Wordless Wednesday: How We Clean

Word-full Wednesday: Surfside Half Marathon

We ran a half marathon last Saturday!  That's 13.1 miles!  It was a big deal, and we'd been looking forward to it for months, but when the day actually came I really questioned my sanity.

Surfside Beach, Site of Surfside Marathon
We've run half marathons before, but this was the farthest I've run since the fall of 2009 (when I was 1 1/2 months pregnant with Harry).  I tried to get back into running after Harry was born, but for one reason or another I never stayed with it.  So, last summer I signed both Jon and I up for the Surfside Half Marathon.  I figured we'd have about six months to get ready for it, and we'd have the extra motivation (read: money already spent to enroll in the run) to stick with the training.  And then, after months of training, I imagined we would have a wonderful run on the beach:  nice weather, soothing ocean, shore birds and other distractions, and (of course) my best friend and favorite man in the world to run with.  Meanwhile, the kids would play happily on the beach, find seashells, and perhaps watch some cartoons in the little beach hotel.

In reality, a horrible storm settled on the beach Friday night.  Just after we picked up our race packet, the organizers announced we would be starting 30 minutes later.  Runs like this don't get delayed for rain; they get delayed for lightning.  We ended up starting about 90 minutes later than planned.  The weather seemed nice, but soon changed.  During the next couple hours, we ran through rain, lightning, and wind strong enough that the rain felt like hail.  The normally hard-packed sand sank with almost every step, and several spots had turned into river-like gullies where the rainwater rushed to the ocean.  More than once, I thought about quitting, but this run had come to mean a lot to me.  It represented recovering from my last pregnancy.  It meant that my body could do cool things that weren't related to having children.  I do think that having children is cool, too, I just wanted something else for me.  I may not be quite back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but if I could run a half-marathon I would feel decently human again.

After making it through that run (and having a few days for the lactic acid to clear out of my legs!) I feel Super Human!  It's little things like this that make me feel like I can do anything, even if my daily "Clark Kent" costume is made up of blocks, cars, princesses, dishes, laundry, and runny noses.  Secretly (well, maybe not so secretly because I'm putting it on here), I can run a half marathon in horrendous weather!

The weather did finally clear up for the last four miles, and the kids were able to go outside for a few minutes! I also loved the barbecue party afterwards!  We were very grateful to Grandma for watching the kids while we ran.  One of our favorite parts was when we ran past the hotel and saw them all waving at us!

Another "highlight," or at least something I constantly reflected on, was something Kaia had said as they dropped us off at the race start.  She looked out the window and said, "It might be a lot of work for you guys to run in all this rain, but you can do it!  

Sadly, late in the morning a cold seemed to settle on Kaia.  Harry and several of our friends had already had it, and I was hoping she wouldn't, but by the end of the run she just wanted to rest in the car.  Now, we're planning another trip to the beach for a time when everyone feels well and the weather will let us play a bit!

And this was going to be a Wordless Wednesday post...ha!  I'll have to fix that!

Marshmallow Soup: a Preschool Experiment in the Kitchen

Kaia loves to experiment, cook, mix, pour, and stir.  I don't usually turn her loose in the kitchen, but she had been asking to make Marshmallow Soup for some time.  I was getting curious myself about what might be in Marshmallow Soup!

I discovered the ingredients were simple:
  • Mini-marshmallows
  • Milk
  • Chocolate powder (I gave her some Nesquick!)
  • flour
  • sugar
And all you had to do was stir everything together!

She was particularly happy about how yummy the broth turned out!

Valentine's Day 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Our day started out with a couple surprises for the kids on the table, along with pink heart pancakes--woo hoo!!  

I played some games with the kids, including this Heart Cookie Game:

We made Valentines for each other and decorated a bag,

then made little presents for our parents.  I love how they're magnetic!  


Lunch included Heart Sandwiches (turkey and cheese cut into hearts with a cookie cutter) and juice...a major treat around here!  (Can you say happy kids, or what?!)

We had to have a Valentine's Cake (a bit like we had to have Valentine's decorations, candy, plates, and glow-in-the-dark straws)!

The kids were pretty happy with their day...the evening was for Jon and I.  

