Tessa gets the choice of having a birthday party in the even years, and this year she most definitely wanted a party. A "My Little Pony rainbow baking party"... We all know my minimalist efforts, but, hey, we pulled it off for her.
We had ten little girls show up for the party --a mixture of school friends and church friends. What a beautiful and sweet group:
Paige, Tessa, Elli, Aniyah, Eva, Anna, Ella, Evy, Izzy, Saneen, and Emberly (Emily came later.)
They started out coloring on the paper tablecloth as they arrived. Then, we had a fashion relay game, spent time out jumping on the trampoline with balloons, played Pass the Pony, had lunch, decorated and ate cupcakes, opened presents, passed out party favors, and sent them on their way.
The school friend moms or grandmoms stayed. It was nice to get to know them a little.
Here's Tessa blowing out her candle:
Seriously, how cute are they?!?!
Tessa received quite the load and was buzzing with happiness over her party for days after.
Here she is on her actual birthday a couple of days later, eating breakfast before school:
Six blessed years with my Tessa so far. What a generous, sweet, silly, creative, precocious, fun, clever, and kind little girl she is.
Last year Jake's cousin and his family joined us in our neck of the woods for Thanksgiving, so this year we headed their direction. It took much too long to get to San Antonio, but we were so happy that we could make the trip. What a fantastic and relaxing weekend we had with the Hansens.
Here are Tessa and Lizzy right before eating our truly delicious meal:
Cole and Zach got to have their own fancy dining area. Two peas in a pod, I tell you.
Paige was happy that she got to munch on some grown up food.
The next day we went to Sea World! We love Sea World. It was decorated for Christmas, and the shows took on more Christmasy themes. Very fun. Cole was so excited to go on his first real rides. (And Jake and I were thrilled that we were able to go on the grown up roller coasters.)
On the carousel:
It's a Sesame Street style carousel, which is cute, but I snapped pictures and had to look away for the rest of the time. The spinning makes me sick to my stomach, but hey, if the kids like it, more power to them.
This is what Paige and I did while they rode the horsies:
She did get to go on one ride, kind of a swirling rocking boat one. I'm not sure what thought...
Here is Amanda and Zach:
The next day we headed into downtown San Antonio. Here are all the kids, minus baby Colin, on the ever lovely Riverwalk:
Paige, Zach, Too Cool Cole, Lizzy, Tyler, and Tessa. What a good looking group.
We ate at a restaurant on the Riverwalk:
Snapped some more pictures...
And then we had to be on our way. We love spending time with those San Antonio cousins. I'm not sure there are nicer people to be found. It was a great break from our usual routine and gave us even more for which to be thankful!
I love watching and listening to Jake play with the kids. I'm grateful that he does it often and enjoys it so much.
It's true that "we like the dad" --even when he has an unfortunate pirate eye patch and out of control nose hair. Baaahahahaha.
And since this happened on the same day: Cole got into the felt book (not unusual) I made years ago. The kids have had some fun destroying that thing. Good grief. This day, though, I burst out laughing when I saw that Cole put the cowboy hat on Paige. Silly kids in mini hats.
This is what happens when you guide your family into a certain costume direction and it turns out incredibly right:
Halloween is my favorite.
Welcome to the jungle, my friends.
We were Guns 'n' Roses! No, my kids don't exactly know who they are, but they understand rockstars. And they recognize the brilliance of a good electric guitar solo.
And they can sing a mean "Sweet Child of Mine" line.
Here we have Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin (with browner, curlier hair), and Slash.
My family is awesome.
When I finished straightening Tessa's hair and tied on the bandana, I burst out laughing. Spot on.
At home, working out the costume:
We worked on the Axl sway dance. Slash was obviously a hit.
I dare you to find an image funnier than a baby wearing a wig.
Trunk or Treat over at our church was a success, and so was the youth led Halloween carnival afterwards. We had a great time and made several people laugh --which made our costumes entirely worth it. Cole and Paige lasted a full 50 minutes with the wigs, which is impressive.
I did a 5k at the end of September and did not beat the goal I had hoped (plus, I came in 4th place in my age group and barely missed getting a trophy --which bummed me out way too much for a grown woman.
SO, I signed up for another one two weeks later, while my dad was here, determined to beat that goal. This one was called The Vampire Run. It was a costume contest and 5k, which was super fun and very entertaining. It was an early evening run, and the weather was lovely.
I didn't want to bulk on a costume and wasn't planning on being in the contest, so I just put on Cole's Superman belt and cape and grabbed the ever awesome sweatband.
