Sunday, October 28, 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Choir Time

It is time to start practicing for the Christmas program. The choir director has chosen the "Hallelujah Chorus" as our show piece. I think it is going to turn out very nicely. We are lucky to have such a great choir director to lead the way!

It's Playoff Time

Raef and Zach and their team, the Galena Grizzlies, made the playoffs. They had their first playoff game on Saturday at Sparks High School.  And guess what? They WON!  The final score was 32-12.  It was a great game and the team has really improved this year.

But the real trick when you go to a football game is to keep the little ones entertained for about 3 hours.  This is accomplished with lots of food and candy, a train caboose, and cool bleachers you can jump on, climb on and under, and, oh... silly neon glasses.

Julia, Harry, and Eli did great! 

Since the boys won, they get to play again this coming weekend. It will be against the #1 team, who has annihilated all of their competition this year, including us.  I am not holding my breath, but I hope they can at least make an improvement from the last two times we have played this season.  We shall see.

Nevada Day in Carson

Friday was such a beautiful day. And it was Nevada Day for our state. All the public buildings and schools were closed, so after a short day of academics, we took a little trip down to Carson City and Mill Park to check out the awesome display of aircraft.
They had helicopters and airplanes and the let you sit in the cockpit on several of them.
The kids enjoyed it and it was nice to get out of the house.
Later that day, we went to pick apples at Maureen's house. She is this lovely lady that I know from homeschool co-op.  She was so kind to let us come and pick apples and I was able to get several large baskets full of different kinds. I have juiced some of them, and need to preserve the rest. We love apples at our house!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Romney Rally

 Today, the boys experienced the inner workings of freedom: a political rally. We were able to go to downtown Reno to listen to presidential candidate Mitt Romney give a speech. We got there about 45 minutes early and it was already pretty full, so the kids couldn't see a darn thing.  I decided to ask the security people if we could sit behind the podium, because I could see that there were a lot of seats left.  Sure enough, after asking a couple of times they let us go on up.

It was great. Here was the view...
Luckily, all speeches were on point and we were not there too long.  Everybody had to get back to work! Speaking of that, on the way out I ran into Ryan and Kim. Ryan works for Rinar and was taking an extra long lunch. Ryan has such a nice boss, don't you think?
I really wanted to leave, as the kids needed to do school work and I had a meeting to make. But we got stuck in the rafters. But this ended up being a good thing, because we ended up in front when Mr. Romney came by to shake hands. Zach got to shake his forearm, I guess. And I got a picture.
It was a memorable day for both me and the kids.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Party Like a Three Year-Old

I finally got around to throwing a party for Julia and Harry. Their birthday came the weekend of the marathon, so we had to postpone the celebration a bit. Good thing they didn't know, right?

I spray painted hair blue and pinks. Some of the kids thought it was crazy cool and the others just thought I was crazy.

Raef and Zach were so helpful. They loved being a part of this party. Raef even set up an obstacle course, which was lots of fun.

Then we tried some Duck Duck Goose. They sort of got the game, except some of the kids took the long way around the circle, as in a quick jaunt around the entire house.

We then went outside and shot off balloon rockets. That was lots of fun.

And why not have a costume parade?

Time for some cupcakes. Harry blew out his candle with his party blower.  The party blowers were a big hit and kept everyone busy for at least 20 minutes.

He was a bit surprised when the flame went out.

Instead of doing ice cream, I opted for a classic popsicle.  I think everyone was pretty happy.

It is official now...happy birthday to my latest three year-old muffins. Love you guys.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Kokanee Salmon Run at Taylor Creek

It has just been too beautiful this week to sit behind a desk.  Bad weather is on the horizon and I didn't want to wastedthe day away studying.  Therefore, we did a field trip yesterday!  I took the boys to the salmon run at Taylor Creek in California, via a stop at the Genoa Courthouse Museum.

Genoa was one of the settlements on the Pony Express.  The town was settled by Mormons and was a trading post on the California Trail.  They have a neat display about the Pony Express.  Riders were between the ages of 11-18.  They preferred orphans, because it was so dangerous. Can you believe that someone would sign up for that? Look at my boys.  They will be old enough for that job in 3 months!

 After a turn around the museum, we hit the road again for Lake Tahoe. It was an ideal time to go.  The leaves are changing colors and it was pristine and beautiful. Taylor Creek has a short trail loop and on the back side is the creek. Once a year, the Kokanee salmon come back to the creek to spawn and then die.  They estimate 70,000 fish make the trek.  The creek is very shallow and you can go right up to them. There are dead fish everywhere and tons of fish just floating there in the creek.  It does attract a good amount of bears, though I didn't get to see one.  Boo.

