Category Archives: Fun

Glorious sunshine

We have finally been getting some unbelievably nice weather here in Wisconsin, and we have been taking advantage whenever we can. It has been in the 60’s with sunshine for several days in a row now, which basically feels like heaven. We have been playing in the yard, went running with the stroller (that is harder than I remember, though Kai is so big now that the stroller is easily pushing 60 lbs), and playing at the park.

Kai loves to find sticks on the ground, and once he has some good ones he carries them around indefinitely.

This kid loves being outside so much. Today after his nap he wanted to go outside immediately, forgoing his usual post-nap snack. It looks like it is going to stay nice out for the next week or so, which is awesome. There is nothing worse than having a day or two of nice teaser weather followed by a snowstorm (which I am aware might still happen, let’s not talk about it).

He contemplated the slide for a while, but didn’t end up going down. Last summer he had no fear about going down face first, he loved it. I think once he gets over the initial fear and tries it, he will love it this year as well.

So what else is new with Mr. Kai? Most notably, this kid is so incredibly vocal. He talks non-stop, and his vocabulary is growing every day. He is speaking in short 3-4 word sentences often, and he repeats absolutely everything we say. Everything. He can count to 10 by himself, knows his colors, and can identify tons of animals and make the corresponding sounds. He is like a little sponge, and continuously surprises me by saying something that he heard us say yesterday. He also sings nursery rhymes, which is pretty much the cutest. He doesn’t get nearly all of the words, but he gets the melody right and i can always tell which song he is singing. I guess the time he spends watching his nursery rhyme videos on youtube is paying off. Here is a video of him doing his animal flashcards:

Man, I love this kid. He is certainly a challenge at times, but aren’t all toddlers?

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Filed under Fun, Kai, Nature

Devil’s Lake Camping Trip

A couple of months ago, Steve and I decided we wanted to do one more camping trip this year. I have very fond memories of camping at Devil’s Lake when I was a kid, and I thought it would be beautiful to go in the fall. This past weekend we headed up on Friday evening. We got there around 6:30, checked into our site, and got set up. I don’t have any pictures of the first night because it was dark and I was trying to feed Kai a quick dinner while Steve was setting up the camper. It always takes a while to get everything set up, but we eventually did, and I think we put Kai to bed around 8:45 that night. He has always slept great in his pack n play and in the camper, which is awesome. Steve and I roasted weiners on the fire for a late night dinner because we are super classy like that. We followed it up with s’mores as camping law requires.

Saturday morning we all slept in a little bit (for me at least) and I think we all woke up around 7:30-7:45. I made pancakes in the camper and Kai and I ate them all up (Steve is not a breakfast person, which I will never pretend to understand).

After breakfast we all took a walk down to the camp store for a trail map.

Devil’s lake is surrounded by bluffs and is known for it’s awesome hiking trails. By the time we left for our first hike it was probably almost 10am. We decided to start at the north end (where we already were) and headed up the East Bluff Trail.

I carried Kai on my back because I knew I wanted Steve to carry him on our more difficult afternoon hike.

We stopped at a few look out points and snapped some photos. It was so pretty up there.

We didn’t hike too long because before long it was time for Kai to eat lunch and take a nap. We headed back to the campsite and I made Kai a sandwich. Kid loves dining al fresco.

Steve got to work setting up the new to us screen room on the camper. Not really necessary on this trip, but we wanted to try it out. Verdict – love it!

Kai went down for his nap, and Steve and I enjoyed a beer by the fire. Yes.

We also made pudgie pie sandwiches for lunch.

Kai slept for about an hour and a half and then he was ready to party. He loved walking around the campsite (and into the road, silly boy). Good thing we brought his cage play enclosure along.

For our afternoon hike, we drove around to the south shore of the lake to do the Balanced Rock Trail. Let me just say that since it has been years since I hiked this trail, I did not recall exactly how difficult and treacherous it is. Thank goodness Steve was carrying Kai and felt confident in his footing, because there is no way I would have felt comfortable with him on my back. The trail is all steep rock steps that are uneven and slippery, and some of them move. One wrong step or slip and you could literally tumble down the bluff.