Crochet Heart Pocket (pattern/tutorial)

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I fell in love with the idea of a heart pocket when I saw it on another blog, but when I saw that the pattern they used was one they had bought (and understandably would not be sharing on their blog), I decided to make up a pattern myself.  Since I liked the results, I decided to share it on here...I hope someone out there enjoys it! 

Crochet Heart Pocket Pattern

First, make two “red” hearts (I used a variegated red/pink yarn):

Gauge:  I used a size “F” crochet hook and worked loosely.  The final heart fit in my hand—see the picture.  
Note:  sl st (slip stitch); ch (chain); sc (single crochet); dc (double crochet); tc (triple crochet)

1.  Ch 4, sl st together, ch 1, turn.

2.  {1 sc, 1 dc} in first st, 3 dc in next 2 stitches, {1 dc, 1 sc} in last st, ch 1, turn.  10 st.

3.  1 sc in first 4 st, 2 dc in next 2 st, 1 sc in last 4 st, ch 1, turn.  12 st.

4.  3 sc in first st, 1 sc in next 3 st, 1 dc in next st, {1 dc, 1 tc, ch 1, 1 dc} in next st, 1 dc  in next st, 1 sc in next 4 st, 3 sc in last st, ch 1, turn.

5.  3 sc in first st, 2 sc in next st, sc in next 6 st, {2 dc, 1 tc, ch 3, sl in 3rd chain from hook, 2 dc} in ch-1 space, sc in next 7 st, 2 sc in next st, 4 sc in last st, slip st and fasten off. 

Second, single crochet the red hearts together with white or another contrasting yarn.   

Start at the bottom tip and work your way up to the top, joining the two red hearts as you go.   

When you reach the top, join #1 (in picture to left), but work #2 in just one heart.  I put 4 sc in one st at #2, then continued around the heart.  


  When you reach the tip again, put an extra sc in the tip and work your way around the heart one more time, this time stitching in the “other” red heart at the top.  When you get back to the tip, put an extra two sc in the tip so you can stretch it to a point.

Ta da!  All done...and in about half an hour too!

End of January Party & Groundhog Day!!

Our exciting week started last Monday, when Kaia declared that on Tuesday we needed an "End of the Month Party!"  Any excuse to celebrate, right?  

So, Happy February!

Thursday was, of course, Groundhog Day!  We actually started our little party with a treat: a groundhog in a hill!  I drew the groundhogs on graham crackers with frosting and made the hills with chocolate pudding and green coconut.  


Harry, being the tactile child he is, quickly found another use for his pudding: finger painting!

 That didn't take long to spread!

We made shape-based groundhog puppets and a groundhog hill.  The kids loved acting out the groundhog coming out, looking around, seeing his shadow, and running (scared) back into his hill!  We spent quite a bit of time running around chasing flashlight shadows too!

 The kids took turns putting on puppet shows for about 20 minutes!  I had so much fun watching them invent story lines, but I couldn't record them all!  Here's a few I managed to catch:


And because Kaia is just so stinkin' cute:

Our next party...I'm thinking Valentine's Day!  Of course, we might just start celebrating that tomorrow...there's nothing wrong with a week-long celebration!

A Leaf Book

The Houston Zoo has a trading post where kids can trade in nature-related items for points.  They redeem the points for other nature items in the shop.  Kaia wanted a chunk of purple amethyst--I'll admit, it was a pretty cool rock!  We talked about different things she could collect or make for points and she decided she wanted to make a leaf book.  

"A Leaf Book"

She chose the leaves, did all the writing, and drew all the pictures.  It was a lot of work, but she could tell you quite a bit about crape myrtles, roses, and poinsettias!  I think she enjoyed telling the "zoo lady" about each plant, and she certainly enjoyed all the attention she earned for it!  The ladies were quite impressed quite impressed with all her 4-year old explanations!  The final point analysis, however, was about 1/3 the cost of the amethyst.  She had the option of saving the points, but found a different "beautiful, sparkly rock" -- pink muscovite!

She took her leaf book to the zoo around the beginning of December.  Lately, she's started talking about doing another project.  She also asked me if there was anywhere she could buy some purple amethyst!