Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Workshop of Whoa, what did I just agree to?

Molly, my dear girl, is one of those children who needs constant activity to stay engaged and entertained. I learned this the hard way two summers ago. I didn't really plan anything and thought we would play things by ear. This was a horrible decision. We were both miserable.

So, last year, I learned the art of summer camp planning. I found a lot of different camps that would keep Molly entertained and keep us on a schedule throughout the summer. It was a much better summer.

This year, I knew I would do the same thing. The first activity up for the summer was Vacation Bible School at our church, theme: Workshop of Wonders. Charlotte was old enough to sign up, too, so I signed both girls up and said I would be happy to volunteer whenever they needed me.

Well, a couple weeks ago, I got an email asking if I would mind being in charge of preschool crafts for VBS. Yikes! I was definitely scared. I'm not a teacher, nor am I particularly crafty, and I've never been in charge of a bunch of little children. But, I do love the preschool age, and I didn't have anything else I was doing, so I said yes.

I really had no idea what I was doing, but luckily, everyone was super helpful. I was kind of panicky and stressed about everything. I was googling and Pinterest-searching like there was no tomorrow. But, it turns out, the crafts were mostly planned already, I just had to organize and facilitate the projects. Plus, I had lots of people around to ask questions when I needed.

As it happens, little kids are pretty fun. I ended up having a really good time. It probably helped that several of my parent helpers were already friends of mine (Thanks Lindsey, Megan and Kim!). It was also super fun to see Charlotte in a class setting.

Brook was taking pictures throughout the week, so I got some pictures of the girls from the week. So much fun was had. Molly LOVED the music, and you can tell in her face in the pictures. Charlotte loved snacks, and you can tell that from the pictures as well :)

The first day was RED day:

Molly singing and practicing her moves.

Molly in recreation.

Charlotte LOVES her snacks.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Heartland 39.3 x 3

In 2012, a new race series started in Kansas City. It was called the Heartland 39.3 and consisted of three half marathons within six weeks. With that under your belt, you are automatically qualified for entry into Half Fanatics, a group for runners who love running half marathons.

Of course, I signed up. I ran all the races in 2012 (Rock the Parkway, Kansas Half, and Running with the Cows). I ran all the races in 2013 (RTP, Kansas, and RWTC). And, I signed up again for this year. This year, they switched the Kansas Half that used to run in Lawrence to the Garmin Half Marathon. I was actually excited for this because the Garmin runs in Olathe (aka, my town).

The first in the series was Rock the Parkway on April 15th. It was a humid and warm morning. And, we had not had any warm or humid mornings. In fact, race morning was the first day I'd worn my running skirt for this year. That's not really a good sign. I also had a cold. (This is a consistent ailment throughout this series, unfortunately.)

Catching up with Ashlee and Anne before the race. Sorry, Ashlee, Cory apparently didn't notice your eyes shut when he took the picture!

In the starting corral. I entertained myself and the girls by making funny faces and sticking out my tongue.
I decided to start out with the 1:50 pace group. My PR for a half marathon is 1:47:30. I, of course, never say that it's my goal to beat my PR, but of course, it's always an underlying goal. Luckily for me, I ended up with the same pacer who paced me in Running with the Cows last year (the race in which I ran my PR). I loved him as a pacer, so I was super excited to get him again. I told him that I wanted to get under 1:50, so he kept running with me through about mile 7, then told me to take off.

The girls found me on the course (purple tank, hat, black shorts)! I was running with the awesome pacer.

They gave me quite a boost.
I took off around mile 7 and ended up having a great negative split. But, the humidity and heat were too much for me. I was really struggling for the last mile (though I did manage to pull out a 7:50 for mile 13) and ended up with a time of 1:48:25. Even though I didn't beat my unspoken goal of my PR, I was happy with how I raced. I'd definitely pushed myself and hadn't left anything on the course. In those conditions, I was happy with my time. When I saw my pacer guy after the race, he asked how I felt at the end. I told him, "bad, really bad." And he replied, "Good. If you had said you felt good, you know you could've done more." True.

I actually like this race finishing photo! Doesn't happen often :)

And, crossing the finish line.

I found Anne after the race!

My cute little cheerleaders.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Saturday night at the movies!

Well, Saturday night at eight o'clock
I know where I'm gonna go
I'm a-gonna pick my baby up
And take her to the picture show
Everybody in the neighborhood
Is dressing up to be there, too
And we're gonna have a ball
Just like we always do

Saturday night at the movies
Who cares what picture you see
When you're hugging with your baby
Last row in the balcony

Ok, are you hearing the Drifters crooning about going to the movies, yet?  Ahhh, love some old Drifters.

