Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009

This year brought many, many blessings for our family. It's amazing how quickly times flies with a little guy added to the mix, but with his huge curls, big smile and ever increasing vocabulary, Cooper has definitely made this year one truly to keep us on our toes. As far as trips go, we hit the Southern Caribbean in the spring, planted squarely in the mix with Tommy's 5th birthday and Cooper's 2nd birthday. What an amazing journey it was, too, as we visited the unfamiliar islands of Caracao and Aruba, the less than stellar coasts of Costa Rica and Panama, and made our way into and through the Panama Canal. Once back on land, I quickly scrambled to get ready for our big guy's 40th birthday party, and managed to pull of what ended up being mostly a surprise to him. Down in Everett his family and some friends joined us for a surprise gathering for him, and I followed that up by a romantic...uh, change trip to Whistler as a surprise as well. John just couldn't stand to be away from the boys on such an exciting trip, so with Rhonda in tow, we headed up together. Whistler continues to be a favorite getaway of ours, and we enjoyed watching Tommy try out the big boy jumps and the skate park with his bike. In June, we headed out for our annual pilgrimage to Silverwood, then stayed close to home for the summer. However, John's summer was just ramping up.

Ironman 2009

Huge. Monumental. Amazing.

Our trip to Vineman Ironman 2009 was supported by our friends and family, and I was able to travel down with John on his most amazing athletic journey. Brad had fought through numerous injuries throughout training to race hard and successful, too. It was an incredibly proud moment for me, not only to watch my husband cross the finish line looking completely at ease and extremely happy, but competing in this race. I still remember our early days together when I would go out on runs and John would tell me, " I don't really like to run." Now, he's doing this.

Our final trip of the year saw us in California, celebrating all things Disney. It was an amazing trip for us as a family and a time where John and I had the pleasure of watching our beautiful sons experience the "magic" of Disney. We were so very thankful that we made the decision to take this trip while Tommy still believes and Cooper loves on all characters, no matter their name!

Tommy completed roughly three years at Catch The Son, and although great strides were made these years, he still brought laughter, and a tad bit of embarrassment, when he crawled under his chair during his graduation ceremony. Long live the photo John took of this moment. Tommy spent his summer jumping off the dock and the life guard chair without a life jacket, and quickly made friends with the lifeguards. They spend a lot of time hanging out with him, playing with him on the beach and on the trampoline and chasing him and the friends around the lawns. Although he tried, he still does not put much effort into water skiing, but bring on the tube and he's all daredevil. Flying across the lake, "surfing" the tube and begging to go faster. That's what it was about on the water. He started kindergarten this fall, and although still a bit anxious and tearful in the mornings, he's learning to trust his new teacher and enjoys his days at Geneva. We're seeing the beginnings of his writing and reading emerge, and it's exciting to watch that continue to grow. Legos, legos and more legos. That is his true love. He loves his friends Isaac and Tiago, and finished his first season of Lakeside Soccer. John started and retired after his first season as assistant soccer coach. Tommy is a great brother to Cooper, and has to put up with a lot of Cooper. Cooper will take his toys, break his Legos, throw tantrums, etc. Although Tommy seems to enjoy those moments when Cooper is howling about something, he's also quick to give in and relinquish whatever it is that Coop is carrying on about. As we enter this time of year, we're seeing more and more moments of enthusiastic play between the two, and it's not only encouraging but endearing to see. They'll dance together, races through the house together squealing with delight, wrestle and tackle, play and do tricks off of the bed onto the floor mattress, and sometimes even sit together and play legos. Tommy started guitar lessons, but after a month of it, I pulled the plug on them. Although he likes to play his guitar and jam, he does not want to practice what he does not understand, and just isn't quite ready to take on the complicated tasks involved in each lesson. I didn't want to tarnish his love of his guitar in fighting the lessons piece, so although I was a bit disappointed we couldn't go each week, it was a good decision. He still continues with his hip-hop classes at Dancing For Joy, and our newest nanny is even a hip hop dancer herself, so that is a fun addition for us as well. Tommy is quite the homebody. He has been asked on numerous playdates with friends, but he does not want to go, preferring to have the nanny of the day come pick him up and take him home to play. He also has to be first at whatever he does, and competes with Coop for everything now. This does not sit well with Coop, and usually results in more howling throughout the day.

