Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Weekend Away

We had a very fun, and very full weekend in Minneapolis. We left early on Friday morning, enjoying the autumn colors just starting to turn on the drive down. Once there, we took advantage of the "shopportunities" we don't have in our little town. The kids were troopers, probably because we kept talking up all the fun things we had planned for the next few days.


Rob's sister Katie (blond hair, blue dress) flew in Friday night, and the next morning everyone but me (stubborn me!) dressed in full Rennaissance costume before we headed to the Minnesota Rennaissance Festival. This has become an almost-yearly tradition in our family, and we were happy Katie could join us! She is a master seamstress and this year brought along costumes for Haley and Jake. Just look at them! For the record, she made hers and Rob's as well... Our group won the costume contest thanks to her skills, winning us free admission (except for plain-clothed me, of course). We had such a fun time people-watching, browsing the interesting shops, eating huge turkey legs, and watching others' reactions to Haley's costume. Haley, Katie and Rob even attended the Queen's Tea while Jake and I took off for the afternoon. It was a great time and I'm sure we'll be back next year!


While the kids swam that night, I did my final preparations for something I'd been training for all summer - the Iron Girl Duathlon. For some crazy reason it sounded like a good idea back in May when I signed up. I was so nervous! I'd trained hard, but you always worry that you haven't trained enough. As Rob and I drove the course that night I became even more anxious as I saw that the bike course was hill after hill. I had gone for long rides and worked hard in spinning class, and hoped that would be enough to carry me through...

Rob dropped me off at the start the next morning when it was still dark...there was no turning back now! I and 999 other women racked our bikes, set up our transition area, and headed to the starting line. The first 2-mile run was a nice flat loop, followed by 22 miles on the hilly bike course, and then another 2-mile run. My times were about as I expected them to be; I finished in 2:30:39. By the time I started the final run I was so ready to be done, but then I saw Rob and Katie and the kids on the sidewalk cheering me on. It was just the boost I needed and I'm so glad Haley and Jake got to see their mom accomplishing such a big goal. It will probably be a while before I sign up for another event of that size, but for now I'm just happy to say I'm an Iron Girl!


After the duathlon we headed over to the Mall of America for the afternoon. I was pretty beat, so Rob took the kids on ride after ride after ride...they were in heaven. I did a little speed-shopping (couldn't pass up an opportunity to go to Nordstrom!) but was really too tired to last long. Haley astounded us by asking to go on a few of the bigger rides. She was barely tall enough to get on them, but she went on the roller coaster and the log/water ride a few times each. I couldn't believe this was the same little girl who wouldn't ride on the kiddie rides at Lagoon this summer! That night we headed for home - exhausted and happy and ready to embrace autumn in Grand Forks.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Post-It Note Catch-Up

Whenever the kids say or do something cute, I jot it down on a Post-It note and stick it to the computer monitor. They are starting to obscure the screen so I thought I would condense all their random, funny sayings and questions into a post. I know everyone always thinks their kids say the cutest things, so I forgive you if you don't read the whole thing!

Haley shows why Moms have identity crises:
"Who teaches your class at the YMCA?"
"D'Ann does."
"Who's D'Ann?"
"Um, she teaches the spinning class."
"No, I mean whose mommy is she?"

Another time:
"Do all other moms and dads have names, like yours is Valarie? I thought they were all just 'Mom' and 'Dad'."

Haley discovers the purpose of our gluteus:
"It's OK because I landed on my bum and it has those squishy sides."

Haley, after I spent a long time (too long, apparently) on the phone with my good friend Suzanne:
"Why do you have so much to say to her?"

Haley one day, giving a guilt trip regarding how long it takes me to get back and check on her after I tuck her into bed:
"Was that REALLY two minutes??? 'Cause at bedtime 'two minutes' seems so long!"

Randomly one afternoon as she helped me tidy up:
"Hey Mom, do you know what my style is? A happy smiling face and a hard-working attitude."

A pat on the back for maybe teaching her something useful... We were at the park one day and she went to get a drink from the water fountain. Some teenage boys were laughing because she was so cute (that's what she said). Later she told us, "Besides, I know it doesn't matter how you look, it matters how you treat others." WOW. That's exactly what I'm trying to convey when I'm poring over the J. Crew catalog or frowning at myself in the dressing room mirror...

Jake, when I'm not listening to him:
"Um, EXCUSE me, Mom! I'm trying to talk to you!"

Jake, when Rob playfully swatted him on the head with a fly swatter; you had to see the serious face with the smoldering eyes to get the whole effect:
" I am NOT a BUG!"

Last week Rob's parents were visiting. They already know that Jake is an early riser, and they sleep all the way down in the basement. But I'm sure they couldn't have missed it when he climbed off the bed, ran down the hall, cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted:
"COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO!!!" I was in hysterics; I have no idea where he got that from, and the timing was perfect.

My computer monitor looks so uncluttered! We'll post pics from our upcoming trip to Minneapolis soon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mom and Dad Wood's Annual Autumn Visit

Almost every year, Rob's parents drive up to visit us in the autumn. This year they were on their way to the East Coast; we were glad to provide them with a few days' break from driving!

The kids LOVE it when Grandma and Grandpa visit. The motor home is a unceasing source of amusement, and Grandma is so great at playing. Not playing like I do, half-engaged while surreptitiously tidying up or sorting toys. She actually gets down on the ground and helps make up the stories and games. I'll have to follow her example more...

Rob and I are so spoiled when they come; we tell them every time that they can stay as long as they want...they just laugh, but we're serious. Dad cooks amazing meals & takes us out to eat, Mom plays with the kids nonstop and shoos us out of the house to go on dates (Yippee! Going to a movie together!). They do the dishes and fold the laundry, and help fix things around the house that have been on the to-do list for months. I'm sure they're exhausted after a few days, but we wave goodbye to them feeling like we've been on vacation. Thanks, Mom and Dad! Come back anytime...REALLY!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Mess-maker, Mess-maker, Make Me a Mess!

Jake is all-boy when it comes to messes. The bigger the puddle, the better; the muddier the sandbox, the better; the bigger the tower of blocks, the bigger the crash will be when they fall. However, he's also a mama's boy and he knows that I don't like big messes in the house ("Take it outside!" is something he hears a lot from me).

So when we got out the fingerpaints the other day he looked at me suspiciously as I showed him it was OK to use his hands (YES, I know it's sad that it's been that long since we fingerpainted...it's messy people!) It wasn't too long until he was literally elbow-deep in it and he wants to paint everyday now. An artist in the making?