Friday, December 30, 2011

The long drive

The long drive to Ohio and back deserves a blog post. It used to take 10 hours, but with kids it takes 12+. Scott and I take turns driving for about three hours, stopping for gas and potty breaks mostly. We usually make an hour-long stop midway for the kids to roam, usually at a McDonald's PlayPlace but sometimes at a standard sit-down restaurant.

This video is from our trip to Ohio and is pretty typical: Bruce beat-boxing with Scott's iPod in hand (I think he is playing Stickman BMX), Phoebe sleeping like a rag doll, and Scott bored out of his mind in the middle of Pennsylvania. When Phoebe was awake, she was either watching Dora the Explorer and/or eating from a giant bag of M&Ms.

The most interesting part of our roadtrip this time was that Phoebe is in the process of potty-training. She decided to start using the potty a week or two before our trip and has done very well. We put a pull-up on her just in case, but she kept it dry all the way to Ohio (and as soon as I bragged about it in Ohio on Friday night, she pooped her pants - go figure). She stayed dry on the way back too. The trick was that she doesn't give much notice that she needs to go; she would start shrieking and we would pull off at the next exit and get her potty out of the back of the car. We visited a few rest stops and Scott took her into a gas station in Connecticut that he said was the grossest he has been in since coming back from Russia (11 years ago!). Eww. Anyway, we all survived and I'm happy to not buy diapers for a long while!

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Why you haven't received a Christmas card yet...

Due to a combination of sillyness and awkwardness, it is taking longer to get the family Christmas card out.
Photoshop may have to help us out this year.

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Phoebe's new kitchen

Phoebe scored a new play kitchen, a princess-castle-dollhouse, a music box with a dancing ballerina in it, some kitty cat pajamas, a horse coloring book, Dora socks, and a roll of drawing paper for Christmas.

As you can see, Phoebe isn't the only one that appreciates the new kitchen.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We had a very merry Christmas - in Ohio!

Last Thursday evening, we started our journey. We drove about 6 hours to Anika's rural digs sortof kindof near Scranton, Pennsylvania. We got in late at night and slept in her basement. In the morning, Bruce and Phoebe partied with her four kids, Scott admired Keith's P90X awesomeness, and Anika and I went for a very hilly run. She lives out in the boondoggles of nowhere, so we ran on dirt and gravel roads through forests, past farms and waterfalls, and by abandoned houses.
Anika is pregnant with No. 5, but that didn't stop her from her characteristic fast-talking while hauling up and down the hills.

After our run Friday morning, we had a pancake breakfast (and dance party, above) and then packed our cars. Anika and fam headed to DC in their car and we took some crazy winding back-road to I-80 to continue our journey to Ohio. We made it to the Mars resort that evening. The house was already packed with siblings and cousins. We had our annual gift exchange: Bruce scored an Angry Birds hat and Phoebe got a tea set with little plates and cups and such. Scott and I got running gear and homemade granola.

On Saturday morning, I went for a run with some high school cross country alums and a special guest - Suzanna Larsen. I've been seeing a lot of BYU XC alums lately! Suzanna is in an MD/PhD program at the med school near my parents' home and is in the same church congregation with them. It is a small world after all. It was great to run trails and chat with Suzanna. (sorry, no photo here. Somehow I always forget my camera when we get together)

Saturday afternoon was the big Christmas Eve family gathering with all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and their spouses, nieces and nephews. Grandma Tompkins always says she isn't going to go all-out and make a ton of stuff, then she does. Every year. We eat lots of food and chat while the kids bounce in a bounce house, play on an Xbox, watch a movie projected on a wall, and make crafty stuff. After awhile, one of my uncles dresses up as Santa Claus and delivers gifts to all the great-grandkids. Bruce impatiently waited for his turn and "photo-bombed" nearly all his cousins' pictures in the process. Phoebe, on the other hand, did not want to sit on Santa's lap and cried when he handed her a gift.

Christmas morning wasn't the traditional hop-out-of-bed-and-rip-open-the-gifts. We decided to wait until after church since it was at 9 and I didn't want the kids fighting to bring their new toys to the service. So we went to church, enjoyed beautiful music and readings about the birth of Christ, went to my brother Dan's house to watch his kids open gifts, and then went home to open ours. It was worth the wait. My parents changed into matching Grinch pajamas and the gifts were passed out.