On the way up we somehow missed the off chute of the trail that leads to the balanced rock itself. The views however, were amazing.

On the way back down we did find the balanced rock and stopped for a photo op.

I took this shot on the way back down so you can see how steep and technical the trail is.

Once we reached the bottom I stopped having a heart attack and spotted a giant rock that I knew I must pose atop of.

After the hike we stopped at the concession stand and I got ice cream, obviously. We let Kai loose to play on the playground there for a while before heading back to the camp site. I should have snapped a pic of the playground because it was pretty cool. Instead of wood chips, the ground was covered in ground up tires so it was nice and soft and bouncy.

Back at the campsite, I put Kai in his snuggly suit because it was kind of cold and windy, and because it is adorable. I made him a quesadilla for dinner which he would not touch (even though it is one of his favorite foods at home).

Kai was pretty worn out and I think he went to bed around 7:30 this night. Steve and I made tacos for dinner and sat by the campfire. The wind was a little ridiculous and was blowing the smoke every which way, but we finally figured out where to put our chairs to get the least amount of smoke in our faces. I practically fell asleep in my camp chair before calling it a night. I slept horribly this night due to the wind being obnoxiously loud and a pole above our bed in the camper falling on me no less than five times (yes, the parts have already been ordered to fix this little problem for next time). Kai was up around 7am Sunday morning, and I made pancakes again. We all felt lazy and hung out in the camper for a long time before getting motivated to start packing up. Kai made himself useful in rearranging one of the cabinets.

I chased Kai around the campsite while Steve popped the camper down.

Turns out our little man is very handy like his Daddy and helped get the trailer hooked up, no problem.

We tried to stop at the nature center on the way out because I thought Kai would enjoy it, but turns out it was 300 yards straight up a steep trail from the parking lot. After all of our hiking the day before, Steve vetoed that plan immediately. It turned out ok, because Kai was asleep with in three minutes of leaving the park.

And with that, Claudette is safely stored away, ready for the camping adventures that await us next year.

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Filed under Family, Fun, Nature, Travel

Fall fun

Mother Nature has sure been gifting us with a gorgeous fall so far! Though the temperatures have finally started to drop, the last few weeks have been unbelievable for September. We have been spending a lot of time outside and things have been busy in a good way. I found this slide on a buy/sell/trade group on Facebook and snagged it for Kai. He likes it alright, but he won’t climb up the back so you have to put him on the slide and he gets bored and runs away after a couple times down. That’s right, he is walking and running all over the place now with no need to hold onto our fingers anymore.

A couple weeks ago we attended a wedding reception for our friends who were married in Jamaica earlier this year. It was held outdoors and Kai had fun riding around on Steve’s shoulders and listening to the steel drum band.

We had a playdate at the park last week with my friend Cara and her two boys. Despite their expressions in the photo, I’m pretty sure they had a good time.

This past Sunday was the annual Susan G Komen race for the cure. We do it every year in honor of my cousin Kelly who is a breast cancer survivor. Five years cancer free was an awesome reason to celebrate with Kelly’s Clan.

Since my marathon is this Sunday (eep!), Kai and I opted to walk this year instead of run. He got a little antsy in the stroller so we cut out early and walked just under two miles instead of doing the full 5k.

After the walk we headed home so Kai could take a nap, and when he woke up we went right back out to Harvest Fest at State Fair Park. I had never been to this event before and wasn’t sure what they all had, and it turned out to be alright.

Kai enjoyed watching the camel and pony rides, and they also had a little kids area in one of the buildings where there was a huge box of wood shavings and some toys.

They also had a little farmers market, pumpkin patch, build your own scarecrow, and places to eat. A lot of the stuff I think will be better when Kai is a little older and able to enjoy it more. The huge bummer about the whole thing was that when we got there they were all out of every single kind of pumpkin beer! We did get there when there were only two hours left of the festival, but still! Not cool.