Anyway, this past Saturday, we had our very own night at the movies in our very own backyard. No balconies, and I was hugging my actual baby, but it was still quite magical. See, my little baby turned 7.

I can't believe Molly is now officially 7. I'm pretty sure I say that with each birthday, but, well, it's still true. Molly is a social butterfly. She wants to be doing something, seeing someone or going somewhere every minute of the day. Truth be told, it exhausts me. (Ok, if you know me at all, you are not surprised by this.)

So, when it came time to planning her birthday party, she wanted a huge party with everyone she knew invited. We started counting it up, and we were upwards of 30 kids. So, because I started having a nervous panic attack at the thought of that many children in my house, I told her we had to cut it down. I tried to convince her to have an art party at an art studio, but told her she could only have about 6 guests. And, she's been wanting to have a slumber party for a couple years now, so I said that we could do that, but, could only invite 3 girls. (No way am I having a ton of kids overnight!). Well, Molly, ever the people-pleaser and sweet soul, didn't want to leave anyone out. It was a no for the art and the slumber party.

After much discussion, we finally came up with a compromise. We were turning it into a girls-only party. And, because she really wanted a sleepover, but wanted more people, we started brainstorming. That's when someone happened to mention that they'd had an outdoor movie birthday for one of their kids. Perfect. It would be in the evening/night, so it was almost like a slumber party, but all the kids went home, so she could invite all her girlfriends.

Of course, next step: Pinterest. There are some great ideas out there, and I just took 'em all.

With the end of school happening, the party kind of got pushed back into the recesses of my mind, so I didn't start planning as early as I normally do. I did manage to make the invitation in advance. Honestly, of all the invitations that I've made, this is my favorite. I thought it turned out super cute.

I really should've planned better and done my shopping for the party before school was out. But, well, I didn't. So, I did all my shopping with both girls in tow. They really aren't bad, but when you have a million places to go, getting in and out of the car with two kids just makes everything take longer. I was ready to pull my hair out on Friday afternoon after a whole day of errand running, let me tell you.

What was a pleasant surprise is that Party City has a whole movie night section. I totally scored with a lot of stuff such as the plates, napkins, tablecloths, etc. I ended up having HyVee make the cake. I of course found one online that I liked and brought the picture in to them. They said "no problem." It was great, because that was only about a week and a half before the party! Cutting it close, people. Though, I'd originally told them a number of people, then we got more RSVPs, so I started freaking out if we would have enough cake. Cory to the rescue. He made cupcakes just like I'd found online.

We also kind of freaked out all day because it kept spitting rain. We had a whole plan for the backyard and rain was not in this plan. Luckily, it finally turned around and cleared up. It ended up being a beautiful night.

So, enough prep stuff. It's party time!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Top 10 reasons we love our Easter tradition

It's Monday night, and we're all still recovering from our annual Easter weekend extravaganza with the cousins Strand. It is always a blast, and this year was no different. Laura had a meeting on Friday morning, so they couldn't arrive on Thursday night like they usually do. But, we were all super excited for Laura, Chris and Penny to get here when they could. As an added bonus, Aunt Amber and Tom decided to come up from Texas for Easter, too. So, we had family all around. It was great. Molly told me before everyone arrived that she was sure Saturday was going to be the best day of her life because she got to see Penny, Aunt Amber and everyone!

Amber and Tom got to town first, so all the Laffertys came to our house for dinner on Friday night. We hung out and waited for the Strands to arrive. They got here around 7, then the girls kind of stared at each other for a while until they got used to each other again. It didn't take too long, then they were running around, playing and laughing.

Being in a new house, we actually had a guest room for Laura and Chris to stay in. Previous years, we've stuck them in the basement. (Sorry guys!) But, when we were making up the guest room, which had a twin bed and trundle, we realized the only sheets we had for the bed were Dora the Explorer sheets from Charlotte. Whoops. (Sorry again, guys!)

Saturday morning, we got up early and headed to the Easter Egg 5K. This year was gorgeous weather, and the girls were all excited to run the Lil Bunny Fun Run. Unfortunately, it was 1 hour after the start of the 5K, and Penny was terrified they were going to miss it, so she worried and bugged Laura about it the entire time Cory and I were running. Amber came and ran, too. She's becoming quite the runner down in Texas.

Amber, Cory and Me. You might notice a 1st place medal around my neck ...

