Thursday, November 18, 2010

Marathon Man

This was the year Shaggy decided to train for and run in his first marathon ever.

Yeah, this year. . . which has been crazier than all the years we've been together.  It's been completely crammed full of craziness from start to finish.  (I'm just assuming the craziness will continue through December since so far it shows no signs of abating.)

When he first brought it up, I believe I raised my eyebrows and asked if he remembered we were about to have another baby.  Sometimes he gets an idea in his head and it SEEMS like a good idea, but it's only because he has temporarily forgotten about most of his other responsibilities.  Tunnel vision.  He has a true gift for tunnel vision.

But, he made it work.  Thanks in large part to his fabulous wife who was ALWAYS around to care for the kids during his extremely long and frequent training runs.  Yes, I have to pat myself on the back for this because, honestly, I don't think he could have accomplished his goal if he'd had to pull his five little ducklings along behind him.

But enough about me.  He is the marathon man.

He logged lots and lots of training runs with his faithful running buddy Charger.  He ate much healthier and skipped tons of desserts.  And though he underestimated his running time by about an hour, he finished the marathon.  We're all very proud of him.

Here he is looking all chipper when I dropped him off at the starting line.

In our family, we have three rules.  1) Don't panic.  2) Never quit/never surrender.  3) Always survive.  Before leaving him to start the race, I told him in no uncertain terms that in this instance, rule #3 totally trumps rule #2.  And since he has bradycardia, I figure that was pretty good advice.

The kids were all looking for him near the finish line.  R was looking especially hard--she couldn't even be coaxed to turn around for a photo.  But, of course, we were an hour early.  We were beginning to think he had finished way ahead of his estimated time and we had missed him altogether.

So we inched our way closer to the finish line to look for him.  B wasn't really all that interested in finding Daddy, so she took a snooze.  Thankfully.

Because it let me catch a shot of Shaggy running.  I had told him earlier that if he saw me, he should slow waaaay down so that I could get more than just a blur as he ran by.  Turns out I didn't need to say anything about speed.  Because by the time we saw him . . . he wasn't going very fast at all.

In fact, he said it was all he could do to put one foot in front of the other.  Around mile 20, he came up with the oh-so witty, "Next time Troy falls, send someone else!"

But he managed a big smile as he saw us.  The kids were so excited to actually see him finish the race.  And for him, it seemed to put just a little spring back into his stride seeing his whole family lined up to cheer him on.

We were all really impressed that he ran a marathon.  Well, except for baby B, who really just wanted some milk.  She didn't even find his shiny medal all that interesting.

But seeing their dad achieve such a big goal after putting in so much time and effort, made a big impact on K and S.  They even joined him on a run once his body finally stopped aching.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dino-Mite Birthday

We had a much more successful party for J this year, thankfully.  He actually enjoyed himself rather than just his guests.  Of course, we only invited one family.  The family he bonded with over the summer because he went to swim at their house every week.  So there was really only one friend which was his age.  The other kids are friends with the girls.  Somehow that seems to make it all less threatening to him, for some reason.

But whatever.  I was just happy that he was happy.

The cake was really fun to make.  It was easier than I thought it would be to cut cake pieces to form the dinosaur body.  Of course, it helped that I had a nice cheat sheet printed from  And that Grammy was here to hold fussy baby B.

I started out thinking I was making a stegosaurus.  And the body sort of fits with that.  But the kids informed me that the tail was more like an anklyosaurus.  And the head, well, the head doesn't really look like any dinosaur at all.  More like a crocodile . . . with a spiky necklace on.

Then J piped up and said, "It's a J-saurus!"  We liked that classification.

The idea of presents had J in a mild frenzy of excitement for hours, even before the guests arrived.  It was all we could do to convince him that he needed to wait until the end of the party to open them.

During a lull in the party action, he took the opportunity to build a tower out of his gifts, topping it all off with our magic toy wormy.

Everyone enjoyed the dino inflatables, even B.  And she actually smiled long enough for me to snap a picture.  Usually her grins are so quick, and make her wiggle so much that my photos turn out blurry.

We really only had a few activities planned.  Considering the fact that we had this party only a week after my surgery, we figured laid back would be a necessity.

The kids dug for dinosaur skeletons in the sand box.  The big kids found one they liked, pocketed it, and then disappeared to play in their room.  J and R wanted to bury theirs again and again so they could dust them off like real archeologists.

Our other main attraction (well, besides the cake), was clay.  Shaggy showed the kids how to work with it, how to combine different colors to make cool effects, and how to press it onto little frames he had made.

The idea was for each of the kids to make their own creative dinosaur.  Which most of them did wonderfully well.  But if you notice from the photo, one of these is decidedly NOT like the others.

That would be J, once again bucking conformity and choosing his own path.  No cool dino for him.  Nope.  He insisted on making a pumpkin.  Which he was delighted with.  And I guess that's all that really matters.

R had a great time at this party.  Partly because J was too distracted to pester her.  But also because she had FOUR big sisters to cater to her every whim.  She is totally opposite J in this regard.  She LOVES being the center of attention.  The more attention the better.

J's only real show of anxiety came when it was time to serve cake.  He ran from the room and hid for a while.  Which seemed odd as he is a sugar fiend and adores frosting.  The cake itself is entirely optional in his mind.  Once we were able to coax him into talking, we discovered that he just didn't want us to sing happy birthday to him.  OK.  Pretty easy fix.  And then he was able to finish out his party with a smile on his face.

Happy birthday to my little bug, who is somehow not so little anymore.

My Lifesavers

I love these girls.  They are fun to hang out with.  They only occasionally make trouble.  They are fabulously capable, and they make my responsibilities more manageable on a daily basis.

I don't know what I would do without them.  I believe I would have lost my mind over the course of the last 5 or 6 months if I hadn't had them around to count on.

They are great with the little kids (well, except for when they're fighting with them).  They are unbelievably helpful around the house.  They are earning their stripes in the kitchen, helping out with meals and even occasionally making dinner for the whole family.  They always make their own lunches, and almost always make J's as well.  They are excellent baby holders.  K even changes a diaper once in a while.

Have I mentioned that I love these girls?  They make us a better family, something for which I am ever so grateful.

DIY Superhero

We found some very old face paints in our halloween box this year.  They looked like they hadn't fared very well in the hot attic of our garage.  So we gave them to the kids and let them go to town.

J took that offer pretty seriously.  I also think he overlooked the part about these being FACE paints.

He started out wanting to be iron man.

But then he changed his mind, crossed out his power circle, and went with green for the incredible hulk.

Have I mentioned that this child has become extremely interested in all things superhero?

I love his look of extreme concentration here.  How can you be the hulk without turning every bit of exposed skin green, after all?

But after his face and one arm, the green ran out.  Too bad.

But he still made a pretty cute half-hulk boy.

And after a bath, his eyebrows were still tinged a nice hulky green color.  Which accented his eyes quite nicely, even if I do say so myself.