A funny moment happened when we were standing on the bridge by the main road during our leisurely hike.  The creek was just filled with tons of fish.  Our bodies cast a shadow on the water where they were floating. Raef would do a large wave with a stick he had found, and like a computer game, the fish would move away from him.  Then he would go to where there was another clump of fish and do the same thing.  Then Raef and Zach both got in on the action, making the fish move on command. It was pretty darn funny.

I am so glad I was able to experience this cycle of nature.  I learned a ton and I hope my kids did too. It is one thing to read it in a book.  But to actually be able to see it is priceless.

Galena Harvest Festival

This weekend was our ward's Harvest Festival.  It was lots of fun.  I was able to whip up a costume for Julia in the afternoon...Strawberry Shortcake. She loved it.  Harry wore Raef's old pirate costume, which is now nice and dirty, I am happy to report.  Who ever heard of a clean pirate anyways?

There were lots of fun little games to play and prizes to win.

There wasn't enough room on the hayride for all of us, so Molly and Jimmy took Julia and Harry with them and the kids loved it.

But Julia had a hard time processing this monkey mask. She was very confused.

This is just what we needed to get into the holiday mood. I even broke out the fall decorations and let the kids put them up around the house.  Good times. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

I am a Playground

Do you ever sit back as a mom and say to yourself..." whole life is defined by the playground I am currently visiting."

That thought just hit me today.

Today was Whites Creek Park, by the way.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Leaps and Bounds

I tell you, when you make a commitment to homeschool, it is just about getting the little things done every single day.  And so, we just keep moving forward.  Sometimes we crawl, but we move forward.

It has been a great blessing to have some help at the house. I realize I have not taken a picture of Mary. I will definitely do that when I get a chance again. But with her here on a consistent basis, we have been able to get a fairly steady routine going.  Yesterday, we hit the library for a change of scenery. We usually do this about once a week.  I am focusing on providing quiet areas for study and reflection.  The library is ideal for this objective and I can see good results from it.  The boys are learning lots of things on a daily basis.

They are doing really well and they are so smart.  I am a proud mama.

We also keep plugging away at violin and viola. Zach is currently still working on a Vivaldi in Book 5.  But he has also been challenged with a non-Suzuki piece called "Czardas" by Monti.  It is good stuff. Raef is wrapping up book 4, with a long concerto by Telemann.  

Zach's glasses broke about a month ago and the poor kid has been pretty blind since then.  I didn't think it was that bad. I finally got him into the doctor and sure enough, the vision has deteriorated quite a bit over the past year. Thanks to my wonderful, lovely, beautiful sister Heather, Zach is now back in the game.  She picked out a couple of pairs for him and put them in the mail.  I think they look great on my little brainiac.

And this was last Monday morning...yea, like I said. Thank goodness for Mary.

And then there are these wonderful moments.  Let me pause and reflect on these moments. It helps to boost my confidence.

And Zach has developed a new passion: cooking. He is taking a cooking class at Eagle Co-op and he loves it.  As soon as he got home from his first day, he whipped up these banana chocolate chip muffins all by himself. I really mean it. I didn't help him at all, besides testing them for delicious goodness when they were out of the oven. And believe me, the muffins were absolutely delicious.  

With every new ventured tried, you can see the confidence growing by leaps and bounds.  Right before my eyes, he is becoming a young man.