Hanging with the Easter Bunny while we were running.

Look at my speedy girl!

Just about one of the best pictures ever.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Dashing like a Diva

I've been behind on blogging. Clearly. I'm trying to catch up.

For the past couple years, I've run in the Diva Dash 5K. It's a really fun, all-girls race close to our house. Think pink, pink and tutus, and you have a picture of what the race is all about. So, when my friend Jackie sent out a message seeing if anyone wanted to join a team, I immediately signed up.

Because it's a women's only race, and they have prize money, there are some fast runners. I had no hope of winning anything, but was just going to go out and see how fast I could go. I've been working on my speed a lot over the winter, so I was just curious.

They have a Lil' Princess Fun Run for the girls, too. My girls love receiving a tiara and medal as they cross the finish line, so they were all on board with running this race again this year. And, yes, Charlotte picked out my running outfit. When I laid the girls' clothes out the night before, she decided I also needed to wear my pink race shirt, black under shirt, black pants and tutu skirt. So, I made her happy.

Cory and the girls and I get to the race, and I'm about to get out of the car when I realize that I've forgotten my bib and timing chip at home. *facepalm*  Now, unfortunately, this is not the first time I have done this. I really think I need to start exercising my brain and memory muscles in addition to my quads and hamstrings. But, good husband that he was, Cory left me there to do a warm-up mile with Anne and Kelli and headed back to pick up my stuff. I felt like an idiot and was also very glad that I have a very nice husband.

Me, Anne, Kelli and Jackie before the race started. And, after Cory delivered my bib and timing chip.
We lined up in the starting corral and before I knew it, the race gun went off. Unfortunately, I did not have my music going. I quickly flipped my iPod onto the first thing I could get. That was a Freakanomics podcast. Hmmm, I love listening to those while I'm driving around town to preschool or gymnastics, and even when I'm doing a long run. But sprinting in a race? Nope. So, after about a half mile, I couldn't handle it anymore. I had to fumble with my iPod to find music. Thankfully, I found my running fast playlist. Ahhh, much better.

Because this race is fairly close to my house and is on roads that I've run on all the time, I knew the course. This is great. And, not so great. I knew where I was headed, but I also knew the giant hill that was waiting for me in mile 3. I hate that hill up 119th. I always have. Blech. But, after 2 miles of sprinting, I just had to power through. Head down, arms pumping, I made it up.

I had no idea where I was in terms of the overall race, but I thought I was doing ok. I was hoping to PR. So, when I saw a 22:something on the finish line clock, I was bummed. My PR was 21:57. Oh well, I'd run hard. It had had hills. I got a cool medal.

About to cross the finish line. Not my most attractive picture, but I like that both my feet are in the air.
With the girls after I finished.
I stuck around close to the finish line to find Cory and the girls, then what do you know, I see Anne crossing the finish line in record time. A new PR for her! WooHoo for her!

After we finished, we took a cute picture with the backdrop.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New House!

Whoa! It's been a while since I updated. Crap. Where have I been? What's been going on? Why have I been delinquent on posting?

Well ... drumroll, please ... get excited ... are you ready? ... Alright, here goes: I have been moving. Not moving as in dancing, but moving as in packing up our entire house and moving all our crap, ahem, stuff to a new location. Now, it's not the only reason that I've been incredibly far behind on updating the blog, but it's the reason I'll blame.

Here's the story:

Cory and I moved into our old house in October of 2003 when we were but wee babes and had been married for less than two years. We had almost no furniture, and I didn't really know my true decorating style yet. But, I did love our house. Fast-forward 10 years and two kids: I still loved a lot about our house (memories of bringing my babies home and them taking their first steps chief among the things I loved), but we were bursting at the seams.

Bringing Molly home to our house in 2007. (Eeek, and I thought I didn't get swollen while pregnant!)

We've always loved entertaining and having parties at our house (see all the parties on the party page), but, oh boy, our house was getting progressively smaller as our parties kept getting bigger. I guess that happens when you keep adding kids and the kids keep growing.

So, every once in a while, I would get an itch and start searching the internet for a new house. The problem was, I loved our neighborhood and neighbors a lot. I was willing to put up with a lot in our tiny house to stay in our neighborhood. But, then my BRF (best running friend) Sarah moved away. It had been so convenient to have another running stay-at-home mom to two girls living right across the street. When she moved, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. I started looking in earnest.

That's when I came across the listing for our new house. It had previously been foreclosed, but then had been flipped. Originally, Cory and I thought we might want a fixer upper. He had a lot of experience and contacts after fixing up so many rentals. But, then we fell in love. Yes, with a house.