Phoebe got some cool gifts (documented in another post) and Bruce got a snap circuit electronics set, Legos, drawing paper, lots of books, and a Nintendo Wii complete with Mario Kart wheels, controls, charging stuff, and a few games (and lots of rules to go with them). The Wii was what he had been asking for most, and I resisted as long as possible. I am not a fan of 1) video games, and 2) purchases that lead to more purchases. But he loves it and hopefully someday I will at least like it. I got some new cookie sheets, a cookbook, and snowshoes. Scott got a campstove.
On Sunday evening, we video-chatted with my youngest bro, Ben (a.k.a. Elder Mars right now). As a missionary, he gets to call my parents on the phone twice a year - once on Mother's Day and once on Christmas Day. Besides that, he sends an email once a week but is otherwise focused on more important things. It was fun to chat with him and see his big ear-to-ear smile.
On Monday, we met up with friends of ours who used to live in Boston but now call themselves Buckeyes. We went to the zoo and let the kids run wild. Bruce and Christian were happy to play together again. That evening, my cousins came over and we had Girls' Night. We did pedicures while the boys played video games. Phoebe picked out a sparkly hot pink color for my toes, but did not want paint on herself. After my toes were properly pampered, I headed out on a date with Scott. We grabbed some dinner and went to see the new Mission Impossible movie (after seeing it, we think it's time for that series to end).

On Tuesday, we did our Tour de Columbus. We packed into the family Suburban and headed a few hours south to see four of my siblings and their Christmas trees. We went from house to house and got to see everyone's new cool toys and projects. That night, we went out to dinner with Grandma Tompkins, who had finally had enough cooking.

On Wednesday, we packed our car and headed back to Boston. When we finally pulled into our garage, Phoebe started crying, "Grandma's house! Grandma's house!"

We had a wonderful Christmas and hope yours was awesome too.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Birthday No. 30

The day began nicely. I rolled out of bed and went for a run with my running partner, who wished me a happy birthday and gave me a hug as soon as she saw me.

Then I got home to the normal chaos: Bruce getting ready for school, Phoebe running around half-naked and yelling that she's hungry, and Scott frantically searching for his keys. I guess he found his keys because a few minutes later, I realized he was gone. I thought maybe he was getting a fancy surprise out of the car or something, but after a few more minutes he still hadn't appeared. I called him. He said he was worried about catching his shuttle and forgot to say goodbye - and happy birthday. He later blamed this oversight on cold medicine that he had taken.

Bruce was excited about my birthday and had a breakfast-in-bed menu planned, but I wasn't in bed and Scott left so couldn't help with the breakfast prep. So I made my own breakfast - egg whites and toast - and ate it at the table.

I walked Bruce to school, walked home with Phoebe, and waited for Miss J (can't call her Baby J anymore because she is almost walking) to come over. She came and we played, then I put the girls down for a nap. I had two normal hours before things started to get wild.

Scott came home after his interview and wasn't feeling well. He went straight to bed, and I was totally jealous. Then I fed the girls lunch and we walked to school to pick Bruce up. Bruce planned a playdate with a friend, so I inherited one more kid for the afternoon. As we walked home, the friend started doing the potty dance. By the time we got into our building, he was spinning in circles. The cramped quarters of the elevator were too much for him and he totally lost it. He left a big puddle, which he then tracked down the hall to our condo.

I threw some snacks to the girls in the stroller, sent the friend to the bathroom, and enlisted Bruce to get him fresh clothes. I spent the next few minutes sopping up urine on the elevator, and scrubbing the elevator, hall, and our floor. Not too long after that, a neighbor boy knocked on the door to play with Bruce. We're up to five kids now.

A few minutes later, I got a phone call from a resident in our building. The garage door broke, and I'm the go-to person/condo association prez who takes care of such things. I was about to go check the door myself when Miss J put a present in her diaper. I changed her, checked the door, and made the call.

Eventually, Bruce's friends went home and Miss J's parents picked her up. Scott wasn't up for cooking, so we had pizza for dinner and ginger-chocolate cake for dessert (I made it the day before). I opened my presents - a nice shirt and a stepping stool for the kitchen (and a pot rack that Scott put up the weekend before) - and went to visit a friend who had broken her ribs. I came home exhausted and collapsed into bed.

Thankfully, the next day was better. After hearing about my birthday adventure, my running partner sent flowers and took me running shoe shopping. We went hiking as a family. Phoebe made peace with the potty and has been inventing her own potty dance. I went to my track club's holiday party and stayed 3x as long as I thought I would.