Skeleton pj’s have been in heavy rotation (please note the new “say cheese” face). I am hoping to find time to go for a hayride and apple picking, and next weekend we will be going on one more camping trip. As much as I am sad to see summer go, I love fall as well. If only we could skip over the other two wretched seasons we would be in business.

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Filed under Friends, Fun, Kai

5 weeks

It has been 5 weeks and 3 days since I have run. Not that I’m really keeping track or anything. I have not worn the boot since early this week. I have been trying to at least wear running shoes vs sandals for a little extra support. My foot is slowly improving. Sloooowwwwwwllllllyyyyyyyy…. It still feels tight on the bottom, especially at the end of the day. Fun side note: on Tuesday I looked in the mirror and noticed that my hips were way off. Now they are usually off, but I am talking right hip two full inches higher than the left and also rotated forward. I speculate it is from wearing the boot. Since it is so thick on the bottom, it jacked my entire right side up and out of whack. Thank goodness I work at PT clinic where people know how to put me back together and get my body lined up correctly.

I feel like I am watching racing season slowly slip out of my grasp. I was really hoping to be able to run the 50k at the North Face Endurance Challenge, but at this point I will be happy if I can run the half marathon. Let’s face it, at this point I would be happy to run at all. Period.

Ok, on to happier things. Like pink hair!

See? This is the kind of thing that happens when you take running away from me. I kind of love it.

I got to spend lots of time with my family over the holiday week.

As well as experiencing the most hysterical tube ride of my life. Seriously. I was crying from laughing so hard and had a sore throat from screaming so loud.

And because they tend to make everything better, kittens!

My cousins have two. Lilo & Stitch.

I want one.

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The good, the bad

The good: My foot is feeling somewhat better. I have been going mostly without the boot since Wednesday, and it has definitely improved from when I first went to the doc.

The bad: It doesn’t feel like it’s anywhere close to running. It is making me crazy and sad. I still have pain especially on the bottom of my foot and it feels like it would flair up in two seconds if I tried running. I see the doc again tomorrow morning so we’ll see what he says.

The good: Summerfest. I got to go two nights in a row on Thursday and Friday, and saw some really good concerts.

Silversun Pickups:

The Foo Fighters:

Kelly Clarkson:

Train:

So much fun!

The bad: I had to wear the boot to both concerts, and it was approximately 124 degrees inside that thing. Yuck.

The good: Summer. Boating. Outdoor activities in the sweltering heat.

The bad: The sweltering heat. I don’t even know when the last time was that it rained. Our grass is brown, along with the entire state of Wisconsin.

The good: My brother and his wife are coming into town tomorrow and staying for a week. This makes me very happy and excited.

The bad: none.

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Rock N Roll San Diego

Last weekend I travelled to San Diego with Team in Training to coach at the RNR San Diego Marathon. We had a great group from WI ready to tackle the full and half marathon races. We got into San Diego before 10am thanks to our 6am flight and a two hour time change. Luckily they let me park my yacht right outside the hotel. It’s right behind that little boat.

After getting checked into the hotel we headed next door to the race expo. After having our fill of plenty of free samples, we found out that Chrissie Wellington was going to be speaking as part of the tour to promote her new book, A Life Without Limits. In case you don’t know, Chrissie is without a doubt the greatest female triathlete in the world. She is undefeated at the Ironman distance, having won 13 times, including 4 times at the world championships in Kona. She also happens to be one of the most smiley and genuinely enthusiastic people I have ever met. That’s right, I met her!

Clearly we are now bff’s. She signed a copy of her book to me, and I cannot wait to read it. She is so inspiring.

Speaking of bff’s, later that day we happened to run into my favorite marathoner Deena Kastor.

