Thursday, July 30, 2015

Tate and Me at the Park

It's been so nice to have some one on one time with my Taters after getting home. Ellie and Aeryn are both occupied with other things and I get to play stay-at-home mom for a while. It's nice when they are all home of course, but this is much more calm and a good gentle step back into the crazy reality of our life.

This kiddo is so funny. At 18 months he has some definite personality emerging.

His favorite word is "Bah." As in ball, or blanket, or belly button (bah bah), or anything else that begins with a "B" sound. Most commonly though it means ball.

In this case the "bah" was an apple; An apple that was thrown all over the place as though it were an actual "bah."

It's pretty stinking cute.

He also loves to explore and tinker with things. A few of the construction crew walked by as he was putting sticks into this pipe and they all mentioned he should be a plumber.

Some little details about the dude:

  • He doesn't like to eat much of anything but bread. We think it's mostly a texture thing, and he eats enough other stuff periodically that it isn't worrisome at this point, I just wish he were more adventurous. 
  • He has a favorite blanket and will cuddle up to it and suck his thumb at both nap and bedtime. 
  • Big kids are his favorite. I figure it's because the girls are nuts and he tries to keep up with them, but he will play with big kids at Co-op much better than the other toddlers. 
  • He loves kitchen gadgets and wants a spatula and a wooden spoon very first thing when he wakes up every morning. 
  • He's finally able to hold up his balance bike, but still walks around rather slowly with it. It's coming though!
  • He is starting to have a pretty good sense of humor; he plays games and laughs at animal puppets on baby Einstein videos. 
  • He barks like a dog when he sees almost any non-dog animal. 
  • He's quite possibly my greatest link to sanity when the girls' are going berserk. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

4 years...

Today marks 4 years since Micha and I were married in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple. It's hard to believe how fast this time has gone, and how much has happened in that time. Next to our television is a picture of us and the two girls from that day. They look so little, and it is crazy to think that Ellie is now the same age that Aeryn was in that picture. So it is safe to say the kids have grown up... a lot, and now we have Tate wandering around everywhere.

If you actually read this blog, you know that Michelle is in Bozeman where she has become a Master. :) Consequently, this anniversary hasn't been our best anniversary, especially when you consider  we haven't had a chance to talk to each other. However, I probably got the better end of the deal, as Ellie, Tate and I had a chicken curry dinner with the Rigbys, while she probably ate some pizza for dinner. Thankfully we will go out next week, which will be nice.

Anyway, Michelle has been on my mind a lot today. I still can't believe she was crazy enough to say yes. I remember a conversation we had a couple of weeks after we met, where I was going to break up with her, because I couldn't ask her to drop everything and come with me to Alabama or Oregon. However, she never let me have the chance as she basically said she was willing to do just that and look where we are today.

Michelle must be the most patient woman on the planet. She puts up with me and all my stubborness, she basically took care of the family right after Tate was first born when I was prepping/taking comps, she is supportive of my schooling, my running obsession, my love of all things BYU, my addiction to sports, etc. To this day, I have no idea how I ended up with her, but everyday I thank my lucky stars.

So while we aren't in the same state today, Happy Anniversary Babe, I love you more than ever.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Best day ever

To use Ellie's words... "Today was one of the best days ever." For me it was one of the best days ever, because I truly believe it was one of the best days ever for her, and here is why it was one of her best days.

Swimming Lessons
Ellie has been in Level 4 of swimming lessons for the past 18 months (I think). She passed Level 3 at the end of the Summer 2013, and she was unable to pass Level 4 last year in her 3 attempts. It was very frustrating for her, and since many things come easily to her, she wasn't sure how to handle this. So part of me was glad she was going through this trial, but part of me felt for her. At the beginning of the summer, Ellie set a goal to just pass Level 4, even if that mean passing it during her last session of the summer. I think she was a little concerned coming into her first set of lessons for the year, because, unlike last year, she hadn't done any swimming lessons in California during the year. However, it became apparent to me during her first lesson last Monday, that she looked a lot stronger this year. Ellie wasn't convinced, but she did an excellent job of listening to her teacher. In fact she was so determined to pass that she asked if we could go to family swim so she could do some laps. So we did that on Saturday and Monday. Then came today... her teacher was 5 minutes late to class, because I think he didn't realize that today was the day he had to hand down final grades. He gave Ellie her little card, she looked it and because she couldn't figure out what it said, so she asked me, and I responded by telling her she had passed! The smile on her face was priceless, and so began the best day ever.

