Thursday, July 22, 2010

The lessons from a NINE year old!

Zachary's birthday is today. I'm amazed at how relative time is... sometimes it goes way too fast and sometimes it drags! I remember so much about this little guy's early years, but I've forgotten so much too. I am blessed beyond belief to be a mommy and I'm overwhelmed by what God has entrusted me with!

Zachary's life is not what I would have pictured. I know that sounds awful, but I certainly did not sign up for the special-needs child. Yet, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that this is the child God picked for me. I can make my guesses as to why... Maybe my confidence needed rattling. Maybe I was too competitive. Maybe I thought I had the world figured. Maybe so I could learn compassion and patience. Whatever the reason, he's who I have.

I was driving today and started crying. I was looking back at turning nine and how great going into fourth grade was. I was grieving over the life that Zach doesn't have. He doesn't read. He doesn't talk clearly. He doesn't have neighborhood friends. He doesn't have a normal nine year old childhood. But then I realized how wrong I have it.

Obviously God gave me this child because He has amazing plans for him. He created Zach for a purpose that only Zach can fulfill. God does that for every child, but Zach's purpose can only be fulfilled by Zach being intellectually disabled. Who am I to begrudge God?

I started thinking about all the lessons this little man has taught me. He taught me that competing with moms is useless and you always end up the loser even if your kid is "on top". He taught me that intelligence can't be measured. He taught me to find the joy in little things. And He taught me nothing is better than fresh watermelon!

I have gotten away with a lot of slacker-mom things because of his disabilities. For Zach, a row boat ride is just as awesome as a ski boat. So I need to find the beauty in that and not take it for granted.

Happy birthday, Baby Zach. You are a sweet, sweet little boy with a contagious grin. You are an amazing big brother to Ryan and a friend to all. I am lucky and blessed to call you my son. I can't wait to see how much you grow this year! I can't wait to hear your new words and discover the world through your eyes.

Monday, July 19, 2010

We did it!

Back in April I ran a 10k with my running partner, Travis. I think it was in the first mile when we were feeling great that she got this brilliant idea... to do a triathlon. Feeling great in the first mile, I agreed.

So we began training and searching for the perfect triathlon to do. We began riding our bikes, swimming and learning what a brick is. We settled on the Englewood Triathlon because it was not too far away. However, we realized it had a time limit and we weren't sure we would make it. Travis is much more competitive than me and she wanted to see her name on the results page. I wanted the medal (more on that later...)

We kicked butt on the workouts and were feeling pretty confident. But we were riding "fat tire" bikes and decided that if we could have skinny tire bikes, we would definitely finish in time.

The day before the race, we rented bikes and felt confidently nervous. While at the packet pick up, I was feeling really intimidated by the rock hard bodies that we were also signed up. To say I don't have a rock hard athletic body is a gross understatement. I specifically remember wondering where the other big people were!

Anyway, we had no idea what set up would look like in the morning, so we get to the race an hour and a half before it starts. Mistake number one. We had more than enough time to rack our bikes and set up our transition area. Being so early gave us even more time to freak out!

About an hour before the race, Travis drinks a smoothie for breakfast because she read somewhere it would help. So I drank one too. Mistake number two. We never drank these before a workout so we had no idea if our bodies would be happy about it. I don't think they were...

During this time, we also picked up our timing chips and got "marked". Our number was on our arm and our age was put on our calf. Your age is actually how old you will be by December. I was confused and thought it was LAST December so I had them write 36. Later, when I went back with Travis, I realized it is December 2010. So they scribbled out the six and added a 7. It looked like I was 317!

Finally we are ready to get started and we head to the beach. This is where we really noticed the swim distance and the buoys. Swimming is my strongest leg and Travis' weakest. But imagine our surprise when we realized that we only had to swim half as far as we practiced! Travis swam like a champ and even endured my screaming at her. Some of my favorite motivational lines were, "Doing great! Come on! Breathing is for wusses!" and "Good job! You can breathe on the bike!" It's amazing she still talks to me...