Speaking of nannies, one of the most challenging aspects to our schedule has been the constant scheduling of nannies. It's challenging in both the weekly schedule to not only cover our work schedules, but to accommodate their school schedules within that as well. It's figuring out who is going to pick up who when, and which parent has flexibility on any given day. Throw in illness to the mix, or a change in school schedule, or a change in our work schedule, and it can get messy. Molly left us this fall to attend college, and Jamie just left now after getting a full time job down in Everett. For the first time I had to advertise up at Western, but after receiving only one hit on that, interviewing and having it not work out, we actually got an opportunity from my friend Kris. Jamie Two has come to us now, and we're looking forward to her beginning with us in the new year. It's very hard for us to not know how we're going to cover our schedules, but Lil has offered to help with the holes created lately, and as a last resort, we know we have her for backup. It will be interesting to see what the new year brings, that's for sure. I am always delighted, though, to come home with the kids engaged in one activity or another. One evening I came home and my entire bedroom had been transformed into one big fort. I'm not kidding. Georgia went to town. One night it was the entire living room. Usually there is arts and craft all about, or baking projects they've done together. Trips to the fire station and the school playground, or outside to play soccer and football. It's a fun party when we're gone, and I have little worry about their adventures when we have to be away.

Cooper...where should I begin? He is such a beautiful little soul. He's quick to love, quicker to howl, a firecracker and teddy bear all at once. It's amazing how quickly his sentences have come, and such a delight to hear all that is going on in his head. Just recently, he's taken to saying, "Mommy, I love you," and "I want to love on my mommy" when he wants to be held and cuddle, and really has attached himself to being a "baby" when it suits him. "I baby" he'll say. "I'm just a little guy". He loves to dance and listen to music, jump and throw himself around playing "wee" in our bedroom. He wants to be included in everything, which includes big guy talk, including poop, "hate" and "oh my gosh". This spring when we traveled to the Caribbean, he was barely talking. The change to now is amazing and how quickly it comes. He absolutely loved Disneyland and all that he saw. He loved seeing the characters and bolted quickly to give them big hugs and love all over them. Cooper started preschool, and it has been tough on me. His start was slow, and he would cry and cling, not want to go and create a fuss. At the same time, he was battling sickness after sickness, which didn't help with his transition to school. I wanted to throw in the towel more than once, but now John generally takes him to school and deals with it, as he has a much stronger determination to see it through. Now when Coop goes to class, he's less likely to throw a fit, and Teacher April says any problem he has is quick and mostly for show. He's doing well now, and learning new songs and his alphabet. Cooper loves to sing his alphabet and songs that he hears on Dora, Olivia and Phineau and Ferb. It's so cute to hear him singing as he wanders about. Unlike Tommy, Cooper seems to enjoy the company of animals. He has not forgotten Papa Darrell's farm, and loves to cuddle on dogs and cats alike. He rode on the horses down at Warm Beach without hesitation. Tommy, on the other hand, does not like dogs, or many animals in general. However, he is now pestering us for a pet, preferably a cat that he can cuddle, so that is our latest dodge the "pet" discussion. Can we remain a pet free household until they are both on their own? Not sure about that.

I wish this could be more comprehensive. I'm sure I will look back years from now, regretting the time I didn't devote to being more thorough in my documentation of the kids' lives. However, life is so very hectic, and I'm thankful that John continues to log photos whenever he can. Maybe my New Year's resolution will be to get better at blogging!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Zillah Grid Kids

Tommy and Cooper's cousin Drew's Grid Kids team. He's the left guard, #86.

Papa Darrrel

Saturday, October 31, 2009

End of Soccer Season...

Slideshow of Tommy's Soccer here

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Monday, October 05, 2009

Disneyland! Our first with our boys, my 34th birthday!

This was my very special 34th birthday! I'll tell you, John totally pulled off a fabulous Disneyland trip with the boys. After much debate about whether or not we should chance the trip, we decided that it was worth the risks involved in taking two young boys on such a high octane, sugar-fueled adventure. It was supposed to be a surprise. I just could not wait, though, and after showing Tommy video and pictures of Disney all week, I finally broke down the night before and asked him what he thought of all the bags that were packed. Why would we be packing? Where would we be going? Finally, John asked Tommy, "If you could go anywhere in the country, where would you go?" Tommy thought a moment, then quickly replied, "a pool." "No, Thomas, any PLACE in the country." "Oh, maybe Whistler, to the pool?" A pool? We spent all that money to plan this grand adventure and his wildest wish is....a pool???!!!
The look on his face when we finally told him was priceless, though, and he was so excited. Although Coop had no idea what we were talking about, he joined in the fun as we told him all about he airport, the plans and showed him pictures of where we would be going.