Long Jump
As we have mentioned previously, in July the Oregon Track Club hosts the All-Comers Meet at Hayward Field. This was the second meet of the year. Last week, Ellie participated in the Long Jump (3rd place, but we didn't get the distance), 400 m (1:36) and 800 m (4:12). This week Ellie signed up for the long jump, 400 m and 1500 m. A huge difference between this week and last week is that there were about a million more kids. It is amazing how many more people come out when it is not 102 F outside. Anyway, last week Ellie came in 3rd out of 8 people. However, this week there were 26 jumpers. However, Ellie was money, jumped 8'2" and finished 3rd again. I think the 2 girls that beat her this week, were the ones that beat her last week. Either way she was super excited, and ready to move onto to the remaining 2 events.

400 m
We set a goal of a sub 1:34 for the 400 m. Our reasoning behind it... we had none. Although I know deep down, Ellie wants to run something faster than Aeryn (I told Ellie that Aeryn's PR was a 1:31, but I just saw that is a 1:28.4). Anyway, prior to the race, she asked me to show her how fast to go out, because last time she went out super slow. So we went to the backstretch and ran a 100, going at what I thought was a good pace. Ellie was assigned Lane 1, and the gun went off. Ellie went out much quicker than last week, but it was very relaxed. I had Tate with me, so I couldn't run with her like I would have wanted. Most of the girls went out really fast, and I told Ellie not to worry, that she would catch them on the final turn. After about 200 m, she started to pick things up, and halfway through the final turn, she turned the jets on, and flew past 3 or 4 girls. Ultimately she ran a 1:34.9, which was just off of her goal, but it was a PR. I think she could have gone out a little faster, but she was pretty happy, especially after I reminded her that despite not hitting her goal, she ran a 400 faster than she had before. I think she has a 1:30 in her, and we have 3 weeks to see if that is possible.

1500 m
Similar to the 400 m, she wanted me to show her fast to go out, because she went out at a walk for the 800 m last week. So we ran a a 36 sec 100 to simulate a 9:00 1500. We set her goal at 9:30, but I was hoping to have her run a sub 9:00. During this run, one of our friends and her two girls was around and they watched Tate, which allowed me to run/talk to Ellie on the straightaways. For the 1500 m, they run all the kids at once, regardless of age, and so when the gun went off, Ellie was in last place, but again I reminded her not to worry, just focus on what she was doing, and everything would be okay.  I don't have her exact splits, but she was below 9:00 minute pace from the beginning. With about 500 m to go, Ellie was starting to hurt a little bit (partly due to her running hard, and partly due to the fact she was wearing a crappy pair of shoes, instead of her athletic ones). She told me was worried she wasn't going to be close to reaching her goal, because she was positive they told her it took over 3:00 to run the first 300 m. I assured her that wasn't the case and she was going to break 9:00 as long as she kept running, although in reality I thought she had an outside chance to break 8:00. With about 200 m to go, I could tell she was starting to hurt even more, and she was going to start walking. I asked her what she was doing, since all she had left was half a lap. I think that clicked, and all of the sudden, she turned on the afterburners on. She ran a 46 second final 200 m and passed several older kids. When she crossed the line, I caught up and showed her my phone. Her time was 8:10. The smile on her face was even bigger and better than the one after swimming lessons.

I could go on and on, but I will keep it short. On the way back to the car, we discussed a couple of things to learn from today. 1. Ellie can do hard things. 2. Hard work helps you accomplish hard things. 3. Ellie can do more than she realized. And with that we decided to get some ice cream in celebration of her great day (This was postponed due to the lateness of the evening and the long line at the ice cream shop. Rain check for tomorrow)


Who says only undergrads live in dorms? For thirteen days, this little beauty was my home. I've never done the dorm thing before and I've got to say that as a 39 year old pregnant lady it was not the most convenient or comfortable living space. I'm sure that as an 18 year old kid it would have been amazing. 

Luckily, I didn't have to share the room. I didn't sleep a wink until someone suggested stacking both mattresses to make the unforgiving platform bearable that I was able to rest. That was an awesome suggestion. Other people I met seriously went out and bought bed toppers for the time they were here. If I weren't so frugal, or walking everywhere, I may have done the same thing. I was lucky enough to get a mini-fridge and off to the left I had my own sink! Seriously, undergraduate heaven. 