We were out of the water in record time (for us) and as we were running up the sand, I remember saying... "I copyrighted those lines so you can't use them on me during the run." I think her response was, "Nice try."

One of the highlights of the race was nearing our first mile on the bike and realizing it was only 20 minutes from the start (Travis says it better in her blog
The bike was long, hard, but kinda fun! We passed a bunch of people and we got a sick pleasure out of passing people younger than us. But at the same time, we hated being passed by the 74 year old! The last mile was perhaps the most brutal because of the wind coming off the gulf. While on the bike, we drank Powerade. Mistake number three.

By the time we started the run, we were feeling pretty "wonky" and thought we were going to leave a little "gift" on the side of the road. We made it through the three miles, but it was tough. Seeing Travis' family and an old friend of mine cheer us on made it a little better.

So we finished in 1 hour and 38 minutes. It was tough but that makes it an accomplishment. I'm glad we I didn't chicken out. Although coming in 13th place isn't impressive, I still gave it my best. That medal I thought we would get... well, it's only for the top five finishers in each division. Bummer... If I had gone in the "Athena" division for the non-rock-hard-athletes like me, I might have gotten that medal. Next time...

Next up? Venice Triathlon on September 4th and then a half marathon this fall and maybe a marathon this spring. Anyone want to join me? Oh and for a different perspective and some pictures, go to Travis' blog at I think she did a better job...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Traverse City, Michigan

Growing up, we went to Traverse City, Michigan every year and it was fun, but ordinary. Now that I live 1500 miles south, I cherish the memories and long for the opportunity to go back. It's amazing how so many things have changed since my first memories, but so many things are the same.

This year, we packed the kids in the airplane and went on a cross country journey. We flew, a lot. They whined, a lot. We had to stop, a lot. It took longer than I hoped, a lot... But it was still worth it! Going by private plane is very much like a road trip, but instead, you are in the air. I think it sounds so cool, until you are actually suffering through the trip. The GPS had this nifty little feature that told you how long until you arrive. The problem is, it lied. This thing defied physics. I would look at it and think, ok, two hours and 28 minutes. I would distract myself for some time, look back and it would say, two hours and 31 minutes. Frustrating!

On the trip up, we wanted to make it to Zionsville, Indiana on the first day. Unfortunately, around 9 pm we had to stop in Louisville, KY. It's about a 2.5 hour drive or a 45 minute flight. Anyway, since it was late, we had to stop at the big airport. We pull into this private airport thing called a FBO. It was fancy. We were like the Beverly Hillbillies in our dinky Cessna 182 and surrounded by private jets. I didn't think we would be treated very well... I was wrong, I felt like the rich and famous and loved the pampering and attention. Until I paid the bill the next morning. Almost twice as much as the dinky little FBO's. So my ego loved it and my wallet hated it!

Anyway... I'll share more stories soon, I wanted to post a few pictures!

This is the view from the front yard of my grandpa's house. He passed away 9 years ago, but my family kept the property. In the distance you can see the boat and jet ski. Beautiful sunrises, but you have to be unfortunate enough to be awake at 5 am!

We take this row boat out to the big boat. But... since we didn't get the big boat started, this was our boat trip. The boys didn't know the difference; they loved the row boat!!

One of the jet skis. We didn't use this one because it was too much of a pain to pull it into the water.

We discovered the fun of Geocaching. We spent time in some pretty beautiful places. One park is just a few miles from my Grandpa's house and I never knew it existed. It's beautiful!

I have a picture from a few years ago of the boys riding this same cow outside of a yummy winery near Sutton's Bay. This winery also has a great petting zoo and beautiful scenery.

We didn't actually see the real performance of the Blue Angels, just the practice. Incredible, nonetheless! In fact, on the last day there, we saw them from the front yard! We are a good 5 miles outside of town and they still flew overhead.

Ryan learning to pull the stems off of cherries. This was while we watching the Blue Angels practice. It was a cool 68 degrees and Ryan is wearing his winter fleece!

Cherry trees and fresh cherries. Does it get any better? Notice the fleece and "winter" jacket? We are such whimps, but loved the cool weather!