Sunday, June 28, 2009

I'm So Glad That's Over With

I did it!

I ran and finished the half-marathon today. I am so relieved I don't have to worry about it anymore (until next year, right Janice?).

Here I am right before the race, cold and nervous as can be:

Here I am taking off:

I started at the head of the pack which was a Bad Idea because I was getting passed right and left for almost the entire race. Next time-I'm going all the way to the rear so I can at least feel like a winner as I cruise past the slow pokes.

And here I am after the first five miles:

In the picture, you can see that I'm messing with my long sleeve shirt that I have tied around my waste. I pulled it off and threw it to my mom and then proceeded to step right into the circled pothole. Amazingly enough, I didn't twist anything and so was able to continue on my "merry" way (the thought did occur to me that had I twisted something I would have a valid excuse for quitting early).

I felt pretty good (on and off) from mile 4 through mile 11 and then things got really uncomfortable. It felt like one of those dreams where you want to run, you need to run, but you can't run because your legs won't work right, or maybe they are enveloped in a quicksand like material (I hate that dream). My mind so badly wanted to run fast so I could just be done with it, but my body had given all it had and so could only move at what felt like a snail's pace.

But, I finished, and that's the important thing. I ran it in 1:57.30 which isn't as good as I did 7 years ago, but still better than I did 5 and 6 years ago (I should hope so since 6 years ago I was less than 3 months post-partum with Juan Carlos-crazy, huh?).

I crossed the finish line and made it to the first piece of shade I could find and camped it:

My mom finally helped me up and we walked around a bit. I was walking kind of funny, as you can see in this lovely shot:

Ouch! Sadly, things haven't improved with time-I am hobbling around like a little old lady tonight and can barely make it down steps. (It didn't stop me from going shopping tonight, though) I'll spare you the details of the various areas of chafing I've got going on right now.

A HUGE thanks to my mom-without her I don't think I would have done it. I was in complete denial the night before that I was actually going to do it, so she, being the real runner in the family, got all my gear ready, packed a bag of any and all supplies that I may possibly need before, during and after the race, and then went out to the store at 9 pm to get my pre-and post-race snacks. She got up at the crack of dawn to drive me up there and then found me at three different places during the race to cheer me on. Then she came out and ran the last mile with me.

Isn't she a good mommy? Even if she does wears her shirt backwards (like I said, it was really early when we left the house) :)

Thanks so much for all of your well wishes.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Growing Pains

Pedro wants to be a big kid, not a baby.

He doesn't want to sleep in his pack n' play on this vacation. So, I've let him try to sleep with the big kids a couple of times. Last night, once things were quiet (after at least an hour of Pedro's silly talk), I went down to make sure everyone was actually asleep and this is what I found:

That's Margarita sleeping on top of him while his head hangs off the side of the cushion. Comfy, eh?

Speaking of pain, my race is in the morning. Today was my last and favorite day of training:

Wish me luck, I think it's going to be ugly. I'll report tomorrow. If I finish, that is, if I don't, I won't be around for a while. :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Home Sweet Home

We made it safely to Colorado after a grueling twenty-two hour trip.

We had what I believe to be the rudest group of flight attendants ever on our Brazil to Houston leg of the trip. I am completely used to, and even understanding of, other passengers not being excited about flying with 4 kids nearby, but when you get on and the flight attendants are acting that way, it's pretty annoying. Every time I asked for something (like hot water to mix up Pedro's milk-really demanding stuff) they would roll their eyes and give a heavy sigh.

Oh well. We made it.

And it's been a great, and very busy, trip so far.

On our first day alone we:

Went to Target twice,

got all the kids much needed haircuts,

bought our first new car EVER- a Honda Odyssey (we ordered it online and just picked it up-never test drove it or even actually been inside one before. Good thing we liked it!):

(isn't it pretty? Gaupo had it installed with both a rear camera and rear sensors so as to decrease the likelihood that I will reverse into something. The sales guy thought it was overkill to have both, but Guapo insisted. It's a good thing, I would have hit a bike that one of the kids parked behind it today were it not for the camera)

met our new nephew/cousin (my brother's son):

and met my mom's new baby, Ms. Priss (she has some other name, but Ms. Priss is much more fitting):

Since the first day it hasn't really slowed down at all. There have been trips to the park, more trips to Target (and Cosco, of course, on Saturday when they have all the yummy samples), and fun around my parents' house.

Julio somehow convinced my dad to get on which was a sight I've never seen before:

(check out how high Julio is)

The neighborhood had a garage sale on Saturday. My mom pulled out some old junk so the kids could participate. They sold a lot of the stuff and made extra money by having a lemonade and donut stand:

This money making activity was of course followed by a quick trip to Target.