Another decade down. I was hoping to run 30 miles or do something crazy with the number 30, but I think I just had 30 disasters. Better luck next year.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

"The Battle in Seattle"

I had an exhilarating, exhausting weekend.

I boarded a nearly-empty flight to Seattle on Friday night. After six hours of junk TV (thanks to JetBlue, I now know what the Kardashians are up to these days), movies, and running magazines, I arrived at the Seattle airport. I took the train and finally arrived at the hotel where my team was staying at 12:30 a.m. I threw my stuff on the floor, brushed my teeth, collapsed into bed, and fell asleep immediately. I woke up 7+ uninterrupted hours later and felt fantastic (it was about 10:30 a.m. Boston time). I ate a little breakfast, chugged some water, watched TV, chatted with teammates, and generally enjoyed kid-free relaxation.

Mid-morning, I boarded a bus with my team and we headed over to the cross country course. It was overcast, barely sprinkling, and cold - just what I thought Seattle would be like. During the warmup, I felt soreness in my ankle (rolled it in Friday morning's 30-minute shakeout run!) and was coughing the last few sputters of a cold out; I needed a good warmup and a prayer that I wouldn't feel that crappy during the race. Done and done.

Finally, race-time rolled around and I lined up at the start with my team. Because there were so many teams at the start, only two of my teammates could toe the starting line. Everyone else had to line up behind them in our narrow box at the start. I took my position behind our two fastest girls and sprinted out when the gun went off. I am typically more conservative at the start of a race, but this was Nationals! The course was also narrow and there were 300 other fast women fighting for the front. The first 3/4-mile was fast, but I could not have slowed down if I wanted to: it was like riding a wave, with lots of skinny elbows hitting me.

The course was fairly flat, but soggy from the sprinkling and the previous two races held on it that day. The footing was spongy, but my legs felt remarkably good, the pain in my ankle disappeared, and the wheezing in my chest evaporated. I focused on catching runners ahead of me one by one, and pushing the pace harder every time I felt too comfortable. Only once during the race did my brain start its excuse reel: "you're tired from the flight 12 hours ago." I put excuses out of my mind and reminded myself that I came all this way to run my best.

I achieved my goal: I ran hard during the race, so hard that I had a lousy finishing kick. I finished 84th out of an extremely competitive field, third for my team, with a 21:56 in the 6K. I warmed down, happy to be exhausted, and felt my cough and ankle pain return.After the race and some celebratory chocolate chip cookies, I went out for burritos and hours of chit-chatting with Laura, one of my former BYU XC teammates. I love getting together with my old teammates because no matter how infrequently we contact each other, it seems we always pick up right where we left off. Somehow they never age either?! Despite being 36 weeks pregnant, Laura came and yelled her loudest at the course (I knew it was her when I heard her cheer "GO MAAARRRRS!").

I met up with my team again for the evening, exchanged race stories, managed to get a shower at some point, and headed to the airport for a red-eye back to Beantown. I arrived in Boston at 8, went straight to church and put a skirt on in the bathroom, and soaked up three hours of meetings before coming home and crashing on the couch.

Despite the exhaustion, my trip was fun and rewarding. I love my family, but I also love not having to deal with kids on an airplane and not worrying about diapers and snacks right before I'm supposed to race. It was great to come home to Scott, who installed a pot rack in the kitchen while I was gone; Bruce, who is so excited for my upcoming birthday that he has already written out my breakfast-in-bed menu; and Phoebe, who followed me around saying "What-chu doin?" while I unpacked.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Weekend plans

I am headed to Seattle this weekend for Club Cross Country Nationals. I am the proud captain of my cross country team and am looking forward to racing against the nation's best. It looks to be another competitive year, so it is hard to say what place I will come in or even what time for that matter. But I am going to Seattle and I am going there to run my best.

Last night was my final workout and for the rest of the week, I will run some easy miles, take my vitamins, drink some yummy ferrous sulfate, suck on vitamin C, and try not to get sick or hit by a car.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Like mother, like daughter

I have been hearing a lot lately about how much Phoebe looks like me. I didn't pay much attention to it until I came across this picture the other day. Above, that's me. I might be 3 or maybe 4 years old, all dressed up, with a shaggy haircut that I can barely see out of.
And here is Phoebe with similar haircut and similar face (thanks to Scott's genes, she has that cute dimpled chin). I'm sure if she had the option of wearing my sequin-and-lace getup, she would take it.

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