We had some back-and-forth, but ended up getting it (obviously), and gained possession the week before Thanksgiving. We thought we might have a lot of time to move slowly and get everything ready. But, then we found the perfect people to rent our old house, and they needed to be in before December. That meant turning on our supersonic speed moving skills. It was insane.

But, we made it.

Our new house!

And, of course, I had already agreed to host my faith club's annual Christmas dinner before anything about the move happened. I decided to keep the date and use it as a deadline of sorts for myself to get our house semi-ready. I had about three weeks to do it.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Racing through the cold

As you can tell, I've been behind on blogging.  I'm trying to play catch up. 

Racing season is typically in the spring and fall. These are generally the best temperatures and conditions for running, so that's when the majority of races take place. But, there are crazy people (ahem, like me) who like to run races in the winter. I tend to get a little bored without races, so I am willing to sign up for ones even in the middle of winter. My problem is that I am entirely too optimistic. I think, surely it won't be too cold, or too snowy, or too icy. Surely not.

Now, sometimes this optimism pans out. Sometimes not.

This winter, I ran five races. The first was the Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa, Oklahoma in November. I've done this race multiple times, including the full back in 2010. But, now they sucker me in with an awesome Half Fanatic special medal. Me, Anne, Kelli and her husband, John, road-tripped together. It was also John and Kelli's wedding anniversary, so Anne and I were the third and fourth wheels.

Kelli and John toasting to their anniversary at lunch the day before the race.

Anne and I at the same lunch.
Luckily, the hotel we stayed in was super close to the starting line. So, we pretty much had to get out of bed and roll down to the start. This is the same hotel we stayed in last year when we had someone walk in our room at 2am. This time, I put on the bolt.

Posing inside the hotel.
Right after the above picture was taken, two guys wearing Marathon Maniacs shirts came up to us and asked us what our Half Fanatic numbers were. Anne and I were clueless and made some joke about how we should probably know that. Hahahaha. Well, then they said numbers were 1 and 2. They were the founders of the organization. We felt like complete idiots. But, oh my gosh, we laughed at ourselves.

Now, the problem for this race was that it was FREEZING. Like, absolutely, beyond a doubt cold. And, we had to get out early enough to take this picture with all the other Half Fanatics.

There are a ton of us.
We tried huddling in a tent with about 100 other people to keep warm from body heat. That didn't really do too much, though. My feet and hands were numb.

Everyone's hands were shaking so much that we couldn't get a clear picture.
The first 3 miles of the race, I couldn't feel my feet. Really. They felt like lead blocks. And, this was with wool socks on. I don't really remember too much of the race. We did run for a while by an Australian guy in a Superman costume. That was fun because we got some great cheers. We kept up a fairly good pace, I think because we were so cold that we just wanted to finish.

Kelli ran the full distance, but we couldn't wait around for her to finish. Pretty much as soon as we were done, we went back to the hotel. We tried to go to the Half Fanatic tent, but I couldn't move my fingers and the food wasn't as awesome as last year. When we got back to the hotel, I ran my fingers under scalding hot water for probably 5 minutes until I could feel them again.

Finally warm. And, yes, we look like we're in a ski lodge, not Oklahoma.
But, we got cool medals!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chocolate, chocolate everywhere!

My baby girl, Charlotte, turned 4 this February. We were having a tough time deciding on a theme. We kept throwing around idea after idea, but nothing was sticking. Then, pushing our cart through Target, we walked through the Christmas clearance section. There, I stumbled on a roll of wrapping paper covered in hot chocolate mugs.


We would have a hot chocolate party. Charlotte loves hot chocolate, so she was totally on board. As we started planning it, it became clear that having the theme as hot chocolate was a little limiting, so we expanded to just have all chocolate. Charlotte was still very ok with this idea. This girl loves her chocolate.

We started with the invitations. I looked on Pinterest for some ideas, then made this one:

The meteorologists forecasted a huge snow storm the week before the party, so I went to the grocery store to stock up in advance. Man, that cashier must have thought I was the worst mom ever when she checked out my cart. Nothing but chocolate junk. (Actually, I think I had bananas and milk in there, too, so that totally makes up for the massive quantities of chocolate, right?)

Charlotte with all the chocolate before the party.

I didn't really have too many games or plans. I mainly concentrated on food. My friend Sarah had a chocolate fountain that I borrowed, and I actually baked a few things. (This is a huge feat for those who know me!)