The first day of my northern rocky mountain geology class we headed out to hike the "M." I confess it took me a while to figure out why there was an M on the mountain, and then I felt silly. There are evidently three trails, and naturally we took the steepest one (in the interest of time, of course). The week was blazing hot so we were out there in the direct sun and it was pretty brutal. One person turned around before we were even halfway, drove straight back to campus, and dropped the class. 

Once we got to the "M" we kept going. The trail continues up along the ridge and then comes down the other side. I couldn't quite keep the pace and the professor was not about to slow down, so I trucked along at my own pace until I just couldn't truck anymore. Then I turned around and waited for them in the shade where all the trails converged. I almost did the whole thing, but I'm glad I didn't. A few other students told me I made the right choice and I am choosing to believe them. The view off the back of the ridge was lovely though. 

Day 2 found us going to Palisade Falls and Hyalite canyon. Beautiful country, that is for sure. There were some stunning places and it was lovely. We saw several waterfalls and really, I came to find Montana remarkable. 

That night I had this brilliant idea that if I bought a humongous pizza (it was on special), I could stash it in my mini-fridge and certainly eat the whole thing over the course of my time here. I leave in a couple days and I am so. sick. of. this. pizza. It may not have been the best choice after all. 

Day three was gentle and kind. We did smaller trails and many of them had little to no elevation gain, a welcome break with sore legs from Monday's steep trail. We did however see many, many waterfalls (big and small). It was great. At one point we stopped for lunch and the professor said something about wading. In hindsight I don't think he expected anyone to take him seriously but I had my shoes off almost instantly. I was soooo hot and the water was cool and inviting. We didn't have a long stop for lunch, and giving advance notice to pack up and get ready to head out was not his strongest area, so halfway through my lunch and with muddy feet and no shoes, the class was headed on their way while I was sitting on a bench staring at the water. It was definitely an exercise in hurrying. 

Day 4 we spent at Big Sky resort and I didn't take any pictures. As much as I loved this class, I was exhausted and over it by then. It's so nice to talk geology again, but man, I'd trade it in a second to be home with my family.

Friday was the big hike day, at least that is what we were prepared for. We hiked to the top of Sacajawea peak which is only 2.2 miles each way, but with a 2000 ft. elevation gain. About 1 mile up there was a charming alpine meadow filled with dry streambeds that I imagined being filled with water during snowmelt. Due to steep elevations climbing out of the cirque, loose gravel, and balance issues that showed up out of nowhere, I chose to stay there while the rest of the class went to the summit. I ended up waiting there for about three hours, getting devoured by horse flies and finding a random doterra essential oil bottle in the middle of the wilderness. Anyone know what to do with "clarity?" 

Only moments after I remarked to the other class member who stayed behind "I'd love to see all these channels filled with water," we heard running water and were able to see the beginning of the channels filling up. I followed the water both up and down stream for a bit, then just sat and reveled in the charm of it. 

See? It was really lovely.

Fourth of July weekend was rather lonely. I wanted to be with my family, campus was basically vacant, and other students I'd met all headed out on adventures or had family coming to town to visit. The bus was shut down, the campus library was closed for three days, and half the food establishments were closed also. Good thing I had that pizza! Saturday someone was firing off illegal fireworks visible from my dorm so I laid in bed and watched until almost 1:00 am when I think the police shut them down. Sunday I was rewarded with a gorgeous sunset. I'm not sure what I was rewarded for, but it was lovely nonetheless and I'm choosing to think it was for me. 

Monday began presentations. Isn't campus cute and old school? Yeah, I thought so too until I sat in those awful chairs for three hours. I kid you not, if my students this fall complain about having no space or their desk being uncomfortable I will show them this picture and have no pity. 

Today was my day. I was lucky enough to get to present right smack in the middle of the week - noon on Wednesday. It doesn't get more in the middle than that! I liked that I was able to observe other presentations first but that it didn't allow me to completely procrastinate either, as I have been known to do. Afterward I had to meet with my advisor and my committee, which really was only one other person since my official advisor is on a leave of absence. They sent me out of the room to deliberate my candidacy for graduation and then called me back in. The program director said "Let me be the first to congratulate you on completing your Master's" and I almost started bawling. She then gave me a decal and a carabiner, which I admit seemed a little weird. 

I still have some paper revisions to make and some other responsibilities for the remainder of the week, but it's safe to say I have made it. I started this journey quite a while ago and I honestly have a hard time believing I've made it. I wanted to quit so many times, but just kept nibbling away and finally this time has come. It is entirely possible that I am completely done with school, and that is awesome.

Now, can I please go home? I miss my people.