They played baseball with Gaupo on Father's Day before he headed back to Brazil (I should add here that he made it into Brazil with 15 pounds of cheddar cheese for the family. He was against the smuggling job, but in the end I won out, and the family will benefit from his selfless act for months :) ):

(... look at those beautiful mountains in the background)

Today I took the kids to a fun water park:

It was pretty funny, my kids were all FREEZING. None of the other hundreds of kids seemed to be bothered by the mid-80 degree weather but my kids had blue lips, were shivering and begging to go home after an hour. I think we've been in the tropics too long.

And finally, my 1/2 marathon looms large. It's this Saturday. The problem is, I fell 10 days ago in Brazil while hiking down this castle thing with Pedro in my arms:

One leg went forward, the other stayed back and my knee got all twisted around. Not good. Today was my first run since then. I wish I could say that my knee hurt during the run and that was the problem, but my knee was fine (I think), I just felt so out of shape. I can't be that out of shape after only 10 days, but mentally, it was tough not to do my last planned long run.

I am just a little nervous about Saturday. I just hope I can finish the darn thing.

Did I mention I LOVE being home?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Today's the Day

The day has finally arrived. We leave for the airport less than 3 hours to begin our 20+ hour journey home to Colorado. I am nervous as I always am about being stuck with Pedro inside an airplane for 15 hours. I hope he sleeps a lot.

It's been a crazy week finishing up the school year. I have made more baked goods than I care to think about. I can't imagine what it will be like when Pedro's also in school.

Margarita "graduated" from 5th grade. They didn't do the whole graduation ceremony when I was a kid-we just had a party and went to Jr. High. It was pretty funny listening to 5th graders talk about how they'll "never forget elementary school." It was a little disturbing to see 11 year-old girls sporting strapless prom dresses, up-do's and professionally applied make-up. And you know when they announce at the beginning of the program, "Will all the {personally hired}videographers please flim from the wings of the auditorium," that your kid goes to a pretty wealthy school.

We were very proud of Margarita, she was one of only 6 kids in her grade to be awarded the "President's Outstanding Academic Excellence Award". I don't mean to brag, but the girl deserves a pat on the back-she works hard at school and is just a nice, decent person. I love her so much!

Here she is receiving her award in her very-non-prom-dress-dress.

She's pretty sure her award is the one that President Obama originally signed and was used to make all the other copies. :)

And my sweet Julio "graduated" from kindergarten. It was so cute.

Here he is getting his diploma from his teacher:

and here's the gift all the kindergartners received:

A t-shirt with their "drawn" class picture on it. They received the shirts yesterday and when I dropped him off this morning, all the kids had it on. What a great idea! I just hope it washes up nicely so he can wear it for a while before I stash it away.

And Julio didn't "graduate" this year (thank goodness, I don't think I could have handled three "graduations"), but he also had a great year at school and we are so proud of him.

And now, it's time to go.

We finished the Tide yesterday:

...and this is what's left of the 15 pounds of cheddar cheese I smuggled in in January:

More from Colorado...

Friday, June 12, 2009

How I Organize My Kids' School Stuff

I have merged ideas from several different people to come up with the best way to keep my kids' school work well organized. Since it's the end of the school year, and I just finished the 5-step process, I'll show you how I do it.

1) The "Special Place"

Throughout the year, I have ONE place for each kid that I keep all of their school work. This keeps me from having to decide on a daily basis what to keep and what to toss; I just take the work out of their backpack, maybe remove something really special to hang on the fridge, and put the rest in the "special place". In our house right now, I have enough drawers to give each kid their own, so the "special place" is currently "The Drawer".

2) The Sorting

At the end of the year, I go through The Drawer and sort out the things I want to keep. It's much easier to trash stuff when I can see that there are 15 similar pieces of work-I don't feel so attached to each one. I try to choose things that show the child's development during the year. My favorite pieces, I scan so that I will always have a copy, and so I can include them in their yearly digital scrapbooks. Sometimes, if I'm in psycho-organizing mood, I laminate all of the stuff, but this year I'm out of the lamination materials, so that will have to be a project for another day.

3) The Beloved Box

It's a hand-dandy plastic box that are made for legal-size hanging folders. Each kid gets his or her own box.

4) The Folder and Labels

Each school year gets a folder. On the label, I put the grade, the school year (2008-09), where we are living at the time, and the teacher's name. Sure, I may be able to remember this stuff for a few years, but over time, with 4 different kids and numerous different schools and teachers, I am sure I will forget. I put the school work in the folder along with report cards and class pictures and any other odds and ends from the year.

5) The Big Folder

Over-sized art stuff goes into one of these babies (each kid has his or her own), making sure everything is labeled with a name and date.

That's it.

And I'm happy to report I now have empty drawers again, ready for the next school year! (And yes, Janice, this makes me so happy, it deserves an exclamation point. :) )

Have a great weekend.