Deena will be running at the 10,000 meter Olympic trials in a couple of weeks. She also had a baby just a year ago and is the tiniest person I have ever met. Once I was sufficiently geeked out on spotting incredible endurance athletes (we saw Ryan Hall too but didn’t get a chance to meet him), it was time for dinner.

We decided to eat at one of the restaurants at our hotel to make things easy. My portobello mushroom sandwich was good, but the star of the show was obviously dessert.

That would be Bruce about to dig into a warm brownie baked in it’s own cast iron skillet, drizzled with chocolate, and topped with ice cream and whipped cream. Here is a close up for the full effect.

I think I fell asleep in approximately four seconds once my head hit the pillow on Friday. It was a long day.

Saturday we took it pretty easy to get ready for race day on Sunday. We attended the TNT Inspiration Dinner on Saturday night, which was great. Over 2500 TNT athletes raced on Sunday, raising 7.3 million dollars for blood cancer research. Pretty amazing.

After dinner I decided to do a little bit more fueling at the frozen yogurt shop that was conveniently located right at our hotel.

What? This coaching stuff is hard work!

Sunday started with a 3am wake up call since our team planned to meet in the lobby at 4am on Sunday to catch a shuttle to the race. I was so excited for my WI team to rock the race. We hung out at the start for a while before I wished everyone luck and they headed into the starting corrals.

I met up with another TNT coach from Santa Cruz and together we figured out how to take the trolley to our assigned station at miles 19-23 of the marathon. As we were walking to our position we saw the race leaders fly by mile 22.

They were not even sweating. It wasn’t too long before we saw the female leader with a decent lead.

Once we were at mile 19, it was time to wait for the TNT purple jerseys to start coming through. We didn’t have to wait long, there were some fast people out there. Whenever I saw a purple jersey, I would try to run with them for a bit and see if they needed anything. Some were feeling great, and some were struggling big time at this point. That far into the race, you never know if someone is going to want the company or if they would rather just be alone and get through the thing. Most people were grateful for whatever I could give them, whether it was water, gel, salt, or just words of encouragement.

I couldn’t wait to see my guys come through, and I was careful not to miss them in the loop section that I was in. Pretty soon I saw Mike, who ended up rocking a big PR. I ran with him for a mile or so and then headed back to catch the others. Pretty soon my two other guys were running towards me together. I was so pumped to see them. Colin was feeling good and decided to continue on his own, while Bruce was having some trouble with his leg cramping. I stuck with him and told him to just keep moving forward. I ended up running with him all the way to mile 26 because I couldn’t bear to leave him struggling. He was in so much pain, his back was killing him, and I am so incredibly proud of him for sticking it out and finishing his first marathon.

I ran back to my zone and tried to catch as many purple jerseys as I could. As the 7 hour cutoff neared, the coaches started to gather near the finish line in preparation for the “Sea of Green”. The coaches wear green jerseys, and we all get behind the last TNT finisher and walk them across the finish line.  The chant of “Go TEAM, Go TEAM” as we walked gave me goose bumps. From the back:

And the professional view from above:

What a seriously cool experience.

I am guessing I put in somewhere between 20-25 miles between running and walking throughout the day.

There wasn’t much time to rest by the time we got back, so we did the next logical thing, which was meet at the hotel bar. From there it was to the TNT victory party where we got our fill of snacks, and then it was out to walk around a little bit. There was a cool area right by the hotel called the Gaslamp District.

We had a celebratory beer. I am ashamed to say I could not finish my 24 oz mug.

Of course the night would not have been complete without one last stop.

Refueling at its finest right there.

I always knew Team in Training was a great organization (I ran my first marathon with them in Alaska back in 2003), but after being part of such a huge national event where there is inspiration everywhere you turn, I am even more proud to be a part of it.

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Filed under Dessert, Food, Friends, Fun, Marathon, Races, The run, Travel

The best season

Things that are finally in season:

Parties

Boat rides

Water balloons for little kids and big kids alike

Berries

Patriotic desserts

And spending the day on the water

This season could last forever, and all would be right with the world.

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