The flights went so smoothly, apart from the minor delay we experience when our plane developed a fuel leak just as we started to board. In Seattle, John treated me to our regular traditional birthday dinner of Anthony's, this time with a view of the tarmac instead of Bellingham Bay! It was such a treat to spend our usual birthday meal turned extra special in that we were on our big adventure, we were all together, celebrating with my three most special people in this world. The kids did such a good job on the trip down, but John and I were more than thrilled not to be taking a cross country flight this time around. It was so much easier to take the short flights down without the pain and anguish of such a long flight with little rascals. By the time we got to our hotel, we were done under, and thankfully our hotel was very comfortable and convenient for us.

Our days at Disneyland were fabulous! It was thrilling to again be back, so many years later, but this time with our two boys. It was so fun to show them the wonders of the park. I took Tommy on Splash Mountain, and he was thrilled at points, scared and clutching my legs at the dark parts. He didn't go back on that one. John took Tommy on my favorite, Tower of Terror, and he flat out refused to ride that one his life...ever. Both boys also balked at going on Pirates of the Caribbean, another favorite, but Tommy agreed to at least give me a chance to ride it with him, and it grew on him, so much that we were able to ride it each day we were there. Cooper, though, refused to ride it again, having clung to John's chest with his face pressed tight, crying throughout. "Too schair-we." "Pirates of Caribbean too schair-we." While John and Tommy rode Pirates, Coop and I trailed along checking out Tarzan's Jungle and tree fort. Cooper took one ride on Toad and decided to cry throughout that one as well, but both boys love It's a Small World, and asked to go on it each day. We didn't do Peter Pan and the smaller Tea Cups and other little rides due to the length of the lines, but pulled off the terrible Auto-Topia ride, much to our disappointment. We didn't do Space Mountain or Matterhorn, as the kids didn't have any clue that they were even there and the lines were obnoxiously long. We spent a lot of time out at California Adventure where the crowds were a thinner and there was more space to run around and explore. Tommy was actually very patient waiting for the opening of Indiana Jones on our last day at the park. It was worth the wait, although I think he enjoyed riding Thunder Canyon just as much or more than the jeeps of Indiana. Most of the time we had a leisurely time exploring and riding, checking out the various characters when they would pop up and riding the rides that we wanted to. One highlight was High School Musical 3 Street Parade. We watched the tail end of it one afternoon, then caught the whole show on another day. This time Tommy was pointed out in the crowd and pulled up to dance. The smile on is face was priceless, and although the video camera was too slow at starting to catch much once I'd gotten it out and started up, John managed to capture some of it on his camera. Very, very cute. By the end of the week, we were ready to be done. The kids were ready to head home. Funny thing, Cooper was asking to go home and asking for Grandma the first night we were there! What an adventure we had, though. I'm so thankful that we pushed aside our concerns and took the chance on Disney. It was worth it! A great week, and a great 34th Birthday!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

End of the first week of Kindergarten

After a few days in which Tommy needed a little extra attention from Ms. Hubner to keep the tears at bay, John started making sure Tommy walked up early to school with his neighbor buddy, Tiago, and they played for a few minutes before the bell rang to announce the beginning of the day. This seemed to work, and although Tommy admitted being sad a bit, he was very excited to tell us on Thursday and Friday's pick up that he had no tears today! Ahhhh....let's hope this little blip is over and done with.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

More of Tommy's Soccer pics here

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

3rd Day of Kindergarten-Tears

Today, I was able to walk Tommy up to school. It was a beautiful, sunny morning, and I was eager to see him in action. However, it was like pulling a sack of flour on the way up. He was clearly dragging this morning, and when we entered the school yard, his eyes were full of tears and he was pulling on me..backwards. "I'm scared, Mama," he said. I pulled out all the encouragement I could possibly think of as we slowly made our way towards the building. It was so hard. By the time we lined up with his other classmates, he was trying to hide between my legs and was clutching at my legs. He was fighting tears too hard, and it was crushing me. "Let's just go back home," he said, tears brimming. Ms. Hubner saw it all, and was quick to come over to him and take his hand. I hugged him goodbye, then peeled him off, allowing Ms. Hubner to take over and draw him in. He didn't look back, and for that I am thankful. I turned, and I could barely breathe. I just wanted to go get him, to take him with me, to hold him and never let him go. I started walking, fighting tears, trying to breathe, praying that no mother or teacher would see me almost losing it. Deep breaths as I headed outside. I was instantly aware of the moment my own mother took me to school for the first time. I knew what she felt, that heartbreaking moment when you have to leave your child behind, crying, at school, hoping for the best, hoping that he would be able to recover.
Oh, and I had my work clothes on and had to go to work...lovely.