(One week from right now I'll be in Colorado, drinking milk. Maybe in Target. No, drinking milk in Target would be weird. Maybe I'll be drinking Dr. Pepper in Target, that would make more sense since I will have just gotten off of an all-night flight. Ahhhhhhh, I can't wait.)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Must Let It Go

It's been a week now since the plane crash. It was probably the worst week, emotionally and mentally, that I can remember.

Saturday I attended a memorial for my friend's husband that was heartbreaking. I sat a couple of rows behind the family; seeing her back shake in silent sobs as she clung to her two crying children was not a sight that I'm going to forget anytime soon. I am grateful that she was willing to have a memorial here knowing full well that she's going to have to go through it all again (probably several more times) in Norway. I got to give her a hug and say goodbye; I really needed to do that.

Yesterday she invited a few of her son's best friends over for a little while to play outside with her son before they left for the airport. Juan Carlos cried a lot. He's going to miss his friend.

As I was preparing the little treat bags for the kids for their journey home, Margarita asked if she could include a card. Here it is:

"Hi, I'm very sorry about what happened. Everyone will miss you. Try to be happy and remember that your dad is still your dad and that he loves you very much! Be happy, smile a lot, laugh even more! Have fun back in Norway. We are ALL going to miss you. From: Margarita"

Makes me cry every time I read it.

But, it's a new week. My friend is gone. There is nothing I can do for them now other than continue to pray that they'll have the strength and comfort they need to get through the coming days, weeks, and months and that there will be good people that will lift them up until they are stronger.

I have to let it go.

Thank you to all of you who left kind comments, and to those of you who sent me emails during the week. It helped a lot. And, of course, to my mom, who spent a lot of time crying with me on the phone.

I just now kissed Guapo on his way out the door to catch a flight to the States for the week. I hugged him a little harder and held on a little longer than normal, but I will not live in fear. I will live remembering that each day is a gift, that most of the stuff I worry about isn't important, and that I need to cherish the time that I have with those whom I love.


Next time I'll show you how I organize my kids school work, ok? Try to get things back to normal around here. :)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sadness and Comfort

I'm sorry my blog hasn't been funny or light lately. I keep this blog so I can remember things as they were, and lately they've been a little rough.

The Air France crash has hit home hard. As I mentioned on Monday, one of my friends, whose son is a good friend of Juan Carlos's, lost her husband in the crash. Ever since I got the phone call on Monday, I've been basically a wreck. My eyes are red and swollen, my head hurts, I can't sleep very well, I have a cold, and this morning I woke up with the start of a cold sore.

My head is a non-stop whirlwind of thoughts; profound sympathy for my friend and her kids and their immediate future, worrying about how my kids would take it (Juan Carlos I don't think fully gets it, Margarita seems ok, but Julio is crying off and on and wanting to talk about the details of it), wondering how they'll react when Guapo travels internationally on Monday, and how they'll do getting on a plane in two weeks. Every time I'm with Guapo I just breakdown-it's just amazing that you can be with someone you love one day and the next they are gone. And I just feel helpless; there is nothing I can do to help this woman-she is basically in hell right now and will be for quite a while.

Her in-laws arrived this morning from Norway. She will be going home for good on Friday. She has two of her close Norweigen friends at her house 24 hours a day and from what I understand, they are basically making all of her decisions for her right now as she is in shock. I guess the little girl, who is 4, is doing ok, but the little boy just keeps crying and saying that his dad's not dead, that he's just on a boat. Breaks your heart, doesn't it? The two kids are going to go to school tomorrow to say goodbye to all their friends they have made the last 2 years. And then they'll be gone-off to a new country, and a new house, and a new school, and new friends, and no dad.

I am making cupcakes to send to school for their farewell, but I don't think I can be there for it as I can't trust myself to hold it together for 15 consecutive minutes.

On top of all this, I have been feeling like there's something wrong with me for being affected so deeply by this; I mean, it wasn't anyone in my family and yes, she is my friend, buy not one of my best friends, you know?

I felt much better after I went to school this morning and was met by about 5 other moms whose faces looked just like mine-tired, sad, and all with red, puffy eyes. When we saw each other the tears came again and we just held on to one another for a minute. They all are feeling it just like me (I'm normal, thank goodness!). I think we all know it really could have been anyone of us; we are all in the same boat: young families with little kids, living in a foreign country, with husbands who who frequently travel.

We are going to prepare bags of little toys and goodies for the kids to take on the plane. That's the only thing I can think to do at this point for them.

And to think, this is just one of 228 stories...

Monday, June 01, 2009

Life's Not Fair...Continued

I just had lunch at the school with Juan Carlos. I sat next to Juan Carlos and across the table from his good friend whose father was on the Air France flight that went missing early this morning en route from Rio to Paris. Neither he, nor his 4 year old sister, know yet.

I feel horribly sick inside.