Monday, October 8, 2012

St. George Marathon

The marathon journey has finally ended and I am breathing a huge sigh of relief.  I look back and marvel. Wow! I ran two marathons this year.
Why in the world would I do such a crazy thing?
Well, ummm, I really have no idea.  But I did it.
We left Raef and Zach in Reno so that they could play in their football game on Saturday. It was just Rinar and the little ones for the weekend in St. George, Utah.  Rinar's brothers were both gracious enough to take Eli, Harry and Julia the night before the marathon so that we could concentrate on running. After a wonderful dinner with Rinar's triathlon buddy Bart and his family, we headed up to a cabin in Pine Valley, which is very close to the starting line.  Fortunately, Jason J. was running the marathon as well, and it was his great Aunt's cabin.  He let us tag along with him to share accomodations. This was convenient because it afforded us an extra hour of sleep.  And I love sleep.
I had decided a month previously to run at least the first part of the race with my friend Johanna. She lives in Vegas and after discovering that we were both running about the same pace,  we thought it would be great to have a running buddy.
I wanted to do well in this race and I was a little concerned because my foot had started bothering me on Monday.  It was rotten luck, as I had done a prodigious amount of running all year and hadn't gotten hurt at all and then the week of the marathon, my foot starts acting up!  Sheesh!  It didn't matter. This was my last marathon. I really wanted to run this race and even if I had to crawl, I was going to finish it.
I am grateful that my prayers were answered and I didn't have too much trouble with it. 800 mg of Ibuprofen doesn't hurt either.
The weather was absolutely perfect in every way.  Johanna and I started out strong, about 9 minutes after the starting gun. It was crowded and it required a bit of weaving on our part, but we didn't mind. We talked a lot and were cruising along. Johanna is a great conversationalist and it made it easy to keep my mind occupied. After about 5 miles, I caught up to Autumn and Amy from my ward and then soon ran up to Rusty and Rachel. That was fun and gave me a little boost right before the dreaded Veyo hill. We didn't talk going up the hill. All energy was on slaying the hill.  Luckily, I actually practiced hills quite a bit and I was able to keep a steady pace throughout and didn't stop at all.
In fact, I was so afraid of my foot falling apart, I didn't want to stop at all. I figured it would just hurt more to have to start again.  Johanna let me run with her for about 9 miles and then she was nice and warm and left me in the dust.  I just pulled out the iPod and cranked up the tunes.  I put myself on cruise control and put one foot in front of the other.
I was really proud of myself because I kept a positive attitude for pretty much the whole race.  It is hard to keep a steady stream of positive thoughts  when the road is long and endless, but I did it somehow.
I even ran the farthest I have ever run without stopping: 22 miles.  Finally, my body stopped almost involuntarily.  My time was good and I was hoping to break four hours, but it soon became apparent that it was not going to happen.  So I probably walked about 3 times for a good stretch, maybe for about 5 minutes total.  Diagonal Street was where it was the hardest. I walked there the most, but somehow, I started running again with about 1.5 to go.
It was funny, but when I was on 300 West I saw some kids that were about Raef and Zach's age and then there were some very inspirational signs along the way. (Not to forget that Nordel and Lyf had both put a bunch of signs up the entire course for us, which was so incredibly thoughtful.) But anyways, I don't remember what the signs said on 300 West, but I almost started to cry.  I was overcome by my emotions, but I held it in.
When I finally made the turn onto 300 South the crowd was roaring and the finish line was in sight. I scanned the crowds and saw Nordel holding Eli up to say hi, and then Aislinn and her kids were at the finish line as well.
And guess who gave me my finisher's medal?

Do you recognize this guy?  If you are a football fan, you know it is none other than legendary coach Lavell Edwards from that team down south.  I thought that was pretty darn cool.
My official time was 4:06:18.  It is my best time by far, my third marathon and a great way to end it.
Rinar worked really hard to train for his first marathon. I am sure there will be many more for him.  He did so awesome and I am very proud of him.  He really had a desire to beat all of his friends' best times and he accomplished his goal: 3:39:42. And Johanna kicked some major booty with a great time of 3:49:20. She smashed her time from last year. The girl rocks!
After the dust had settled, the pain really set in. Whoa. I know I pushed myself as hard as I could with the time and abilities I have.  I feel very satisfied with my accomplishment and marvel that I could even do it at all.
That evening we went with Grandma Linda to the waterpark and the kids had so much fun playing and getting wet.  We then went on the wonderful new carousel the city has installed in the downtown complex. It is so cool.  St. George is just a neat town.
Now I am home, still recuperating. I hope tomorrow will allow a normal gait once again.  And  I think about this marathon journey. It is hard.  But it was definitely worth it.  A marathon should be on every single persons bucket list.  It is a hard thing to achieve and the process is absolutely brutal. Sometimes I doubted myself and I shed many tears along the way. There was no one out there to do it for me..  I had to dig down deep within myself and vanquish the doubt, overcome any fear, and just hold on like hell.  I know without a doubt that I am a lot stronger than I ever thought I was. I have proven that to myself...twice!  Who knows, somewhere down the road of life, I may need that strength when it really counts.  It is a gift of strength I have nurtured within myself. No matter what challenges, trials, hardships are awaiting me, I can look back on this year of my life and know that I can endure just about anything. I hope I don't forget.
And as my friend Tracy has so eloquently put it, "I can do hard things!"
And believe me, if I can do this, so can you.

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