Report from him at pick up was that he had a great day. Jenny reported in that the kids said they saw him throughout the morning and he looked happy and was smiling. I have my spies, Tommy. As you get older, don't forget that, buddy! He told me himself that he didn't get the corndog he was looking forward to for lunch. Drat those first and second graders!

Tonight at tuck in her said, "Mom, I miss Teacher Kathy." I know buddy. We all miss Teacher Kathy. I realize he had no idea what was coming his way. He didn't realize what changes were about to take place in his life, the differences, the "big" stuff of elementary school. I imagine he's overwhelmed, more than we thought. Teacher Kathy assessed him as a "shy, serious, quiet boy". We don't know that Thomas, but that Thomas must be trying to process all that is around him right now, and I pray for his little spirit in the days to come.

2nd Day of Kindergarten

Although Tommy was a bit disgruntled that he wouldn't be able to go to school over the weekend, today brought a little different story than Friday's sunny report. I had to leave very early for work, so John took Tommy to school. Tommy was not as excited today, and fought tears when it was time for John to leave. Jamie picked him up and he was great, and when I checked in with his teacher tonight she said she didn't even think about notifying me as he recovered so quickly. I can only pray that this is just a small blip.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First day of Kindergarten

Today was a great day! Tommy was so excited to go, and last night we found out that he would be in Ms. Hubner's class. Tommy hasn't talked much about this day all summer, but last night he was eager to get ready, even putting together his backpack and wearing it around the house. It was packed with school supplies and he was ready to go.

We walked up all together, Bruce and Lil, Coop in the stroller and Susan, Tiago and Tommy walking together, Stephanie and Jessica following. Later tonight, Jenny said that a friend of hers had watched us all come into the school, and for all the cameras and hoopla, she would have thought there was a celebrity coming with the paparazzi! It was a great time, though, and so wonderful to walk up with our new friends and have the kids so excited to go up to school. After a confusing time trying to figure out where we were supposed to line up, where to pay for lunch, that sort of thing, we finally made it to his side of the building. We walked in and the room was swarming with other families and flashes of cameras. What an exciting day, and Cooper made himself just as comfortable as Tommy did. I helped Tommy pull out all of his supplies for the table, then headed through the crowd to find his table seat. From there he drew a self portrait for a few minutes. Finally, Ms. Hubner called for the kids to get ready to say goodbye. Tommy had no trouble at all, quickly getting up and hugging us all goodbye. Walking out was pure joy for me. He was happy, well adjusted, and enjoying himself. What a perfect beginning!
We went up a bit early and managed to spy on him while he was getting lunch. How cute it was to see him standing in line, trying to figure out how this lunch stuff all works. We couldn't help but smile as we watched him picking out his lunch, holding his tray, silly things like that...that are such big guy things. How tiny he used to be, how sweet and precious...and now he is such a big boy! I pray much, much more today than I did yesterday. I pray for his heart, I pray for his strength, I pray that the foundation we have started is enough as he starts this journey...and I pray that the Lord keeps him safe each and every step along the way.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First day of Pre-school!

Taking Cooper out for his first day of preschool was a family affair. Tommy, Dad and Mom all helped getting Cooper ready for his day! He even carried his little snack pack (no snack inside!), and was heading out the door even before breakfast we started.
Walking into the building again was surreal. I can vividly remember strolling in to Catch The Son with Tommy for the first time. Nervous, worried, anxious...

With Cooper...not so much! He walked into the place like he owned it, totally confident, eager and excited to be there. He could barely stand to take a picture, and these grouchy shots are because we were hassling him to stop long enough to take a shot. He walked right into class and got to work, busily moving from project to project. Tommy called out to him again and again, Bye, Cooper!" but Cooper totally ignored him. I got a brief kiss goodbye, but he was much more into the art he was about to work on. It was a great, great way to start off 2 day preschool.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Transition to the Bike

