After I get more pics, I'll post more about the weekend...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

They did it!

Iron Greg and IronLaura got married last night! I don't want to steal any thunder from pics Laura will probably want to post, so I will just give you a glimpse here:

It was a beautiful wedding - so many friends and family members came out, Laura and Greg both looked gorgeous, the weather was great. If you missed TriNight, you would have had a second chance to see all your friends at the wedding - a jillion triathletes were there.

Hugo and Kelly and 4 1/2 month old "Baby Owen" came from CA, and Christy from CT and stayed at our house. My kids just loved having the baby around, and we are so bummed that they all left this morning!!

The guests began to come to town on Tuesday and we had a great time eating, drinking and catching up, going for group runs on the trails and doing all the prep work for the event. Sure was a lot of love floating around. There are lots of great pictures on other people's cameras... hopefully I will get some of them soon.

Here is Bobby at the reception cuttin' a rug with one of the flower girls.

... and me dancing with my hubba...

... and all the kids were breakdancing:

It was really a great weekend.

Congrats to two of the nicest people I've ever been so lucky to know!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ahhhh... the memories

Here's what we used to do in Minnesota in the winter. 

Where's the snow??????


Monday, November 17, 2008

I knew we were on to something...

Remember when a few of us registered for Ironmans and listed our occupations as silly stuff? One time Tim was a "Leaf Raker", Joe Bobby was an "Underpants Inspektor", I was a "Smokin'Hot Nascar Wife"... etc. 

I see from the list of registrants at Ironman Arizona that the trend has really taken off . Check these out...

Cat Herder
Grave Digger
Master Chihuahua Wrangler
Mine Sweeper
Moustache Jockey
Mullet Designer
Prime Minister
Prospective Eccentric Billionaire
Supreme Allied Commander

I keep wondering when Mike Reilly will start announcing them as he calls their names over the finish line.  Some of these are great!

What have you been?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tri Night - 2008

Well, that was fun! 

Last night a bunch of local triathletes hosted the end-of-season banquet. Once a year we get to see everyone with combed hair, and even smelling nice. Our guest speaker was the one and only Olympic triathlete Hunter Kemper. Here he is below, flanked by Jeremy Baker (one of my FCA teammates) and me.

He regaled us with his Olympic and other race stories. Hunter is hilarious
I would hang out with this guy in real life if he lived in my neighborhood. 

He used this platform to talk about the charity he supports, A-T. It's a genetic and fatal disease which afflicts only about 500 children in the U.S. each year. The disease causes progressive loss of muscle control, immune system problems and a strikingly hight rate of cancer. He met two little girls, sisters, who both have it and they really touched his heart. They will die in their teens, unless a cure is found.

He is also a Christian (and even told the crowd that he could feel the hand of Christ on him as he raced in Beijing this summer)!  I thought it was really cool that Hunter openly embraces his faith, especially since anti-Christian sentiments are what's popular, and especially harsh in the last few months. Anyway, you can read more about A-T at Help if you feel driven, as most of us did last night.

Jeremy is opening a new bike shop in Chaska, MN in January. Actually, he is taking over an existing shop, Get Your Gear, but will be changing it up a lot... it will now also offer a great assortment of super fun women's running and tri clothes. So Laura and I decided to wear some of it last night. I am in a SkirtSports running dress, with tri shorts underneath, and bolero-style arm-warmers with matching headband from Sheila Moon. Laura is in arm-warmers and headband. The fabrics are soft and wicking, they fit true to size, and they are nothing short of seriously hawt. I mean, c'mon. Just look at us. ;-)

There was also a blogger reunion of sorts: Taconite Boy, Trimama, me, Andy Mork (serious cyclist and cross-country skier), Kate Monster, and Mark Evenson. As usual Mark is hamming it up. Back in the old days we used to run "throwaway" races together, but now he's really fast, so we can't run together anymore. I mean he's really, really fast -- he even has his last name printed on the butt of his Fastskins. But I still remember when he used to stop for group pictures during races. Maybe I can dig one up and post it... te-he.  Kate is also an amazing athlete by day, and they are the cutest couple EVER.

Speaking of super fast, Jen Lenarz was also there. I love this girl - like other local speedsters, (how did I not get a picture with you Jules???), like our own "Just-back-from-Kona-Cathy", 

...Jen always smiles, waves and cheers for you, when she spots you on the course. 

I love Minnesota. It may be cold out, but the people are so nice and fun. I love you guys!!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Ski Season begins!

Yesterday I initiated ski season with a 30 minute ski on the rollers (no snow yet). Ally came along on her rollerblades.
I didn't ski at all last season due to the heart condition, but since it's not going away (and I can still run, bike and swim), I plan to ski this year.
Didn't fall, so at least I know I can still stand on them.

Laura - you want to go to Baker Park tomorrow after B/S at Shannon's?

Below is Bobby getting in a cold weather trail run/treasure hunt this week. As many of you know we switched schools this year, and I have to say it was the best thing we could have done. Last year Bobby rarely had less than 4 hours of homework, and this year he has had about one hour. Maybe a bit more on occasion, and sometimes a bit less. But he plays after school now. Really! Who knew! He enjoys the trails, he plays his Wii, he goes to friends' houses, he sits by the fire-pit with us.... he even stopped biting his fingernails. He made A's at the old school, and makes A's at the new school. But he loves his teachers and his classmates, and he's just so happy now.

Here he is showing off his loot - an old whiskey bottle that he pulled out of the stream (it still had something stinky in it - hopefully that was whiskey ;-)), a rock with cool dual colored moss on it, and a few sword-worthy sticks. We were out there until after sunset. Life is Good.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Let's make this guy famous

My friend Erik was taking pics of Julie (10:32!!) at IM FL over the weekend and saw this guy with flippers on the swim. At the turnaround he dropped them in the water, exited and ran over the mat, and retrieved them when he entered for the second lap. The official said something to him, took his flippers, and THEN LET HIM CONTINUE THE SWIM. (What the...???)

Cheaters have reached an all new low. C'mon folks, Ironman is not about Cheating-to-get-there. It's about courage, strength, perseverance, and integrity. What is the world coming to???? 

Let's find out who this guy is and make him famous.

P.S. - Congrats again to the following Real Ironmen: Julie, Terri, Erin, Tim, Michelle, Shelly and Lana (whose time I predicted) ;-)