Playing in the park during the run:
I rounded the bend toward the end much sooner than I'd anticipated and crossed through the finish line. I knew that I'd improved my speed over the last couple of weeks, but this was ....impossible. We waited to find out my time:
They took forever! They awarded the best costumes and finally said that awards could be sent to winners since they were taking so long to get race results. We took off because we were HUNGRY.
The next day Jake looked up my time. It was about 25:30. Which is really good. Too good for me. I pushed it, but I certainly didn't outdo myself that much. I had Jake look up the course and plot it on Google Earth. Sure enough, the course was missing about a third of a mile! What professionally organized race misses that much on 5k? We emailed them but never heard anything back. We figure my time, averaging the rest of the run, would have been about 28:15, which is a little faster than usual and beat my goal. But I was still irritated with the race people for not making it official...
The next week Jake was registered for a half marathon. To put it bluntly, he wasn't even close to prepared and knew it wasn't going to happen. There were several people from our ward participating who had been training together. One was a wife who took over for her own unprepared husband.
I Skyped with Ashley over in Jolly Ol' England a couple of days before. We had a lovely visit wherein she suggested that I could complete the half marathon in Jake's stead. I laughed at her and told her to forget it and that I was trying my darndest to sell the dumb registration on Craigslist so we weren't out the whole fee.
I had no bites on buying Jake's spot, and that crazy marathon running Ashley planted a crazy seed in my head. "Maybe I could do it. It wouldn't be so bad to run and walk until I fell over, right? I can do hard things. It would have been nice to be somewhat prepared beyond the three miles I can run, but, hey, the opportunity to push myself is right here." So, basically I went insane and committed to do it. I didn't tell any of those people in my ward I was going to go, for several reasons, the main one being that I didn't want any pressure. I'm not much of a runner. I'd be lucky to finish.
I plotted out a semi-plan (it was the day before the race, after all) that I would run two miles and walk one in a pattern. Then maybe I could somehow get the job done.
Saturday morning I grabbed the registration number, Pop-tarts (the breakfast of champions), and a couple of other things I would need, and headed for the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. I'm so thankful to have a supportive husband who navigated me to the race over the phone. The roads were a construction and traffic mess.
I arrived at the race late and parked far away, but they were starting very late. I got there with a few minutes to spare before they started. A cold front had moved in the night before, so it was a chilly 40 degrees out.
I got my ipod situated and took off when directed at a comfortable jog. I had a nice six mile jog, actually. I was pretty happy with myself. For the first time, training for a 10k didn't sound like such a daunting, horrible thing. It was sometime around there, though, that I thought, "Maybe I should be careful about this. Maybe I should pick up on my walk/jog plan right here so I can last." So, I walked for a mile and a half, feeling some aches in my knees and feet. I pick up the jog again, and struggled between jogging and walking until I neared mile 10. At this point I felt like the sides of my knees were melting into my feet, and I simply couldn't go as fast as I wanted. I was frustrated with the fact that my heart and lungs were doing great, but my muscles were not strong enough to keep up much of a fight.
Oh, well. I had three miles to go. The song, "I Just Want to Be Okay"came on as I looked down at my nail polish I'd put on a couple days earlier that Ashley had sent me called "Are We There Yet?" and started to laugh out loud. The mixture of the song and polish titles summed up my feelings nicely. I shuffled through the concession areas under the huge bleachers and got passed up by every 75 year old participating. I kept having to remind myself that it was okay. I had come with three miles of oil in my lamp, was not prepared for thirteen and just wanted to finish --and get the finishers' medal.
The last mile and a half or so was around the Texas Motor Speedway track. I'm sure there are people who think this is really cool. I am not one of them. It had to have been the ugliest chunk of a run ever planned. I was sadly shuffle hobbling until the last tenth of a mile, where I made myself run, which was probably comical at that point. I received my medal and hobbled toward the tent area.
Oh, the pain in my feet! My left running shoe is a little tight (through the sprain and pregnancies, my feet have shape shifted or something), so my left big toe slammed into the shoe through the race. But I did it! I finished. At the tent I took two bananas -so there!- and a yogurt and a coconut water. I didn't know what they were doing selling all those shirts at the other end of the tent, so I didn't venture there since I had to make my way clear out to my car. It turns out it was a finishers' shirt they were giving out! Augh! I was so sad that I didn't get one. I didn't know there was such a thing.
All in all, I'm glad I did it. I don't have the desire to do it again, but I've learned to never say never. I don't intend on a last minute chance for a half marathon again, so hopefully it would be something for which I'd be better prepared. I do intend to do a 10k, though, and am planning to run with my husband in the spring. That, I can do --and actually look forward to it. I may not be much of a runner, but I like being around runners. They're generally positive people.
Here I am at home afterward:
I recovered pretty quickly. Hallelujah!
The left big toe, though, I'm still waiting to see if it'll recover...