Once out of the water, there was this "wetsuit stripping" station, which was where a group of volunteers would quickly, and sometimes violently, "strip" you of your wetsuit. A mass of arms, legs, skin...frantically stripping off the top level of their suit, only to plant down on the ground to let the other people strip the rest off your body. I'd never witnessed this type of behavior at John's other triathlons, so I was fascinated and even a bit shocked by this event. I thought for sure that each time people yanked down a suit, I was going to see body parts that I shouldn't be seeing. Erica and I had to hold our spots near the fence, as this was where John had instructed me to be in order to get his wet gear...after again changing "the plan" from leaving the gear to be transported to me taking it with us. Of course, we had no idea whether or not Brad was aware of this change in plan (he was not), so we needed to be prepared to get both sets of wet gear. Before long, we were surrounded by bodies jostling for a position to see their loved one as well. It was hard to stand there for an hour holding position. John found us, handed his gear over the fence, then headed for the exit. Though we tried, Brad did not know we were there, and remained hidden behind a tent in the transition area during his time there. Erica did not get a chance to talk with him or take his gear, and I know that must have been hard. Once we saw Brad leave the area, we slipped out between the other people still waiting, and began the slow walk back to our car.

Swim Transition Photography-difficult

Imagine a river full of bodies...yellow caps, red caps, green caps...trying to find your husband...who is wearing a black a river full of other black wetsuits. Erica and I made a good attempt to tag them in the water by their cut off wetsuits and maybe their swim stroke, but to be honest, I really never watched John's "swim stroke" enough to be able to find it in a river of bodies, and after incorrectly identifying a woman and two other men my "husband", I gave up trying to find him on the river.

Hence the shots that Erica just managed to get of the guys getting out of the river...nearly impossible to catch. Thank goodness for race photographers at the water line who were able to get great shots of them as they exited.

Red Caps-2nd Wave of Swimmers in the Water

From the cars, Erica and I sent the guys on their way with a kiss goodbye, not wanting them to waste another moment in trying to get down to the river. Would I see him again down there by the water? Would he know where I was, that I was there? Would I kiss him again today, before it was all over? Was it going to be okay?
It was still dark, and they hustled off down the road, weaving in and out of other athletes also trying to make it down, as well as family and other support hurrying to gather at the river. The scene that greeted us down on the river's edge was just as chaotic as you'd expect. We tried and tried to find the guys amidst the sea of wetsuits, swim caps, goggles, and crowding. DId they get settled in the transition area and make it to the water? Were they struggling or calm? Could they see us, but we couldn't see them? Were they already in the water? Were they together? It was so hard to stand there, straining to find them just one more time.
Then John found me, came over, spit out his gum into my hand (cuz that's what good support wives do!) and had me pull up and zip his wetsuit up for him. Just like that it was okay. It was going to be okay. He looked great, he sounded great, he gave me another kiss and sealed the deal. This was it. It was really going to happen. And I watched him walk down through the inflatable starting line and down into the water.

The Parking Lot of Ironman

I wish I could have been in John's mind on that dark, misty journey out to Johnson's Beach. I'm hoping he might find the inspiration to write his story down here too, but I won't hold my breath. He is much too private. Due to darkness, we could only imagine the sweeping vineyards we were passing through, but there was some comfort that although a little behind schedule, others were in the same shape. I can't remember what was spoken on that drive out. I was focused on not losing the bagel that I was praying would somehow see me through the long morning. There was this overwhelming sense of "ill", nerves, adrenaline, worry, excitement, stress, pride...amazing pride. We followed the caravan of cars into a big, grassy lot on the other side of town from the river. It was dark, and time was flying by, and no one wants to be late to set up your stuff in the transition corral...but that was what was looming for us as the guys put together their bikes and filled tires in that parking lot.

Leaving the Hotel before Vineman 2009

The morning saw us waking up at 4 am, grabbing the gear, heading down to grab coffee and bagels, then racing out for Johnson's Beach...the start of our epic day!

And in the Blue Corner....

John kept focused despite Brad's antics from the Red Corner!

Brad Testing out Various Race Items..and an interesting tri position

Brad went through his own transition practice in his corner of the the hotel room the night before. Interesting enough, we all shared one small queen size room, and somehow managed all the gear.

Tight tri shirt? Check
Swim cap? Check
Starting position? Uhmmmm...wrong sport!

Late night hotel prep

Brad and John worked out a blind test for their super tight tri shirts. While testing it out in the red corner, Big Blue watched from his corner, allowing Brad the opportunity for a comedy show like none other.

Dinner the Night Before the Big Race

After a long day of race preparation...and more than a little psyched out by the bike course we'd just toured, we decided to fuel up at Food Network' Guy Fieri's restaurant, Johnny Garlic. This is Erica and I admiring the plate of shrimp. Don't we look excited, thrilled, full of life?

The bike course tour was brutal...cracked, rutted and root chomped, debris all over, tight, steep curves, and Chaulk HIll....the table was somber that night...nerves, worry, all the unknowns of the coming day.